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Admissions Director Q&A: Dibyendu Bose of the Indian School of Business

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Located in Hyderabad, India, one of the larger urban areas in India, and in Mohali, India, the Indian School of Business offers an accelerated, one-year Post-Graduate Program in Management (PGP).  An ISB alumnus and MIT Sloan Fellow, Dibyendu Bose is the Director of Admissions & Financial Aid (AFA) at ISB. He also heads the Office of Alumni Engagement and works closely with Dean Rajendra Srivastava in driving different strategic initiatives.  Read on the learn more from Bose about ISB’s PGP, the best way to respond to the ISB essay questions, and more. 

Dibyendu Bose, Director of Admissions & Financial Aid, ISB

Clear Admit: What is the one aspect of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?

Dibyendu Bose: The one-year flagship Post-Graduate Program in Management is our MBA equivalent. With more than 200+ international faculty teaching the programme, 43+ exchange options available to choose from and 1500+ job offers by 220+ companies, this one year is indeed a transformational year for the PGP students at ISB.

CA: How might the applicant experience look different this year due to COVID-19? How would you advise candidates to get to know your MBA program and student community if they aren’t able to visit your campus?

DB: The ISB application process consists of filling an online application followed by an interview if shortlisted. There are no changes in the mode of application, which continues to be online. However, keeping in view the current situation with COVID -19 and the social distancing and travelling norms applicable, we will be conducting our interviews for Round 1 online through a secure digital platform, which will ensure a similar experience for both the interviewers and the candidates as last year.

We are extensively leveraging technology platforms to reach out to our prospective candidates through online platforms and arranging interactions with our alumni, faculty, admissions team and current students. We would suggest the student community to follow the updates of these events on our website and social media pages and make the best of these interactions.

CA: Walk us through the life of an application in your office from an operational standpoint. What happens between the time an applicant clicks “submit” and the time the committee offers a final decision (e.g. how many “reads” does it get, how long is each “read,” who reads it, does the committee convene to discuss it as a group, etc.)?

We follow a well-defined and global shortlisting process for the application reviews.

  • Each qualified application is reviewed by a well-trained group based on different evaluation criteria (academic qualifications, GMAT/GRE score, work experience, extra-curriculars, essays, recommendations, diversity, etc.). Post this, a pre-interview rating is generated and the same is considered to invite applicants for an interview.
  • The interview panel consists of alumni/faculty. Post the interview, a rating is generated and now this rating is combined with the pre-interview score to come to a final rating for a candidate.
  • All admits/rejects/waitlist student recommendations are presented to the Admissions committee (ADCOM). The ADCOM consists of a set number of alumni and faculty members. They need to approve/reject the recommendations made by the admissions team post review.

CA: How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read the essays? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? What is one key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write?

DB: Essays are an important component of our selection process. While reading the essays, apart from communication and articulation skills, the evaluators looks for clarity of thought, evidence of maturity and instances of leadership and interpersonal skills. One of the essays also focuses on the motivations of the candidate for pursuing PGP at ISB and how ISB fits into the overall career aspirations of the candidate. Many candidates tend to use abstruse words or flowery language to show their command over the language; however, the focus should be on keeping your essay simple with good readability and highlight your strengths and work experiences. The candidates should ensure that they keep their essays to the point and convey all relevant information in a succinct manner.

CA: Could you tell us about your interview process? Approximately how many applicants do you interview? Who conducts the interview (students, admissions officers, alumni) and what is the nature of the interview?

DB: Our usual selection ratios are between 1/6 and 1/7 from applicants to students in the class. For a cohort of 900 students, we interview approx. 2,500 students for the same. Over 500 alumni are involved in the blind interviews, which are conducted in 5 major cities across India. Given the current pandemic interviews will be conducted digitally. 

CA: Tell us briefly about two notable professors at your institution (ideally one student favorite, and one up-and-coming).

DB: Professor Milind Sohoni is an Area Leader and Professor of Operations Management and also serves as the Deputy Dean – Hyderabad Campus and Deputy Dean – Academic Affairs. He teaches courses on supply chain management, decision models and optimization, revenue management and pricing, and decision making under uncertainty and has been adjudged the Professor of the year for core courses by the PGP Co’2020.. His other academic appointments include visiting positions at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, IL. Professor Sohoni’s research interests span large-scale stochastic airline optimization, supply chain analytics, healthcare delivery and nonprofit operations management in resource constrained settings. He has published several research articles in globally recognized, top-tier, academic journals and serves as an associate editor for leading academic journals in operations management. Professor Sohoni holds a Ph.D. in Operations Research from the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA.

Sarang Deo is Professor of Operations Management at the Indian School of Business and has been selected as Professor of the Year for core courses by PGP Co’2020. His primary area of interest is health care operations with special emphasis on investigating the impact of operations decisions on population level health outcomes. He has studied the influenza vaccine supply chain and the phenomenon of ambulance diversion (in the US), the adult HIV treatment supply chains and the infant HIV diagnosis networks in sub-Saharan Africa, and more recently the TB diagnosis pathway in rural India. He frequently collaborates with international agencies such as the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and his research has been funded by the US National Science Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada.

CA: Anything else you’d like to highlight about your MBA program or admissions process?

DB: The PGP programme at ISB follows the unique portfolio model of faculty. ISB has visiting faculty who are top academics from global schools and practitioners from leading organisations who have reached the pinnacle in their fields. They visit ISB for a complete term to teach PGP students. Examples of the visiting faculty at ISB include Mr. Krishnamurthy Subramanian, the current Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India and Mr. Edward Rogers, the Chief Knowledge Officer at NASA among others. The diverse and strong alumni network of 11500+ members spread across 60 countries and 400 cities globally offers immense opportunities for networking and career enhancement.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.