Before joining ESCP’s MBA in International Management programme in the Paris/Berlin track, Arvind Chand Ravichandran used to be a researcher in biochemistry. A young father with a knack for entrepreneurship, Arvind had to make the difficult decision of leaving his wife and newborn in India for the time of his MBA. He tells us of the hurdles of pursuing an MBA programme in Europe while navigating the challenges of being separated from his wife and young daughter.
Hello Arvind, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Arvind Chand Ravichandran. I come from southern India, from a state called Tamil Nadu. I have been married for 5 years to my wife, a dentist, and I have an 11-month-old daughter, Darshanaa. I am a researcher by training: I have a PhD in Biochemistry but I am now pursuing my MBA at ESCP Business School in the Paris/Berlin track! I currently live in Berlin, but my family is still in India — that is until I find a job here in Europe.
What inspired you to pursue an MBA, and why did you choose to leave your family and young daughter behind to do so?
I left my high-paying research career in Germany in 2017 to become an entrepreneur. Starting and running a business was more challenging than I thought. It was a rocky road with lots of failures that I was struggling to navigate confidently due to my lack of business knowledge. Moreover, my business took a nasty hit during the COVID pandemic due to supply chain issues. This is when I decided to pursue an MBA. I was particularly interested in the European MBA programmes because I planned on taking a job after my MBA before returning to entrepreneurship. Since I had worked in Europe already, I couldn’t think of a better place that would provide a good work-life balance.
How did your family react to your decision to pursue ESCP’s MBA in Europe?
My wife completely understood and supported my decision. Initially, we had planned to travel together and manage our lives on a tight budget until I found a job. However, everything changed when my wife became pregnant towards the end of 2021, coinciding with my applications to various business schools. We faced a significant decision: should my wife accompany me or stay in India with our newborn baby?
After careful consideration, we realized that raising a newborn with limited financial resources would be quite hard since both of us would be unable to work. Moreover, we acknowledged the intense demands of a 10-month MBA programme, leaving me with no time to actively participate in childcare, which would have put a tremendous burden on my wife.
Ultimately, we made the tough choice for my wife to stay in India with her parents, who would provide support in raising the baby, while I pursued my MBA alone. It was undoubtedly the most challenging decision we had to make, but given our circumstances, we firmly believe it was the right one.
Did you face any challenges during the admission process? How did ESCP team members help or guide you through this time?
The first challenge, for me, was to crack the GMAT. Coming from a background in Biotech, it had been a while since I had used my quantitative abilities. It took me multiple mock tests and a couple of attempts to achieve a satisfactory score on the GMAT. In addition, I also had to take ESCP’s admission test as part of the application process.
Exactly one week before my wife’s delivery, I received an admission offer from ESCP. To compound matters, our baby experienced complications during delivery and had to stay in intensive care for the following ten days. Consequently, I had to handle all the post-admission procedures, such as registering on the ESCP website, applying for a visa, and finding an apartment in Paris, while being present at the hospital. Fortunately, the ESCP MBA Whatsapp group proved to be a fantastic resource, with everyone providing helpful guidance throughout the entire process.
What advice would you give other students that will need a visa to pursue their studies abroad?
I was fortunate to secure an immediate appointment for my visa. However, I have heard others mention possible delays. Therefore, my advice to students in a similar situation would be to apply for a visa as early as possible and to start searching for accommodation early as well. I personally used the Studapart platform through the ESCP dashboard to find accommodation, and most of the listings were genuine. But if you use another platform, be careful of scammers!
How did your family prepare for your departure, and how did you overcome the challenge of long-distance parenthood?
As mentioned earlier, my wife and I made the difficult decision for me to embark on my MBA journey alone. When I left, our daughter was just two and a half months old, making it an incredibly heart-wrenching day for me. I found myself torn between the happiness of finally pursuing my MBA (a journey that had taken nearly two years since I began preparing for the GMAT) and the sadness of leaving our precious daughter.
I make video calls to see my baby and wife as often as possible. However, I must admit that witnessing our daughter’s growth day by day, without being able to physically touch or play with her, has been the most challenging experience I have ever faced. There are moments when I feel down, but the longing to hold my baby propels me to work diligently, secure a job as soon as possible, and ultimately reunite with my family.
What message do you have for others who may be considering pursuing an MBA while balancing family responsibilities?
Balancing the responsibilities of parenthood and pursuing an MBA from a distance has undoubtedly been challenging for both my wife and me. However, I couldn’t have undertaken this journey without the unwavering support and understanding of my partner, who believes in me unconditionally. I believe the key to making it work lies in fostering mutual understanding, trust, and providing steadfast support to one another.
Can you share with us your plan after graduation?
Upon completing my MBA, my plan is to secure a consultant position in Germany. To prepare for this, I am currently focused on honing my skills through case interviews and using valuable resources offered by ESCP, such as the complimentary subscription to CaseCoach. Once I have successfully found a job, my next step will be to reunite with my family and relocate them to Germany.
Would you too like to learn more about the international career opportunities ESCP’s MBA in International Management could provide? Feel free to reach out to one of our team members or student ambassadors.
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