Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ramya gets a job, and other news

Well, this post has been a long time coming but I have been placed, about two weeks ago. I’m joining Price Waterhouse Coopers GRID division. I’ve asked to be placed in their Mumbai office with Hyderabad as my second preference. And I’m mighty kicked at being called a ‘consultant’.

The run-up to placements had been a crazy time for me. What I did before placements is literally a manual of what one should NOT do. I was probably the last person in my batch to submit my master resume to the Placement Committee. And I did it only because finally, a submission had come up! And working on my resume was a euphemism – I spent a few hours on it and showed it 2 classmates and then made some of the changes that they recommended - that was it!!

It was crazy because most of my classmates had been working on their resumes since late December, early January, showing it to seniors, alumni mentors etc and constantly working on it to improve it. And here I was finishing off a single page resume in a few hours. In fact, two of my friends kept exhorting me to keep working on my resume and atleast that induced me to make changes as I went along with the submissions.

To make things worse for myself, I did not study at all. My entire ‘placement preparation’ consisted of about an hour running through some personal questions, another hour reading some sector reports and another hour going through a presentation on marketing essentials. This was all that I could bring myself to do. This while everyone around me was studying every single day, completely giving up on their social life!! In fact, I had quite a few friends telling me I should take placements more seriously.

Now I’m not proud of my attitude before placements at all. At the same time, I just could not bring myself to take it as seriously as the others were doing. It was weird because I myself had serious doubts about whether it made sense for me to take things so easy when everyone around me was working so hard. Despite these doubts, despite my usual habit of conforming, I just could not bring myself to prepare. Funnily enough, the doubt was not whether I would get placed – the doubt was on whether my attitude was acceptable – was I going overboard while being the rebel?

I felt a raging frustration at the rest of the batch. It was only placements, damn it!! Sure it was important and I do understand that your first job plays a large role in shaping your future career. I appreciate the importance of getting a good first job so that you can have the career you always wanted. But the kind of obsession we show totally shocks me. Sure, give placements the importance and the respect they deserve but then, realise that where you get placed does not determine the rest of your life.

Is it because I am lacking in ambition? I wasn’t sure about what kind of a job I wanted. I knew I wanted a job which involved interacting with people, minimum time spent in front of excel sheets, and certainly not routine work. I would like to be able to different things everyday. And yeah, I wanted to get about 40-45k in hand, after paying my taxes. That was all I wanted from my job – and any job which was going to fulfill these requirements was going to make me supremely happy.

Now I don’t know if I was aiming too low with that but I knew that was what would kepe me happy and that’s all I cared about. Apart from which, I knew I was going to work only in India. Atleast this helped me to be very selective when applying to companies. I did not apply to any Day 0 companies because I wasn’t interested in the I-banks, and the Day 0 consults idea of work- life balance didn’t match with mine.

I applied to all of 8 companies in Slot 1 – I concentrated on companies which offered consult – general management roles. So I was looking at TAS, Accenture, PWC kind of stuff. Apart from this, I applied to one retail bank – HSBC – more for personal reasons that professional. I stayed away from everything else. In Slot 2, I applied to about 10 marketing companies – here I went by rather base ideas. For example, I did not apply to Castrol coz I did not like the idea of marketing engine oil. I’m meant for the Pepsi’s and Cadbury’s of this world!

I then applied randomly to a few Slot 3 companies – about 3 of them which I found interesting. I was most keen on consult – general management type of companies, marketing companies being my 2nd preference level. So I applied to about 20 companies for placements – I was reasonably confident I would get one of my top 5 preferences and even if I didn’t I was going to be equally happy with any of the other companies I had applied to so placements was quite peaceful for me and the only thing about the whole process that caused me grief was the footwear.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

B School brings out the worst in some people

This post is rather controversial and I’m not even sure if I should be posting it. But it’s something that has been on my mind for a while now and it would be good to let it all out. Yesterday, a senior (let’s call him A) posted a message on Bracket, our internal messenger, mentioning that he had heard that we had lesser Slot 0 companies than IIMA and IIMC and that something should be done about it.

The thread soon grew, with another senior, a good friend of A, posting that he had just spoken to A and it turned out that A was not even aware of this post! It turned out that some outsider, probably from a rival IIM, seemed to have cracked A’s password and posted this message so as to get information on the Slot 0 companies coming to IIMB.

Now I know most of you reading this would have found this conspiracy theory rather far-fetched. Despite close to 2 years of witnessing the fierce inter-IIM rivalry and the secrecy that accompanies recruitment companies, even I felt that the conspiracy theory was rather far-fetched. However, more happened – a friend of mine replied to A’s post, telling him about the number of companies actually coming to campus and a few other such details. Now my friend thought A was working in British Gas and started asking him for Gyaan about the company, and the guy on the other end freely started dispensing with it.

However, A was actually not working at British Gas but at some financial services company. This alone points out that the person who was posting and messaging from A’s account was an impostor. My friend sent us the conversation he had with this impostor, and throughout the conversation, the guy has just been asking my friend about which companies are coming for Day 0, how many, are certain XYZ companies recruiting from IIMB this year, etc.

Meanwhile, IIMC was caught in the middle of a scandal when it was found that atleast one of their Placement Representatives had fudged his CG and probably other details on their resume also. The batch got suspicious when he started getting a lot of Slot 0 shortlists and investigated his resume and then discovered that he has fudged some details. I don’t know what action has been taken against the guy but my guess is that he has been debarred from placements.

Now this is not a post accusing IIMC of wrongdoing. My guess is that fudging of resumes happens even at IIMB and IIMA. It is just that most people would be careful enough to fudge it in such a way that they wouldn’t be found out easily – now CG can be easily verified but if you do some outsourced work for a senior working at an international investment bank and then claim to have done a live project with that bank – now that is a subtle lie and it would be more difficult to verify such a point on the resume.

All this is despite the placement committee checking each and every resume by asking the students to substantiate each point they have mentioned with proof, and then checking each of the hundreds of resumes that are submitted before forwarding them to the company.

I’m appalled at the kind of things people can stoop to, all in the name of placements. Hacking accounts, spying on each other, lying on their resumes – how low can we get? Sure, for most people who join an IIM, the ultimate aim is placements. And it’s good to work towards it. But this is not the way to do it! If you want to join an international consult or I-bank, slog your ass off so you have a high CG, work on live consulting assignments, work on consult cases – do all that you can to ensure that you get the kind of company you want.

My friend argues that ‘yeh sab chaltha hai’ because people do this for their placements and after all, people join IIM’s for placements. Sure, we are here for placements but just because we haven’t worked hard enough over the past two years to be in a position to join the company one wants does not mean you resort to underhanded methods. I appreciate the idea that there aren’t a common set of values and ethics for everyone but where does that leave us if some of us refuse to follow the most common and basic ethics involving honesty

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ramya Kancharla, PGDM

I’m done with my last exam today – I’m finally an MBA, though technically I’m only a PGDM. Most of my classmates are sad and sorry that their academic life is finally over – everyone’s taglines are about how they have attended their last class and given their last exam. Sure, I have that twinge of sorrow that one feels when something that one is very familiar with comes to an end – like the last day at school, like the day you leave home to a new place when joining college...

Sixth term has been rather strange and very different – it gives you a taste of what else IIMB could have been. Firstly, it was very short – lasted only about 2 months. I hardly attended classes and am still unaware of what happened in most of the subjects – I spent class time playing sudoku or sleeping. People, including me, freerode on group projects big time. All the things that mattered till now at IIMB – grades, submissions, being in the professors good books, getting into the right groups – all that has gone for a toss.

While sixth term has peacefully fit in with my usual lifestyle, one thing has been troubling me for a couple of days now. At the end of every term, the QAG’s of each subject would present that particular Professor with a gift (it was usually a book). It was supposed to be a sort of ‘thank you’ from the whole class. I always thought that was a rather nice gesture. This term, we haven’t done that for a single Professor. I’m compelled to ask ‘why not?’.

For the first 4 terms, were we doing this ritual as part of the ‘appease the Prof’ process? Don’t we want to thank the Profs anymore just because the grades they give us this time don’t matter? Sure, the primary concern of every batch is their grades and that is understandable. But does that mean that the minute grades don’t matter, we din’t even bother with common courtesy? I know its a small thing and no one has probably even noticed – but it is a sad reflection on us.