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 РA 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

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Pandeymonium by Piyush Pandey [Book Review]

Pandeymonium: Piyush Pandey On AdvertisingPandeymonium: Piyush Pandey On Advertising by Piyush Pandey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading this book was a journey down the memory lane. We all have grown up watching and admiring Oglivy’s ads- “Har ghar kuch kehta hai” by Asian Paints, “Hila ke Rakh De” by Center Shock and “Paas Aao Na” by Closeup are indelibly etched in our memories. In this short memoir, Piyush Pandey, the god of Indian advertising opens up with what went behind while brainstorming and scripting these groundbreaking TVCs

The best part of this book is where the author discusses his humble background, his days of growing up in Jaipur and how multiple anecdotes experienced during his childhood eventually became the sources of ideas of many Ads that he worked for. This book reaffirmed my believe that the more diverse experiences you have and the more kind of people you interact with, the more creative you end up being. The author also advises on multiple aspects of work ethics that are useful not only in the field of advertising but for all streams per se. He also discusses some of the common myths associated with the field of advertising and busts them with examples of his experiences.

Another favorite part of my book has been the pictures. Looking at the screenshots of those Ads of bygone days was nothing sort of nostalgic. If only, the publishers wouldn’t have saved money and printed the high definition version of those pictures on plastic pages!

The book is a quick read and an engaging one, apart from the last few chapters where Piyush Pandey discusses his colleagues and Oglivy’s leadership in India.

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Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami [Book Review]

Men Without WomenMen Without Women by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I always say, “When in Doubt, Read Murakami” and this book is no exception. As clear from the title, the book is a set of short stories (7 in total) that revolve around a common theme- life of men who have been devoid of presence of women in their lives due to different reasons. All stories have plots, characters and setups common to a typical Murakami tale- lonely men who love to read, mysterious women, disappearing cats, quaint bars with weird frequenters, overthinking characters and endless rumbling about life, loss, death & sense of being.

While the first four stories actually follow plot and seems normal, you experience the real Murakami in last three stories- mindless rumblings, chaotic thoughts, and random brainstorming overpower the central plot and you are reminded what it is to read a story which is very typical of Murakami.

It’s the 6th book of Murakami that I have picked up. I didn’t regret.

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Crack the Marketing Case and Interview Like A CMO by Nitish Rai Gupta [Book Review]

Crack the Marketing Case and Interview Like A CMOCrack the Marketing Case and Interview Like A CMO by Nitish Rai Gupta

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marketing is a stream where ‘nothing is wrong or right’- it’s all about the perspective. ‘Crack the Marketing Case and Interview Like A CMO’ takes this idea forward to build up a perspective for extremely varied sets of Marketing cases through well-defined and clear frameworks. The book starts with introduction to generic behavioral questions that an MBA student might encounter during placement interviews for a marketing role and then finally move to the technical questions.

All the frameworks introduced by the author are explained well, before finally moving to the cases. There are 18 Marketing cases in total and each case is solved by the author using the frameworks in extremely detailed way.
The reason I have given the book only 4 stars (instead of 5) is that the author doesn’t mention anything about how to do industry knowledge preparation. Also guesstimate based Market sizing, Market Entry etc questions are not discussed at all.
This book needs a second edition and better marketing (oh! the irony) so that more and more B-School Students get to know about it.
Once again, thanks to Bloomsbury India for sending a review copy.
For more reviews, follow my blog- www.kumaranshul.com

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Remnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material Memory by Aanchal Malhotra [Book Review]

Remnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material MemoryRemnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material Memory by Aanchal Malhotra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of all, thanks a lot to Harper Collins India for sending me a review copy of this book. To make things clear, this is not just another book invoking memories of partition. Remnants of a Separation is a unique and honest attempt to revisit the gory days of Partition through ‘materials’- the objects that were carried by the refugees with them when they left their ancestral land and crossed the border. These objects range from jewellery, utensils, clothings and so on, remaining latent & undisturbed for generations. They are now testaments to the struggle, sacrifice, suffering and belonging of their respective owners.

This actually started as an academic project, eventually converted into a book by author Aanchal Malhotra, who is an artist & oral historian and is a must read for history buffs.

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A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi [Book Review]

A House Without Windows: A NovelA House Without Windows: A Novel by Nadia Hashimi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nadia Hashimi debuted with ‘The Pearl That Broke Its Shell’, which soon topped many bestseller charts. While that book described the trials & tribulations of two Afghan females from different generations, while highlighting the ugly menace of ‘Bacha Posh tradition’ in Afghanistan, ‘A House Without Windows’ is different. It is set in modern post-Taliban Afghanistan, a land torn by years of war, trying its best to adapt modern code of conduct, but still tightly shackled in the traditions of past where a woman’s testimony is still counted as half of that of man and her honor is something that lies between her legs and must be protected at all costs.

Zeba has killed her husband (or she hasn’t) and has been put into Chil Mahtab, a women’s prison.
Yusuf is an Afghan-born, American raised lawyer who is willing to put all his efforts to get Zeba acquitted. Then there is Gulnaz, Zeba’s mother, the sorceress of yesteryears who is all set to put her powers in use to get Zeba out of Chil Mahtab.
The book, with its description of ‘jadu’ (magic) has a mysterious touch to it, even when dealing with the sensitive topic of ‘zina’ (adultery). I did find the narration a bit dragging, but still it never digressed from the core plot- the trial of Zeba.
A satisfying & engaging read to start off my reading journey of 2018.

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