"If someone tries to break you, show that you are unbreakable even if it hurts you"- Ashwini Goyal, DML student at IIM Trichy (MBA 2017-19)
Ever wondered how do toppers manage their time and activities to remain at that peak? Ever thought to surveillance a topper to crack this puzzle?
And that too from an IIM Batch...!!!
I thought of achieving both the above feats. So let us take a sneak-peek into the life of a student of this kind to take some “lessons” out of his experience and knowledge.
It gives me an immense pleasure in introducing Ashwini Kumar Goyal, who is a 2nd year MBA student at IIM Trichy. He is one of the students of Director’s Merit List (basically one of The TOPPERS) of our institute. He holds a Bachelor’s of Technology degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from NIT Surat. He has almost 4 years of work experience in Oracle Financial Services Software Ltd as Staff Consultant. He has completed his summer internship at Deloitte as a Consulting Intern. He is a finance enthusiast with an inclination towards entrepreneurship and his room looks like a mini library where you can find books of multiple genres. (A glimpse of his room)
1. Coming straight to the most pertinent Question of our times: How do you manage time to pursue academics, extracurricular activities, competitions so efficiently?
I believe in deciding priorities and dedicating time to different tasks accordingly. I try to maintain a notebook to schedule all of my daily work and then complete the tasks according to the priority list. It is not possible all the time to successfully complete all the work due to some inevitable reasons so I overstretch. Sometimes I feel overburdened with quiz, case submissions, club-committee tasks, competitions etc. I try not to skip a certain task completely by reducing the sleeping time and sometimes postponing it to a later date. I do procrastinate sometimes, but most of the times I made these things in my schedule so it doesn’t affect my productivity. I give time to myself as well for personal improvement and shuffle among the tasks but I try not to waste time only on one thing. Basically, Warren Buffett's 5/25 rule works aptly on my daily schedule.
2. Finance is considered one of the toughest streams of MBA. What made you pursue a major in Finance?
Since 8th standard, curiosity for Sensex started evolving in my mind, but it boiled down to science and maths in 11th. While I was working, I invested some of my savings but I made losses, so I decided to learn the investment and finance concepts thoroughly. I read books such as the intelligent investor, Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, HBR reviews related to finance basics etc. I used to indulge myself in the discussions related to finance with my friends. One of my family members is also a stockbroker with whom I used to discuss some basics of the financial market to sharpen my concepts in finance. Moreover, as I hail from a business family, I used to tally accounting books of our business. I love facing novel challenges and when I started attending finance classes in my MBA curriculum, I found it a bit challenging yet enthralling thus I drifted my whole mindset towards this specific domain.
3. Finance course of IIMT is CFA certified which put an extra expectation on students to win CFA RC. We have already been winning the National Round and have represented India thrice. Can you explain the rigor of this competition?
This competition is extremely extensive and demands a lot of dedication. Registration starts in mid-August and it requires almost 7 to 8 months if you sail through the last stage (More details can be found on CFA RC website). My team is dedicatedly working for this competition. Being the captain of the team, I have to take an extra responsibility of motivating the team and managing team dynamics, regular meetings, resolve conflict and arguments which arise quite frequently during in-depth team discussions. Diurnal efforts need to be put because one can’t procrastinate just to make it more hectic later on. Each member of the team has packed schedule and we are bound by the sacrosanct deadlines where no further extensions are allowed. It affects our academics to some extent but we as a team have set a timeline and follow it religiously to complete the work on time. Our faculty mentor, Prof. Narahari Hansoge guides us well to excel in this competition.
4. What are the fun activities which you pursue in IIMT to relieve your stress?
Though I don’t get much of spare time, but as soon as I get some, I tend to utilize it to complete my sleep. Along with that, I watch numerous web series which belongs to different genres. Whenever I go to Bangalore, I involve myself in trekking (Kumaraparvata, Kunti betta), cycling and biking. I read a lot of books pertaining to economics and finance, psychology, non-fictional genres. It’s in my daily routine. I adore ‘Outliers: The story of success’ by Malcolm Gladwell and ‘Factfulness’ by Hans Rosling a lot. I follow grand slam tennis and watch cricket religiously. Solving sudoku while sipping tea is a real stress buster. I write quotes from time to time. I enjoy clicking random pictures and trying different cuisines at different places is a relishing experience for me.
5. Where do you see yourself 10 years down the line after graduating from IIMT?
After completing MBA from IIM-T, I’ll get into corporate to get some experience and exposure but my long-term goal is to start a finance company of my own. I, along with some of my friends at IIM-T have decided to start a boutique investment firm and then we will make it bigger by adopting newest techniques with time. We have decided to gain exposure in different fields such as project financing, analytics, equity research, IB, Mergers and Acquisitions to leverage it later for our own business idea.
6. Can you please share a glimpse of your typical day in IIMT?
For me, sometimes it becomes really tough to get up for 8:30 am class since I hit the bed late at night. After classes, I indulge myself into some activities to sharpen my extra-curricular skills. I refresh my mind by watching some informative videos such as TED Talks to rejuvenate myself. I am a core member of AIumni Committee and FinvesT club of IIM-Trichy. I take initiatives as and when required for both the committee and club. The first year was a bit hectic in terms of new responsibilities that were required to be undertaken. Now, I assign most of the work to junior members of my team which in turn has increased my responsibility to supervise their work but it has subsequently reduced my workload.
As an initiative, I along with one of my colleagues at IIMT, are planning to start an investment fund with the mission to help the members of the fund to pursue their career in domains such as investment management, private equity, investment banking and wealth management by giving them hands-on experience of portfolio management and equity research. It’ll be an equity fund where fundamental stock analysis will be done on large and mid-cap companies.
Last year, first academic sectional war at IIM-T was conducted by FinvesT team.
Being a part of the Alumni committee, there comes a time when the team don’t even get time to have water the whole day during official Alumni meet as we have to work quite diligently. I get multiple opportunities to network with alumni of our institute in a prominent manner. It also helps in maintaining a good rapport with faculty members by being a part of FinvesT Club and Alumni Committee.
7. What will be your word of advice to juniors and prospective students with regards to finance?
If you are planning to do MBA in Finance major, then be prepared for the hard work which is waiting to test you on each step forward. Moreover, make up your mind to curtail some fun in order to excel in Finance as compared to other fields. Being an engineer, I faced a lot of challenges in Finance initially, but I put in efforts and tried to get updated with the current economic scenario. For the prospective students, it is really important to be updated with the current changes in the overall market and a good grip on the basics of finance is required to pursue this field. And even if you are apprehensive enough to go ahead in finance, still it remains a move innocuous enough to take chance to explore further. Keep stuff as simple as possible and work diligently.
“Hard is just a word. If You believe to do it, it becomes simple.”
Indulge yourself in the competitions which help to sharpen your concepts in finance, for example, CFA RC, various B-school competitions, read about stock markets, investor’s behaviours, investment philosophies of different philosophers (Warren Buffett, Raamdeo Agrawal, Peter Lynch etc.). Build your own investing style according to your understanding and experiment with that to go ahead in this field which requires a lot of hard work and patience.
Moreover, instead of thinking from a placement perspective, career decisions should be taken after thinking long term only. You will definitely get fruit of your efforts if not immediately.
"Pain from failure teaches you the most."
8. Since you have studied in Hindi medium school till 12th standard and a very good command at English is a must to get into an IIM, so what would be your suggestion to the CAT aspirations who are facing the similar kind of challenges?
In my first attempt at CAT, I barely managed to get 69%ile in English but I put in a lot of efforts to improve my language-related hurdle. To overcome this challenge, I started reading novels of multiple genres, started reading and conversing in English whenever I got slightest of chances. I worked more on English than DI-LR sectionals of CAT by dividing 70 and 30 per cent of time between English and Quant based sectionals respectively. I used to read the newspaper thoroughly on daily basis. To improve vocabulary, I referred ‘Word power made easy’ book and it helped me a lot.
In my perspective, career progression in life doesn’t depend on the medium in which one studies. It all depends on his/her perseverance, determination and zeal to learn. So don’t sink your heart into the sea of apprehension and just look at the goal to achieve that by putting in your best effort.
"You must forget your limits. You must forget your doubts, your pain, your past. You must forget that internal voice screaming, begging, "Not one more step!" And when it's not possible to forget it, you must negotiate with it and keep going."
― Phil Knight, Shoe Dog
As told to Apurva Sharma
(The quotes mentioned in between are penned down by Ashwini only)