Why I chose to do an MBA after CA and Interview Prep Tips for converting IIMB at 94.57 in General category
After rigorous efforts in articleship, relentless hard work and sleepless nights in CA Final Preparation, I finally cleared my CA Final on Aug13, 2019.
After the results - I was faced with a question (like most of us do) – “What next in life? CA is done – ab aage kya karna hai?”
I was clueless where my interest lies and what I want to do in life. (I still am: P)
But I was sure about one thing –that the traditional CA avenues of auditing, taxation, law and accounting did not interest me at all. “Kuch bhi ho audit and tax toh nahin karna”
I was sure that I cannot be happy in my career doing something which I am not passionate about. It is better to invest 2 years to figure out your interests rather than being frustrated for the rest of your life doing something which you hate.
So MBA was the natural choice for me - a journey of self-discovery to know myself better, to meet new diverse people, understand their perspective and finally decipher where my passion lies and choose the right career path for me.
So I finally decided to give CAT 2019 and got a decent enough percentile and got a call from IIMB.
Transcript of my IIM Bangalore Interview
IIM Bangalore Interview
Venue – Vivanta by Taj, Mumbai
Date – Feb 29, 2020
10th/12th/B.Com – 97%/98%/80%
Chartered Accountant Final AIR 3, CA Inter AIR 31, Company Secretary AIR 3
Work Ex – 5 months as Management Trainee in Marico
WAT Topic –“Solutions to the slowdown faced by the Indian economy”
I was elated. Being a Chartered Accountant, this topic was something I had expertise on.
I told myself “Come on Umang, seize the day. Today is your day.”
So I kept my composure and wrote the WAT in a systematic manner – dividing my essay into 2 parts
1. Overall economy-level suggestions – fiscal, monetary, exports etc.
2. Sector-specific reforms – defense, banking, agriculture, auto, power, construction etc.
Overall I was very satisfied with my WAT but this was only task half done. Interview abhi baaki hai mere dost.
Finally, it is my turn for the interview. I was shivering and my heart was beating very fast.
I vividly remember the Chak De India dialogue reverberating in my ears – “Sattar minute, Zindagi ke sabse khaas sattar minute…yeh sattar minute tumse koi nahin cheen sakta”
Entered the room
3 Panelists – 2 IIMB professors and 1 alumni
Me – Hi. Good afternoon.
P1 – Hi Umang. Nice shirt – you love pink color?
Me – Haha yes thank you. This is my lucky one. I wear this for all my interviews.
P2 – And the shirt has never failed you?
Me – Nope not yet :P
P1 – And you think the tradition will continue today also.
Me- Yes Ma’am, I will try my BEST
(So here I tried to show that I am confident but not arrogant at the same time – Showing the right attitude was the key)
P3 – So tell me something about yourself.
Me – I am a Chartered Accountant by profession having secured All India Rank 3 in my CA Finals. Currently I am working as a management trainee in Marico in the value enhancement team. I love to play chess – I am an international rated FIDE chess player. I love finance and I am also pursuing CFA.
(Prepared answer – I was trying to drive the interview to my strong areas - wanted them to ask about Chess, workex at Marico, finance, or CA in general)
P3 – Amazing! CA Final topper. So what brings you here? Why MBA?
Me – I want to learn different aspects of business – operations, supply chain, marketing etc. An MBA will help me to broaden my perspective – the case study based teaching will help me to understand how an engineer, lawyer, economics student will approach the same situation. I want to be mentored by the best of the best faculties. With a strong alumni network, I will meet the smartest minds of the country and learn from them and that will improve my overall personality and broaden my way of looking at things.
(NEVER speak about job, money, placements etc. The answer should revolve around learning, best faculties, alumni network, broaden perspective)
P2 – So what have you been doing at Marico?
Me – I work in the value enhancement team.
(I explained the various initiatives and my work experience – The panel looked impressed)
P 3 – Wow. Interesting. Any other project you have worked on?
Me- I explained a couple of other projects at Marico
(So far so good)
P1 – Which is your favourite subject? Do you know accounts?
Me – Yes Ma’am
P3 – So Mr. AIR 3 CA Umang Gupta, tell me how will you calculate the Diluted Earnings per share for a leveraged company with “in the money” convertible debentures.
Me- (I went paranoid- was terrified hearing words like “in the money”, “convertible”, “Leveraged company” all at once. My mind went blank for few seconds.
I told myself – “It’s now or never. Come on man you can do it – you have come so far only to come so far?”)
I started explaining what Diluted Earnings per share is and the formula and suddenly the answer struck in my mind. My morale was boosted and I explained the debenture part brilliantly.
Phew! It was a close escape. Not knowing the answer would have cost me the interview. A CA should know that answer
P1 – Fantastic. So what did you write in the WAT?
Me – I explained to them my WAT.
P1 – Some of the measures which you said like repo rates are theoretical. Do you really think they can help?
Me – Ma’am you have made a fair point. They in isolation cannot help the economy but these measures all put together will indeed revive the economy.
(Again I had a positive attitude – Acknowledging the panelist’s point of view and not being obstinate and being open to other ideas was important)
P2 – Awesome. Umang do you have any questions for us?
Me – Ma’am, as a faculty what advice would you give to a Chartered Accountant who is joining the IIMs this June.
P3 – Oh so you are so sure of converting the interview?
Me – Yes sir. I am confident.
(Trick question again – I had to demonstrate confidence and at the same time NOT sound arrogant. Right attitude always works)
P1 & P2 – Gave their perspectives of MBA – clubs, academics, sports etc.
Me – Thank you so much for your insights. Thank you.
(SIGH OF RELIEF – interview went well)
My interview prep was divided into 4 parts –
1. Personal Questions – Tell me about yourself? Strength, weakness, goals etc.
In these questions, it is important, to be honest, frank and passionate. So I spent a lot of time thinking and introspecting about these questions.
A fake answer would easily be spotted by the panel and that would detriment your chances of clearing the interview.
Also, you need to set yourself apart from the crowd in these questions – there has to be an X-factor about you – something which is impressive and unique to you.
2. Why MBA
One of the most important questions asked in an interview.
Again you have to be very passionate while answering this question to convince the panel that you really are interested in learning and doing an MBA.
My answer was like this –
“I want to learn more about different domains – like operations, organizational behavior, decision making and marketing to broaden my perspective
The IIMs are a platform where you meet the best of the best minds – in the case study method of learning – you get to know how an engineer, lawyer, economics student, CA would approach the same problem and come up with different solutions. Different ways of looking at the exact same thing
The peer to peer learning is unmatchable, the faculties are world-class and it would help me grow as a better manager and leader. MBA would also enhance my interpersonal skills and improve my time management – skills most precious in the 21st century”
3. Current Affairs
So I started following popular YouTube channels like - The Print, Vox, CNBC etc.
Reading newspapers became a daily ritual for me. I made a list of 30 most relevant current affairs happenings (like Budget 2020, NRC-CAA, Hong Kong Protest, RECP etc.) and wrote 1 page summary about each topic
As an MBA, you need to be abreast of all the latest happenings and you need to have an opinion on almost everything.
I also joined a coaching classes where we had group discussions on current affairs – it helps you to know the different opinions possible and broadens your way of thinking.
4. Work Experience
I went through the projects which I had done in my CA internship and my management trainee stint at Marico. I had done a couple of interesting projects at Marico – and I made sure I articulated them well in my interviews to gain brownie points. Questions on work experience help the interviewers gauge how mature you are as a person – so it becomes very important for you to answer them in a professional manner
5. Undergrad Curriculum
It is advisable to quickly go through your undergrad subjects and at least gain an overview of the important topics.
Here planning becomes very important as you have to cover a lot of topics in a limited time.
6. Mock Interviews
The most important aspect of the prep. It is important to give at least 8-10 mock interviews before D-Day. The feedback of the mock interviews helped me a lot to improve and boost up my confidence. I also tried to give a couple of stress mock interviews as sometimes the top IIMs have a stress interview.
7. WAT Prep
I made a list of 50 probable WAT topics ranging from religion to economics to politics to abstract topics and wrote a 1 page summary about them. Also writing 6-7 WATs in a time-bound manner helps you to be ready for D-day.
In my view, MBA after CA makes a lot of sense especially for people like me who are yet to figure out their interests and passion and who are definitely sure about not making a career in traditional areas of a CA – like taxation and auditing. While CA boosts up your technical skills – (accounting, finance, law, taxation) MBA complements this knowledge by boosting your soft skills – a perfect combination to make you “CXO material”.
During the span of 2 years your network grows exponentially – like you know people in every part of the country, in every industry and the pedigree of people which a B-school attracts is unmatchable – you basically meet best of the best – the cream of the cream crowd which forces you to become the best version of yourself.
The late-night group projects, the fun at college fests, making friends for life, the random gibberish and gossips in a B-school are an experience that one cherishes for the rest of the life. #YouBSchoolOnlyOnce