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MBA topper spills secret of success
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March 13, 2007

He secured the highest domestic salary among Faculty of Management Studies grads, of Rs 16 lakhs per annum, from Paris-based Calyon Bank.

Meet Parth Agarwal, a student of the Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi who bagged the top placement at the institute. Beating 93 students to the chase, Parth exceeded the average domestic salary of Rs 10.55 lakhs. got in touch with the achiever and got him to spill the secrets behind his success.

What does the new job entail?

Parth says though the exact nature of the job is still not confirmed, the first year will probably involve training stints across departments in the Corporate and I-banking arm of the bank.

"Depending on our interests and where we fit in the best, we shall be accommodated there," he adds. "For me the challenge is that there are just 130 employees of Calyon in India. So we will be required to take up early responsibility and be self-driven from day one. This is the first time Calyon has visited campuses in India, so meeting the expectations of the managers will be quite a challenge," Parth says.

Did you have more than one offer?

Parth was lucky because he did not get any other offer. "Calyon bank was among the first to have come to the campus," he adds.

What were the factors that influenced your decision? How important was the money?

For him the factors that made him choose the bank were its profile and brand name. "They were comfortably crossing the minimum threshold limit an MBA would expect. Beyond that money was never a criterion," he adds.

Was the selection process tough? How many rounds of interviews did you undergo?

"The selection round consisted of  Group Discussion and two rounds of interviews. Senior VPs from the bank were present for the process," he says.

What was your basic preparation strategy/process?

Parth says, "My basic strategy was to have a good command on my CV. Everything that I had written in my CV was well taken care of and I had mentally given interviews to myself. I also prepared myself thoroughly with personal questions on my strengths and weaknesses. Also, readied myself for what the company was prepared to offer and what culture fit they were looking at."

What were the things you kept in mind for the GD?

For the GD, Parth says it's important to keep a cool head. "Generally students (even in B-schools) tend to panic and try to be overaggressive or make too many points, thinking that it will impress the interviewer. My strategy has always been to give a very limited number of 'entries' which are thought-provoking and different from the rest. I try to make those points which give a direction to the GD," he adds.

What were the tips you followed for the interview?

As for tips to tackle interviews, Parth suggests knowing your CV well. "Interviewers want to know more about the projects done by you, the extra-curricular activities, etc. In my experiences so far, I have hardly ever been interviewed on stuff studied in class. And the general stuff which we at FMS call "personals"  include questions on your strengths, weaknesses, with real life instances of each, and other such questions," he says.

"It also helps to read a lot," says Parth. He made it a habit to read and has been doing so throughout the two years on campus. His choice range from newspapers like The Hindu, The Times of India, Economic Times, World, Business Today to autobiographies.

And, of course, there's the grooming aspect. "Dress in your best clothes and always seek permission before entering and sitting down," Parth says.

"Make sure your handshake is firm and SMILE," stresses Parsh. "No matter what you say, say it with confidence," the topper says, adding that this is all it takes to crack an interview.

What were the projects you worked on and how did they influence the selection process?

"My projects involved a healthy mix of both fields of marketing and finance (my two areas of interest). It goes without saying that the projects you do, be it academics or industry have to be relevant to your area of interest. Only then can you justify them in the grilling interview sessions," he says.

"There are no "right" kinds of projects as such. Try to do it in the area of your interest," is his advice. 

Is the competition fierce between classmates?

Parth says the competition was intense. "But at the same time, there was a very friendly atmosphere during and before the placements process. It's a common sight to see students helping out their batchmates. Study sessions late in the night on current topics is a common scene days before placements," he adds.

What made you score over your fellow students? What do you think were your strong points for the selection?

"I think my strong point for the selection was my confidence. I convinced them that I fit the profile they were looking for by linking activities done in college and from my personal life. I didn't try to bother myself too much with what the others were doing. I had my own agenda and approach for the final placements. Having seen my senior's placements and talked to them about their experiences, I had enough idea about what needs to be done to crack the placements," he says.

So what about his weakness if any?

For Parth, his weakness was that he would get too emotional at times, which could be interpreted as unprofessional. "So, I made sure that I didn't overdo things," he adds.

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