Archive for the ‘MBA Ramblings’ Category

I came back 3 hours early from office hoping to relax after a long and arduous week at work. Had a cup of tea and went out for an evening walk.

Little did I know how this day would unroll.

( – – follows below the chronological listing of how things happened – – )

  1. I was walking in the footpath when I saw a bike racing through breaking the red light
  2. In the next moment it came to a screeching halt about 5 cms from two girls crossing the road
  3. Their physical appearances were like hoodlums. They were two boys with the one at the back carrying two rugsacks full of some commodity.
  4. They started shouting at the girls, without any molestation intent. The angry conversation was more rude and menacing.
  5. The small 30 sec brawl seemed to have ended when the girls started to cross the road
  6. The Driver of the bike shouts at the girls saying that ‘Jitni Angrezi Hai, Sab nikal dunga’
  7. All this while I stood approximately 5 meters away and watched. The girls ignored the comment and crossed the road.
  8. I then came over and told the boys, ‘You’ve made a mistake, now move on’. I introduced the word ‘salon’ to address them.
  9. They shouted back, something like who the heck are you to interfere in our affairs.
  10. All this while a traffic policeman was standing 20 meters to my left and watching this. It was obvious he did not want to get involved in this mess.
  11. I called the policeman over and told them what they were doing. I also pointed out that they must have broken at least 3 laws including jumping traffic lights, driving without helmet and rash and negligent driving.
  12. He asked them for their license and registration of the bike. The driver had neither.
  13. The pillion rider got off the back and went running to the nearby small illegal temple. He called over the owner of the bike.
  14. The traffic policeman walked us both to checkpoint with a lot of traffic policemen about 50 meters ahead. They were testing people for alcohol consumption.
  15. While walking the boy told me that I can stand in Dwarka and talk to him like that. If I ever walked into his locality, Madhu Vihar, he would not let me go.
  16. I narrated the entire story to the policemen. They said that they cannot book this guy as this had become a street feud and hence the concerned police station must be informed.
  17. They asked me to decide, if they should call the police or simply fine him for driving without helmet and license and let go.
  18. Meanwhile the owner of the bike took his mobile phone and tried to make a call. I saw his flash on his mobile camera go off three times. I realized, he had just taken my photo.
  19. I called out to the traffic policeman there and told him that he had taken my photo. He fiddled whit his phone for about 20 seconds and then kept saying that his flash goes off whenever his phone is ringing.
  20. I took his phone from him and saw that the camera switch was on the side, a single press version
  21. The phone was a Nokia X6 which is a very expensive phone. When I looked at a wallpaper a very ‘fair and highly sophisticated lady’s photo was there.
  22. I did not realize then that the phone was probably stolen.
  23. Meanwhile the traffic policemen suggested that we call the station police.
  24. I told the policeman, I was feeling threatened. I took snaps of the Bike Driver and the Bike owner on my mobile.
  25. I took a brief look at their phone and did not have time to look deep. The boy kept saying that the flash goes off whenever the phone is ringing. He said if I wanted I could check his gallery. I saw the top photos of his gallery at a glance of maybe 2-3 secs. It did not have my photos.
  26. I realized, my searching in their gallery is useless particularly as they were asking me to and the boy had chance to move or delete them.
  27. I took snaps of the Bike Driver and the Bike owner on my mobile.
  28. I then told them that I have taken their snap and have emailed them to my parents (which I had not done yet), and so if anything were to happen to me, my family would know.
  29. I stood there thinking of my options. Meanwhile the owner of the temple a lady in her 40s came over along with another chap. They started pleading using emotional lines. I remained firm that a small apology would not do and they must be penalized
  30. After trying to persuade me for over 30 mins, they began to start losing their cool. They finally started to talk rudely saying that this was being done only because they were poor and helpless
  31. Meanwhile a bystander who seemed like a gentleman stepped in. He was carrying groceries in one hand. He described himself as a captain (defence) who stayed in the adjacent apartment.
  32. He heard the entire story again from me and the boy. The boy by now was not defending himself and kept saying he was sorry. The captain explained to the boy, that if I book the boy, he would for allpractical purposes end up spending a large part of his next few days in jail.
  33. Captain then took me aside and explained that he knew the law and if I chose to file an official complaint then the boys life would be lost. He said the other alternative is that the traffic police fine this boy heavily and I do not file an official complaint.
  34. After a lot of thought I agreed that it was indeed not advisable to waste someone’s life
  35. I hence asked the traffic police to fine these people to the maximum extent. The traffic policeman then said that he cannot fine the boy driving the vehicle without impounding him and booking him as he did not have a license
  36. The captain asked me to take a call and said that he would be with me as another responsible citizen. He said if I needed to go to the police station, he would accompany me as well.
  37. I agreed to this. I went and told the policeman that I was okay with this. He was not in agreement. He said if tomorrow something bad were who would take the blame. I said that I would not pass the responsibility to these traffic policemen if these people were to physically harm me.
  38. I asked Captain for his business card, he said he was not carrying it with him. I got suspicious that he may not be as good as it seems. He even gave me his mobile number. I called it once from my cell and saw that his mobile was ringing. He was carrying an expensive PDA, probably Samsung Galaxy Tab. His number is : ************. He said that I needed to add a zero to his number. I later checked at his home that this was a Mumbai Number.
  39. Captain then discussed with the traffic policeman. They decided that they would register the complaint in the name of the bike owner. I agreed mentioning very clearly hat I would not sign on this as a witness as this was untruthful.
  40. The traffic policeman filled in the chalan. I told the captain, he should put in his name as witness as I would not sign this. The traffic policeman took both my name and his name along with our numbers as witness numbers.
  41. I went off trying to ask another mobile-beat policeman, manning the barricades, if I should really call the police. He advised that I would be better off, as these guys had threatened me. He advised that report this and if required do not press charges. He however said that he was not pressurizing me.
  42. I agreed thinking that this would be a wise thing to do.
  43. He went ahead, took my name and mobile number and called the police station
  44. Meanwhile I called up home and asked my parents on what to do. My father advised me that at NO CONDITION should I file any sort of report.
  45. My father came down and discussed with the mobile-beat policeman that he did not want me to press charges.
  46. The policeman said that we would have to talk to the police officers who came down as they were already on their way.
  47. My father advised me to take his car (he had come down in his car) and go straight home.
  48. I did as advised. He then called and asked me to switch off my mobile phone.
  49. Later when father came home he told that the police had arrived and wanted us to book a case.
  50. When my father said that its nothing worth listing and he would not like to list the case, they said then what would happen to their time and effort.
  51. My father said that their effort would not go on waste as the boys would be terrified since these police had come and would not repeat this kind of activity.
  52. The police officer asked my father for his address and mobile number. My father politely refused so that we would not be harassed unnecessarily.
  53. The Police officer then asked my father to leave as there was no point of continuing the discussion. My father politely thanked them for being there for common citizens and left.

In retrospect I realize what would have probably happened thereafter.

  • The concerned officers would have taken sufficient money from the boys and their fraternity to not book them under several charges which they could book them in (some which would not require a witness)
  • Had I agreed to list a complaint, this amount might have gone up ten folds.

I was half expecting these cops to call me and ask me to file a complaint. If not at least come over to police station several times, or harass me enough. I had my phone switched off, so that no one could reach me. But as I have missed call alert, I can see no one has called yet.

Tomorrow is a crucial day, and I intend to pick no phone call, which does not show a number. I am glad I did make the call to my dad, a bit embarrassed that I chickened out at the 11th hour but proud nevertheless that I chose to stand there and fought for what seemed like eternity on my clock and about 100 mins on the mechanical clocks.

Attaching the photos of the driver and the owner of the bike, just in case (JUST IN CASE!!) someone needs this to push and find those who ‘harmed’ the jolly fat boy on an evening walk who chose to stand up!

Twirling Life

Posted: June 1, 2010 in MBA Ramblings

I just completed 2 years of post MBA employment, accidentally with the same employer whom I had intended to stick with no more than a few months, or just enough to get sufficient foothold in my home-base: Delhi.

This milestone may not bring back too many jubilant memories to me, but that would be no mean feat considering that I have managed to pay off my educational loan, survive two years of relentless pestering by my parents to get married (and be done with!) and hive off a few pounds here and there & get in much better physical shape; something that was on the agenda almost since time immemorial.

But now the priorities are clear. The mid-life crisis seems to have seeped in already. Choices are far and wide, and rest assured the present state should not persist in future. Wondering whether to set forth my Ph.D in Strategy or go for a second MBA or even do something as esoteric on finally taking the plunge on the entrepreneurial waters!

I think I’ll discipline myself to start writing something every now and then once again, even if the quantum of each write-up is pretty small.

Incidentally visited Mumbai and Bangalore the last month. Mumbai was on work and I put up in a rather non-descript hotel band in the hustle-bustle of Bandra(West). For what it was worth loved the fact that the city stays awake till wee hours of the morning. The relentless pursuit of work-happiness-life is commendable and so is the professionalism of the people in the city. Sadly what soured it up is the Delhi-bashing hobby that most Mumbai’kars would indulge in as soon as they learnt that’s where I belonged to. Beats me, especially considering that Delhi is after-all the only city which does not align itself with any community/state/language in the whole of country and even with all its ills people land up in Delhi because of their need for it and not vice versa! Bangalore was a day trip over the weekend. Caught up with an old buddy and got home a few kilos of “Mysore Pak” a sweet which I came to admire so much during my stay at Hyderabad.

I have meanwhile also become a proud owner of a rather spacious and well located apartment in Delhi along with a voluminous mortgage which came bundled with it. To say that the whole concept of being in debt to an extent that your whole worth would need to be decupled (i.e. ten folded) and yet fall short (significantly!) to meet the dues is scary, would be an understatement. Eitherway, now I’ve taken the plunge. This would put on hold most of plans of purchasing a nice car or mindless squandering on eateries and any of the so insidiously enticing and yet obviously senseless stuff! With the first EMI just about due the lessons learnt during Financial Management course in MBA came floating back with PS telling us how debt brings in with it fiscal discipline and coupled with the tax benefits afforded when taken for house purchase make it an unbeatable offering for the logically minded. Also reminded me of the golden words of my mom that irrespective how high you may be in corporate ladder, purchase of a house which is fit for staying would inevitable necessitate some serious tightening of belt!

Something else has changed around me. My father just bid adieu to a long and illustrious career as an honest and respected public servant as he superannuated yesterday. Thankfully, the one thing that had embarrassed me the most about him when I studied in one of the more garish schools of Delhi (him being too earthily, nonchalant and simple) has stood him in good stead as he retires with a truckload of friends and well-wishers. A reminder to me that soon, not too long in future, I too will have to call it a day as far as professional career is concerned. Time is too short to be squandered in pointless dilly-dallying as I try to negotiate a better remuneration to justify something which is not true to my heart.

Professionally, I will have to strive to find my niche! This is a serious goal for future. On Personal front, I’d like to meet up with someone special to spend the rest of my life with as well. Too many noble goals. Too much of not-so-noble temptation around. The fun is about to begin.

Wish me Luck!

And I love a Rainy Night …

Posted: June 21, 2009 in MBA Ramblings

It’s been quite a while since I have web-logged on the forum of my choice, not that I was unaware or incapacitated by any means but just that I needed a break. Lots have happened from the last time I posted on my blog, I’ve passed out of B-School, joined a job, walked back into my favorite city after a longish eight years and the list could go on and on. I would like to believe that this usual ‘so much has happened’ rant be replace by the new stuff which is very much in and here now. Somehow history is always a bit boring and retrospective mode seems so unimaginative to me.

So with thy permission, fast forwarding to the present day which is where I am and the action is. Got back on line in a step-by-step mode as I opened my twitter account, not that I knew much of it but then it was something seriously in and self-professed technophiles like me could ignore it much at their own peril. So got it installed found the best media to use it with which would be twitterfox (in firefox) and twittle in my Nokia E63. Have been twitting on it ever since whether it is from inside metro en-route to a party or on office transport while heading home. It’s some serious fun, believe me! Much more so when you might wonder what’s the small-insignificant happenings in all your friends lives much as you try to make sense into the same at your end, In case you haven’t tried it out, do give it a shot.

Bought a couple of books, which I had been planning to read up since those MBA Days. These include (but are not exhaustively include) Liar’s Poker, Money Business, Barbarians at the Gate, Fooled by Randomness, Random Walk Down the Wall Street, Made in America, Tipping Point & Freakonomics. I presume I would have covered about 15% on an average of each book before switching to the next more interesting fad I’d managed to catch up.

There are these lots of stuff which I seriously intend on doing, somehow I can never myself to do them but one at a time. These include getting myself back to shape which means reducing some serious flab, regenerating the insatiable appetite for reading good material, gearing up on major happenings and keeping abreast with the turmoil in the modern boardrooms (after-all this is what comprises ‘core competency’ of MBA junkies!), hitch-hiking around the world getting to know this strange planer and the stranger people who reside in it a wee bit better, getting to re-discover my favorite city (New Delhi) and getting to know it as much as I have got to know places like Kolkata, Calicut and Hyderabad etc. to name just a few.

Here is my work-in-progress list. Have begun on the health front and thankfully I’ve made some progress on that front, become a regular reader of NYTimes and WSJ (at the cost of being almost oblivious to the home grown dailies), been trying out new and interesting stuff in Delhi thanks in no small measure to Time-Out magazine and Eicher City Map (both of which are I believe overpriced. Try Google Maps on I-phone/Nokia E-series for a better value deal), got the motivation finally on to get to make some friends in the fairer sex (Why do we keep calling them Fairer? Are we being racist or is it just that admission of being incredibly unfair as some men are!).

I’ve also been catching up with some really lovely old songs taught to us by Mr. Brown, Music teacher at Don Bosco School (Alaknanda) as a part of the School Band. Thank Goodness for YouTube that these are now within ready access for any music aficionado (and at THE price Indians are willing to pay for access to classics … ZILCH!). The title for this post is one such number. ‘And I love a Rainy Night‘ is a lovely all time great country song which brought back the memories of the Don Bosco School Band of which I was a proud member and the competitions and expeditions that we took part in.

Funny that some things in life which we start of thinking as secondary or barely as the paraphernalia to the crux later turn out to be the most cherished and prized of all memories that encompass that period.

Ending with the earnest belief of Ben Okri, Our future is greater than our past!

Was wondering the other day, sipping tea and gazing lazily into the cupboards in front, about how when we go deeper into subjects the ‘dots begin to connect’ and the out of sheer chaos how order becomes visible. Been watching a Sitcom a lot of late. ‘ED’ is about Edwards J Stevens a lawyer who owns a bowling alley and prefers not to be called the ‘Bowling alley lawyer’ 😀

In one of his episodes a character gives a message that when things go really wrong and nothing seems to be working our way, one should hang on and stay put. Bad times will pass. Should not indulge in self-doubt or loose faith in one self. I am not new to this concept and might add a few lines to that; one should never ‘short’ his dreams or ‘long’ a compromise solution. In layman’s terms that would be translated (somewhat fancifully) as “Don’t give up, Don’t Give in“. Our Grandma’s never tire of sermonizing the fact we can rarely come across someone who fulfilled his dreams or became anything of worth without having made to sweat-out for it.

Paul Cohelo in his revolutionary book ‘The Alchemist’ says that once we have made our intentions clear that we want what we want and will not stop till we get what we want, the whole worlds starts to conspire to help us achieve that. But what he does not talk about is the intermediary period when the world goes about testing the intensity of our desire to have it and for what its worth makes us literally bleed through the nose to have it. Steve Jobs talked about connecting the dots and the fact that while connecting them we aren’t really able to see through to our destination. We are only guided by our Karma or intense desire or that sacred inner voice in our actions. However when the picture is complete, it all comes back to us as how obviously it was a part of our destiny that we would have connected that dot. How else would the picture have come out in all its glory. What he does warn us though that it’s not all rosy, and the road to such perdition will ask and call for immense sacrifices and will test the will, spirit and soul of the person so desirous.

So, what’s so great about this, one might be tempted to ask. What is so great about dreaming and then believing in your dream and working at it even if the whole world thinks you are crazy to finally live out your dream! Further what has Present Value (PV) calculations got to do with any of this. In case you have read so far of this blog post, I an sure you would have scratched your beard at least once or raised an eyebrow or two or if nothing else twitched inadvertently at the berserk contextual fallacy of this post.

In Warren Buffet’s words investment is ALWAYS for the long term and when we buy shares of a company the way to look at it is not like we are buying some shares of it but we are buying a partnership in the business of the firm. As someone has rightly said (& Prof. Uday Damodaran elegantly pointed out at his SAPM class) A Pessimist is someone who knows the PRICE of everything but the VALUE of nothing. Price has little to do with the fundamental value associated with an object. Valuation of any business thus has to do a lot with these contextual framework and philosophical backbone.

If we sit back and think how does an astute investor make money in the equity markets without retorting to market manipulation. It is by realizing the Hidden Value of a Business. The value of a business which is not recognized by the market yet but is evident to the investor. In other words the dreams of the promoters and the prospects of it coming through not being gauged accurately enough by the investor community in general. The two words in this phrase are of equal importance, ‘Hidden’ and ‘Value’. If the vision of growth and prosperity of any firm is evident to the general community then the current price of the stock would have already factored that in. It needs to be something which has slipped accidentally or more commonly disregarded naively as an achievable and actionable objective. Moreover the Vision of Growth must lead to Value generation. In keeping with the maxims of Shareholder Wealth Maximization (SWM) the new projects undertaken by the firm must be because the management believes it will generate positive Net Present Value (NPV) for the shareholders and not because it is a ‘Pet’ project of the executives. The Present Value (PV) factors in the time weightage of the returns a $100 bill today is more precious than $100 bill bill a 100 years later.

I am sure the mathematics above is not at all pleasing to read, being banal and trivial to say the least. Let’s move into the more interesting aspect of this. The Philosophy side of it. What it essentially means is that the number crunching MBA investor managing wealth should be able to connect to the dreams and aspirations of the entrepreneurial promoter sweating in some remote area across the globe. What it means is that he should be able to gauge the intensity of this man’s psyche towards not letting go of his goals and his dreams midway. (He of course would also need to analyze the reality elements of his dreams, but considering the stock is actually being traded, it does have a decent chance of making it through. What is really in question is how much is the chance!). So while people going about their daily chores need to keep believing in themselves, an Investment Manager will need to believe in other people. He would need to access the chances that the promoter would not chicken out when the market is sloppy or when the tides suddenly turn unfavorable. Because if really has to jettison out from the firm when its going through a rough patch his investment would have been severely impaired.

Add to it the fact that the promoters are mostly over critical of poking investors and aren’t really forthcoming with the true state of the difficulties they might be facing in implementation of the projects and we really have a very difficult job for that ‘Astute Investor’! No wonder then that we just have one Warren Buffet!

Prostituting News

Posted: August 27, 2007 in Gibberish Blabber, MBA Ramblings

Read this

The Journo who wrote this classic piece is the ‘Famed’ editor of B-School Rankings. A kind of guy whose core competency remains marketing shit by posting it as ‘Research Verified and OUTLOOk stamed authentic’. My thoughts on that article follows.

Of course! As C-Fore correctly points out MDI and likes are truly a world class MBA college. Much better than three of the IIMs. Especially when the 8 lakhs siphoned off from students make its way to advertisements in Outlook and the editors of such ranking articles are taken good care of. After-all it’s situated in MY Delhi! That alone suffices.

Minor trivialities like quality of students and level of academics really count for a petty sum. The Weighted Average Value calculation really puts a trivial score of such factors. The fact that most decent profiled professionals who are well placed in life already don’t even care to apply to this institute is due to the Evil Axis spinning IIMs who keep fudging-nudging with the mindsets of people.

And, yeah any institute has the right to force a sloppy job on its students so as to protect its ‘Average Salary Figure’ even if it ends up ruining his prospects of following his dream career path. So MDI really cannot be held at guilt.

After-all the top B-School in the world is SUNY (State University of New York) and not Wharton. You see the reason causing that is the fact that Wharton is in an investment impoverished state of Pennsylvania whereas SUNY is in the Cradle of financial capital of the World, New York! 😀 (I almost fell off my seat laughing)

Thank my stars that policy matters are decided by dumb politicians and not smart journos!!

By the way, I wrote this as a comment on that article. Of course it has a Moderated comment section to ensure that only ‘Proper’ comments are filtered through! Lets see how sportive is Premchand Palety, the self proclaimed expert on B-Schools and the humdrum journalist Prostituting news.
I have written this article with MDI because this institute happens to be a particular favorite with this magazine. I could however have replaced it with many others like IMT/SPJAIN and even government ones like IIFT!

~ ‘There is nothing so PATHETIC as a man with an AMPUTATED SOUL’

They say that the honeymoon period begins in reverse order in IIMs. So to say it peaks the month before the course ends and starts somewhere midway, i.e. with the start of second year.

My prolonged absence from what used to be one of my frequent pit-stops, my blog, is due to the unforeseen academic load that has viralled in. This unusual load is not a matter of chance or of co-incidence, as most people believe. The talk doing rounds is that a two-pronged approach was taken by the PGP (Post Graduate Program i.e. MBA Program) office to curb this infidelity to their sacred subject, ‘Academics’. Firstly, they brought all the important electives in this term, so if you have even an iota of hunger for learning you got nowhere to run to pal! Secondly they squeezed a normal 3 month term into a 2 month ‘crash-course’. I don’t know where crash course got its name from, but from my end it looks to be inspired from the fact that there is a very high probability that the course will end up in a crash!

Anyways looking into the various aspects after my previous blog, here goes.

  • Summers was a fantastic learning experience. Got a feel of an Investment Bank though the workload will almost quadruple when I finally join one. I finally decided on the first stroke in the white canvas in the post-MBA employment scenario. I was decided on Investment Banking, but was not sure which branch would it be. Now I know which one it will be and more importantly the difference between them. Private Equity has become a long term career goal and Hedge funds the intermediary one.
  • Delhi was a welcome change. It was great to be back in my home-town for a longish span after almost 7 years! It was hot as a furnace, even in the nights when on one day it was 43 degrees Celsius! It was home though and that made all the difference!
  • Went for a visit to the school of ‘Babus’ in Mussoorie: Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration. This is the place where newly minted IAS officers are polished before they take chair and officiate as Babus of India! The systems in the institute were actually generations behind what we have in IIMs and it was without doubt that it wasn’t faring half as well in living up to its mandate! In fact, the IAS Cadre Students (Officially called Officer Trainees or OTs) were so reckless with government property that they actually opened all taps of their hostels before they left for their postings at the end of their training. As a result the institute was parched for water for one full day! It’s sad that these people will be undertaking the nearest equivalent of management of government machinery.
  • Back in Campus the weather was sheer Bliss! The clouds and the rain drops laden breeze seem to be romancing all day long. The campus is so picturesque that I almost felt a pang of sadness that next year this time I will no longer be here! Our section went to a beach party one day. We all packed off early afternoon and off we went to Kappad. After many rounds of Ocean-water dumping, sand ball flinging, beach football, drinks songs and merry making we made our way joyously back to campus. The photos came out superb the next day and flaunt my flickr account now!
  • Juniors are a primarily work-ex laden batch, however they are still being treated with kid-gloves by the system. They are having a very merry time and the euphoria of having made it to IIM hasn’t collapsed yet. Probably the Mid-term examinations will do that for them. We pray that they have a soft landing so that they aren’t crippled and can rise again!
  • Our classes have started on Turbo mode from day one. I averaged 8 hours of classes till yesterday and today as I write I have chosen to conveniently skip two hours of classes that will be stretching to 23:30 hours! Management of Banks is proving to be more that living up to its precedent of being morbidly loaded, but the nice part is that the facilitator is a very nice and understanding person. Securities Analysis and Portfolio Management is by far the best course I have taken till now and the facilitator, Dr. Uday Damodaran is no way the lesser cause of that. UD sir is sheer music to ears, his classes are like listening to a maestro play Mozart or Beethoven! Financial Derivatives is a steep learning curve and the terror of Black & scholes model with their option-pricing model has already taken grip of students!
  • Finally, booze parties have been allowed in the campus, and with that it brought back the sparkle to the freshers party and to the numerous hostel parties. Hostel ‘G’ods is recreating history and truly adding glitter to its illustrious reputation as rambunctious and happening hostel. Junies have taken to watching movies and competing in all frivolous competitions in true earnest. Academics has taken a backseat for them!
  • After a lot of fanfare the Doctoral program was rolled off this year. We finally have Fellow Program in Management students in our midst! Surprisingly quite a few of them are rank freshers (what in IIM lingo is called ‘Bloody Fresher‘). They are provided air-conditioned cottages and a princely stipend of Rs. 12,000 per month for studying. The first year is common for them with the MBA students and thereafter theirs charters its way to thesis and doctoral research. Met two guys from them, nice people with an academic bent of mind and a steely resolve to achieve their goals! Wish them all the best as the flag-bearers of Doctoral program of this IIM!
  • Watched two movies (even in this academic load!), ‘Corporate’ and ‘Life in a Metro‘. Of them, the later was easily avoidable and a typical bollywood quasi-masala contemporary genre movie. Corporate on the other hand was a very nice movie and threw up many questions of business ethics and its importance in the life of professional managers like us.

Saw this as a status message on one of my friend’s! Realized the gravity of what had happened exactly a year back.

As I kept pressing the refresh button sitting in the posh ambience of my organization and sipping coffee nervously, waiting for IIM K results to be out! I had royally messed up all the other IIMs thanks to an over jingoistic approach at answering the highly dubious  quant section! Kozhikode was my last respite, hopefully!

As the link to the results finally came, I clicked it with the pressing urgency of being the  first few among the 200000 students who must have waited for that opportune moment! (Not a frequenter to the MBA hullabaloo, the forum called Pagalguy, a friend of mine had called telling me that the results for K were finally out)

Once the form to ask for Date of Birth (DOB) and Registration number came, I jumped at  it and finished the whole thing at the drop of a fiddle! For the first time as I was about to  click on submit, my fingers refused to comply on the mouse buttons. No wonder, they  were terrified at the prospect of seeing ‘Sorry! Not selected!’ message. The tremors  actually ran right through my spine.

It is in this hour of weakness that the words of Rabindranath came floating to my mind,  ‘O God Protect me from disaster is not what I ask of thou, provide me but the  strength not to be afraid of facing them though!’ The words instantly calmed y frayed  nerves as in a split second my mind had already seen the future where a temporary  hurdle met me. I had prepared myself for the worst, so fear was no more a concern! I clicked the ‘submit’ button with the new found inner courage, and a schocking surprise  sprang up! ‘Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for PDGM program in IIMK’

Words failed me, as I ran a quick recheck in the ‘Welcome Mr. XYZ’ part so as to ensure  that it was not a cruel joke of fate. But apparently, that was not the case. XYZ here  correctly represented my name!

I had made it to IIM Kozhikode!

An ode to the beginning of my Journey to the haloed world of the Big-eye (I-banking). It all started when I took a conscious call to move out of software services to core investment banking while still making software solutions for a leading north American bank. It really had nothing to do with the fact that they (the ‘business users’ as they would call themselves) would always have the last and final say on all issues sometimes asking for the impossible to be done!

Anyways, in the past one year I have had ample discussions and debriefings with people in various stages of investment banking career. I knew all about (or so I thought!) the hardships of getting selected and then slogging relentlessly to stand out even among the outstanding peers and finally the obscene compensation packets. I also knew of the fantasy of work-life balance, of failed marriages lending itself to a costly divorce, of early health problems and other folklore associated with this profession. This is one of the reasons I thought I would put down my thoughts just as I complete the first few days of internship with India’s leading Investment Bank
(and the largest in Asia Pacific region). I intend to put forward my thoughts in later phases of this journey and maybe compare my notes later down the line.

What it takes: People keep giving interviews about how much you need to know in order to get into I-Banking. Rediff, Times of India, Sify and what not keep featuring ‘experts’ who let people insights into what it takes! Frankly, most of it is loads of crap. So nice and pretty Miss Su (an imaginary name!) might have made it to Goldman Sachs (GS) just due to the pretty face and that flirtatious
smile (and not because of her supposed prowess in ‘Valuation’ theories). It is a known fact that most I-Banks and Consulting firms would recruit pretty sexy girls in a jiffy, without batting so much as an eyelid while taking male candidates through 8-10 odd steps of selection. The pecking order is true and very much present. What I mean to say is this, do not go for all the sermonizing that people keep spreading as to ‘What to do’ just because they have been successful in getting through. It might be a ‘Inspite of that’ rather than ‘because of that’ causal relationship that it shares! Truth remains that you need to be pretty good in communication, in general calculation ability, in articulating business documents and possess a good overall knowledge about finance world (in that order of preference) in order to have a good chance of making it. Most misconceptions arise due to lack of understanding of difference of I-Banking from treasury, Wealth Management and Mutual Fund Management Roles. I-Banking is a very relationship and a customer oriented role. It requires a different level of interpersonal skills and a finesse which enables you to better understand your client’s business requirements and to communicate your ideas across. Hardly a ‘fully technical role’ as most people tend to portray it! Mutual Fund Management and Treasury on the contrary are hard core financial technical roles requiring very little of client-interaction! In fact the highest paid people in the industry are Fund managers and the treasury heads, but you would never hear too much about them because they are geeky, quiet and sober and hence highly un-glamorous! A brilliant example in this case is of Sunil Singhania, Fund Manager of Reliance Mutual Funds.

What it has to offer: I will not deal with the tangible benefits like an affluent bank balance and a prestigious role (Not in India though, where your next door aunt thinks you are some kind of salesman who could not get into a ‘proper bank’ like ICICI or HDFC!). I will talk about the numerous intangible benefits it has to offer like a systematic honing of your negotiation skills and your domain knowledge of various businesses. Investment banking typically requires performing valuation of various business models, projects and companies. Like Aswath Damodaran writes in his famous book on Valuations, “Valuation is neither the science that some of its proponents make it out to be nor the objective search for the true value that idealists would like it to become. The models that we use in valuation may be quantitative, but the inputs leave plenty of room for subjective judgments. Thus, the final value that we obtain from these models is colored by the bias that we bring into the process!”
Thus our understanding of underlying facets of the expected returns and the anticipated/unanticipated risk factors has wide ranging implications on our performance as I-Bankers. This makes is a much more wholesome job, so instead of limiting ourselves to financial documents of the project/firm what is required is to get well acquainted with the scenarios under which the businesses would be operating. Quite akin to doing a knowledge transfer from a 15 year old veteran in the business. This requires extensive and exhausting readings into the nitty-gritties of the business and leads to the infamous 18X7 working hours per week schedules! The good part about this whole exercise is that by the time you have spent two or three years in an I-Bank and have taken pains to work across different industry verticals, you would have acquired an enviable exposure to businesses which few others could afford. This would however require a conscious effort not to get ‘holed up‘ in the comfort zones that one creates after getting a good knowledge about any industry.

Where the Roads Lead: Investment Banking is rarely if ever a career move. It is generally a ‘pit-stop’ with the next destination being off to various domain knowledge intensive positions. The roads from here lead to consulting, Treasury, fund management and wealth management. As I read from various international authors about their accounts, the half-fife of an MBA graduate in an I-Bank is about 19 months, so 50% of fresh recruits leave I-Banking jobs within the first 19 months!

More Insight: A lot more insight is available in these two world renowned booksMonkey Businesses’ and ‘Liar’s Poker’. The former is about the more recent version of Investment Banking profession whereas the later is about ‘Trading’ profile, which is now one of the subsets of the complete gamut of services of an I-Bank. For a little more technically inclined two other books to read in addition to these are ‘Random walk down the Wall Street’ and ‘Investment Fables’.