Nearly 50 years ago, William Bain, Jr. left BCG to launch what would become another Big Three consulting firm: Bain & Company. In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, we hear from Sanchita Shandilya, INSEAD MBA ’21, who also embarked on a new adventure to a leading one-year MBA program to launch her career in consulting. Read on for how INSEAD heightened Shandilya’s skills and prepared her for the exciting life of a Bain consultant.
Hometown: New Delhi, India
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: INSEAD, Class of 2021
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Financial Services, four years
Post-MBA Work Experience: Consulting, five months
Why did you choose to attend business school?
At the time, I wanted to pivot into the consulting industry to play a role in developing the strategy of major global companies, so I thought business school would be a good place to learn how to do so. In addition to my career change, I wanted to pursue an MBA because I would learn how different internal functions of an organization and the macro factors surrounding it are correlated and develop a strong business acumen.
Why INSEAD? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
INSEAD was the only business school I applied to because I was certain it was the right school for me. There were three reasons why I chose INSEAD, which I have listed below.
- Diversity of the student body and the opportunity to interact with students from over 90 countries, which is a very unique aspect of INSEAD education.
- Reputation with consulting firms — INSEAD is globally renowned for being one of the leading sources of talent for top consulting firms.
- Duration – I had just completed a master’s degree previously, and I was attracted to the idea of completing an MBA in one year, instead of two years.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
MBA helped me build on three skills that are valuable in consulting.
Complex problem solving — Analyzing dozens of case studies about how global businesses tackled challenges or took advantage of market opportunities helped hone my analytical, structured thinking and problem-solving skills.
Communication — INSEAD MBA includes a mandatory course on effective communication that I found very valuable. Additionally, presenting and debating ideas with diverse groups of faculty and students taught me how to tailor my message to different audiences.
Collaboration — Working with diverse teams across multiple project groups taught me how to quickly adapt to working styles of different teams, which is a very valuable skill for consulting.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
As my MBA was a one-year program without an internship, I did not do an internship during business school.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
In making this decision, I gave a lot of emphasis to the company’s work culture. Bain is globally renowned for its culture, consistently featuring in Glassdoor’s top places to work. I spoke to several current and former Bain employees who spoke very highly of the collaborative and supportive culture at Bain, and this is the environment I knew I would thrive in every day.
How has COVID–19 impacted your industry/career plans?
For consulting, the biggest impact has been that we do not travel to the client sites anymore. I think both consultants and clients have adjusted to this new virtual working style. The future will most likely have a hybrid working model where we spend some time on the client sites and some time in the home office, instead of always being at the client.
Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
One thing I would suggest to MBA students is to focus on writing a strong CV. In my experience, most of the filtering for recruitment happens at the CV stage; therefore, why it is so impactful. I would highly recommend getting feedback on your CV from people in the company/industry that you are aspiring to join.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
My suggestion would be for students to be more selective in applying to jobs. In my job search, I did apply to certain industries that I was not interested in, which took up time and did not yield desired results. I also believe interviewers can generally tell fairly easily if you are not very passionate about a role.
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
There were no surprises; however, recruiting through virtual interviews was certainly a novel experience. My advice to students doing virtual interviews would be to make sure the external factors (Camera quality, internet connection, room lighting, background, etc.) are conducive to video calls. While this might seem trivial, I believe getting these things right shows attention to detail and creates a strong impression on the interviewer.
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
I got a great piece of advice while I was in school. During the MBA, one has multiple competing priorities and time is very valuable. I would suggest students to identify what they want from the MBA during the first few weeks of the course. After that, it is important to evaluate the activities you are participating in and prioritize those which are aligned with your goal. This exercise was tremendously helpful to me and allowed me to manage my time better in school.