‘A Chess Enthusiast And An I Banker – Going Beyond The Limit’ – Ronak Singhal – Best50 – Class Of 2017

About Me:

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”  ― Michael E. Porter

Born in Mount Abu (Rajasthan), brought up in Mumbai, completed my B.tech in Computer from NIT Jaipur, worked in Delhi, London & Mumbai and now pursuing my MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur; I cherish the experiences and the journey has been sweet.

My past experience as a business analyst in Sapient Consulting to manage client expectations by providing IT and business solutions has helped me not only explore my analytical and innovative skills but also hone my presentation and communication skills while acquiring financial knowledge. My experience as an Assistant Vice President in Barclays Investment bank in quant analytics and portfolio financing function has been enriching. I have worked with Sales, Trading and Funding team and contributed to reduce costs and improve returns on equities and assets significantly to give Barclays an edge to attract clients over our competitors. I have good relations with my EMEA counterparts and have travelled to London where I have interacted with people from diverse backgrounds and it has given me an insight of different thought process and approach.

Requirement gathering, coming up with new ideas to explore opportunities and providing a feasible solution quickly has been my strength. Driving smartly and working strategically to enhance the business in the most efficient way is my USP. I have actively participated in extra-curricular activities such as Table-Tennis and Chess where I have led from the front and demonstrated qualities of being a team player. I have been elected as the General Secretary of Career Development Cell (CDC) in XLRI and have successfully led 7 member team with experience ranging from 5 to 19 years.

I am a certified FIDE Rated International Chess player.

The game of chess has a profound impact on me. This battle of attrition can mentally wear you down move after move as the game changes drastically after every move, one should be flexible enough to rebuild his/her strategies. It is like the real world where one cannot change what happened and thus need to take decisions in uncertainties and tackle the dynamically changing circumstances.

My career has seen forays into consulting and investment banking role and with additional MBA knowledge, it has further enhanced my thought process, provided me networking opportunities with industry and alumni and taught me governing practices which will contribute to my long-term goal of being a leader in the industry.


Give us an instance when you failed personally/professionally and what was your learning?

Being from a family of entrepreneurs I always had the urge to take risks. My father has a diamond business and I have always been fascinated by diamonds and learned various aspects of cutting and polishing in my childhood. As I grew up I started looking at the business side to participate in the family business. While working at Sapient, I took a sabbatical to try my hand as a diamond trader in the family business. I thought the right way to prove myself was to take up bigger challenges and expand the business. I started building networks aggressively by attending trade shows and by leveraging several online trading platforms available. One such deal I got was an order worth a few million rupees from a trader in Hong Kong. My father has been trading only in the domestic market with people whom he had long-term relationships. I thought this was a great opportunity to expand the business overseas. Without knowing much about the international trade regulations, forex or how to use a bank line of credit I entered into the deal. I sent the consignment with a promise of payment after delivery. Unfortunately, I incurred losses as the consignment was returned citing the quality of diamonds was not in line with his expectation.

I learned a lot of lessons from my stint at my family business. Firstly, I was very aggressive at growing the business without getting some of the basics right. Secondly, trust and long-term relationships matter a lot in diamond business which I ignored and ended up taking a huge risk by trusting someone whom I do not know. Lastly, I believe it was a great learning experience to understand that as challenges get bigger we need relevant skills, knowledge and broader perspective to address those.


If you had a magic wand, what is the one problem in India that you would magically wish away? Explain why.

The literacy rate is one thing that immediately comes to my mind.

  • Literacy lifts individual out of poverty
  • Literacy improves the development of the wider community
  • Most importantly, it positively impacts economic growth beyond the local community


How would you explain the “The Credit Crisis of 2008” to a 12-year-old?

Suppose you want to eat chocolates and you decided to buy in bulk. You slipped $1000 from your father’s pocket and purchased lots of chocolates and have an agreement with the shopkeeper that if your parents disagree, you will return those chocolates.

After your parents learned about your actions, they shouted at you and asked you to return the remaining chocolates. You went to the shopkeeper and learned that the chocolates are no longer consumable and thus cannot be returned. 

Now assume that you purchased with the entire money that your father had and you neither have chocolates nor money and this happened with all your friends thus leading to no money with people.

This is what happened with the banks when they lent out money to people and kept their homes as mortgages. The loss of jobs because of the poor financial situation led people to default and because of the real estate slump, the resale value of the collateral held was low leading to bad debt. This led to bankruptcy of multiple global banks and thus the crisis is also known as “The Credit Crisis of 2008”