I couldn’t sleep. Earlier that night, during my weekly poker game, I learned that a neighborhood nightclub is closing down after suffering losses. The sense of opportunity kept me awake. Jaded, I got out of bed, made two phone calls, and started writing my thoughts. A few hours later the paper was filled with ideas and calculations.
At 9 am, my friends Dan and Alex arrived. The sight of breakfast I prepared seemed to erase their crankiness from being woken up earlier that night. We then started reviewing my plan: Establishing a new nightclub.
My friends were skeptical. “How will we finance this?” asked Alex, “I’m not sure this is worth losing our regular jobs” said Dan. I then took the notes I made and presented my rough business plan, “This evolves taking a chance, I believe we can make it work” I said. Later, while washing the dishes, I wondered whether getting into business with friends was wise. I remember feeling good; I’d rather pursue such adventure with trustworthy friends than with strangers.
Next, we met with the venue’s owner and negotiated a cost and profit sharing method. Now we could set a date for the launching party and divide responsibilities amongst ourselves.
I was in charge of sponsors and public relations. I realized every endorsement meant less money we’ll have to invest. I approached a beverages supplier and negotiated a deal; in return for him sponsoring our invitations, we printed a picture of a drink he promoted. I also persuaded my sailing club, a diving club, and a flight school to give out lessons as prizes as endorsements and initiated an opening night raffle to attract more people.
Next, I established a public relations team. I only wanted to hire people who believed, like I did, we’re going to do something great. I hired 35 people, created groups and appointed team leaders. We brainstormed PR strategies together such as a membership card.
With the help of team leaders, I guided our PR staff, monitored and coordinated the distribution of posters and invitations. I also oversaw the forming of our guest lists and helped negotiate special “birthday deals” with clients.
Finally, opening night came. We expected 400 people to arrive, but more than 650 came. Our revenues totaled nearly $9,000, and we made a profit. I was incredibly proud of our team. Although I quickly realized I didn’t enjoy working in the “nightlife scene”, now that my initiative was running, my friends could continue without me.
For the rest of the season the club was at full capacity of 1,100 people.
In retrospect, taking this risk was an invaluable experience that taught me much about launching a business. I learned that working in teams motivates me to excel and gained more confidence in my abilities to lead people. I realized that thoroughly planning ahead can reduce much of the risk but creativity, resourcefulness and teamwork are crucial in solving problems on-the-go.
Not everyone can chuck their job and head off to business school. There are personal and professional reasons when Part-time MBA programs are a better option compared to regular full-time MBA courses. Almost all the top universities offer part-time MBA degrees.
The admissions process for some these can be pretty tough. Consider folks working in Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, New York City (NYC), Chicago and other such regions where job opportunities are plenty.
It’s a tough call for professionals like Pankil Shah who want to keep their career graph going and yet want their skills and qualifications to also get an upgrade to stay competitive in the corporate world. That’s where a part-time MBA from USA or any other country that you are currently working in, can help.
How I got into the best Part-time MBA programs in California
by Pankil Shah
My Pre-MBA Background
Postgraduate from BITS, Pilani, I have 10+ years of software development experience including product development and customer implementations.
I started my career with Wipro Technologies in Bangalore, moving to Massachusetts, US in 2008. In 2010 I changed gears from software development/support to product development lead by joining Estuate Inc and working as IBM Archiving Product Development Lead for PeopleSoft.
Since then I have done multiple customer implementations, and demos as Software Implementer.
Having donned various technical roles I wanted to move to business role and felt the need for an MBA.
Why Part Time MBA
Part time MBA gives me flexibility to pursue MBA while continuing to work. This would reduce impact of financial burden. Also it gives me a chance to implement my learning’s at work place.
How I prepared for GMAT / TOEFL
I began my GMAT prep using staple books – Manhattan GMAT (MGMAT) Books, GMAT Official Guides and I scored 550.
I was disappointed and prepared again along with MGMAT in person classes. I scored 620 again and realized that my time management was problem.
I decided that if I cannot formulate an approach in 30 seconds I would guess and move to next question.
I practiced this approach and in my 3rd attempt not only scored 650 but also improved on my IR percentile crossing 80%.
Still not cracking 700-barrier was troubling me so I discussed with Sameer (Founder MBA Crystal Ball) about my chances. He suggested that admission chances couldn’t be decided just on GMAT scores. It is just one parameter. Before making any decision he suggested that I read Beyond MBA Hype Book.
After reading and further discussions with Sameer I decided to apply to Berkeley Haas and UCLA Anderson part time MBA programs.
For TOEFL I followed 3-week plan and scored 109/120.
MBA Crystal Ball (MCB) Review
After exams, my next hurdle was writing essays. I decided to work with MG at MCB. He is soft assassin who helps you through ordeal of MBA essay writing.
In our first meeting he helped me build a convincing story. Further interactions helped me get more clarity about my story and essays.
MG is honest, brutal and very punctual in his work. Without his help I would not have been able to write such honest essays. He would respond to emails in 24 hrs and some time within 15 minutes!!!
He went out of his way to make sure I do not miss my UCLA FEMBA R2 deadline.
Part-time MBA Interview Experiences
Interviews are part of Part-time MBA admissions. I prepared for standard questions available on websites like mbacrystalball and clearadmit.
For Berkeley part-time MBA, I had a face-to-face interview with Ad-com and for UCLA I had phone interview with Alumni.
I have share more details about my part-time MBA interview questions and answers on the forum. You’ll find the links below.
Results of my Part-time MBA applications
I was admitted to the UCLA FEMBA program!
MBA Admission Tips
For aspiring MBA applicants, I would advise the following:
1. Check your expectations
There is no point in having unrealistic expectations. MBA is not money minting machine.
It just gives you an opportunity to get into your desired business rule through education & existing work experience.
2. Read Beyond The MBA Hype
This book was very valuable to me. I would suggest you to read it before beginning your preparation.
3. Crack the GMAT at least a year in advance
GMAT is most exhausting aspects of profile where nobody can help you improve so spend enough time to prepare for your exams. After a false start it took me 3 attempts to ‘respectable’ score.
GMAT Verbal and Integrated Reasoning (IR) take a bigger toll on the mind than GMAT AWA Essays [try this: GMAT AWA Essay Rater] or GMAT Quant. I would suggest to spend more time analyzing your performance in mocks rather than doing tons of practice. This would help you improve your score in general.
4. For MBA Applications give MBA Crystal Ball a serious thought
If you are a serious candidate willing to put in your share of effort, you will not regret it.
All the best!
– Pankil Shah
Pankil shares much more on his interview experiences our MBA forum. Read about it here:
– Berkeley Haas Part Time MBA interview questions and answers
– UCLA Anderson FEMBA part-time MBA interview questions