In our interview with PaGaLGuY alumnus Hari Subramanian (Former Senior H.R. Business Partner At Amazon India, XLRI Class of 2011, Author of “Hilarious MBA Memoirs”), we ask him about his MBA journey and tips for MBA aspirants. Below are excerpts from our Q & A with Hari.

P.G. Team: Hari, talk us through your preparation phase for getting into XLRI. How did you go about it?

Hari: I started preparing for entrance exams 18 months in advance. I used to spend 2 hours every alternate day solving the practice materials given by my coaching institute. Through the pattern emerging from the mock exams, I understood that verbal ability was my strength and quant was my weakness. I was fairly comfortable with DI/LR. So, I spent extra time practising previous papers to improve my quantitative skills. I could not clear any exams the first time. I worked harder and took the mock entrance exams seriously, and this helped me clear XAT sectional cut-offs the following year. 

P.G. Team: How did PaGaLGuY help you during your preparation phase?

Hari: PaGaLGuY was the one-stop-shop for everything related to my MBA journey, starting with dates and reminders for applying to various MBA entrance exams, threads on numerous topics like decoding the answers for a particular paper, interview experiences, cut-off information, waitlist details, queries being answered by the community, tips by mentors, etc. There was no need to go anywhere else, and I was grateful that we had access to the P.G. community 15 years ago. I am pleased to say that P.G. continues to play such an essential role in an MBA aspirant’s journey.

P.G. Team: Hari, since you have cleared such a difficult exam like XAT, what would be your advice to test-takers of leading entrance examinations?

Hari: Self-assess your strong and weak areas. Maximize your strengths. Since I knew I was confident in my verbal ability, I would attempt it last and spend less time than the other sections. I would start with DI/LR as I didn’t want my confidence to be derailed by starting with my weak area. Time management and selecting the right questions are very critical. I would skim through a question, and if I came to know that I would struggle to solve it, I would not attempt it. The secret sauce in MBA entrance exams is to select the right questions to answer, play to your strengths, and not waste time on difficult questions.

P.G. Team: The day of the entrance exam is very stressful. What tips would you suggest to remain calm on D-day?

Hari: I would switch off preparation 3 days before the exam and read newspapers, watch movies, go for a run or watch cricket matches on T.V. I would not discuss the exam with friends or family. Preparing well gives you a lot of confidence. There are a lot of entrance exams from good institutes, and you know that if you have prepared well, you will get through one of them. The key here is preparation and practice. If you are well prepared and can distract yourself by engaging in other activities, your mind will automatically be calm. This worked for me. At the end of the day, it is just another exam you are attempting, and life is beyond an exam. Having this perspective helped me.

P.G. Team: How was your interview experience at XLRI?

Hari: I had two interview calls – Business Management (B.M.) and Human Resource Management (HRM). Unfortunately, I could not answer anything related to my Electronics Engineering academic concepts in my B.M interview, and it was a disaster. It was hilarious as I was done with the interview in just 3 minutes. Luckily, the HRM interview was on general knowledge and current affairs-related topics. I read newspapers and watched news channels regularly, as I was curious and had a public interest. The G.D. topic was on the role of media in minimizing sensationalism in news reporting. I cleared the HRM interview through a waitlist, and there has been no looking back from then onwards. I have described my interview experiences in great detail in my book “Hilarious MBA Memoirs”.  

P.G. Team: How would you sum up your journey at XLRI, and would you recommend an MBA course?

Hari: I think the MBA at XLRI was the best thing to have happened to me. While I have only described the funny side of it in my book, the MBA also helped us learn many things – working in groups, collaborating, delivering results within tight deadlines, prioritization, presentation, analytics, and multi-tasking. We were lucky to have been taught by some of the best Professors in the country, and it gave me an amazing set of close friends for life who have been with me through thick and thin. I would definitely recommend an MBA course for those interested in pursuing a career in management. 

P.G. Team: What are the main themes of your book “Hilarious MBA Memoirs”?

Hari: Inspired by real-life incidents, “Hilarious MBA Memoirs” is a hilarious autobiographical satire on the life of an MBA grad from one of India’s best B schools through childhood, college, and corporate days. It is a rib-tickling stressbuster that chronicles funny anecdotes throughout the protagonist’s life, right from the rote learning methodology in childhood to the struggle in his MBA days (making a CV, fish-market group discussions, social media mishaps, summer internship fiasco, date nights gone wrong, etc.). 

P.G. Team: What is your final message to MBA aspirants?

Hari: Focus on input/process metrics and minimize worry/obsession about outputs. If we focus on the inputs (which is to prepare well), the outputs will take care of themselves. Visualization of successful outcomes is a great technique which has helped me. Thank you.

About Hari:

Hari Subramanian is an XLRI 2011 alumnus, with 10+ years of experience in business and H.R. roles, in diverse organizations like Mahindra & Amazon. He is currently based out of the U.K. and the author of “Hilarious MBA Memoirs.”


Link for the book:

Connect with Hari on LinkedIn:

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