Our Student of the Month for June 2008 is George Shapavalov. We are congratulating George on getting into University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. George was chosen because we believe that his efforts in carefully selecting a B-school and making the best of his qualifications and experience are assets that all aspiring MBA students can learn from.
From earliest childhood George was enthused about natural sciences, and this interest led him to finish the Physics Faculty of Moscow State University. Yet, George was not a theorist by temperament, so he sought practical applications for his work. He started in the business sector, growing from an IT person eventually to becoming the business development manager of an international company. But as his career progressed, George felt he needed to exercise his entrepreneurial spirit, and his physics training together with his business experience led him to the alternative energy sector, environmental issues and energy security, which George sees as the major challenges of the 21st century.
Initially George was planning to start B-school in 2009-10 and was preparing for MBA very slowly. In May 2007 he started Pericles TOEFL preparation courses with aim to familiarize himself with exam format and to check his English language proficiency. George says Pericles TOEFL preparation courses helped him not only to polish his language skills but also to meet with a lot of interesting people and make new friends. One month later, he passed the TOEFL-iBT with score 102.
Then George started Pericles GMAT courses in August. Again, his objectives were mainly to get acquainted with format and content and to meet with like minded people rather than to seriously prepare for the exam right away. This, he says, was a mistake because after analyzing the economic situation in the fall of 2007 he decided to accelerate his plans and to start his MBA a year earlier than planned. Thus, he quit his job at a well-known British company and spent almost a month in very intense, full time GMAT preparation. The result, unfortunately, was not perfect. In December 2007 he passed the exam with a 660 (84%) with 5.0 AWA.
While 660 is not a super high GMAT score, it is good enough when your career path shows that you have a lot of other things to offer, like George's does. In comparison with many other applicants who want to be investment bankers or business consultants, George has a very specific and original goal to start a business in the energy efficiency sector. Not only is his goal unique, it is a timely topic in today's economy. Thus, in addition to GMAT George brought a strategically well developed entrepreneurial plan to the table.
Moreover, George was thinking strategically in his choice of schools. Realizing that the plan, rather than the GMAT scores, would mean the difference between success and rejection, rather than just picking from the list of top 10 schools, George targeted his school choices carefully. He considered only schools with a strong entrepreneurial curriculum, a strong environmental movement, and a sense of social awareness within the student body. Thus, George sent his application only to those schools who could really appreciate his unique profile. Above that, he looked for schools that had what personally interested him-a strongly practical orientation, and schools with a supportive culture and spirit of camaraderie.
Applying in 3rd (last) round was especially risky for someone like George who is stronger in his unique profile than in his "numbers" but, as George puts it, fortune favors the brave. He was admitted to UVA's Darden School of Business. George likes Darden because it is famous for its very rigorous education process based on 100% case method, which George likes because of its practicality and efficiency. Another feature that attracted George to Darden is its social awareness and close connection to community. And finally, Darden has a strong entrepreneurial program and a significant sustainability program which George found confirmed by success of numerous alumni who founded and are running companies in the alternative energy sector.
Good choice George! It sounds like your careful research paid off and you are going to a place that seems the perfect choice for your interests and career plans! We at Pericles wish you every success in your coming MBA studies.