A very brief description of your current research work and background.
I am doing my MBA right now in IIM Kozhikode.
What are some things about your career path you wish you knew in college, in retrospect?
The stream you are coming from makes a big difference. An IT background definitely has its own advantages. Placements also matter a lot. Doing something different, something out of the box which generally people don’t do will be a big boost if you plan to take up a management course.
What skills should one develop to follow the career path you have chosen?
Those coming from a CS background should definitely try to pick up on data skills. Even those not from a computer science background should try to learn R and Python. It is actually important to know these languages, whichever stream you may be in if you are planning for a desktop job. If you are looking for a job in the industry then it is not necessary. It is definitely worth learning to code if you are looking for a future in management.
How can you know if a particular career path is right for you or not?
There is no exact way. You will figure it out at some point or the other that your current career path/course isn’t working out well for you. At such a stage, you should definitely switch your course or job. Someone from say, NIT Trichy who has a good background in the first place can easily switch to some other field later on. You yourself will need to find out what’s right and what’s not.
Any challenges faced during learning new skills and/or adapting to new environment.
Coding. That was very tough for me. I did my BTech in Chemical Engineering which didn’t have any coding at all and when I started working I realized that it would have been better if I had known something about coding. So, the initial period was very tough for me.
What should students know before taking up management studies?
Have a clear idea of what you want to do or what your job will demand of you. Talk to alumni and take their advice if needed. For example, I was a consultant and so did a bit of coding, analysis, data analytics, etc. but I know of many who didn’t do such things but focused more on number crunching, excel, etc.
So be clear on what you want to do before sitting for placements. If you are getting placed in a good company but doing a bad project, or having a bad role then I don’t think it would be worthwhile because you won’t have anything of value to show to the next company when you switch jobs. So, wherever you get placed, irrespective of the company, try to do something different, something which can add value to your CV.
How to decide between an Indian MBA and one from abroad? Do we need to have a fixed perspective on this during B.Tech?
I had a very clear perspective on BTech itself. Firstly, money is a very important criterion. But if you are doing MBA from India, you must do it in the top 6 or 7 MBA colleges. The 4-5 old IIM’s, ISB and SP Jain are the only colleges worth pursuing an MBA in. Otherwise, your return investments will not be good. You will spend 30-50 lakhs and end up securing no job because there are many MBA colleges in India right now and only those from top few get recruited in good companies. There around 375 students in my college out of which 300 are engineers and among them at least around 100 are from IITs and NITs. So, it’s a quality crowd. If you feel you can make it to these top colleges, then you should prefer to stay in India itself but if not, you should choose a university which can add something to your current career. Say, you are doing your BTech in NIT Trichy and then go on to do MBA in IMT Ghaziabad, you are going one step down, from a good college to a not so good one. You should choose a college which is at par with your current credentials if not better.
How do you feel time should be utilized post admission?
Most of the colleges will give you some fresher courses because they know that most of the students are engineers who don’t have much idea about marketing, finance, etc. So, just be thorough with the fresher courses that your college suggests. In NIT there is an elective in the last semester on financial management or something along those lines. The first semester in any MBA college concentrates on financial marketing, so if you know that well then you easily score. It is a very difficult subject for those who have no aptitude or prior knowledge of finances.
How useful is work experience before applying?
In most of the cases it doesn’t make a difference because a marketing company will prefer someone having no prior experience but on the other hand, if you wish to take up an operations role or a consultant role then you should have relevant experience. It would be much better to have a 9-month work experience in a company such as Deloitte rather than a 1 year or 15 months’ work experience as a developer in a company such as TCS. It is good to have work experience but I know many people who secured very good jobs with zero work experience. So, at the end of the day, it’s your credibility which matters.
When, according to you, is the right time to start preparations for CAT/GMAT?
I feel you should start CAT preparations the day after you get placed or at least a week after. You should give it at least 2 months’ time. You don’t need to practice for 5-6 hours daily but at least 1 to 2 hours daily for 2 months would be enough. Practice a lot of mock papers.
Any improvements that need to be made with respect to management studies and work in India, and specifically in NIT Trichy?
Not exactly an inadequacy but I feel that most of the jobs we get right after college have very little to do with what we learn in college. Particularly if we get into a management or marketing job, it has no relevance whatsoever with what we learn in college. We have very few good electives being offered. By the time you reach your final year, if you realize you want to do something different, not exactly related to your stream, you have very few choices in NITT. Say, if a person from MME wants to learn to code, he literally has no choice but to learn it himself apart from his regular course.