Indian Professor Gets CAD$45k Scholarship to Ivey MBA
Updated: Jan 29
Anitha’s career trajectory didn’t exactly fit the MBA mold.
With an undergraduate degree in Computer Science Engineering, Anitha began her career at a Fortune 500 company as an Associate Software Engineer. She then completed her Master’s and pivoted into a teaching role at an engineering college in Chennai, India. In addition to teaching, she worked in several leadership roles as project guide, mentor, student counselor and faculty coordinator for three student chapters.
After five years of working as an Assistant Professor, Anitha quit her job due to personal reasons and started her own independent coaching business for high school and engineering students. Now, she wants to use her MBA to transition into edtech product management.
Anitha had a strong academic and professional background, a GRE score of 321, and clear post-MBA goals. But her independent work as a freelance coach was difficult to position impactfully in her application, and she got dinged by a couple of schools in her first round of applications.
So, how did she get admitted to Ivey Business School with a Forté fellowship of CAD 45,000?
Anitha sat down with her SWC consultant Samriddhi to reflect on her MBA application journey, how she reframed her experience more positively, and how she cracked the MBA interview.
Anitha’s career trajectory was non-linear. Having already pivoted to teaching from a software engineer role, she discovered her passion for working at the intersection of business and technology while supervising final year students for their data science projects.
As an Assistant Professor, Anitha was also involved in independent research in AI, ML, and data science. She simultaneously enrolled in a postgraduate program in data science and business analytics, where she realized that she was interested in the business perspective of technological developments.
This was in 2020. When COVID hit, Anitha’s plans to get a business degree were stalled. She got married soon after. With the support of her husband and family, she finally started her MBA application journey two years later.
Identifying the Right MBA consultant
Anitha’s application journey began with finding the right consultant. Being a first generation Master’s graduate in her family, she had little support when it came to writing the MBA application. Anitha and her husband used LinkedIn and Google reviews to shortlist a few consultants that they felt would be a good fit.
But early on in this journey, Anitha didn’t feel comfortable sharing her ideas and felt like her personal and professional achievements were being diminished.
Anitha then reached out to Sam Weeks. In their introductory session, she felt heard. Sam then referred her to Samriddhi, who gave her a non-judgemental, safe space to discuss her ideas and challenges. Anitha had a lot of different experiences from her time working as an engineer, teacher, mentor, volunteering organizer, and study group leader. Samriddhi was able to channel Anitha’s thoughts into structured writing, gently pulling her back on track when her narrative felt unfocused. Together, they connected the different dots in Anitha’s profile and extracted stories that were impactful for her application, but had been overlooked.
Each conversation brought out Anitha’s authentic self, and she felt a genuine connection there.
Pivoting from Education to Ed-Tech Product Management
Anitha’s post-MBA goal wasn’t always to pivot to edtech product management.
In the initial stages of her application, she had a vague idea of what she wanted to do after her MBA. As she was interested in Machine Learning and Data Analytics, she thought she wanted to become a data analytics consultant. But during her brainstorming sessions with Samriddhi, she realized that her passion to make an impact on the education system in India was far stronger than her interest in data analytics.
When Anitha understood that her MBA application would be more authentic when her post-MBA goals were aligned with her past experience, passions, and genuine professional purpose, she began shaping her application to reflect this. Her goal was now clear: to redesign the learning experience for Indian students as an edtech product manager.
The MBA application narrative
“I relived my 30 years back again, exploring, digging deep into my own life stories. And it will be a great foundation for future years”.
For Anitha, our brainstorming sessions were some of the most exciting yet challenging parts of the application process. Although she had documented all her ideas, interests, leadership activities, failures, and points of transition in advance, she found that discussing each of these honestly with a consultant helped her get a clear picture of what her MBA application should look like. This meant that she would have to revisit vulnerabilities, evaluate life events she hadn’t given a second thought to, and deeply introspect.
This led to a unique narrative that tied together Anitha’s childhood of having limited access to education with her career as an educator. As a professor, she mentored underprivileged students, which led her to reflect on the education system. She advocated for more innovative pedagogies and successfully improved learning outcomes at her university. This seamlessly fit into her ultimate career purpose - of becoming a leader and changemaker for the Indian education industry.
When Anitha realized the power of her stories, she was able to better represent her skills and passion through her goals.
Positioning as an Entrepreneur
However, the biggest challenge Anitha faced in her MBA applications was her current role.
For the past 1.5 years, she had been providing personalized and online coaching for engineering high school students, creating a foundational program, and training students for mock interviews and hackathons.
When she first started applying to b-schools, she showcased herself as an independent coach. The difference between freelancer and solopreneur is subtle, but important. Her conversations with Samriddhi helped her understand that she needed to move away from this framing. A better way to position herself would be as a solopreneurship applicant, focusing on her business development and marketing skills.
For Anitha, that was the highest point in her application process. She reworked her narrative to show her entrepreneurial skills through her resume and essays, and even rebuilt her business website and LinkedIn accounts. She also leveraged her experience in managing and delegating to freelancers. This made a significant difference in her application and the responses she received from schools.
The MBA Interview
When Anitha received her interview invites, she grew anxious. The last interview she’d given was seven years ago, and she was unsure of how she would perform.
What helped Anitha get over her interview jitters was a rigorous mock interview series that prepared her for the unique MBA interview process. While she went into them expecting to be asked about her technical skills and knowledge like any job interview, she was surprised to find that the questions went much deeper.
In each mock interview, Anitha was asked about her personal and professional achievements, the stories she had explored in her application, her post-MBA goals, and purpose. After 4 mock interviews with Sam Weeks and Samriddhi, she felt more confident and was able to articulate her ideas more clearly, leading to an offer from Ivey.
Anitha received her admit from Ivey before she went into the IE interview. This gave her an added confidence boost for IE, which turned out to be her hardest interview yet. However, her mock interview training kicked in.
“Something you mentioned came to mind - don't think about evaluating your answers at that point. It would be correct or wrong. Just showcase your ideas. Let your mind speak”.
And this was reflected in the outcome of that interview. She received her second admit: an offer from IE with a €12,500 scholarship.
Admits and Scholarships
In total, Anitha received 3 admits, with scholarships from each school.
These were from Ivey Business School's Forté Fellowship with approx. CAD 45,000 in scholarship funding, IE business school with the Women in STEM scholarship worth €12,500 and Queen Smith with a Dean scholarship of approx. CAD 17,500.
Anitha had always wanted to go to a T25 school, but had been discouraged by consultants who thought she couldn’t even crack the top 50. This initially pushed her to seriously consider IE, which is ranked #22 globally. But when a conversation with Sam and Samriddhi made her review other factors like the post-MBA location and the scholarship amount, Ivey emerged as the most practical option. The Forté Fellowship scholarship would also help her do what she was passionate about - support women in technology and grow alongside them.
Advice for Round 1 MBA Applicants
“Be ready to explore your life events to the fullest and make sure you don't just focus on your professional achievements alone. Focus on your personal interests and struggles”.
Anitha’s advice to applicants is to ensure that their interests and passions are aligned with the MBA program’s outcomes as well as their post-MBA goals.
She also advises applicants to choose their consultant wisely. It’s important to “interview” your consultant and analyze their working style and how they respond to your ideas. Don’t expect your consultant to write your essays for you! There is no better storyteller than you to represent your story impactfully.
Also, don’t be intimidated if your test scores are not on par with other applicants, or your educational background is not as strong. Your application will be viewed holistically, so work with your consultant to bring out your leadership ability, skills, and authentic stories.
“Never settle for anything less than what you deserve”.