t's that time of the year when placement committees in B-Schools across the country, are gearing up for final placements with a vengeance.
Ramnarayan Sundaram, a management graduate from IIM Calcutta (2005 batch) performed exceptionally well. He was absorbed by the Bank Of America as an analyst in the credit risk management division.
The money: $ 123,500 (approximately Rs 5,572,938) per annum.
He is currently posted in London.
Ram, who completed his schooling at the Sindhi Model Senior Secondary School (CBSE, Chennai) followed by a BTech in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture from IIT Madras, shares his mantras for placement success with Merril Diniz.
How rigorous is the placement process?
The competition is intense. However, I must add that it was a pleasure learning with and from an amazing set of smart people who were every bit as ambitious and energetic as I was.
Companies typically come out with a shortlist and conduct group discussions (which could be on general as well as technical topics, or based on a mini-case) and then multiple rounds of interviews.
Multiple rounds are meant to test different facets of the candidate's personality. There is no strict order here -- interviews end with what is informally called an 'offer-round' interview, where the firm tries to convince the candidates, it feels, are best suited to consider joining them.
The process is fairly rigorous; companies take pains to judge the fit of candidates to both the specific role's requirements, and the company's own culture.
Often the latter takes precedence, as more and more companies wake up to the importance of having the candidate with the right attitude and match of interests (and not just the hard skills).
Tell us about the recruiters?
Recruiters typically are more aggressive earlier on, where they try and unnerve the candidate, it's nothing that a confident candidate cannot handle.
I should mention that academic performance is extremely important and most recruiters would rate this as the number one parameter.
This covers performance at the PDGM (MBA) level as well as during school and at the undergraduate level. Positions of responsibility held, prominent contests won, term papers authored and other academic initiatives, excellence in sports etc are some of the qualities that all companies look for.
Banking (in the context of global financial markets) was a field of my choice and I had the opportunity to interact with most investment banks that had come down to campus.
What factors do you think turned the tables in your favour?
This particular job profile involves a lot of numerical risk modelling and finance. I feel that I had a good combination of analytical skills, numerical aptitude, grounding in finance and mathematics itself.
A thorough grounding in the basics of options, futures and other derivatives was also called for.
Financial engineering and risk management is a growing field in the context of trading and structuring at large banks (notable other banks include Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Barclays Capital, Lehman Brothers, Citigroup etc) where a candidate with strong numerical skills is valued.
Tell us about your job profile?
The Global Markets division of many banks typically has trading positions in the financial markets both in the client's name (account) and their own.
Risk management is about ensuring that the bank is reasonably protected from market fluctuations and counter party defaults -- it includes a lot of scenario analysis and simulations, the objective of which is to ensure that the chances of the bank facing a payment crisis are negligible.
Strong financial engineering and numerical skills are prerequisites and familiarity with computers and computing is a huge advantage.
How did you prepare?
Preparation for campus placement is a very rigorous process. It spans a couple of months at the least.
~ It involves a lot of reading and preparation on the hard-skills side. Interacting with companies and getting to know what exactly the job profile entails is a must. are a huge source in this context.
~ One needs to identify the companies where there is a good perceived fit, so getting to know about the companies is the next phase. A thorough knowledge of the recruiting firms (and the divisions) demonstrates a lot of seriousness and is seen favourably by the company, apart from helping the candidate in an obvious way.
Facilities such as
~ Preparation for consulting firms involves a lot of study of real-life cases -- the structured thought process of the candidate is tested here.
~ Campuses usually zealously guard their knowledge management databases that are a huge starting point. IIM Calcutta for example has its entire knowledge management system on an intranet site developed in-house by the Internet Solutions Group.
Was money the deciding factor?
It was clearly a combination of factors such as money, the profile (and how I thought it fit with my interests and abilities), location, and importantly, the history of the company at campus placements and the importance given to the campus placement process and Indian MBAs.
In the case of global banks, money is less of a variable as most banks pay similar good salaries, and the variable component that is performance linked is much larger.
For most freshers, the negotiating power is very limited and companies usually pay 'market salary'.
For experienced candidates (and lateral entry candidates) there is a better chance to negotiate and get what they want.
What are your tips for MBA students?
~ Read up about the company and its recruitment process. Prepare in the context of that company/companies process -- the kind of Group Discussions typically conducted, the kind of questions asked etc.
~ Start early.
~ Believe in yourself and speak firmly -- the company is as desperate to get you, as you are to get a job!
Do you have any mentors/icons from the management world?