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From Cabin Crew at Jet Airways to the doors of ISB - Reetika’s flight to an MBA!

Aim for the skies when you set your goals, they said. But from the skies to ISB? Now THAT’S something!

Today, we share Reetika Kallyat’s story - from how she navigated a life in the skies as a cabin crew member with Jet Airways, to doing her MBA at ISB.

A Muscat girl, she was introduced to the world of modelling during her college days, and took a sharp turn from her Banking and Insurance degree to work for Jet. Today, she tells us how she has put together the skills learnt from her time in the clouds and how it translated to an MBA.

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10th – 93.8% (ICSE), 12TH 82.5% (HSC COMMERCE)

B.Com (Banking and Insurance) - 6.86/7 CGPA

Mithibai college, Mumbai

Work ex – 32 months as a Cabin Crew with Jet Airways Pvt Ltd.

The Beginning:

Good day ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you on board.

I grew up in a quaint middle eastern city called Muscat. Although exposed to several international cultures, I lived a very sedentary and protected life there. I spent most of my time immersed in my Harry Potter books, homework, Linkin Park, and the weekend McDonald's runs.

My only motivation at that time to study was my shy nature. With barely any friends, I had no "distractions" and performed well academically.

But all of that changed when I moved to Mumbai. I was exposed to so much independence, I loved it!

After working hard in the 10th board exams I knew I wanted to go to junior college instead of continuing with school, a concept popular at Mumbai. My family wanted me to pursue engineering (a rite of passage in south Indian culture) but I wanted to explore my options with commerce.

Although I had the grades to get through Narsee Monjee (the top commerce college at Mumbai) I chose Mithibai instead, known for its performing arts, something I wished to explore!

I’ll be honest: I was actively involved in college fests and committees, which might explain why my 12th board result was not as good as my 10th. But I don't regret a second of it, because this is what I gained:

Friends: I met like-minded individuals that I am still close to and cherish.

Confidence: From a shy teen, I begun performing on stage, adding to my personality

Acting & Modelling: I won first runners up in the Miss University Pageant. I acted in a Myntra viral ad that had 1.2 lakh views on YouTube in 2015. I also modelled for Renault, MTV style diaries, and several youth-based shows. All through this, I took my books to auditions to cope up with my studies (you can never take academia out of me!)

Independence: for someone who was protected most of her life I gained autonomy, by working at a young age, commuting by myself, learning how to drive, and all in all being self-sufficient.

I don't know about you, but to me, the above points will take precedence over a couple of extra grades.

My Mithibai and Jet Stopover:

During college, I chose to take up banking as I had come across strong female leaders in the industry, and I felt I would be a good fit. But what can I say - the love for travel is in the genes (from my dad who works in Aviation) and while most of my friends got placed in the Big 4s, I decided to interview for Jet Airways.

Although my parents were supportive, people did say I was wasting my caliber choosing this profession. But I strongly disagree. Being a cabin crew was a value add: I learned humility, compassion and optimism. I interacted with CEOs, top actors, politicians, all of which honed my invaluable people skills, making me the person I am today. Now, I strongly believe I can interact with anyone with ease and empathy, and isn't that an important quality to be an effective manager?

I enjoyed my job thoroughly - I got opportunities to travel and discover the world and I am truly grateful. Unfortunately, my journey was cut short due to the closure of Jet Airways.

That is when I decided that I wanted to do an MBA. I dared to dream, I wanted to be on the other side.


If I wanted to target Round 1 of 3 , I had to work fast- ISB was the only Indian school I was targeting. I had attended their seminars and I found the atmosphere very inviting, mature, and new age- the perfect fit for me.

I took classes for GMAT and my god, was it was hard getting back to math. I had about 3 months to score at least a 680 to be considered.

Month 1:

I gave a practice test, bombed at 400.

Month 2 (post some classes):

Thought I'd reach 650 by now was stuck at 560 in the practice test.

Very stressed, I chose a date for the GMAT.

Month 3:

My mantra was: Practice Practice Practice!

I started getting between 680-720 at the practice tests and felt slightly relieved.

Final score 680 (V-35, Q-48)

Yes, I really wanted a 700+, but I had faith in my essays and profile to not spend more money and effort at GMAT (funds were tight).

The ISB Interview: A very diverse alumni panel of 3, asking me questions on my intent, connection between management and being a cabin crew, and general trends in Aviation.

As I said, one thing’s for sure: I'm confident in my people's skills!

I was in French class and I kept refreshing the page for the result, and Voila there it was: acceptance!

Cut to COVID- 19, I chose not to defer as I have full faith in the ISB management and so far online classes are going great, every day I'm learning something new and that's the best part!

A little GYAN for MBA aspirants:

  1. In my opinion, you don't need to quit your job to prepare for entrance exams, start prep as soon as possible.

  2. Develop your personality by doing things out of your comfort zone. For me it was acting and volunteering at an NGO.

  3. Learning other languages enhances your profile and opens you up to a new world.

  4. Don't spend too much time thinking, Just Do It!

  5. Be prepared to work hard. My journey has just started. The real challenge is surviving B-school.

  6. Be grateful, learn for knowledge, and not grades.

  7. Don't be afraid of math my fellow diverse students, embrace it!

  8. Rest, but don't quit.

Final note:

I would recommend more people from diverse backgrounds to take up an MBA and not be intimidated by the process. Trust me, you will be a value add at school if you just believe in yourself.

I hope you’ve found the journey pleasant so far.

Thank you for choosing to read this article.


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