What to do after submitting ISB Application?

What to do after submitting ISB Application?

ISB Round 1 Deadline just got over on 12th September 2021 and now starts the tumultuous time of waiting for the shortlists! Though it’s quite natural to feel anxious/restless during this period, ideally it should be spent reflecting on everything that you have put down in your application and make yourself ready for the D-day.

I have been mentoring ISB Applicants to help them put their best foot forward with respect to Application writing and Interview preparation since last 5 years and I have realised that this time (between application submission and interview), if utilised well, can be a game changer for your final admit.

I am enlisting a few action items that you must partake in to ensure an optimal use of your time with respect to your readiness for the final interview :-

1. Get rid of all distracting thoughts.

Time and again I have noticed applicants wasting their time pondering on trivial things- most of which they can’t change:-

Is my GMAT/GRE score good enough?

ISB masks your GMAT/GRE score while evaluating your application. Weightage for the interview is added after your interview is over to make the final decision (Admit/No Admit/Waitlisted). Moreover, you can’t improve your GMAT/GRE score now, so thinking about it will do no good.

What if I get to face a stress interview?

Typically ISB interviews are not stressful and interviewers do not try to put you in a spot. It’s more of a conversation with the objective of knowing you better.

Have I correctly mentioned my short-term and long-term goals?

There is no right and wrong ways to answer the question that asks for short-term and long-term goals in your application. Moreover, there is no way you can change what you have written down once the application is submitted. All you need to do is to justify your goals and explain them (when prompted to) during the interview with confidence and conviction.

Please do not waste a moment by getting overwhelmed with these thoughts. Try to consciously repulse them and convince yourself that you will only use your time in things that you can change and won’t freak out for things you can’t. This is the first step to use this time wisely.

2. Collate and brush up on your Industry and Domain knowledge

You need to deep-dive into the industry ( such as IT, Oil & Gas, Ed-Tech, E-Commerce etc) and domain (such as Marketing, Finance, Software Development, Sales etc) where you work in currently and the industry and domain where you want to work in post-MBA (as mentioned in your 2nd essay). Some of the information that you should collate and brush up on are :-

A) Market size and Market cap of the industries

B) Competitive landscape of the industries

C) All the recent Press Releases by your current and target companies

D) Key trends affecting/driving the growth of the industries/domains

E) Effects of Covid-19 pandemic on the industry/domain

F) Your key learnings from working in a particular industry and domain

3. WHY-HOW-WHAT for each initiative/achievements mentioned in the application

You must have mentioned about initiatives taken at/outside of work and your major personal/professional/extra-curricular achievements in different parts of your application- in Essay 1, in Awards & Achievements section, in Job Achievements section etc. Make a list of all the initiatives and achievements and make yourself ready for the following questions (the questions aren’t exhaustive) for each initiative/achievements:

A) WHY :- Why did you take this initiative? What was your motivation behind starting something new/taking responsibility ? Why did you think your approach was the best?

Through questions like these, interviewers try to understand your thought process and your approach towards problem solving.

B) HOW :- What steps/methods did you take/use to take the initiative. What challenges did you face? Who were the key stakeholders you engaged with? What did you do differently from others?

C) WHAT :- What did you learn from the initiative/achievement/project? Given a chance again, how would you do it differently?

In a nutshell, you need to tear down into each significant initiative/project/achievement that you have mentioned in your ISB Application and be ready for all kind of cross questions around them

4. Case Questions Preparation

In all probability, case questions (where you will be given a business challenge scenario and would be asked what would you do or how would you approach the problem) will be related to your industry/domain. Search for ”Consulting Case Interview” on Youtube and you will find multiple videos to help on this. It’s even more important for applicants who have mentioned ”Management Consulting” as their post-MBA goal in their ISB Application

Likewise, Product Management aspirants should read about typical PM Interview questions available easily on the internet. Though these questions are aimed at someone preparing for a PM job interview, they will give you a fair idea of what is expected out of a Product Manager in his/her full time job

5. Practice to improve your Verbal Communication

During my mock interview sessions with ISB Applicants, I have come across many individuals who have been exemplary achievers in their academic and professional life, but are completely tongue-tied/anxious when it comes to speaking up in an interview setting. Most of the B-Schools consider good communication skills as a pre-requisite for an admit, so please do not take this lightly. Practice speaking in front of a mirror. If you think you are struggling on this front, hire a mentor/consultant who can help you with not only guessing the probable questions that you might get asked during your interview, but would analyse your communication skill and advise you to improve it accordingly.

If you want to get in touch with me to prepare well for your interview or to prepare a holistic application for Round 2 of ISB/IIMs (1 year MBA)/US & European B-Schools, please follow me and drop a message on Instagram

You can read the reviews/testimonials by my other mentees here

Some of my other articles that you might find useful are :-

  1. How to write Essay 1 of ISB PGP Application
  2. 10 Important Tips for ISB Application writing
  3. Most common myths about ISB
  4. Applying to ISB- Everything that you want to know 
  5. My GMAT Debrief (730 in 1st attempt) 
  6. Life at ISB
How to write Essay 1 of ISB PGP Application

How to write Essay 1 of ISB PGP Application

Indian School of Business (ISB) Round 1 Application is open and you need to submit your application by September 20, 2020.

Before you read on, I request you to do these 3 things (for your own good) :-

  1. Follow this blog so that you get an email whenever I post (no spamming otherwise)- BLACK colored FOLLOW button on right side of the screen (if you are reading on Laptop) and on the bottom of the screen (if you are reading on your mobile phone)
  2. Like my page on Facebook – so that you can attend all live sessions
  3. Follow me on Instagram– that’s where I reply to your queries immediately!

This year ISB has reduced the discomfiture that the applicants used to experience while writing the admission and has made its expectations loud & clear- The Admission Committee wants to know what leadership qualities you possess and expects you to enumerate some examples from your personal & professional life that corroborate the leadership quality that you have declared to possess.

 “Describe with examples the most important personal quality that you possess, which significantly enhances your prospects of being successful as a leader?”

According to the Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy and Governance,

“Positive leadership behavior is a set of actions, taken by individuals in a position of power and influence, to motivate and cultivate others through mechanisms of empowerment, engagement, and collaborative assignment to meaningful work”

Needless to say ‘Leadership’ is more of a sense of being and a collection of actionable qualities that you possess, rather than a single or a couple of traits.

The essay asks for ‘the most important personal quality’ and hence it is imperative you choose a quality of which you have multiple examples to elaborate. You must keep it in your mind that if shortlisted, your interview will revolve around the quality that you had mentioned in the essay and the examples that you had provided.

I am enumerating a few qualities, of which you can choose one and then elaborate it with enough examples. Please go through each of the points carefully and then ponder if you have significant examples from your personal life & professional career to choose a particular leadership quality :-

  1. Resilience

A popular Japanese proverb says- “Nana korobi, ya oki” which means “Fall down seven timesstand up eight.” Ever found life hurling multiple setbacks at you and you ended up rising against the wave every single time? Ever lost all hopes because of continuous headwinds but you ended up emerging victorious?  If you think you have done so a couple of times, then Resilience is the personal quality that you can mention. You can mention about a huge financial loss which you recovered from because of your smart (and hard work), personal loss which broke you on all fronts but you were still able to overcome the trauma or talk about a professional setback which you you didn’t allow to linger for long. Please note , you should choose Resilience as your quality not only if you have faced multiple setbacks, but also when you have overcome them successfully.

2. Empowerment 

A good leader empowers his/her colleagues, employees and subordinates. He/she is inclusive during decision making, induces participation from everyone in the team so that each team member gets a fair chance to exercise their expertise, skill and judgement and hence ends up fostering a work environment which is built on trust, team work and equal opportunities for professional growth.

Have you played an important role and have taken a keen interest in coaching, mentoring and advising your team members to help them grow professionally? Have you driven innovation and critical thinking in your team solely by helping everyone to put their best foot forward? Do you think you are trusted by your employees/colleagues/sub ordinates because you have helped them in achieving what they wanted to?

If answers to these questions are in affirmative, then Empowerment is the leadership trait that you should mention in the essay.

3. Taking Initiatives

A successful leader is proactive (rather than reactive), can sense the needs of the target customers, the changes in market dynamics and the steps he/she needs to take to empower his/her team much ahead of time. Successful leaders aren’t afraid to take calculated risks and don’t wait for others to tell them what to do and how to do. They are forward thinkers who plan for future, and at the end they take full ownership and responsibility of their actions, be the outcome a failure or a success.

Have you taken a well-informed risk at your workplace that has reaped dividends (financial or otherwise) for your organization? Were you a part of the founding team of a new society/club/organization that taught you multiple nuances of management & leadership? Have you dirtied your hands while undertaking a functionally pristine project? Have you successfully driven adoption of a completely new product among your customers?

If all the above-mentioned points rings a bell, please go ahead and use this trait in your essay.

4. Integrity

In simple words, Integrity can be defined as “Doing the right thing even when no one is watching”. 

Every large MNC (Multi-national company) has a very strict Legal & Compliance team which lays down the code of conduct & compliance and keeps a strict watch on the employees- the more high you are in the corporate ladder, the more strict will be your punishment if you are found guilty of violating any code of ethics & conduct.

Have you ever noticed something grossly unethical going on in your organization and have raised an alarm? Have you ever faced a situation where you were lured by an exciting offer/choice/chance to help you achieve what you wanted to, but you decided to avoid because those chances fell in the ‘grey/dark zone of ethics & compliance’ ?

Integrity, as a trait, is often associated with kindness, and having good intentions instead of selfish motives. A leader who demonstrates high levels of integrity is well-respected and trusted across the organization.

If you have examples that highlight integrity as your inherent trait, please use it in the essay.

5. Problem Solving

The Covid-19 pandemic has put unprecedented challenges in front of business leaders and they are expected to solve problems that they have never encountered before.  A successful leader is able to anticipate any obstacle, assess the challenge, find possible solutions for mitigation, assess those solutions in terms of their viability, and thereby select the best possible solution.

If you have responded successfully to changing market dynamics, if you have overcome major obstacles in the modus-operandi of your organization with the help of technology/data/effective communication/otherwise, if your manager often relies on you whenever he/she hits a roadblock, then you have a problem-solving mindset and you should mention this trait in your essay.

6. Empathy

Empathy is understanding others’ feelings, perspectives & opinions as if they are your own. More often than not, Empathy is declared as an extremely crucial leadership trait because to put it out simply- you can’t lead someone whom you don’t understand. An empathetic leader is well aware of the fact that listening intently to his team members/employees/subordinates is extremely vital to generate insights which help in achieving well-being of everyone. An empathetic leader often puts himself/herself in the shoes of his/her employees before taking any major decisions that might affect the employees. He/she is responsible for maintaining a healthy and non-toxic work culture and hence has the ability for the long-term success of the organization.

Have you been in any situation where you strove hard to be inclusive and fair to most of your team mates/subordinates? Have you taken initiatives to ensure that your colleagues/subordinates/reportees feel safe, secure in the organization and their justifiable needs are taken care of ? Have you gone beyond your call of duty to help others? If your answer is in affirmative, you must write about Empathy as your leadership trait in the essay.

7. Passion

A passionate leader believes in the core values, mission & vision of the company, inspire & drive others to believe in the mission & vision and is madly involved in ‘making a difference’. The more enthroned you are in pushing your organization towards success, the more passionate you are considered to be. Passionate leaders create zest & enthusiasm in the team, and are vocal and expressive about what the organization aims to achieve.

If you have believed strongly for a cause (social, financial or otherwise) and have taken initiative/responsibility/accountability to address it, you come in the category of ‘passionate leaders’. If you always wanted to achieve something and have put considerable amount of time & efforts behind it, then also you can put ‘Passion’ as your personal trait in the essay.

8. Network & Influence

Do you think you have made a name for yourself as a ‘Thought Leader’ in a particular domain? Do you think your opinion on a particular stream/domain/industry is valued & acknowledged by a large number of people? Do you regularly produce & disseminate content related to your area of expertise and hence are considered ‘well known’ personality. Have you developed a rich network over the years and consider yourself as someone ‘who can get the work done’ just with the help of your network? If the answer is yes, you can consider writing about it in the essay.

I will write more blogposts on Essay 2, filling non-essay part of application and also on tips to crack the interview. To get notified about my future posts,

  1. Follow this blog so that you get an email whenever I post (no spamming otherwise)- BLACK colored FOLLOW button on right side of the screen (if you are reading on Laptop) and on the bottom of the screen (if you are reading on your mobile phone)
  2. Like my page on Facebook – so that you can attend all live sessions
  3. Follow me on Instagram– that’s where I reply to your queries immediately!

I have helped more than 200 applicants realize their dream of getting a Top B-School. Find their reviews here- https://www.facebook.com/DrKumarAnshul06/reviews/

Some of my other blogs that you will like are as follows :-

  1. 10 Important Tips for ISB Application writing
  2. Most common myths about ISB
  3. Applying to ISB- Everything that you want to know 
  4. My GMAT Debrief (730 in 1st attempt) 
  5. Life at ISB

 

 

 

How to find a corporate job after BDS before pursuing MBA

How to find a corporate job after BDS before pursuing MBA

Follow me on Facebook | Instagram for live sessions on career guidance for Dentists, blog updates and one-to-one QnA sessions. 

We aren’t living in an era anymore where pursuing Dentistry in your undergraduation meant that you are destined to be a clinical Dentist- either owning/working at a dental clinic or teaching at a dental college. I personally know Dentists in India who have successfully ventured out into fields which are completely unrelated to Dentistry- Gaming, Pharmacovigilance, Augmented & Virtual Reality, Graphic Design, Management Consulting, Finance and even Software Engineering!

I will be posting the success stories of these Dentists very soon. Follow me on Facebook | Instagram to get notified about those articles. 

This trend is has been more pronounced and prominent in last 10 years, mostly because of advent of Internet and then the increase in its availability and affordability. You can learn a new skill online while sitting in the comforts of your room and can even earn certifications.

Having said that, most Dentists, who want to ‘stray away’ from the conventional career path of clinical/academic Dentistry and foray in the corporate world, prefer to choose the safer & more pragmatic route of ‘pursuing an MBA’. An MBA from a reputed B-School opens multiple gates for you and the tag of IIM/ISB/FMS/XLRI etc stays with you for the lifetime.

Now most of the Top B-Schools in the country accept freshers to their flagship MBA Program (except ISB, where 2 years of Work Ex is mandatory), i.e. you can join immediately after completing your BDS, provided you score good enough in CAT/XAT and clear the GDPI (Group Discussion and Personal Interview) rounds.

But having a certain amount of Work Experience (1-3 years) before pursuing your MBA is always a good idea. Please keep in your mind that just securing an admission in a Tier-1 B School doesn’t mean you will have it easy in what lies ahead. A typical Tier-1 B School’s (such as IIM A, ISB, IIM B, IIM C, XLRI, FMS, SP Jain etc) batch consists of some of the smartest minds of the country (mostly from India’s top Engineering & Commerce courses such as B. Tech from IITs & NITs, BCom from SRCC etc) and most of them will be equipped with proper corporate/start up work experience with valuable contributions to their respective firms. It will be these people whom you will be competing with during the placement season. Hence it’s advisable that you gain a meaningful and relevant work experience before your MBA so that you can explain to your future employer during placement about why you are a good fit for the role you are applying to and how your previous work ex has shaped you and made you eligible for that particular role.

Now when it comes to Dentistry, you might think it’s near to impossible  to get a Managerial Role at a Corporate/Startup just after BDS because we aren’t trained for the necessary skill sets. But in this epoch making era of cheap internet, there is nothing that can stop you from learning a new skill and networking with someone who can help you land a job.

But this article is NOT ABOUT THAT.

This article is about how to find out a corporate/startup job with just your BDS degree (and the clinical knowledge of course), when you haven’t mastered any other skills.

The following list is exhaustive so I would suggest you to read thoroughly and carefully.

  1. Sales or Product Specialist Role in a Dental Product Companies- Unlike yesteryears when many Dental MNC (Multinational Companies) used to operate in India through operators, most of them today have a direct presence. Moreover there are multiple Indian & Chinese companies too that have entered the market in the recent years. You can seek a role of Sales Manager/Product Specialist/Product Manager in these companies. Typically these roles require an MBA degree or a past experience in Sales/Product Management, but if you can convince the hiring managers that your Dental domain knowledge will be a value addition to the company, you might bag one of these roles. Some of the prominent companies are :- KaVo Kerr, Dentsply Sirona, Nobel Biocare, Straumann, Ormco, Invisalign, Vatech, 3M, Carestream, Planmeca etc. You can also find out the details about the major distributors of these companies and seek a similar role at there. LinkedIn is a great place to connect to the HR Leaders of the companies and enquire about any job opportunity
  2. Virtual Scribing :- A Virtual Scribe is a person who  listens to and documents the doctor-patient encounter in real-time. Virtual Scribe will be busy entering notes, CPT and ICD codes, eRx, orders, and other relevant data directly into the patient’s chart — while the doctor is busy seeing and providing care to the patient. These are relevant for US Healthcare but many companies have outsourced this work to India. IKS Health, headquartered in Mumbai is a major firm that employs hundreds of Dentists for this role. Though it’s not actually a managerial role but it still is a good way to enter corporate and get an exposure to US Healthcare norms.
  3. Lifescience/Research Analyst Roles at Consulting Firms :- Consulting firms such as Deloitte (and sometimes Boston Consulting Group too) employ Dentists for the entry level analyst role. Though these roles too typically require an MBA but there is no harm in trying. 
  4. Medical Advisor Role in Pharma Companies :- Though earlier this role used to be strictly reserved for MBBS graduates but lately I have seen reputed firms such as Abbott hiring Dentists too. Your knowledge of basic medical science (BDS 1st & 2nd Year) might come handy to bag such a role.
  5. Medical Underwriting:- Medical underwriting refers to the process by which a life or health insurer uses an applicant’s medical history to decide whether they can offer them a policy, and whether the policy will include pre-existing condition exclusions and/or a premium that’s higher than the standard rate. Insurance companies such as HDFC & Credihealth regularly employ Dentists for the same.
  6. Operations Manager in Dental Clinic Chains and Hospitals :- Dental Clinic Chains (such as Clove, Axis etc) and prominent Hospital chains such as Apollo & Fortis employ Dentists for clinical job but you can also make your way upwards into Operations if you develop the relevant skills.

PLEASE NOTE that some of these job profiles might not be conducive to your expectations. But they open the gates of corporate to a Dentist and then later on you can pave your way upwards with a suitable MBA degree.

Let me know if you have any queries in the comments.

Follow me on Facebook | Instagram for live sessions on career guidance for Dentists, blog updates and one-to-one QnA sessions. 

-KA

1 Year of Marketing Medical Devices- Reflections

1 Year of Marketing Medical Devices- Reflections

May 2nd 2019 marked 1 year of my first post-MBA job. I was recruited for the GMDP Program by Danaher at the campus placements at Indian School Of Business and was placed as a Marketing Manager at KaVo Kerr, one of the medical devices firm of Danaher.

The last one year had been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. From drafting Go-To-Market Strategy for Imaging Equipment and presenting the same to the entire leadership team at the HQ to getting a Mandarin document translated to have some insights for the Marketing Communication for a newly launched product, this job got my hands dirtied at almost everything Marketing. I traveled across the length & breadth of India (to organize trade events) and a bit of USA (to attend the annual GMDP Conference). From attending the welcome dinner for GMDP Associates at Marriott Washington DC, bonding with colleagues on a rooftop overlooking the beautiful Lake Pichola at Udaipur to checking-in in a shady hotel room without any AC in Vellore that I had to book in a rush because my train reached late- this job added another set of travel stories to my memorabilia.

I have been following this practice of jotting down my reflections, musings and learning after reaching a certain milestone since quite a while, more so because I believe that making an effort to write down the learning in itself allows me to delve deeper and gather some more impactful insights from my own experiences. Here are a few of them :-

  1. Getting the Marketing Communication right is much more important than you think :-  We would all agree that getting the right message across can help a great deal in converting the customer and pushing them to the next step of the buyer’s journey. But in Digital Marketing Campaigns, the correct message can also also help you to save money and prevent you from burning your limited marketing budget. For example, if you are conducting a lead generation campaign on Facebook, where you are charged per impression (instead of per leads generated), you should know what message you should put across on the Ad (through Images & Text), so that those who are viewing the ad end up filling the form (and hence generating a lead for you). A faulty message that doesn’t resonate well with your customer, will just be an impression failing to be converted into a potential lead that you can pursue.
  2. You have equal responsibility towards your internal customers as much as the external customers :-  For a Marketing Managerthe internal customers refers to the sales & service team. Providing adequate support to the sales & service team with appropriate marketing content, leads, product expertise, doctors’ contacts etc is of utmost importance.
  3. Digital Transformation can’t be overlooked anymore :- I worked to build the KaVo Kerr India Mobile App with the help of our National Service Head and a 3rd part Android Developer to streamline and digitize three processes- Filing request for service/repair of an existing product, requesting demo of any product from our portfolio and registering for our Training & Education Events. Once the App was ready in its final form, we realized how much potential it holds to act as a single tool for lead generation and to reduce the service turnaround time.
  4. Continuous innovation even in a small form catches eyeballs :- Apart from Digital Marketing & Marketing Communication, I am also incharge of Trade Event Management. I have noticed that introducing something new and engaging which our customers haven’t experienced before in a trade event, always helped us in gathering footfall. Over the year, with the help of my team, I introduced multiple new concepts- inclusion of a live training room within our booth, standees with our existing customers’ pictures & testimonials, an online quiz about our products which customers can attempt at our booth and win prizes, a ‘Happy Customers’ bulletin board with our customers’ polaroids and so on. Putting the thinking cap on for such events and going the extra mile and can reap rewards in terms of catching a prospective customer’s attention.
  5. Wherever possible, try to hit two (or more) birds with one stone :- Immediately after a joining I launched a Monthly online Quiz for customers with prizes for the winners (Dental Consumables that the Dentists could use in their practice). The participants needed to register for the quiz by providing their contact details and the questions of the quiz were exclusively based on the various differentiating features of our products. Hence, along with increasing the brand & product awareness and driving customer engagement, I was also able to collect our target segment’s contact data. Later once the quizzes got popular, I also used them to campaign for our trade events. After this, I have constantly tried to think of ways to achieve more than one objectives while working on a particular project/campaign
  6. If you will look close enough, you will find where are you burning money :- One of the first actions that I took after joining was contacting our Digital Marketing Agency and letting them know of our expectations. Their contract expired next month and they failed to provide what we asked for. After discussing with my manager, I decided not to renew the contract and take full responsibility of Digital Marketing myself. Though I have no formal training in graphic designing, I also decided to design all the basic marketing collateral such as flyers, event brochures, campaign images etc by myself  (Canva.com came to my rescue here) instead of depending on a vendor. At the end, it not only saved a good chunk of marketing budget, but also saved a lot of time.
  7. Networking ALWAYS helps :- The best feature of the GMDP Program of Danaher was that I got to know many other GMDP Associates from other operating companies of Danaher. I got a chance to learn about various initiatives that Marketing Managers of other Danaher companies had undertaken and eventually learnt a lot from their experiences.
  8. Continuous monitoring of campaigns’ performance is important :-  There are a few campaigns which fail to achieve the desired objective. Hence it becomes imperative that you keep monitoring the performance and stop a non-performing campaign before it eats into your budget without giving any results.
  9. You must always keep the Business Ethics & Compliance policies on the back of your mind :- There is a reason MNCs put so much of emphasis on Compliance Training. There might be instances where your intentions may not be wrong, still your actions can fall under the ‘grey’ zone. Being thorough with the compliance & ethics policies of your company can save you from such unfortunate situations.
  10. Rapport between Sales & Marketing Departments helps in mutual respect & appreciation of each other’s work :- Whenever possible, I tried to attend Sales Team meetings to keep them acquainted of everything that we were doing to drive customer engagement, generate leads and help them with marketing content. We also had a provision of inducting every new sales manager with various initiatives and modus operandi of the Marketing Department.

I am excited for all the challenges that this year has in its bag for me and I hope I keep adding value to the firm in any which way possible.

Connect with me on Linkedin | Facebook | Instagram 

 

Inside the C-Suite: 21 Lessons from Top Management to Get Your Way in Business and in Life by Jayaram Easwaran

Inside the C-Suite: 21 Lessons from Top Management to Get Your Way in Business and in Life by Jayaram Easwaran

Inside the C Suite

First of all thanks to Harper Collins for being so thoughtful and sending me a copy of this book.
Inside C-Suite is a game changer in the genre of Business Fiction. Unlike most Business Fiction which use plots of frauds, corporate politics, rat race to get ahead etc, Inside C Suite is actually a collection of 21 short stories, which are fictionalized but can’t be any nearer to the truth. If you are a working professional who is always curious about what actually happens at the CXO level, what all go inside the swanky board rooms, why few mid/higher management professionals get ahead while others are left lurking behind, this collection of short stories is perfect to have a tête-a-tete with. There are ego clashes and back-bitching, there are cunning ways to get your way around and hilarious comebacks to save your face. The book will further establish the fact that you possibly already know- your soft skills, people management capability and the communication style has much more far fetching consequences than you can think. I enjoyed reading these stories and I am sure you will too.

 

How I prepared for Marketing Job Interviews at ISB

How I prepared for Marketing Job Interviews at ISB

As I have quoted Mr. Ankur Warikoo multiple times, “Life at ISB can’t be described. It can only be experienced”. And Life at ISB is actually about so many things- the campus, the quads, the quaddies, the study groups, never ending assignments and the list goes on. But one undeniable truth remains- the placement season is one of the most nerve wracking experience for most of us and the relief that one experiences after getting out of it can’t be put into words.

Before I write further, I must declare that you will find MUCH MORE ACCOMPLISHED ISB Alums to give you the much talked about ‘Alum Gyaan’ about Marketing Placement Preparation. Hence, what I am going to write should be read as just my ‘experience’ rather than an ‘advice’ per se.

Even before I had joined ISB, I was assured of the fact that my profile is a bit conflicting. I came from Healthcare background, but I never practiced and went to Digital Marketing (that too for a small bootstrapped startup from non-healthcare domain) straight after graduating. Also, I was pretty sure that I want a Marketing job profile post MBA. I already had Marketing Experience (though Digital) prior to ISB but I tried my best to add more Marketing related stuff to my resume once the course commenced.

Here’s a list of some live/consulting projects that I did :-

  1. MyBataz – A Live Project to launch the MyBataz App was introduced by one of the alums in the campus in Term 1. Many people joined enthusiastically but most of them left in between. The few of us who survived did a myriad of activities for this project- Content Writing, Content Management, Influencer Identification & Marketing, Social Media Marketing etc. This project gave me a good kickstart.
  2. NanoHealth (ELP) :- Getting a Marketing Project for a Healthcare startup as ELP was like a perfect fit for me (and my resume). Though I must say, completing this project amidst endless assignments, lectures & placement preparation was a herculean task but it indeed helped me- both as a confidence booster by the time placement season arrived and as a strong talking point during Marketing Interviews
  3. Unacademy – I got a Paid Digital Marketing project for Unacademy with the help of a friend.

Apart from these, I also did a project that was a part of the Kraftshala course.

Placement Group

I cannot stress enough about the importance of a good & ‘selfless’ placement group. Most of the people in my Placement Group (we were a group of 5) were mere acquaintances but we supported each other selflessly throughout the placement season. Whenever we used to meet, we used to take up 1 or 2 companies and discuss it in and out- The industry to which the company belongs to, its major trends, the entire product portfolio of the company, its major marketing campaigns, deep dive into Core Values and Vision & Mission of the company (very important for AbInBev, JnJ etc). For example, this is what all we covered for AbInBev (One person from our group got a Marketing role in AbInBev eventually) :-

  1. Overview of Beer Industry in India
  2. Market Share of AbinBev in India
  3. All Products of AbinBev with their details
  4. Recent Acquisition by ABInBev
  5. Craft Beer (one of the Alums suggested it and it actually was a GD Topic)
  6. Proposed Marketing Strategy to grow the brand share in India
  7. Major competitors

Similarly, we discussed about Star, HuL, PnG, PhonePe, Samsung, Media.net and so on. Whatever we used to discuss, we used to put it on a Google Doc which was shared among all 5 of us (for future reference). I would like to repeat, ours was actually a selfless group- only 2 of us had Google Shortlists (and 1 of us finally cracked Google Campaign Management job) but we all tried to help them with Mock Interviews a night before their interview at Google Office.

Resources Used

For the group preparation, we majorly used the documents downloaded from the KMP Portal, HR Questions list sent by an alus and Google Search. I personally used some additional resources which are as follows :-

  1. Crack the Marketing Case & Interview like a CMO– I had a free copy of this book since long ago but finally decided to go through a part of it during few weeks before placements. The book introduced me to some good frameworks and helped me to have a perspective and possible answers of typical questions asked during the interviews. This book discussed 18 different Marketing Cases with solutions
  2. Marketing 4.0 : Moving from Traditional to Digital by Kotler : I didn’t buy this book for Placement Preparation but did give it a read before Placements. I didn’t find it much useful and later handed it to a friend who was supposed to sit for Placements in January season. She described the book as ‘magical’ and told me that she discussed the new metrics introduced by Kotler in this book in one of the interviews and the interviewers were quite impressed. The book is worth a read if you have time.
  3. Marketing Whitebook– I bought this book only to realize that it is already present in the LRC. It’s a good source to list down the major trends, market share, new product launch etc of all industries.
  4. Kraftshala- I bought the course that Kraftshala was offering. Though it wasn’t much useful from Placement point of view, it actually helped me to understand the intent & objective of different popular Marketing Campaigns by the popular brands

Takeaways

  1. Make a good placement group and stick to it. Be around for each other till the end. Try to meet as much as possible.
  2. Talk to the recently graduated alums who are working in your target companies. They can give you a clear picture of what the company is actually looking for
  3. Core Values, Mission, Vision etc of the company is extremely important. Do discuss them with your placement group
  4.  Attending all the PPTs (Pre Placement Talk) might be a difficult task but attending the PPTs of the companies you are damn serious about is definitely a good idea
  5. Resume reviews, Mock Interviews etc are useful, but don’t let anyone demotivate you. The alum who reviewed my resume during Alum One-To-One session told me I don’t have any chances in big brands and I mostly will get recruited by a startup. She also told me to focus on Healthcare rather than Marketing. As evident now, everything she suggested didn’t come true.
  6. You never know what will happen on the D-day. All advises and ‘gyans’ must be filtered and taken with a pinch of salt.

Use the comment section if you have any queries (or message me on Facebook). I would try my best to answer them.

-KA

10 Important Tips for ISB Application Writing

10 Important Tips for ISB Application Writing

Hello ISB Aspirant. This year’s both Round 1 & Round 2 deadlines are scheduled 1 month earlier than the norm. Assuming you are applying for Round 1 (September 15th), you just have 45 days left to submit the application. It becomes extremely necessary to put your best foot forward for ISB Application at this stage because whatever you put down in your application will be discussed and questioned during the interview. Hence the message is loud & clear- a well-written application is half the work done!

When you actually sit down to write the application, you realize that it is not as easy as it looks- there is a character limit for everything which makes it extremely necessary to know how to pitch perfect your sentences, what to leave and what to include and most importantly how to articulate your thoughts into well-meaning sentences.

There are a few things that you must take care while drafting your application and I have listed them down in the following bullet points :-

  1. Avoid repetition :- There are multiple sections in the application portal- Job Responsibilities, Achievements at Jobs, Awards & Achievements (5 points), Extra Curricular Activities ( 5 points), Hobbies (3 points) and so on. Apart from these, there are essays which ofcourse are the most pivotal part of the entire application. It might happen that while penning down, you include the same achievement under “Achievements at job” as well as “Awards & Achievements” (which is for your entire academic & professional life. It might also happen that you repeat the same instance for extra-curricular & hobbies. Doing so can give an indication to the one from Adcom (who is reading your essays) that either you haven’t given enough time and attention to the application or you aren’t able to highlight different instances from your academic & professional life under these different sections of the application portal. It’s best if you avoid this and include unique instances/initiatives/awards/achievements/hobbies/extra-curriculars under each section.
  2. Don’t ignore ‘non-essay’ part of the application :- Most often applicants give their best to put down the best essays, but ignore the other parts of the application- Job Responsibilities, Achievements at Jobs, Awards & Achievements, Extra Curricular Activities and Hobbies. You never know in which direction your interview will go to and hence ignoring any of these sections can prove detrimental. For example, in my own case, once the discussion on my essays got over, around 20 minutes were spent discussing each point that I had mentioned under Job Responsibilities.
  3.  Ask for help :- Please keep in mind that there are thousands of applicants eyeing that coveted seat at ISB and it does no harm to ask help from people who have gone through the process in the past, so that you can give your best. Find out ISB alumni from your office and ask if they can review your application. You can also try to connect to alumni on Linkedin.  You can also get in touch with me on Instagram ,us too if you want to- I will try my best to resolve your query.
  4. Always cross question yourself :– While you are writing the essays, please ask yourself if you can handle any kind of cross-questions for each particular sentence that you have written. Let’s say you mentioned an initiative that you took at your workplace. What motivated you to take that initiative? What did you do differently than others? What was the end result of that initiative? How did it benefit your company in the short or long run? Give a chance again, what would you have done different for a better outcome?- Be ready with answers to all these questions because there are high chances that you will face these in the interview.
  5. Avoid unnecessary advices & gimmicks :- There is a plethora of admission consultancies mushrooming these days and its normal to feel clueless about whom to consult and whom to not. Please do proper background check before signing up with any consultancy- What are the credentials of the mentors who will help you in application & interviews? Are these mentors ISB Alumnus/Admits themselves? How many applicants have made it through ISB with the help of the consultancy? What is the success rate? Take an informed decision before investing your money anywhere
  6. Don’t try to randomly copy someone’s else essays– Please keep it in mind that ISB is looking for diversity and uniqueness and by copying someone’s else essays (even if he/she has made it through ISB) can only do more harm than good. Find out your own unique story and highlight it in the best way possible. If you can’t, read Point no 3 again.
  7. Don’t use flowery language :- Trying to accessorize your essays with random poetic phrases or artistry prose isn’t always a good idea. Be succinct, profound and stick to the point.
  8. Don’t wait till the last moment:- “Right now I am preparing for GMAT. I will see to the application, once I get free from GMAT”– This is one of the most common comment that I get from applicants every year and no matter how much I try to deter people away from it, they still indulge in the practice. Please note that writing an ill-prepared application is as good as not applying at all. Please start writing rough drafts of application as soon as possible. Don’t leave it for the last 5 or 10 days.
  9. Don’t ignore Letter of Recommendation (it takes time to convince your boss or to even find someone who will write the LOR for you) :- Please decide before handedly who do you want to choose to write the LOR- your current manager/your ex-manager/your colleague/your mentor etc. Communicate to that person regarding your decision to apply to ISB so that he/she is well prepared when the time comes. Be in constant touch with the concerned person till it is made sure that the LOR has been submitted well within the deadline
  10. Revise, revise and revise :- Last but not the least, make sure to get the entire application read by atleast two people before you submit- It would be foolish to submit an application that is strong in substance but has typos!

I hope this article written at this wee hour of night will add some value to your application. Some other articles that you might find useful are :-

  1. Most common myths about ISB
  2. Applying to ISB- Everything that you want to know 
  3. My GMAT Debrief (730 in 1st attempt)

I have helped more than 200 aspirants fulfill their ‘ISB Dream’ (Read reviews of many candidates who have attended my sessions here).

Feel free to message me on Instagram if you have any queries.

I will KEEP writing many posts to help aspirants. Make sure you FOLLOW the blog (FOLLOW button is on the right side of the screen if reading on laptop/desktop) or at the bottom of the screen if reading on mobile) so that you get an email whenever I post.

10 Things I learnt this week- #Week2

10 Things I learnt this week- #Week2

I started this series last week. Click here for 10 Things I Learnt this week- #Week1 Continuing with the series, this is what I want to share for this week,

  1. Iceland is the only country with no mosquitoes. Though they do have 2 species of Midges and one of them actually bites. Source : Geography Now Youtube Channel (highly recommended if you want to know about different countries)
  2. Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla– 15th May was the birthday of Late Captain Mahendranath Mulla, who chose to go down with the vessel, INS Khukri (while he had a chance to rescue himself), when it was attacked by a Pakistani Submarine during the Indo-Pak war of 1971
  3. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a EU-wide regulation that controls how companies and other organizations handle personal data. Many companies that are present in the EU conducts training & workshops for their employees to make them well aware of GDPR guidelines
  4. Nishan-e-Pakistan to Morarji Desai- Morarji Desai is the only Indian to receive Nishan-e-Pakistan, the highest civilian honor of Pakistan
  5. Invite only Dating Apps:- There are multiple dating Apps that are only meant for a selective few- Instagram influencers, Ivy-League graduates, filthy rich people and so on. It is difficult to have a profile on these apps as they have an extensive application process and most of them can be joined only if you have an invite. Some examples are Raya, Sparkology, The League, Luxy etc
  6. Content Marketing Toolkit by LinkedIn :- LinkedIn provides a toolkit for Content Marketing which has a Content Calendar Template, Social Media Distribution Plan and several other features. Know more about it here
  7. Miss India Universe 2012 at ISB- Shilpa Singh, Miss India Universe 2012 is a MBA Candidate at the Indian School of Business, Class of 2019, further adding it to the amazing diversity of the student & alumni base that ISB takes pride in.
  8. Incognito Mode for IRCTC train booking:- IRCTC website works better on Incognito Mode on Chrome (Personal Experience)
  9. Premium Tatkal has a dynamic pricing :- The premium tatkal facility introduced by IRCTC has a dynamic pricing model, just like the airlines- more the demand, more will be the price of the ticket.
  10. Spreadsheet course by Datacamp- Datacamp, the renowned website to learn Data Science (R/Python) has just launched a free course on Spreadsheets. You can access it here 

I hope you found this useful & interesting. FOLLOW my blog so that you get an email when I add a new post to this series the next week. The FOLLOW tab is on the right side of the screen (if you are reading it on desktop/laptop) and on the bottom (if you are reading it on mobile).

-KA

10 Things I learnt this Week- #Week1

10 Things I learnt this Week- #Week1

This series has been inspired by Mr. Ankur Warikoo‘s(ISB Alum & CEO, Nearbuy) idea of collating and sharing collective wisdom. I intend to write a post every week on every new thing I will learn on professional & personal front (will also try to mention the sources of these nuggets of knowledge and wisdom). I hope to carry out this initiative for a very long time in the interest of everyone who follows my blog.

  1. GMAT’s time has been reduced by 30 minutes- The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has announced trimming of GMAT exam time by 30 minutes to 3.5 hours beginning April 16 worldwide. It’s been widely speculated that GMAC has removed the ‘experimental questions’ (which do not add any weightage to the final score) from the test.
  2. Keyword Research- When typing in your main keyword into Google, look at the auto-populated suggestions at the bottom of the search page. This will give you an idea of the keywords that people are entering to search for your service or product. Courtesy- Creighton Wong on LinkedIn
  3. Kakeibo- Kakeibo is a ‘budgeting journal’ used to set saving goals and spend wisely by Japanese people. It was first popularized in 1904 by Hani Motoko, Japan’s first female journalist, as a way for housewives to manage budgets. In case you don’t want to make one, you can buy readymade Kakeibo from Amazon to track your spending.
  4. World’s highest post office– World’s highest post office is in Hikkim (pin code 172114). Located at 15,500 feet, Hikkim is part of the Lahaul and Spiti district in Himachal Pradesh. I met a person during my last solo trip to Mcleodganj. “I went there and mailed a letter to myself and all my close friends”, he said.
  5. Zostel in Chitkul-   Chitkul is a village in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. It is the last inhabited village near the Indo-China border. The Indian road ends here. Zostel, the famous chain of backpackers’ hostels, just started its hostel in Chitkul.
  6. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome among Dentists:- Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), characterized by pain, numbness and/or tingling into the palm and first three and a half fingers of the hand and and it used to be prevalent among Dentists. However, use of Rotary Endodontics has reduced its prevalence.
  7. (New Book Alert) Infinite Variety: A History of Desire in India : This new book by Madhavi Menon is a historical account of Desire in India. “Same-sex dargahs, a Malayali Hindu god with a Muslim boyfriend, Bhabhiphilia, the queerness of the zero: you’ll never think about desire in India the same way again” says one of its descriptions.
  8. (Book Recommendation) The Science of Selling by David Hoffeld : Not in the last week, but this book was strongly recommended to me to learn sales tactics  by Mr. Rohan Kothari (IIT Bombay and ISB alumnus) during a one-to-one mentoring session with alums last year at ISB. I thought of including it here.
  9. Custom Audience for Facebook Ads : Apart from targeting through demographics and interests, you can upload an excel sheet (in csv format) of email id and phone number of people you want to view your ad. The ad will directly targeted to those people (provided they use the same email id to login to facebook and they have connected their phone numbers to facebook). You can read more about it here
  10. Prezi for impressive presentations : Prezi.com is a website to make visually appealing presentations and the results are much better than Microsoft Powerpoint. But, it is a completely paid website. Courtesy Kashish Khandelwal

I hope this post was insightful and helpful. If you found this helpful, you should FOLLOW my blog so that you get an email when I add a new post to this series the next week. The FOLLOW tab is on the right side of the screen (if you are reading it on desktop/laptop) and on the bottom (if you are reading it on mobile).

Please let me know in the comment section about your views on this initiative.

Be good.

-KA

Placements at ISB- My Story Part 2

Placements at ISB- My Story Part 2

This is a continuation of my previous post- Placements at ISB- My Story Part 1

So I had decimated my number of shortlists from 8 to 2 for the 1st day of Day 1, i.e. 23rd November 2017. Since Directi has shortlisted almost everyone who had applied, my only hope was Danaher.

After getting the shortlist at 2.45 am, I started messaging all my close Dentist friends to have an idea about Kavo Kerr (the Danaher company I was going to interview for) as a brand. I started getting their replies when they woke up at around 8 AM. I also talked to an alum over the phone who had got through Danaher last year. Hence, by the time I sat for interview I had a decent idea about Kavo Kerr’s product, sales, distribution and marketing strategies.

I had woken up in the morning with a sore throat, runny nose and slight fever. I made coffee and somehow burned my tongue while sipping it. So, I was all set for the interview with 100+ degree fever, runny nose, sore throat and a burned tongue. I reached the interview venue (Executive Housing) at the designated time (10.30 am) and as expected the interview was running late. Finally I went in at 12.30 PM. Expecting a technical interview (since I already had had a behavioral interview last night), I was a bit surprised when this interview went on behavioral line as well. After a short conversation of 15-20 min, they asked me to leave and said they will inform me if I am selected for the next round.

I left for the interview venue of Directi. I had already missed my designated slot and they asked me to wait. After waiting for around half an hour, they told me that my interview will be taken in the evening. I left the venue to grab a bite as it was already 1 PM. I bumped into a friend from Mohali and we ordered a sandwich. As soon as we sat together to eat, I got a call from Danaher saying I should report ‘immediately’.

I ran again like a ninja, panting & sweating like crazy, only to be asked to ‘wait’. I kept waiting for another hour and they called me in.

I was again facing the same two HR Leaders (who took the pre-process interview) and they again started with a couple of behavioral questions.

What is you other option apart from Danaher? Will you accept the offer if we give it to you now? How much salary are you expecting? Are you just saying that salary isn’t your major criteria to impress us?

I guess I answered all these questions to their satisfaction, but I was again asked to wait. After a while, I was called and they said they will put me on call with some business leaders from Singapore. I said, “OK” and again a period of waiting ensued. I was called in after another 30-35 minutes and they said “We would like you to talk to another business leader who is taking interview in the next room. Please wait till he is done”

I finally got to meet the concerned person after another half hour. The interaction  started with a lot of WHYs- Why Dentistry? Why Digital Marketing? Why Dentistry if you wanted to do Digital Marketing? Why MBA and why ISB? How can you help Kavo Kerr (the dental product company under Danaher) brand to grow?

The questions also spanned across the details of my ELP. Then the interviewer said, “I understand you have taken many initiatives in Oliveboard (the startup where I worked prior to ISB) but Danaher would be different. You need to keep everyone in loop before taking any major decision. You just can’t do things at your whim. In next 5 minutes, I tried my best to explain that how I have also undertaken many projects in a ‘planned & systematic way’. “Fantastic” was the word with which he ended the interview.

I was called in immediately after 2 minutes and they said the business leader at the Singapore office has asked them to take the final call and hence I don’t need to talk to him directly.  After 5 minutes, I was called in for the salary negotiation & final offer. Once I signed the offer letter, I was led to another room to meet other business leaders.

I went back to my room, slept for a while and then left for Directi interview (even when I had no intention of joining them) because according to the rule, we needed to attend all the scheduled interviews for the day even after signing an offer.

It’s weird that I am writing this post just the night before my Day 1 at Danaher. With a bit of cold feet (as it will be first stint at Corporate Life), I am excited, humbled as well as grateful to ISB. I will keep you all updated with my future experiences.

Attraversiamo!