I, The Absolute

Archive for January, 2006

PPTs, Salaries, et al

Posted by itheabsolute on January 31, 2006

The Pre-placement Talks (PPTs) end tomorrow, with banks, Investment Banks and Private Equity firms filling the slots. The interview season is just two weeks away. Almost 50 %, but crucial aspect, of our preparation for the interview will happen during these days. For many people, this season will be life changing. Imagine someone coming into ISB with INR 3-4 lac and going back with USD 100k salary & more or INR 15 lac salary. For some, it could be even more. But the upside may not be same for a person who has come with INR 10 lac+ salary. What is important is not the salary figure per se. No employer would pay more than what the job is worth. When someone gets higher salary, it means he has got a good job. Of course, one has to discount for purchasing power parity and tax differences between countries. Also, some very good companies pay less of fixed salaries and more of variable by way of bonus or ESOPs. One has to factor in these things before making a decision.

To continue with the topic of salary, being on campus, at least it appears, puts people on weak wicket. But it all depends on how one positions oneself. There is no reason for anyone to trade himself for less than what he would have got if he were in the proper market place instead of being on campus. If a firm does not want to hire someone just because he asks what he deserves, then it is moot point to think if the firm is worth joining. Having said that, the onus to convince the firm to pay what is being demanded is on the individual.

I will not ask XYZ salary because I paid INR 15 lac fee to ISB. No one will pay me for that. I will ask XYZ or more salary because I am worth it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

ISB student leadership awards

Posted by itheabsolute on January 28, 2006

ISB has instituted student leadership awards as a tribute to the ISB students who have demonstrated extraordinary ability, leadership, commitment, and quality of participation in student activities, and/or any other ISB brand building activity. They shall be portrayed to recruiters along the same lines as the Dean’s list. There are two categories – ISB Young Leaders Award to be given to a maximum of 5 and ISB Torch Bearers Award to be given to the maximum of 10 % of the class size to maintain parity with Dean’s list. The award is given to those who demonstrate maximum effectiveness, as opposed to efforts, in various categories defined by the selection committee.

I think this is a good initiative taken up by the elected graduate body of the students and the ISB administration. This is to prove the point that at a b-school like ISB where one learns as much (if not more) from the peer group as from the curriculum, focusing on academics alone is not optimal. While people who have excelled in academics deserve full marks and are given a chance to get noticed by the Dean’s list, people who have actively participated in co-curricular activities through student clubs or otherwise do not get noticed, particularly by the recruiting community. By instituting this award, ISB has created a level playing field. Now students coming here will not be constrained to spend time on activities, which help the entire community and help in their own self-development.

It is also noteworthy that there are a few people who figure in both Dean’s List for their academic performance and Student Leadership Award category (in both Young Leaders and Torch Bearers) for their contribution to ISB community and brand. These people again prove that it is a wrong to think one can focus only on either academics or co-curricular activities. They have shown that one can excel in both. They indeed stand for the spirit of ISB as a school.

PS: I am one of the recipients of the Torch Bearers Award 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments »

Case interviews

Posted by itheabsolute on January 26, 2006

These days, the clock invariably hits 3 am before I go to sleep. Tomorrow I have branding exam, but I have hardly given any time to it. Much of my time goes into reviewing concepts learnt during core terms, updating myself on current affairs and writing down answers for resume based and behavioral questions which could be posed during interviews. One good thing at ISB is that there is no dearth of resources. There is access to so many databases. Additionally students have created a huge database in our network folders. The issue, however, is with overload of information and lack of time.

Meanwhile, McKinsey shortlists have formed themselves into separate groups colonizing every nook and corner of the school and chanting the Porter and the Kotler mantras. All in the process of preparing for the dreaded “case interviews”. I don’t know if the case interview is the most appropriate way of measuring the fitment of a candidate, but not only the consulting companies but a few other marketing companies have also taken to this form of interviewing. Those who have not come from consulting are not used being tested on what they don’t know. Usually interviews cover what you know, what you did and what you are as a person. But the case interview tries to test how you think, how you process/structure information and how you handle ambiguity and arrive at solutions. If one is well prepared on basic concepts learnt during the MBA program, has been reading newspaper and a magazine thoroughly, handling case interview should not be terribly difficult. But handling the unknown always puts people under pressure, which is what makes handling this form of interview a difficult one.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Reality Check

Posted by itheabsolute on January 24, 2006

The first reality check was delivered today.

Today McKinsey announced its shortlists. The list is full of Dean’s listers. The firm also seems to prefer people from a couple of corporations. A couple of diversity candidates have been short listed as well.

As usual complaining, including disappointment and frustration, started – the firm came and said so many things but eventually shortlists only those with top grades. The fact is that it suits these consulting firms to pick up the top graders. They have empirical evidence that these people perform very well.

The argument is this

1. Show me a reason why I should not shortlist a person with a brilliant academic record.
2. Show me a reason why I should shortlist a person without any good academic record.

It is incorrect to assume that those good in academics are not good in others. At least, 60 % of those people good in academics also excel in other fields (don’t have any data to say the same about their personal life though). At the same time, it is also incorrect to assume that those not doing well in academics do not have anything to offer. If that was the case, then Professors should be ruling the business empires. But, to repeat, it suits consulting firms. The onus to convince the recruiter to shortlist, however, rests with the candidate himself.

It is important and good to be self-aware. But human beings are eternal optimists and primarily incapable of estimating their own worth*. Once the exercise of self-estimation is done, it becomes quite clear on how it was wrong in applying to a firm where all along one knew that one is not going to get a call. It pains to get a ding. But amidst such great peer-group, one should be prepared to be battered with many a ding.

1. Was quite disappointed at not finding the name (in the shortlist) of one of the bloggers – the best all-rounder on campus, in my opinion.
2. Happy that i did not apply. Would not have got short listed in any case 🙂
* I estimate myself based on what i ‘can’. Others estimate me based on what I ‘am’.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

Crossing the Rubicon

Posted by itheabsolute on January 17, 2006

Today I attended the PPT of a ‘final-four’ firm. The PPT was, to say the least, a damp squib. I sat there for about 40 minutes. I could hardly relate to the people there. I knew that this is a firm where I cannot work. The firm is, remember, a final four firm with a multi billion dollar top line. The firm must be doing something good and must have good people with it. But what are all these to me if I cannot relate to what the firm does and what the people are made of.

I am getting thoroughly convinced that there are only a few firms that a person can find fit with. The point of attending PPTs is to discover this fit. I could be too hasty in coming to decision just based on a 40 minutes of interaction. But then as companies look at resumes to reject rather than accept and will finally accept those that cannot be rejected on any ground, I will also reject a company and only accept it when I cannot find a reason to reject it.

At this rate, though there appears to be a risk of ending up not find a job on campus, that is not a likelihood because I have a few banks and one consulting firm to which I can relate well and a new sector in private equity where I hope to find exciting opportunities.

While I wrote some time ago that the campus recruitment is not the end of the world and we can always move on if something does not work out, doing a proper homework to find the right place to get into is never a wrong thing.

Risk is an opportunity. It depends on where you are looking at it from. I had taken the first step by quitting a good job with a great company. No new risk is being assumed now. I have already crossed the Rubicon.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

I decide not to…..

Posted by itheabsolute on January 15, 2006

I finally decided not to apply to McKinsey. I still have 11 hours before the application deadline closes, but i dont think i will change my mind.

McKinsey is a great organization and a greater brand. If it was years before i would have given all it takes to try and get into the firm. Now it is a different story.

As I had written before, many decisions that we take on campus are driven by what others do (context) rather than what we actually want. An MBA experience /degree should empower us so that “we” decide on what we should/ want to do or not. More important is the compatibility issue. will i fit into the organization culture? is a questions which is very important to ask. But unfortunately we often give in into the high dollar / INR salary numbers and the glamour that the role offers. These become less relevant when we actually start working and get into the details of everyday work.

PS: My decision on BCG as of now – apply.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »


Posted by itheabsolute on January 14, 2006

Today, BCG was on campus for its PPT. This is the third time the firm officially came to the campus. Most of the students know all of BCG officials and perhaps they recognize some of us. This is a firm, which has, or at least displays, a different culture. Its ecosystem seems to be different from the other firms. The firm, from what we can infer from the interaction between its own people at all levels, is non-hierarchical and democratic. At an intuitive level, I can relate well to this firm.

After the PPT, there were break-away sessions with focused interaction between limited number of students and a partner and his associates. He took great pains to explain all types of questions on why, how, what, where of consulting/BCG and life in consulting/BCG. I asked my share of questions. Later I had a few minutes chat with a partner asking him very specific question on whether I should look at consulting / BCG as an option given my background and objectives. He gave a yes and no answer. The yes and no will be a function what I want to do and in what time horizon.

I am usually very decisive and have rarely vacillated between these yes/no decisions. But this one decision of apply / no apply has bothered me for long. The intellectual stimulation that a consulting job offers is extremely high. But the firms tend to discount significant amount of non-consulting experience. There is a huge trade-off. Having put in considerable experience in a good company, a great role & a well paying industry, I have found making this decision quite difficult.

I am yet undecided. I still have a few more days, but if I apply to consulting firms this will be the one firm I will look forward to.

PS: Whether I will get selected or even short-listed is a different matter altogether. There are many arguments on why and why I will not get short-listed / selected. So far my record of getting shortlisted (without even applying) on campus is 100 %.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The d-day is coming

Posted by itheabsolute on January 13, 2006

The campus is abuzz with pre-placement talks and the derivative debates on which company has a better offer to make. The companies, some of them the best in the world, are going all the way to woo the candidates. If one company is distributing souvenirs, another is sending an individual PPT invite to each student. Every good company wants day 1 slot and the best candidates.

Given this, academics have taken a back seat. There is no point studying if one cannot convert a job. We are working hard, rather harder, but are worried about the uncertainty. Some will hit jackpot, while others will face some disappointments. It is a question of matching expectations with results. This is the toughest part of the b-school life, for both the students and the school administration.

In the last few days, there have been very positive developments for some students on campus as far as placements are concerned. The economy is booming, the school has the best curriculum, great professors, and bright & experienced student body – there is no reason the placements should not be terrific. Given that the entire placements, including many of them at lateral level, will happen over ten day period, managing logistics is challenge for the management and keeping the tempo and energy to attend and do well in all the interviews till one gets what he want is a great challenge for students. Management is difficult everywhere. Even in a management school.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The Last Quarter

Posted by itheabsolute on January 8, 2006

I can’t believe that we are done with three-fourths of the course and racing towards the most important period of this journey – placements. The pre-placement talks start tomorrow. Some big names have confirmed their visit to the campus. Try and speak with any student on campus, he will limit his talk to resume, cover letter, which industries he is focusing on and which companies he is applying to. This time the prep by the students is much better and there is no reason why last year’s records should not be broken.

Seventh term is going to be more hectic than it has ever been here, despite the fact that I just have three courses. I have even forgotten to read the cases for the first class, which starts on Tuesday for me. The following are the courses I have chosen

1. Branding
2. Operations Strategy
3. Capital Raising Strategies

Sixth term was good as the courses were good and the Profs rocked. Hoping an encore during seventh term.


The round one result of admissions for the next year is out. A couple of people I know have made it. If I am in Hyderabad during the orientation time, I will ensure that I will spend a full day with the students from next batch – just to tell that what to do and more importantly what not to do. It is never a sin to repeat ad nauseam what I believe are the most important issues one should take care during a fast-paced program like that of one at ISB

1. Be focused
2. Know what you came to the b-school for
3. Keep reminding what you are at the b-school for

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Life is good

Posted by itheabsolute on January 1, 2006

Life is good. Due in part to the fact that many decisions in life are reversible. But our thinking is attuned to the notion that every decision is a one-shot game. The fact that we can move on from a situation by making another decision is something which the mind many times skips to factor in. People who have played chess would realize that life is sometimes like chess*. Every move made by us will invite some response from others or events. To be able to estimate what would happen much later in the game and make the current move is a great effort, but even if we miss, we can still recoup and make the game turn in our favor.

This year will be important, but not necessarily crucial, for ISBians because placements will happen in another two months. On-campus placements are usually balanced in favor of the recruiter, because the recruiter has a huge choice. The consequences of the decisions that we make here can remain with us for a long time to come. But, as is with many other decisions, nothing so long as to mar our career or lives. The decision of joining a company, if found unfavorable, can always be reversed by moving out from the company. While there is a need to work hard and optimize, to that extent that every decision is reversible, there is no need to get psyched out. Life is indeed good. It only depends on how we want to look at it and treat it.

1. Life is good due largely to the fact that people can fall in love.
2. *Life, however, is not a zero-sum game like chess.
3. *Checkmate, however, is an irreversible situation, akin to death.
4. Think about what Scott Peck starts his famous book The Road less Traveled with – ‘Life is difficult’.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »