In the past, we have interviewed many top MBA admissions consultants, who happen to be alumni of top schools like Harvard, INSEAD, Yale, ISB, and many more. In this post, we have got Piyush Ranjan, who doesn’t possess a Master’s degree from any top university; he is a Master’s drop-out from St. Gallen’s, Switzerland.
Piyush had studied Strategy and International Management program, which is ranked #1 MIM program for 8 years, and is an alumnus of IIT-BHU.
Piyush has worked in Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong. In the last couple of years, he has helped many candidates to get into Wharton, Kellogg, HEC Paris, Cambridge, ISB, and others.
MBA and MiM Admissions Consulting
Q&A with Piyush Ranjan
Tanmoy: Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Piyush: First, thanks for inviting me – quite happy and excited to share my journey. So, I am Piyush Ranjan, the founder of Management Masters. We are a boutique admissions consultancy firm for some of the top MBA and MIM programs in the world.
Prior to starting the consultancy, I lived in Europe for almost 4.5 years before I returned to India in early 2019 and started the firm.
Tanmoy: You are from Metallurgy background. What made you opt for a Masters in Business Management?
Piyush: It’s not as linear as it looks. Post my under-graduation from IIT-BHU, I worked at Maruti Suzuki for almost 2 years as a quality engineer. However, I realized quickly that I would make a very average engineer – it didn’t excite me or push me.
Realizing this, I started looking at ways to move to a creative field and found that a master’s degree in management could help me with this transition. I applied and was fortunate enough to get selected to two of the top MIM programs, SIM at the University of St. Gallen and Essec Business School.
Once I went to SIM, I absolutely loved the experience, and found myself taking up all my electives in the marketing domain – and so decided to move to the marketing masters at the university after 2 semesters.
Meanwhile, my internship got converted into a full-time job in Switzerland, and then I decided to drop out of the masters! So I don’t have a formal degree from the university.
Tanmoy: What was your motivation behind starting Management Masters Education?
Piyush: While I was in Switzerland, I started helping my friends with their applications to ISB, Kellogg, Georgia Tech, HEC Paris and other top schools. I also started teaching GMAT part-time to sustain myself in the country. That’s when I realized that I understood what schools wanted and liked helping candidates with applications as well. So when I decided to move back to India, I was quite determined to pursue this full-time.
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Tanmoy: How is Management Masters different from other boutique admissions consulting firms?
Piyush: To be honest, I don’t know about other boutique firms. That’s one drawback I have – I don’t care much about market research. The only thing I care about is to provide the absolute best service that I can. My experience of working with one of the world’s largest luxury groups in Europe has had an impact on me.
So, what we offer our candidates is a very comprehensive, detailed process that helps them at every stage of the application – right from identifying their stories, experiences, goals, referees, resume, and essays. We call it the 8-step process.
We don’t have any limits on how many times our candidates interact with us, nor do we have any limits on the number of edits, or anything else that is prevalent in the industry. Our simple philosophy is to help candidates prepare the absolute best application they can, no matter what it takes.
Tanmoy: You have lived and worked in Switzerland and the Netherlands. Could you please tell our readers how to go about job search after Masters Programs in Europe as non-EU candidates?
Piyush: The first thing – it’s not going to be easy. The second thing – it’s absolutely possible to find great jobs. The third thing – visa is your enemy. The fourth thing – networking is your only friend.
The core difference in the job search comes from the fact that schools don’t spoon-feed jobs to students. The onus for finding a job lies completely on the candidates. So, candidates cannot rely on the traditional Indian methods of finding a job. They will need to innovate their search process, figure out resources and utilize them to the core, and keep trying because it will take a hundred failures before you see a hope of success.
Tanmoy: You have worked as an intern in Hong Kong as well. How is the difference between working in Asia vs Europe?
Piyush: It is absolutely crazy. The biggest difference for me was adapting to the work cultures. In Hong Kong I could go to the office in a t-shirt and jeans and no one would notice – I couldn’t do that in Geneva.
When I transferred to Amsterdam, the office culture, even though it was the same company, was completely different. I think the biggest difference between Europe and Asia comes from the freedom Europe offers for social life. I could travel to any country without any restrictions, and over the weekend!
Tanmoy: You have made a great brand for yourself as one of the top ISB admissions consultants in India. Could you please throw some light on MBA in India (ISB/IIM) vs MBA abroad?
Piyush: Thanks for your kind words. The biggest difference between ISB, IIMs, and foreign MBA programs comes from the exposure they offer. These are all top schools, so you can’t really differentiate much between the quality of education they offer – they are all excellent – but the major X-factor for abroad MBA programs is the extra-ordinary exposure to different cultures and lives one gets.
This difference is also very visible between ISB and the IIMs (1-year programs). ISB has a much more diverse class, while IIMs still have a long way to go to promote diversity in their classrooms.
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Tanmoy: What are your suggestions to prospective MBA applicants on how to decide if an MBA is a right program for them?
Piyush: Self-introspection is not optional when it comes to identifying the best programs for oneself! The biggest mistake candidates make is to focus only on the rankings. The key thing is to identify what one wants to achieve, the potential pathways to that, and the schools which could help in that journey.
Tanmoy: What are your thoughts on how to decide between MBA vs MiM vs MS Business Analytics?
Piyush: It’s very simple actually and the eligibility criteria from schools make it very easy to decide. MIM or MS programs are meant for candidates in their early careers – preferably less than 2 years of experience. MBA programs are meant for candidates with more experience – the average work experience in them ranges from 4-6 years worldwide. So there is hardly any overlap between the MBA and the other two.
To choose between MIM and MS in BA, the first step again is to self-introspect and figure out what one wants to achieve. The doubt creeps in only when enough introspection hasn’t been done, or the research hasn’t been carried out.
Tanmoy: MBA essays are very tricky for most of the applicants. Would you like to share any tips for MBA applicants who struggle with essays?
Piyush: There is only one trick – empathizing with the admissions committee. Try to understand the school values, what they look for in candidates, and the question they ask. Don’t force-fit answers based on what you want to tell the admission officers, rather understand their viewpoint and answer the questions in an easy way. Understanding the question asked is extremely important and I can’t stress on it enough.
Tanmoy: What would be your advice for the folks looking to apply for top Business Masters programs for Fall 2021/2022 intake?
Piyush: Just do it. Don’t worry about COVID, don’t worry about not coming from top undergrad schools or all the negative things in your profile. Focus on the positives you have. Focus on your strengths and make them shine.
Tanmoy: Your thoughts on how candidates should approach admissions consulting services – how to decide if they need one consultant, how to identify/shortlist the right consultant, a top B-School Alumnus vs former Adcom as an admissions consultant, pricing issues, etc.?
Piyush: We have a very clear approach to this – if the candidates aren’t clear about how to present their story, or need help refining it and identifying hidden patterns in their life story – go for a consultant. MBA is a one-time investment, and a good consultant can help you give your best shot.
However, if you believe you have a good grasp of your story and are confident of presenting it perfectly, there is literally no reason to go for a consultant.
One extremely important thing to note here is to understand that consultants are not magicians. If someone hasn’t had a great career, doesn’t have a great score, and is not disciplined enough to work smart on their applications, they cannot expect that going to a consultant will solve their life issues.
As far as selecting the right consultant is concerned – I don’t believe there is any difference between an alumnus or an Adcom. In either case, they have attended only one school for their MBA, or maybe served with 2-3 schools as an Adcom. Does that mean they aren’t qualified to help with other schools? Not really.
In my case, I don’t even have an MBA, and I dropped out of my MIM degree. And as we have this interview, I have helped my candidates get into M7 programs, including Wharton and Kellogg, HEC Paris, Cambridge, ISB, NYU Stern, and many other top programs.
There is a great disparity in the Indian market when it comes to pricing since admissions consulting is a no-entry barrier field. So, there is always someone to undercut what another consultant offers. The only way to judge it would be to realize what value can the consultant add to you, how is their process, how involved will they be with you, and then take a call on whether you would like to work with them or not.
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