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Real Humans of Texas McCombs’ MBA Class of 2023

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texas mba class of 2023Aditya Varma, Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2023

Age: 26
Hometown: Amritsar, Punjab, India
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Manipal Institute of Technology, Computer Science & Engineering
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4 years, FinTech

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
In my previous life, I was working as an Associate in automation at the world’s largest asset management firm. I had just got assigned to a business-critical product and was put on a DE&I leadership program. I was doing well professionally and could see myself spearheading various FinTech efforts in the future. But personally, I always envisioned myself attending a business school. I wanted to take this time as two years off from the workforce to reflect, ideate and explore. As an MBA candidate, I thought I would get a chance to explore innovation in different businesses in a structed manner. The MBA program would give me a platform to work upon my soft skills and become a great storyteller. I also aspired to build a strong international network, which prompted me to apply to business schools outside India.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a lot of issues as well as opportunities. The concept of normal was evolving. There was a lot to learn and un-learn. Handshakes were replaced by nods or fist bumps, in-person coffee chats were replaced by Zoom recruiting, and so on. Change, I feel, is inevitable. And acceptance is key. I thought this would be the best time to attend business school. In my opinion, attending business school in this era would be a golden opportunity to learn the new ways of the world.

Why did you choose Texas McCombs? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I love college campuses and free spaces. I always reminisce my time during undergrad at Manipal, a vibrant college town in India, tucked in natural beauty. The surroundings and the people during my undergrad enhanced my learning experience and played an important role in carving my personality. I felt that I would be able to re-live that experience while pursuing my MBA at Texas McCombs. UT has a lovely campus and various sunset spots (I’m a sucker for sunsets). My favorite spot of reflection at McCombs is the terrace on the fourth floor during sunset while a light breeze blows during fall. From there, you can see the UT tower and the waving Longhorn flag during home games. 

Having the right people around is of ut-most importance to me (UT-most, see what I did there? ). Since UT is a football heavy school, all round development is engrained in its culture. Rather than focusing on just academics, Texas McCombs adopts the football culture to give importance to collaboration and personality development during the learning process. I can see myself re-living parts of my Manipal life already!

Finally, the location advantage is real. Austin is way beyond a beautiful city to live in. It has a great presence of startups, FinTech and Big tech and is near Houston, a hub for banking and consulting. The city is also close to Dallas, which aligns to my personal aspirations of attending the annual Sneaker Con (I’m a sneakerhead)! 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
For me, life is about building relationships, and consequently, maintaining them. At McCombs, I believe in building stronger ones and creating a tight-knit community even though we come from various parts of the world. 

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I am heavy on video journaling! I capture one second of video every day and create a movie at the end of each year. This is a great way to reflect and to share experiences with loved ones. I have been practicing this since January 1st, 2017.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would love to make the 60-second video essay again! 

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I spent a lot of time taking standardized tests to improve my score. I wish I would have invested lesser time. Folks who are taking the GMAT, if you hit a saturation point, don’t worry, breathe. Take a break for a while, energize, and get back at it again – it is a game of mindset!

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
If I could, I would have skipped the standardized testing part. Building the right, stress-free mindset helped me get through it!

What is your initial impression of the Texas McCombs students/culture/community?
Friendly students, Collaborative culture, Inclusive community.

What is one thing you have learned about Texas McCombs that has surprised you?
I applaud the community on responsible COVID-testing and following mask etiquettes in class. Never thought I would love our building, Robert B Rowling Hall so much! It has great terraces and is always bright with natural lighting.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
The COVID-19 pandemic was a blessing in disguise for me. While working from home, I got more time to work on my applications. During this time, I also got to reconnect with my parents. Living with them also gave me a sense of security, which helped me focus better on the admissions process. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Having to navigate the first year of the MBA during an ongoing pandemic.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Building a strong community and making real connections along the way!

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.