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Ashwin Balivada – GMAT 720 – Cambridge University Judge Business School

Posted on March 16, 2016

In conversation with Ashwin Balivada who scored a 720 on the GMAT and got an admit to Cambridge University Judge Business School.


Can you tell us something about your profile?

I run a liquor company which was established in Goa, and now has a presence pan-India. We are India’s 12th largest premium spirits company.
We were established in 2010. We have been awarded Asia’s best Start-Up in 2014.

How did you land up in the Liquor Business?

My father used to work for a liquor company. He started his career at Bagpiper. In 2009, when I completed my graduation, I was offered a job in a central government company.
I didn’t take it up as I believe that you only get a few chances in life to do what you really want to do. I decided to follow my own dreams, and I opened a liquor factory.

How has the experience of starting your own company been? How has it diversified your profile?

I would say it was fun. You only are good at something you like to do.
So, if you know what you want and you like what you do, the only direction that you will be going is up. As far as diversity goes, I would say that at such a young age, me starting out on my own gives me a certain skill set, which gives me an added advantage over others.

What was your motivation behind an MBA?

I wanted to acquire a few companies in Scotland and start exporting our products to several parts of Europe. As of now we export to Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, and East Africa. My vision is to export to over a hundred countries and I felt that the MBA route was the best one to take.
Why Scotland?! Well, it is the birthplace of Scotch, one of the best brews in the world, alongside beer and wine. So, I felt that this decision resonated with my ideals and goals.

How has your GMAT journey been?

I have taken the GMAT twice. I had a 100 point increase from 620 to 720.
After my first attempt, I took a chance and applied to Judge. I got my Judge result on 21st February, and a term that was put up by the school was that I had to score a 700+ on the GMAT by the 1st of May.
Since I was the CEO of my company, I was very worried about how I would balance my work life and my preparation for the GMAT in such a short span of time. That was when I got in touch with CrackVerbal and I haven’t looked back since then.

Could you tell us how CrackVerbal helped you?

I took CrackVerbal’s on-demand course. Their classes were really good.
They helped me with concept clarity and logical derivation. The lectures were very conceptual, to the point, and clear cut.
I would recommend anyone to take their classes if they are in Bangalore or take their on-demand course if they are in any other location in the world.

How did you approach the GMAT?

I redid all the questions I learnt until it became muscle memory, and if were woken up at 3 in the morning I would be able to answer that question. I feel there is no rocket science involved in preparing for the GMAT.
I got myself the official guide, started doing my research and learnt all the questions in the OG. I would say that the GMAT is a test of stamina and strategy. I took a total of four mock tests where my scores ranged from 620 to 780. I took these same tests more than twice.
I would recommend that you follow this approach as you will understand the pattern in which questions appear on the exam.

Why Judge Business School?

Have you heard of Cobra Beer? Its founder is from Judge. They have a fantastic alumni base. It is a 900 year old university. This is where Nehru stayed. This is the laboratory where protons, neutrons, and electrons were discovered. It is the place where Newton discovered gravity. That’s the kind of legacy Judge boasts of.
I also wanted to understand the consumer market, and I felt that Judge is the best fit because I would have access to and would be able to understand the London Stock market and would get to learn more about other markets as well.
Plus, it is a good place to get VCs to invest in my brand since they have extensive knowledge when it comes to the liquor business. Out of all the schools in the UK, I felt that this school resonated with me the best.

What made you stand out in the Admissions pool?

My interview at Judge was really different. It was taken by the CFO of Asahi Beer so I felt it was a good chance to showcase my company’s most sold product. The interview was very informal.
There were questions that popped up about me expanding by business into international territories. I felt that the interview went really well, because they understood the passion and hard work I had put into my company.

Do you have any words of wisdom for our MBA Aspirants?

I would say—
1. Stick to the basics and fundamentals.
2. Re-take practice tests till you understand the pattern of the GMAT.
3. Always use the process of elimination while attempting questions.
4. Stick to the OG, Verbal Review, Quant Review, and the $25 pack of mock exams.
5. Always believe that you can do your best.
Are you inspired by Ashwin’s story? Leave your comments below!
Want to know if you too can make it to Judge Business School?
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