Friday, March 23, 2007

End of Hilary and Information on Placements

Finally, exams were completed today and its the end of Hilary. Though we have couple of assignments due, I will be finishing everything by this week end. Except for Financial Management, there were no big surprises in the exams. Since a lot of people who got admissions in Oxford are now in a phase where they are taking a decision to pay initial deposit to confirm their admission, based on many requests in mails, I am here with sharing my experiences about career management that you can do while you are at SBS. Disclaimer is that these are my PERSONAL VIEWS.

First things First: There are some prerequisites that one need to work on before they arrive here at SBS:
1. Decide on what career path you want to take - You have only 1 year and if you are jumbling across Management Consulting or Investment Banking or Industry once you come here, you will be left soon without any options and in a complete chaos.
2. My advise is to not change your sector. I know 90 out of 100 will say, then why do MBA? First of all I wanted you to ask yourself why change sector? MC or IB are so sexy because there is a lot of money that once can earn. But, be practical. On an average people coming to SBS are having an average experience of 6 years. If you work for 6 years in a particular sector then why change your sector and reduce your value in the market? If you work in the Industry and wanted to move to MC, you might have some probability of getting in. If you are from IT and getting into a 1 year program to work in MC firms, I would say you have chance of 1 out of 100. What ever crap MC companies boast about their process, the fact is that they are least bothered about people worked in IT as IT people dont carry industry experience with them .
3. Be prepared with your CV even before you come to Oxford. Start working on your CV right from Aug - Sep.

What to do once you are here:
If you have less experience (till 4 years), try Analyst jobs at MC or IB firms. Most of the activity for this will happen during first term at the University, with no involvement from SBS. Now, big problem for people is to apply for these jobs is that egos come into play that we are MBAs, then why apply with graduates. In UK what I saw was that a lot of firms look at graduates and post graduates at the same level (by Post Grads, I mean Masters other than MBA). Only few firms have special entry points for MBAs, but if you have experience in other sector and wanted to move across, applying to Analyst roles will be a best option than competing with other MBAs who might have experience in relative fields

What can you expect from school:
The Opportunities to network. There will be innumerous events that will be happening. Some may help you and some may not. In general, I observed that if you are looking at Finance and Entrepreneurship you will have many options that you can work on. The events related to others are relatively lesser in number

What should I do if nothing is happening in sector I wish to work
Leverage the brand of Oxford and you start doing things on your own. After all we have so much experience and maturity that one need not spoon feed us every thing.

So, does this mean that careers service do nothing?
Well, they will coordinate and do their best to help you to get any contacts in the firms that you are looking for.

What about companies coming to campus?
A lot of firms come and present only to give a corporate pitch. They will ask you to apply online typically. SBS is working with companies to have a specific recruitment for SBS students. Few companies do come to campus and do the interviews. Recent examples are P&G, Std Chartered and Tech Mahindra. But, this activity is low.

What about Judge, Manchester, LBS, Insead etc.,
As far as I understood by interacting with current students at all these schools, I found that things are more or less similar. The main problem is that most of the firms dont have an MBA program in place. BT is an example on what happens if a firm has specific program for MBAs. US is better comparitively because they have these programs.

So what do you say finally?
I would say MBA is beyond placements. I personally believe this way of getting jobs helps one to develop his skills better. At the maximum, any careers service can get you contacts in a firm to send your CV and the rest is on you to get that job. I believe only 5-10% of effort is needed in getting that contact and so I personally dont mind whether I am receiving that from careers and doing it myself

Friday, March 16, 2007

Whats happening?

As I mentioned earlier, the term was so busy that we are reaching the climax with exams in next week. I am sorry that I am unable to respond to lot of mails that I received because of the time pressure with a lot of activities that needs to be taken care of.

I met up with Graham Webster, Sr VP of O2 and had a fantastic session with him on how his career progressed and what were the lessons he learnt. The most important take aways for me from the session is that he learnt a lot from his customers. Typically we always wanted to learn from our sub ordinates, bosses or some leaders we admire. Once we are in a relationship we always will be in a mode of serving them well and most of the time act as if we like them a lot. But, honestly one can learn a lot from the customers is the argument that Graham had stating an instance when he worked woth Tesco management during Tesco Mobile JV that O2 worked on. As he was an alumni from LBS, the session was more important in terms of expectations management one need to work on, right after MBA. All in all, had a wonderful time with him. Though I might not apply to O2 for a misfit of my profile, I had a lot of take aways after I met him.

Entrepreneurship project is also reaching a climax with only submitting business plan being pending. We did presentation exceptionally well yesterday that we have hopes coming out as the best team of SBS to go to Texas for Moot Corp competition. But, again you never know what are other people's plans and how their presentations have been. Keeping fingers crossed on this.

Time to read some stuff to get rid of 'em by next week. Signing off!!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Fantastic Anjan

Mindtree's Exec VP and Head of Europe, Anjan Lahiri visited school yesterday and talked about "Managing a Business in Crisis". It was a fantastic session and I am very happy for tw0 reasons, firstly for the best session I attended so far at SBS for the kind of knowledge I extracted from it (and in fact its the same opinion for a lot of people who came to session) and secondly, it was my initiative to invit Anjan for this session which certainly paid off. This re-emphasizes my belief on Mindtree's Top Management which I believe is THE BEST in the Indian IT industry now. The way he had shown energy and the experiences he shared on how they struggled hard in 2001 during IT slowdown was truly amazing to hear.

There were some key take aways from the session yesterday:

One specific quote, "We have to do what is right for us...not what others are doing" from Ashok Soota during one of their meetings when they started the firm shows the FOCUS they have on what they were doing.

Other Key points Anjan mentioned were:
-- Believe in ur team...absolutely...blindly
-- If you can work completely COMPLETELY without an ego, you have won 98% of the battle
-- Communication has to be a Key Strategy
-- Collect Info like a Maniac...but act on only 2% of it
-- Mgt Philosophy..NOT "If Tomorrow comes" BUT "Tomorrow will come"
-- No Matter what happens, define & report on quarterly and annual goals...Reviews are the bedrock of Management

Our program of inviting and meeting leaders of the Industry is definitely paying off.

On other fronts, I visited Loreal UK Headquarters tuesday to celebrate our success in eStrat business competition. We had opportinity to explore about careers in Loreal as well as got some goodies in terms of perfumes and all. I dont see a good fit for myself in Loreal in all the functions, except for Operations. Hmm, I am leaving it to time for this decision to be taken on whether to apply to Loreal or not. I interviewed with Tech Mahindra yesterday. Kiron Gupte, Sr. VP of Tech M had taken interview and he was a very cool guy and it was a more of a discussion rather than an interview.

We are almost at the end of Week 7 and so many assignments and the Hellary term is closing up very fast. We still have 6 assignments due in the term as well as 6 exams to follow and the entrepreneurship presentations to be made :) Wanna grab a job ASAP and take a refreshing break in Easter...Let me see how it goes!!!