Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stay Sharp

A job interview ahead. You have done all the reading, crafted all the answers, read all the case studies. Now, you are wondering about what to wear. Here are some tips to stay sharp (for men)

-Decide on a white or light blue dress shirt
-Your suit could be of the following color:Navy blue or black
-Use a conservative tie print
-Ensure that the shoes have laces and are well polished
-Make sure that your belt matches you shoes
-Match your socks with your trousers
-Avoid wearing jewelery (no ear studs please!)
-Ensure that you have clean trimmed fingernails. When you work through the case -
questions on your scribble pad, the interviewer would be able to see that.
-Get a haircut. Short hair is the best
-Carry a light briefcase or portfolio case
-Carry a nice classy pen

If there is something more, please let me know, and I will add that to the list


What Is Your Work Zone?

When working on a particular task/project, what is the best way to define how you feel or what you experience.

Obviously, the quality of work is a key factor, but there are times when the "time available at hand" or the "difficulty of the task" can be used to define your feeling. So, using these two parameters, I came up with this 2x2 matrix on finding which work zone you could belong to!

You could fall into one of those four zones
- Stretched
- Cakewalk
- Challenged
- Stressed

Check out the below picture:


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bolti bandh. Gaana Shuru.

I haven't seen the phone yet, but if it delivers what it promises, I think Samsung has a winner in hand. In this crowded mobile market, this one definitely stands out.
Why? It is India's first 'Mobile Karaoke' phone with preloaded karaoke content.

Yes,Indians like to sing and this one is for them! An all time favorite past time for Indians at picnics, schools (and during a train journey) is to take part in Antakshri.To add to that, check out any TV channel and you'll find talent shows (everybody seems to be singing these days).

I always felt that if there could be bars and pubs with different themes (sports,quiz etc), there was always room for a karaoke bar. If positioned well, a karaoke bar has a solid market in India.

Anyway, this phone from Samsung could create the market for that. So, call it a shameless display of "raw" talent or a way of expressing one's emotion, my guess is that Indians would love to try out the "karaoke phone".

Samsung has got Aamir Khan to do the TV commercials for this phone. The man is actually singing!. The phone is priced quite right - at Rs 10,899 and has all the essentials (2 MP camera, video recording support, MP3 player) that a youngster could hope for. I'll definitely check out the phone when I get a chance.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Booz & Co in India again!

Well, the times have changed.?

Booz & Co, the global consulting firm that was spun off from Booz Allen Hamilton in July 2008, is re-entering India. The company is making a comeback eight years after it shut shop in the country in January 2000 to focus more on developed markets.

"Ten to 12 years ago, few companies understood what consultants could bring in. The market has evolved since then. Today, they understand what consultants can do in handling any kind of discontinuities,'' said Suvojoy Sengupta, Booz India CEO, who has relocated to India with four to five consultants.

"Today, Indian companies are much savvier. They have either used consultants or considered using one at some point of time,'' said Sengupta. Shumeet Banerji, the firm's global CEO, was a part of the Booz India team in the mid-1990s"

Read the entire article here


"It is Mumbai, Dubai, Shanghai or...Goodbye"

With the financial market meltdown, I overheard someone making this statement the other day about the job market scenario. It actually makes sense!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fast pace, Dynamic and Exciting

It has been more than a year since I have graduated from the Queen’s MBA program and it has been an interesting journey since then. To sum it all, life after Queen’s MBA has been all about hard work, managing expectations and handling pressure. I have enjoyed my stint at Management Consulting.

I got to write a thought article (that was published in a magazine), work on projects in different sectors (Automotive, Telecom, Staffing Solutions, Aerospace) and got a chance to work or be at India, UAE, US, Canada and Thailand - all in the last one year.

Any reflections on the career choice I made? Yes, of course. I was thinking about the past year during one of my flights back home, and here are some of my observations:

*Consulting is all about being proactive, not reactive
*MS Excel and MS PowerPoint are the two powerful tools ;)
*Consultants work very hard; clients pay the firm a lot of money and expect them to
deliver value
*There is a lot of brain power at a consulting firm
*Honesty with clients is of paramount importance; trust once lost is difficult to
*Impressions matter! Watch out for how you dress, carry yourself and communicate
*There are several stressful moments and if you can get through them, you'll
develop into a better consultant
*There is no room for slackers in Consulting
*Fitness (mental and physical) is important
*Project Director determines the work culture of a team for a particular client
*Work life balance is tough! If you are perhaps aiming for that, consulting is not
a wise career choice.
*Fresh out of business school, you can have some really good perspectives on
client issues
*If you have think that you worked really hard at B School, wait till you get into


Beef up your plan B

These are usually the days when business school students are settling into their class routine and awaiting the arrival of recruiters on campus. But with the downfall of two of Wall Street's investment houses and fears that other major companies are on the brink, it's a nervous time at B-schools.

How bad will it be? Most business schools contacted this week say it's too early to tell, but Alan Johnson, CEO of Johnson Associates, a compensation consultancy. predicts hiring will be down by as much as 50% this fall, with students entering what will be one of the most fiercely competitive job markets in recent year

For those counting on investment banking, they are going to need to beef up their plan B."

Read the entire article here


Monday, September 22, 2008

Testing their mettle
MBA students sharpen skills – and maybe even reel in a job – at business competitions

Entrepreneur Michele Romanow is turning her caviar dreams into reality.

Romanow, an MBA graduate from Queen's University, along with undergrads Anatoliy Melnichuk and Ryan Marien, groomed their idea for a caviar-producing fish farm into the winning entry at a prestigious business plan competition at the University of Western Ontario.

Now they're harvesting caviar roe from wild Atlantic sturgeon and selling it to restaurants across Canada for $80 to $100 an ounce, while seeking $6 million in venture capital to develop their own fish farm.

MBA students and undergraduates at business schools across Canada participate in case competitions to hone their problem solving, entrepreneurial and presentation skills. Competitions may be in-house or corporate-sponsored and open to national or international entries.

Winners earn everything from trophies to big cash prizes, and sometimes receive plum job offers from top companies or attract the attention of venture capitalists.

Romanow's group won the $25,000 first prize at Western's IBK Capital-Ivey Business Plan Competition in March and, with four other victories and two second-place finishes in other competitions, the group earned a total of $100,000 in prizes that they used to start Evandale Caviar.

Evandale has sold 75 per cent of the product to date to about 50 high-end establishments across Canada.

"There's no question the case competitions were a critical factor in our success," Romanow says. "We got incredible feedback from the judges, who are some of the top venture capitalists."

Read the complete article here


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish!

She writes really well (although I don't agree with some of her thoughts).

She is well know among the B School grads

She knows and understands the pulse of the B School aspirants

She has written some good articles on Entrepreneurs in Business magazines

And now she comes out with a book. Her book is priced quite right (Rs 125).

I think I'll get a copy of the book when I get a chance!

"The inspiring stories of 25 IIM Ahmedabad graduates who chose to tread a path of their own making."


Friday, September 19, 2008

Kid Fakes Job Interview

Check out these “mock” case interviews…led by a 12 year old?!?!

This is a video marketing initiative by Deloitte Consulting!

"I am in here for the hotel points"...ROFL!:)


Monday, September 15, 2008

Planning to study abroad

Some points from the article that I agree with.

A foreign MBA opens your eyes to the complexities of different markets, cultures and people. You will grow as a person and gain many of the softer skills required to be a successful executive.

You will become sensitive to cultural nuances.

More strategically, you could choose an MBA by thinking about how it would position you in the job market, in the near and long terms, abroad or back home.

Today, going abroad is not about escaping the country. It is just one more aspect of being part of the transnational managerial class


Sunday, September 14, 2008

10 things which will make life easier at management school

I read this piece and had a smile on my face -things lik alarm clock,hard drive, calculators, digital camera are a must!

1.Fabric softener
2.Really loud alarm clock
3.Medium-sized insulated casserole
4.Unsophisticated audio recorder
5.A portable hard drive
7.Books of yore
8.Two calculators
10.Digital camera


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mint, a business newspaper in India (published in association with The Wall Street Journal) has been carrying some good articles on MBA Education for the past few days. (Perhaps, a good strategy to attack B-School aspirants)

Presented below are 22 tips for the MBA aspirant

1. Before writing an essay, prepare your résumé, and make a note of all your achievements—even the minor things you did that made you happy and proud of yourself.

2. Decide upon your career objective, and relate how it evolved from your education so far and your experiences (work or otherwise).

3. Fine-tune your career objectives—list your short-term, medium-term and long-term plans. Be ambitious—business schools want their alumni to do well. Think of the various positions and responsibilities that you may handle in the course of your career. Feel free to plan your achievements too.

4. Choose the business schools that you wish to apply to. Consider your academic record, your extra-curricular activities, your Gmat score and your work experience. Aim high, but apply to as many schools as feasible.

5. Explore websites of each of these schools. Understand their programmes, their emphases and faculty, etc.

6. Plan how you will answer each essay question, looking at your resume and achievements. Make sure you cover diverse aspects of your life answering the questions. Do not forget your extracurricular activities, hobbies and community work, if any. Take your time understanding the question, and carefully select what you will include in each answer.

7. Write first drafts disregarding the word limits. Frame your answers logically. There must be order and flow in their structure. Give reasons, motivations and influences, wherever applicable.

8. Provide clear career plans. Talk about what you expect to achieve at each stage of your career, how you plan to do it, and, if applicable, how the business school you chose is pertinent in your scheme of things.

9. Show how your background and experiences will enrich the MBA programme and educational experiences of your fellow students. Quid pro quo works.

10. Delete adjectives, add facts and figures. Demonstrate your hard work, analytical skills, values, depth, innovation, intelligence, incisiveness and wisdom, etc. Give instances and examples for them to derive these things from your essays. You don’t have to say “I am very smart and intelligent”, but do leave enough hints for them to find out.

11. Recounting experiences is not enough—show learning too. You may have done something good or bad—what did you learn from it? Analyse your action, its causes and its effects dispassionately. In hindsight, what should you have done differently?

12. Bring out relevance of each idea and relate things together. For example, you could relate your career plan to a summer training that you did.

13. Do not boast about things you never did—people can tell.

14. Do not criticize others—show respect and understanding.

15. Try to make the essays interesting.

16. Words and language should be appropriate, not fancy. Most importantly, you should be able to convey your story cogently.

17. Each allowed word is a resource to be used judiciously. Make your answers concise. No repeated ideas, no unnecessary prose. Do not use 100 words where 99 will do.

18. Revise, again and again. Even if you have worked hard on a paragraph, delete it if it is not relevant enough. Rearrange sentences and paragraphs to achieve the right structure. It is not enough to give all the right information—it must be organized and structured effectively.

19. Check for grammatical and spelling errors. Remove repeated words and phrases. Avoid colloquial terms and abbreviations unless they are pertinent.

20. Get others, especially more senior and experienced people, to read your essays and ask for comments.

21. Most schools have multiple deadlines. Try to meet early deadlines.

22. If you are wait-listed, send them a letter expressing your keen desire to get admission in their business school. Volunteer additional information that they might find relevant to decide favourably. Tell them about your activities and achievements since your application. Ask them about any additional inputs or recommendations they would like to have.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Feel Like a Winner

Some pictures make you feel good no matter in which state of mind you are in- This picture is one of my best. I see it almost once every month.:)

The day was May 24th, 2007- the day I graduated from the Queen's MBA program. It was also my parent's wedding anniversary day, and they were there at Kingston to attend my graduation. To top that, it was the day I received three awards at the MBA program - Derek Russell Award for Excellence in Operations/IT, the Noranda Sales Corporation/William G. Deeks Award for Excellence in Strategy and the Tom Burns MBA prize in International Business.

Perhaps, that was the best day of my life!! I have no second thoughts about it!:)


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Desi Alum Speaks

The placement season at North American business schools can get a bit stressful for our Indian (desi) students as there are a lot of expectations, and of course a huge amount of money invested. A few of the desi folks are expecting their “hard work” to pay off, and get that "big break". Others are expecting to “switch careers” and others are hoping to land up with a "decent work-life balance" job.

I keep getting queries from desi students if I have some tips for them. Well, based on the experiences of my batch mates, I thought I'll share some small things that helped us during our job search.

Write down your responses to "Interview Questions": The Career cell will hand you a set of likely questions that you should prepare for your interviews. Few of them would be general ones such as "Why consulting/finance, why xyz company, why Queen's, why MBA, strengths and weakness". As there are loads of questions, there is a tendency to make bulleted points answers in response to these questions. I would suggest that take some time out and type out your answers in sentences. This exercise has a few advantages - Firstly, as you write and review them you'll get a better picture of what you want to convey. Secondly, you'll get more confident the next time you face an interview - there is this mental thing that you have everything sorted out. Thirdly, you'll be able to add expressions, and do the required voice modulations as you answer these questions during the interview. Lastly, these are questions that are generally asked to every interviewee, and hence if you have really good crafted responses, you have an edge over the others. Also, over a period of time, as you read, and experience interviews, you can modify those answers, and tracks the changes. As you have saved them in a word document, you can keep a log and see how you fared in those interviews.

Set a trigger on Google Alert: Companies like it if you have researched about them, and are pretty sure that they are the ones whom you really want to work for. Most of us research sources like Vault, OneSource to get information about the companies, but if you have a Google Alert on the company (or on the interviewer) who is going to interview you, you'll have the latest news, and sometimes can impress them.

Learn to converse with senior management: Often you'll get to meet senior management during the interviews. They would ask you about your school, your experiences. If you are meeting them for dinner, you will slowly run out of topics to discuss. During such time, the senior folks usually talk about current events or books that they have read. It is a good idea to read some of the best sellers and have an opinion about them. Some books that I'd suggest are Freakonomics, Microtrends, World is Flat, Wikinomics. You should also store some of your HBR materials taught at the class room (as they come quite handy during those times.)

Be an India expert: No matter which part of the world are you in now, India has to be a part of the discussion. India as a key element of every nation’s strategy. And since you are a desi, you would often be asked your views or opinions on certain things in India. Some of the hot favorites during my time were the Tata Nano car, growing mobile coverage in India, Indian middle class consumers. You should have the key numbers (Economic growth, Mobile growth etc) at the back of your mind. I remember one of the interviewers once asking me to compare the Canadian Telecom market with the Indian Telecom market.

Connect with your desi alums: Just a year back, there were a bunch of desi folks who were going through the same situation as you are in currently. They were excited, and yet stressed, and they definitely understand what you are going through. So, make it a point to stay connected to them. Please note that with every email exchange that you have with an alumni, they will be drawing impressions about you ("Ladder of Inference"). So, watch out for what you say or do. If you have made genuine attempts to stay connected to them, as soon as they see a job posting somewhere in their company, they will get in touch with you.

Understand the basics of Hockey/Base Ball: If Cricket is a religion in India, Baseball is US, and Hockey in Canada is passion for the folks there. So, it is not a bad idea to sit for half an hour with one of your classmates and understand the basics of the sport. Follow the newspapers to see how the teams are faring. You are bound to get into a group conversation where the sport will be discussed, and instead of diverting the topic, you’ll get some brownie points if you can add a point or two. Remember, it is all about “getting native”, after all you will be working there!

With the US economy slowing down, B-School grads this year are expected to experience a tough time. Consulting and Finance jobs are likely to be hit. So, stay cool, and keep your enthusiasm up.

BTW, the world is full of advice, and you’ll get many “words of wisdom” from people all over the world. So, listen to yourself, and figure out what works best. With experience, you’ll get better!

And remember what Confucius once said that "By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."

Good Luck!!