Interview: Gowtham Kumar (Chem -2014)

A very brief description of your current research work and background
I was with BPCL Kochi refinery as a Panel Engineer. A core job as you call it since I was a chemical engineer from NITT. Now I’ve moved to IIM Kozhikode and in my final year.

What are some things about your career path you wish you knew in college, in retrospect?
Probably an easier way of studying for CAT or some interesting seminars in my initial years so that I could’ve done an MS abroad and not think about an MBA!

What skills should one develop to follow the career path you’ve chosen? Do include courses, internships etc.
Thanks to my involvement in Feeds, Pragyan Marketing, Festember OC and Golden Jubilee Celebrations, I had fair people management skills. And I did my Intern with ITC. Pretty helpful in techno-managerial aspect, as in supply chain and stuff. Probably these influenced me to move towards a marketing job than a core job.

How can one be sure that a certain career path is right for them? What is a good way to make that decision?
Honestly, trial and error works. But never do a job badly. I didn’t think I would be a good chemical engineer with BPCL. But when I resigned, my boss mentioned that BPCL itself has lost one of its best engineers. The ability to lean and to learn in depth, the interest to know new things apart from the job profile etc helps.
A good way would be to seek help. Ask seniors, ask friends. People like me delay replying but never stop from replying. Haha! And it’s not wrong to fail. In fact, it is an experience.

What are the challenges faced during learning new skills and adapting to new environments?
Challenges would be the hostility by the peers who might think you know nothing or the inferiority complex in yourself. This can be overcome only by asking questions and showing interest to seek answers. Be a Roman in Rome. I tried to learn Malayalam in Kerala and Hindi in Maharashtra. Small differences like this help a long way. I learnt more from my junior operators than my senior engineers since I spoke their language.

What should students know before taking up management studies?
If they are actually interested in taking up management or are they trying to escape from a bad post-undergrad job. Having an interest towards managing and entrepreneurship helps.

How to decide between an Indian MBA and one from abroad? Do we need to have a fixed perspective on this during B.Tech?
No way is an IIM diploma inferior to some colleges abroad. Of course, the exposure will be higher there, but you learn things here too. People who cleared CAT are the creamiest of the brains in terms of aptitude and language.

What must one do after getting admitted into college? How do you feel time must be utilized post-admission?
Identify what needs to be done to learn. Every institution has a different teaching methodology, some IIMs are case based while others are theory oriented. One should be able to adapt. Similar things can be said about engineering institutes too. The utilisation of time varies from student to student. I was involved in developing FEEDS, while others concentrated on GRE and GMAT. Based on your interest, decide.

How useful is having work experience before applying for Highers? Is one year time for work experience enough?
My opinion would be to have a basic 2-year work experience. This way, you can participate in the discussions of class based on the prior knowledge thereby getting 2 benefits. One is to understand the concepts easily and other is to learn from peers. One year is too less I would say. And this answer varies from person to person.

What do you think are the inadequacies in management studies and work in India, and specifically in NIT Trichy?
Exposure. Students are taught that placements are the final and the only thing to do. Yes, placements are important but there are students who would want to do different things. A little help would make a lot of difference in their lives.

When is an ideal time to start preparations for CAT/GMAT?
3rd year. All friends will start either studying for GRE or GATE. Sit with them, prepare for CAT. We are naturally good in quant. Just need to brush up on our verbal skills.

If one plans to pursue management, is it worth learning to code? If yes, then considering the current scenario, which languages or tools should one begin to work with?
Coding wouldn’t be much important. But one should master excel, learn R programming for data analytics and Minitab. Should work.

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