Q: How did you choose your MBA program? What were your program's greatest assets?
A: I've always been the type of person who looks for unique experiences in everything I do, with the MBA it was the same thing - I wanted to find a business school that went above and beyond the traditional academic experience. At the time, I was looking to advance my career in the Data Science/Artificial Intelligence Space and was looking for business school that could help me with this. Queen's stood out because of its focus on experiential learning and a very strong team based approach. Also, it was one of the first business schools in the world to offer a dual degree program that combined an MBA with a Masters in Management Analytics (MMA).
The biggest assets here, apart from the experiential learning and the team based approach, are the alumni. Its often said that your network determines your net worth, I have been absolutely amazed at this feeling of family that exists within the Queen's alumni network - everyone is so willing to help you succeed.
Q: What was your favorite classroom experience?
A: The evaluation for every course in the program is split 50% on team based learning and 50% on individual learning and throughout the core of the program you have to be part of the same team. These teams are chosen in such a way that it brings together people with different backgrounds, skill sets and cultures, so you have to learn how to work and learn together and succeed as one team.
This has taught me a lot of leadership lessons particularly on structuring cross functional teams and determining the right metrics to measure and evaluate. Since the nature of my job at IBM has a global focus, these experiences have been extremely beneficial.
Q:What activities were you involved in outside of class? How did you balance your time?
A: For me, it was all about maximizing my experience. At the time, Queen's offered a Masters in Management Analytics (MMA) program as well and no one had yet chosen to do the MBA and MMA together. I decided to both of them as I had a fairly good understanding of what I wanted to do after school. This was one of the best decisions I ever made and it helped me understand that I really enjoy high pressure situations. I'm very happy that a number of people have since chosen to take up the dual degree (Including my wife!)
During the MBA there are just so many things to do so it is important to decide which ones to pursue. I wanted to help broaden the focus of analytics at the business school, so I created the Business Analytics Club with the goal of educating and getting people interested in Analytics as a career. It was a MBA club at the time and now I'm very happy that the club has since expanded to a multi-department unit.
When it comes to time management my advice has always been to stretch yourself as much as possible. Everyone is there to learn and the MBA program is the perfect setting for people to experiment and try different things - if you're getting more than 6-7 hours of sleep a night find something new to take up!
Q: What inspired you to pursue your MBA abroad, and what were the greatest benefits of doing so?
A: I was looking broadly for three things: experience, network and ROI.
Queen's is very entrepreneurial school in many ways, whether it was pursuing the dual degree that no one had done before or setting up a new business club - the leadership team was extremely supportive.
As I mentioned before, the alumni network is very strong and people are always willing to help. This is very important as it can play a big role in the future when it comes to growing your career or finding your next job.
ROI - both in terms to time and money, Queen's has probably one of the smallest MBA class size (about 70 people) so there is a lot of individual attention. There are a number of scholarships which are very beneficial specially if you're an international student.
Bonus tip: For anyone looking to come to Canada, make sure you research the student tax credit benefit (you are eligible for a tax refund of close to 20% of your total tuition fee).
Q: What is something you learned during your MBA experience that was unexpected?
A: Cultural differences play such a huge role in the business world. This is something that seems super obvious, but I believe unless you experience this first hand its very hard to truly understand and leverage it.
Before deciding on an MBA program, take a look at the cultural diversity of the class. Pay a lot of attention to this aspect because personally, I believe that I have learnt so much more outside the classroom that I leverage at work everyday.
Q: What advice do you have for future MBA candidates?
A: Searching for the right business school for your MBA can be a challenging and stressful process. Just stick to the basics and you will do great. Remember this is not a race and not all MBA schools are made the same - take the time to tailor your application to a specific business school. It's a time-consuming activity but its very well worth doing it right the very first time. Good luck with the admission process and I wish you all the very best!
If you think this was helpful feel free to connect with me on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shashankbk/
Interested in receiving an MBA or Business Master's Degree? Check out Queen's University Smith School of Business to learn more about their graduate business opportunities!