Mongolian Dad with 640 GMAT Wins $93k in MBA Scholarships
At an international math Olympiad in Croatia, Ogi borrowed a pencil from a fellow participant, a boy from Tajikistan. Ogi was from Mongolia; neither of the boys spoke English very well, but they bonded over math. The pencil had “Made in Tajikistan” engraved on it. That moment stuck with Ogi - he’d never seen a pencil with his country’s name etched on it. From then, his purpose was to grow the global presence of Mongolian businesses.
Years later, Ogi earned a scholarship to study in Japan at age 18, and started his career there. Now, after working in Operations roles at several companies in Japan, Ogi wants to pivot to a more strategy oriented role to understand the organizational challenges facing businesses as they expand across global markets.
That’s why he wanted an MBA. It would give him the practical skills and network to apply his market knowledge and experience different business verticals. But his GMAT score was well below the average for his target schools: 640.
So how did Ogi manage to bag 3 admits from top business schools like Oxford, Cambridge, and Rotman, with a combined scholarship amount of $93k?
SWC Consultant Samriddhi sat down with Ogi to talk about his MBA application journey, his GMAT score, and why he chose Cambridge Judge to do his MBA.
Why an MBA?
For Ogi, turning 30 changed his perspective about his career.
He had 5 years of professional experience working with various start-ups, including 3 Unicorns, in Japan. Experiencing different aspects of start-up operations helped him realize his true purpose: to develop and scale Mongolian start-ups in the long run. An MBA would help him refine his business strategy and entrepreneurial skills, and give him the global exposure he needed.
Ogi started listening to MBA podcasts to understand school rankings and geographies better. One of his priorities was a big, international network. He spoke to Sam Weeks, an Oxford MBA graduate, who helped him learn more about the top MBA programs in Europe and the networking opportunities available there. Once he figured out which schools he wanted to apply to, he geared up for the next step in his application journey: the GMAT.
Balancing a Low GMAT Score
Ogi took the GMAT twice. Both times, he scored a 640.
His target business schools included Oxford and Cambridge, where the average GMAT score is close to 690.
This was a challenge for Ogi. He also started working on his application essays while preparing for his second GMAT attempt, adding to the stress. It meant that he had to highlight the uniqueness of his profile to distinguish it from other applicants with much higher scores.
That’s when Sam introduced him to Samriddhi. Having a consultant review his profile and create a structure to discuss his achievements, extracurriculars, and goals brought back his confidence. Despite his GMAT score being below average, Ogi now had the tools to highlight other unique parts of his profile.
The MBA Application Process
At first, Ogi thought his application would be all about his career. Once he started working with Samriddhi, he realized how much more he’d have to unpack.
Their conversations helped Ogi revisit stories not just from his academic and professional past, but also from his personal life. Some schools, like Oxford, had straightforward questions about his qualifications and future goals. Others, like Cambridge, Duke, and Rotman, were more introspective.
“I think the biggest thing is you find yourself again in this application process”.
During this process, it felt like he was connecting with a childhood friend. Samriddhi helped him insert a more personal, human side to his stories, and he was able to define his goals and connect them to his past experiences more clearly.
Overcoming the Fear of Being Seen as a Job Hopper
Besides his GMAT score, one of the key weaknesses Ogi grappled with was that he had worked with multiple companies in a relatively short amount of time. In the last 3 years, he’d switched jobs 3 times. So he was worried this would be held against him by the AdCom.
After talking things over with Samriddhi, he realized this wasn’t necessarily a weakness. He was in a unique position; not many under 30 could say they’d worked with 3 Unicorns! While putting together his SCAR analysis for each job position, Ogi found that his career trajectory wasn’t as erratic as he’d thought.
He had primarily worked with platform-based businesses, where each role helped him experience different sides of business operations. What he previously thought was a weakness turned out to be a strength; his diverse skill-set positioned him well for his post-MBA career goal.
One of the key areas where this showed up was the different essay set for each school. Ogi was able to find interesting anecdotes from each of his roles and use them in his essays. This ensured that none of his essays looked repetitive or uninspired.
Ogi initially thought that his extracurriculars weren’t very significant.
Only when he analyzed them, he saw how much time and skill he had invested in each. Most of them were closely aligned with his work, like helping a fledgling Mongolian start-up enter the Japanese and Hong Kong market, or founding a mentorship club to help Mongolian students develop their careers and find jobs in Japan.
Once he learned how to connect his extracurriculars to his professional purpose and goals, his application became stronger. That’s because his extracurriculars demonstrated further evidence of leadership and a strong sense of community - key skills that the AdCom looks for.
Being a Dad
Ogi received the good news in the middle of the application cycle.
But with MBA deadlines imminent, a second attempt at the GMAT, his full-time job, and a newborn at home, this was going to be a bumpy road. Having a consultant to guide him on the application and its smaller details made him feel like he wasn’t alone in this.
In his brainstorming sessions with Samriddhi, Ogi thought that a lot of the stories they discussed weren’t particularly important. But having a consultant who could extract value from the little details helped him see the importance of all his experiences - even ones he’d overlooked - and view his application more holistically.
The MBA Interview
Ogi's first interview was with Tuck, whose application he had worked on without Sam Weeks Consulting help. To practice, he scheduled a mock interview with Samriddhi, where he could practice his English and work on his confidence.
But he felt that the interview was disappointing. He found himself becoming stiff and his answers sounded rehearsed. After this interview, Ogi scheduled more practice sessions with Samriddhi to refine his approach. His next interviews with Oxford, Rotman, and Cambridge felt more natural and he was able to connect with his interviewers.
Of these, Ogi preferred his interview with Oxford the most. At the time, he was in Japan, where Oxford has an international office. So he was able to meet an admissions officer from Oxford in person, and felt like he could be more authentic and at ease with his interviewer.
“If you have a chance to do an interview in person, I will advise you to take the in-person one”.
Why the Cambridge MBA?
Ogi’s interview practice paid off. He received 3 admits:
Cambridge with a £30k scholarship, Oxford with a £30k scholarship, and Rotman with CAD 30k.
Ogi spoke to alumni from all these schools, which helped him understand the post-MBA career opportunities at each school better. He narrowed his choices down to the UK, and reached out again to alumni in his target industry and roles to get a second opinion.
That’s when he learned more about the Cambridge cluster or Silicon Fen, Europe’s largest tech cluster, and how research students at the school often went on to develop their own start-ups. Hearing stories from alumni who started their journeys here was reassuring, and Ogi felt that Cambridge would be the better option to help him enter the start-up space.
That’s where he’s headed this Fall!
Advice for other MBA applicants
For Ogi, the most valuable parts of his application process were doing the proper school research, and finding the right consultant.
Initially, Ogi didn’t realize the difference between 1 year and 2 year MBA programs. It was only after investing time in research that he understood the business school landscape better. It’s important to list your priorities, draw up a pro and con chart for each school and program, and then identify the right programs for you.
When choosing a consultant, it’s best to find one you feel comfortable sharing your life stories and vulnerabilities with. If you haven’t shared enough, you may miss out on the full value a consultant can provide. “So I think I shared my whole life with Samriddhi and it actually connects us…it feels like talking to my childhood friend”.
Inspired by Ogi’s story? Watch the full interview here.
Applying to top business schools like Oxford and Cambridge? Get the full school course, complete with example essays based on successful applicants, on MBAConsultant.com.