Case Study | Breaking Barriers: Arnav's Path from Manufacturing Sales to INSEAD MBA and Consulting Success

Arnav, a sales professional with seven years of experience in the manufacturing sector, faced several challenges in applying for an INSEAD MBA, including having a prior MBA, a below-average GMAT score, and a desire to pivot to consulting. Despite these hurdles, he was positioned as a frontier market expert with strong business development experience. This strategic approach highlighted his unique strengths and aligned his career aspirations with INSEAD's values. Post-MBA, Arnav successfully transitioned to a role in a top consulting firm, exemplifying the power of aligning personal strengths with institutional goals.

Indian male applicant with 7 years of experience and a prior MBA

Application Round: Round 1 (January Intake)

Arnav was a dynamic sales professional in the manufacturing sector, who had rapidly advanced his career with a global motor vehicle manufacturer. He boasted a strong track record in sales and business development, with extensive experience in frontier markets across Southeast Asia. His terrific personality made us like him from the first meeting.


While Arnav had a less common professional background (sales and manufacturing), he already held an MBA that he completed upon graduation in India (a common thing). Additionally, his GMAT score was below the average for Indian male MBA candidates. Lastly, while attainable, we recognized that his goal to transition into consulting post-MBA might be seen as a stretch by the admissions committee. .

Strategic Approach

Given his unique career path, we aimed to position Arnav as a frontier market expert and shape his career aspirations around this niche. Our first step was securing a sabbatical offer from his firm, providing a robust alternative plan to management consulting. With this secured, we focused on enhancing his consulting skillset by leveraging his extensive business development experience. This allowed us to highlight his strategic insights, leadership abilities, and proven success in challenging markets. We emphasized specific projects he had spearheaded, drawing strong parallels to the consulting environment and making these experiences prominent in his CV. This approach showcased Arnav’s potential to bring valuable insights and innovative solutions to the consulting field, aligning perfectly with INSEAD's expectations.

Vision Crafting

When reviewing Arnav's application, it was evident that his career path was both logical and compelling. His initial MBA was driven by his ambition for an international career, which he successfully achieved. His roles in sales and business development reflected his passion for client-facing positions and his strong interpersonal skills. Aarav’s life experiences, motivated by a deep love for international cultures and people, further showcased his global mindset. Every aspect of his journey was aligned with INSEAD's values, making him a standout candidate.


While we were excited about Arnav's acceptance to INSEAD, we were even more thrilled by his post-MBA success when he accepted an offer from an MBB firm. Over the past two years, he has built a successful career in consulting, exemplifying that individuals with diverse backgrounds can indeed break into the industry and thrive.


Arnav's journey exemplifies how a well-crafted strategy can transform unique challenges into compelling strengths. By positioning him as a frontier market expert and showcasing his extensive experience in sales and business development, we were able to highlight his strategic insights and leadership abilities. His story is a testament to the power of aligning personal strengths with institutional goals, demonstrating that with the right guidance and positioning, even unconventional backgrounds can lead to remarkable success in top MBA programs and beyond.

Words from Arnav:

“My goal was to get into INSEAD. I signed up with Jonathan because he had a great success rate with applications to INSEAD. His expertise regarding the application process and the kind of fit that the school is looking for was unparalleled. It provided a great guiding force throughout the application process - starting from the essays all the way through to mock interviews. In fact, he also helped me think more critically through my career goals, allowing me to become a lot more specific in what I want to achieve.”

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