Prateek Agarwal alias ManDevIan is in his second year at Management Development Institute-Gurgaon. In a conversation with our in-house PaGaL Interrogation Squad sleuth DJ Krish Kay, Prateek sheds more light on his life at MDI-Gurgaon and what goes into surviving the two year bootcamp that is an MBA.

A little Bit on your background please.

I did my schooling from Lucknow (La Martiniere Boys College), and then went on to appear for C.A. Foundation. I did my initial training (articleship) in Delhi, but soon shifted back to Lucknow and completed my 3 years of training there itself. Meanwhile I completed my B.Com (Honours) from Delhi University (correspondence). I moved back to Delhi in 2002 and cleared my CA exams in May 2003. Meanwhile, I also worked as a Senior Audit Assistant in a reputed CA firm in Delhi. After clearing the CA exams, I started my own firm in South Delhi. So before joining MDI, I had 17 months of work experience.

Hmm…An MBA after CA. Was it for the placements??
Quite contrary to belief of many, my decision to go for MBA was not motivated by placements, but rather, by my desire to go through a college and hostel life before finally trying to settle down. MBA was my first choice, as that would have helped me enjoy the life I missed, and help me groom my personality.

That’s the first time we’ve heard of that reason ! So, how did you go about choosing the institutes to apply? And also do rank the parameters that you based your decision upon.
My choice of institutes was restricted to the top 10 colleges in India, which consisted of all 6 IIMs, MDI, XLRI, SP Jain and IIFT. Although, FMS was also on my list, I was not keen on it, since FMS wouldn’t provide me with a hostel life, which was my main reason for doing MBA.

Campus life
Quality of batch mates
Quality of faculty
Quality of education
City your B school is located in
Amount of on-campus research
Rank your B school gets in 3rd party surveys

And how did you go about your CAT preparation?
My entrance test preparation was a total disaster. I joined T.I.M.E., South Delhi centre for classes, hoping that I’ll be able to juggle classes with my office (which I was running as a proprietor). However, I rarely made it to class, and just appeared for the weekly AIMCATs. Every week my percentile kept going several notches lower (I never went through any reading material).
However, I took a break during November and studied for around 15 days. During those days I used to attempt one or two Mock Cats daily, along with a friend of mine, keeping a strict time regime. At the end of the day, we’d analyse the Mock Cats, to get a hang of tougher questions. This preparation worked well for me – and due to high work pressure – this was the last time I studied before taking the final CAT in February 2004.
I have managed to keep my cool before and during my exams and CAT was no exception. I took 3 days off from my office and went back home to family. I watched loads of movies and met a lot of friends. On the day of the CAT, for the first time, the nervous faces of people around me took a toll on me. But then the question paper took over and everything was fine after that. I was not very optimistic of converting any call, but then MDI came as the biggest surprise to me.

So, how different are interviews for CAs as compared to other graduates?
During the interviews, I was quizzed on taxation, accounting etc, which I was quite comfortable with. Suddenly one of the interviewers asked me the latest number of Accounting Standards which were issued by ICAI. I was not very sure – but nevertheless, had a vague idea that it’s 31 and that’s what I answered. The interviewer asked me twice to think again before finally telling me that the answer is 29. However, quite unlike myself, I told him confidently that its 29 for the general public, but 31 for the Chartered Accountants (as 2 of them are in draft mode and we have already received them). Eventually, the interviewer was quite convinced. Later, I discovered that there were only 29 AS at that time and that there were none in draft mode. But I still got through.


Now that you have been inside a B-school for over an year, do give us some insight into how B-school life goes.
I always thought that campus life is all about studying, having a good time with friends and a few extra curricular activities. However, after joining MDI, I realised that the “extra” bit in ‘extra curricular activities’, is in fact “extra large” for it controls the biggest chunk of my time. Life at Bschool also involves dealing with the dynamics of high competition, human relations and as is the case anywhere else, politics!
Every moment in B school is a good one till I’m in class or have to study. Specifically, being part of so many things such as organising an inter b-school fest, running a student cooperative store etc. have been the best experiences of my life. Staying up the whole night, doing projects with groupies, and hitting the sack after breakfast is always fun! By the way – did I mention the all night DJ parties?
Its not all good, though. Waking up early in morning for classes and watching (some) people being so loyal towards R.G. (Relative Grading, mostly used as a slang for high competition) is the not-so-bright side to this coin.

OK, now we’ll make this quick. Five things that you can’t live without at MDI-Gurgaon

My laptop – it’s the most important thing in my life here.
Internet – it’s the lifeline here!
Meeting – Nothing can be done without regular meetings, be it group meetings, club meetings or open house.
Determination – To survive in a b-school one needs to have sheer grit to keep up with the pace of life here.
Adjustable Biological Clock – the biological clock of the students has got to be adjustable for the unpredictable schedules and unearthly deadlines

What kind of jobs are you looking at, post-MBA?
I am hoping for a good Corporate Finance job in one of the MNCs. Am quite flexible about the job profile, so no worries there…

To all aspiring B schoolers: Just be yourself. What others do and how they study is immaterial. Everyone has their own style of grasping things. Get your own. Once you make it to B school, don’t waste all your time studying and raising your grades. B school has so much more to teach – find them and take all it has to offer.

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