Rising Above the Competition: An Interview with Accenture Consultant and IIM Kozhikode Alum Viresh Singh

In this interview, Viresh Singh, currently a Consultant at Accenture, tells us about his experience at IIM Kozhikode  as a part of the PGP-BL batch of 2020-2021. His involvement in the sports committee and the campus startup ‘Bhooklagi’ illustrates his goal to make the most of his year at IIM Kozhikode. Read on to learn more about his journey to IIM Kozhikode and his path to completing his MBA. 

Q. Could you please tell us about the program you were enrolled in at IIM Kozhikode

Ans. I was in IIM Kozhikode’s Post Graduate Program in Business Leadership. It is a full-time one-year MBA programme, which gives one exposure to the top faculty of IIM and also provides opportunities from abroad universities as part of their international immersion.

Q. What was your educational and corporate background before you began your MBA journey at IIM Kozhikode?

Ans. I graduated from a government school and prepared for the IIT JEE entrance exam. I was accepted into NIT Warangal and studied electrical and electronics engineering. After graduation, I started working in the manufacturing sector before moving on to the core sector for a period of 2.5 years. Later, I worked as a city head for a startup in Chennai before joining Nestle, where I managed the South India supply chain. While working at the startup, I also prepared for the CAT exam and scored 98.98 percentile. Due to my work experience of 4 years, I decided to pursue an MBA and applied for a 2-year program at IIM Lucknow. However, I ultimately chose to leave Nestle and join the 1-year PGP-BL program at IIM Kozhikode.

Q. Could you elaborate on your journey for preparing for CAT? Did you opt for coaching classes or self-study?

Ans. I primarily self-studied for the CAT exam using materials from the coaching organisation TIME. While working in Chennai, I initially attended weekend coaching classes but found more value in studying independently with the provided materials. I started solving relevant questions while working at a startup but struggled to find enough time to prepare. I then sought out a new job opportunity and received an offer from Nestle. With a 45-day gap before my start date, I was able to dedicate all my time to studying for the CAT. I studied for 10-12 hours a day and went through the topics, taking online tests provided by TIME to track my progress. My scores improved from around 90 percentile to 97-99 percentile, giving me confidence in my abilities.

Q. Can you provide some information about your current job profile? 

Ans. I currently work at Accenture, one of the prominent recruiters at IIM Kozhikode. They had requirements for different departments, namely, Accenture Operations, Accenture Technology and Accenture Strategy. So, under Operations, they were looking for someone to work in IT operations and in Accenture Strategy, they were looking for a consultant. I got into Accenture Technology, wherein they were looking for different roles like marketing and technology. They were also looking for people with knowledge of supply chains as they worked with market leaders to digitise their supply chains. Since the physical or domain expertise of supply chain can help develop the digital supply chain of companies, it is a sort of techno-functional role. I am currently working in that role where I need to check the existing supply chain and then digitise it based on the technology which is present now.

Q. Can you provide some information on the current CTC offered?

Ans. It is around 32-33 LPA – to be exact, it was Rs. 32.7 LPA.

Q. In your opinion, How did your institution’s pedagogy help for this particular job role?

Ans. IIM Kozhikode provided us with a platform to build and review our resumes with aid from external expertise. It also helped us find the most suitable domain for us. Apart from that, we also prepared for case competitions, which helped build our mindset and correctly find structure. So, I belive the institution played a key role. 

Q. There are certain skills that companies look for when they are hiring candidates of your calibre. What, according to you, are the five skills one must possess when appearing for interviews?

Ans. Everybody has a different perspective about this, but I feel that companies look for people who can take responsibility, who have decent knowledge, who are willing to take on any task irrespective of whether they have knowledge about it or not, and who can think out of the box to solve structural problems. An ideal candidate must also have good communication skills and self-confidence. When I appeared for the interview, I also felt that recruiters were looking for technical expertise, and apart from that, they were also looking for behavioural suitability. Prior to joining the MBA course, I noticed that wherever I had given interviews, the management focused on the functional aspects, but when I gave the interview at Accenture, there was a 60-40 split between functional and behavioural aspects.  

Q. If you had to describe your interview experience at Accenture, what do you think was the most challenging part of the interview?

Ans. The most challenging part of the interview was probably the fact that Accenture was the first company to hold interviews, and a lot of extremely talented people were applying for the same. So competing with them was difficult, but during the interviews, we were also challenged. For instance, they deliberately asked questions on topics we were unaware of. In that situation, our reaction to such a problem became important. The interview process also involved case competitions. We had to solve business cases in front of the recruiters to demonstrate our approach to such issues. In between conversations, the interviewers also used cross-questioned us to see how we approach a problem irrespective of how much relevant information is available.  

Q. Could you describe the interview process you underwent at Accenture?

Ans: The initial stage of the interview process at Accenture involved a review of our resumes. After the resumes were shortlisted, the first round of interviews was conducted, which were mainly technical in nature. I had to work on three cases that were related to supply chain and business situations. Following the technical round, there was a second round focused on technical and behavioural aspects. This round included functional questions and behavioural scenarios, such as managing a team with a tight deadline when some team members were unavailable. The final round was with the HR head, who discussed the compensation package, which included two options – one for around Rs. 24-25 LPA and the other for around Rs. 32 LPA, with the higher option for those with more than five years of work experience. Despite having less than four years of work experience, my performance impressed the HR head, and I was offered the role. The HR round also included some formal questions about my family background, including questions about my army background. These were the three rounds of interviews.

Q. Your most valuable lesson you learned during your time at IIM Kozhikode that you feel will stay with you for the rest of your life?

Ans. I believe that being well-rounded is an important takeaway from my experience at IIM Kozhikode. When I joined the MBA program, I was interested in a wide variety of activities, such as sports, music, and leadership roles. However, I realised that many students were very focused on academics and achieving high marks, while others were content with their current achievements. It’s important to have a balanced perspective and not limit oneself to just one aspect. For example, my involvement in sports and leadership roles helped me build a network and gain valuable skills. Additionally, I learned the importance of focusing on learning and understanding concepts rather than just aiming for high marks. I also put effort into understanding case competitions and ended up winning 13 national competitions, which was a record at IIM Kozhikode. It is important to not just focus on studies but also focus on building overall personality and mindset in order to be successful in the practical and corporate world.

Q. What’s your personal mantra or “go-to” attitude when it comes to your career?

Ans. My professional philosophy is to give it your all and go above and beyond. When you find something interesting, you naturally put more effort into it and may even surprise yourself with what you can achieve. Additionally, working in a company that allows for flexibility and the ability to try different things can make all the difference in finding a role you truly enjoy.

 Q. In addition to your impressive professional background, do you also have any hobbies or interests outside of work?

Ans. I am very interested in sports, I like to play badminton a lot. Apart from that I am also very keen on investing and trading. So I started trading somewhere around 4-6 months back, it is almost a passion now, I read around 15-17 books and saw a lot of lectures on it and am now trying to master this skill of trading.

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