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'MBA helps you break the glass ceiling'

Last updated on: October 9, 2009 18:35 IST

Image: Akhila Natrajan
Photographs: Satish Bodas Abhishek Mande

The Common Entrance Test or CAT is the gateway to not just some of the best B-schools in the country but also to better job prospects and a better career. MBA aspirants across India put their studies/jobs on hold as they gear up for possibly one of the most challenging tests in the world. This year, with the CAT being a computer-based test (CBT), the challenge is even greater. So how are students preparing to face the test?

As part of a continuing series on CAT aspirants, we get test-takers to share their experiences. Here, Akhila Natrajan spells out her mantras.

Akhila Natrajan is an associate consultant with Hanmer MSNL PR for the last year and a half. The 23-year-old Economics graduate completed her post-graduate diploma in Corporate Communications before being placed at her current company through campus recruitment.

Akhila will appear for the Common Admission Test (CAT) 2009 on November 30, this year. The young aspirant shares her experiences with

Has majoring in Economics helped you in your CAT preparations?

Certainly! Majoring in Economics has helped a lot because I had two math-based papers in my final year: Econometrics and Math-Stats. As a result, today, not many concepts in Quant are alien to me since there is always a recall value to what I had studied earlier.

Why do you want to appear for CAT?

CAT is a ladder to a better career in MBA. It opens great career opportunities. You start at a better salary and get better opportunities to grow. I am also given to believe that there is a lesser glass ceiling when you complete your MBA.

'Consistent study helps a lot'

Photographs: Videos: Satish Bodas

How are you preparing for CAT?

By January this year, I had decided I wanted to appear for CAT. In March I joined the weekend batch at IMS. I work Monday to Friday and since it is a four-hour Sunday class, I also get a day in between to unwind. Earlier, I would study only during the weekends. But as the CAT date gets closer, I have stepped up my preparations. Over and above studying for about eight to ten hours during the weekends, I also study for an hour and a half during the weekdays after work. Consistent study helps a lot.

What are the subjects you are focussing on?

Definitely Quantitative analysis! When it comes to Math, speed and accuracy are important. In the beginning it's fine to focus on accuracy. But now it's the speed at which you solve questions that gains importance.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Like many others I too count Quantitative Analysis as my weakness, though not all of it. Questions on time, distance and speed are an issue. The key to resolving this is consistent practice. I am very strong at Verbal since I am a voracious reader. Even if there are three long comprehensions, I don't have any problems with solving them.

Is this your first attempt?

No! I had appeared for CAT 2006 when I was in my final year of graduation. I wasn't prepared and had simply joined the bandwagon since many of my friends were doing it too.

'I believe work experience is necessary '

What mistakes did you commit then that you're improving upon this time around?

The biggest mistake then was that I appeared for CAT as a fresher. I believe work experience is necessary because then you bring a lot more to class. During my first attempt, I was also confused about what to give priority to: my university exams or CAT or Xavier Admission Test (XAT) or Common Entrance Test (CET).

What are your options besides the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs)?

I am not looking just at IIMs. I don't mind exploring A-grade institute like Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) and SP Jain among others that look at a decent percentile. I also plan to appear for the Common Entrance Test for Symbiosis.

How did you go about choosing a coaching class?

When I appeared for CAT the first time, I was a student at IMS. So IMS was a natural choice the second time over. They have good section tests, their class sheet method is great and a batch of just about 15-20 students ensures individual attention.

What if your percentile is not good enough for any of your choice of colleges?

Then I come back to work. I am taking a short break before CAT after which I will give the series of examinations. There will be no sabbatical or a big long holiday. It is good to work and grow as a person. If nothing else, I plan grow in my company.

What are your career aspirations?

I hope to be a marketing professional. In fact my current job is also very helpful because I deal with marketing professionals. I have learnt how businesses work and have got great exposure here.