Posted on September 10, 2019

Harvard MBA Experience- a Current Student Shares Her Story – Part 1


Mansi, a Delhi IIT civil engineer, and an oil and gas professional, had worked with MER on her application for 5 top programs and was accepted by all of them - HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, and INSEAD. She went to Harvard, her dream school. In her first interview with MER (myEssayReview) last year, Mansi had shared her application experience, career objectives, why MBA, preference for HBS, and much more.
Mansi is here today to share her amazing first-year experiences at Harvard. This interview will be published in two parts.

 In Part 1 of the interview, Mansi talks about:

  • Her Background
  • GMAT prep/ Application prep
  • Financing/ Funding MBA
  • Her favorite things about Harvard (community, case study method, in-class and outside-of-class experiences)

  • What her classmates were surprised to know about her

Poonam: Hello, Mansi. Welcome back. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Mansi: No problems. I have been looking forward to this. So I am hoping to have a good conversation here.


Poonam: Yes, me too. For those who have not seen your first interview, could you please tell them something about your background? Where you are from? Where did you do your undergrad from? What was your pre-HBS job?

Mansi: I graduated from IIT Delhi in 2012, and after that, I worked with Schlumberger, an oil and gas service provider. I started in India and then worked in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Indonesia. After Schlumberger, I also worked for an Indian oil and gas company called Cairn India, wherein I moved from more of an operation and technical role to a business planning and strategy kind of role, which  made me further think about my career and an MBA.


Poonam:  Looking back, you scored a stellar 770 GMAT score. Can you share with our viewers your planning and preparation for GMAT?

Mansi: This question has been asked to me by many GMAT applicants who want to earn a good score. This is a genuine question because your entire application starts with this preparation and the score. The best advice I can give is to start so that you have as much time as you can in terms of not just GMAT preparation but also GMAT retake in case you want to improve the score. , to start with, start early and have plenty of time on your plate. Secondly, make a good plan, identify what you want to work on, whether it is quant or verbal, or both, and how you want to work on that to improve step-by-step to get your desired score All this helps in putting the preparation together and take you to your target score. I took an e-GMAT online course and all the Fisher GMAT resources in terms of the official guide. I also took some online tests in packages one to six. I think the official resources and the e-GMAT online course are enough to prepare for the entire GMAT.

Application Strategy

Poonam: In your first interview with us last year, we had discussed in detail your strategy, planning, and preparation for the MBA. Could you please briefly share your MBA preparation that led to your incredible success at the top 5 MBA programs?

Mansi:  I took my GMAT around June end so that I could apply in Round I. I was sure that in a couple of months, I could not apply to all the schools I wanted: Harvard, Wharton, INSEAD, Kellogg, and Stanford, so I thought of breaking that list into two categories. And Poonam, you truly helped me in that by telling me to focus on Harvard in the later round when I was more prepared and more practiced in preparing my application and interviews. So I applied to Wharton and Kellogg in Round I and Harvard, Stanford, and INSEAD in Round II. INSEAD was somewhere in between Round I and Round II of the US B- schools. That also helped in distributing my work.

Again, starting early is the key thing. In July, I was kind of lost and was trying to figure out what to do, how to do it, and which consultant to work with. The first school takes up a lot of time in terms of introspection, figuring out the story behind your application, connecting the dots in your story, and understanding your goals. So be prepared that the first application takes a long time because you need time to figure it out yourself. So have a strategy of how you want to tackle different applications. Poonam, I still remember that Wharton and Kellogg were comparatively shorter, so we could accomplish them in the first round. By the time we came to Harvard, we both were pretty confident about my application and how we wanted to frame it. So I would suggest knowing what you want in your application, being yourself, and not thinking about what the schools want to hear.


Poonam: Exactly. Can you tell the viewers how did you fund /finance your MBA?. Do you have any advice for them?

Mansi: Yes. Absolutely. It is one of the questions people have asked me time and again. I would suggest that they feel free to ask their seniors and peers in that school to guide them through the financial aid process. Many schools in the US have good programs of financial aid in which they help students to go through their tuition fees. Harvard and Stanford have a great excellent programs, and I am sure Wharton has that, too. So be aware of all those Financial Aid programs before you apply because sometimes you have to incorporate an additional essay or information in your application that ties into Financial Aid. Harvard has a means-based FA program, which is helpful. But most of the schools have some or other kinds of programs that help provide people with a better financial position after an MBA. So make sure you know that before applying to the school. Secondly, you may also search online for the kind of organizations you have worked with in the past in India or abroad or the kind of organizations you want to be associated with. Thirdly, taking loans also helps. I am funding my MBA partly with Financial aid, my savings, and partly with a loan. But you can definitely have your mixture to that. You can just opt for taking a loan rather than putting in your savings. So just be aware that there are options, and if you ask people, they are there to help you.

Favorite Things about HBS

Poonam: Harvard was always your dream school. What has been your favorite thing about Harvard so far? Would you please share your best experiences in and out of the class that helped shape your career?

Mansi: My most favorite thing about Harvard so far is the community. And when I say the word ‘community’, I am not just saying it randomly; I mean it. It starts with professors, colleagues, alumni, and everyone in the Harvard community. Most of the learning experience happens through this community. So far, my best learnings have been from conversations with people around me- my section mates, friends, and everyone. It is not like you genuinely want to learn something from them; it is just that being with them, and listening to their perspectives, even though they differ from your own, is a great learning experience.

The case study method comes into this play because the professor facilitates the discussions among your classmates, which fosters a friendly environment regarding being safe and politically correct. You really get immersed in the discussion of the case, discuss it before and after the class and learn a lot from these discussions with your peers. It takes time, but you can start trusting your colleagues and peers. In addition, you have the advantage of being at the  HBS and having access to all these kinds of cases and knowledge you did not have earlier.

I think my best experiences have been outside the class. Traveling and being with friends or peers is something I enjoy. I have traveled a lot in India and around, but traveling here is different as you start seeing things through a different lens. For example, I attended a global course in Argentina several months earlier. When you travel with your friends and professors, you learn as well as enjoy. You start looking at things differently. You come from a specific background, have a perspective of your own, and want to see how you can improve certain situations.  I think that is the kind of difference that a school like Harvard can make in your personality. Whether you are traveling or just interacting with other people, you gain a different lens and start seeing things more intellectually and experientially.

Inside the class, with all the cases, sometimes we also get to meet the protagonist. Meeting with them and listening to them face-to-face has been one of the best experiences so far, and I am truly grateful for that. I remember when Indira Noori came to our class- I have seen so many videos of her and idealized her during my MBA application process as well, but meeting her and being face to-face with her, was a surreal experience. In addition, I am fortunate to have met many CEOs who visited the classes.

What Should Like to Change

Poonam: Wonderful. I was wondering if there is anything you would like to change about Harvard?

Mansi: Yes. I think it is a good question. I just sometimes feel that the class size is huge, and a smaller class could have been more helpful in connecting with more people closely. So that is the only thing I could have wished for Harvard. However, this too, comes with another advantage, as a big class size will give you a large network in terms of the Alumni database.  I reached out to many different people, whether it was organizing a conference or looking for an internship, or just connecting with people to learn about their experiences. Though the large network is helpful, the advantage of small class sizes will allow you to know people more closely.

What her Classmates were Surprised to Know about her

Poonam: What do you think your classmates were surprised to know about you?

Mansi: That is an interesting question. Everyone comes out with a very nice and interesting aspect of their life- professional or personal. In my case, I think they were amazed to hear about my oil and gas stories. And surprisingly, we had a lot of oil and gas cases as well where I was called upon multiple times. And then, I used to tell them my experiences on the oil rigs, working in conditions they had never even heard of, and those kinds of experiences and stories were something that surprised them. They could not imagine that a world like that existed and that I was part of that world.

 Stay tuned to Part 2 of the interview, wherein Mansi discusses the following:

  • Clubs at the HBS
  • Global Immersion program
  • Recruitment at the HBS
  • Advice to incoming students about recruitment and other resources of HBS

Click here for Mansi's first interview with MER, wherein she shared her application experience, career objectives, why MBA, preference for HBS, and much more.

Click here for Mansi’s testimonial of MER services

Click here for Mansi’s GMAT Club Review.

Related Posts:

Kellogg MBA Experience – A Current student Shares Experience and Advice 

Michigan Ross MBA experience -A Current Student Shares his Experience and Advice

Oxford MBA Experience- Indian Engineer Shares experience and Advice

Since 2011, Poonam, founder and president of myEssayReview (MER) has helped applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs. (Poonam is  one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

Want to discuss this? Email Poonam at

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