From office cubicle to IIM classroom after 9 years of work-ex: story of a fashionable father

Jeetesh Varshney

July 15, 2019

Disclaimer: Previously published on

Synopsis:Rarely do we come across candidates who thought of pursuing regular MBA after almost nine years of work experience. Not only did he think of doing an MBA but also make it to the elite group of IIMs. Which is what makes Rahul Gupta’s story fascinating!

Here is the story of Rahul Gupta, an Assistant General Manager in a Fashion and Apparel Retail and E-commerce company and how his desire to complete a master’s degree from an IIM led him to IIM Udaipur!

Rahul Gupta, a 33-year-old father, was working as an Assistant General Manager in a Fashion and Apparel Retail and E-commerce company contemplating with the stagnancy in the job and his desire to complete master’s degree from one of the IIMs as a part to complete formal education. Hence, decided to take the MBA plunge to boost his career.

Here is Gupta Ji, as we all call him narrating his entire story – why he opted for regular MBA over executive ones, how he managed to prepare for CAT, how the MBA interview panels grilled him for having high work-ex and problems faced during summer placements; and the ultimate lesson he learned from this journey.

Tell us a little bit about your family, work experience and First MBA attempt?

I was born and brought up in a middle-class business family in Kanpur. From the beginning, my parents were supportive of my education as they understood the importance of education, whether I join my family business or not. After my schooling from Dr Virendra Swaroop, I moved to Delhi to complete my graduation from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi into Apparel Production. I was interested in pursuing MBA immediately after college, so appeared for CAT 2007 but was not able to make through, meanwhile, I got an offer through Campus and the thought of doing MBA took the back seat. Life moved on at a very fast pace and kind of satisfied with my career. In the middle of 2010, I found my soulmate and finally tied the knot in early 2011.

What did motivate you to go for CAT 2017 and the challenges you faced during preparation?

After working for almost 9 years and having a stagnant job for the last two years, awoke my lost interest in doing an MBA. Though I was very serious about it, but job and lot of travelling from Greater Noida to Gurgaon on daily basis to office exhausted me, which hampered my preparation, but my habit of studying daily and making the best use of weekends gave me a fruitful result in CAT 2017. I had interview calls from IIM K and IIM L, along with CAP colleges. One thing I was sure of that I will complete my MBA from an IIM only.

How was your experience with IIM Interviews?

After appearing for CAP Interview, I was sure to get a call from new IIMs as I was confident about my performance in WAT-PI. Though the interview was quite grilling, I managed to satisfy the panel with my answers and the positive feedback from them gave me the much-needed confidence. The other two interviews, either IIM L or IIM K, were not like as I was giving interview for securing a seat at the respective IIMs but like the Interviewer trying to motivate me to drop the idea of doing Regular MBA and go for an Executive MBA as they thought I could face difficulty in getting placement from their college, though I was ready to give the declaration to opt out from the college placements and get my placement done by myself. I gave my representations to my decision but was not able to convert a seat for myself.

What you have to say about your experiences in IIM Udaipur and your Summer Internship?

At one end there is a 21-year-old, a fresh out of college boy and on the other end I, with a 108-month Experience. This is the level of diversity at my Institute. IIM Udaipur has now become a part of my transformational journey, here I have learned a lot from academics and peer learning, the concepts and skills which were missing from my knowledge, the Institute has helped me to learn them. Some of the concepts I was already using during my work tenure, but the depth was missing. The formal education has helped me to fill those gaps, and I am sure that at the end of my MBA, I would become a better person and team player and even post MBA, The Learnings will help me to develop myself as a Business Leader.

The Placement committee was worried about my SIP as I was not shortlisted by any of the companies initially when almost half of the batch was done, but I told them that I need only one shortlist to convert, so not to worry much about me and rather focus on other candidates, who are on war for SIP. Later I converted my first Interview for Operations in one of the major FMCG firms at Delhi.

What are your expectations from the next academic year and the final placements?

I have stopped keeping expectation from others, as when expectations are not fulfilled, we feel down, rather I believe to be happy for what all I have achieved and prepare next for all that I wish to achieve. Regarding placement I would prefer roles over package as I would like to do what I love and would prefer opportunities from the Fashion, Retail or E-commerce companies, the similar roles that of the experience I hold.

Any message for those who think joining a B-School after such long work experience is not worth.

MBA is a life-changing experience and there is no age to fulfil your dreams. If you feel that you can do it, just go for it. Never think what others are going to think and follow your heart. At the end of the day people won’t remember how you did it and when you did it, they will remember that you did it.

Everyone has their own Time Zone. I am working in Mine, and you are in Yours.