Interview with Sujith Raphael (CEC 2003), Said Business School Oxford Alumnus

Here’s another interview, this time with Mr. Sujith Raphael (CEC 2003), who did his MBA at Said Business School, Oxford. Thanks to Kiran C (CEC 2003) for conducting the interview, and preparing the write-up.

Sujith Rafel at Oxford

Sujith Raphael at Oxford

1)      Could you tell a few things about yourself?

I was born and raised in Kochi and I passed out of CEC in 2003. I am a foodie and I enjoy living in new places.  I love music and I have led the bands at CEC & Cognizant and used to play in a band at a local pub in England. I’m an avid Manchester United fan (wish our season was better) and I love election analysis (good times ahead in 2014 🙂 )

2)      You seem to have worked all your professional life in CTS. What is so special about CTS?

I was among the fortunate group to have got campus placement back in 2003. I started my job in Chennai and then worked in different parts of England, Scotland and then in the United States. I have had fast growth at Cognizant and the company gave me the opportunity to travel to different parts of the globe.

3)      Why did you decide to pursue an MBA after 10 years?

I started applying to various schools from 2009. I had in fact offers from good B-schools but since I was partnering and funding a business with my brother, I had to let go of those. (I certainly do not advise this strategy; apply for MBA only when you are ready!). In 2011, I reached a now or never point and when Oxford came calling, I could not resist.

4)      Why did you choose Said at Oxford? Why not an MBA in the United States/India? Did you try anywhere else?

I wanted to do an international MBA from the beginning. The exposure and network that you gather are immense. My initial applications were to B-schools in the US. But by 2011, I felt that the opportunity cost of a 2 year MBA program in US was high. The focus then turned to one year programs, which were predominant in the UK. I applied to Cambridge and Oxford and got through both. I decided to do Oxford as it had better alumni connections in the United States where I wanted to work. Also, my focus was on entrepreneurship which was better focused at Oxford.

Said Business School Oxford

Said Business School Oxford

5)      How did you fund your studies?

I had a scholarship to support a quarter of the fees. The rest I funded myself.

6)      What are the admission requirements at Said? Is work experience a requirement?

Said requires a strong GMAT score, TOEFL and work experience. Applicants from the sub-continent tend to have higher GMAT scores. Hence 700 plus is a must. TOEFL is required to show your abilities in English, but if you have lived and worked in an English speaking country for a year, the TOEFL requirement may be waived. The average work experience of the class was 7.5 years and it is a must. Lesser work experience can be made up with exceptional academic or other activity brilliance

7)      What did you think worked in your favor to secure an admit at Said? How was the course? Was it very hectic? Was it very enjoyable?

During the application process, I outlined how I will use my international work experience and strength in technology consulting as a base to the MBA. I tried to convey during the interview, what my post MBA ambitions are and how I will align what I learn from Oxford with my goals. I believe this worked in my favor. The course was very interesting with tons to learn. The highly international class with diverse backgrounds – from doctors to military men – contributed to the program with highly stimulating discussions. One year went in a flash and I enjoyed every moment of the adventure.

Said Business School Oxford1

Said Business School Oxford

8)      Did you get to specialize in any particular area?

My focus was mostly on entrepreneurship and strategy. This included on how to build a startup, how to get funded and expand.

9)      What did you get to do other than your coursework at Said?

The best thing about Oxford is the tradition that it follows. You get to dine in halls that are 800 years old (where Harry Potter was filmed) and get to meet students doing all sorts of studies – from Astrophysics to research on medieval Greece). You get to engage in thought provoking conversations which make you a lot more knowledgeable in areas that you do not specialize. You make networks and when these students are scattered to various parts of the globe, you literally have a worldwide network! There are events such as Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford where CXO level folks from Silicon Valley companies visit the Business school and you get to hang out with them.

10)   Did you think 10 years ago when you passed out from CEC that you will be pursuing an MBA?

Ten years ago, MBA was just an option to me rather than a plan. It solidified during the years.

11)   What is your ambition in life? And how is this MBA going to help that?

My intention is to kick-off a tech business. This is the reason why I focused on entrepreneurship at Said. We had excellent professors at Said who have researched, advised and worked with many companies and startups, from whom I learned a lot. Some steps are in progress and I hope to launch soon.

Said Business School Oxford

Said Business School Oxford

12)   What will be your advice to anyone who would want to do an MBA from Said?

Be clear on what you will get from the program, as Said is not a place for someone who wants just to get an MBA. You will get a minimum grab through the program if you attend the classes, but the program will be lot more fruitful if you really give it a go by attending various conferences, case studies and competitions.

13)   What fond memories do you have about life in CEC? Did it play a role in your career and subsequent decision to go for an MBA?

I have tons of memories from CEC. I have a bunch of friends for life from there and we are a good global crowd now. I cannot forget the Decadio, being selected as Kalaprathibha and the many many times and I have been on stage with friends. We have a contagious “can – do” enthusiasm at CEC and it continues to be one of my strong points. We also have entrepreneurship in the blood and that is evident from the bunch of startups that our folks are kicking off these days.

“Hey pista kumiladi pista…..!!!!”

 Please refer to : for more information on the Said Business School, Oxford MBA.



Arunanand T A
CEC 2010