Of Pizzas and Chaas – B School Placements : Alternative Mavericks

It is the common pool where all the first year MBA students sit and wait for their turns.  In few institutes, it is referred to by its colloquial nick name – faccha pool.  It is the auditorium where first years students all wait, prepare and pray that they will be called to interview with the firms which have come for summer internships.  All top tier firms worth their salt, come to hire at the top MBA colleges for summer internships and almost all the recruiters unfailingly complain about one thing – “Everyone is so great and qualified. But we often, have to choose just one candidate and  it is difficult to choose between five  equally good candidates. How do we differentiate between them given that it is barely three months of them joining the college…? It is tough out there to in the faccha pool and compete…”


Such sentiments are not uncommon. As somebody who has been through the whole cycle, let me tell you – it is really difficult for recruiters to choose between students when almost all the resumes read alike. Almost 70% of the junta have been toppers in their school/ undergraduate. More than half the students have received awards for excellence at work or some variation thereof.  And everyone is usually prepared for the standard stock of questions expected in interviews. So how do you get that edge over the rest? How do you shine like a orange bulb in a sea of black & white?


Let me illustrate the solution with a story. We all order pizzas all the time. All of us are flooded with coupons and discount codes. All of us are usually fatigued by it. And then out of nowhere, comes a new joint – Maverick Pizzas is the new kid on the block. And instead of the usual offers – Maverick Pizzas delivers free liters of chaas. Yeah!…Chilled and amazing chaas on every  pizza you order. Delicious and Chilled chaas…. At first, you might seem amused. But heck! You give it a try. The columnists all hail this as the best “innovation” in pizza deliveries!!. Health fanatics love it because it is healthy and yummy. We try it and realize that that chaas actually gels really well with the pizzas! Eventually, the chaas may go but something equally crazy comes in.  No matter what others are serving, Maverick Pizzas will do something different and something remarkable each and every time. Maverick Pizzas may not be your favorite pizza place.It may not be your pizza of choice but you will always remember Maverick Pizzas as the pizzas with chaas!  You will always find Maverick Pizzas in your consideration set because you will always remember Maverick Pizzas as the crazy pizzas guys.. Dominos Pizzas has successfully adopted a similar variant of this strategy with their 30 min-or-free mantra. Now, even if other brands deliver in 30 mins, it won’t be able to dislodge Dominos from this branding..


Well, here is the insight – When you are competing with hundreds of others, fighting for just a few dream internships- you better pack in your X-Factor. It is a simple solution that is often incredibly hard to get it right. Just focus on the basics and BE REMARKABLE in any one facet of your choosing!


The reason this is important is because most of us are preparing for CAT and other entrance exams. The successful ones will soon find themselves in similar hyper-competitive faccha pools preparing for their internship interviews and at that point, you will need your differentiator more than ever.  And the time to start cultivating that differentiator is now because it takes about 5-6 months to become proficient at something.

Even final year MBA students can benefit from this by developing something worth talking and showing off about in final placements.


What I have just described is commonly referred to as USP – unique selling proposition.  All brands that fight commoditization and competitors successfully must have their own USP that is not easy to replicate by others.   Strategists have used fancier words to describe this as Sustainable Competitive Advantage –  if you look at  all the successful brands and firms around you, you will find evidence of firms leveraging their competitive advantage to win as well as to defend market share.  Apple is known for great design and user experience. Google is known for great technology products. Pepsi and Coke have amazing distribution network. Rolls Royce is known for its engineering and luxury.  The idea is simple and powerful – get the basics right and identify your strengths early & capitalize on it to the extent that no one wants to mess with you. Be Remarkable!


Some of you might be interested in traveling. Some of you might be interested in technology or reading /writing. Some of you may have a passion for sports or music.  Pick your strength or passion and master it. Be a domain expert in your field.  Show dedicated passions towards any activity apart from the one you get paid for.  Grow a six-pack abs, go on a road trip on a bullet, travel across India, know your movies, write a blog / a book/ a movie script – whatever you do – BE REMARKABLE… because even if you don’t get that job, you would have still achieved a lot – a passion!!


So go ahead … We are still young and last when I checked – no one had died from having pizzas with chaas…Good Luck…


Raheel did his MBA from a well-known institute of management in western India. He believes that everyone is a genius but if you measure a fish by its ability to climb a tree, you will find the fish to be pretty dumb!!

About Alternative Mavericks

“Alternative Mavericks”, weaves different stories to present unconventional view points which challenge the readers to not accept everything at face value. Raheel has completed his MBA from IIMA. He loves working on new ideas and is constantly coming up with new ways to solve old problems… Read previous articles under Alternative Mavericks here

Read everything about IIM Ahmedabad here

Prepare for Placements by using the InsideIIM Career Guide

Read everything about Placements here