99.82%iler’s Journey To IIM Calcutta – Viraat Gupta
It is very common to be anxious about the future or to be disappointed because of the past, but life is all about living in the present. So is the journey to the b-schools!
Let me Introduce myself first before elaborating on the above statement. My name is Viraat Gupta, I appeared for CAT 2016 and scored 99.82 %ile. I got calls only from IIM C, K, S and have converted all of these. Will be joining IIM C.
B.Arch (IIT Roorkee, 2015 passout) – 7.29/10
It was August 2016. I was at my work desk sitting in front of 8 screens, trading in an occasionally dull US commodity market (I was working with a reputed proprietary trading firm as the front end intra-day trader). Last few months were a bit uneasy for me, as in the field of high-frequency trading the technical skills you develop are unique to the job profile. I was anxious about my future with a lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, as I have been most of the times in the crucial phases of my life. I was surfing the internet and saw a notification about CAT registrations. On the very same day, I registered for CAT 2016 and used it as my psychological comfort cushion. My focus shifted from trading to reading about CAT and the new pattern (I had a semi-prepared attempt at CAT 2014, and scored 97.xx). Little did I know, this slight shift in focus lead to a spree of losing days at work, as we were involved with real money the judgement was on a daily basis. Cut to 26th August, 2016. I was sitting in my manager’s office for a one on one meeting and was told that it’s not working out for me and I should resign immediately.
My anxiousness landed me in a place where I had no Job and no such skills (either core or non-core coding skills like excel, sql etc.) that I could have relied upon to search for another job after CAT. It was a huge dilemma. CAT was just 3 months away from then, I could not have banked upon it as I was yet to start with my preparations. With Future not looking as secured as it should have been, my anxiety grew and my self-confidence dipped a big time.
“Thinking too much about the future and getting anxious will never ever help, it will only make us waste time and brain power on something very unnecessary”
I analysed my situation and decided to get a job first. That was my sole purpose and fortunately, I landed up at a managerial post in a startup within next two weeks. I started working on 12th September, 2016 and by the time September ended, I realised why it is important for me to do an MBA (Not because I was fed up with my work, but while working in a business environment and talking to the senior leadership it was evident for me that to grow in the field of business administration, you need to have the education for it).
It was already October and I could not afford to lose focus on the work again, I started living in the present consciously for the first time in my life. Every time at work, thoughts about my CAT preparation used to pop up in my mind or while attempting a mock, things from work start floating in my head, I used to consciously stop those thoughts to grow. (I read it somewhere that our mind has the capacity to hold only one thought at any given point in time, So as soon as I would get distracted I used to close my eyes and count till 10 with a deep breath on every count).
I practised this for the next two months and as a result, I got 99.82 in CAT and my work didn’t suffer either, in fact, I was doing really good at work as well.
“Sometimes, we complain a lot about the lack of time and hard circumstances but I have rarely heard any of the world leaders or successful entrepreneurs do the same. Co-incidence or Correlation?”
After my result, I thought everything is done and the top b-schools are waiting for me with the open arms. I was wrong. My profile was an obstacle. Out of the famous BLACKI, I only got calls for the interview from C and K. This was the time for me to learn to accept my past the way it is. I was disappointed. For a few weeks. I was just looking at the calls to conversions of many institutes, checking their marking criteria’s, reading up stories about how somebody with 99.9x in the previous years failed to convert IIM ABC, regretting about not studying enough during my graduation etc. My confidence dipped again and this time because of my past. But I was knowledgeable and capable enough to set that aside and carry on with my preparation.
“The most productive thing we can do with our past is to learn from our mistakes. Do that and move on!”
It was 5th March, 2017. I was at the interview venue of IIM C (My best call of the season). I was third in line for the interviews and was trying to distract my mind from any negative thoughts (With conscious efforts, It becomes easier to distract our mind from things we do not want to think about). Suddenly, I heard my name called upon, I went inside. There were male interviewers. Let’s call them P1, P2, P3.
Before I could even sit, I was thrown off guard.
P1: So, Viraat, do you know who is Pradeep Gupta? (After I came home, I searched for it and found out that out of the three interviewers, one was the Alumni of IIM C and his name was Pradeep Gupta)
Me: No Sir, I cannot recall any famous Mr. Pradeep Gupta (In my mind, It was 1-0, Professors)
P2: Viraat, just now, a candidate told 5 countries apart from France where french is spoken. Can you name them? ( My weakness was exposed, I hated history and geography in my school times)
Me: Sir, I can take an educated guess. A language reaches to a different geographical location only when there is a cultural mix. So, the colonies of the french empire should have french as one of their main languages. (I had no idea which countries were under the french empire. In fact, I don’t know colonies of any other kingdom apart from Britain, that too because of the common wealth Games)
After watching me think for about 30 seconds..
P2: Ohk, I guess you don’t know. Can you tell me a place in India where french is spoken?
Me: (I did my calculations based on the above logic and by using elimination approach was left with Pondicherry) Sir, Pondicherry! (Which was correct)
And the random questions continued for another 10 mins. They knew my weakness and exposed it as much as they could
(I made sure that for the answers I didn’t know, I will think out loud so that they can see my thinking process)
I will not elaborate on my whole interview, but the above part was just to let you know that you can never be completely ready for the b-school interviews academically, but you can be ready with your character skills and strengths.
“When facing a stress interview or a completely alien question, we should not give up without giving it a try. Think about the question, treat it as a life problem and try to solve it. I feel the attempt and the dynamic thinking will impress interviewers more than the crammed up answers”
It was 10th of April, 2017, IIM Calcutta results around the corner. A link pops up on the social media stating that C results were out. I checked and it said Rejected. I was in my office and had to attend a very important meeting. But after this whole CAT journey, I knew how to not think about it. I finished up the meeting successfully, Came back and thought about checking the results again. I was shocked to see ” Congratulations! You are selected for the PGP 2017-2019…… “. I didn’t know what happened. I checked again and it showed selected. I sat on my chair for some time staring at the result screen, letting the feel to sink in. Stood up with a smile, and called my parents. (I later found out that IIM C’s result link was leaked on social media before it was active, and everybody was shown the rejected message by the time they officially declared that the results were out.)
“After everything was over, I rewind this whole phase of my life in my mind and I realised that unknowingly I have developed it in my nature to not think about the future and the past. It has helped me a lot and I am sure it will for the rest of my life ”
CAT Advice to Aspirants
– Figure out your motivation for CAT.
– Make sure that when you are studying, you are not doing anything else.
– Take a lot of mocks and analyse yourself only to be better for the next time, not to judge yourself on the basis of the performance.
– Do Not Complain about anything, complaining never helped anybody.
– While attempting mock or even the CAT, never try and judge your performance in between. Focus on your strategy and try to execute it.