Tell us a little about you.
I graduated in computer science and engineering from Chaitanya Bharathi Institute of Technology, Hyderabad. I had a job offer from Kanbay on hand before joining FMS but getting into a top B school without any work experience was my goal which I did manage to achieve. I did my schooling from Siva Sivani Public School, Hyderabad and was the batch topper. I got admissions into BITS in the mechanical engineering department but decided against it. As one who strongly believes in knowing 1% of 100 things rather than 100% of 1 thing, I come across as a person with varied interests in anything between psychology to finance to the Simpson’s (well, I might not be the 1% guy always).
So what’s your excuse for doing an MBA?
If I could change one thing about my past, I would have done a BBA than take up engineering. But back then when I had to choose, it was a Hobsons choice(and I guess it still is). You do either engineering or medicine or else, more often than not, you will end up jobless. I knew for sure that I would want to do an MBA somewhere down the line (one gets bored of the job, begins to hate coding and is bad at coding – that’s me, hit a glass ceiling, decided to take up a managerial role). I’d rather have 4 years of managerial experience when I’m 27 rather than 4 yrs of coding experience. But the most important thing which no one couldn’t decide for me was to do something in which I believed I could apply myself to the maximum (in a way, you could say it was my calling) and a desire to start something on my own and work for myself.
How did you go about picking the school that’s right for you?
My short listing criteria had inputs from lots of quarters; the teachers at TIME, my uncles (who are IIM alumni), the discussions on PaGuLGuy.com, seniors and the magazine rankings. Objectively put, my criteria was the reputation of the school, the average salary and the alumni strength, in that order. And this short listing was a continuous process. I applied to certain schools but slowly dropped them out of my list rather willing to take up a job. I would like to add that I have never taken magazine rankings by their face value and would advise prospective B school-ers the same.
How would you rank the following parameters in your choice of universities?
Quality of education
Quality of batch mates
City your B school is located in
Quality of faculty
Rank your B school gets in 3rd party surveys
Amount of on-campus research
How did you prepare for the CAT?
I enrolled myself for the coaching classes offered by TIME. I wouldn’t call myself a regular but I ensured that I took each and every one of those tests offered. My rank would range from 40 to 1500 in the first few tests!!!! I knew I had to do evaluate what was going wrong. I feel that the most important thing is to know which questions one should not spend too much of time on. I had given my GRE in second year of my engineering (scoring 2330) and that took care of my verbal preparation and to some extent the analytical section too. But the analytical exercises that were worked out in the coaching institute were quite useful. All in all, the most important thing to crack the written exam is to have the right mindset.
Any interesting experiences you remember?
The FMS entrance test is supposedly easier than CAT and XAT. But in the end, no matter how easy or difficult the test is, it is a relative game and in this way, the test is a high scoring one. The Group Discussion (GD) was a memorable, I must say. It had quite a few PG-ites – jsukumar(Jason who is my batch mate), Chandoo, Puneet Vohra, Gautam(agent smith) and another batch mate of mine in the 12 people. The GD started with Gautam picking up a chit with the topic ‘The root cause of the all the problems is all pervading corruption’. GD’s being my area of strength, I was able to make my presence felt with meaningful contributions, quite a few times. During the course of the GD, there was a reply that one of the points I made would be futile (moral education).I replied that it is better to try and fail than to not try for the fear of failure!!! And I knew I had clinched it (provided I had decent scores in the written exam).The extempore was also a big winning point. I was given the topic ‘I hate interviews. Interviews are a waste of time’. Immediately (big mistake),I started speaking against the topic. I was asked to stop after 10 seconds and told to speak for the topic (about which I felt strongly).I had to do a roundabout immediately (though I was given a choice to change the topic).I did well (and I’m sure they liked it).The interview was short and sweet. It was a balance of technical and personal questions. Overall, I would give myself 9.5/10.You win some, you lose some.
What was your biggest apprehension about B-schooling?
Believe it or not, one of my biggest fear before joining a B-school was the lack of sleep. I am not the kind of guy who would enjoy staying awake for 21 hrs per day. But the key is to manage your time by proper planning. It is not difficult to get 6 hours of sleep. There have been times when I slept for 2 hours per day on an average for weeks together. So it is possible to face your fear and make peace with it.
Has your perception about B-Schools changed after joining FMS?
My perception about B-schools was that people would be willing to help you out when you have a problem. Sadly, it is not true in most of the places. But I’m glad that it is not the case, here. Lots of people ask me about one thing that distinguishes FMS from the other top B schools. I keep saying that it is the camaraderie in the batch that is the most endearing thing about this place. With a small batch size, it is but natural. It is not that people go out of their way to help you out. But, this place does have an amazing culture of togetherness.
What’s the best and not-so-great thing about life at a B-School?
The good thing about life at a B school is that everyday is not just a new day, it is a different day. The good moments are everywhere-the parties, the birthday celebrations (especially in the winter), the learning that takes place not just in the classes but outside it and the night-outs before any mega event (academic or otherwise). The bad ones are when one has to confront the non-performers in group activities. It has the potential to sour relationships.
Five things you can’t do without at a B school.
The innumerable nightouts
The Big Question. What next?
I’m looking to join a small firm in the financial sector on passing out. Ten years down the line, I would have a sense of satisfaction if I could run a small firm of my own.
Any advice for ’em aspiring B-schoolers?
The first thing is to know what you want. B-school education should be means to an end and not an end in itself. Once you know where it fits into the bigger scheme of things, life is easier. And try to get some work experience in the field you are planning to enter before you join a B school e.g. – a brief sales stint for marketing, analyst stint for finance/consultancy.