What I learnt at Stanford GSB….by 2003A7PS012

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After I graduated from Stanford this year, a favorite question at social gatherings is ‘What were the two years at the GSB like?’  As I start fishing for the right word to describe the two years – fantastic, awesome, enlightening, …, the only one that shouts out from the swirl of adjectives running through my mind is ‘transformative’. It is hard to capture all the ways that the two years at the GSB have been transformative. Sometimes you go through an experience and you come out of it a changed person and it’s hard to pinpoint what in that experience caused the transformation. However, I will try to list down a few that I think have impacted me the most.

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Know thyself

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I started business school thinking I would learn about strategy, balance sheets, sales and marketing, … but I came out of it learning much more than just that. I learnt about myself. I learnt what my strengths are, how good a leader I am, what holds me back from being the best I can be, how do I impact  and influence others around me.  By understanding myself better, I understood others better.  Courses such as Interpersonal Dynamics (popularly known as ‘Touchy Feely’), High Performance Leadership and Paths to Power, provided me the opportunity to look into the depths of my personality, churn through those layers and emerge a better leader at the end of it. It was like I learned a whole new language that I never knew existed before. While you can learn how to read a balance sheet or write a marketing plan from a book, I couldn’t have learnt how to read myself from any book, and am thankful to the GSB for this skill.

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Take risks, follow your heart

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As you enter the GSB campus, you see a quote by Phil Knight (Stanford GSB’ 62) founder of Nike and the donor of the new Knight Management Center in the courtyard. He says, “There comes a time in every life when the past recedes and the future opens. It’s that moment when you turn to face the unknown. Some will turn back to what they already know. Some will walk straight ahead into uncertainty. I can’t tell you which one is right. But I can tell you which one is more fun.”

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The dean, the professors, the top honchos of the world who visit the school, in fact every part of the school, through subtle yet constant exhortations, encourages you to embrace change, to take risks and follow your heart. The fact that your classmates and alumni are some of the most accomplished people in the world, from founders of companies to creators of social change only reinforces the message. In an amusing way, you follow the herd at Stanford by taking risks. The fact that 16% of the class last year started companies right out of school is testimony to it. And, the numbers are even higher a few years out. Anecdotally, I have heard that 50% of the class starts a company within 5 years of finishing school.

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“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” A.A.Milne, author of the Winnie the Pooh series, wrote. These could very well have been words that Stanford tells its students.  Stanford reposes a lot of trust in us.  Stanford doesn’t question if each of us is going to be successful or not after we graduate. They assume so. And, it is this trust reposed in us that goads us to try harder and fulfill the promise that we have made to the school – to change lives, organizations and the world, for the better.

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I know a lot of people who question the value of an MBA. I did too. But the two years at the GSB couldn’t have proved me more wrong. Stanford was truly transformational.

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Uzma Hussain Barlaskar graduated from BITS, Pilani in 2007 with Bachelor’s degree in Comupter Science Engineering. After working with DE Shaw for close to 3 years and being associated with BITSAA as CMO for 2 years, she joined Stanford GSB in 2010 to pursue an MBA.

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BITS2BSCHOOL Application tips: Ramya Laxman (BITS ’00, CMU-Tepper ’12)

In an email conversation and Q&A with BITS2BSCHOOL, Ramya Laxman talks about her app-ing experience and what urged her to go for an MBA. Read on to find out about more in her own words…

Application TipsSealing the deal

I graduated from BITS in 2004 with an Information Systems degree. I accepted my campus job from Dell Bangalore and after a successful 3 year stint, I joined Yahoo. Throughout, I have been working in the Oracle ERP space in different domains of CRM, SCM, Finance and HRMS.

Then I moved to Houston in the US and started working as a consultant. I was soon absorbed as a full-time employee in an Oil and Gas company. After working for more than 2 years, I wanted to gain more exposure and explore other domains that lead me to pursue an MBA degree.

On my application journey, I applied very selectively to a few schools that excel in the Technology Leadership space. CMU-Tepper School of Business was obviously my first choice in this set of schools. I visited Tepper for a diversity weekend and that sealed the deal. It was an amazing environment, wonderful adcom and nice set of people I met during this event. However, I also applied to a couple of other schools for personal reasons. I got recommendations from different companies I worked for and worked hard on my essays! The Tepper admit was a welcome reward with the fellowship being the icing on the cake.

1. On applying to Tepper.

As far as Tepper tips are concerned, I would encourage students to do their research and visit the campus for sure. This would tell them what they are in for. Students sometimes blindly apply to schools and that comes across in their applications. So that would be my blanket suggestion. Please take some time and effort to identify what exactly you want to do, understand the different specializations offered and pick one! I found Tepper’s website extremely resourceful, so please exploit that option. Also reach out to the BITSAA community, a very friendly and useful resource.

2. What was the differentiating factor that you portrayed to the adcoms?

The Differentiating factor I would say – at work was my varied experience. I was working in an Oil and Gas company while applying for my MBA and before that I was in an Internet industry (Yahoo) and Manufacturing (Dell) bef. I actually started off my career interning at a R&D company (HP Labs). And on my co-curricular activities, I was a Radio Jockey while at Houston and I think it was a clear differentiator in terms of helping me showcase my other side apart from work!

3. Your GMAT score.


4. The other admits you got.

I applied only to schools with a Technology focus and also ones that were geographically suitable for my spouse’s relocation. I got admits from Georgia Tech and RICE (I was local to Houston!)

5. Any advice you want to give to people who want to become a Fellow – what outstanding traits they should possess?

Tepper was very clear about their requirements for Fellowship. Fit and merit were the 2 things they were looking for. So I would just advise people to highlight why they want to join the school and why the school should take them. Explain clearly why it is a win-win situation for both! As far as the merits are concerned, we just need to make sure the right ones are highlighted.

To gain access to more such resources and B-School guidance from Alumni, join bits2bschool@yahoogroups.com

BITS2BSCHOOL: Live interaction with Manoj Vasudevan ( BITS ’02, Wharton ’12)






BITS alums never miss a chance to give it back to the BITSian community. Manoj, who co-founded Source Pilani before it acquired was by HarVa (another BITSian venture), was super excited to share his successful journey to Wharton with the BITS2BSCHOOL group. We  grabbed the opportunity and immediately scheduled a Cisco Webex conference. Everyone registered with the group could join the interaction. In what was a largely uninterrupted 90 minutes session, we had 20+ joining in with questions being asked on-the-go. For the benefit of those who could not attend the whole session was recorded too.

Manoj was candid in admitting that it could be an arduous journey to a B-School. He particularly stressed on the importance of GMAT score in his case, how school visits enhanced his application and how, in general, being a rock-star at your workplace matters.

Attendees gleefully accepted this opportunity and submitted questions beforehand. One of the participants, Rahul Yedavalli’s (05P4195) says: “Thank you for hosting such a great session. Looking forward to many such sessions in the future from BITS2BSCHOOL.”

Thanks to Manoj for extending his cooperation, all those who joined the call and BITSAA for providing the infrastructure for a seamless experience!

To hear the whole session and know more about the group, get in touch with the BITS2BSCHOOL team or join the group: bits2bschool@yahoogroups.com

BITS2BSCHOOL e-interview: Sandeep Thalapaneni (Cornell, Johnson)

Sandeep Thalapaneni is an MBA candidate 2013 at Cornell University-Johnson School of Management and has a Dual degree BE (Hons) EEE and MSc (Hons) Chemistry from BITS, Pilani (2002-2007).


Q. Can you share something about your work experience – what has your career progression been like? What was the thought process behind each step?

A. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about B-School at BITS. But I realised very early that it is best to get solid work experience under my belt before I do an MBA and wait for the right moment. I interacted with lot of BITSian alums during this period and used my 5-1 for a thesis in management under the supervision of Prof. Anil Bhatt, which gave me a better perspective. Continue reading

BITS2BSCHOOL e-interview: Abhilash Ravishankar (Berkeley-Haas)

Abhilash Ravishankar is an MBA candidate 2013 at University of California, Berkeley-Haas School of Business and has BE (Hons) in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from BITS, Pilani (2003-2007).


Q. How did you know you were ready for an MBA?

A. Two reasons:

(a) I spent almost a year managing a team of engineers, and as a general manager, I was exposed to a number of business challenges. These challenges taught me new things and exposed gaps in my skill set.

(b) I felt that I was pigeonholing myself into oilfield operations and I wanted to work in a different capacity. B-School was a great transition platform. Continue reading