- Nirali M
MBA graduate from London Business School talks Overseas Education with Nirali
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
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Undergrad - The Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, Polymer Engineering
Postgrad - London Business School, MBA
Current Role - Vice President, M&A Advisory at IDFC Securities, CFA
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/dhvanil-dharia-cfa-04302645/
“Other very special experiences were making very very close friends. I also found my life partner there!”
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your Educational and Professional Background? Which college, company, and role did you work in to get you where you are today?
I’m currently working as Vice President, M&A Advisory at IDFC Securities. I am an Engineer by background; however, I was excited by the world of finance and pursued the CFA as soon as I was done with engineering. I took my first job as an Investment Banking analyst at Axis Capital. Having worked for 4 years in Investment Banking in India, I decided to pursue my MBA at London Business School. This was because I wanted global exposure and time to decide the best possible career option for me.
2. What was your undergraduate Major? What prompted you towards it?
I did my B.Tech in Polymer Engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai. Honestly, I Ioved math and chemistry, and 10-13 years back you probably had only a few major career options as a start: CA, Engineer or Doctor. My love for chemistry pursued me to go for Engineering as over a CA degree.
3. When and why did you decide to study abroad?
I had always studied and worked in India hence I wanted a more global exposure. I wanted to explore the world and the opportunities it could provide. Moreover, after 4 years in Investment Banking, working day and night, I just wanted some time to be sure of my Career Options and what would be the best way forward. Studying abroad for me was more about personal development than getting a job.
4. Did you receive a scholarship? Do you recommend any good organizations/institutions that provide for scholarships or financial aid?
I did not apply or receive one. However, I do just know of Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation.
5. Is it worth taking a loan to study abroad? How does one measure one’s ROI?
It is my personal view that you must only take a loan if you are very sure of a career plan. For example, if you want a huge jump, say from a Corporate Job to Consulting/Investment Banking one. On the other hand, if you want to explore start-ups or other jobs that might pay less at the beginning I would say don’t go for a loan.
6. Why did you choose that particular course in this particular university/college for your studies abroad? What was the process you went through while choosing the university/college?
I was very sure that I wanted to do an MBA and that too be in a big city. This was because I knew I wanted to be in Finance and wanted to study in a Financial Hub. I only applied to the London Business School, Columbia Business School, and NYU Stern. LBS was my preferred choice since in my opinion, it was more diverse than any US school.
7.Any particular advice you would like to give for the application process from SOP Writing to Academic GPA to other things which you thought were important that helped you get into that course at that university?
I have seen a lot of Indians looking to use fancy English and some quotes as though they are trying to be a part of an essay writing competition. Honestly, the first thing and most important thing is having a story – Who are you? What have you done until now? What are your strengths? What is your eventual goal? What do you need to fulfill that goal? How will the university and degree help you fulfill these goals? This is the main crux of your SOP.
Keeping a coherent and convincing story it is much more valuable than any flowery language.
8. Were you satisfied with your choice of university? What is your most and least favorite thing about the university experience?
I absolutely loved it. The only thing which I would have probably done better is maybe decided a bit earlier where I wanted to work. Thus I would have been less stressed about my job prospects post-MBA and would have enjoyed the journey more.
9. How was the Indian fraternity over there? How was the overall campus diversity?
The Indian community is the second-largest community (North Americans is the largest). LBS is by far the most diverse campus you will find. You get to work in study groups with people from 4-5 different nationalities and backgrounds. It is an unmatched experience.
10. Tell us something about the faculty and resources which were there on campus.
Some of the faculty is top-notch. You are exposed to tons of case studies and guest speakers which allow for practical learning. Additionally, there is a holistic online and physical library and also a large number of database subscriptions. The alumni network is also very active.
11. Tell us about your journey from the first semester to the last both academically and non-academically? What was campus life like? What were the extracurricular activities on campus?
In my opinion, an MBA is probably 75% life outside the classroom and 25% in the classroom.
My 1st Sem when I was very new I was trying to find my space and friends; attending all events and socializing a lot. I was also trying to be very diligent with my work.
By the last sem, most of us usually find a group of friends you are comfortable with and you know what you want to take away academically. You are much surer of what you want and priorities are much more sorted.
There is an extracurricular activity for every hobby from book clubs to board games club to sports to cultural celebrations – you name it and it is there.
12. What did you learn and what were your most dear experiences? Any suggestions or recommendations for freshers starting out?
I learnt to explore the world, be more open-minded, prioritize, and organize things better. My best experiences were exploring the world and traveling. In 21 months, I traveled to 15+ countries from Europe to Peru to Morocco. Learning about these cultures was one of the best experiences.
Other very special experiences were making very very close friends. I also found my life partner there! And found friends who I am still close to from countries like Vietnam, Brazil, Poland, the USA, China, and Spain.
13. How is the quality of education compared to Indian institutes? What were the gaps in both systems? How did you manage to cope?
It is unparalleled. It is all about Practical Challenges and approaches which work in real life. There are streamlined processes. Plus it is all about making the student comfortable rather than faculty/ admin acting as a powerhouse. That is the biggest difference. There is mutual respect and designed to be student-friendly.
14. What were the career opportunities available? How does one manage to grab them?
If you are doing an MBA for a job and know what job you want much before you start an MBA, use the first year to get that job and enjoy the second year. There are a number of opportunities in terms of Consulting and Tech. You have to network, network, and network and know exactly what a company is looking for. You must be well prepared. There are enough opportunities and help available as long as you are sure of what you want.
15. Tell us a little bit about your current job profile and work.
I am currently working in Investment Banking. During my MBA I tried two things: Private Equity and a Start-up. However, I went back to Banking because I liked being right in the middle of the action, having a fast-paced non 9-5 job, and having new opportunities and challenges rather than a very mechanical job. I basically help large companies sell their business. I spend 70% of my time building a storyline for the company, finding investors for them, assisting them on what is the right value, and navigating the various challenges to sell a business. (This is obviously a simplified version of what my work entails). But my areas of work would include knowing and applying Capital Market Laws, running M&A processes, and assisting corporates raise money.
16.Any other suggestions or pieces of advice you would like to give students who are starting out the study abroad process? I would recommend think about these three things:
Why do you want to do it and why is it necessary for you?
Can you afford it? I would suggest that you don’t come out of your Degree with a loan and no job.
What is your post-degree plan? If you are taking a loan, be 100% sure. Even otherwise, use the journey to be sure at the end of it and so you no regrets.
17. How did a study abroad help you? It helped me grow as a person, become more confident, organized, and have a much broader worldview!
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