Archive for December, 2004

Invited for interview.

December 30, 04 by Bharani

I finally received a appointment for a telephonic interview with ISB Admission committee. The interview is scheduled on January 4th [7:30-8:15 a.m local time Belgium]. I need to make a call to the admission committee!

Some people may laugh at this. But this is me. I was planning to buy a speaker phone if I was shortlisted for interview [I have a phone with basic functionalities currently]. So I went around and looked at a deal. Finally bought a cordless phone-cum-answering machine. Possess a good speaker phone. Tested it. Works fine. I will take it to India when I go back.

The telephone cost is extremely high from Belgium to India. Comes to around 1 Euro/minute. If I make a call to ISB, I might end up paying 45 Euros. Well, everything is fine, If I finally end up in ISB :-) . I will start preparing for Interview from tomorrow or Saturday.

Slow pace…

December 27, 04 by Bharani

Nothing much happening these days..Joined the fitness centre again for 3 months. Working hard for project completion [Jan 15th deadline].

In between, I became heavily upset by the destruction caused by the Tsunami waves. Sad to hear again that the human losses could have been minimised had the warning systems were in place. Hope we learn our lessons and implement the warning systems. Only few months back there was a tragedy in Kumbakonam city where 90 school children died. The loss could have been minimised in that case too. I read the following article which talks about lack of administrative skills in Indian governments for tackling such disasters.

Hope the relief measures will restrict any further losses. Contamination of water, lack of drinking water, possible of spread of epidemic diseases all loom over the head.

I made my small contribution to relief measures by sending in some money.

My Precious

December 23, 04 by Bharani

iRiver H320

Yesterday I finally got my hands on the product that I was longing for. Purchased iRiver H320 through a friend from America. It’s an amazing product filled with loads of features.

When I opened the pack, I was surprised by the size of the product. I had imagined that it would be bigger than iPOD. But infact it was much smaller than iPOD, except for thickness.

The things I like with this product:

1. EXCELLENT screen. LCD. First ever Mp3 player to boast 260,000 colors screen. Very bright, sharp and crisp.

2. EXCELLENT sound. SRS WOW effect. 10 Presets. Generous 20Mw output, which means you rarely go beyond the level 15 (max 33)

3. Ability to view Pictures. Automatically resized the image to fit on the screen. But I would have loved to see the slideshow feature. They have promised this feature in next firmware upgrade.

4. PLUG-N-PLAY. No drivers needed. PC recognizes this as yet another USB Mass storage.

5. PROFESSIONAL QUALITY RECORDER. The Voice recorder is on par with some of the professional top-of-the-line dedicated voice recorders. Automatic encoding to Mp3 files. The bitrate etc., can be configured.

6. VERSATILE OPTIONS. Plays MP3, WMA, ASF, OGG. WMA files occupy only half the space of MP3 for same quality. So you can literally double the number of songs that can be squeezed in the player.
7. Support WINAMP playlists. I use WINAMP. You can create playlists and store it in the player. Maximum of 200 playlists supported.

8. On the fly delete. Files can be deleted on the fly.

9. VIDEO PLAYER. Yes, with the latest firmware upgrade, this player plays the video files. But the video file has to be specifically converted, which is a easy step though. The quality of video viewing is excellent. Santa’s gift for iRiver users!

10. USB ON THE GO: No need of PC. Just plug your digital cameras or other Mp3 players and download/upload files. Unfortunately since mine was an international version, this feature is not there. But I flashed the player with firmware meant for Korean models, so USB on the GO feature is available on my product now. But I should wait till i get my hands to the “Cable” for connection.

11. TEXT VIEWER: With it’s crisp screen, text files are pleasure to read. You can download novels/todo lists/memos/song lyrics etc., and read it while listening to music. Cool!

12. 16 hours battery life!. That’s long.

Some minor features:

1. FM tuner: Good quality. Some people even say this sounds better than many car stereos.

2. USB charging. Player can be charged through USB 2.0 data cable.

The price of the product in Belgium is 440 Euros (Including tax). Since I bought it from bestbuy through my friend from USA, i effectively paid 276$ (approx. 220 Euros). Half the price. Excellent deal that I have made in my life so far! Very happy with this product.

Interview tip from Current student.

December 21, 04 by Bharani

The following tip was provided by Sumit Dhar [A Current ISB Student].

I was checking the blogs of a few prospective ISB students and found them all populated with posts about interview preparation and stuff. Well, here is a framework that will help the prospective students answer all work related questions in a very structured manner. The framework is called START.

Every work related question and quite a few behavioral questions can be answered using the START framework. What exactly is the START framework?

S: Situation
Start by giving some information about the situation you were facing. This could be background information that will help the AdCom understand your position better or information that is vital to understanding why you did something.

T: Tasks
Given the situation, what tasks needed to be done?

A: Actions
What actions did you take? Tasks is the universal set of things that needed to be done while Actions is the subset that you performed.

R: Results
Based on the actions you took, what happened? What were the improvements? Usually improvements are in terms of cost, efficiency, greater customer satisfaction etc.

T: Takeaways
What were your key takeaways from this experience?

Practice using the START framework. Your answers will be crisp, structured and to the point.

All the best to you guys!

http://sumitdhar.blogspot.com/2004/12/isb-admissions-interview.html

Career Descriptions.

December 18, 04 by Bharani

Career Descriptions.
The following webpage from www.mba.com neatly describes all the possible industry functions and career paths. It’s good to know about each and every role. Very informative. I learnt quite a few things about advertising, supply chain management, logistics, production planning, brand consulting, research, etc.,

PS: You will find a section called “MBA Career oppurtunities” in this page.

M.S.Subbulakshmi became immortal.

December 14, 04 by Bharani

Yesterday, the great south Indian carnatic artist M.S. Subbulakshmi died peacefully in her sleep in a hosptial in chennai. Her achievements are amazing. She is even conferred with Bharat Ratna.

Profile in brief
“Born in Madurai in southern Tamil Nadu state on September-16, 1916, Subbulakshmi learned classical music from her mother and gave her first public performance reciting “bhajans” or Hindu hymns at the age of 13.

One of her biggest hits was the “Venkateswara Suprabhatam” and she had willed the proceeds from its sales to the local Tirupati Balaji temple.

She was credited with being able to reach out to millions of fans and others across the country, uninitiated into the complexities of classical south Indian Carnatic music with her melodious renditions.

After a brief foray into Tamil films, she returned to Carnatic music and collected many awards including India’s highest civilian honour the Bharat Ratna (the Jewel of India) and the Ramon Magsaysay award.

She was also credited with taking Carnatic music to the West at the Edinburgh Festival (1963) and at the United Nations (1966), besides winning standing ovations at concerts in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Tokyo.

Her last public performance was during a millennium music festival organised by the Madras Music Academy on New Year’s eve in 2000.”

I hear Vishnu Sahasranamam, Bhaja Govindam & Venkatesa Suprabhatam frequently. As long as hear them, she will be alive in my heart…A great loss for Indian music field.

Lessons from Apprentice2

December 14, 04 by Bharani

Lessons from Apprentice2
I haven’t missed an episode of Apprentice [1 & 2] so far. Appretice 1 was a great success. Apprentice 2 is currently underway and had created huge expectations in the beginning of the show. But lot of people are disappointed with final candidates, especially with Jennifer M, as evident from discussion forums, groups and blogs. I absolutely hate her. Just one final episode is remaining to discover the true Apprentice for Donald Trump . Kelly Vs Jennifer M. Who will win? I am hoping that Kelly wins. Only 3 more days to go…

It’s a pity that European broadcasters don’t show the Apprentice season. So, I download it from web through bittorrent and watch it.

Each episode teaches a very valuable lesson. The following are the “lessons learned” this season.

How to Conduct a Successful Creative Brainstorming Session

How to Make Sound Business Decisions

How to Manage a Budget

How to Earn Respect as a Leader

How to Sell Persuasively

How to Develop a Winning Competitive Strategy

How to Build a Cohesive Team

How to Lead with Passion

How to Resolve Conflicts

How to be an Effective Project Manager

How to Delegate Successfully

How to Communicate with Your Boss

How to Market a New Product

How to Interview for the Job You Want

An excellent post from Ramki’s blog.

December 12, 04 by Bharani

I read the following post in Ramki’s blog in October 2003. I thought it would be worthwhile to read it again. So I am posting the link to that post for my personal reference here. I guarantee it would be provide good insight on ISB.

The Big Post expressing an honest and informed opinion of an ISB Alum

Here is a biiiiiiiiiiiiig post… and entirely borrowed… I was going through some mails alums had written to us and this one caught my eye… now, this is strictly personal but very honest and informed opinion of an alum… just thought it made interesting reading… especially if u intend to attend ISB…

“Hey guys,

I’ve got one or two emails from worried students asking me whether I really think ISB is a good idea for them. Here are my opinions for those of you who have concerns about coming here (placements details given at end for those who prefer to go straight for the bottom line). The questions you should be asking are:

1. Should I do an MBA?
2. Should I do an MBA at ISB?

1. Should I do an MBA?

My feeling is that an MBA is definitely worth it if you use your time to develop yourself PROACTIVELY (and I really really don’t just mean study all day and night – there’s been almost no correlation between marks and placements for our batch). If you sit back and just let the year go by then you won’t add anything to yourself and your salary going out will be only slightly higher than your salary going in. On the other hand if you really take use of this opportunity, when you start working in a company you will do better than your peers and you will rise to the top faster. That is where the real benefit of an MBA will really kick in. So don’t take your starting salary at your job immediately after an MBA as an indication of whether it’s been worth it. If at the end an MBA you can sense that you have changed as a person then you’ve really done well.

2. Should I do an MBA at ISB?

Enough Gyaan. You guys have more practical concerns. Forgive me for meandering for giving you my views on the above. I’m going to compare ISB to US MBAs and the IIMs. At the bottom I’ll talk about placements.

Foreign MBAs vs ISB

I think if you want a job abroad or haven’t been abroad before then going to a foreign college makes a lot of sense. It costs a lot more but you also have a much better chance of getting an international job and being able to pay it back quickly. For your batch international placements will hopefully be better than they were for our batch but you still cannot be ensured of an international placement at ISB yet (or any other Indian MBA for that matter). Having said that if you do get an international placement then because ISB is a LOT cheaper than any US MBA school your return will be amazing.

I honestly do think that the academic education at ISB is as good if not better than at the Harvard’s, Wharton’s, etc. Our curriculum was initially designed by Wharton, Kellogg, LBS and the top colleges provide most of our lecturers. We get the best lecturers from each of the best American and European colleges and so our overall quality of course is absolutely top notch. The GMAT average at ISB for your batch should be second highest in the world after Stanford (maybe even the highest) so you will be having an academically pretty bright bunch of people with you and the facilities and infrastructure at ISB is perhaps the best in the world. For those of you who haven’t been to the campus – you will fall in love with the place.

If you get into a Top 10 US MBA, INSEAD or LBS you might want to go there for prestige reasons and also the fact that your colleagues will be older and would have achieved more than the students at ISB (average age at ISB around 26 compared to average age of 29 for the US MBAs). Although academically ISB can compare to any of these colleges, the quality of these people in terms of leadership abilities, etc will be higher than the students of ISB on average at the moment (Having said that – I have seen a lot of LBS students and I can tell you that I think ISB is definitely on even footing with the students there at any rate). Although I don’t know much about the Asian MBAs my uninformed opinion is that there really isn’t much comparison. ISB is miles ahead of those places in terms of student quality and education. Again if you want to get a job in Singapore, Manila etc it may be better going to those places. I would also rate ISB over any of the European MBAs like Oxford, etc.

Overall I think ISB is a better option if you want to settle in India in terms of cost, education, etc. However foreign MBAs are better if you want to give yourself the best chance of working abroad. You will need to stay there for a few years to repay the loans.

ISB vs IIMs

IIM is probably the safer bet if you’re interested in Investment Banking. In terms of placements for other things there is very little to choose between them for people with 2 years work experience. Sometimes ISB will appear to have bad placement figures according to certain articles you may read but the profile of ISB is just that most of the students have a large no of work experience and so it just takes them longer to find the right job. The final figures will be fine.

To give you an idea of the age profile – 1% has no experience, 5% has 1 yrs, 15% has 2 yrs, 14% has 3 yrs and the remaining 65% has 4+ yrs. Most of the IIM students are straight out of college or have a limited number of years. That is a big difference between the two.

The IIM MBA has the advantage that the money you have to raise upfront is only around Rs 3Lacs compared to Rs 11Lacs for ISB so if you don’t like the idea of taking a loan then an IIM is safer. However the cost over two years is actually the same because although you pay Rs 3 Lacs at an IIM you lose out on an extra year of earnings (average salary at ISB is around Rs 8 Lacs) so the total cost of an IIM is actually Rs 11Lacs as well.

The IIM MBA has the advantage that in a two year course you have more time to really get into the depth of a subject. Although ISB has the same number of lecture hours as a typical 2 year American MBA the time in between lectures is less and you have less time to absorb the data. Sometimes the material flies by you. Again the advantage is that you have one more year in industry so if you start your MBA at the same time as an IIM guy you’ve already finished and had one year work experience (and hopefully one promotion) before he even starts work. I personally think that you’ll learn more from doing an admittedly slightly rushed one year MBA + 1 year work experience compared to a slightly stretched 2 year MBA. Also from alearning point of view if you leverage the knowledge from your fellow experienced students there’s a lot to learn from them that you won’t get from the younger IIM students.

The ISB education as I said does have the best Profs but this is balanced by the fact that sometimes the syllabus becomes too American based and if you’d like a job in India then that’s not the greatest. You might get more ground realities from more India centric cases taught at IIMs.

ISB takes more rounded people after interviewing them, looking at their academics, looking at references, etc. The admissions team is specifically told not to pick people just because they have 750+ on their GMATs and lots of these sorts of students have been rejected. IIMs take people based more on marks and therefore on average their students are probably better at quantitative analysis that the average ISB student. However about 20% of ISB is usually from IIT and about 50% of the batch have Engineering backgrounds so that half of the batch will be just as strong on quants.

I think what tips the scale for me anyway is that ISB has opportunities like exchange programmes with LBS and Kellogg, joint consulting programmes with Wharton. An increasing number of international students (I think there’ll be between 5 and 10 for your batch). I also like the idea of being part of a new Indian institution with aspirations of being in the same league as a Harvard or Wharton. This will depend very much on how the founding batch, our batch and your batch represent ISB when we go out in the world. Seeing the college growing up day by day is very exciting.

Placements

There are about 25 students still waiting for an offer out of about 155 (168 students totally but quite a few had their own family businsses). I think ultimately all of them will get offers. There’s still time till mid April. So they might bite their nails for a bit longer but I don’t think there’ll be a serious problem for any of them. People worry too much about jobs when they don’t have them but I think they fail to keep things in perspective sometimes. All of them (and all of you) are among the brightest people in the world. They have a proven track record of achievement and if they don’t get a job on the first day of the placement season it’s not the end of the world. Most people get the best jobs at the end of the placement season. People at the beginning take the safe jobs HLL trainee postions for example. Then at the end you’ll get random small companies you’ve never heard of looking for an MBA to head their new business development project and the people who have no offers and are biting their nails will suddenly get an amazing salary and exciting work. The most important thing is to stay optimistic because when you see everyone else getting a job your self confidence suffers and this translates into nervousness in interviews. If you just believe that you’ll be ok – you’ll get what want. I swear that optimism is the most important thing at an MBA.

The average Indian salary (excluding any foreign salaries that would skew the figure upwards) is around Rs 8 Lacs.

Most people between 0-3 years (excluding CA articleship) get salaries between Rs 6Lacs and Rs 7Lacs. You get a few that are slightly below (TCS for example may offer around Rs 5 Lacs to some people or even a little below for MT positions but people will take it because TCS often gives foreign postings and you can quickly earn dollar salaries) . On the other hand you get a few that are a lot more. One of my flatmates (24 yrs) got HSBC Investment Banking in London ($60k approx) and the girl who lives above me (Also around 23-24) got an offer of around $100,000 with a pharma company. The lowest offers would be for some MT positions of around Rs 4.5 Lacs, which are unlikely to be accepted but may be if the company offers growth opportunities, international prospects, etc.

People between 3-4.5 years get between Rs 7Lacs and Rs 10Lacs.
People between 5-6 years get between Rs 10 Lacs and Rs 13Lacs.
People with 6+ will get between Rs 10 Lacs and Rs 15+ Lacs. Really depends on the quality of your background

Please take these as rough guides. As you can imagine there will be people who fall out of these ranges by a Lac or two. I’m just trying to give you a feel. You’re not a statistic. Ultimately what you will get will depend on your specifics.

I have opinions from around 49 people as to their salary increases post MBA here. 5 got less than they did before. 12 got less than a 30% increase. 9 got between a 30% and 50% increase. 14 got a 50% to 100% increse and 9 more than doubled their salary. Use these figures really carefully. Remember that if a person was only earning a Rs 3Lac salary before then doubling salary would mean earning a Rs 6Lac salary. A person earning Rs10Lac is unlikely to double his salary to Rs 20Lacs. Also like I said do not worry if you think you are going to take a pay cut in the immediate term. I think you’ll find that over the next few years after your MBA your salary will rise much faster than it would have without the MBA as you prove yourself at work.

Placements are still underway but I think they will be fairly good overall when we finish.

The investment banking jobs is the one area that hasn’t been great this year with just a handful of offers and that’s why I’d like to just speak a little longer on this area. The main reason for this is that the entire industry has suffered from a downturn in the last couple of years particularly in investment banking. Now when an investment bank takes 5 people instead of the usual 15 people it doesn’t see the point in going to a campus it hasn’t visited before. That’s why ISB hasn’t been able to get that many great International investment banks here this year. However ISB does have contacts with banks like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Bros and they are most likely to come for your batch. It just takes one good year where they are recruiting for the relationships with ISB to build up and for them to become regulars. But having said that I think if a person is really interested in Investment banking then IIM-A is a safer bet this year I feel (I would like to point out that several companies who have not gone to IIMs have come to ISB as well – a good example is Novartis International which only recruits from 5 campuses in the world – Harvard, Wharton, etc). The other areas of banking have been fine with lots of people being taken into retail banking especially. Switching to finance is not impossible but was tough this year. There were a number of people who were able to make that switch without really aiming for it. There were also several others who really wanted to but couldn’t. I think if you really want to and you read up throughout the year on the industry and are reasonably articulate in interviews then you have a decent chance.

A list of companies in alphabetical order who have come to campus this year so far includes: ABN AMRO, American Express, Anand Group, Asian Paints, Asian PPG, AstraZenaca International, Bahwan International, BCG, Bharti, Byrraju Foundation, Castrol, Citibank, Coke, Cognizant, Colgate, DRL, DSL Software, GE Capital, GE, Godrej, HCL, HDFC, Hero Honda, HLL, HSBC International, Hunt Partners, ICICI, ICICI Pru, iGate International, ING Investment, Infosys, Ispat International, ITC Infotech, ITC, Kotak, Lafarge, Mahindra Telecom, Mahindra Holidays, Marico, McKinsey, Microsoft, MPhasis, Nipuna, NIIT, Novartis International, Olam, Patni, Prudential ICICI Asset management, Ramco, Reliance Petroleum, Roulac, Satyam, Shaw Wallace, Smithkline Beecham, SRF Ltd Switz Inc, Symphony, TCS, TSMG, Tata teleservices, Techspan, vCustomer, Virtusa, Wipro technologies, Wipro Infotech, etc. This list is a few days old and since we are midway in our process will keep growing.

There are several companies that are scheduled to come but I couldn’t be bothered to find out the entire schedule just now (sorry 2:53am-need sleep). In addition to the companies already scheduled the following companies are still being chased up to come to campus: BNP Paribas, Trinity, Dell, Swatch, Levi, Britannia, Accenture, Ford, Sapient, Aviva, UB, Volvo, Stern Stewart, Hutch, Adobe, Edelweiss Capital, Reliance Infocomm, Toyota, Oracle, Chubb, Avendus, CRISIL, IBM, Kanbay, AIG, Intel, ISEC, and several others. In addition to all these companies several people with greater than 4 years work experience are being helped to find specific jobs for them with specific companies through consultants. This is simply because it is harder to find roles that suit people with many years work experience and more tailored searches are required.

Hope this helps those of you still making up your minds one way or another. Once again I would like to add that you can get caught up in a whole bunch of worries about costs and loans and placements, etc. If you come here with the right attitude – to proactively develop yourself and retain your optimism throughout – you will not regret it. Leaving my job in London (despite having got a first round interview with McKinsey and final round with CSFB waiting) ISB was one of the best decisions I made. So in one word my advice would be – Come! :)

Big Do’s for the B-school essay

December 11, 04 by Bharani

MadeforISB today presented a list of Big-Don’ts [Big Don’ts: 15 Ways to Torpedo Your Application]. There were some Big Do’s as well..I am listing it here to complement his blog :-) ..

Big Do’s for the B-school essay

1. Communicate that you’re a proactive, can-do sort of person. Leaders take initiative and aren’t thwarted by roadblocks.
2. Put yourself on ego alert; stress what makes you unique, not what makes you great. You want admissions officers to respect and like you.
3. Position yourself as a stand-out from the crowd; emphasize your distinctiveness.
4. Make sure your leadership qualities really come through. Admissions officers want to hear about skills that enabled you to rally folks around your solution.
5. Communicate specific reasons why you’re a “fit” for a school, (but avoid vague, fluffy statements such as “I am the ideal or perfect candidate for you program.”) Do your research. Relate your specific interests to the school’s academics, specific professors, culture, quality of life, and location. If you use an essay for more than one school, make sure each is tailored to be school-specific.
6. Bring passion to your writing—admissions officers want to know what you’re really excited about.
7. Break out of your perceived mold. Use the essays to challenge any preconceived notions about who you are. Are you a numbers guy or engineer type? Challenge perceptions with unexpected portrayals that say, “There’s more to me than you think.” It could be that you’re passionate about cooking, or that you organize a game of hoops every Saturday.
8. Play up an unorthodox path to b-school. Admissions officers appreciate risk-takers. But be convincing about your ability to handle the program, especially quantitative skills that schools can take for granted in applicants in finance.
9. Use your gender, ethnicity, minority, or foreign background—but only if it has affected your outlook or experiences.
10. Avoid too many sentences that begin with “I.” Use examples and anecdotes instead.
11. Be subtle. If you call too much attention to a problem, and becomes a bigger problem.
12. Fill your essays with plenty of real-life examples to support your thesis and bring your story to life.
13. Show a sense of humor or your vulnerability. These qualities make you likeable. They make your stories more personal.
14. Don’t write in a vacuum. Make sure that each of your essays reinforces and builds on the others. Think of each essay as one note in a song.

The original Article

Customer feedback.

December 10, 04 by Bharani

Yesterday, my brother who is working in a BPO industry, was providing support for a Windows XP customer. He started with his career only 2 months back. To get such a feedback from a customer is quite something..Am proud of my brother. The following feedback throws light on the life of an employee in BPO industry..

“”Hi XXXX,

I want to thank you again for your fabulous support this evening to successfully resolve the Network Connectivity that I was experiencing since I installed Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 and the Data Source Object Exploits in the Windows Registry. I can honestly say your support exceeded my expectations in the following way:

1) It took approximately 1 hour to resolve the 1st Case Number that was opened with the Microsoft Help Desk. You were patient and helpful throughout the successful resolution of the problem.

2) I asked for your help to resolve a serious problem with Data Source Exploits of my Windows Registry which has been plaguing me for 6 months now. I had installed Spybot Search and Destroy which only temporarily removed these DSO Exploits until I rebooted my machine. This is where you exceeded my expectations. You advised me that to provide support to address this issue, a new case number would need to be opened to support this work. I expected you to transfer me back to the Help Desk where I would get a new case number and most likely a person other than yourself to support this request….and then you surprised me. You offered to open up a new case number yourself and politely asked if I would remain on the line while you completed this work. When you came back, you lead me through a very thorough and detailed process to back up the Windows Registry and then methodically lead me through the process of deleting and the file in each key of the registry that was being exploited, re-establishing a new file and modifying the hexadecimal character so it would not be exploited. We spent another hour completing this work. You waited patiently while I restarted my PC and ran Spybot once more to confirm that these DSO exploits were successfully removed. At one point in the call, we were somehow disconnected and you called me back. I was saved again…instead of having to start all over with a different technical support person…..YOU called back. Thank you XXXX!!!!

Anyone will tell you that the key to a successful company is how they treat their customers. Microsoft does not have the strongest reputation in the industry for quality customer support. It is people like you that can and do make a difference. You…yes YOU did that tonight.

Thank you for an EXCELLENT service experience!!!!!

XXXX
Minneapolis, Minnesota”