Archive for January, 2006

Another shortlist!

January 31, 06 by Bharani

The BCG Shortlist was announced today. Almost 75% of the McKinsey Shortlists figure in BCG Shortlist too. There are some additions and deletions. Overall, the list gives an indication that BCG is more academically inclined than McKinsey! A made it to the BCG list…Good…

Irrespective of how much the consulting firms downplay the importance of grades during the placement talks, the shortlisting is always predominantly done based on grades. History is the best evidence. The recent shortlists strengthen the claim.

There is an apparent disconnect among the people who deliver presentations, who design compensation structures, who evaluate applications, who interview the candidates and who finally work with you in the firm. This disconnect is the reason for mismatch between what’s being said and what’s being done. What’s surprising to me is how strongly few alums pushed us to apply even if one does not have attractive grades. Let me hear from someone who wants to defend that “Grades are not important for Consulting/I-Banking firms”. This is India. The examination-based mindset is still the most reliable method for top firms. I don’t see a change in the trend for long time to come!

Going to IT services firms, some firms are quoting low starting salary, expecting the students to bargain. I personally thing that’s unfair. Relatively new and medium-sized firms are giving more salaries than established and top firms. Top firms use the “onsite opportunity” as a negotiation weapon.

Slotting of the companies will be finalized in couple of days. The major concern seems to be same set of people getting shortlisted in each company. Whole lot of game theory is going on to reduce this shortlist overlap!

Next 10 days will be very busy. The end-term projects for all the subjects are due next week. Companies have already started inviting applications, so we have to spend quality time in writing good EOIs and Resumes. On top of this, we have to keep our placement preparations running….

The running continues….

GD for experienced candidates…nah!

January 30, 06 by Bharani

One gentleman from HLL delivered the Pre-placement session. During the talk he said:

“…It makes sense to have Group Discussion as a selection mechanism in IIMs and other Indian B-schools, where majority of the students are freshers. But in ISB, to subject experienced candidates to Group discussion for 15-30 minutes is not logical. We will have only interviews. We would talk with all the shortlisted candidates and identify their needs and offer roles…”

He also said…”Suppose one has been in to sales and marketing in his past work experience and is willing to move into same function, we will definitely attach some “value” to his “experience” and offer appropriate roles and salary. But if he/she wants to shift to Finance, then we have no other option other than recruiting him as MBA Trainee…Let me be frank on that”

I nodded silently in agreement…!

But one problem we witness with all the pre-placement talks is the lack of clarity on compensation. Most of the companies which come to campus quote the figure which is applicable for freshers and mentions that the compensation will be upwards and the ‘upward’ potential will depend on the relevant experience one brings to the table…Some companies give examples like “For 5 years of ‘relevant’ experience we will give this position and pay this much salary…”. Few others mention “The range will be from X-Y lac rupees per annum”…

Companies mention that they will evaluate the “Value” that each one of us bring to the table and then compensate us accordingly. So, the “Value” / “Experience” is going to be big “negotiation” factor. Companies will try to discount it as much as possible. We will try to extract as much premium from our past “Experience”.

Hmm…Now, where did I keep my negotiation book? :) …Time to blow the dust and brush up some “Salary negotiation concepts” that Mr. Dishan Kamdar gave us.

More details on Business Development:

January 28, 06 by Bharani

Thanks to Venkatesh Adavi for sharing the gyaan on BD roles in IT.

Kind of activities under “Business Development”

1. Pre-sales: This is the starting position in a BD hierarchy. Bottom of the pyramid (BOP) in IT Business development, if you can call so ;) The designations associated with this role can change from company to company (But predominantly it is “Business Analyst”). What do these guys do? They spend significant time in preparing RFI (Request for information), RFP (Request for Proposal) and RFQ (Request for Quotation). They also spend time in preparing “Presenations” of company’s offerings tailored to customers. To grow in to a sales position in IT, this is a pre-requisite. One has to undergo the “Pre-sales” experience. Later, when you become a “Sales” guy, you can understand the nitty-gritties of Pre-sales and can understand the deliverables that you receive from your pre-sales team. Travel to client location might sometimes be needed. Otherwise, work is based on offshore.

2. Business Development: Here, professionals would be identifying new business opportunities, modifying the service offerings according to the customer needs, etc., The border between this and pre-sales is very blurred. The kind of activities one would do under “Business Analyst” will change from company to company. Few companies clearly separate this role and Pre-sales.

3. Competitor Intelligence: Some companies offer such a role to gather ‘intelligence’ about competitors of the company. What offerings do they provide? What clients are they targetting at? What developments competitors are making? etc., These are ‘esoteric’ roles and are rarely offered.

4. Sales: Front-line selling: This is the pinnacle in Business Development. The most happening place. Some of the activities include Cold-calling customers, explaining your company’s offerings to clients, pursuading them to do business with your company, negotiating the deal and price etc., Most of the time, the local people will be recruited for these positions. Americans for US clients, Britons for UK, Europeans for Europe etc., These are the guys who will be influencing the clients to begin with. Once the client
has shown some interest, then the entire Sales team will be involved. The Sales team can be organized based on geography, vertical, business-offerings etc.,

Bottomline: Each company has its own definitions of roles. So it is absolutely imperative to clarify before you accept the offer.

What is the Career path?
Pre-sales –> Sales –> Group-sales/ Relationship manager (For large client accounts) –> Territory/Country/Regional manager –> Vice president/Senior Vice

president/Executive Vice president –> CXO!

Bottomline: The career path differs from company to company. It’s imperative that you clarify it.

What are the related functions?
This is important to understand because one has to know what are the functions one would interact with while at job.

Some known functions: Sales-support, Corporate marketing, Public Relations, Event management, Competitive intelligence, Consulting, Account management.

Bottomline: Understand how all these divisions work together.

What are the questions one should ask a recruiter?
- Career path
- Performance indicators and Evaluation process (On what basis one would be evaluated during appraisals for promotions and hikes)
- Salary structure (Fixed and variable components)
- Individual role/Team role
- Company’s strengths and competitors
- Type of deals preferred
- Future strategy

Since the sales in IT fall under “Business-to-Business”, the strategies are different from typical B2C sales & marketing.

The roles for MBAs in IT services companies is still evolving. Expect more refined roles in future…

Regarding the “Program manager” offered by Microsoft, the following link comprehensively explains the job function.

Steven Sinofsky’s insights

Chris Pratley’s insights

This is different from typical “Project manager” role in IT services company. No one will be reporting to you. But you have to ‘interact’ with Clients, Marketing team, Product managers, other Program managers, your development team, testing team, user interface team etc., Lots of communication involved in terms of convincing all the parties about your ideas. You have to draft the entire project plan. So only scheduling is involved and no resource allocation involved (no people management). Program manager is “Project manager” - “People management” + “Client interfacing”. You have to constantly identify ways of improving customer experience. In summary, you have to identify “needs”, convince involved “parties”, get approval, schedule the project and oversee it at broad level. After some experience, you can later move to Product management/Product planning/Sales & marketing team within Microsoft.

Award?

January 28, 06 by Bharani

I was one of the recipients of “ISB Torchbearers award”, which was announced today. Around 32 people made it to the final list. Four among them stand out strongly, and were fittingly given “ISB young leaders award” in addition to “ISB Torchbearers award”.

That’s for the positive side.

Over the past 9 months at ISB, I have heard many sarcastic comments on blogging. People see “blogging” as a waste of time. The most hurting comment one can hear is “So you got it due to blogging..huh?”, “So all the bloggers got it huh?”…If someone invites me for party/dinner and If I turn it down, they will say..”So you will go and blog?”..Even though it was used in a fun context, the frequency of such comments make me sick of such comments…I am going to speak only for myself atleast here…

Blogging is not easy. First of all, it needs solid commitment and discipline to do it consistently and to make it informative. I do it mainly because I love blogging. So, I thought I will make it as a fruitful exercise for ISB too…Many a times, I blogged under hectic schedules…I think I have done a decent job along with few other fellow bloggers here…

People think they have been using their time most productively by not blogging. Just take a moment and think…”Didn’t you spend time in chatting unnecessarily about bollywood, cricket, masala items…?”, “Didn’t you waste time in drinking whole night and sleeping for the next whole day?”….Blogging is much better use of time than those!!! BTW, I don’t take more than 15-30 minutes per day in blogging…I do it religiously…..

For the first time in my life, I am not proud of receiving an award…

The “Award” committee should have made the process more transparent. They should have atleast announced on what grounds people were given awards…that would have closed mouths of many!

There has been quite a few cribs going on especially on the “ISB young leaders award”. Just imagine the plight of the guy (not me) who didn’t even nominate for himself, but who has done tremendous volunteering, and received “ISB young leaders award”, and eventually being questioned on the award!!!! If the grounds on which ISB gave these awards is announced, it will atleast avoid the cribs…People will really appreciate the grounds of recognition…I personally feel all 4 of them deserve thoroughly…

Couldn’t resist from posting this stuff…I tried hard…but…

Additions to ISB Blogosphere…

January 26, 06 by Bharani

ISB Through the lens
“A Pictorial reflection of Life at ISB…”

This is a photo blog from THE PHOTOGRAPHER of ISB Batch 2006. It’s tough to see him without his tiny and compact digital camera. He is also a veteran with SLRs. How many of us can claim to ‘click’ the moment before ‘returning’ some fast serves in volleyball game? He definitely can…He has captured all the moments…moments of people dancing, partying, studying, laughing, eating, drinking, sleeping, and even clicking snaps! Here it is…”ISB through the lens of Vickie the clickie!”

Bobo Writes…

This one is from Vibhu Walia. He was the moderator of ISB-Admits yahoo group for our batch and his was an established name before everyone met at ISB. He is currently pursuing his exchange program in Darden, Virginia along with Shrutkeerthi. He too has decided to capture his journey in the blogosphere…

Note from friend:

January 26, 06 by Bharani

Note from friend: (A Message from my friend who received MBA from a reputed UK B-school)

MBAs should know what 1$ can buy in New York or London or Madras. One of the funniest news coming out of Management Institutes in India is ‘IIM grads gets Rs 55 Lac salary’ This news definitely appeals to the man on the streets , it appeals to the parents of soon to be IIM grads and attracts more students to take CAT. But what is this Rs 55 lac??

Companies like Lehman Brother / Deutsche Bank / BP recruit IIM grads , who are 22-25yr old and pay them a salary of around 50-70000 British Pound. When you convert this figure to Indian Rupees, it does appear to be a huge figure but these salaries are not great salaries in cities like London. One should remember that SAP programmers with just B.Com degree and 5 yrs experience earn that much.

Recently IIMs have been boasting salary of 150,000+ USD which appears to be GBP figures converted to USD. The USD figure is a great salary for any city in the US but when you get the equivalent GBP in London, you don’t get the same lifestyle. One should look at salary figures in the local currency…

India Everywhere!

January 25, 06 by Bharani

Everyone’s ears will be tuned to hear about India in the World Economic Forum that began today! This is India’s perfect opportunity to exploit the attention…

This is what Businessweek has to to say about India
India’s showy debut at Davos is yet another sign that this newly confident country is ready to strut its stuff on the world stage. Branding and marketing itself hasn’t come easily to India, a culture where the preferred path is understated and unspoken. But some of India’s most prominent native sons thought the time has come “to raise India’s profile in the global community”…

Also, stumbled upon this link “India Everywhere”, a $3 million promotional venture for India (by CII, IBEF (India Brand Equity Foundation)). It will be worthwhile to catch up with some of the promotional materials hosted there!

What’s his GMAT?

January 23, 06 by Bharani

Conversation that I overheard:

X: “Who do you think will make it to the final list of McKinsey from the announced shortlist today?”

Y: “Hmm…X1,X2….”

X: Cuts short…”X2??”, “Man what do you think about X2?..I heard he was some lead before coming here..”

Y: “No..he is good…his fundas are very strong!”

X: “Is it…what’s his GMAT?”

Y: “Wait let me take the excel sheet(!!)…Hmm…he has got 720…”

X: “What’s his undergrad?”

Y: “He has done his engineering from no name college…hmm..his undergrads marks are less than 70%”…

X: “less than 70%….???”

Y: “Yeah…even X3,X4 will make it to the final list…You know what X5 was making only 2.7 lacs before coming here and his GMAT is less than 670! but he is doing good here…”

X: “Ok..can you tell me who else has got 750+”…Supposedly X is proud of his GMAT score…

Y: Checks his excel sheet and tells him the stats…”Hmm..I was earning X lacs per annum, look at this fella, he has 9 years experience and was earning less than me…Hmmm!”

Man, this is the kind of talks happening in the campus…People who were previously not noticed are getting noticed, all because their names are in the shortlist..and everyone wants to suddenly know more about him/her and question their success in ISB…My question is simple…”How does all this matter to you?”…”Plan your game buddy…”!

BTW, today the first short-list from McKinsey was announced. 35 people made it to the final list…Many people are disappointed as they couldn’t make it to the final list…The list has predominantly dean’s list guys and some strong experienced guys…But this was just like what I expected…so no surprises for me!

Promising PPTs ‘rock’ campus!

January 21, 06 by Bharani

A particular Indian Electronics equipment company has promised high-level roles with sky-rocketing salaries in their presentation! Man, can’t imagine getting such high salaries in India!!! Of course, they are in look out for very experienced people with relevant backgrounds…which ISB has supply of!

I was talking to one of the fellow bloggers (I wouldn’t want to name him, but soon the world will take a notice of him highly :) ) and I am pretty sure he will be one of the top-salary earners in ISB this year. He was already talking numbers equivalent to US salary!

I am only talking about Domestic salaries. My quadie G, got an offer with a up-coming Pharma research company through his personal network. The role is pretty high-level (2-3 levels from the top) and salary is very good! He is one hell of a focused and smart guy…He will go places…

Isn’t all these strong evidences that Indian market is HOT?

What’s in IT?

January 20, 06 by Bharani

IT service companies and product companies are predominantly offering the following roles or flavours of the following role:

Business Analyst
Business Development
Program Manager
Product Manager
Project Manager

Other roles are:

Account Manager
Domain Consultant
Associate Consultant
Technology Consultant
ERP Consultant

Depending on the number of years of relevant experience one has, one can expect to attach the word “Senior” in front of all these roles.

The most popular roles among IT guys are Business Analyst or Business Development.

The Business Analyst is the most commonly offered role in all IT companies. One needs to have relevant sales experience for getting a Business Development role (The client-facing position or rather Client-acquiring position!). Largely, one will be recruited as Business Analysts for appropriate verticals in which one has past experience(Healthcare, Financial Services, Telecom, Retail, Energy & Utilities…etc.,)

I somehow have a feeling that the BA roles are highly diluted in IT services company. Companies have been recruiting from even second-tier and third-tier colleges for these positions! Most of the work will be RFP and PPT preparations. If one has patience and shrewdness to grab visibility for his work, then he can quickly obtain a client-facing role and can grow further. But to begin with everything is offshore.

Somehow, the Program manager roles offered by Microsoft appeals to me. But again, it’s personal preference. I just let my heart to speak without any hindrance from head…and I found a lot of ‘inherent’ interest with that role. But my head says “Maximize your MBA returns..go for more ‘appealing’ roles”. Now, that’s where the dilemma comes…for me atleast.

Don’t get me wrong…I am now-a-days giving lot of preference for work-life balance, location, ‘love’ and ‘passion’ for the work. That’s what is going to ultimately keep me happy…