Know your weakness better than your strengths.

Weakness_Strength copyHave you ever wondered why people commonly say “you can fool anyone but yourself”? That is because we are the best judge of our own character. It is also said, that there is no mirror in this world in which we can see our own faults and wrongdoings.

Leaving apart the moral tone that I have set, my intent of writing this piece is to help my friends and readers understand the importance of your own weaker pulse. None of us are or can be good at everything. The competition today is tougher than ever. Be it any field or profession, knowing and leveraging your strengths is not enough, because there is always someone somewhere better than you.

There is reason we do SWOT analysis. We need to analyze the strengths and weakness of any situation equally well. These two things are complementary. All of us have them. Some, we are born with; some are conditioned with our upbringing. Therefore, before any interview it is crucial to do your personal SWOT analysis.

And yet, when asked during an interview, about our biggest weaknesses, we often fell quite – an answer that all of us have, but we are too scared to admit; a question very frequently asked, but we don’t like to ponder over.

During my placements, I always used to think why the recruiters ask these questions. Do they expect us to really be honest to ourselves and to them? What could they judge about us from the answer to this common question? Well! Here is what –

  • They want to see how self assured we are, how well we know ourselves
  • Do we have the courage to face and admit our own weaknesses
  • Are we able to find a way to overcome our weakness

From a psychological perspective, modern HR seeks people who can reflect answers to above questions which indicate that they believe in themselves; and organizations hire assertive people who do not mind admitting their own negative traits. They understand that strengths are not purely a matter of pride and weaknesses are nothing to be ashamed of.

Self assessment is the key to achieve your personal best. And yet it is often challenging to spot your Achilles heel. So in order to identify your weaknesses, it is advisable to seek a third person opinion. People who are close to you, like family members, friends and teachers are ideal for giving an unbiased opinion about you. Remember, not all of us are good at taking criticism constructively. Therefore, it is important to keep an open mind about what people think of you. You might not agree to everything that others have to say about you, but it will give you a good starting point to introspect, have you thinking about your shortcomings.

A weakness does not necessarily have to be a part of your personality trait, like slow learner, laid back etc. It could also come from lack of some educational skill or training, a negative work habit, a weak network of connections hampering your chances of finding work. It could also be related to your health or lifestyle. I know a friend of mine who is diabetic and felt that he would not be able to fit himself in a demanding work environment. There is absolutely no problem in admitting to things that you are not capable of or fit for. Because when you work in a professional world, you do not expect the world to align itself as per your potential. On the contrary, you understand your true abilities and find a way to do justice to them.

Please note that though I have suggested the importance of identifying and acknowledging your weakness, you have to figure out a way to express it in an interview. Do not make the recruiter think that your weakness might affect your work or come in the way of the skill set that they are specifically looking for. For example, you can’t say you are not a good team player when you are indeed going to work on a team based project.  It is advisable to be subtle. You can rather be safer in saying that you feel your best potential comes out working independently, although you try your best in aligning as a team player as well. Yes! There is no harm in being a little diplomatic. But avoid using the old trick of turning your weakness into strengths. It is too clichéd and will not help you get in the interviewer’s good books.

If knowing your weaknesses is good, then trying to overcome them is even better. So before any interview, list down your weaknesses and mention the one you are working on. By doing so, you put yourself in a more assertive position and demonstrate that you take your problems seriously and are flexible to change.

Having written at lengths about knowing your weaknesses and now understanding the importance of it, I would like to mention what I would answer if someone asked me the question about my weaknesses today. To begin with, I am a procrastinator and laid back; sometimes a little slow in situations that demand promptness; I am not too comfortable in socially interacting with strangers; At times, I care way too much about having people form a specific opinion about me; I am not a very good contingency planner. These are some and there would still be many. But I like the fact that now I don’t shun away from them. I know them. I can therefore always challenge myself and not let my weaknesses pull me back in life.

Knowing your weaknesses can help you imagine the potential of what you can become if you overcome them. A real sense of personal knowledge is the most valuable asset.  Reach out for help if you need it in possessing skills that you don’t have or getting over problems you alone can’t. But do not run away from yourself. BE YOUR OWN MIRROR!

Contributed By : Isha Jajodia ( Class of 2010, IBS Gurgaon).


Diversity @ IBS.

diversity2 copyOne of the first things that struck me when I joined IBS (at Ahmedabad) was the sheer diversity – of food, clothes, looks, cultures, thoughts, and of course, the people – who were from as diverse backgrounds as I could imagine.

At the kitchen – one of the first places my stomach insisted that I try out – there was a variety of food such as Gujarati kadhi and dhoklas, north Indian food paranthas and tadkas, south Indian sambars and dosas.. I could go on.

I am from Orissa, a state that is outside everyone’s radar. In the year when I joined, about ten years back, I could as well have been from the Moon. I wanted to tell them so much about the richness of Orissa’s culture – its dances, its literature, its art forms, the temples, architecture, and the minerals from the state. But I was too tongue-tied in the initial days to assert myself like that.

Then I met another man from the Moon – a senior student who was also from Orissa and I felt comforted. Its always to meet other people from the same place that you are, especially if you are in a minority.

Diversity – A fact of Life at IBS

Diversity is a reality in IBS and if you are lucky to join any of its institutes, it is as if you are in a mini-Indian setup.  In common with many other institutes of repute, IBS is a melting pot of cultures, and different academic domains. What makes it unique is the relatively lower concentration of students, which makes us more intimate with one another and come into closer contact with the diverse people we see here. There is more mingling of the cultures and there is a lesser tendency for people of one state to stick together.

A study by Crisil last year showed that in IBS Hyderabad, about 30 percent of the students were from West Bengal, followed by 17 percent from Delhi and 12 percent from Uttar Pradesh. Other states such as Maharashtra, MP, Andhra Pradesh were also represented.

The students were from various academic streams. Predictably, nearly half were from the engineering stream but then there were students who had graduated in arts, science, commerce, business administration and other disciplines.

I have not seen too many international students, but I understand that there are some studying in some of the institutes.

In my initial days at IBS, I was bemused by the cacophony of languages resounding in my ears in the dormitories, common room, dining hall – Hindi (in various dialects), Bengali, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Telugu, and Marathi. They would be talking to one another in Hindi or English – then suddenly someone’s phone would ring and that person would switch to his or her own language – indicating that it was a family member they were talking to or someone from home.

Diversity Creates an Integrated Community

This may seem like a contradiction but it is true. When you are from different backgrounds and cultures, you take more time to get to know the other person and this creates greater bonding. Since there were very few people from my home state, I had to make friends with students from the other states.

I felt closer to them than I had ever felt with people from my own state or who had similar backgrounds. Yes, a lot of us were from engineering and many of us were in the same boat struggling to understand financial management and accounting, but we would take help from the commerce students who were only too willing to help us.

Our work on various projects brought in different kinds of ideas because everyone thought according to their individual backgrounds. This inevitably led to arguments and fights but I think we got closer in a sense. There was fun; there were challenges; sometimes it was hilarious and we learned a lot.

Diversity – The Best Teacher

I can’t think of anything, which prepares you, better for the outside corporate world than the diverse character of the IBS institutes.

Your communication skills definitely improves and language is only part of it. Accents differ, so do pronunciations and you realise that you have to adjust our speech and manner of speaking so that others can understand it too. You can take it as an opportunity to learn a new language, if you are so inclined.

Communication would also mean appreciating certain nuances of in the way that others interact and in their usage of certain words.

You become more tolerant of others – their habits, their mannerisms, the way they react to situations and events and sometimes this might even rub off on you. You start to appreciate the perspectives of others who are from a different culture or mindset.

You also become diplomatic. Diplomacy has become a dirty word and it is often confused with hypocrisy and trying to downplay things. This is not the truth. Diplomacy is all about being subtle. When you get into the corporate world you will realise that diplomacy forms a large part of your communication and management skills.

If you working as part of a diverse team, diplomacy is often called for in dealing with your peers and bosses.

Diversity enriches your personality. I am not surehow this works but I have found that students who have come from a diversified background in terms of their experiences and interactions make better colleagues and work mates. It is easier to establish a rapport with them.

When living among diverse groups you get experiences – at second hand certainly – that you would otherwise not have been exposed to. It gives you more learning and understanding than you could ever get from any management book.

For myself I can say that the global exposure that I had in IBS as a result of its diversity has been an enormous advantage to me in my career. I have always felt confident that I can fit in anywhere and have never felt the need to surround myself with people from my own culture and background. The more different, the better.

Contributed By : Sidhartha Mohanty(Class of 2005, IBS Ahmedabad).


Life after IBS – A Roller Coaster Ride.

Life-Is-Like-A-Roller-Coaster copyYou know, everyone says that life is unpredictable. That could be true. I say, that life is what you make of it.

Your life is a reflection of what you want; how you want it to be; the way you think and what you think. At school and college I was generally considered a very steady and sober person – the kind of guy who will stick to one job his whole life and lead a very stable kind of an existence.

I can tell you that my life has been an absolute roller coaster of an existence and I’ve worked at some many companies and so many job roles that it has been an education in itself. I always think that we have this one life and we should do all the things that we want to do in it.

There are lots of people out there who enter a company, stick it out there for years, work their way up and retire from that company. Many of them have made a success of it too. Somehow that kind of existence does not really appeal to me. My life as I will relate to you shortly has been something of a gamble and I am still doing it.

Post-Campus Recruitment

In 2005, I was recruited from my campus at IBS Ahmedabad by ICICI Bank for their wealth management division as private banking relationship manager. That sounds like a fancy designation as if I was handling a lot of the money for wealthy clients. My job profile was simple: Get hold of stinking rich individuals (we call them ultra-HNI or high net-worth clients) and try to sell them all kinds of financial products and make sure that they invested in it.

My hunting field was Baroda. The title ‘Manager’ might sound like I was some big shot. I had no team and I was operating solo. Once in a while, I had an intern to accompany me – but that was only to show him or her the ropes.

In a year, my profile changed. I don’t know what my bosses thought about my selling abilities and drawing in moneyed clients for them but in 2006 I was put on small and medium scale enterprises  profile changed to SME Relationship Manager handling SME clients and owners of small and mid-size companies. I had to bring them to the private wealth platform. That was an awesome experience from which I learned a lot. Truly nothing can give you the kind of experience that a sales role can. I cannot claim to have been a wizard at the job but I managed to mobilize₹1.5 cr in 3 months! For me, that was a huge achievement.

Let me say it here and now that ICICI Bank is one of the hardest taskmasters in the business. They set stiff targets and they expect you to achieve it. No excuses. It is a gruelling schedule but I do think that is one of the best ways to learn. If you’ve managed to stick it out here you can do it anywhere.

Looking back now, I can say, without any false modesty that I was no mean achiever.In 2006 I got the private banking awardfrom the Head of PBG, ICICI Bank, under Asia pacific private banking awards to ICICI employees.

The Roller Coaster Begins..

Well, every journey must come to an end and at the end of 2006 I resigned from the bank due to work pressure and organizational &cultural differences and difficult bosses who changed very often.

I didn’t sit around idle you may be sure. It didn’t take me long to join another financial services company, though a lot smaller than what I had started out with. I joined Bajaj Capital but it was a very brief stay. Just six months and I’m sorry to say that I had to quit due to non-achievement of sales targets and work pressures. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Maybe that stint with ICICI Bank had burned me up. I was also not happy with the salary at Bajaj and had personal issues with some of the people there.

Back to the ICICI group, this time with ICICI Lombard as Manager in Ahmedabad.Another six months and I found that I was not enjoying my job profile and the politics in the company. I did what had started to become a regular feature with me – I resigned.

After that I decided that I would wait for a while before jumping into another job. So I was unemployed for about five months while I was waiting for the right job profile.

Towards the end of 2008 I joined IIFL in Pune as equity Manager and was selling Portfolio Management Services andbig ticket size products to HNI’s in Pune. I stuck it out for six months before – again, office politics, work pressure and non-achievement of targets forced me out. This was becoming a pattern. Worrying, huh?

I then shifted to Baroda. Here I joined L&T Finance Ltd as Regional Head for Gujarat. I  started the financial products distribution business which expanded to various cities in the state. I had a team of 30 people reporting to me and here I had a really long stint for about two years before quitting again due to office politics.

The year 2010 saw me rejoining IIFL as Branch Head at Baroda taking care of  the Branch’s equity, commodity and currency business. I traded on behalf of clients and was responsible for the branch’s profitability. I stayed for a year but again left the job due to work pressure., Attrition was high among the staff and it had an impact on my targets and the profitability of the branch.

In 2011 I was drifting around for a bit. For the first six months, Idid some freelance assignments including content writing work etc. In 2012, Ishifted to Mumbai and joined a PR/IR firm as IR (Investor Relations) consultant, a complete shift from what I did earlier. I was new to the domain but learnt fast.

The Entrepreneur

I handled IR for clients, made company analysis and handled investors’ meets. I was here

for a year and half and then the entrepreneurial bug bit me and I left the company.

I’m still in the initial stages of my entrepreneurial journey and there’s no saying how it is going to go. After a few false starts, I’ve now realised what I want to do.

Yes, there have been a lot of ups and downs for me – maybe more of the downs than the ups.It has taken me a long time to learn that I am not an ‘employable’ person and I should have been an entrepreneur right from the first.

But if you ask me, I wouldn’t exchange all my experiences for anything in the world.

Contributed By : Sidhartha Mohanty(Class of 2005, IBS Ahmedabad).

How much are you ready to pay for the Brand Name?

Brand-Name1 copy(The knowledge of cost-benefit ratio)

 A few days back, at the onset of the ICC cricket world cup 2015, we decided to purchase a new television. Little did we know that I and my husband are going to get engulfed in the famous brand debate? While I am a brand conscious person to some extent, my husband on the other hand believes in value -for-money.

With so many choices available in the market today, we stood in the home appliances showroom like a common Indian married couple trying to make up our minds. It was difficult to convince a person like me that a not-so-well-known brand can offer better video and audio quality than the big known brands like Sony and Samsung.

Let’s first point out the basic flow of thoughts when we as consumers decide to purchase something expensive. By expensive I mean anything valued above INR 10,000/-

  • Identifying a need and making a purchase decision
  • With internet as source of information to everything, access to product information is much easier and has greatly influenced our buying behavior in the past few years. So mostly, the second step is researching on the internet about your desired product and the choices available in the market.
  • It is followed by assessing your requirement and choosing a product whose features are best suited to those requirements.
  • And the final decision is evaluating the budget and your willingness to spend on your chosen product. With ample product choices, you might be able to find the product that ticks all your check boxes – pricing, features, quality, after sales service and so on.

But there is one thing – and a very important thing at that – that only a brand name could offer; and that is reliability, your ability to trust the brand that you are buying.

There is a reason why big companies spend an incredible amount of time, money and effort to build a brand name and occupy space in the minds of the consumers. It is purely to gain their trust and in turn influence their buying decision. In 2012, Forbes therefore ranked Apple as the top global brand name valued at $87.1 billion.

So how much a brand name holds the potential of blinding the consumer judgment? The answer is – quite a lot! The whole objective of creating the brand identity in consumer mind is to bias our judgment.

Don’t you agree? Let’s imagine a scenario:

You go to a mall. There are many different shops of clothing, apparels, accessories, shoes cosmetics and others. Yet you roam around looking for your signature brand, to which you associate yourself the most. It defines your style, marks your attitude and shapes your personality. You only wear Levis’, use a bag from Baggit and sport a watch of citizen. Admit it or not, in the era driven by western consumerism, we all have turned into brand conscious animals.

Since companies spend fortunes on creating brand names, they don’t mind charging for it as well. A solid and well established brand does not need to sell itself as it has its own base of loyal customers. But, how worthy it is to cloud our decision making by the influence of a brand name. You might argue that for some brands, it is totally worth it. Or is it?

A rational consumer like my hubby refrains from being influenced by the brand USP and prefers making more informed decision –given the low cost and competitive range of products, why to spend extra on the products that are not worthy of the tag they hold.

However in some cases, brand is not just a name. And the reason we know the brand is because it is worth knowing. It could be for multiple reasons, like after sales service, extended warranty on product, long lastingness of the item purchased, better quality material etc. It is not just a portrayal of the product or the image of the buyer. Maruti Suzuki, for example, is one such brand in the automobile segment. Despite many internationally established car manufacturers entering the Indian market in the last many years, Maruti has managed to sustain its loyal customer base purely on the basis of its after sales convenience. You can go anywhere in the country with any model of Maruti car. Whether or not the car is still in production, you will always manage to find the same spare part of the car you might have bought years ago.

Surely, in the highly competitive era, companies don’t mind exploiting the vast segment of brand conscious consumers. But there are some corporations that understand the more price sensitive consumer lot and rely more on innovativeness than on creating brand appeal. Also, with the increase in purchasing power of middle and lower middle income group, many companies, especially in the consumer durables segments are creating their own niche by offering same features at lower prices. Consider the smart phone market for instance. Companies like Micromax, Gionee, Intex, Lava, have crawled in through the competition and have established their footprints successfully in this highly brand sensitive segment driven by big names like Samsung, Nokia/Microsoft and Motorola.

It is a clear indication that in the times to come, we can expect a more aware and informed customer and not just the one driven by big brand names. The top names in any segment should resort to more productive and unique ways to market than just relying on their brand equity.

Our generation has grown up watching celebrities endorsing famous brands and strong advertising campaigns by companies, which has led our subconscious to believe in the mantra of “the costlier the better”. We would hesitate buying anything which might be better but belongs to an unknown brand. I remember our parents not oriented to this thought and rather believed in “simple living and high thinking”.

To buyers:  Don’t be fooled by what you see or what you are told!

To sellers: Sell the value more and the name less!

P.S.: We ended up buying an Intex LED 24’’, and I am quite convinced that it offers better image quality than Sony and Samsung; my opinion being strictly personal.

Contributed by :Isha Jajodia (Class of 2010,IBS Gurgaon).

Can I Be Trusted?

201402how-to-know-what-software-hardward-technology-vendor-business-to-trust copyAt many job interviews, the panel is not merely assessing the job skills of the candidates. Most candidates who appear for jobs have similar skills and it becomes very difficult to choose from among them. Job interviewers have however become smart and they look beyond the skills and the attempts of the candidates to try to impress them with their knowledge and expertise. There is another precious commodity that interviewers look for and, which is often ignored by most candidates – trustworthiness.

In fact, you can say that employers may be unconsciously looking for trustworthiness from prospective employees. Most of the questions they ask point towards it. Lets face it – of what use is all the skills in the world and being excellent at the job if finally the employee betrays their trust in some way? But I think that most employers are satisfied with reasonable competence in the people whom they employ.

How do you assess the trustworthiness of a person? There are two qualities that seem to indicate this – warmth and competence. Yes, skills are important, the job demands it and in certain kinds of industries and job situations, skills may certainly mean all the difference between life and death. So certainly, competence is part of the trust thing.

When we say warmth, we mean a certain empathy of manner that the person sends out. This also means good intentions and your readiness to make good on those intentions. Think of a doctor or a surgeon. Obviously if the surgeon is skilled, we would have a lot of trust in him. If he also showed warmth with a certain indication that he would do everything in his power to heal you our trust in him is complete and total.

So you need both if you want to appear as a person to be trusted. Competence without warmth can actually appear dangerous like an automaton or a robot. Equally, warmth without the desired competence is of no use.

Highlight your competence because that is what attracted them in the first place when they looked at your resume. In person, you have the chance to show your warmth of character, your empathetic side and your good intentions.

No interviewer is actually going to ask you if you are to be trusted. But there are ways of answering certain question so that they get the idea.

“Tell me something about yourself.”

This is a very common question asked at most interviews and this is usually among the very first questions to be asked. There are underlying subtexts to this question. It is not so much as what they want to know about you as how you perceive yourself.

It is when answering this question that people give away little things about themselves. How do they describe themselves? How do they view their accomplishments? Are they proud of what they have done so far? Or do they tend to downplay their achievements?

This is the perfect question where you can subtly introduce not only your competence but also your warmth. Try to show that you’re grateful for the opportunities that you got in your life and career. Be humble about what you’ve accomplished. Appear modest about the times when you’ve gone beyond the call of duty. Emphasise that you are only too happy to do things, which go beyond your brief, that this is a normal and routine occurrence for you.

Research has shown that if you underplay your abilities, interviewers are likely to give them more weightage. Play on that psychology. Of course, you should be careful not to be too humble. That might attract suspicion.

Instead of saying, “my clients absolutely love me,” you can say, “I try my best to understand what why clients want and deliver it to them.’


Have you seen how a good boss always praises his team and says that he could have done the job without them? Take a cue from that.

If this is your first job, thank your professors and teachers and attribute all your knowledge that you have gained to them.

Instead of saying, “I was a brilliant student,” say, “my professors worked hard so that we could easily understand what we were being taught. Whatever I have learned is due to them.”

It gives prospective employers the impression that here is a person who is not afraid to give credit where it is due and does not want to take all the credit on oneself. You’ll get extra marks for this.

“Why did you leave your last job?”

This is another very common question that prospective employees will be asked. Those with job experience can expect to be asked this question. Whatever happens do not bad mouth your previous company or your employer. It is one of the worst tactics that you can employ and it is a sure deal breaker.

You can say that you are looking for new challenges but you also have to make it clear that you left the previous job only with a lot of regrets. Display a sense of loyalty and affection for the company you are proposing to leave.

Make it clear that if you had got the opportunities that you are looking for then you would have never left the job. This will make them think that you are a very loyal person and only in extreme circumstances would you leave your job.

Do not seem too eager to leave your current position if they ask, “how soon can you join us?” Tell them that it will take some time to wind up your work and shed your responsibilities and that you cannot just walk out of the place at a moment’s notice.

This indicates a sense of responsibility and a certain integrity with regard to your work commitments. This will assure them that in a similar situation, you will not leave them in the lurch and you can be counted on, in other words, trusted.

You can also show your warmth by asking the interviewers questions in your turn, if time and the occasion permits. You may ask, “So how long have you been working here?” “I understand that you are heading xx department. It must be challenging.”

Next time you are in front of an interview panel, remember these tips.

Contributed By : Sidhartha Mohanty(Class of 2005, IBS Ahmedabad).

Writing Answers in MBA Exams.

Group of students taking test

‘I filled more pages and hence will get more marks.’ Yeah well we all said that while we were either in schools or graduating and sometimes it even turned out to be true. But unfortunately MBA does not hold any such cliché. Perhaps, one should not adopt the above mentioned strategy to write in MBA exams for this post-graduation demands more of maturity when it comes to jot down the concept during exam time. Let’s talk about the penning strategies for different disciplines in MBA.

  1. Learn & understand the concepts: This is the kryptonite to cooking up stories during the time of written exams. Grasp everything during the lecture time prudently and never in the exam time would you have to worry about the questions. All your answers would be to the point, crisp and surely correct.
  1. Divide the time: If MBA is about time management then why not manage the time inside the exam hall? Make sure you divide your time for every question. This will help you in maintaining a constant speed during the exam and also you will never run out of the time in solving the paper. Despite your division of time if you are still running out of it, select your best question and just list the points which you wanted to mention in the answer. After all, it is better to write something than leaving the question entirely.
  1. Read the question and before that the instructions to answer them carefully before you run your pen on the sheet. Majority of times the word limit is not given in an MBA question paper and when it is there no one bothers to have a look at it and ends up writing more than what is required. Secondly, when it comes to Objective type paper, candidates mark just one choice when in the instructions say clearly to mark multiple choice and vice versa.
  1. Take time before you write: Try to prepare the answer mentally before scribbling it down. You catch either a phrase or a word from the question and write down whatever you know about it. Take at least few moments to prepare the structure of the answer in your mind.
  1. Structure of an MBA answer (Non-Numerical): Start by defining the concept mention in the question with relevant examples. Draw a diagram if possible and try explaining it. Start explaining the query related to that concept mentioned in the question. Conclude your answer with lines that justify that you have answered the query asked in the question.
  1. Modify your strategy according to the discipline: Whether you have the exam of Financial Management or Organizational Behavior you would end up with essays in the paper because you are very much bombarded with more-pages-more-marks rule from the very start. Every subject has a different way of handling it when it comes to written exam of it. For ex. In finance it is more about solving a numerical problem than explaining the theories behind it except if it is mentioned in the question and same goes with Quants. While in Organizational Behavior it is more about explaining the theories and process that goes in an organization.
  1. Give examples of Cases:This surely earns some brownie points on your score card. You come across a question which is somewhat related to a particular case you read in your previous lectures of that discipline. It would really be helpful if you could just give the name of that case in that answer along with a very brief description of that case.
  1. Picture is worth a 1000 words: Questions of lot many subjects can be easily answered if we could draw a relevant diagram. For instance, Economics. A big chunk of this subject depends on the diagram. You make one diagram in this subject and you are half way home. The only thing remains is to explain it. Though remembering the diagrams and making its replica is not a walk in park but if you could do that in every question you could clear the subject with flying colors. Another such subject is Human Resource. Rather than explaining the entire selection, training etc. process in form of an essay, try to express yourself in form of a diagram and then explain the diagram with key point. The diagram strategy always leaves a good impression.
  1. Touch the cases in last:If you have sincerely read an entire case and solved it then you would understand that how much time and effort goes into reading and solving one. When cases come in exams try to take them in the last after you have solved other questions. As a matter of fact you might feel relax when you would be reading it because there would be no pressure of other questions at that time.
  1. Just use references: Now this strategy is useful in “Open Book Exams”. You come across a question and try to find the entire answer in the book. Well it is MBA and you just can’t expect the answer in the book. Hence stop wasting time looking for the answer in the book and just quote the reference from the book. No doubt you can quote few lines too from the book but searching for a perfect answer might land you in soup.
  1. Stop repeating things: You have learned a concept which you know by heart. Don’t try to use the same concept and insert it in every answer by hook and crook. Don’t beat around the bush in every answer you write. Again, the MBA answers sheet is evaluated on the basis of quality and not quantity.
  1. Avoid Grammar Crimes: Though ‘Who is the next Shakespeare?’ contest is never on in the examination hall but some silly grammar mistakes can lead to change the entire meaning of your answer. English is a ‘Phunny’ language after all. Though your thoughts about the answers are pretty clear but at MBA level you don’t want to lose marks due to silly grammar crimes.
  1. Revise your answers: Lastly, the universal fact of getting good grades. If the time doesn’t permit to go word by word of what you have written then at least have a rough look by flipping the answer sheet before you hand it over. You might have skipped something for the last or any last minute correction can be taken care of in this revision of answers session.

You would be reading the above points right from your school time but when it comes to MBA the above mentioned points really deserves an application in writing the exam answers. Be it communication, presentation or writing, MBA demands for a very mature perspective from the students enrolled in it.

Contributed By : Hasan Ali Gumani (Class of 2014, IBS Hyderabad).

IBS Alumni- Best Friends Forever.

college-life2(How to make the most out of an MBA alumni network)

In their quest for a job, many B-School graduates rarely tap their alumni network for prospects and leads. Somehow, the thought never occurs to them that those who have passed out of the institute and are holding responsible positions in the corporate sector can be an invaluable resource.

Most B-Schools have a robust alumni association and they work hard to ensure that older students are kept connected with the institutes in which they received their education. Most alumni in fact are only too keen to help the newer generation of students and to mentor them.

Former Britannia Industries MD, Sunil Alagh, graduated from IIM and I know for a fact, that he takes the trouble to attend alumni meets and interacts regularly with the students there.

Not all MBA students who pass out are able to get immediate placement and this has nothing to do with their qualifications or abilities. Most of the time it is due to a mismatch between what a company needs and what the candidate is qualified to do. In such cases, the alumni network is the best bet and the students themselves need to be proactive to reach out to those who have been former students of the institute.

In this digital age, it has become easier to reach out to people because most alumni networks either are on LinkedIn or have social media groups, where it becomes easy to interact without being intrusive. Earlier one had to get their contact details from the alumni association, whose responsibility it was to maintain them and often they would lose touch if the person has been moving extensively. Now there is no chance of losing contact because everyone is always connected.

Even if you do not get the job, you wanted right away do maintain good relations with the network because you never know when the right job will come along. This is all part of the networking process, which you will anyway have to learn as you go through your corporate career.

 I feel that institutes should have a good working relationship with their alumnus all over the world because it creates a network that is even better than a job placement event. Those who are in senior positions in a company and in positions of influence may have the authority to recruit people for their organisation. If they already know that a candidate is right for the job based on the feedback received from the institute, then this reduces the recruitment process and time.

The current batch of students can take advantage of tips shared by the alumni network and know exactly what they have to do.

For students of all generations, alumni networks are the best way that they can give back to the institute from which they have learned so much and to whom they owe a major part of their success.

Access to a worldwide database of leading corporate

The alumni network works better than any search engine. This is a ready-made database where you can find contacts to some of the world’s best companies. People who are already working there can open the doors of the company to you. They would be the best people to know what positions are available and who is hiring. You would not have to wait for job listings and be part of an anonymous crowd who file their resumes online, which often get lost in the confusion.

Alumni memberships in some of the leading business schools sometimes number in several thousands. That’s a huge database that can be readily accessed.

‘Inside’ Contacts

All over the world, students of professional institutes utilize their alumni services to be introduced to the right people in companies. You get access to opportunities and to people whom you may never get to meet otherwise. In fact, you should make it a priority in your job search.

You need to start your networking right before your final exams. This gives alumni ample time to prepare and for them to find the right kind of opportunities for you.

Utilize the alumni association and make sure that you send your CV in advance to them so that they can circulate it to all the members. Even if some of the older students are not members of the association, hey may be keeping in touch with those who are.

It is quite possible that some of the people who may be doing campus recruitments are alumni of your school. It pays to know in advance, who is part of the recruitment team.  Do they have anything to do with the institute in any way? What was their background? You need to do some preliminary homework so that you are prepared when you meet them.

Headhunters these days also use alumni network associations in order to make their recruit services easier.  They get qualified people who can be vouched for. It is a resource that only now they are waking up to.

Projects and Internships

Do you know that you can also use the alumni network to get good internship projects? You know how important these internships are to your final scores and they also matter when you finally go for your job interview.

If you have a trusted mentor with whom you can work, get the project, which can display your skills, with someone who knows your educational background it makes all the difference in the world.

Many MBA students are absorbed in companies where they have done their project work or interned. The internship also provides you the opportunity to come into contact with the right people at the companies, who are in a position to made recruitment decisions.

You need to remember that while your institute is doing the best it can to ‘place’ and find the right job that fits your qualifications, abilities and temperament, you also need to be very proactive in developing, creating and nurturing your own network.

Contributed By : Sidhartha mohanty(Class of 2005, IBS Ahmadabad).

Must Have PC Applications for an MBA Student.

MBA is a chapter in life which not only transforms your personality, communication, leadership and managerial skills but it also changes the way your “Desktop” looks like. While in MBA, the icons of “Call of Duty”, “Counter Strike” etc. are replaced by “PowerPoint”, “Excel” etc. It is a significant task of choosing the applications to be installed on the computer for the further use in MBA program because the absence of any expedient application on the last moment may lead you to kick a hole in your screen. Let’s talk about the must have computer applications for MBA.

  1. MS Office Suite 2013: Well, Who doesn’t have it? But the 2013 version of MS Office has cutting edge compared to its predecessor version. Specially, when it comes to the life line of an MBA i.e. PowerPoint. With all the novice animation and transition effects, text box alignment feature it really blows life into your presentation.

 Now if you are a part of any club or you have a creative bug in you to satisfy then another family member of this suite i.e. Publisher 2013 is for your rescue in times of promoting an event. With all the pre measured templates of Brochures, Posters, Business Cards, Banners etc. you just have to worry about inserting text and images which by the way expands the boundary of your creativity.

  1. Simple Mind: Perplexed with the always changing view points of the characters in the case studies? Or is it really hard to come to a conclusion at the end of case studies because of numerous What-If Analysis? Simple Mind is the one who frees the victim of the above mentioned situations. With the help of this great tool you can now summarize the information visually in the form of mind maps. It is like brainstorming virtually. It aids to literally picture the problem in hand and makes it really easy to solve. Not only this but it also allows you to export the images in your presentation and text documents.
  1. Ever note: There are times in MBA when you are bombarded with so many tasks that there are high chances that few of them might slip through the cracks. In such a mess Ever note is an app you should look upto. Available for free, this app can store everything you are afraid losing track of. Be it To-do list, a meeting, or an assignment reminder it covers it all. Though you can find one such app under MS Office Suite too which goes by the name One Note but Ever note is a multi-platform app which keeps everything in sync between your gadgets.
  1. Dragon Naturally Speaking: Suppose you have an assignment in hand which demands an excerpt from either a text book or any other offline article. Wouldn’t it be better if you just have to read it rather than typing the entire article? Yes, the Dragon Naturally Speaking is a speech recognition application which helps you to type the text without even touching the keyboard. Hence, saving a big chunk of your time. But watch the accent!


  1. Plagiarism Checker: “All my assignments are Unique. Just like everyone else’s.” If you also face this trauma on the submission day then here is something for you. Even if our entire work is “First Handed” but there comes a line or two which are co-incidentally the true copy of a line or two over the internet. When it is generalized over your entire work by any professor it is labeled as “Plagiarized” and rejected by the professor. Though no applications are used to check plagiarism but surely some websites can help you correct this “co-incidence” before the submission. They are,,,
  1. Adobe Suite: The first and the essential group member from Adobe Suite is Acrobat Reader. Unlike Adobe Reader, it helps you to create forms in pdf format and take print outs which can be used for many purposes. If you belong to the marketing stream then ‘I don’t know Adobe Photoshop’ is not an excuse for you. No one knows this must have app completely but at least knowing the basics of Photoshop can make you touch the sky especially when you are inclined towards subjects such as Branding and Integrated Marketing Communication. Worst Case Scenario: if you are unable to comprehend this app then IrfanView (another image editing software) is there for you.

Though Windows Movie Maker always saves us when it comes to showing a video alongside a presentation but Adobe Premiere Pro, the advanced video editing app can profoundly match your presentation with the Video.

  1. Readability: It may so happen that you are in a middle of a presentation and you need to present some data or intelligence which is available online. You try to open that webpage but internet ditches you at the end moment. Now either you leave that part or explain the same with the bits and bobs of what remains in your mind. But with this add-on (extension)in your web browser i.e. Readability, you can change any webpage into a “clean view” for reading at any point in time irrespective of the fact that whether or not you are connected to the Internet.
  1. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS):If you are one of those who doesn’t jump to conclusion before a research then this application is a must have for you. With expertise in solving research methods such as Frequencies, Cluster Analysis, ANOVA, Cross Tabulation, etc. the applications is a bit technical to fathom. At IBS, every student comes across this researcher tool during the second semester under the discipline Business Research Methodology. More about it is explained if one opts for Marketing Research in third one.
  1. Prezi: Even if you are fed up with the Powerpoint 2013 and want to walk one step ahead in presenting then Prezi is what you are looking for. It is a cloud based software where you can tell your story or present your thoughts on a canvas virtually. With some of the amazing 3D and Z-Axis effects, you can create your presentation online and once done you can download your work and present in the lecture. Though it takes a little while for the file to open but once opened and started it surely attracts everyone in the lecture theatre towards it.
  1. Free USB Flash Drive Recovery: Let’s admit thatit has happened with all of us atleast once. We plug our flash drive in the USB port but we don’t find the file which we were supposed to present in front of our class. Either we call off our efforts or use the backup drive. But in case you ever forget to take the back up of your work this application will surely help you in that mess with recovering the accidentally deleted file or a corrupted file.

There are available plethora of applications in number of genres over the internet but locking the right one for your desktop and even your cell phone is a hard nut to crack. Imagine your computer is crammed with uncountable applications which were available for download but just not that one which could help you in a ruin. After all “An Application in need is an Application indeed.”

Contributed By : Hasan Ali Gumani (Class of 2014, IBS Hyderabad).

Proactive versus reactive listening!

ProactiveVSReactive-620x330Friends how often we see that by jumping at several small opportunities get us to the goal more quickly than waiting for one big one to come along. How often you see our peers complaining about not getting enough opportunities at their way. How often do you see people struggling to make it big in their carrier or not able to achieve good grades or achieve success in different spheres of life? You will find one thing common in those individuals; they don’t listen! They have worst eye to detail, will have high and mighty attitude of I know it all and will sit ideal and wait for an opportunity to knock the door.

The ability to truly listen is one of the greatest assets that you can have as an individual. People fail to listen if they are too busy talking, distracted or disinterested. Regardless of the reason, failure to listen causes miscommunication, misunderstandings and unsolved problems, which are hazardous to any business environment.

You have two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk. The art of trying to appear to be listening to someone, but just reading to the last non-essential thing they said is reactive listening. Reactive listening is the worst form of listening and it’s often called as programmed way of listening. For example you ran into some one important and he starts to speak non-essential stuff. Now you can’t ignore him or duck the conversation as he’s a big shot. You can’t close your ears instead you chose to close your mind. You start to react at the last word of each sentence and don’t understand the meaning. In the middle he spoke something really important, and put his message across, you misses the bus. May be an opportunity just ran away. People don’t listen effectively, they only retain about one quarter of what is being said. For those of us involved in procurement and negotiation, it is heartening to learn that studies have shown that skilled negotiators listen twice as effectively and ask four times as many questions as average negotiators. It comes as no surprise then that, as a result of superior listening skills; the skilled negotiator’s retention level is higher.

Proactive listening is an act of mindfully hearing and attempting to comprehend the meaning of words spoken by another in a conversation or speech. Proactive listening is an important business communication skill, and it can involve making sounds that indicate attentiveness, as well as the listener giving feedback in the form of a paraphrased rendition of what has been said by the other party for their confirmation. Proactive listening is the intentional and conscious effort to listen for understanding. Proactive listeners not only remain silent and give attention to a speaker — they use nonverbal gestures for engagement and feedback for message confirmation. Proactive listening isn’t an inborn talent. It must be practiced and frequently applied to foster healthy relationships in the workplace.

There are few important ways you can improve upon your proactive listening skills:

  1. The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind so “stay quiet and try to make eye Contact”– The first basic elements of proactive listening involve taking a listening posture. In some cases, people don’t listen well because they talk too much or think about what to say. A proactive listener makes an intentional effort to give the speaker time and Making eye contact with the speaker is another proactive listening technique, as it shows

respect and attention to the speaker, but also helps you as the listener to stay engaged with the message.

  1. Nodding the head down doesn’t row the boat so learn to lean In and Nod- Making assertive nonverbal movements and gestures distinguish proactive listening form reactive listening as well. Leaning in toward the speaker is one sign of proactive listening. This movement isn’t intrusive or aggressive, it is just a simple maneuver to show interest and get closer to the message. Nodding your head after major points presented by the speaker is an important nonverbal gesture as
  1. Everyone need people who will give us feedback that’s how we improve so paraphrase for Confirmation– A major and often overlooked element of proactive listening is the feedback Take this step immediately after the speaker has finished his message, when you paraphrase or summarize your understanding of the message. By doing so you show the speaker that you heard and understood him/her. It also enables the speaker to clarify any misunderstandings. This vital proactive technique helps protects against you taking action with a false premise, or you and the speaker having different interpretations after the communication.

Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new so ask follow-Up Questions– Additional technique that separates great proactive listeners from average or good ones is asking follow-up questions. In some cases, people leave gaps or uncertainties in their messages. A proactive listener doesn’t just leave things up in the air. He asks questions to get more details or to address uncertainty about action steps. Asking good follow-up questions allows the listener to gain more insight into the speaker’s perspective, pull out more useful information and ensure that intended messages that didn’t come out in the original conversation are

Through proactive listening, truths are revealed and problems are effectively resolved. This is not an easy process because it requires you to be poignantly aware of your own feelings, thoughts, perceptions and reactions. Specifically, you must be in touch with your own mind, body and spirit while staying connected to the speaker. With humility, sincerity and practice, it can be achieved.

Proactive listening is first about understanding the other person, then about being understood. As you gain a clearer understanding of the other person’s perspective, you can then introduce your ideas, feelings and suggestions. If you apply the skills required for proactive listening, you will not only be known as a good listener. You will become a better leader as well.

Contributed By : Vaibhav Chandra (Class of 2009,IBS Hyderabad)

A Boon for Digital Marketing.

digital-marketing-04Digital Marketing has become one of the robust platforms and plays a key role in purchasing decisions. Digital media plays a great role by bridging the gap between an organization and its customers. It is not just about advertising but building fan following by the means of paid, owned and earned media where the customers listen and respond. The interface is open for all as technology can help; but it’s not about technology, it’s the content which takes the upper hand.

Often we come across questions like: How to increase followers/fans/visitors? Why do my accounts not grow as much as I want them to? Why do I get nothing out of all my marketing efforts? Why do people not talk about my product in social media? And the answer is: It’s the Content!!

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – CMI Report, 2015

To begin with, one needs to generate an endless stream of appealing, exciting, exceptional and valuable content ideas. You need to pen down your objectives and how it will fit into your marketing mix. It is important to define your target audience and strategy for creating and publishing content. The technology you want to use to publish content plays a crucial role. Finally lay down your workflow for it.

Half of your job is done by now, the next challenge is producing engaging content that gets read. Keep up with trends that are your target audiences’ interests:  What are they watching on TV? What books, magazines, and blogs are they reading? What ideas are they discussing with one another? You may perform a Google keyword search when your ideas run dry. Select the keywords that you want to target so you could create pieces of content for those keywords; search for unique angles about the topic; add them to your editorial calendar and release your creative ideas with brainstorming.

For new ideas and attractive content you may also join forums where people discuss a particular topic, this will help you to gain insights to read minds. Another interesting way is social media interactions, be present and engaged to understand your target market better. Last but the most important source is news, you don’t simply report the news but employ a trick of news jacking.

Creating relevant, interesting content ideas will never be a burden if you implement the tactics listed above. By employing these tactics, you will be equipped with the steady stream of ideas and could sense the new trends before they occur in market. However, setting this idea-generating system is not enough. You need to practice engaged listening to transform this information you have collected into usable ideas.

Your goal is to continually add content ideas to the list, that way you will never run out of the subject matter for timely, engaging content for your readers.

A Boon for Digital MarketingContributed by: Prof. Shweta Sharma(Faculty,IT & Systems at IBS Gurgaon).