An example of why IIMs or even IITs are not as reputed globally as they are in India

Something about me: I am a 25 year old man, I have a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Bombay (2014) and after that I worked for almost 3 years in Japan as a product manager for a tech firm. I am about to join the MBA program of a university in the US (Fall 2017). I have been waiting for a good time to share this story. I hope everyone can bear with me and also share this so that the concerned authorities get the conveyed message.

A few months back when I was evaluating business schools for my MBA/PGP, I had shortlisted the ones which I thought were a good fit for me and IIM Bangalore (IIMB) was a part of that list. I applied there as an international/NRI applicant (as I was a Japan resident back then) and accordingly I sent them my GMAT score, my career profile and also a sincerely written essay/SOP. Based on all that they selected me for a video interview which is a standard practice for international applicants.

On March 4 2017, they gave me a date (21st March) and a fixed time for the interview. Although I was waiting for a final confirmation, I knew that during the interview slot I was supposed to fly out of Japan for a business trip and would be in a flight so I immediately notified them and asked if it could be rescheduled. I had then thought that it was a legitimate request and should have been accommodated given the stature of the institute and the genuine nature of my problem.

There was no reply till March 8 and in the meanwhile, my travel plans and related appointments got locked, so I gave IIMB admissions office a call on that day. An admissions personnel then assured me that there is still a lot of time and it could be rescheduled and asked me to again email them my request. I was also told to wait till next Monday (March 13) for confirmation on the rescheduling.

Unexpectedly for me, 13th was a public holiday so I just sent them my confirmed e-ticket as a reminder and also to prove that I was indeed unavailable during the slot.

I decided to give them another call on March 14 as there was no reply yet and also it was just a week before the interview slot. There was some other person on the line this time who told me that it was very difficult to reschedule considering that the interview panel was available only for the day. This came as a shock to me as this was the first time I was given this information and it was just a week before the slot. As my business trip was to Mumbai, I even offered to fly to Bangalore after the trip was over to give the interview in person if that could work. Nevertheless, I was asked to wait for an official reply.

Next day, on March 15, a total of 11 days after I sent the first email they officially replied that they cannot reschedule my interview time or date.

Obviously I had no option but to plead my case which I did but they were quite adamant. I contacted the marketing spokesperson, other related authorities and even some alumni to see if they can intervene and help me with this issue. Eventually, IIMB admissions gave me another option — attend the in-person interviews going on in Delhi till 18th March with those who were selected from CAT.

With just 2 days remaining, I thought it was a completely unreasonable and a meaningless suggestion. Even so, I searched for flights and the earliest I could have reached Delhi on such a short notice was 6 pm on 18th March and I was told the interviews would end before that. I asked them if they can have the video interview during the in-person interviews as there will be a panel present but they told me they don’t have the facility. I even offered to provide the facility but they refused that alternative. I was not ready to reschedule or cancel my business trip because I won’t ever cause a loss to my organization for my personal gain. To my company, I offered to fly on a different schedule, paying for the new ticket out of my own pocket so that I can be available during the slot and also not affect my business but I was notified that the original ticket was non-refundable and it would create a flag in the approval process showing a loss and dereliction of duty. I was truly and utterly helpless.

I created more and more noise and finally I got to speak with the director of admissions who expressed how he felt sorry for me and said that if there was any change in schedule due to some other constraint then he would let me take the interview. Anyhow, that wasn’t to be and I never gave that interview.

When an institution like IIMB invites international professionals (they have a requirement of atleast 2 years of work experience for such applicants) to apply for their PG program, they should definitely be more prepared and flexible with their logistics. These applicants are not like those straight out of college majority CAT applicants who will bear any kind of treatment from the administrative staff just to get the admission. Even while at IITB I had experienced such behaviour where the staff treated students as if they are doing them a favor when they were just doing their job. No doubt the faculty and other facilities are great at such institutions, most alumni are successful and the students are brilliant but in terms of global rankings, these institutions are not doing that great. Why? One factor is that their administrative competence is not even close to the global standard. They are stuck in the “sarkari” way of dealing with things. For example, when I sent my application to IIMB, I used my Japan debit card to pay their application fee of 6500 rupees. The amount was debited but it wasn’t reflected on IIMB’s portal. Then as the application deadline approached, I called the marketing guy and he said, “Please use a card issued an India, such problems keep happening”. Not only did I make another payment from a card issued in India, I also wasn’t refunded for my previous payment. I mean come on! Are all international applicants supposed to have cards issued in India? The main point here is that these institutions maybe the best in the country but the prevailing attitude of the administration will always stop them from attaining worldwide glory. Everything good in them is overshadowed by an administration full of incompetent, inconsiderate government employees who just want to get through their work day and will never go out of their way to do something more because they just don’t care. I rest my case and I hope this situation changes soon so that international students or at least NRIs can at least consider coming to India for further studies.

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