An interview with Mr. Sameer Kamat, Founder, “MBA Crystall Ball”

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and Author, “Beyond the MBA Hype”

by Aeman Waghoo, Content Writer, BMS.co.in

 

An MBA from a good institution can be a huge asset when it comes to getting a good education, building a helpful network and opening exciting career opportunities. But for people who chase the degree just to get another qualification on their resume, it can be a waste of time and money. So it’s very important to know when to take it up, what to expect from it and choose the right business school.


  • Tell us something about yourself.

I am an MBA admissions consultant. My venture MBA Crystal Ball helps Indian candidates get into the top international business schools across the world. I am also an author. On my personal blog, I share tips on how to write a book and get published. In my spare time, I create Onnicles (word games). I completed my engineering degree from Mumbai and my MBA from the University of Cambridge.

 

  • Tell us something about your “MBA Crystal Ball”.  What stands as an inspiration behind it?

MBA admissions consulting is primarily an American concept where applicants approach consultants who help them create a personalised game-plan to get into the top universities. In India though we have many educational agencies, the concept of premium MBA admissions consulting is in a very nascent stage. The top-notch international consultants (mostly based in the US) are too expensive for Indian applicants. So I thought I could make a little difference by making it a level playing field for Indian MBA applicants. That’s how MBA Crystal Ball came into existence.

We provide services related to GMAT preparation, MBA essays (including ISB essays) and general career guidance. Through numerous discussions forums and our MBA blog we also provide free advice and stories on topics such as GMAT coaching, MBA scholarships.

 

  • What prompted you to leave a well-paying corporate job to take up entrepreneurship? 

I started MBA Crystal Ball as a part-time venture. But when folks I had helped got into the most competitive universities globally, word-of-mouth publicity increased and so did the demand for my MBA admissions consulting services. It was getting tough to balance my corporate responsibilities with my passion. So I had to take a call and choose one. I chose entrepreneurship.

 

  • You have also written a book on MBA education – “Beyond the MBA Hype”, that’s become very popular among Indian applicants interested in an MBA degree. What is it about?

Not many degrees have been hyped up as much as the MBA. But the post-MBA picture doesn’t end up being very rosy for many applicants who’ve jumped in without doing any background research.

Most of the information available publicly (on websites, in books and on discussion forums) is primarily aimed at cracking entrance exams and the competitive admissions process.

My intention behind writing the book was (as the title says) to help MBA applicants go beyond the hype that surrounds the degree and help them realise what an MBA can and more importantly cannot do for them.

It’s been received very well and got very encouraging reviews. In a few months of being released, it has already sold thousands of copies and gone into a re-print.

 

  • Readers of the book have said the format of the book is unlike any other ‘business’ book they have read. Was it intentional?

Many readers who’ve read the book have said that this was the most informal and fun ‘business book’ they’ve ever come across. I guess one of the reasons, is that I write as I talk. So it was never meant to be only for the serious, high-brow reader. There are fictional characters in it and plenty of humour. Students from across India and abroad have loved the way the message has been presented.

 

  • Is ‘MBA Crystal Ball’ and ‘Beyond the MBA Hype’ inter-connected in any way?

The only common connection is that the author of the book is also the Founder of the consulting venture. However the message in the book isn’t meant to promote our consulting services.

In fact, it’s the other way around. Rather than pushing readers to blindly apply to MBA programs (and take our services), the book actually encourages them to rethink their decision based on many questions listed in the last chapter. A few well-wishers had suggested not getting the book published, as it would harm my admissions consulting business.

But most readers of the book are intelligent and ambitious people. After reading the book, if they can take an educated call on whether they should go ahead with their MBA plans or defer it by a few years or shelve it completely, then I’ve done my job.

 

  • Today there are endless career options one can go for after graduation. To what level does MBA hold its distinct position today?

An MBA from a good institution can be a huge asset when it comes to getting a good education, building a helpful network and opening exciting career opportunities. But for people who chase the degree just to get another qualification on their resume, it can be a waste of time and money. So it’s very important to know when to take it up, what to expect from it and choose the right business school.

 

  • Many readers of bms.co.in may be interested in going for a Masters degree (MBA). What will you advice them?

Don’t jump into the rat-race blindly just because all your classmates are doing it. Look at an MBA not just as a theoretical exercise, but something that blends theory and practice. If you’ve got answers to all the personal, financial and career related questions in the last chapter of Beyond The MBA Hype, then you might be a good candidate for an MBA program.

 

  • ‘Part Time MBA + Job’ or ‘Full Time MBA’ – Which one is of greater advantage in your eyes and Why?

I realise that not everyone has the luxury to take time off from a paying job. But given the option, I’d recommend a full time MBA. The experience and takeaways of being fully involved are very different from a part-time involvement.

 

  • What would you advice to the people who are planning to seek their Masters Degree from abroad? How much difference will it make?

There are significant differences between an Indian and an overseas MBA. Before taking a decision, it is very important to know more about the admissions process, the general class profile and the kind of post-MBA jobs that graduates get.

Compared to an Indian MBA program, the investment in the top international programs is very high (over 50 lakh rupees for US programs). The average salaries for the top schools are also in the same range. So, to answer your question, yes it can make a BIG difference if approached in the right manner.

One of the pre-requisites for the good b-schools is a minimum of 2-3 years work-experience. Plus there are other requirements. Check out this article to learn more about how to get into the best international MBA programs.

 

  • Can Entrepreneurship be taught in B-Schools/Management Institutes/Colleges?

It’s a question of aptitude and training. One without the other can have limited value. If someone has the inherent potential to be an entrepreneur, an MBA can accelerate the learning and growth process.

 

  • Qualification, Talent and Experience. How will you rank them on the basis of its importance an entrepreneur?

1. Talent          2. Experience       3. Qualification

I’d also like to add a generous helping of a fourth factor – ‘Luck’!

 

  • What message will you give to those who want to get into entrepreneurship?

Don’t wait for a eureka moment to start. Start small, take baby steps, make mistakes, learn and persevere.

 

I think it’s a great initiative. It’s a focussed, practical and useful site meant for a niche audience. Not too many portals manage to achieve a good balance of these elements.

Keep rocking!

 

‘Beyond The MBA Hype’ is available on Flipkart and all the leading bookstores. You can connect with the author on Twitter @kamatsameer

 

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Aeman Waghoo

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