I, The Absolute

Archive for February, 2006

My interview

Posted by itheabsolute on February 28, 2006

Consulting firms usually have many rounds of interviews involving mix of personal and case interviews. Mck and BCG came a day before to campus to ensure that they have time enough to look at all the candidates sufficiently well. The shortlist for my interview came 2 days before the interview. I had hardly prepared for case interviews. Went through some material to get an idea of the cases and the frameworks that interviewees use to crack the cases. Did not practise a single case. Usual consulting interview prep should involve practising as many as 50 cases.

There were 212 applicants. 22 shortlists. There were three interviewers.

My first round was with an engagement manager based out of Dubai. Half of the discussion was about my resume, what i did, which sectors i would invest in, etc. the discussion then moved to a scenario case, where i had to decide which type of fastfood retail chain i would invest in. we had about 20 minutes of discussion on why i wanted to invest in an idli-dosa restaurant chain and not pizza-burger restaurant chain. finally, it was my turn to ask questions. asked about the plans of the firm in India (setting up a new office in India).

my feeling – the interview was basically like a discussion between two colleagues, sometimes bordering on a talk between friends.

11 people were further shortlisted after each of them had their first round. all these 11 people were to interview with two other interviewers – one a VP with Dubai office and another the Managing Partner & CEO of the firm in India.

Second interview – with the VP.

Initially it was personal interview with discussion on what I did, why I want to move to consulting, why this firm, why I think I would be good for consulting, etc. Then came the dreaded case. He gave me an estimation case. I had to estimate the number of gas stations that an energy firm should put in Hyderabad. The final number is not important. What is important is the approach to the problem. I felt that I did not do very well. But later I went oveer the qualitative aspects of the computation. The last 20 minutes of the interview I asked him questions and he answered. He had a lot of patience in handling my questions ( he had traveled from Dubai that morning and had less than 3 hours of sleep and my interview was some 10th interview for him).

My feeling – I think the last fifteen minutes i changed the course of interview. I could establish rapport with him through my questions.

Third Round – with the CEO

The opening remark was that he had received good feedback from other interviewers. He just wanted to understand a little about me and know why consulting, why this firm, etc questions.

All the three interviews, I spoke about WHY and HOW rather than just WHAT of my profile. My resume already had WHAT i had done. But it did not capture why i did what i did and how i achieved what i achieved.

Some learnings:

1. Treat an interview like a peer-to-peer interaction. Never as an interrogation.
2. Case interviews need a lot of preparation.
3. There is a good premium for relationship skills.
4. Negotiation is no crime, but be sure if the firm is serious about making an offer to you. Also know when and where to draw a line.
5. Focus on WHY and HOW not just on WHAT.
6. Interviewers would be interviewing continuously and would get bored dealing with people who treat them as interviewers. Ask a few questions about them. They would be glad to open up which will help to develope rapport.
7. If you have hit a wall with some question, accept and seek help in reaching the solution.

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Term VIII

Posted by itheabsolute on February 26, 2006

” A lasting text is the one that lends itself to interpretation in changing times. Stereotypes and clichรฉs dominate our thinking, fatiguing our minds and thereby our perspective.They stampede our personal vision and sabotage our individuality. To use some of the best-written books to cull out the meaning of leadership and our roles as professionals, is an overarching objective of this course.” The first sentence of the syllabus notes for “Leadership Lessons from World Literature”.

Term VIII begins tomorrow. In many ways, the last times that most of us will go to a formal classroom. Though academics is the last thing on the minds of many people, that the line up of the courses and professors is quite intersting and illustrious makes the term quite awaited.

Marketing Strategy, Advanced Corporate Finance and Leadership Lessons from World Literature are the courses I will attend this term. The last one is much awaited for its sheer novelty. The second one because it is being taught by the famed Professor Francesca Cornelli (you may want to google her name and photo ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

I am struggling to find time to put my interview experience to paper. Once i am done, i will post it to the blog. Not that i am busy with anything. that i dont have anything important to do has kept me quite busy.

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Why ISB

Posted by itheabsolute on February 23, 2006

There are some vindictive / vitriolic mails that i see in yahoogroups. It is human to take to rumors that have negative attributes than those that have positive.

Let me begin by this – i am told that today an IT company has offered the highest INR salary. am also told that someone has received unheard of FCY salary. this is fantastically good for ISB. It is not without reason that companies offer high salaries to ISB students. Recruiters see value in ISB students. These two salaries will be all time high records for any b-school in India.

People reading too much into the placement process should stop for a while and think. Coming to ISB is a conscious decision and should have been a well thought one. If people prefer short term over long term, then the results could be dangerous.

All i can say is if one is coming to ISB to increase his salary after the course, then it better not be. If someone is patient to look beyond the next year and think about the options an MBA experience can offer in the medium and long term, then the investment and time are worth it. Even from a financial perspective, no project gives returns in one year. NPV calculation is a good measure of the returns. As someone suggested, an option pricing model is even better.

ISB is a “choice” we make. We always have an option not to.

PS:

I am not even suggesting that salaries dont jump. There are people going out with 300 – 400 % increase in salary. For senior guys, the increase in salary will not be as dramatic.

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Some facts & tips

Posted by itheabsolute on February 22, 2006

Some of those things which i thought may help the prospective students………

1. Don’t ever annoy your employer or boss. You never know when you may need them. If you dont feel committed, at least feign.

2. Go through the syllabus (available at http://www.isb.edu). If you are weak on subjects such as statistics or math, good time to review them.

3. I don’t have a great view of the pre-term courses (stats, accounting and math). But taking at least one course will bring you here. The best time to make friends and get settled is during pre-term and orientation. Believe me, a lot of friendships are already made by the end of pre-term and orientation.

4. Try to visit ISB and get a feel of it. Settling down will be easier.

5. Try to connect with some existing students / alumni. Understand what is important and what is not.

6. Dont splurge. You will need a lot of money here. Apart from fee, one has to pay for books, suits, food, and a little bit of entertainment.

7. Dont get suits stitched now. You may go down or get fat during your stay. Get suits stitched closer to the dates of interview. There is a very good tailor who visits campus two months before the interviews. Gives good deals.

8. If you are not organized or disciplined, try and see how you can improve in these departments. These are the two most important attributes required during the ISB days.

9. It is never too late to start thinking about career and industries you want to work in. Start now.

10. Many people tell you to chill out. I have different views. You are spending INR 16+ lac for education, which again is means to achieving something better in career. Homework never hurts. Having said that, just before you come, it is a good idea to take a break for a week.

11. Get two umbrellas. The other one if you lose the first one. If you are married you may need more. You will also get to buy umbrellas at ISB store.

12. Get sun glasses too.

13. ISB days will perhaps be your only time during which you will wear casuals. SOme people come to classes in shorts.

14. First term courses – Statistics, Microeconomics, Financial Accounting and Marketing Management. Dont spend on books. You should be able to find good amount of study material over internet. Googling skills are important. Good time to improve them.

15. 99% of the students carries cell phones. You will get good offers from local telecom services providers. ensure you carry your mobile fones.

16. ICICI offers credit cards to students. of course, subject to eligibility.

17. Student elections happen during first term. Please think carefully before you elect someone. There will be a lot of promises made.

18. If you are married and can spare some money, buy a DVD player (if you already have one, even better). There is a very good collection of movies at the library (LRC). Spouse can have a good time watching movies.

19. Think of brining your two / four wheelers. You will need them a lot to go into the city. There is a shuttle service available between the school and the city. But the timings may not match with your requirements.

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Some facts & tips

Posted by itheabsolute on February 22, 2006

Some of those things which i thought may help the prospective students………

1. Don’t ever annoy your employer or boss. You never know when you may need them. If you dont feel committed, at least feign.

2. Go through the syllabus (available at http://www.isb.edu). If you are weak on subjects such as statistics or math, good time to review them.

3. I don’t have a great view of the pre-term courses (stats, accounting and math). But taking at least one course will bring you here. The best time to make friends and get settled is during pre-term and orientation. Believe me, a lot of friendships are already made by the end of pre-term and orientation.

4. Try to visit ISB and get a feel of it. Settling down will be easier.

5. Try to connect with some existing students / alumni. Understand what is important and what is not.

6. Dont splurge. You will need a lot of money here. Apart from fee, one has to pay for books, suits, food, and a little bit of entertainment.

7. Dont get suits stitched now. You may go down or get fat during your stay. Get suits stitched closer to the dates of interview. There is a very good tailor who visits campus two months before the interviews. Gives good deals.

8. If you are not organized or disciplined, try and see how you can improve in these departments. These are the two most important attributes required during the ISB days.

9. It is never too late to start thinking about career and industries you want to work in. Start now.

10. Many people tell you to chill out. I have different views. You are spending INR 16+ lac for education, which again is means to achieving something better in career. Homework never hurts. Having said that, just before you come, it is a good idea to take a break for a week.

11. Get two umbrellas. The other one if you lose the first one. If you are married you may need more. You will also get to buy umbrellas at ISB store.

12. Get sun glasses too.

13. ISB days will perhaps be your only time during which you will wear casuals. SOme people come to classes in shorts.

14. First term courses – Statistics, Microeconomics, Financial Accounting and Marketing Management. Dont spend on books. You should be able to find good amount of study material over internet. Googling skills are important. Good time to improve them.

15. 99% of the students carries cell phones. You will get good offers from local telecom services providers. ensure you carry your mobile fones.

16. ICICI offers credit cards to students. of course, subject to eligibility.

17. Student elections happen during first term. Please think carefully before you elect someone. There will be a lot of promises made.

18. If you are married and can spare some money, buy a DVD player (if you already have one, even better). There is a very good collection of movies at the library (LRC). Spouse can have a good time watching movies.

19. Think of brining your two / four wheelers. You will need them a lot to go into the city. There is a shuttle service available between the school and the city. But the timings may not match with your requirements.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Some facts & tips

Posted by itheabsolute on February 22, 2006

Some of those things which i thought may help the prospective students………

1. Don’t ever annoy your employer or boss. You never know when you may need them. If you dont feel committed, at least feign.

2. Go through the syllabus (available at http://www.isb.edu). If you are weak on subjects such as statistics or math, good time to review them.

3. I don’t have a great view of the pre-term courses (stats, accounting and math). But taking at least one course will bring you here. The best time to make friends and get settled is during pre-term and orientation. Believe me, a lot of friendships are already made by the end of pre-term and orientation.

4. Try to visit ISB and get a feel of it. Settling down will be easier.

5. Try to connect with some existing students / alumni. Understand what is important and what is not.

6. Dont splurge. You will need a lot of money here. Apart from fee, one has to pay for books, suits, food, and a little bit of entertainment.

7. Dont get suits stitched now. You may go down or get fat during your stay. Get suits stitched closer to the dates of interview. There is a very good tailor who visits campus two months before the interviews. Gives good deals.

8. If you are not organized or disciplined, try and see how you can improve in these departments. These are the two most important attributes required during the ISB days.

9. It is never too late to start thinking about career and industries you want to work in. Start now.

10. Many people tell you to chill out. I have different views. You are spending INR 16+ lac for education, which again is means to achieving something better in career. Homework never hurts. Having said that, just before you come, it is a good idea to take a break for a week.

11. Get two umbrellas. The other one if you lose the first one. If you are married you may need more. You will also get to buy umbrellas at ISB store.

12. Get sun glasses too.

13. ISB days will perhaps be your only time during which you will wear casuals. SOme people come to classes in shorts.

14. First term courses – Statistics, Microeconomics, Financial Accounting and Marketing Management. Dont spend on books. You should be able to find good amount of study material over internet. Googling skills are important. Good time to improve them.

15. 99% of the students carries cell phones. You will get good offers from local telecom services providers. ensure you carry your mobile fones.

16. ICICI offers credit cards to students. of course, subject to eligibility.

17. Student elections happen during first term. Please think carefully before you elect someone. There will be a lot of promises made.

18. If you are married and can spare some money, buy a DVD player (if you already have one, even better). There is a very good collection of movies at the library (LRC). Spouse can have a good time watching movies.

19. Think of brining your two / four wheelers. You will need them a lot to go into the city. There is a shuttle service available between the school and the city. But the timings may not match with your requirements.

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Fortune favors the prepared mind

Posted by itheabsolute on February 21, 2006

There is benchmarking. And then there is blue ocean strategy. The latter is about creating benchmarks. When one lives in a context where there is little scope to benchmark and no incentives exist, how does one grow? How does one grow from good to great.

Good is the enemy of great. This is the theme of the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. People are happy being good and hence do not try to become great. Good is about looking to benchmarks. Great is about blue ocean strategy, creating benchmarks.

Since I am moving to a new industry which requires slightly different skills from those of what I had used in banking, taking inspiration from what the book says, I want to spend time on reading some books and working on some basic quant before i join the firm.

As the signature line of one of our colleagues reads, “fortune favors the prepared mind”.

PS:
There are two views about what to do between receiving ISB admit and getting into ISB

1. Chill out, because once you are here you are going to slog
2. Start preparing. It will help, one, to be prepared to take the heavy load, and two, to understand the concepts relatively easily.

It is for the individual to choose what to do. My type will go for the latter.

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Some facts and views

Posted by itheabsolute on February 20, 2006

Placements are going on well. There are a few disappointments too. But everyone gets to get two offers. So people can have one safety offer and then asprie to get one target offer.

It is clearly emerging that grades and being studious do not have a great correlation with getting good jobs (except consulting jobs). Many of the interviews are personal interviews and have had minimal technical content. Given this, being good at interpersonal skills and peaking when it is required is quite critical. Sitting in the rooms to study all the time will obviously not make one develop interpersonal skills.

Why do recruiters do more of personal interviews? Because the students are experienced and the quality of education at ISB is good. So, fundamentally and technically, things cannot be seriously wrong with the candidates.

I have received many mails asking what jobs will one get, what will be min and max salaries, details of placements, etc.

My answer – ISB is what we want to make out of it. If we do not know the destination, it does not matter where we go.

It would be good if one knows what one wants to do by the time he comes to ISB. Or,
if coming to ISB is to explore opportunities (career shifts are quite possible), then such exercise has to be quite rigorous and limited to the first four terms. By the end of four terms, one should have figured out where one wants to go and what one has to do to get there. Once this is figured out then, one should focus only on that objective. Results will eventually come. When in doubt connect with the alumnus/ni working in your target industry or firm.

People do not get shortlisted because of poorly made resumes (rather than lack of requirements). Resume making cannot start when applications are called for. Resume making has to start on the second day of arriving on the campus. If one is not sure, one can start with just putting the resume in one page format and have the sentences start with strong verbs.

Salaries are a function of one’s past experience but more importantly what one brings to the table. Negotiations are important. But because students are under stress, they fail to negotiate properly.

Will hold on to exact details of placements till the season gets over.

PS: Btw, my grades are not even at the average.

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Got my job

Posted by itheabsolute on February 19, 2006

Got a job with a management consulting firm. The highest INR salary offer so far on the campus. The managing partner (CEO in India) took us out for dinner after the offers were made. Feels terrific.

The total offers on campus on day 1 seem to be around 100+. way to go for ISB.

Watch this space for more news.

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The placement season begins

Posted by itheabsolute on February 17, 2006

Come tomorrow, many of us have interviews. I have two of my interviews tomorrow. Given the competition on the campus, no one can be certain about the outcome. Most of the students are brilliant in their own way. All that we all can do is to try and peak when it matters most. Having said that it is not time to get diffident or dejected for whatever reason. Life gives many opportunities.

Will keep posted on happenings. Not sure if I can give all the details though.

PS:The philosophical undertone is but thanks to my own feelings and the mood on the campus.

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