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

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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!