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DI-LR: Improving your core strength

DI-LR, as we know, has been the nemesis of many a CAT aspirant over the past few years, and every serious aspirant asks me that — how do I improve my DI-LR skills.

Over the last two years, I thought that it is primarily about two things — set selection and comfort with mathematical reasoning (many sets over the last few years have been based on Arithmetic and Modern Math concepts).

But even so, I knew that to select the right sets and then solve 4 sets, one needs to solve the two easiest sets quite fast, and this pace would come from the regular practice of DI-LR sets (irrespective of difficulty level) and Sudoku.

Even then I still felt that a lot was left to the “natural” capability of the student. There was nothing concrete I could communicate (apart from a 5-minute average for Medium Sudoku sets) like say a particular reading speed or a particular set of concepts. Read More

My MBA Journey: IIM L – PGPSM

It was back in the 2015-16 season, if I remember correctly, that Sachin first managed to track me down by leaving a comment on my blog. I was handling the IMS business in Chennai, he was a student of IMS based out of Kolkata and he wanted some advice on quitting his job and taking another shot at the CAT. The thing with really mature students is that they need guidance only at a  really broad level, the rest they customize themselves (and there is the blog, anyway) and Sachin is one such individual.

He went on to secure admission into the relatively new Sustainability Management Program launched by IIM-L. Since then he has been doing quite well and has even played a part in helping an administration out during the pandemic. If you read his post you will find he had all the ingredients that a student joining a new or baby IIM or a new program needs —  this post.

Here is his journey in his own words.

From back of the envelope estimation to looking ahead

Disclaimer: The article is supposed to give you a sneak peek to the course primarily through what all I could do while I was a student of PGPSM. You would have read articles from people (some alums, some anons), and read the course brochure all of which have highlighted what the course is about and so I would not mention those aspects in greater details.

It has been long, approximately 2 years, since Tony sir (I like sir-ing him for the role he has played in my life in my tryst(s) with the feline and that too when he was more than 1,700 km away from where I was) asked me to come up with a writeup on my journey at the PGP in Sustainable Management (PGPSM) course of IIM Lucknow. The major reason behind the reminders from sir, as I understand, was the “lack of sufficient information” pertaining to this course which led to the questions of the students remaining unanswered and it also, to a large extent, didn’t let the students do a scenario analysis before joining the course. Thanks to the push from sir over a fantastic WhatsApp message today (the message could be considered a classic example in persuasive communication lessons) I have decided to write about my experience.

It is very important to mention here that I would not be making any recommendations in favour of or against joining the course more so because I have heard and read opinions on both sides – support and against – of about what this course has meant to students. What you will read below is a resultant of what all resources and constraints I possessed, the different corners I tried to cover while I was making choices (before, during and post PGPSM), the set of expectations I had made up before joining the course and the steps I undertook to rationalize my decision and to meet my expectations. In addition, I have also tried to draw your attention (at the end of this article) towards some more thought points that could emerge in the mind of someone joining this course during this pandemic.

I have structured the post into 4 timelines, to better highlight my version (and certainly not the version) of the proceedings –

  1. Pre PGPSM – the times of back of the envelope estimations
  2. During PGPSM – focusing on quantity and quality
  3. Post PGPSM – looking back
  4. During Corona times – looking ahead

Pre PGPSM – the times of back of the envelope estimations

After getting rejected by XLRI (PGDHRM) and TISS (MA-HRM&LR) in 2016, it was time for a re-calibration of strategy and/or goals. The interviews were not only my first few B-School interviews but also one of the first instances of my success in an MBA entrance exam.

In May 2016, I decided to quit my job from a reputed (& common) IT service organization to focus wholeheartedly at one last attempt.

I had heard in one of MS Dhoni’s interviews where he had told that while deciding whether to persevere for achieving an unmet goal or not, it is not only important for you to feel that you are good enough but more important for a neutral mentor/guru/expert to feel that you are indeed good enough.

I met some of my mentors and had honest (and even almost humiliating) discussions with them and thankfully they suggested that I should be taking at least one more wholehearted attempt.

While I prepared for the attempt, I was also working as a freelance facilitator where I was training students of a reputed engineering college of Kolkata as a part of their campus recruitment training initiative. Come December 2016, I took the CAT and managed to secure the 98.9th percentile. Although I was not convinced with my performance in QA (a shy 89.26th percentile), it was all that I had.

My profile was one with an average academics (82% in Xth standard, 76% in XIIth standard and 79.4% in Btech in IT), a pretty ordinary work-ex of 35 months in a mainstream IT firm and a decent set of extracurriculars (especially PoRs). When the calls started flowing in, I had shortlisted from MDI (G), IIM L (PGPSM), all new IIMs, IIM Ranchi (HRM), and all baby IIMs (missed NITIE due to my stellar scores in QA 😊).

The PI sessions began with those of new and baby IIMs followed by the one for MDI (G) and concluded with the one for IIM Lucknow (PGPSM). While the one for new & baby IIMs was a humiliating one, the other 2 started making me feel of a sureshot convert.

The interview panel for IIM Lucknow had Prof. Sushil Kumar (who was then chairing PGPSM) who has been a mentor and a guide for me ever since the interview happened. The interview traversed through the budget, India’s posturing on issues of climate change and multiple aspects on impact of environment and social issues on businesses.

Once the PI results started pouring in, I had managed to convert all my calls except the PGDM call from IIM Ranchi. Based on my initial research and my understanding, I was sure of choosing between MDI (HRM) and IIM L (PGPSM). To make the final choice, I started a deeper research – from speaking to alums to searching on Quora. I also wrote to Prof Sushil Kumar (yes, I had searched the IIM L website to identify the proffs who had interviewed me) and reminded him of my interview experience in his panel and sought his guidance. He responded at the end of that day stating that he did remember me and then he called me, and we spoke for over an hour discussing the several facets of the programme – job profiles, course structure, future prospects. Meanwhile, I had also had phone calls with Tony sir and with several friends and alums of different colleges (had befriended a lot of helpful souls as a result of my engagement on Pagalguy) to understand their views on my decisions.

Some key aspects which came out of my conversations during the month of May in 2017, were –

  • PGPSM being a new course will need a lot of contribution from my side – be it in processes, or in placements or in anything in general
  • PGPSM could NOT be considered as a “backdoor entry” to IIM Lucknow – as far as placements were concerned
  • MDI (HRM) was a natural choice suggested by a lot of people – secure placements, no separate campus, and my liking for HRM as a subject.
  • Sustainability related roles seemed to be too specialised
  • … and several others (anecdotes from the previous batches’ students, biases of students on both sides etc.)

On the placements’ front, I started to speak to IIM L alums from PGPM, PGPABM as well as PGPSM and got a sense of the ‘numbers’ being close to the then known average at MDI (HRM) and also around the mid to front end of the ‘numbers’ at the other campuses whose calls I had converted. Of course, the roles which had been offered to the students of PGPSM were more towards sustainability and comparatively less towards other business function. Overall, I was not deterred looking at whatever numbers and the kind of roles that reached me and the other fellow call-getters.

Another important factor, that I had been researching about was the possibility of moving from sustainability roles, if need be, to general management and the other business functions. I was pleased to know of alums who went for fin roles, general management roles and these few examples along with discussions with senior alums from IIM L (PGP) gave me a perspective that the shifting to other profiles although possible is not only a factor of my MBA major but several other such variables – previous workex, certifications, network, and, above all, tenacity!

On the academic front, I came to know that some of the most revered proffs of IIM L took classes for PGPSM students and the fact that all the students had more than 2 years of workex brought life to the discussions in the classroom – as was told by proffs and several alums.

As you would have understood, I had started drifting towards PGPSM in terms of my decision making and was all set to enter campus with some targets in my mind, which I had not only listed down for myself but had also gotten them vetted by Prof Sushil and Tony sir –

  • To win some case competitions
  • Utilise the Noida location to work with organisations (provision of live project in the course helped)
  • Become an active member of committees
  • Make connections with some Proffs
  • … and of course, make lifelong connections

That year, PGPSM had also invited the final call getters for an interaction session and my desire only strengthened after I went for the session when I met proffs, students and alums. The call getters asked their queries and the proffs and alums shared their views based on what was happening at the world level and also tried to establish its connection with the course’s offerings.

During PGPSM – focusing on quantity and quality

The classes on the first day began with Prof Archana Shukla (present Director of IIM L) taking the course on Behaviour in Organisations (BIO). The courses on financial, economics, operations, marketing and quantitative application in management were taught to ingrain the fundamentals of businesses alongside the courses such as principles of sustainability, sustainability reporting to maintain the balance between learning the fundamentals of business and adding to it the understanding of society and the environment. Apart from the several full-credit and half-credit courses on business sustainability, a lot of core courses too had case studies and modules owing to the application of sustainability-related concepts along with that subject’s concepts.

As the courses began running in full flow, I was inducted into one of the most talked about committees, of any MBA programme. I have also made some of my closest friends from this committee. The senior committee members were the fun lot who gave a lot of gyaan and inducted us well, after the official induction into the programme. Also, meeting a few seniors and batchmates who had chosen PGPSM over the regular PGP at IIM L gave a different perspective.

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In the first month of joining, the notification for Hindustan Unilever’s Lessons in Marketing Excellence (LIME) arrived and I asked my friends – Pankaj and Amogh – whether they would be interested to team up and we started working on the first assignment in no time. We were less hopeful as we didn’t know the fundamentals of Marketing back then and were only thinking from first principles. Luckily, we got selected for the campus finals for which we went to the main campus and had an amazing time meeting friends and prepping for the finals. After 2 rounds of presentations and a grilling Q&A, we were declared as the IIM Lucknow campus winners for LIME amidst the applause of the audience (largely PGP and PGP ABM batchmates). We were told that not only were we the first winners of such a reputed case competition from PGPSM but were also among the few 1st year teams to have won the campus rounds across colleges in the nine editions of LIME. Although we didn’t win the National finals, which was ably won by a friend’s team from IIM Indore, we had gained loads of confidence to propel us.

The summers went well for me, with me getting into a desirable role at one of the oldest philanthropic institutions in India (even before joining the course, I was targeting the organization and was lucky enough to get a convert). My batchmates too got through roles in consulting, finance, marketing, sustainability among others. It is also important to mention here that there were a few friends who somehow, despite their knowledge and preparation, had difficulty in converting several interviews and some also had to accept offers at stipends lesser than they deserved. After the summer placements, we went to the main campus to have a gala time during the fest (MV, as we know it). I participated in a competition organized by the Government of UP on Skill development and my team was declared as the national winner at the end of the rounds.

In the following term, the non-academic work was all about the final placements of my seniors’ batch which demanded a lot of hard work since it was the 2nd batch of PGPSM and we had a lot of ground to cover in terms of getting newer firms for recruitment. Once the placements got underway, I had some time at my disposal which I used to advise a standup comedian about his international go-to market strategy and also helped him strategise for creating a brand name out of his on-stage name. It was a fun experience and paid me handsomely too 😊.

The summer internship turned out to be 2 months of absolute revelations and learning and I also got a flavour of the government advisory landscape. This internship also gave me an opportunity to better value the courses I had been learning and also its application at the ground level. My project was about tribal education and hence the People part of the triple bottom line and its interlinkage with operations and human resource during my 2 months’ project brought me a clearer perspective on the relevance of my learning (doing a reality check helps!).

Once we returned from the summer internship, I had gotten myself a paid live project with one of the Big 3 (MBB) firm’s social initiative where I worked on their project operations. It was an amazing experience and I was working under the VP, Operations. Meanwhile, we went for a 2-week sojourn to Stockholm and Vaxjo in Sweden, Amsterdam and Maastricht in the Netherlands as a part of the course – international immersion.

Once the ongoing live project seemed to reach its fag end, I participated in, yet another competition launched by the Government of UP, this time on Tourism (Kumbh Mela), where again my team was adjudged the national winner.

Next was the summer internship for the junior batch which turned out to be better than the previous batches. The batch’s diligence and preparedness also helped wrap up the process fast. After the summers, I got engaged with a subscription-based micro-delivery service company in its product management team (with a decent stipend 😊). When I posted about this engagement on a social media platform, one senior pinged me asking me to send my updated CV as he had some potential opportunity for my profile in his firm. The process which took up from there went underway and I eventually managed to secure a job in the government advisory practice of a big-4 firm. During the last term of the course, I received a call from a very senior alum of IIM L who had called me to check whether I would be interested in joining his firm in a sustainability-centric role. I told him how I had accepted the previous offer and that I wouldn’t be able to join. My batchmates had secured roles in consulting to marketing to sales to operations and at better “numbers” than the preceding years. 

Was it as smooth as it could be? Hell, no!

There were several cases which needed the students to undergo situations which could be termed closer to being stressful –

  • Not an old course – The newness of the course as well as the smaller size of alums had its limitations with regards to recognition in the industry. However, with success in case competitions across colleges and across firms brought some recall value
  • Missing “dream roles”? – In case of placements too, a lot of the coveted roles did not open up for our batch and this caused stress for a lot of the talented and deserving students who probably had expected of those roles.
  • Trying hard to be positive – We also had quite a few naysayers too, people who had had dissonance within months of joining and more so after the course got midway. Of course, they would have come with their set of expectations which they couldn’t find matching and hence their realisation.
  • Missing junta – The times spent on the main campus did sometimes make students feel the need for staying with a larger number of like-minded students. However, the executive courses’ students’ presence helped in organizing parties and sports events (tournaments, ftw!)

I heard them and could easily identify several differences in their approach as well as in their expectations compared against mine.

Personally, my prioritization helped me minimize the occurrences of dissonance. In fact, as highlighted in the previous timeline, I tried to the best of my ability to make my decision work for me. In this endeavour, I tried to do several things which not only helped me earn accolades for myself, and in making some great friends from among batchmates and seniors of PGPSM, PGPM and PGPABM but also brought recognition to my programme among several other things.

Thus, this phase was spread across 6 trimesters where I did 3 corporate projects – with a standup comedian, with one of the Big 3 (MBB) firm’s social initiative and with a subscription-based micro-delivery service company – did several case studies, successfully completed one summer internship and won 3 case competitions (By the 2nd term, I had also set a target of doing either a competition or a project in each term). These initiatives I undertook apart from the summer internship – case competitions, live projects – got me richer in experience and also got me connected to several alums from all the courses of IIM L and thereby helped me build a network which has helped me in multiple ways during and after college too. Another aspect of the live projects was a constant reality check of my learning – be it for go-to market strategy, perception and consumer behavior towards sustainable packing for the delivery service company and while designing the operations’ guide.

Academically too, I did reasonably well and managed to secure straight As in Organisational Behaviour, Consumer Behaviour, Strategy Management, Services Marketing, Research methods, Sustainability reporting and 3 other courses.

Post PGPSM – looking back

After graduating, I joined the firm which I had converted, and I was deployed in Guwahati where I started working with government departments and have been working for the past 1 year 1 month.

In the past one year, I have got the opportunity to work in areas such as technology, human resource (training & capacity building), public procurement, project management, security & justice domain among others. Also, in the first 3 consecutive quarters after joining, I ended up receiving firm-level recognitions in each quarter. Furthermore, during these corona times, I also got the opportunity to work with the state government in bringing stranded people back to the state and also helping the state’s transformation and development think tank in devising strategies for the revival of some sectors of the economy in the post-Corona scenario.

Meanwhile, I read about an opportunity in a coveted GenMan programme in an IT giant, which was open only for students from select B-schools. Looking at the competition in store and with a desire to test myself, I applied for the same and got shortlisted for its process. The processes – director’s GD, case study and rounds of interviews – went well and I also reached the final rounds of the selection process but unfortunately, the hiring went on hold due to Corona.

As I look at the programme as an alum, I have come to know from the placement reports that the “numbers” have increased, the number of new organisations which showed interest this year has also increased which shows that for the 4th batch of PGPSM, not only have the numbers improved, but also the variety of roles offered have improved by a considerable margin.

So all set? Dig deeper!

During Corona times – looking ahead

As I had already stated in the disclaimer and as is obvious from the post above, this article is an account of what all I did with what all resources (knowledge, time as well as opportunity) I had at my disposal. If I sounded didactic in anyway, I would urge you to not think so, because all of the above is my version of what I experienced at PGPSM and in no way a generic “2 years at PGPSM” sort of a write-up.

Some of the key points to ponder about the programme, as I see it today and some points which have been put up so nicely by Tony sir in his previous post are listed below for your consideration–

  • The students joining the course will need to work hard and will need to drive the proceedings; they will need to take active roles and keep looking for opportunities.
  • As already mentioned above, Noida campus had a setback in terms of the distance from the PGP and PGPABM batchmates but had an impeccable advantage in terms of the opportunities it brought in due to the proximity to Delhi-NCR.
  • The student joining should try and have a larger goal in sight before joining the course and then she/he should take the twists and turns as they come (during the 2 years). This setting of expectation would help the student stay focused even when the chips are down; So, the students should try and be clear, to the extent possible, on what their expectations from the course are before they join and they should also learn to separate their expectations from those of their peers. Furthermore, as they go through the 2 years, they should be able to re-posture based on the then existing reality.
  • If a student is passive, and she/he expects to be a passenger on the ship and who feels that she/he will be taken to a destination and who are only bothered about reaching there — their placement, their CTC, their dream firm — then they are better off not joining PGPSM, and, if possible, they should rather join an established private school that will give them a decent placement.
  • The aforementioned point makes all the more sense amidst Corona, because in the present scenario, it is being estimated in some analysis that the demand for manpower may reduce in organisations and hence the possibility of a dream placement may take back seat. Hence, in this situation, it will be most advisable to take up the converts which are “more secure” on the placement front, because the return on investment factor will keep playing on the minds till the end of the course. I could also stretch the argument to bring in the risk vs reward relationship, but that will be farfetched.
  • Sustainability related roles may strong appear as cost pockets in these times and, if I may say so, not all the firms would want to be stewards to undertake initiatives pertaining to sustainability (amidst these times of cash crunch). However, I would love to believe that by the time the 2020-2022 batch gets placed, the economic situations would get better and I also hope that the present pandemic would give a thrust to the environment-related considerations of the organisations.

May you identify your personality type, and your drivers so that you are able to make the best decision for yourself in the present situation.

I would leave you with this interesting set of videos uploaded by Simon Sinek on his book ‘The Infinite Game’ –

All the best!


My MBA Journey: IIM-Udaipur

Given the number of queries I get about the new and the baby IIMs, I thought the best way to shed a bit more light on them is to get my students who have gone there to write about their experience.

This one is by Siddharth, who is not a student, but was part of the IMS Team in Kochi. I met him whenever I went down there to take a session, which was usually once a year. Siddharth graduated recently from IIM-U and this is his take about the same.

Some of the parts were new to me as well, especially the part about why he chose IIM-U —  I think knowing why you want something, being clear about it, and not trying to invent ten other reasons apart from the sole reason is not a common trait (a great lesson in no FOMO)

So here are his two cents on his experience at IIM-U.

MBA was a kind of an escape plan for me back in 2017. But it turned out to be the best decision I’ve taken so far in my life. I understand that MBA aspirants who are reading this might already be bored or tired of reading such articles to get an idea about IIM. So, I promise that I won’t keep it long.

I completed my Mechanical Engineering in 2015 from a Government College (Trichur) in Kerala. My not-so-awesome CGPA, coupled with my high salary aspirations, made it impossible for me to get a campus placement. At that time, I was immature enough to prioritize salary as a deciding factor of my career, because I was of the blind assumption that I could do anything if I’m given excellent compensation, which is obviously not true. Also, I developed a sense that I’m not going to succeed much in a technical field. So, MBA was my way out to a high salary and a means of career route diversion.

So, I wrote CAT and a couple of other exams, got shortlisted for new IIMs, IIM Kozhikode, and IIM Indore. I converted IIM Udaipur, IIM Trichy, and IIFT Kolkata. I was not interested in a specialized International Business program at IIFT Kolkata. Also, there were many stories about discrimination of candidates between IIFT Kolkata and IIFT Delhi during placements (I genuinely don’t know whether it is true or not). However, the primary reason for not choosing IIFT Kolkata is something different, about which I will talk a few paragraphs later.

The following were the reasons for me to choose IIM Udaipur over IIM Trichy, even being from South

  1. Both campuses were equally good when it comes to curriculum, placements, pedagogy, permanent and visiting faculties, basic infrastructure, entrepreneurship support, fee structure etc. So, there was nothing much to compare on these lines
  2. I could find that the growth of IIM Udaipur is significantly steeper compared to other New IIMs. This was basically attributed to the vision of the Director Janat Shah, who is considered as a great visionary in these matters. So I had a belief that IIM Udaipur will surpass even IIM Kozhikode and IIM Indore in a very short span of time. So I consider being an alumnus of IIM Udaipur comparatively advantageous. Whoever joined IIM Kozhikode in 2004 might have had the same dilemma that I had in 2018. However, if I look at someone who graduated from IIM Kozhikode in 2006, it doesn’t make any difference to me whether he/she graduated in 2006 or later. What matters to me is that he/she is from IIM Kozhikode. Because we know IIM Kozhikode is great. Likewise, I could see such a growth trajectory for IIM Udaipur, and I was not wrong, I could witness that growth during my 2 years at IIM Udaipur. IIMU got listed in FT Ranking, which previously included only IIMA, IIMB, and IIMC. Likewise, IIMU is the youngest B-School to get AACSB Accreditation (received by only 5 percent of the world’s B-schools), just the fourth IIM to gain this accreditation, entering the ranks of IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Calcutta. Other details of ranking and accreditations are available on the website (like QS ranking, NIRF ranking etc.); I am skipping it for the benefit of word limit.
  3. IIM Udaipur has one of the best campuses in India. IIMU is the first of the new IIMs to move to its permanent campus, and spread over 300 acres of land. Few areas of the campus are under construction (which is in no way affecting the day to day life of a student) like artificial lakes, additional hostel blocks, landscaping etc. The magnificent site is characterized by sharp slopes and deep valleys. The institute is located in the Aravalli ranges, which adds to its scenic beauty. I open my hostel room window to beautiful hill ranges (not everyone has that fortune because I was lucky enough to get a mountain facing room)
  4. I’m from Kerala, and I wanted to have some exposure from North India. This is not a significant criterion for decision-making, however, most of my decisions are based on what makes me feel good. I go by what my heart says, and that’s not always good, but that makes me always happy and fills the gap for any possible regrets. And that’s why I didn’t go to IIFT Kolkata because I had an unreasonable and petty obsession for an IIM tag. And I’m not ashamed of telling that aloud. Yes, I was obsessed and stubborn. Else, I would have regretted a few years later, and my brain will keep on telling me, “Sid, you should have gone to IIM.” Now I’ve happily satisfied my obsession and ego. Yeah, satisfying our ego is a good feeling.

I was not vouching for IIMU here. I just put down my thought process, which will be definitely different for each one of you who read it.

My 2 years at IIM Udaipur

It started with meeting new friends, cliché discussions like “which other campuses did you convert?”, “are you a fresher?”, and if the answer is no, “where did you work?” etc etc etc. First-year hostel rooms are double occupancy, and my roommate was an IITian, who later turned out to be one of my very best friends. I still remember my mother being happy, thinking that I will become a studious guy because my roommate is an IITian. But I never became so much pulled into studies, and that’s something I did wrong. MBA is not like B.Tech. You can’t just take it for granted.

Then came committee elections, which started with the Placement Committee. 10 rounds of selection process, including a soapbox wherein the batch will elect 10 students to the Placement Committee. I was one of these 10 and that’s something that changed my path of life at IIM Udaipur for the next two years

IIM Udaipur follows a trimester system where there are 3 trimesters in the first year followed by two months of Summer Internship and again 3 trimesters of second year. The first trimester was really hectic because it takes you immediately out of your comfort zone. Towards the end of first trimester, we had the Summer Internship selection process.

More than half of the batch would get placed in the first 3 days, and the remaining half would be placed during the second trimester. Everyone will be placed for sure. Placement Committee has to ensure that because Summer internship is an academic requirement.

The second trimester was comparatively okay, because we got used to this hectic schedule. In the third trimester we had a Rural Immersion program wherein we had to stay in a village for one week and do a project in collaboration with an NGO. That was a different and exciting experience. After the third trimester we moved to respective cities to complete our Summer Internship. I was in Mumbai for one month and in Bangalore for the second month.

I had taken specialization in Analytics coupled with few subjects in Marketing and Finance for my second year. (when you don’t have a specific goal, put your feet everywhere :P, just kidding, don’t do that. I had my reasons :P). We met some of the most eminent faculties coming from IIM Bangalore, IIM Ahmedabad, XLRI etc. There was one professor who taught us Financial Derivatives, Prof. Uday Damodaran, one of the best teachers I ever had in my life. I heavily regret that I missed most of his magnificent lectures. There were few other professors who have influenced my thought process heavily. Prof. Pranthosh Banerjee from IIMA who taught Marketing and Marketing Analytics, Prof. Janat Shah, our eminent Director who also taught us Operations Management and Sunil Unni Guptan who is a wizard when it comes to honing your leadership skills and improving your communication.

Talking about the Placements, IIM Udaipur excels in all major domains especially Analytics, Sales & Marketing, Finance, Supply Chain Management etc. The major companies that visited the campus for Summer Placement include Goldman Sachs, Aditya Birla Capital, General Electric, Pidilite Industries, GSK Pharma, E&Y, Microland, MakeMyTrip, Reserve Bank of India, KPMG, United Breweries, Yes Bank and other reputable firms. Talking about Final Placements, the major companies include Amazon, Bain Capability Centre, Flipkart, Accenture Strategy, Bajaj Auto, AB InBev, Deloitte, and others apart from the PPOs offered by most of the companies that recruited for Summer Placements. The batch comprised of students from diverse academic as well as professional backgrounds with an average work experience of close to 27 months. There were students from IT, Manufacturing, Banking, Consulting, Teaching, Retail and other domains. In my batch, 30% of the pool comprised of candidates without prior work experience.

While I was teaching at IMS Learning Resources Pvt Ltd, I have come across many MBA aspirants who were very doubtful about the career prospectus if they join a B-School without prior work experience. To all those aspirants who has that insecurity, please be assured that a 2-year MBA program works well for both experienced candidates as well as freshers. It all depends on the requirements of the corporate participating in the Placement Process. Some of them need people with prior experience, majorly because the kind of job profile demands some pre-MBA professional experience. Some other corporates require freshers, because the nature of the job profile might not require prior experience. Both these groups mentioned above will train these new recruits after their induction because each organization has a specific work culture. So, whether you are a fresher or an experienced person, you will undergo training before you actually start executing the tasks outlined in your Job Description. So, bottom-line, freshers out there, please don’t think too much. Immerse yourself, expand your skills during the 2 years and start your career with an MBA degree. And I can tell you all; there is a significant advantage in starting your career as early as possible.

For a matter of fact, I shall give you two examples from my batch. One person had 2 years of experience in E&Y and then got placed in Accenture Strategy. Another person was a fresher who got a PPO from Pidilite Industries Ltd. One has the advantage of experience, and the other has the advantage of time. I prefer the advantage of time.

As IIM Udaipur offers General Management program, it allows students to explore their chances in all the domains and choose what fits you the best. We have a Placement Preparation Cell which provides all the support to the candidates in terms of technical as well as soft skills and eventually make them industry ready and ace the placement processes.

Adding to it, I have seen my batchmates who could entirely change their domain perfectly. There is a friend of mine who had prior experience in Operations and then shifted to Education industry, wherein I had experience in teaching and changed to Analytics industry. Another friend moved from Operations to SAP consulting, wherein another friend had his dream domain of Finance from Analytics (and eventually he will try to find some corner in Financial Analytics)

I started writing this with the promise that I won’t make it long. I forgot to tell you that I rarely keep my promises. Don’t worry; I’m kidding. I will just summarize everything, all my takeaways, in next few bullet points.

  1. If you are in a comfort zone, you will definitely come out of it after an MBA. Also, you’ll be ready for any challenge. Please don’t consider this as a cliché dialogue. Once you do it, you will understand it. As our Director always say, “this is a transformational journey”
  2. You will make a lot of good friends and many relationships that will stay longer. There will be hiccups, but that’s okay, it’s all a part of life. As the saying goes, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you harder. I believe in Murphy’s law
  3. You will meet people from different geography, professional backgrounds etc, and that is all about diversity. You will be mingling with multiple people with different thought processes. Your thought process will transform after getting exposed to the lectures from those eminent professors who come with years of academic as well as industrial experience. That will help you to analyze everything from a different angle. Even during lectures, we engage in analyzing a particular matter from multiple angles and perspectives, which is absolutely crucial when it comes to managing a business and stakeholders. That’s why everybody says that peer learning and diversity are key takeaways from an MBA and that’s absolutely true

Each one of us has different reasons to do an MBA. Whatever you decide, make sure that you don’t completely go by your brain and rational thought process. Sometimes it’s okay to listen to your heart, although it’s a personal choice.

All the best.


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Work With Us

As most of my students would know, I have been with IMS for more than a decade now.

But I started teaching for aptitude tests way back in the past, right after my graduation while preparing for the CAT a second time around.

At that time I felt that the teaching stint had a great role to play in my cracking the CAT; I felt the teaching made my thought process very clear when faced with a problem since one has to have utmost clarity of thought to explain a problem in such a way as many students understand the solution right away. Also one is always looking to find better, cleaner or to put it simply more elegant solutions to problems.

Over the past year, I have interacted with a lot of students across the country who are readers of the blog, so I was wondering if any you might be interested in working in the Learning Management Department along with Amit Sir, Parameshwar Sir, Shashank Prabhu Sir, and me (IMS students will be aware of the mentors I have mentioned from the webinars and Masterclasses we conducted over the year).

Openings on offer

RoleTechnical Project Manager, Learning Technology

Responsibilities: We are looking for a Technical Project Manager who can manage multiple software development projects. You need to coordinate with the internal teams, document the requirement specifications, coordinate with technical teams, plan and monitor development schedules, manage the quality of the deliverables, proactively identify concerns that could impact the schedule and/or quality, and timely communicate status with stakeholders.

Profile: Working professionals with at least 36 months work-ex in web and/or mobile application development with hands on project management experience preferred.

Requirements: You will need to

  • have a good grasp of web architecture, mobile development, and DBMS concepts
  • have a desire to work with multiple technologies
  • be well conversant with Excel, Word, Power Point
  • have excellent organisation, planning, and communication skills.
  • have taken one of the management entrance exams — CAT, XAT, SNAP, CET, IIFT and/or others — and secured the 90th percentile or above in any one of the sections.

Incase you have friends who are not interested in an MBA and have thus not taken any of the above-mentioned exams but have the skills for this role, you can ask them to apply.

Salary: Rs. 10,00,000-14,00,000

Location: Mumbai/Remote

RoleProject Lead, Learning Technology

Responsibilities: We are looking for a Project Manager who can manage multiple software development projects for myIMS – Student Portal. You need to coordinate with the internal teams, document the requirement specifications, coordinate with technical teams, plan and monitor development schedules, manage the quality of the deliverables, and timely communicate status with stakeholders.

Profile: Working professionals with at least 24 months work-ex with hands on project management experience preferred.

Requirements: You will need to

  • be well conversant with Excel, Word, Power-Point
  • have excellent organisation, planning, and communication skills.
  • have taken one of the management entrance exams — CAT, XAT, SNAP, CET, IIFT and/or others — and secured the 95th percentile or above in one of the sections.

Salary: Rs. 8,00,000-10,00,000

Location: Mumbai/Remote

RoleFull Stack Developer, Learning Technology

Responsibilities: We are looking for a Full Stack Developer who can work on multiple web application projects. You need to maintain the existing applications,  implement feature enhancements, create admin modules for managing workflows/reports, and timely communicate status with stakeholders.

Profile: Working professionals with at least 18 months work-ex in web application development/maintenance with aspirations for a career in project management

Requirements: You will need to

  • Good grasp of web architecture, web application development, and DBMS concepts
  • React + Python experience and desire to work with multiple technologies preferred
  • be well conversant with Excel, Word, Power-Point
  • have excellent organisation, planning, and communication skills.
  • have taken one of the management entrance exams — CAT, XAT, SNAP, CET, IIFT and/or others — and secured the 95th percentile or above in one of the sections.

Salary: Rs. 4,00,000-8,00,000

Location: Mumbai/Remote

RoleSoftware Tester, Learning Technology

Responsibilities: We are looking for a Software Tester who can perform software testing on the new releases on myIMS – Student portal. You will need to work on multiple projects on Web and Mobile applications, detect and report the issues, coordinate with the technical team for the fixes, sign-off the User Acceptance Testing and deployment builds. 

Profile: Working professionals with at least 24 months of prior software testing experience.

Requirements: You will need to

  • be well conversant with Excel, Word, Power-Point
  • have excellent organisation, planning, and communication skills.
  • have taken one of the management entrance exams — CAT, XAT, SNAP, CET, IIFT and/or others — and secured the 90th percentile or above in one of the sections.

Salary: Rs. 4,00,000-8,00,000

Location: Mumbai/Remote

Role — Technical Support Executive, Learning Technology

Responsibilities: We are looking for a Technical Support Executive who can provide technical support to multiple teams, coordinate with relevant stakeholders for understanding the requirements, be the primary point of contact for technical tasks, and timely communicate status with stakeholders.

Profile: Working professionals with at least 12 months work-ex in technical support

Requirements: You will need to

  • be well conversant with Excel, Word, Power-Point, and SQL
  • be experienced in the Web/Mobile application troubleshooting
  • have excellent communication, problem-solving, and analytical skills

Salary: Rs. 2,40,000-4,00,000

Location: Mumbai/Remote

Who should apply

This is job is ideal for

  • those who want to work for a few years before their next CAT attempt
  • repeat-takers who want to crack CAT with the support of the best IMS mentors
  • software professionals who want to work in Edtech later

How to apply

If any of you are interested then drop in a mail to with the following details before 28-Feb.

  1. A resume/CV and scorecards
  2. A short answer to the following question: Why do you feel you have the skill sets to take up this role? Feel free to include anything that you feel will let us know why you feel you have the potential to take up the role — exam/test scores (SimCAT scores, if you have a tendency to bomb on test day), reading habits, prior informal teaching, love for the section, communication skills — anything that you feel captures your suitability.

It goes without saying that the biggest perks of this job will be that you have direct everyday access to the best mentors in case you are taking another shot at the CAT.

This is what a couple of our past recruits have to say about working with us.


My introduction to CAT

After completing my engineering, I was working in manufacturing at an automobile MNC. I didn’t had any plans of MBA at that point of time. However, I appeared for CAT, as I had filled out the form on recommendation from a friend who was preparing for the same. But, unlike the experiences I have read, I didn’t score in the higher 90’s after going unprepared.

During the 2 years of work-ex in operations, I was more inclined towards management and wanted to take up those kind of roles instead of tech ones, in the future. I quit my job around September 2020 and started my “serious” CAT prep. I had joined IMS earlier and had completed the classroom sessions. In CAT 2020, I did score well above 90, but it was not enough for the best calls.

I decided to give CAT another chance.

CAT Prep

Before starting the prep again, I was looking to take up a job, preferably related to management. I found the role of Project Lead with IMS on Tony sir’s blog. This was a fantastic opportunity; the role was in project management, I was to be mentored by Tony Sir, and the team was aware that I will be studying for CAT.

Enjoying the CAT prep and approaching it with a practical mind will save you from the pain of finding a daily dose of motivation. All of us have those best scores as well as the rock bottom ones. However, as percentiles depend on a lot of things, they are bound to vary. So, analyzing the mocks closely, identifying and closing the gaps with each passing mock are the wise things to do.

I used to note down my mistakes in mocks and stick them on the wall; most of them were behavioral changes. They acted as painful reminders to my silly mistakes. Tony Sir helped me a lot to remove the mental hurdles in solving Quant and approaching the overall exam. A mentor can see exactly what is missing.

We most often forget to focus on small things like solving problems on a similar notepad as the official CAT, giving mocks in the same time slot, and looking out for triggers while giving the test. 

Also, know what you don’t know. Examples, PnC- If it goes one notch above the basic or is not from the templates I have seen, I will leave it. Locating and solving what you know in less than 2 minutes is the most important thing.

Experimenting and finding the best ‘set of strategies’ according to the situation and stabilizing them with mocks will give a lot more confidence.

Keeping the focus in place

Go off the grid! I went, not because it becomes addictive and time-wasting, but mainly because the content unknowingly occupies headspace.

Along with having a schedule, the code that worked for me during the prep was,

“TALK LESS throughout the day.”

“MEDITATE before studying.”


“Take a DEEP BREATH”—this one was even on my lock screen!

A week before CAT, RELAX (period). I read a book, watched my favorite movies, and did meditation. At this time, I kept the practice light and went through some methods of solving DILR sets or quant questions that I liked or those that need revision. 

No heavy lifting or adventures; keep the waters calm and take it slow.

Before the day of CAT, in my mind, I went through each and every detail of the activity I would be doing the next day. Imagined every possible scenario and the reaction to it. At the same time, was ready for surprises.

My CAT day experience was a lot better than what I had went through in previous CAT attempts. However, I messed up things during Quant. I knew IIM ABC was not happening; I cried, took some time to recover, and quickly geared up for IIFT, which was 5 days away.

The GDPI phase

The interview season will be another roller coaster ride. During the prep phase, it is only you who will be forming opinions about yourself. But during this phase, the interviewers will also join the party!

I had calls from all IIM’s except ABC (as expected), XLRI, SPJIRM, IIFT, MDI, IIT’s and NITIE.

An introduction is the most important part of your interview. And that is why I remember spending nearly 2 weeks and 3-4 iterations with Tony sir, to finalize it. Keep the focus on the spotlight areas of your life so far. For me, it was my work ex. Compile experiences and explanations for YOUR past, present, and future. And don’t forget to keep a close eye on everything that is happening from your city to the centre of our galaxy!

For some reason (no one knows it yet!), even though you have a good 36 months of work-ex and sometimes not in the domain of graduation, interviewers will grill you on grad subjects. So, prepare well for that.

Another thing which helps while attending an interview of a particular institute is going through the interview transcript. True, you will most likely receive a variety of questions, but knowing which direction to focus more, on a broad level, is beneficial.

The rest, follow Tony Sir’s blog and all the sessions of IMS.

In some of the interviews you will be proud of yourself; in some there will be a constructive conversation between you and the panelist; and there will be those interviews which will make you question if you are really fit to do an MBA. Just remember to not let any of it get from your heart to your head. Take what you’ve learned and apply it to the next one. You just need that one good interview and you are through.

A week back I received mail from IIM Lucknow that I have converted the flagship PGP as well as PGP-ABM program. I will be joining the IIM L PGP 2022-24 program amongst other calls that I converted.

All the very best!!!


Background before joining IMS

I had worked for a year and a half in a leading IT company when I got the opportunity to join IMS. I had taken CAT twice before (with decent scores) but realized that I needed to work harder if I wanted to create a genuine chance for me to join one of the old IIMs.

Experience working with IMS

1) I had mentors all around. I could go to anyone and ask for guidance and all of them were among the best in the business. (when we used to go to office in pre-covid era). Most of them have experience of 15+ years in the field and are alumni of old IIMs.

2) I got to interact with some of the smartest people I had ever seen in my life. We had a lot of people from the top colleges in the office and personally for me, it was a huge confidence booster.

Interacting with them on a daily basis helped me a lot in transforming myself.

So, I became a better person and cracked CAT as well. In CAT 2020, I got 99.37 and 99.58 in VARC and QA respectively. 

What’s up with me these days

I am expecting interview calls from XLRI, FMS and some of the old IIMs.

Again, the presence of mentors all around is helping me getting that required confidence before the final stage. I am getting the right guidance and all this is helping me to prepare for GDPI more effectively.

Since, most people here are alumni of top business schools; every now and then, I get to know a clearer picture of the college life. This helps me know what to expect from MBA and to prepare myself in advance for the campus life. I believe this will help me make the most of my 2 years in MBA.

P.S: Since then Rohit secured admission into IIM-C and has finished his first year.

How to choose between an HR program and a regular MBA

I think I have said this in another post — India is probably the only country where people will be willing to shell out more than 20 lakhs for a product and at the same time be willing to accept whatever variant the seller decides to give them. What am I referring to here? When I ask students who have both BM and HR calls from XLRI, what their preference is, or what they would prefer between XL-HR/TISS and IIM-K/MDI, most are very clear — the specialization does not matter, all that matters is the brand; others start bringing ROI into the picture.

I feel people put in more thought when choosing between a diesel and a petrol car! We are so crazy after elite institutions that we fail to even consider whether we will succeed/fail in or like/dislike a particular field. The objective of this post will be to give you enough information to choose the right program when faced with a choice between a premier HR program and other programs.

Read More

IIMs versus FMS, XL, MDI and other top schools

Now that the first round results of almost all the b-schools are out, we get regular queries about which b-schools to join. There is rarely any confusion about A, B, and C but after that, it seems as if aspirants are having a lot of trouble choosing between the IIMs L, I, and K and other top b-schools such as FMS, XLRI, MDI, and others. How does one go about making the right choice between the IIMs and other top schools? One of the terms thrown around a lot these days is ROI. Read More

How to prepare for a CAT retake – Part II

In the previous post, we discussed the mindset with which one should approach a CAT retake; in this post, we shall look at a few more aspects with respect to a successful CAT retake. Since each one of you readers will have a different back story with respect to your first attempt and there will also be some non-IMS students among you as well, the focus of this post will be a bit wider.

How to prepare for a CAT retake – Part I

Most of the institutes have given out their calls (or at least most of you know your chances) and many of you might be planning to retake the CAT. For some of you, it might be a case of almost getting there but missing out because of one poor section or just missing out on the overall percentile. For others, the CAT-day might have been a bad day at the office and you knew straight away that nothing much was going to happen. On my first attempt, I fell into the latter group — I knew I was out of my depth when I saw the Quant paper, there was no way I was going to clear the cut-offs. This despite consistently doing very well in the Sims leading up to the test. I decided to take another shot since I was very clear that it was not out of my league.

This post, in three parts, is for all those re-takers who are NOT hoping to get lucky next time around but want to ensure that they leave no stone unturned to make the cut in their next shot at CAT. Read More

CAT Retake: Resetting your head before you restart prep

I have always been a big believer in the principle that how we approach a thing — an exam, a project, a a relationship — the quality of our thoughts around the same, ends up determining the end outcome to a much larger extent than the actual strategies and the things we do since the mindset precedes all of these things.

So, before I post the three-part series on how to prepare for a retake, I thought I should do a short post on the right mindset that you should get into before you set sail once again.

Firstly, count only the “proper” attempts

I have seen a lot of people talk about attempts as if they were carrying a huge cross — this is my third attempt — as if they have given their lives for this exam and it just does not seem love them back!

Well, firstly unless you have taken at least 10 SimCATs, you cannot  legitimately say that you have prepared for the exam — it is not true love 🙂

You think you do but you do not have a clue about what this exam is, which you would have found out on D-day.

Stop saying this is your third attempt if you took it in your final year casually, and then in the first year of job took it semi-seriously but in both cases you did not take the minimum ten SimCATs — tell yourself that is your first attempt at the CAT; it will help you get rid of all the baggage completely.

You might say — Sir, but many people know that I have been taking the exam and they might say things like kitni baar lega test — just tell them that this is your first serious attempt.

And do not forget — those who matter do not mind; those who mind do not matter!

Think like a prospective MBA, not like a worker 

Those who are quitting or plan to quit their job to retake the CAT are perfect candidates to fall into “donkey-prep” mindset.

You have made a commitment to the CAT and for this sake you have left everything and so now you are going to prepare 8 hours a day for the same.

You are a prospective MBA, so start thinking like one — will you pay Rs.200 for what you can get for Rs.100, you will spend 100 hours on a project when all you need to spend is 50 hours, just because you really want to do the project well or you really want the product no. It is all about optimisation, right?

Similarly, prep for the time “you” need to get better and move from X to Y and not to show your commitment and put in those eight hours. 

The law of diminishing marginal returns applies even to working out and prepping out for CAT.

A student had recently asked me how much time out of the planned 8-hours every day should be allocated to revision and it just beat me!

Revise what for God’s sake? Practice I can understand — topics, area-test, section-test, full-length test — but revise?

Do you revise actually riding a cycle or a car, every day?

You either know how to drive a car or cycle or not and you train for a race.

Similarly, you should know what weighted averages are for the rest of your life and you practising solving problems of at the right levels to increase speed and accuracy but you should not have to revise what weighted average actually or the formulas!

To want to be an MBA (may be not in HR) and have to revise Arithmetic is literally the biggest contradiction there is since business is all about Arithmetic! The whole world runs on Compound Interest and if you have to keep revising the formula, God help you!

So, start thinking like the MBA you want to be and this is your first MBA project. Just like you need to maximise revenues for a firm in the future, you need to maximise your marks on the CAT — the difference is that here, you are raw material, you are worker, you are machine, you are manager, you are the CEO, so technically everything is under your control.

You need to take the right investment calls since no one will know yourself better than you.

Do not let your ego decide your prep needs

A lot of us measure ourselves based on external parameters — the brand of our college, our prior Academic profile, and even the intellect of our friends.

But you know better than assuming that all or one of the above — big brand college, great marks in non-Aptitude tests, super-bright friends — translate into great personal potential on the CAT.

None of the above factors have any bearing on your ability on the CAT — only your scores last year (not just the CAT score but also those on the SimCATs you took seriously) indicates your ability on the CAT and start with the premise that that is your current level.

Do not get into the — if I had prepared I could have scored higher since my actual level might be closer my friend’s who with similar profile took more mocks got a 95 — mode. Nope. You are what the your scores say; just accept that.

Do not decide your prep needs based on these assumptions that you might have made about yourself.

Take decisions on whether you need formal prep for the whole exam, for a section, or not at all based on how you are actually faring and not based on whether your friends who cracked it last year took help or not.

If you do this you will give yourself the best chance to give your best shot at the CAT.

The best source for me to learn was to watch people better than me solve — my teachers, the odd peer, and then want to solve like that.

Some people need to watch it once, others need to watch it twice and some others quite a few times before they actually learn to solve like their teacher or peer, so choose your prep needs based on which category you might fall into on the test or on a particular section.

If you took more than 10 Mocks last year (without formal prep, only test-series) and

  • Scored less than 90 percentile — you will be better off taking formal prep for the whole test or for a section if your scores are very lop-sided
  • Scored less between 90-95 — you will be better of taking formal prep for your weakest section that stands between you and the 99; you need not do it now, you can do it post-June
  • Scored above 95 percentile — you probably will not need formal prep unless your score on one section is very low; you need not do it right now, you can do it post-June.

If you took fewer than 10 Mocks last year, and are not confident about your capabilities, then do not wait for this season’s Test-Series to start, take up a program right away.

If you took fewer than 10 Mocks last year, and are confident about your capabilities, then take up a Test Series straightaway and take a call post-June — once you have five SimCATs under your belt — on the specific prep needs you have.

I hope you give these things some good thought since many a times a poor result can be a result of ten minor things rather than sheer ability; and if you are doing it one more time you would want to ensure that you get everything right.