I hadn’t had an iota of sleep a night before the interview as I was twisting and turning in my bed, anxious about the big day that was imminent and ended up feeling quite exhausted and enervated by the time of my WAT-PI. Also, I was a first year MBA student at IIM Trichy but wanted to switch to another college so this was a tricky situation to be in. However, I was amongst the top 10 students after both the first and second trimesters at IIM Trichy so I tried to sell myself as a diligent student.
Venue: The Mirador Hotel, Mumbai
CAT 2017: 99.31 percentile
Grad: 70 (Computer Engineer from MU)
Work Experience: 23 months - Database Developer at Media.net | One of the largest ad-tech companies worldwide
WAT Topic: Non violence has lost its relevance today
(Wrote about Gandhi, Martin Luther King and John Lennon. Elaborated on how they were all pacifists, proponents of non-violence and were all ironically assassinated and met a violent end. It’s as if the world reacts to non-violence with violence. Then talked about radicalism in the Middle East and the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis. Wrote about how images of children in Syria covered in blood send shivers down one’s spine and then wrote about belligerent North Korea, China ramping up its armaments. Finally wrote about wars and bloodshed adversely affecting the economy and leading to human rights violations and concluded by agreeing with the WAT topic.)
15 minutes are allotted and one can write on both sides of an A4 Page that is provided by them.
There were 2 gentlemen (M1 and M2)
M1: What are you doing currently, Ritesh?
Me: I’m currently a first year MBA student at IIM Trichy, sir.
M1: Why would a student from IIM Trichy want to switch to IIM Lucknow?
Me: There are 3 reasons-
IIM Lucknow is rigorous. Being subjected to the rigor there, would make me better equipped for the high pressure corporate environment and bring the best out of me.
IIM L is an established institute. NIRF has ranked it as the one of the best MBA colleges in India. IIM L also has a wide alumni base at different levels and age groups in both public as well as private sector. I would get opportunities to connect with and learn from them.
L also being at the position that it is at attracts a certain quality of students and their academic and aptitude level would pose more challenges in front of me and push me to excel. There would also be value addition by means of peer learning.
I would further like to add that even though I was prepping for CAT, this was no reason to be derelict towards my studies at IIM Trichy. I was cognizant that it too is a good college and studied very hard there. I have a CGPA of 3.63 in my first term exams and am ranked 7th in my batch. This while improving my CAT percentile from 92.83 to a 99+. Also, the efforts I was putting towards my MBA studies had a positive impact towards my CAT studies as well. This has been a most reforming journey and I have transformed into a completely new and resilient person with enhanced time management skills. And I believe that it is a reasonable decision to make.
M1: What do you mean by resilience?
Me: Since I was studying for both MBA and CAT, I had to stay up till late, multiple nights. I used to stay up till 5 am studying for CAT then would attend lectures, starting at 8.30 in the morning, nap for a while after returning from the lectures and then would be onto my MBA studies. I used to give weekly Mock tests, devote substantial time to analyzing them, learn from my mistakes and improve upon them. I also had to frequently solve lengthy case studies and give presentations. This was an arduous and strenuous experience that pushed me to my limits and beyond and helped me become more resilient. Also, many people told me initially that balancing both MBA and CAT studies can’t be done (M1 interrupted).
M1: Who told you so?
Me: Seniors at Trichy told me so. They were like during the first three months you’ll barely find any time to sleep even if you want to have an above average CGPA and you say you want to be amongst the top 10 here. That is very difficult, even less sleep. Balancing CAT with that is nearly impossible. I had also spoken to teachers from TIME. Since we consider them to be authorities and opinion leaders in this department, we do heed their advice. But even though popular wisdom suggested that it can’t be done, I had fire within me for what my goal was and I worked very hard for that.
M2: Still having spent one year at Trichy and then switching. How old is it? 2 years?
Me: No sir, it is 7 years old. It was founded in 2011.
M2: Oh, so it is a little old. What is the average package at Trichy?
Me: Rs. 13 lakhs, sir.
M2: So let’s say we were to select you. (Starts writing the average package of Trichy on a piece of paper) If you had stayed at Trichy, you would have made Rs. 13 lakhs and if you were to come to L you will make Rs. 14 lakhs(writes this down below Rs. 13 lakhs).
(I knew he was doing this to check if my motivation was merely making more money. I interjected)
Me: I am not doing it for money.
M2: Still let me help you. This doesn’t make much sense economically either. What’s the fees at Trichy?
Me: I have paid close to Rs. 7 lakhs for the first year
M2: So like I was saying let’s say you make Rs. 13 lakhs after Trichy and instead if you were to come to L, you make Rs. 14 lakhs in your final placements, you would have lost 1 year’s wages that you could have gotten after graduating from Trichy, one year’s work experience and also the fees that you have paid at Trichy.
Me: Like I said I am not doing it for money. I have mentioned 3 primary reasons for doing so:
The rigor at IIM Lucknow would make me better equipped for the high pressure corporate environment.
Opportunities to learn from alumni at different levels and age groups in both public as well as private sector.
The quality of students that L attracts would pose more challenges in front of me and push me to excel.
Also, the costs that you have mentioned: the extra one year that I would spend at L and the wages lost accordingly are mostly relevant in the short run. A career spans for 30-40 years. In that extensive a time i.e. in the long run, the network and the learning that I would assimilate here and the value addition that would happen during the 2 year MBA course would, I believe, help me perform better in my career. Money is secondary. All the money I will lose in the short run I can always make it back in the long run. But what I am actually looking at here is enhanced value addition.
M2: Have you spoken with anybody about this? Somebody who has been in a similar situation?
Me: Yes sir, I have interacted with a person who has switched to IIM B from IIM I. I also know 2 people who are pursuing their first year MBA at L who have been through similar situations. They all said that in hindsight they were glad that they had made the switch and the difference in value addition that they perceived was substantial.
M2: Who do you know at L who has dropped out of other college to join L?
Me: (I shall not be revealing names of the gentlemen here) I know X who has dropped out of IIFT Delhi. I also know Y who has dropped out of IIM Bodh Gaya
M1: Have you worked anywhere?
Me: Yes sir, I have 23 months of work experience as a Database Developer in the domain monetization Business Unit of Media.net | One of the largest ad-tech companies worldwide, an online advertising company.
M1: What did your work involve?
Me: My role involved writing SQL server queries and procedures by coordinating with business developers and getting their requirements, creating SSIS packages to automate processes.
M1: What is an SSIS package?
Me: SQL Server Integration Services, sir.
Also at Media.net | One of the largest ad-tech companies worldwide my enthusiasm towards database development was acknowledged by my company and I was tasked with the following responsibilities:
a) Administering Change Data Capture Technology to avoid permanently losing company data, when deleted or updated.
b) Designing a SSIS package to audit Yahoo’s revenue, clicks and other statistical data on an hourly basis. (M1 interrupted)
M1: Which are your favorite subjects that you have studied at Trichy?
Me: I liked Marketing. I was fifth in my batch in that subject. I also like Managing Organizations. I was fourth in my batch in that. I was sixth in the subject of Micro-Economics. I was eleventh in the subject of Quantitative Management
M1: You must have studied both Marketing and Marketing Research, right?
Me: Yes, sir we’ve studied Marketing Management from Kotler and we have studied Marketing Research in the second trimester.
M1: Which one is your favorite?
Me: (I didn’t want questions from Marketing research as many questions in that have either a right or a wrong answer. Additionally, Marketing has an element of subjectivity to it so there is more room to maneuver and play around with interpretations and manipulate) I like Marketing more since it is more extensive. MR is only a part of Marketing. Marketing on the other hand covers concepts like Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning, Marketing Mix, Customer Equity, Customer Lifetime Value and so on. So I like Marketing more because it is more comprehensive.
M2: What is the formula for CLTV?
Me: I don’t know what CLTV is
M2: Customer Lifetime Value, that you mentioned
Me: I don’t know the formula but I know what it means. CLTV is the value of the entire stream of purchases a customer makes over a lifetime of patronage.
M2: Arey haha, tumne toh bola ki Kotler padha hai. Kotler me toh diya hai formula (Translation: You said you have read Kotler. The formula is present in that book)
Me: I might have overlooked it, sir
M2: (Excited) Is it there or not there in Kotler?
Me: (With a smile and mild excitement) I am not sure, sir but if it is there I would be really glad to go back and have a look at it. It is an absolute pleasure to keep gaining knowledge and understand things that I didn’t know about before. That’s what keeps me going. So if it’s given in the book, I certainly look forward to reading and understanding it.
(The formula is not given in the edition of Kotler that I have. Maybe M2 was referring to some other edition in which the formula is given or maybe he was just trying to put me on a spot)
M1: When I purchase something, is satisfaction important? Are purchases and satisfaction linked?
Me: Yes sir, when I buy a product and if I am not satisfied I would not make repeat purchases. So satisfaction is surely important for making repeat purchases. Also if I am not satisfied I will post a bad review online and that might dissuade other people from making a purchase.
M2: Do you know the different promotion strategies?
Me: Yes sir, there are five promotion strategies. They are (with some thinking) Advertising, Personal Selling, Public Relations…..
M2: (Handing me a pen and paper) Write them down so that you don’t forget them.
Me: (Wrote down Advertising, Personal Selling, Public Relations and Direct Marketing) Sir, I remember 4 of them: Advertising, Personal Selling, Public Relations and Direct Marketing. Can’t recollect the fifth one. But I remember that it is about giving short term incentives to encourage the purchase or sale of a product or service and also involves Event sponsorships and Trade promotions.
M2: Yea, Sales promotion.
Me: I am sorry
M2: I am telling you the fifth promotion strategy: Sales promotion
(I jotted down Sales promotion)
M1: (Takes out a pen from his shirt pocket) Let’s say I purchase this pen. I like it so I post a review about it online. What kind of promotion strategy is it?
Me: (Scratching out promotion strategies) It isn’t Advertising, Personal Selling or Sales promotion. (With some thinking) I am confused between Public Relations and Direct Marketing. But I believe it is Public Relations since it is in the direction of building favorable relations with the company’s various publics: the customers in this case.
M2: Shouldn’t it be Direct Marketing, Ritesh?
Me: It can be but I’m still sold on Public Relations.
M1: So what do you think it is finally?
Me: I think it is Public Relations but when sir says that it can be Direct Marketing, I feel myself swayed in that direction too but since an aspect of the definition of the promotion strategy of Public Relations involves heading off unfavorable rumors, stories or events i.e. if somebody were to be spreading negative information about my product, I would intervene to head off these rumors. In a similar vein, if someone were to post something positive about my product I would share it on my company’s wall for others to see and create a positive impact and in that regard it would be Public Relations. (M1 smiled approvingly at this)
M1: Do you know about the Demand Supply curves?
Me: Yes sir
M1: Draw them
Me: Do you want me to draw the Aggregate Demand and Supply curves or a firm’s Demand and Supply curves?
M1: Which ever ones you’re comfortable with. If you draw Aggregate Demand and Supply curves, I will ask about Macro-Economics. If you draw a firm’s demand and supply curves, I will ask about Micro-Economics.
(I had revised Macro-Economics a day before whereas Micro, I had revised that around a week before so decided to go with Macro)
M1: How are the Aggregate Demand and Supply Curves derived?
Me: Each point on the Aggregate Demand curve represents the respective Price and Output levels at which the IS and LM curves intersect.
M1: Derive it.
(I tried but couldn’t derive it. I had overlooked the derivation since it’s basic and does not get asked in exams :P)
M2: You said Marketing and Economics are your favorite subjects. (Playfully) What Ritesh?
Me: I don’t remember the derivation, sir, but like I said the Aggregate Demand curve is derived when both the IS and LM curves intersect for different combinations of P and Y.
M1: What is the IS curve?
Me: The IS curve describes the combinations of income and interest rates at which the goods market is in equilibrium.
M1: What do you mean by the goods market being in equilibrium?
Me: Goods market is in equilibrium when the goods and services demanded are equal to the goods and services supplied and the money market is in equilibrium when the amount of money demanded is equal to the amount of money supplied.
M1: Do you know about Fiscal stimulus?
Me: Yes sir, it is the expenditure that the government undertakes or the tax cuts that it gives. It is a component of GDP. But the thing about fiscal stimulus is that it results in crowding out. When you increase government expenditure, interest rates rise because the IS curve shifts to the right and therefore private spending, particularly investment reduces.
M1: What do you mean by investment?
Me: Private enterprises take loan, start their own ventures and add to the physical stock of capital thereby increasing inventories.
M2: When the interest rates rise shouldn’t investment increase instead of decrease like you say?
Me: No sir, by investment I don’t mean investing money in a bank as Savings Deposit or something like that. Like I just mentioned this investment is private enterprises taking loans and adding to the physical stock of inventories. As interest rates rise, they would cut down on the amount of loan they take and therefore investment would decrease.
M1: So, are you saying that fiscal stimulus is useless?
Me: No sir, what I meant is when you give a fiscal stimulus because of crowding out, your Y(GDP) won’t increase by the full extent i.e. by how much you expect it to because of the increase in interest rate.
M1: Do you know about the multiplier effect?
Me: Yes, the formula is 1 by 1-[c] into [1-t] (M1 looked puzzled as if he didn’t know the formula). That’s what I meant before, you won’t feel the full extent of the multiplier effect when you give a fiscal stimulus because of increase in interest rates. If you were to expect Y(GDP) to increase by 5 as per the multiplier effect, it would increase by let’s say only 3 because of crowding out.
M1: Do you know how GDP is calculated?
Me: Yes sir, P*Y (Even though this is right, in hind sight, I think he was looking for the equation Y= C + I + G + NX)
M2: Does fiscal stimulus change the GDP in the long run or not?
Me: In the long run, the Aggregate Supply curve is vertical. So the quantity of goods and services will remain the same.
M2: I am talking about GDP
Me: Fiscal stimulus will cause the Aggregate Demand curve to shift up but the GDP will remain the same since the Aggregate Supply curve is vertical in the long run. (Actually fiscal stimulus will cause P to increase therefore the increase in price level will increase the nominal GDP but the real GDP will stay the same since Y doesn’t change. This hit me once I was out of the interview room :P)
M2: Thik hai bhai (Translation: Alright then)
(The interviewers told me that the interview was over. There was a box of toffees on the table and I have NEVER EVER gotten a toffee after my interviews so I really wanted one. Hahaha :P
I looked at the box of toffees then looked at M1. He didn’t make eye contact. I thanked them for their time and left)
Verdict: Direct Convert :D