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Michael Cherkas is
our October 2006 Student of the Month



Michael Cherkas, our Student of the Month for October, was awarded that honor because of his perseverance in his studies to finally succeed on the GMAT and get admitted to IMD business school in Switzerland.
Congratulations Michael! IMD is one of the top ranked European B-schools,
with a reputation for innovation and a history of turning out extremely successful graduates. Not a bad place to spend the next year!

Michael graduated from Novosibirsk State Technical University with a diploma as "Engineer-Economist-Manager." While studying at NSTU he attended a two year exchange program with Harbin Institute of Technology (People's Republic of China). So, he spent two years in China and received a Chinese diploma in International Technical Trade.

Michael has spent 11 years of his career working for different banks around Russia. Mainly he is involved in risk and business development. His first 7 years he spent in the sphere of microfinance, and then he switched to the Consumer Finance where he will continue to work until he leaves for Switzerland. After IMD, Michael plans to stay in the finance sphere and of course use his IMD experience to move up. He has his eyes set on insurance and private equity as main areas of interest right now.

Michael first came to Pericles to study GMAT in 2000, repeated the course in 2001, and scored 620 on the GMAT. At that time he applied to some top US business schools but was rejected. As he now understands though, he wasn't ready for an MBA at that time. After that he got several interesting professional assignments, took a position of General Director of start-up leasing company, then worked in Citibank in the launch of consumer credit in Russia.

In 2005 Michael saw he had reached a kind of plateau and started to think about an MBA again. He continued studying, saying that hard work is essential to success on the exam, eventually he took the GMAT again in
December 2005 and scored 700. He gives two hints for current GMAT takers:
Track your own work and evaluate your mistakes. These two things, plus his hard work, really improved his results.

Michael's application success is also a lesson in how perseverance pays off.
In 2006 he applied to several schools but did so in the last intake and in rather a rush. As a result, he got some rejection letters. His next piece of advice for our students is to take the GMAT earlier in the year to leave yourself time for carefully preparing your application. He would advise not applying in the last intake. He also notes that as he did one application after another he saw improvement in the quality, in his essays, and in the coherence of his package as a whole. One thing that helped was that Tuck, although rejecting him, invited him to a feedback session where he really started to understand how to strengthen his application. Only a few schools will invite selected candidates to such sessions, but when they do such sessions are really worthwhile.

IMD is a particularly interesting B-school in that it's calendar runs on an off-season basis, starting their program in January rather than the usual September, and thus having a very late admissions deadline. This worked out really well for Michael since he took a little time getting up to speed.
With his improved application Michael was invited for an interview at IMD and passed it. He said that the key to success on the IMD interview was having good presentation skills and the ability to cope well with time limits. Plus of course, you need to think about all the themes and the picture you were trying to paint in your application, and make sure you really can coherently express what you did before your MBA, what you plan to do afterwards, and why you need the IMD MBA now.

Michael says that he hopes his experience and his comments will be helpful to prospective MBA students.
Thank you Michael, we really think they will. You know, lots of students are interested in an MBA but most simply do not have the strength of character and shear determination to persevere through the difficult application process. Michael's humble story of rejection, improvement and eventual acceptance should be an inspiration to us all.

Congratulations again Michael. We at Pericles wish you every success in