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From Govt. of India to ISB MBA: Nikhil's Journey of Success

Updated: Jan 1

Nikhil M.'s journey is courageous. Not everyone has the clarity in their vision, strength in their character, and faith in their hard work to leave a Govt. of India Customs Department job and pursue an MBA. Nikhil did. Faith Career's Co-Founder tirelessly worked with him to refine his essays and to train him well for the interview. Read Nikhil's inspiring story.

#1) Nikhil, can you please briefly describe your profile?

During my 7-year stint as an Executive Officer in the Indian Government, I have worked in various cross-functional roles ranging from administrative to training, from intelligence to investigation, from examination of goods to drafting quasi-judicial orders. Performing such hugely different tasks, especially in intelligence, requires keen observation, pattern recognition, structured thought process, meticulous planning, and impeccable implementation through coordination and communication with multiple verticals within the organization as well as the outside world. Cutting-edge experience in such varied roles helped me gain a bird's eye perspective of the organization.

#2) You had a phenomenal career with the Govt. of India. Why did you decide to pursue an ISB MBA?

Coming from a family of Civil servants and being one myself, though I have thoroughly enjoyed working in a monopoly, where, accountability takes the center stage at the cost-of-service quality and efficiency, I believe that the real opportunity to grow is in delivering a high-quality product/service efficiently with competitors looming large. Through ISB, I intend to understand thoroughly the life cycle of a business and the various challenges en route.

#3) Why did you choose Faith Career to be your mentor for ISB MBA application?

I got to know Faith Career through Instagram and found their posts very practical and close to reality. That shows their strong critical reasoning abilities which convinced me that they should be my mentor.

#4) What tips you would want to give an aspirant who is working on their ISB MBA application?

1. Deep, honest introspection.

2. Pre-determine the structure of your essays

3. Choose the relevant points to be mentioned in your essays and hobbies, achievements, etc.

4. Articulate your essays to the best of your abilities and leave the rest to your mentor at Faith Career.

#5) How was Faith Career’s mentorship important while working on the application?

At a point in time when I had no clue as to how to start writing the statement of purpose for my b-school, I stumbled upon Faith Career and they were extremely helpful in setting me up with the right direction.

My mentor broke down the essays into smaller modules and explained what goes into each of them so vividly, which made drafting them all the more effective and easier.

The mentors' dedication to their work is laudable there were times when they used to continue working on my application despite being sick. I, therefore, definitely recommend Faith Career mentors as adept MBA consultants, not just for ISB but for various other top-ranked B-schools in India as well.

#6) How did you prepare for the ISB MBA interview after applying? What all steps did you take to prepare for the interview?

My mentor at Faith Career shared with me a set of frequently-asked questions in an ISB MBA interview and I dwelled deep into those broad questions, up to 3 or 4 layers for each one. This helped a lot as most of my interview hovered around my work experience, hobbies, and the broad questionnaire that he shared with me during interview preparation. His feedback is always blunt and that is a trait of a mentor who wishes to see you succeed. It helped me rectify my mistakes and work on my shortcomings.

#7) What questions were asked to you during the ISB MBA interview?

  1. Tell us about yourself. Anything you want to share.

  2. Describe, in detail, your 8 postings in the Customs Department.

  3. Which posting has been your favorite? What did you love about it?

  4. Describe one particular incident/example during your posting.

  5. What is the most interesting assignment that you took during your favorite posting?

  6. You seem to be really enjoying your job. Why do you want to transition?

  7. Is it because you think the importance of taxes is fading away?

  8. Why don’t you try for a job in the private sector without an MBA?

  9. Why ISB?

  10. Tell us 'Why ISB?' without using any catchy phrases.

  11. Why General Management? Which companies are you targeting?

  12. You have to start General Management with some vertical. Which vertical would you want to start with?

  13. How will your work ex and skills be relevant in General Management?

  14. What is this Road Safety competition that you have mentioned in the application? Tell us more.

  15. What is the safe way to drive on Indian roads?

  16. You are a proponent of safe driving and you also like F1 racing. How does that add up?

  17. Why are so many accidents happening every year in F1 races?

  18. More technical questions on F1 (which was mentioned in 'Hobbies' in essay)

  19. Which is your favorite F1 team? Are you happy with the performance?

  20. Is there an F1 race today? Which circuit? Is the race over? What is the result? Are you surprised by the result? Who came 2nd and 3rd in today’s race

  21. Anything in your profile you wanted us to ask you?

  22. Tell us anything interesting you want to share.

  23. Before getting here, how confident were you about your selection at ISB?

  24. What is your Plan B if ISB doesn’t happen?

  25. Do you have any questions for us?

#8) How did you think you performed in the interview?

Most of my interview hovered around my work experience, hobbies, and the broad questionnaire that Faith Career shared with me during interview preparation. So, I was comfortable for most of my ISB interview, although I felt I was grilled slightly about my short-term post-PGP goals.

The ISB interviewers, in my opinion, were not looking for the right answers, but how you answer, how you structure your thoughts when faced with an unstructured question, how you maintain your composure under stress, and last but not least, your communication skills, which can make or break your interview.

#9) What are your final ‘To-Dos’ and ‘Not-to-Dos’ for an ISB aspirant?

Must Do:

1. GRE/GMAT score: Nail it irrespective of your profile strength, the score is more important than it appears to be.

2. Deep and honest introspection.

3. Work on your communication skills.

4. You are aiming for a seat at a highly-ranked B-school, so set high standards and goals for yourself and imbibe them into your mind.

5. Follow Faith Career's instructions, irrelevant of whether you find them too trivial; they will help you during the overall application process.


1. Low self-confidence.

2. Procrastination. Trust me, time flies.

3. Do not try to copy someone else’s sentences or ideas. Make your essay YOUR essay.

4. Be honest when you write about your goals and aspirations, avoid being materialistic here.

5. Take your mock interviews very, very seriously.

Below are few more inspiring success stories from Faith Career

  1. Smriti Dhawan's journey from Ambedkar University to the London School of Economics (LSE)

  2. Vamsi Krishna Kondoju's MBA journey from the Government of India to the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business –

  3. Nikhil Bhonsle's story of bagging MBA offers from 5 B-Schools in the UK with scholarship, without a GMAT score -

  4. Yashashwat Srivastava’s MIM journey from IP University to the Schulich School of Business -

  5. Mimansha Dublish's MIM journey to ESCP Europe (ranked 5th for MIM in the world) -

  6. Ambuj Tripathi's story of triumph: From SBI to Rotterdam School of Management (the Netherlands) with Dean's Merit Scholarship:

Want to start your success story as well? Message us on Instagram for consultation -

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