Placecom. Every b-school student wants to get into the placement committee at some point. But what does one actually do as a placecommer? Pratik Sharda was curious too, and having worked in different types of clubs during his engineering days, decided to attempt getting into placecom. When his scores started suffering, Pratik decided to buck up and get his act together. From 8.50 GPA, Pratik managed to score 9.20 GPA in Term 6. This self awareness and dedication is what landed Pratik on InsideIIM's Best 50 - The Most Employable Graduates of 2018-20. Read to find out what placecom is all about!
The following is Pratik Sharda’s set of responses to a questionnaire floated amongst MBA graduates to determine the top-50 most employable MBA graduates of the Class of 2020. Amongst the massive number of entries and responses being evaluated by the Founder of InsideIIM-Kampus Konversations, Pratik’s story and profile stood out. Here's his own story in his own words.
"I hail from the cleanest city and street food capital, Indore and did my schooling from here. At NIT Kurukshetra, while working as a President of Electronics Society, I convened national level Techfest and founded MUN NIT Kurukshetra. During MBA, I did my major in Marketing and minor in Strategy. I’m a big foodie, I’m also passionate about travelling and adventure sports and have been to 18 Indian states, which includes Himalayan trek and quite a few interstate bike rides. Solving Rubik’s Cube and watching Thrillers have been my lockdown saviours. "
Name an instance where you wanted something and went out of your comfort zone to achieve it OR Tell us the biggest risk you have taken so far in your life.
"The best part of being in the top ten B Schools is that you get to connect with the best minds of the country. But that comes with a cut throat competition across activities such as placements, competitions, academics.
Being in Placement Committee, you anyway don’t have time to prepare for these activities. So for me to excel anywhere outside my official responsibility, I had to step out of my comfort zone in order to achieve it.
Talking about which, there were innumerable instances when I’d finish the Placecom work in the morning, prepare the presentation or work on the pre-reads in the next two hours and present it to the professor in the first class of the day. In order to get an exposure to the varied topics and organisations, I tried to read and solve as many cases so that I could relate to what a professor is going to talk in the class and participate effectively. I made sure that I do not miss out on any of the group project tasks or assignments and worked closely with the other members for its delivery.
This whole process of trying to balance both my academics and extracurricular helped me make the most out of my two years of MBA.”
When was the last time someone relied on you? OR What did you do which was purely for someone else - a truly selfless act.
"Not someone but two complete batches relied upon us for one of the most important part of their journey i.e. Placements. Being one among the 12 members of the Placement Committee, I got to shoulder the highest responsibility of a B-School.
Being in Placecom came across as an altogether a different side of a B-School. It was the toughest of the times I have ever witnessed in my life. There were a lot of times when I would wish for an hour’s sleep. I remember cold calling companies even during my 2 months of internship by taking out time from the already hectic internship. Following up with the companies over call for months, meeting in person, conducting sessions, doing everything possible to persuade them to come to campus and hire students had become just an everyday routine. Usually the students started partying as soon as their groups got placed, for us it was the last student that mattered.
Many students wonder, why put in so much of effort and sacrifice your social life. The reason lies in that priceless moment when you see a smile on a student’s face after he/she gets placed, which makes you forget all the dreadful days and nights you’ve lived cursing your fate.
I wouldn’t call it as a completely selfless act because it had a huge learning experience for me as a person. But the motive to work hard and make a difference to your college placements by converting that dream company which never came for the recruitment, increasing the average stipend/CTC as high as you can to make the MDI brand even more stronger, was something I always wanted."
Tell us about a time when you disagreed with an opinion/idea/decision. What did you do about it?
"While I was working with a software firm before MBA as a Project Lead, I was given an opportunity to travel to USA. During my abroad stint, I was working for an automotive client on a CRM implementation project.
The client had signed a contract for the out of the box implementation of CRM, which basically means just tweaking the Oracle Sales Cloud CRM as per the client’s requirements and not make a lot of changes/customizations. So while I was gathering requirements and doing business analysis, there were a lot of requests which according to my onsite manager were out of scope. But according to clients those were the basic changes that they requested. As per my analysis, these changes wouldn’t have taken a lot of man hours. But my onsite manager continuously kept saying that Pratik prepare a different tracker for it and we will raise a separate contract for these changes as these are out of scope. I kept on trying to make him understand that it wouldn’t take us a lot of effort and I personally will stretch my time to work it out. It doesn’t make sense for our customers to pay again for some minor changes just because of their lack of knowledge while signing the initial contract and the changes being out of the theoretical definition of scope. At the end he got convinced, which made our client very happy and they were overjoyed to see the customized product demo during the training sessions.
This made us fetch more business from that client and helped me earn an Excellence Award along with various appreciation letters throughout the project during my tenure with the firm."
What is the one thing you can claim to have some level of expertise or depth of knowledge in - it could be anything - a subject, a sport, a hobby, a venture, an initiative which has led you to do deep work in that field?
" William Edwards Deming once said, “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” Lesser did we know that the data would become a new age oil.
I have always been intrigued by the amount of data available on the internet. Majorly because I always look for data to be able to believe something or make a logical argument, without which everything sounds like more of a PFAFF or GAS. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. Similarly, with huge amount of data comes high level of confusion and it becomes really tricky to get what you want. Basically in today’s time, while the whole world is drowning in data, only the ones who manage to fish out information stays ahead of the game.
This problem prompted me to study Web Scraping - a technique employed to extract large amounts of data from websites whereby the data is extracted and saved to a local file in your computer or to a database in any desired format. After a detailed research about the technicalities and deep diving from my end, I came across one of my colleague who had started working on similar scraping services. This got me excited and after a detailed discussion with him, he asked me to join him as a Co-Founder to which I readily agreed.
There I got an opportunity to explore various areas such as Business Development, Customer Engagement, Strategizing along with working as a Project Manager for different client Projects. My main focus had always been on Customer Centricity, which helped us generate more Business from new and existing customers.
Never had I thought that deep diving into an area of interest or a subject will help me get a start-up experience."
If 10 Million Dollars (approximately INR 75 Crores) is given to you to use it any way you deem fit what would you do with this corpus?
"If you ask someone what would you do if you get a wound on a knee, he/she will quickly tell you to put an anti-bacterial ointment. Even if you ask a 10 year old girl/boy, they’ll know what to do with the basic problems. But, if you ask an adult, how to deal with the emotional problems or wounds that he goes through, we don’t have a first aid for it because we are not been trained or not been taught since the childhood.
This I feel is one of the biggest problems in our country and in many other countries. It majorly results out of two things:
- Mental Health Issue is still considered as a taboo in the society and nobody wants to talk about it. People should understand that my mental health does not define me as a human, nor does it define you – it's simply one part of us, as an ordinary individual
- As Lemony Snicket says – Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t. People fail to recognize it as a problem due to an extremely poor awareness.
On discussing with my psychologist friend about the supply-demand gap in the country, she told that the job doesn’t pay as much as the jobs in tech or management fields because due to the lack of awareness, people don’t actually go to them to seek help. Moreover the quality of education in India is not as good as it is abroad. Licensure problems also persist in the country.
Owing to this long pending problem, I would like to develop a platform that would bring together the psychologists, psychiatrists and patients, making it accessible for everyone present across the country to have a quick video call with the suitable doctor and discuss his/her inner self. More importantly, I would like to create an awareness campaign and run it across the major cities free of cost in order to make them aware about the long standing issue. Tying up with colleges and corporates to promote the happiness program through workshops and sessions will also help in capturing the mass audience as it is highly prevalent in this age group.
So out of the 10 million dollars, I would like to keep aside 8 million dollars. I would keep aside a corpus of 1 million dollar to fund an NGO – Seva Parmodharam. It organises monthly events in Indore and Bhopal for different causes such as child’s education, old age homes, differently abled children and tree plantation drive. I would keep the remaining amount for my future self."
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