Friday, September 14, 2007

Our new website and blog

We have revamped our website this season and the blog is now available at

Monday, April 16, 2007

Can I make a career shift in a one year MBA program?

A student in the recent past was passionate about a job with a finance company. He applied for 100 companies through campus but did not get short-listed even for one. Obviously, he was frustrated, down and dispirited. He thought about undivided attention in fin classes, burnt mid-night oil with fin books and scratched head to solve fin assignments. He used to eat fin, breathe fin and talk fin. And now, no company wants to talk to him. What did he do? Did he take a job in the next company that came by? No. He wrote to the director of a company he liked. As luck would have it, the senior folks in the firm were willing to talk. They were impressed by the fin funda flow he gave. He was offered a job but with a lower pay. He was in the last percentile of the class to be placed. In the first year at job, he struggled to pay his bills. The more he struggled, the more he worked hard. In the next year, his team made a billion dollars in profit. His boss gave fifty million from that and gave it to six people to divide equally. He was one of them!

This is not a story but a true case study. Why am I saying this? It is because of the infinite discussions on various bulletin boards and groups about a career change through a one year program – most of them believing that it is not possible. Though the placement statistics do not support me, people I know and who did make a career shift will. Some might say this is just might be an outlier. I can quote another case study of a guy who got into a global Real Estate company. He did not even buy a house, forget about having a real estate experience. I have a friend who dreamt all 11 months to join a consulting firm. He realized it late (3 months after passing out from bschool), but he did achieve it. I can quote another example of a person who is working for a media company after doing five years of auditing. I can quote examples of career shifts into any field you give me, without batting an eyelid.

What is required to make a career shift? There is only one thing – Full Fledged devotion! When people enter the campus, each one is with a dream. Some, dreamt over months and some over the last days of the application process. But everyone has a dream. Once into the campus, they start listening to other peoples dreams and start believing that other’s dream is their dream forgetting that they had a dream of their own that they dreamt. (long sentence I know). You might say that I am harsh on the intellectuals who rank among the top 1% of the universe. But, the fact is, students are confused. It is only very few of them, who have the nerves of steel.

Don’t you think 365 days are enough to select the industry you want to work with, involve with clubs with members working towards the same goal, conducts events that reiterate your interest and talk to business leaders, alumni & professors about the same? You bet!

If this seems a simple thing to do, why don’t students do it. I would say their basis of selection itself is incorrect. You want to get into real estate not because you like Donald Trump or a real estate stock that was a multi-bagger in equity markets. You want to get into media not because the salaries have increased multi-fold over the last couple of years. You don’t decide to work for a beer company because you drink.
Infact, it is easy to find one’s interests. If I watch business news, read analyst reports, listen to stock tips, invest in stock market and gets pleasure working with financial models, I would work for a stock broking house. If I had good grades, I don’t mind slogging for a minimum of couple of years and get a kick from dealing with CXO level people, I would go for consulting. If I like daily, weekly and monthly targets, desire to play against competition on almost a daily basis and wants to actively manage people under me, I would go into Retail.

The point is this: If you want something hard enough you will strive hard for it. In a short term, you may sacrifice compensation or location or personal life and more, but you will be a satisfied & successful person! Career Change in a one year program is possible. It depends on where, why and how you want to do it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A few things that i did before joining ISB you have got the admit and there are just a few mths left for you to step into the 'BSchool !!'. Chances are that you are reeeeallly geared up and want to do a lil bit of this and a lil bit of that and a lil bit of everything before you kind of submit yourself to the roller coaster ride..

Here are a couple of things that I did....

- Bought a book called “MBA in 10 days” (the key word here is ‘bought’ and not ‘read’ :-)). Well I did try to read it though but never completed it But hey guys ..i think for those who r really nervous about all the new stuff that you will get introduced to…buy that book …skim through it once in a while (but frankly once u start ur course you will forget everything else )
- Made my transition out from the current job smooth (remember u never want to burn bridges and u always want to exit on a high note – its always good to keep relationships in the corporate world)
- The blogging phenomena had not caught by that time – so we had no sneak peak into the ISB world which you guys are privy to today …so spoke to a few seniors just to get some ideas on ISB life and prospects of future placement and stuff. But believe me – doing all this helps but only to some extent. Once you are in the grind – you just flow with it and you forget all the gyan you had come with J. Over and above, career decisions post something that you are paying a fortune for has to be made by YOU – so before you start looking for help – introspect. Try and rethink on why are you going to ISB and what do you want to get out of it (get crisp answers) and remember this is not for your essay so be true to yourself and ditch all the jargon and faff ! This will help you immensely in carving out your future path (Ahem…if you think I did all this before joining ISB then please don’t be fooled by yours truly J - but yeah these are things I wish I had done )
- Had loads of fun and slept allllooootttt. PLLLEEASEE do that – cause a 7 hour sleep once u step into ISB is like …well…I cant even say that you can just dream of it cause u wont even get the time to dream of it J
- Did meet up a few ISB admits from the same city. We kind of huddled in a coffee shop, all excited n all and added each other to our IMs etc. Yeah its fun to do all that and it does start the momentum but u know what – again once u get into the school – it’s a different world and you eventually make your own set of friends (who need not be the ones you met early on ). Hey – I do not want to be this party spoiler go on..have fun !!


Thursday, December 28, 2006

For all those who are looking for our old interview gyans

Well..we figured that after all blogspot was not all that cool if u wanted to hunt for ol posts and so instead of you digging through our archives to look for our old posts on interview gyans.. here is what you should look at to go to all interview posts together - go save your time !! :)

And of course All the very best!

Indians ARE Good. Period.

It pains us to see the utter disregard for Indian Bschool Applicants being shown by some US based admission consultants.

Ask Sandy, a thread by a US based admissions consultant had this post on Dec 9th:

Message no. 10180.15461 (which has been snipped after abuse was reported)

hmmmmm, many are claiming this is the real explanation of Indian applicant difficulties at HSW
anyway, story making the rounds of most b schools, as you might imagine.

A fellow Indian applicant very correctly retaliated on Dec 11th (

Message no. 10180.15478

Whteva the real explanation for the Indian applicant's difficulties is, I guess its not as sad as the low standards few consultants employ with the sole reason of spicing up their threads by resorting to such cheap tricks as relating two all-together different things!!!
By the way, may I ask which school are your presently attending to have the authentic information about the stories that are currently making waves in schools?
Trust me, that was in real bad taste sandy!
hmmmmm, many are claiming this is the real explanation of Indian applicant difficulties at HSW
anyway, story making the rounds of most b schools, as you might imagine.

We believe that a ‘consultant’ needs to be sensitive first to the applicant’s background in order to understand them and provide help with their Bschool application!!

Monday, December 25, 2006

LBS interview experience of an ol timer..

Disclaimer: My LBS interview happened three years back so though I dont think alot would have changed but nevertheless...

The first thing I remember about LBS interview was that it was looooonngggg, 3 hours! I remember, my ISB interview was the next day and when that got over in 15 mins I was like "Vov what happened?" I had assumed that all Bschool interviews are so loong! An alum had taken it in Blore (windsor manor). He was very warm, very sweet and made me feel absolutely comfortable. He had read my profile and application so well that as soon as I entered he wished me "Belated Happy Birthday" cause my birthday was the day before :)

Then started the grill....

Now, the LBS interview is very structured. They have well defined 'sections' they test you on like 'Leadership', 'Teamwork', 'Internationalism' etc and for each section they have specific questions they ask. The questions can be like "tell me an example when you had to resolve a conflict" ..and they go deep with it..not in a grilling fashion but more like a discussion. So alot of stress on 'real life' experiences

Alot of questions come straight out of essays. My interviewer had all my essays and i could see markings and comments made on the essays. So knowing what I had written in my essays and being able to talk about it confidently was an advantage. Alot of questions were also related to 'general and industry awareness' and of course there was the famous 'why MBA question' also
He also asked me and kind of grilled but in a very friendly way on how could I fit with the fairly experienced and matured family of LBS (I had just 3 years of exp then)

All in all - it is a very 'in depth' interview and it is not something that you can live through if you havent been true with your application and CV (so PLEASE dont lie).The interviewer was very warm and friendly. You start out nervous but you soon become comfortable because a) Its too long for you to continue being nervous:) b)The environment is so warm c) Its more of a discussion than just an interview - even the interviewer spoke about his plans when he took up LBS and what is he doing now blah blah..

I loved the experience of it and was happy but surprised when I got the admit cause frankly after 3 hours I was so dead that I was almost telling him "Let me go more please"

BTW : I now know from some friends that the pattern is almost the same today in interviews as except that a new 'presentation' is added to the interview where you are given a topic (like a debate) and 5 mins to prepare and then you have to come up with a presentation presenting your case. Hmm..sounds interesting!!


International Bschools - Things to know before applying – Part I

This is first in a planned series of posts that will give nuggets of information about some International Bschools, a few in each post, to help applicants in their short-listing process

CMU Tepper
Aptitude for mathematics/quantitative/analytical is an important factor of success, when getting in and also for staying in Tepper! While at Tepper, students have a choice of taking 'non-MBA' courses at the Carnegie Mellon University; So, if you are looking to augment your skills in computer science while doing your MBA, Tepper is a good place to be. About half of the class at Tepper comes from a technical background, so techies with a good GMAT score stand a good chance at Tepper.

Thunderbird, US
The school has focus on International Business. If you are looking for a global business position, this is the school to be in. The career cell is working hard to place its students in global positions as not many companies view International Business as a value add. There is no McKinsey and BCG on campus. However, Booze, ATK etc visit.

AIM Manila
Conducts its own set of exams. So even if you have not appeared for GMAT, you can apply to AIM Manila. Very affordable; The total program costs around $20,000 (about INR 9 lakhs). The city of Manila also has a very affordable cost of living. Has a rigorous academic schedule compared to some other Asian schools. If you are expecting individual hostel rooms, you might be disappointed as AIM has a dormitory system. Married people can easily get affordable housing in the city.

NUS, Singapore
Though Singapore is a hub for a lot of global companies, most of the recruitment is for BBAs rather than MBAs. Most MBAs need to persevere to get their dream jobs. Career shift is difficult but not impossible. The companies look at your background prior to MBA. About 50% of the class constitutes of Indians who come from interesting backgrounds, domains and geographies. The school has tied up with more than 40 exchange schools. This gives an opportunity for students to experience another school/place at no additional tuition fee.

Looking for information on any specific Bschool? Write to us at


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

… and you thought ISB interview is a cakewalk…

We have been talking and listening to the prospective students in various forums. Most believe that the interviews at ISB were a cakewalk. Does it mean you can afford to take it easy? We spoke to a few people to find out where the candidates were found wanting.

The interviews are resume and essay based. They look easy. However, there are some pitfalls that you must watch out for.

Q. Why ISB and what after ISB?

This would have come in some form or the other. Be it a 26 year old IIT-IT professional or a 36 year old from the Armed forces, everyone of us has a story. Get that story out explicitly. Connect various data points in your life into one easily understandable seamless story. If you are from IT and want to make a career shift into Finance, the reasons should be compelling. There has to be a detailed plan as to how you are going to do it using ISB. If you are from Media and want to stick with Media, this is as tough as the earlier one. You should mention a concrete reason as to what you did and what you want to do.

Suggestion: Use the framework ‘What have you done? What are you going to do? Where do you plan to go?’

Q. How did you feel meeting Mr. Sunil Mittal (or reading H2G2)?

There are some questions which seem like passing ones but they are the ones that can create impact. An average answer to the above question is: ‘I felt great’ (or ‘It was interesting’). One should go beyond it. The very fact that this question is taking up valuable time in the interview deserves an insightful answer. The answer could be how you felt about this great man (book) after you have seen (read) and the kind of thoughts that came to you.

Suggestion: Use the framework ‘Description & Learning’

Q. Why did you change your job from HDFC to ICICI?

You have made an important decision to move on. The bulging of the wallet may not be the only reason. Do not leave a chance of showcasing what a thoughtful person you are. Every one knows that ICICI is growing faster than HDFC. Do not leave it at that. Talk about how the place smells, people feel, system works. Talk about people, culture, work ethics etc. These are things others do not know. You have the privilege of knowing and talking about it.

Suggestion: Say something that is more than obvious

Q. Asking a technical question.

Do not be surprised if someone on the panel asks the difference between a comp & comp-3. This might be because you have mentioned that you have strong analysis and that you have worked on mainframe technologies. Another illustration can be the difference between wi-fi and wimax. If you are from telecom background, you are expected to answer this. The panel usually gives multiple chances to show the depth of knowledge you posses. Do not merely pass them, crack them!

Suggestion: Flaunt the depth of your knowledge!

Q. Expect the unexpected.

There will be an instance in your interview where you get a question as a googly. Do not get bowled. If the question was ‘What does your wife/girlfriend think of you?’. This is a different version of ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses in personal setting?’. In such situations, it is good to have a pause, map the question to your pre-interview preparation, scope the answer and articulate it. Do not answer with out thinking. Understand the underlying theme of the question.

Suggestion: Take a pause before answering

Q. Wear a smile and wave your hands.

Use all the soft skills that you learnt in your academic and corporate life. Show the energy, wear the smile, maintain eye contact and wave your hands.

Suggestion: Show the positive energy

Though doing well may not get you an entry into the gate but doing badly will definitely get you rejected. Having said this, doing very well will improve your chances due to interview’s weightage in the overall selection process. This is the chance to make the adcom upgrade your application from mediocre to premium. If you want the admit hard enough, start preparing for the interviews very hard. Who said the ISB interview is a cakewalk?


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Beyond ISB....

I believe there are always options in life, for everything …and everything happens for a reason. There are some things that we really cant do much about but we definitely have an option to choose how to deal with fret about something that was not meant to be OR to move ahead and make something else happen ! And all those fighters out there who unfortunately couldn’t make it to ISB – we believe that you all fall in the second category and wont give up.

So lets get into action and see what we can do now..
First lets take a step back and you..

a. ..still want to get into a B-school. Was your aim to get an MBA from any good school or was ISB the school you wanted to go to
b. ..want to dump the idea of getting into B-school because there are many examples of people who have made it big in life without being an "embeeya" 

Well, both the options are fair. But in this article lets assume that you are the one who chooses option a, now again think over the following

1. An Indian B-school is where you want to go – Because of personal, financial reasons etc
2. You are open to any school worldwide

If you chose option 1, your choices could be:

Re-apply to ISB : Yes, there are re-applicants to ISB every year! And a good number of them do get into ISB. In this case make sure you get appropriate feedback from ISB this year so that you know what to work upon for the next year. ISB does give feedback, if only asked for

IIMA PGPEX – But remember applicants need to be of age 27 years or above at the start of the program. If you want to give this a decent shot -you need to get prepared soon as the application forms will be available from March 2007 (not much time left). Start you research asap..

IIMC PGPEX - Needs 5 year of work-ex. Application forms should be available in Jan ’07 – hmmmm…dude …no time left at all

Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai – A new kid in the block. This years admissions still going on - last date for submission of Applications: January 20th 2007. 2 years work-ex desired; also admits people with less work-ex. If you want to try this – HURRY UP!!!

SP Jain Dubai/Singapore (not exactly in India, but of Indian origin …) - Very focused specializations on offer (Wealth Management, Retail Management, etc.) So if you know what you want to specialize in, you can give this school a shot. A small percentage of the batch is reserved for those with a family business or who desire to become an entrepreneur

If you chose option 2, you might have to weigh the following factors before selecting the schools to apply for (since they charge in $$, it’s good to do your homework)

- Is your GMAT score good enuf? Do you have the will to better it or would you rather apply with the existing score.

- What is your budget like for MBA fees? Can you afford a US MBA (if you do not get loans) or would you rather stick closer home (Australia, Singapore, etc.) Are you willing to stay and work in the foreign country where you do your MBA, to pay back the loans, or would you rather be working in India? Alternately, for those who have their family businesses, you might want to come back to India to join your family business …

- How are you placed personally – For some people this is a huge constraint while moving out of the country.

- Since there are so many more schools there and if you apply to all you probably wont have any money left ! So choose your schools carefully – be practical and choose a school where you think you have a decent chance and match if against something that suits you (location, concentration, mode of education wise).

- Some schools in US and UK still have deadlines pending in the next few weeks (till mid jan). Give those a shot but don’t do it in a hurry – if you think you cannot do justice to them now – wait. Gather some more exp this year, better your profile and score if required and come back next year better prepared..and go for the kill !!!!

Now that we have given you a structure – work towards it..choose your options..move on..because there is always life beyond ………………


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