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#23 ISB MBA Admissions Q&A with Mr. A M Kannan ISB MBA

Am Kannan

“We are on par in terms of the education and learning that you can get at any other place.”

Did you know that for the first time ever, emerging markets accounted for over half of the world’s GDP on the basis of purchasing power in 2013? The business world is changing, and the Indian School of Business (ISB) is at the forefront of this change, with its focus on business in India and emerging markets.

This week I spoke with Mr. A M Kannan about the ISB PGP (ISB has to call its MBA program “PGP” because it is a private institution). Kannan worked in ISB’s Career Advancement Services department for 3 years before spending his last 4 years as Director of Admissions and Financial Aid.

ISB has set its sights on being one of the top ranked schools in the world, and delivering an educational experience on par with the world’s best business schools. It brings in over 100 visiting faculty each year from schools like Wharton, Kellogg, and MIT Sloan to teach, and it’s intake size has steadily grown over the past five years from 420 to 770. ISB has two campuses in Hyderabad and Mohali, and students can exchange at 40 partner schools around the world after completing their core courses.

Even though it’s a one year program, over 50% of ISB students switch both industry and function each year. The school sends over 30% of its students into consulting.

Only 2-3% of each class is from outside India, and 75% of the class have engineering backgrounds (most of the India’s top students pursue engineering).  Nevertheless, ISB remains the option for international students looking to focus on business in India.

Kannan shares some great tips on how to demonstrate leadership traits in your application. I appreciated his candid responses to some tough questions (i.e. why has ISB dropped in FT’s ranking for the past few years?). We spent the most time talking about ISB’s admissions process, and how to best present yourself in your essays and interview. This is a must listen to podcast If you’re considering ISB!

The ISB PGP in 3 words: rigorous, contemporary,  outstanding.

Listen on for the insider’s scoop…


Touch MBA’s ISB PGP Essentials

Program Highlights (3:02)

  • Indian School of Business founded in 2001, ISB PGP program began in 2001
  • Length: 1 year
  • 1 intake/year in April
  • Campuses in Hyderabad and Mohali
  • 774 participants/intake (Class of 2014)
  • ~10 nationalities/intake, class is 2-3% international
  • Partnership with 40 exchange schools
  • 45 resident faculty, 100+ visiting faculty
  • Rankings: #34 Financial Times 2013
  • Accredited by AACSB (first school in South Asia to be accredited)
  • Fully residential program – all participants are required to live on either Hyderabad or Mohali campus

Admissions (21:13)

  • Deadlines (for April 2014 intake) – Indian Passport Holders
  • Cycle 1: Sep 15 (Nov 15)
  • Cycle 2: Nov 30 (Feb 15)
  • Early Entry Option: Jan 15 (Mar 31) – for candidates w/ less than 2 years of work experience who want to defer admission
  • International Applicants have rolling admissions but must apply before Jan 15
  • Admissions chances are the same in Cycle 1 and 2
  • Out of 8 applying, around 4 are interviewed and 1 enrolled
  • Avg GMAT: 711 (80% range 680 – 750)
  • Avg age: 27 (80% range 25 – 31), Avg work experience: 5 years (80% range 2.8 – 7.5), 2 years min work experience required
  • Min TOEFL: n/a, Min IELTS: n/a
  • Interviews done by ISB Staff and Alumni; questions are usually based on candidates’ essays and strengths
  • Looking for candidates with leadership potential (strong initiative, see initiatives through, people skills), diversity, and academic & analytical ability
  • To demonstrate leadership traits, show how you have overcome challenges and learned from your experiences

Financing (39:02)

  • Full-time MBA Tuition: INR ~2.4 million, roughly $40,000 USD
  • Recommended budget: roughly $41,000 USD
  • ~$1.5 million USD of scholarships available
  • 1 in 7 participants awarded scholarships, ranging from 25-50% of tuition
  • Merit and Need-based scholarships available
  • Indian students can apply for collateral loans from 9 leading banks in India

Career (43:55)

  • ISB MBA – Full-time placement highlights (Class of 2012)
  • 100% of graduates had jobs within 3 months of graduation
  • Average starting salary in India: ~$30,000 USD
  • Graduates, on average, doubled their pre-MBA salary
  • ~5,000 alumni worldwide in 30+ countries

Get in Touch

Show Notes


  • Email: be the first to get our interviews and application tips
  • iTunes: leave us a review too – five stars would be great 😉
  • Stitcher Radio: great for listening on Android, Apple, or other mobile devices

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the podcast. Email Darren or comment below!

Two thoughts on “#23 ISB MBA Admissions Q&A with Mr. A M Kannan ISB MBA

  1. Pingback: How to Improve Your Chances of Getting In » Touch MBA

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