What is the major difference between people who turn their goals into reality and everyone else? What makes them stand apart? Historically, you'll find that people who stand out are the ones who persevere through challenges and monotony to see their vision materialize. Today we speak with one such person.When Raghaw realised that a friend wanted to publish his poetry, he started Pahal, an online publication. When he recognised his own interest in consulting, he not only started a club with his peers to help people understand the world of consulting, but also left no stone unturned to ensure himself a role at one of the best consulting firms. These acts alone make him stand apart. In this article, we interview Raghaw Jhunjhunwala, an IIM A grad who interned at A.T. Kearney and is currently a consultant at Bain & Company. In this 1st part of the interview, Raghaw tells us about his journey to IIM A and touches upon the key skills a consultant needs! Read on & stay tuned for part 2.
Here's excerpts from our interview with Raghaw:
Q.1 Tell us about yourself.
A: Born and brought up in Kolkata, I did my schooling from Birla High School before moving to Delhi for pursuing B.Com (Hons) from SRCC. Until I was in Kolkata, I was a reserved and shy person who focused mostly on acads and cricket. But my time at SRCC opened me up and shaped me. During my 3 years at SRCC, I was exposed to a breadth of experiences ranging from college societies, elections, professional internships and even starting up a couple of organizations with some of my friends – Cognizance and Pahal. All this was done along with working on academic endeavors which not only included B.Com, but CA intermediate exams and CAT as well.
After getting the much needed exposure, I moved to IIM Ahmedabad for pursuing MBA. At IIM A, I was in an ecosystem with many sharp minded and ambitious individuals. My time there helped to build resilience and persistence as significant personal values apart from all the management education I got. I interned with a management consulting firm, AT Kearney after my 1st year. This was my first experience in a first high pressure professional environment.
IIM A also gave me the chance to live what I call the best 3 months of my life – the exchange program where I travelled across Europe. Since my graduation last year, I have been working with Bain & Company, a management consulting firm. It has been a great 14 months of learning and fun for me.
Q.2 Tell us about your time at SRCC and founding Cognizance. What was it all about?
My time at SRCC is one of the most eventful ones. In hindsight, it feels like during the 3 years, I grew 10x as a person driven by the holistic experience in multitude of things. SRCC not only provided me with some great friends, but also some milestone achievements, be it starting up societies, organizing large student fests, celebrating CAT and other academic endeavors.
During my 2nd year in college, we came to know that there exists this profession called management consulting. These companies like Bain, BCG, and McKinsey came to our campus for recruitment – but awareness of what the career involves was very low for us. Thus, we saw a gap in our understanding which was also true for many others.
We identified a problem and started a student society by the name of Cognizance wherein we aimed to provide consultancy services to start-ups, SMEs and NGOs, while simultaneously giving members an experience in consultancy roles. We strived to educate and prepare some of the aspiring students to the profession of management consulting.
Q.3 Tell us about Pahal and how it enriched your career?
One of my great friends, Adarsh once told me about his aspiration to publish his poetry in the form of a book or a magazine. We got to talking about the same wherein we concluded that he should first build on his image and recognition so that people are willing to read his poetry. One thing led to another, and the next thing I know, I was making a Facebook page, ‘Pahal’ which would be the embodiment of his work.
We started an organization with a small goal with just 2 of us which went on to become the University’s student run media organization with more than 100 team members. This experience gave me a taste of what it’s like to start-up a business. We got the experience of the struggle it entails, and much to Adarsh’s credit, we managed to overcome most of such crisis situations.
Q.4 You then worked with Willis Towers Watson as an Analyst. What was your thought behind these different roles?
At SRCC, my aim was to get the maximum experience I could get from various fields so that I can make an informed decision for what I want to pursue in the long term in my career.
Willis Towers Watson was an internship that I landed from campus – which became my first stint in a professional environment. My aim was always to shape myself as a professional and this opportunity provided me with a safe space to do so. Fortunately enough, I received an offer from the firm to join back full-time after graduation.
Q.5 Tell us about getting into IIM A.
10th April, 2017, around 9:45 a.m, I was sleeping when I received a call from one of my friends saying that IIM A results have been announced. In a flash I was wide awake, opening up my laptop with goosebumps all over. When I saw the result, I shouted out with joy which woke up all my flatmates as well. I couldn’t believe it, I checked it again – asked my roommate to read it again. The day had finally come, I instantly called up my father. This is what it felt like when I knew I was going to IIM A, an unmatchable feeling of satisfaction and disbelief at the same time!
For CAT aspirants, my only 2 cents would be to be disciplined in the preparation – if you work hard regularly and persistently, you will be able to get it done. The other thing which is significant is to focus as much on taking Mocks and revision as you do in building up your concepts and ‘finishing the syllabus’. Most people I see struggling in CAT don’t revise the learnings regularly – I feel that you will move upwards from point A to point B only when you have internalized how to do things which you couldn’t do when you were at point A.
Q.6 You interned with management consulting and after IIM A, you have been working at Bain & Company. What have your reflections been - what is consulting according to you?
Consulting for me is an extension of my b-school life. The only difference is that you get paid for this. That’s how I would define it in the simplest manner. Now that might be confusing – let me break it down. It’ll help explain what I mean by that:
Similar structure: At IIM A, we were assigned projects in study-groups of 5-6 people. We had different groups for different projects. Consulting is exactly like that – we do our projects/ cases in case teams of 4-6 people, and each subsequent project we have a new team.
Similar projects: At IIM A, we got projects in the form of business case studies where we had to solve a CXO level problem statement, for e.g. “Should the company enter a particular market,” “How can we improve our profits,” etc. In consulting too we solve similar business problems. For e.g. the client wants to evaluate a play in healthcare e-commerce, and they want our help with the evaluation and strategy to win in the market.
Similar learning format: At IIM A, we didn’t know much about the industry and business before starting the course and found our way or learned on the job. Same is with consulting – we are not industry experts. What we are good at is solving problems analytically. We learn about the industry/ sector as a part of the process.
To round up, in consulting, we solve complex business problems of clients using a data-driven approach, with projects spanning across a multitude of industries and domains.
Q.7 What are the key skills and strengths of a consultant?
From my experience, the most significant & differentiated skills which consultants are supposed to exhibit are the following:
Structured thinking: It is one of the key traits of a management consultant. Consultants are typically pushed to think structurally in order to solve complex problems by breaking it down into simple sub-problems. It immensely helps to focus on the major issues and be efficient.
Problem solving: This is the bread and butter of a management consultant. Problem solving is at the core of their work - typically picking up complex business problems of clients and coming to data-backed solutions. This comes from a combination of other attributes (structured thinking, strong business judgement, analytical skills).
Ability to strive in ambiguous situations: Management consultants typically are highly encouraged to become self-sufficient and work with limited support and spoon-feeding from seniors. Junior level consultants who are closest to execution are generally asked to “take a first pass”. It basically means that they have to arrive at an answer on their own (with limited guidance from seniors). This tremendously helps in bolstering their confidence and ability to become self-reliant and work in ambiguous situations.
Structured communication: Along with structured thinking, comes structured communication. Consultants focus highly on creating quality output for the client meetings and as a result their ability to communicate improves - both written (emails, PPTs, Excel) and verbal. Structured communication is very effective in putting forth ideas and helping the audience to follow and grasp the solutions easily.
Self-organization: Induced by multitude of tasks, meetings and clients to manage, consultants are forced to organize themselves effectively. Their ability to prioritize and focus on the most important tasks increases, thereby saving time and getting to answers quickly rather than being diverted by things which don’t matter that much.
This was part 1 of our interview with Raghaw. Stay tuned for part 2 of his Interview, where he shares tools and frameworks consultants refer to in daily life, resources you can learn from as a consultant and lots more.
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