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Preparing for the Mad race!

Posted by Girish Krishnan on November 9, 2006

Of late, there have been some occasions where i have been asked to share some high level Bschool gyan with people.Though that brings to the bigger question of how a mad man can suggest a cure for madness 😉 , i thought it would good to write about some fundamental issues which some of us face while deciding on a career.

Though this post is dedicated to B-schoolers who would be fighting it out in placements the same way as my batch went about some months back, i guess it is fairly applicable to a larger community. I remember being so confused of what jobs to apply and trying to connect it with what i would become when i am 45 (huh, the way it is goin, i may be beaten up to heavenly abodes before that ;-0 ).

This is not (at all!) a serious post and i see this as a macro view on the job market – a treatise titled “A strategic stimulation to picking your employment” than a Framework to quantifiably arrive at a suitable job (..meaning most of it is crap!)

Here’s a lateral take on how “Gautama” finds his job…The name signifies an enlightened personality! Note that Gautama is a fictitious person who has generic skills which is applicable to any industry. If you are  experienced in a particular area, there is already a bias towards some careers because of ur background – the rules could be different in those cases. But Gautama doesnt have any such biases and uses a very simplistic framework to figure out what he wants to do in life!

Gautama looks at only three things in true MECE spirit and asks himself a killer question to decide on the answer. The three things are What to work for?, Where to work?, and How much to work? (the third question is a negative on aspiration, but in real life there are philosophies and then there are boundaries :-)).

Gautama looks at what gives him satisfaction at work
– Innovation
– Power
– Social Impact
(If you study the industries and roles, many of them directly map to one of the above attributes that dominate in there.)

he also looks at various industries’
– Growth
– Margins
– Rate of change
(whats the point in sloggin it out in a low margin industry when there are others which would give you more returns if you put in more work!)

then he looks at the weightage he gives for various parameters in his life
– Work
– Family Life
– Others – travel, art, hobbies
(Everything is a personal choice – If u r happy with ur pick, thats all what matters at EOD)

Finally Gautama asks himself the killer question (credit to one of my “truly enlightened” friends for helping to frame this one in such a subtle manner!)

Am i a curd rice eater or a Paneer eater?

If you are a curd rice eater, there is a particular way in which you would behave in life and it seldom changes! Some jobs are not suited for these category of people, and jobs which give intellectual stimulation quite often may be a good idea to pursue. Paneer eaters have their own way, and appear to be really driven people. They fit into a bigger variety of roles than the curd rice eaters!

Boom! – with this structure and by trying to build on nodes to it, u shud have figured out something (atleast that i am trying to confuse you! he he).

One important aspect i wish to emphasize over here is that one should always start from first principles while deciding on a career. Look at your experience as generic skills gathered than getting stereotyped with the background you come from. May be it will take time getting adjusted to a new career, but what do a couple of years’ difference make in the bigger scheme of things? nothing!!!. I recommend being prepared to take that tradeoff when you make a decision.

Now for the execution part – Irrespective of the category you fall into, there are two serious mistakes you could commit.
– Being unaware of the opportunities around
– Not really wanting/(being committed to) what you aim at.

This principle is generally applicable to many things in life, esp for people who have the ability to get something which they aim at. For them it is fear of commitment than fear of failure that poses the whether or not to pursue an option question!. (Now, Joey would get confused at that statement!) It is important to really want something and then go for it on full steam, than be apprehensive of the process that gets u in or thinking about what would happen after you get the job.

So much for fundaes, now let me tell you something worthwhile – unlike some of us, “Gautama” would have pretty much figured this out the during his early days of his Bschool life or even before that 🙂 But again, “late” is always good start, and may be the best of starts (in true Shawshank style!)….For now you are trying to regain lost ground and that definitely gives “focus”!

Posted in Humour, Interviews, MBA Info-Sources, Work Life | 2 Comments »

Interview Tips for an MBA

Posted by Girish Krishnan on June 18, 2006

This post is taken from my notes made on December 9th 2006

McKinsey Partner and former Dean of ISB, Pramath Sinha gave us a talk on the Topic : “Preparing for interviews – Learning from last five years experience at ISB”. He was pretty critical about the amount of preparedness with which ISB-ians have been attending interviews till date and my observations about our batch vindicate his views. The going has been slow when it comes to acquiring general information and having meaningful discussions in the campus. Of course, being a former dean of this school, he took the right to put it in a scolding tone and it felt good!

The first point was the about reading and having a general awareness of businesses in
India. He advised us to read a business newspaper everyday, 2 biz mags every week and to watch CNBC-18/NDTV profit so that we are able to build a perspective of our own by the time we face interviews. Though it seems pretty trivial stuff to say, i cannot understate the importance of doing this.   

 Second came preparing for the standard set of questions which we would face in any interview. e.g. What do you want to do in life? Why do you want to join my organization? How does joining my organization help you achieve your goal in life? The answers to these questions, according to Pramath, needed to be written down so that they get reinforced in us. It helps to have realistic dreams and everyone would be able to come up with something if they spend adequate time thinking through. Most importantly, we need to develop a point of view about life in general and this needs to reflect in our thoughts, deeds, answers etc. We could extrapolate more questions which could be asked for interviews – the basic intention of all of these remain the same: understanding the person who is getting interviewed!

A few important things which need to be kept in mind while answering these questions:

  • Dont answer any questions without answering why? You need to have a reason for everything, should be able to prove it.
  • Structure is very important – Try to give 3 reasons for everything and have an example for each one of the reasons.
  • Memorizing the logic is probably the better thing to do than to memorize the words themselves. This applies while preparing answers to these questions.
  • Give yourself time before answering – dont be in a hurry. Pause, think and try to analyse what exactly is the interviewer aiming to get out of the question. Understand the reason why he is asking you that question. More often than not, we give spontaneous answers and then realize that we could have added more to the answer and made it better in structure.

Things to be noted while backing up your resume:

  • What did i do in those roles in my previous employment? What are my learnings from my achievements?   Try to tie the achievements/learnings to your strengths, weaknesses etc- Show consistency
  • Interviewers look for the fundamental level of capability and skills in people which are universal.This can be classified into three categories
    • Understand, Analyse and solve problems
    • Ability to work with others – looks for evidence – Checks if you are a guy with edges and are a difficult person to work with.
    • Can you actually get things done? The biggest challenge for a company is to get people who can execute well – from day one, without creating problems for others. – You could try to communicate your fit for this by showing that you took responsibility of a project from Start to end and led it to closure, delivering based on expectations (or more) on time with quality at low cost etc

Thus it helps to keep these points in mind while preparing oneself for interviews. On a more focussed note, you could probably take upto two sectors other than what you were doing before coming to ISB and start concentrating on those. Read stuff relevant to these sectors. The interviewer always wants to enter into a conversation, so that he gets to know you better.Getting information from the press/other media and supplementing this with what you learnt in class is the ideal situation you would like to be in.

Stress interviews are meant to find out how you would react if you are in a hole. You need to show that despite of being in a corner, you could get out of it. Knowing that it is a stress interview is the first step, the second is to acknowledge. If you goof up, admit that you hashed up!

Remember that the interviewer is looking to spot the raw capabilities that you are bringing to the table. Think of what all abilities you have now and what you could bring to the table later.

Dont worry about the past or the future. Face the interview as if you are interviewing your wife (or they are interviewing for a wife 🙂 )..Do people ask for grades when they are searching for a wife?

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