I, The Absolute

Archive for March, 2006

ISB grads rake in INR 1 crore

Posted by itheabsolute on March 31, 2006

Grab today’s ET. It talks about ISB’s $ salaries………. As many as five graduates seem to have been offered $ 200,000 salaries and this is unprecedented in the history of Indian B-schools. Though the highest salary number is yet to be released, it is rumored that at least one of them may have been offered a salary higher than the all time high salary received by a IIMC grad in 2001 – $ 225000. There is no report on the INR salaries yet. Another week to go before the numbers come out officially.

Though I was quick to post this, I have not left behind my belief that flashing out top few salaries are a marketing feat of the b-schools and the crave of our Media for these stories as it is easy to sell them. A b-school is much more than the top salaries grabbed by a few people. And thus, evaluation of a b-school should be based on various non-financial metrics as well.

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Life will never be the same again

Posted by itheabsolute on March 29, 2006

Last day of my classes at ISB.

If someone asked me at gun point what i learnt with having spent INR 1.5 million, incurring high opportunity cost, losing an year of experience and toiling late into the nights, i dont think i can say either this or that.

because the purpose of the program, at least to me, is not ‘necessarily’ getting to know strategy or marketing or economics. the purpose is more to get an overall perspective of business. more importantly, the program would have failed its purpose if it had not increased my intellectual curiosity. there cannot be any takeaway greater than increased intellectual curiosity.

my salute to the spirit of education, to the institution which gave opportunity to scores of people like me who had missed an opportunity to go to a b-school earlier in life, to the professors who do great benefit to the society through their research and teaching, and to my colleagues who have the ability to see life in a million more ways that i can imagine.

as i was getting into this school in April 2005, i conjectured that life will never be the same again. now, having gone through this one year, i can say confidently that, yes, life will never be the same again for me.

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Life moves on

Posted by itheabsolute on March 23, 2006

Now that I have bunked more classes than I am allowed to, without the possibility of a penalty of getting a lower grade, I have to drag myself to all the remaining classes. It is fundamentally a question of incentives. Though some classes are interesting, there is no interest left in me. In many of the candidates.

We have received a note listing the exit formalities to be completed to let us go from here.

The classes and exams get over by April 1. Between April 1 and April 7, there are not official activities. People are going out on tours. Latest by April 5, we will have our laptops reformated. We can then no longer use the laptops within the ISB network. Library will lend the last book / DVD to us on April 4 and the latest date to return it will be April 5. We are required to settle all our dues by April 5. ISB will not be the same place on April 6. The activity will pick up on April 7 and will conclude on April 8. April 8 is the graduation day. We can stay back maximum till 12 noon on April 10.

The year has really gone faster than I could ever imagine. I have enjoyed the year in more ways than one. The school will be missed long since we are gone from here, but having served its purpose, the school has no place for us people. The school will get ready to receive the new set of hopeful, enthusiastic and slightly anxious people on April 15

Life moves on.

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CP tips

Posted by itheabsolute on March 21, 2006

I dont know if i have said this before; I will say this again nevertheless – Don’t compare your inside with someone else’s outside. One will need to remember this maxim during class participation.

There are people who speak and then there are people who do. People who speak can intimidate, particularly during the early stages of ISB life. And once one feels intimidated, one could do two things – either stop participating in class discussion (?) or just do it without giving much thought to it.

Class Participation allows people to speak. And speak will those people that tend to speak without the realization that class participation is a good way to share knowledge, but a bad way to think that one could display knowledge.

I say this because, many of the points students make are usually already thought by many of the other students. There are only a few points that are made in the class that the other students would not have thought about. These points as everyone can guess are not found in the facts of the cases that are assigned for reading, but are found in the books that one has read in past or in the experience that one has gone through or even observations that one has made.

If there is one thing that ISB students need to improve on, that would be class participation. I only said improve.

But so long as class participation will be graded, such tendencies to speak what has already been spoken or speak that everyone has already thought out in the dreams or just repeat the facts of the case will continue.

A simple rule is what is said in an old saying – don’t look where you fell, look where you slipped. Look not for obvious facts, but for the causes that underlie the facts. One will then speak what makes a class discussion enriching. One will do good in class participation.

PS: CP = Class Participation

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It is body which carries mind

Posted by itheabsolute on March 17, 2006

The entire world seems to be obsessed with mind. More people than not just forget that it is body which carries mind.

A sick body cannot do any outward thinking. It is thus important to keep the body in shape and good condition to be able to have a sharp mind.

When Reliance issued its GDR (way back in 80s i guess), it is reported, some reporters asked Anil Ambani how he can manage a company as large as Reliance if cannot manage his own body. He was weighing 90 kilos then. He started jogging since. He now weights about 70 kilos.

It is imperative for managers and leaders to keep their body in fit condition as much as they try to keep their minds sharp.

Spending time in gym or playing a sport coupled with planned diet will go a long way in doing great favor to not just body but mind.

Anyone who ignores body and feels good about having the best intellect is not doing any good to himself. Nor to the people around him.

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Comparisons are odious

Posted by itheabsolute on March 12, 2006

Numerous comments and mails on the salaries grabbed by the grads of IIMs Vs those of ISB.

While at a fundamental level such comparison looks funny, it is but human to commit to comparison.

In Strategy course, one learns that there are two levels of variables – industry level and firm level. Recent research proves that industry level factors explain only 35 % variance in a firm’s performance. The rest is explained by what is internal to the firm.

Similarly, the salaries that a b-school grads grab are explained by both – b-school level factors and individual level factors. And i have no reason to believe that the importance of the b-school will be anything more than 35 %.

There are grads of HBS who have difficulty in getting right jobs. I even hear that IIMs grads low on grades have difficulty finding jobs better than those found by some students of Tier – II b-schools. The lower salary numbers of ISB are not necessarily higher than the higher salaries of Tier II b-school.

Thanks to a fantastic alumni network,excellent brand and a rigorous admission processes, IIMs attract some of the best recruiters. But these recruiters would hardly offer the salaries that we are hearing now, if the students themselves are not good. No recruiter pays salary for the school; it is to the individual that the recruiter pays. Of late, IIMs have started to take experienced students, which has led to steep increase in the salary levels. The mind-numbing salaries are a reflection more of the genius of the person and less of the school.

ISB is a new school. It is yet to complete 5 years. Its alumni network is one of the weakest amongst large b-schools. It has a one year format. It takes only experieced students. It has tried out something new. Its brand is still growing. It will take time for ISB to work all things in its favor. Having said that, what ISB has achieved is by any standards no mean achievement.

Also know that, all b-schools (and firms too) do a lot of jugglery in calculating CTCs of the students. CTCs would include things one would never imagine. So that the numbers do not look skewed, the US b-schools (and magazines / press) reckon / compare salaries that the grads of various b-schools draw during the third year after they graduate.

To end, if people dont care about all these and just want to know numbers, I cannot reveal the numbers. But I am sure when the numbers come out ISB’s numbers will be higher than those of other schools.

PS: CTC could include things as wierd as the rent for the space occupied by the employee, the maximum bonus that he can draw (as against minimum bonus), stationery, utility expenses incurred on the person, training expenses, likely travel allowance, etc. basic things such as gross salary, min or average annual bonus, esops, incentives, sign on bonuses, provident fund, gratuity, superannuation, cash reimbursements can be genuinely included in the CTC.

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ISB is what you make of it

Posted by itheabsolute on March 8, 2006

A couple on campus had a baby boy today. A couple of students got married during the year. A few students got engaged. One girl is getting married on the next day of graduation.

Some students are headed to Australia to take up jobs. One to Bosnia. One more to Mexico. A few rejected offers to go to Poland and the Netherlands / Serbia. Some are headed to Dubai and many more to London, New York and Texas.

A few couples met up at ISB and in all likelihood will get married in a few years. Some couples met and later figured out that they are not made for each other.

Some married students have had their share of trouble with not being able to give enough time for spouse and kid. Some celebrated their first anniversary with grandeur.

Some students are very happy because they have been able to get their dream jobs. Some are happy because they have been able to make career shifts. Some still happy because they got good salary hikes. Some students who never ever dreamt of private equity jobs gotten in there. Some like me, with neither good academic credentials nor good case interview preparation got into consulting. Some companies came from nowhere and make fantastic offers. Some companies which were expected to do offer good roles on campus disappointed students.

Some of the students are unhappy because they were not able to do any of the above. But they will move on.

Some people have always stood amongst top 10 in their entire education. They came to ISB to realize that there are much smarter people. Some people maintained low profile all the while and got themselves into dean’s list and some of the got very good jobs, to the surprise of the rest. Some people who were reckoned as studs were not able to make it to either dean’s list or to any great job.

People came here and developed interest in things such as quizzing. I developed liking for squash and will try my best to continue playing that sport. A few have developed liking for volley ball. a few more for table tennis. many of us have had a great time watching DVDs. I have really loved some of the movies and have learnt a lot from a couple of them.

The point is – ISB is many things to many people.

The experience provides ample opportunities to explore things we have never done before, never thought of, never wanted to do; to meet people of types we would have never seen or met before; to undergo the rigor we would have never endured; to face uncertainty and tension we would have perhaps never seen before.

For those who want to come with an open mind to unlearn more than to learn, ISB really means many things, all at one time.


We are just a month away from moving out of this place. The sadness caused by this is juxtaposed by the excitement that the new opportunites the world outside and the new career have to offer.

Have spent some time trying to put my interview prep and some learnings through a questionnaire prepared by CAS. The CAS team had also set up a video recording to narrate my experiences. Found quite odd talking straight into a video camera. I dont think people who have been following my blog regularly will find anything new in either the questionnaire or the video recording.

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Bookmark this

Posted by itheabsolute on March 7, 2006

Wanted to share a fantastic resource for previewing and reviewing important concepts in management.

Valuebased Management

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At sea

Posted by itheabsolute on March 5, 2006

All animals, except man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it – Samuel Butler

While I am not able to do any work on the academic front for lack of any incentive, I am also not able to fully enjoy myself because every event/ instance of pleasure seeking brings with it a tinge of guilt. Because the principal business of our lives is no longer to enjoy it. It is but to work.

All that one needs to learn is better learnt before seventh term. Eighth term is for being confused because there are too many things to do. It is the term to really disentangle oneself from the academic mindset. It is the time to get a little rugged to face the world outside the school, where hard decisions need to be made. Where the downside for erring or being lazy is not a B grade, but far more critical consequences.

Btw, Dubya came, he interacted, he conquered. Mr President was quite different from what is usually seen/shown on TV. That is all incidental. What was of consequence was ISB became even more famous. He served our purpose.

PS: People who are in the race for place in Dean’s List continue to study hard.

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Books To Read

Posted by itheabsolute on March 1, 2006

No person is complete without reading certain books. The most important book may be different for each one of us. For me, it was On Liberty by John Stuart Mill. For someone it may be Shakespeare, for some other the Seven Habits. But everyone has a set of books and at least one book that may have changed / may change the way he thinks. While the following books come to mind, there is no better site which gives a fantastic idea about what books to read to become a better manager or leader than Josh Kaufman’s.

1. Future Shock, Third Wave and Power Shift by Alvin Toffler
2. Autobiography of Bertrand Russell
3. A brief history of Time
4. What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School
5. The seven habits of highly effective people
6. Confidence
7. Freakonomics
8. Books by D H Lawrence / V S Naipal / Nirad C Chowdhary / Nehru / Russell for people who can spare time
9. Sherlock Holmes
10. Brave New World
11. The Mind of the Strategist
12. Execution
13. Built to Last & Good to Great

The list can go on. The point is one starts somewhere and then keeps moving on to read further books based on one’s interest.

But for the executive who does not have time, Josh Kaufman’s prescription of 42 books is quite matchless. Here is the link to his site Josh Kaufman

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