An Officer and a B-School Student

A lifetime of experience and deep thinking led this Indian Army officer to Babson College, where he hopes to both gain and share knowledge

Hi, friends. Prior to B-school I was a career military officer in the Indian Army, and was a commanding officer of an electronic warfare regiment deployed in counterinsurgency operations in India. I took premature retirement in July, 2006, after completing 21 years service. The training, discipline, and structured regime of army life have prepared me to define clear objectives, set priorities, and manage often meager resources.

Furthermore, through my experience working under uncertainty and persevering in adversity, I have learned to be a motivator, leader, and a team player. These have provided me with foundations to handle challenges that confront most business organizations.

What makes me tick? What made me join the Army, and how has this shaped my current career aspirations? Well…as a child I was an over-energetic boy who never shied away from embracing trouble. I would pull street dogs by their tails, chase butterflies or speeding cars, or come home from play covered, from head to toe, in mud.

Bound for Adventure

In school, I was a relatively bright student, a keen sportsman, a member of the school band and the National Cadet Corps. My extensive and diverse interests helped lay foundation for what later developed into an all-round personality.

My dream of joining the Indian Army and leading a life of unending adventure was realized when, at the age of 17, I was selected to the prestigious National Defense Academy. After thousands of punishing pushups, hundreds of miles of grueling marches, long bleary nights of mockup exercises—with undergrad studies thrown in for good measure, I was a proud Second Lieutenant, ready to take on the world, and all that it beheld.

My four years of challenging Army training taught me a lot. I used to take pride in my physical fitness, but here I learned that beyond a certain threshold, physical capabilities and/or limitations lose their relevance, and only those with vast reserves of mental grit, determination, and the will to persevere come out on top.

Sharing the Knowledge

As I take the next step in my career, I recognize that I need to build my corporate business perspective. My short-term goal is to join a management consultancy firm so that all that I've learned in my service along with new skills that I'll gather from my MBA can help business organizations in improving themselves.

Later, I plan to also teach while continuing to take up consulting assignments. This will allow me not only to learn but also to share my learning with others. Furthermore, my long-term goal is to create my own consulting company.

In my career spanning two decades, I have acquired many insights into individual and organizational aspects of a society. Since I plan to switch careers, I want to explore my options in an academic setting with sufficient real-life challenges. While I had traveled to the U.S. and worked in Sri Lanka, and therefore had some international exposure, I needed a global education that would prepare me to harness expanding business opportunities in a rapidly shrinking world.

Well-Rounded Life

My intellectual curiosity, creative pursuits, and search for excellence have led me on a fascinating journey. I was an engineer, and a qualified commando. I wrote computer programs in eight languages. And I speak four languages, besides having formally learned two more (German and Sanskrit).

I have authored papers, conducted studies, taught courses, mentored officers and cadets, designed communication strategies, presided over courts of inquiry investigating charges ranging from insubordination to sodomy, organized national-level exhibitions and TV broadcasts, conducted psychological operations, and trekked over 17,000 feet on combat mission patrols. I sketch, paint, and draw cartoons. I have won photography competitions, participated in shows and concerts where I acted, played guitar or sang, ran hurdles, commanded and won military parades, and captained the Army Signals football (soccer) team.

I am an active member of the Art of Living community and have completed four yoga and meditation courses. I enjoy reading on astrophysics, neuro-linguistic programming, silva mind control, and leadership and motivation. I experiment with astrology, reiki, numerology, and vaastu-shastra (an ancient Indian science of architecture). I'm intrigued by similarities between quantum theory and vipaasana (a form of meditation).

Beyond the Comfort Zones

I love to explore and demystify relativity, time, and space concepts. The perfect blend of art (creativity, flexibility, subjectivity) and science (technology, rigidity, objectivity) stimulates me. I believe I have the passion and aptitude for both.

I have served in diverse military units including on an overseas active combat duty as part of Indian peacekeeping forces. Through such exposure I acquired a high degree of understanding of the complexities of structured organizations that are often required to operate in an unstructured, ambiguous, and conflicting environment. Thanks to these experiences I now understand people, organizations, and processes much more intimately

Also, because of my wide and varied assignments, I have stretched myself beyond my comfort zones, explored uncharted territories, and developed leadership and decision-making skills under crisis and ambiguity. However, taking courses such as "Leading Dynamic Organizations in the Information Age" and "Entrepreneurship, Society, & the Environment" will help me further integrate my experiences with the business world.

Consulting to the Armed Forces

There was a time when the armed forces were seen as role models in the areas of leadership and management. However, with changing times, we seem to be lagging behind. This is evident from many outdated and ineffective processes that we still cling to. For example, we still have batteries with expired shelf-life reaching frontline troops.

Our closed working environment, on the pretext of security reasons, has often prevented us from moving ahead. I, therefore, see huge opportunities in providing consultancy services to armed forces and other such structured organizations the world over. An MBA will allow me to develop the skill set I will need to work with and understand the particular issues these corporations face.

Also, throughout my career I have had extensive opportunities to start new projects, create infrastructure, and leave the place better than it was before. For instance, I raised the Army Internet Cell right from scratch, bringing the Indian Army into cyberspace. I had a chance to discover and hone my entrepreneurial aspirations. In order to be truly successful, I need to transform myself from being a job seeker to a job provider.

Why Babson?

Therefore, after working for a few years and getting the necessary experience, I plan to create and lead my own world-class consultancy company that will fill the need of organizations to bridge the gap between the structured and the unstructured, between the fixed and the flexible.

A few years from now I also see myself authoring books that delve into the dynamics of leadership and change management, people and organizations, and the increasing convergence of Eastern mysticism and Western scientific thought. I will tour the globe giving talks, holding seminars, and conducting workshops. I see myself having a circle of influence that transcends boundaries, time zones, cultures, industries, and functions.

I chose to do my MBA at Babson College. Babson has both the credentials and the lineage to help me in my goals. I am seeking an MBA with a cross-disciplinary integrative learning foundation with freedom to pursue specific electives and a thorough understanding of entrepreneurship—a subject where I have my growth needs, and Babson—an astounding reputation.

The Long Application Journey

Furthermore, organizations such as Babson Consulting Alliance and Asia Business Forum will help me smoothly transition into a civilian work environment. Also, being an outdoor person, I am excitedly looking forward to all that the Babson campus in particular and Massachusetts in general have to offer beyond derivatives, capital flows, and regression analysis.

Finally, my two cents worth to all those aspiring for their MBA but do not know where to start. It's been over five years since I began my research on the admissions process for my MBA. The entire process was highly enlightening. The essays that I thought were great, initially, were promptly confined to recycle bins as I kept introspecting yet deeper. So my advice to all you guys planning to apply is to start earliest. The journey may be long and arduous but, nonetheless, it's most fascinating. You'll learn a lot about yourself.

Preparing the Essays

But even before you sit at your computer to start keying your ideas onto a Word document—and it takes a whole lot of either raw willpower or a key date to force yourself to do this. You can start right now by keeping a diary where you can start writing odd ideas that will go into deciding the content of your essay. These (ideas) have a peculiar habit of springing up at the least opportune moments…while fixing your breakfast, sitting on the loo, just having woken up, or when about to doze off.

You'll be surprised how handy these jottings will be when you finally decide to begin your essays. You may classify these notes under various subheads such as "Why MBA?" "Why a particular B-School?" "My strengths/weaknesses?" "Highlights of my career?" "My passions, values, etc.?" Wherever possible, make sure to note examples that support your point.

I assure you if you follow this religiously you'll soon be on your way to writing really compelling essays. Best of luck!

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