I, The Absolute

Raj Kamal

Posted by itheabsolute on August 23, 2005

B. Tech, IIT, Mumbai
District Magistrate (Indian Administrative Services)
Associate, Mckinsey

Yesterday we had a team from Mckinsey to make a presentation. For me that is an aside. A member of the Mckinsey team by name Raj Kamal shook me out of my thinking. The above gives a chronology of his career. He last served in Indian Administrative Service as District Magistrate / Collector. A district magistrate is an administrative head of a district with magisterial, revenue and law & order authority in the district. He will have a battalion of people working under him, all the district heads of other departments, including police chief of the district report to him. He handles problems covering political, revenue, law & order, poverty related, etc. Simply put, he is THE government in that district.

Raj decided to study further, quit IAS and joined ISB. He says that he did not know what Consulting was about when he came to ISB. He worked hard and realized that Consulting will give him a good experience. He was picked up by Mckinsey and joined as Junior Associate. A junior associate is the lowest in the pecking order (post MBA position) at Mckinsey.

Leaving a position of such authority and joining as a junior associate at Mckinsey is something which is hard to do. To me, it is impossible to think. I asked him on how he felt. He says that consulting is a different kind of learning experience and he does not think about authority, etc and that joining as junior associate has not bothered him. On the contrary, he is enjoying his stint at Mckinsey. I felt – was I talking to a Level 5 leader? He surely combined humility and professional will.

Lesson for me – I have already been in a relatively senior position in my past job. I have seen more money than perhaps an associate would earn at Mckinsey. All these four months at ISB, as I thought about career in consulting, I was finding it very difficult to reconcile to a probable reality that Mckinsey would discount, should I be selected, much of my experience and take me at a starting level, at best at a second level. Now that I have seen him, I am completely jolted out of my thoughts. Having served as a district magistrate, which is without doubt a far superior profile than I had, if he can give up all that and join as a junior associate, can I not do it? I like consulting but don’t know if I have the courage and humility to accept a position where I would start at the lowest position in the pecking order.

But I have started to think……………

7 Responses to “Raj Kamal”

  1. Spew said

    Sorry if i sound cynical, but i try not to be influenced by other’s people’s lives. Not because there’s nothing to learn, its just that a life story heard is too superficial for you to get any real take-away from it.

    for example, What if Raj was just a guy hankering for the glamour of a consult job?
    Its certainly not a crime, but not the story of struggle and professional will that one might first think.

    Vijay – cant compare your motives to his. Being a DC is superpwerful but your peer group is not the informed type. Its simply not satisfying enough to be respected by such under-privileged peers. You on the other hand have had corporate exposure, have a substantial ego and are not awed by peer image. I’d be careful about following raj’s example, if i were you 🙂

  2. hi anonymous

    in guntur, andhra pradesh. had my entire education in various small towns.


  3. amit

    i spoke with him and asked specific questions. he seemed to be quite smart (cannot trade himself at less than premium) but quite humble (knows the realities of life). he made a “choice” and was not forced into it by anyone. guess he knows what he is doing.


  4. hi vamsi

    good to know of ur interest in ISB. Keep working towards ur goal. all the best


  5. Anonymous said

    Hi Vijay!

    Slightly personal question.
    Saw your name in the admission students task force. In which city did you do your bachelors?

  6. Amit said

    You pointed out a very imp thing Vijay. For somebody who has tasted power in its real terms, getting back to the starting point is a tough org like Mck is not very intitutive. Infact, this was the discussing point at dinner table today. Ppl said that he sold himself short, etc. I thought he has more wisdom, biz sense than us combined on that table to decide what to do with his career. Maybe thats another proof of his leadership skills. Cutting out the noise & doing what sounds best fit to him.

  7. hai vijay!!! well im a silent reader of u blog.. i hav not yet written any comments till now…… urs is a awesome blog.. gives a great deal of insight into evrything that we thnk of and in general an MBA program…. the blogs i read daily are urs and bharani’s…

    The story of Mr.Raj kamal was really inspiring.. well can u some insight into what an consulting jov comprises of in another blog…..

    wel abt me im presently pursuing final yr in NIT Warangal… i hav been to ISB twice and its really inspiring to c ur college.. i hav decided whatever i do in my life im gonna do MBA in ISB…

    i’ll be comin to ISB this friday for info sessions….

    keep this good work going……..

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