Healthy Regime for an MBA Student

MBA StudentsA time frame of approximately 2 years is a very long time when it comes to a person’s career keeping in mind that many MBA students take a break from their job to inculcate skills and knowledge pertaining to management. Thus, aspirants get petrified by the kind of subjects and variety of tasks they would have to undergo at a management institute. Some programs provide a full time course involving staying at campus or hostels while a few demand fixed hour visit.

Hence, with the increasing complexities, competition, plethora of activities to divert the mind and last few years of education in an individual’s life; it becomes crucial to make best of it in order to contribute massively to one’s personal and professional growth. As an MBA graduate, I would recommend a tool called ‘regime’ for aspirants as well as MBA students.

Now, I would like to take you through each semester of MBA, the ideal attention to be allotted and ideal time to be allotted by an MBA student over listed criterions, to make best of the experience, though one must remember that one size doesn’t fit all.

Healthy Regime for an MBA Student

Good meals: First and for mostly, one must always remember to have a healthy diet plan throughout the program. Falling ill is an unaffordable luxury because illnesses and diseases make you lose your valuable preparation and studying time. Good meals should catch more of your attention over the three semesters and then become a high priority in the final semester. Now the question comes why? The higher concentration must be given in final semester because it is the time for placements when rejections, failures, falls happen and only and only good healthy favorite food helps you keep yourself active, healthy and in a good mood.

Plan Your Day: An unplanned day leaves scope for complaints pertaining to no time for oneself, any time for family or friends, social life or time for daily activities. Hence, time management through a time table or schedule is essential. Also, the planning must be short, precise and help you become organized. Being organized always leaves you with plenty of time for yourself. Planning must take less time but get higher attention. During last semester when there is more time for you to prepare for placements, thus one must plan judiciously. MBA program is meant to make you find solutions to all problems rather than cribbing over them.

Socialization Hours: My main agenda with socialization is to begin with making more friends, reduce to quality friends in the second semester because it is generally the harder semester. Socialization is good up to friendship and company, but harmful when there is waste of time in night-outs, gossips etc. Healthy time should be spent with contacts over dinners etc but must not become a part of your study, preparation or exam time. Teaching others is helpful to revise your lessons, don’t worry about competition because no one can snatch your knowledge, forget the competition.

General Awareness Reading: A lot of rejections come into picture due to lack of general awareness. Have knowledge about not just Bollywood, Hollywood or favorite bands but also the political scenario of the nation, economic state, financial issues, budgets and suggestive reforms for the country, social issues in hype, scams, mergers and acquisitions etc. Being aware takes a little time in the beginning but gradually becomes a habit building your competitive edge. As an MBA you are expected to have an opinion and view on everything. There must be no dieting in this area, over-eating can be dangerous too.

Personality Development Efforts: Confidence, self-assurance, self-awareness, smile, eye contact, clear speech, stress management, time management, pronunciation, perfect dressing, right grooming, body postures and language come with efforts. Nervousness goes with mirror work, practice and knowledge. Understand your weakness whether grammar, pronunciation, tone, grooming, understanding or comprehending etc and read a self help book on the same because this initial worry is better than worrying outside the interview room.

Number of Breaks: We all have brilliantly excelled over years to declare a five minutes break and extend the same for hours. Over time one must inculcate power naps and meditative naps during work to reduce stress and illnesses bearing with fatigue. Breaks are valuable because short breaks empower you to work with greater efficiency. A no break schedule saturates you faster by reducing your marginal effort minute by minute and deducting your efficiency.

MBA Graduation

Chapter and PPT preparation: Never ever under-estimate the reading of chapters from books. Detailed knowledge comes from books while a cursive brief comes from PPT’s. A lot of people stick to PPTs with limited knowledge, argue on their basis and prove a fool of them. PPT’s give an overview and hence are to revise what has been read. Chapter knowledge is really tested during interviews and placements as concepts and generally turns out as weakness of masses.

Reference Reading: Be a hunter, references give you in depth knowledge, ample to make you stand out of masses. As a personal experience, I would like to share that I always found videos and articles on related topics, watch and read the same for my favorite subject i.e. macroeconomics which always made me competent in the class and forced the professor to bring complex questions to me which became my competitive edge due to this heavy referencing and chapter preparation.

Family Time: In a full time residential program one is likely to face home sickness or loneliness which makes one want to stick to video chatting or long phone calls with parents. But as MBA students, one is expected to have certain balance over emotions. Family must not be given utmost importance because the goal here is to learn and not to spend time with family. Also, adequate gaps after each semester ensure ample time to visit one’s family.

Social Media and Entertainment: Social media includes networking sites such as Facebook, etc along with mobile applications like Whatsapp; must be replaced with focused attention in academics and physical play. One must reduce the hours of watching sports and television but not cut them altogether. If one has to do the same things, that one did at home, then what is the rationale of doing an MBA with stay in campus. One has to cultivate creativity at such campus rather than same old age haves.

Sleeping hours: The ideal hours of sleep being 5 and a lot of 5 to 10 minute breaks for power naps should be one’s way of resting. MBA is certainly not to laze around and sleep but a period of 2 years that demands active work and enthusiasm on one’s part. There must be a balance in the sleeping hours, it should neither be too less nor too much. Sleeping limited hours doesn’t mean to cultivate pale skin or dark circles, do take care of your sleeping hours. Dating and dating issues must be taken care of and must not affect your academics at any cost.

Contributed by Chayan Jain (Class of 2011-2013, IBS HYDERABAD)

The Illusion

MBA GraduateLong long ago, in an MBA college campus, there lived a young boy by the name Kabir. Kabir was an excellent student with a pretty good CGPA of 8.

So Kabir, braved through the courses in college and kept up his average, and then took on the challenging task in the final semester of MBA to work hard at facing interviews from various types of companies. Now Kabir had a dream of joining an Investment bank, and working with the finance division of it. He tried his level best, but somehow he was out ranked by a fellow classmate. Not losing any hope, he kept trying till the scope of job began to narrow down to I.T Companies or National banks.

He took a tough decision and decided to try his luck with these sectors, and suddenly landed with a job in a big I.T firm.

Kabir did join the company and underwent 3 month training with various processes of the company, overviews of the various divisions under finance and finally soft skills. Soon enough he was absorbed by one of the team which supported an application used by large investment banks as a platform to trade. With great hope of getting his first taste of working as a Business Analyst, Kabir joined the team. The first few days passed by with getting various processes in place. After which he and his fellow MT’s (Management Trainee) were asked to prepare test cases, and test the application.

Kabir was quite confused with the work that was assigned to him, as it wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the job description.  Nor was any of his learning in the 2 years of MBA required to complete the tasks at hand. Still Kabir pushed through, and went on to work on all the tasks diligently.

 After a few months, he began to question his ability and doubt his capability. It seemed like there were many around him getting assigned to different roles and he seemed to be stagnant with the work he was doing. A frustrated Kabir reach out to his mentors and was being told the same thing over and over again.

‘There is no requirement as of now for a Business Analyst, therefore we will keep you in mind when the time comes, and there are many projects in the pipeline. Don’t worry!’

mba graduates..

When his team met for coffee that evening they looked at Kabir who seemed rather dull, and asked him what the matter was?

To which Kabir responded, “Guys, What THE HECK is happening!!!! I am an MBA graduate from one of the best colleges in India. I landed job in an IT company, in which I am working on tasks which can be handled by anyone who is an undergraduate. I just want to quit but I have a loan which needs to be paid off!”

There was a wise, slightly more experienced person in the crowd, who spoke next, “Kabir my boy, let me just point out firstly on how wrong you are about the whole matter. I apologize on behalf of the company for causing you such pain. But let me tell you a few things about the corporate world from my years of experience.

As a fresher, your expectations of the world of corporate are pretty high and you are focused on maintaining the same momentum, as in college. Which is commendable but things change so fast in the world around us that one must be able to adapt to any situation presented to them. For example in your MBA you are taught subjects from various streams before you specialize, think of the corporate world in the same manner. You have been given the opportunity to work in various streams before you get your break. I promise you, the way that you are working, it will come soon. You are very inexperienced to handle a team, or a project on your own, for which you are currently being groomed in ways beyond your understanding. Just have some faith.”

So Kabir, let go of his illusion of the perfect job and began to perform well with the tasks that he was handed.

In 15 months’ time Kabir’s team won a project, in which he finally got to work in the job which he was promised. In the meanwhile 4 fresh MBA graduates had joined the team. So Kabir took them out for coffee and decided to pass on the wisdom and set their expectations. So at the coffee table he got a quick introduction and said,

“Dear Graduates, firstly let me take the opportunity to thank you for joining the company. I understand you guys are very eager to begin working full-fledged in the project. But as you’re senior I would like to tell you that in our team things are a little different. We hire all-rounders and expect you guys to be comfortable in any work that is given. This is to test you and understand your strengths and weaknesses. This will also help you gauge your level of competency and you will be able to figure out what you really are comfortable with.

I suggest you stop looking at the job description that was given when you were being recruited for this role, as that is simply a guideline as to what we ultimately want to groom you guys into. There will be various ups and downs. You will have periods of work where the pressure will be high, and there will be periods where you will be free. Don’t worry about either, both are pretty temporary.

Open you minds to receiving any sort of work that is given to you and go about and take on additional responsibilities from your seniors and peers. This will give you a lot of insight to the project.

If you are frustrated reach out to your mentors, and take decisions based on rational thinking. The world is your oyster. Aim and achieve high.”

His speech was received with claps and cheers.

Contributed by Sujir Pavithra Nayak (Class of 2011, IBS Hyderabad)

Experienced Candidates OR Freshers For MBA?

Experienced OR Freshers For MBAIt is the B-School admission season again. The environment is ripe with with speculation about who will make the cut and who will not be boarding the train this year. The questions are many. Which school, specialization, location, fee among many others. One such question is, should I take the plunge this year as a fresher or should I gain some work experience first. When do I get the maximum bang for the buck out of a MBA program?

So, does it really matter about a candidate willing to enroll in an MBA course if he/she is a fresher or an experienced candidate? The answer is- It depends.

Experienced candidates are perceived to be better equipped with the knowledge of industry, corporate culture, the processes, organizational structure. So, it can be safely assumed that they are able to relate with the theories that are being taught in the classroom and can also contribute positively by suggesting that how a particular concept/theory can be used in a particular situation while being on the job with some appropriate modifications.

However, the thought process of an experienced student can be biased towards a particular industry. Experienced candidates will have a lot at stake which is precisely the reason behind their strong work habits and understandable lesser risk appetite culminating towards lack of fresh perspectives and creativity in their thought process.

In an MBA environment, one often feels like being bombarded with information (in the classroom and after the classroom). It is a bitter truth that many times one would not be able to apply a theory (which is taught in the classroom) in a business scenario. So, the crux is not every concept will be relevant for one while one will be on the job. Experienced candidates have a better visibility and priorities defined when it comes to this aspect. Thus, experienced candidates are expected to have a better visibility of what they want from an MBA program and how they are going to attain those objectives.

‘Freshers’ as the word suggests bring in lot of freshness, energy, creativity, enthusiasm and most importantly are very good at brainstorming activities because of their unbiased approach. As compared to an experienced candidate, a fresher will be under lesser pressure which will allow him to internalize a concept after analyzing it from angles which are 180 degrees apart. The risk taking appetite of a fresher will be very high because of their openness towards any given industry. This is where a fresher scores during internship interviews because at that point of time companies look for enthusiastic candidates who are hungry for learning new things. A fresher easily fits the bill and in most cases gets the PPO (pre-placement offer) from the organization.experienced or freshers for mba degree

As a matter of fact, many freshers get inclined towards entrepreneurship during their MBA because of their risk taking appetite and the desire to do something of their own. However, fresher generally suffers from devil may care attitude which hinders growth in situations where more objectivity and sincerity is required. Freshers are generally more stronger academically or other interpretation of this is that they have more ‘bookish’ knowledge than the practical/functional knowledge.

MBA is all about ‘peer learning’. Now a days, B-schools are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a balanced mix of freshers and experienced candidates in their intakes. The idea is to achieve synergy of a fresher’s open mindedness and an experienced candidate’s functional knowledge. This is precisely the reason behind inculcating a culture of ‘group assignment’ in most of the MBA programs. Every group will have a good mix of freshers and experienced candidates where group assignment is designed in such a way that both kind of candidates utilize their strengths and work on the weak points respectively via learning from each other. That is why there is a cliché that in an MBA program, the role of a teacher is of a mere facilitator. After all, an MBA is not only a way to learn how to be an accountant, a supply chain consultant, a marketer, an HR professional but instead a way to learn what one needs of these roles as MBA gives you an eagle’s eye view to lead an organizational or cross functional teams.

So, our analysis boils down to the level of comfort and the objective of an individual to which certain task has been assigned or self-assigned(MBA in this case). The viewpoints are highly subjective to the situation. So, from the point of view of a fresher, if one wants to specialize in a particular domain then obviously MBA will be a value additive investment if done with work experience. But the situation will change if the objective is of doing general management, then having prior work experience does not really matter.

Also, it is perceived that freshers are more prone to succumbing to the pressure which an MBA program exerts on them as they land into MBA straight after finishing their graduation which results in decrease in performance, hindered learning, inability to apply the concepts learned in real word scenarios and inability to cope up with deadlines. Talking about experienced candidates, they might be suffering from superiority complex and over-confidence which proves to be a serious roadblock for them. So, there are some dark sides on both banks of the river.

Thus to sum it up, a candidate enrolled in an MBA program is like driving a car at night where in you are not able to see further the range of the headlight but you can still make the complete trip utilizing your strengths and by working on your weak spots/cutting them down depending upon whether you are a fresher or an experienced candidate. In the end, we must not forget that the more the specialized the world will be, the more it will be run by genralists.

Contributed by Sthita Sahu

Challenges for MBA students from vernacular (non-English) backgrounds

MBA students from vernacular backgroundsAn MBA program focuses on inculcating traits such as leadership and innovative thinking capabilities in the students to help them meet the ever-changing demands of the volatile business world. Hence, the two-year post-graduate program in management attracts students from different backgrounds and varied cultural diversities. English is a widely-spoken language in India and the country has world’s second largest English-speaking population.In India, English is used as the medium of instruction in most of the colleges imparting professional education to students including management education. All those facts are making English as the most preferred business language for Indians especially for foreign trade.

India is a land of diverse cultures, values, behaviours and traditions. The students getting enrolled in the MBA program hail from different regions with their specific cultural and social backgrounds, therefore their medium of communication is the regional language of the region they come from. For example, a student coming from Tamil Nadu in South India will be Tamil speaking whereas students from Maharashtra and Gujarat will communicate in Marathi and Gujarati languages respectively. Quite a few of them would also have completed their school education from schools having Hindi or the regional language as their medium of instruction.

The difficulties that students from vernacular or non-English backgrounds face with respect to English language proficiency include the inability to comprehend lectures, reading comprehension, taking down notes, communicating verbally, and writing assignments and examinations in English.

In the beginning of the MBA program, the foremost challenge that one might face as a student of non-English background is in understanding the lectures delivered by the faculty members of the college as well as keeping pace with what is being taught in the classrooms.

As a student from non-English background, one might find it difficult to participate in educational activities. In India, all coveted MBA programs focus on exposing the students to business scenarios in the International sphere by inviting guest faculty from the industry as well as management colleges overseas. Here, discomfort with English language may act as a major deterrent since it may require good English-language skills to express personal opinion on a particular topic or ask questions. Someone who doesn’t know good English well may not be as confident to participate in interactive activities such as debates and group discussions, as the students proficient in English language.

Cultural diversity is also a factor that prevents students from non-English background from participating in group activities. They encounter difficulties in developing a social network and familiarizing with prevalent norms and customs among the peer group.

This language barrier further influences one’s interactions with the faculty members. They might come as too shy to approach the professors and discuss the problem areas to come up with solutions.

Coming from vernacular backgrounds, some students may have a tough time writing assignments and taking down notes in English language, which forms the core of the MBA curriculum.Since they are not confident of their English language abilities, they might always have this fear of committing mistakes. This further keeps them from getting actively involved in academic activities.

So far, we discussed the challenges faced by MBA students who come from non-English backgrounds. Now, let us focus on ways to overcome this language proficiency barrier. These remedies will help you in improving your English language abilities if you think you need some helpful tips.

One of the ways which will prove helpful in improving your written English language skills is through soliciting feedback from the faculty, senior MBA students as well as your peer group on your assignments and other written tasks. It will help you identify your problem areas, so that you can work upon them.

MBA in digital world

Forming small groups of students for the purpose of conducting group activities such as debates and discussions will help you gain confidence in your spoken English capabilities. Apart from improving your communication skills, it will also improve your tone and accent of delivery.

To enhance your comprehension skills, you must read many journals and text books in English language which will help you to get a command over the language. Thus, understanding the lectures of the faculty, irrespective of their accent or the speed of delivery, will not be a challenge for you anymore.

Besides these ways of improving your English language proficiency, audio and video CDs telling “ways to hone English speaking skills” will also help you in overcoming the language barrier.

In this age of Information Technology, e-learning tutorials from the best of the instructors in the domain of English communication can also help you to master English language as well as overcome all your fears related with the language proficiency.

You can as well go for contact classes for enhancing English language skills where you will be trained for both verbal as well as writing skills, besides boosting your reading and comprehension abilities.

You can also seek the support of the faculty for helping you learn and get a hold on the language, thus doing away with English language inhibitions. It will also promote student-faculty interaction.

You can overcome these challenges by putting in extra efforts and hard work with grit, determination and perseverance. It is best that you get hold of the English language even before you start preparations for MBA entrance exams as your efforts will be rewarding enough to land you in a premium b-school of your choice.

In this post, we discussed the numerous challenges that students hailing from non-English background faced during the 2-year MBA program. We also tried to give an insight into the strategies that you can adopt to work on your English language proficiency. We hope that this will help you to foster greater participation in academic activities, allaying the fears of making language mistakes. It will help in increasing your confidence levels with your academic performance showing considerable improvement.

Contributed by Qais Mujeeb ( Class of 2001, IBS Hyderabad )

10 Common Networking Mistakes to Avoid

mba-graduatesHere are some common networking mistakes to avoid in your job search:

  1. Not meeting professionals in person

Job seekers these days want to do everything online, without actually pressing the flesh and meeting people in person but there is no substitute for getting out there and introducing yourself to people who might know someone who is hiring. You should go to at least two or three meet-ups a month, and bring business cards and introduce yourself to random people. Don’t be shy, even if you aren’t the most outgoing person, talk to one or two strangers at these meet-ups, and see if you can find common ground.

  1. Expecting too much too quickly

It is important to not ask for what we want from networking contacts right away. You’ve got to give before we get. Take some time, get to know your contact, and see what skills or services you can provide for that person. Try not to think about what they can do for you just yet. The goal is to broaden your network and make meaningful connections so that they can help you later. So, start networking early.          

  1. Not meeting enough people

Although you want to build strong relationships with your networking contacts, the goal is to meet as many people as possible when you’re at networking events. Ask questions and, presuming you see a fit, politely ask for their card and ask for permission to stay in touch. Remember, this is not the time to make a sales presentation or to tell your life story. It is the time to spend a few minutes of quality time with someone new and then move on to meet a new prospect.

  1. Not working on personal branding

Anyone can reel off their qualifications and their skills but by understanding ourselves, we will be better equipped and more confident in ourselves and our abilities (and indeed shortcomings). We are better able to understand what transferable skills we have, in what environments we work best in, what drives us to work. When meeting people, if you understand yourself, this confidence resonates.

  1. Lacking professionalism

Let’s say someone has found a way to brand themselves, a way to differentiate themselves, how will people know about you? Though LinkedIn and other social networks like Facebook and Twitter have made it easier to network and get your name out there, many job seekers fail to keep a professional image of themselves online.

Spend some time improving your LinkedIn profile and developing your network. Remove those pictures from Facebook that you shouldn’t have taken, also.

mba graduates

  1. Being clueless

If you’re heading to a networking event, make sure you know why you’re going. Do you want a job? If so, are you seeking something specific, or will anything do? Are you looking for contacts or a mentor to provide guidance? As soon as someone starts talking with you, you have to hold up your end of the conversation. If you don’t know what you want, you can’t do that.

  1. Being unprepared

Thinking you know what you want is not the same as knowing it. Treat networking the same way you would treat an interview. Practice your pitch as well as your answers to questions about your career goals that might arise.

  1. Not following through

Another common networking mistake is the lack of following through with networking contacts. You have to remember to follow-up with contacts to continue your relationship and building a good network. Send your contact an e-mail every now and then or give them a call to schedule another meeting, but try not to go overboard. The last thing you want to do is annoy your networking contacts.

  1. Not having patience

Building a professional relationship is a lot like a romantic one – fragile. That being said, you shouldn’t be afraid to work hard to build relationships. One of the top networking mistakes is a lack of patience in conversations and wanting to pitch your sale from the beginning. You have to build up to your pitch. Focus on the other person for a while and find ways where you two can continue to connect.

  1. Forgetting business cards

There is nothing more embarrassing than establishing a good relationship with someone, extracting a pledge of help and then searching around for a cocktail napkin to write on. Spend a few extra bucks to print professional-looking cards on good-quality paper.

  1. Using a silly-sounding email name

Sure, your friends know you as “BestFriend4U” or “TimeForChat,” but when looking for work, stick to a serious email address, such as your real name.

  1. Being passive

If someone says, “Sorry, we don’t have anything right now,” take a minute or two to ask follow-up questions: “Well, what’s the outlook for future possibilities? Do you know anyone else in the industry who might have something? Any thoughts on what my next step should be?” Persistence shows true interest on your part and may help the person you’re networking with come up with ideas he might otherwise overlook.

  1. Not saying thank you

Since life can get busy and it’s easy to forget to send out a thank you card, setting a reminder on Gmail to say thank you can help you remember to show your appreciation to your newly acquired professional contacts.

  1. Not dressing appropriately

Whether it’s a networking event you are attending or simply meeting a contact for lunch – or even a Skype chat – dressing professionally is something you should always keep in mind. You’re trying to get a job, not go out on a casual date with friends.

A networking event can be a dress rehearsal for a job interview, but no one will help you get your foot in the door if you give the impression that you’ll slouch through it once it’s open. Remember, you have to look and act the part so you can convince others that you’re ready to work and be a professional.

  1. Not helping others.

Many job seekers get into the mindset that networking is a one-way street. Unfortunately, this mindset can have a negative impact on your job search. The solution: Give back to your professional connections. For example, if one of your friends secured you a job interview with their employer, find a way you can return the favor. Whether it’s being there for them as they work towards their promotion or helping them find a mentor, this is a great way to help the people who help you during your job search.

Contributed by Shilpa Verma Kansal ( Class of 2008, IBS GURGAON )

Thinking Beyond Money During Campus Placements

Campus placements at IBSFriends the economic slump has offer organization a chance to work more effectively on rewarding talented candidates by emphasizing nonfinancial motivators rather than to offer hefty packages. This is an opportunity for young MBA graduates to slip into these organizations and achieve success.

Companies around the world are cutting back their remuneration programs, and have used other ways (non-financial) of inspiring and hiring talent. Numerous studies have concluded that for employee with unsatisfactory salaries, some nonfinancial motivators are more effective, in building long-term employee engagement.

For a fresher this couldn’t be a better time to be motivated, in this time of cost-effective approach. I know money’s traditional role as the dominant motivator is under pressure from declining corporate revenues due to which many companies have cut remuneration costs by many percent or more, but the good news is; we can exploit this condition. Candidates should weigh the organization efforts under three noncash motivators—a) praise from immediate managers, b) leadership attention, and c) a chance to lead projects or task forces. I’ll try to give you an insight on these points-

  1. Praise From Immediate Manager – This is a slanted part where most of you will not know before joining in about how the leadership will treat you, but inquiring through friends, word of mouth , finding common connection through LinkedIn etc., can help the candidate to judge better. The candidate should weigh the organization on the following parameters–
    • Importance: Giving people a sense of importance about who they are and about their role in the organization;
    • Touch: Feeling that the leader genuinely cares about them, feeling a connection with the leader;
    • Gratitude: Being appreciated for their contributions and sacrifices; receiving genuine gratitude;
    • Fairness: Knowing that leaders ensure equal and fair distribution of rewards.

Recognition and praise are indeed high octane fuel for the soul. When we receive a genuine compliment, we experience an inner glow – it’s a warm, magical feeling that makes us break into a smile. It makes us want to go the extra mile for the person who bestowed the sincere compliment. If this were not important to us, we would not be treasuring all of the mementos of awards, plaques, appreciative notes and emails, and other tokens of appreciation that we receive over the years.

  1. Leadership attention – One-on-one meetings between employee and leaders are hugely motivational; they make them feel valued during these difficult times. You have to check, how much the organization’s leadership is involved with their team members. By contrast, largescale communications events, such as the town hall meetings common during the economic crisis, is one of the least effective nonfinancial motivators. Basically all modern theory of motivation aside, the key to energize the resource is purpose i.e. put purpose in employee’s work. If every single employee can understand the value they bring in the mission and vision of the organization, much of the leadership task falls in places. Today leaders in most organization don’t have time even for their direct reports, imagine a leaders investing his valuable time to train and mentor you is nothing less than gold.

Leadership is like a love affair, every fool can start but to end it tidily requires considerable skills, the candidate should understand the importance of great leadership. Organization these days faces leadership crunch and the candidate should value the time and effort his leaders are investing upon them to improve his/her skill set.

Campus Placements

  1. Chance to lead projects or task forces – I’ve seen many candidates feel reluctant to face the chin music but trust me nothing is more important than by taking the bull by the horns. Taking a lead on big projects will make you an indispensable resource to the organization. When I joined as a fresher I was given a task to maintain the monthly tracker but I stood up and asked for more strategic work. Seeing my enthusiasm my leader gave a big sensitive project which I ran commendably. From thereafter I never look back, but what worked for me was the amount of risk the organization/leader took to assign that project to me. It’s a great example of leader risking him and you rising to the occasion. The candidate should definitely join organization that has higher risk taking appetite. Money will follow, but nothing is more expensive than a miss opportunity to make it big. In the tiring time of job crunch and cramped campus placement, candidate should shift their focus on companies which aren’t risk averse and employees enjoy free hand to work. How many times it’s seen how that ‘small’ project turned into such a big one costing double and taking three times the length an organization estimate, eventually making an employee life.

Some far-thinking companies are working hard to understand what motivates employees. One global pharmaceutical company conducted a survey that showed that in some countries employees emphasized the role of senior leadership in social responsibility. One automotive company has reframed the incentives issue by putting the focus on “recognition” instead of “reward” in order to inspire a more thoughtful discussion about what motivates people.

The top three nonfinancial motivators cited offer guidance on where candidates should focus. I was having an interaction with one of the HR directors and he emphasized leadership attention as a way to signal the importance of retaining top talent. Many CEO’s while crafting corporate strategy, convened several focus groups of talented managers to generate ideas about how to create more value for the business.

With profitability returning to some geographies and sectors, we see signs that huge packages will be making a comeback: A talent strategy that emphasizes the frequent use of the right nonfinancial motivators would benefit most companies in bleak times and fair. By acting now, organization could exit the downturn stronger than they entered it and candidates should capitalize this opportunity by slipping in quickly to an effective role.

Thinking beyond money is tough for young MBA graduates since the amount of money invested in the MBA program is huge. But being motivated during strenuous time will take your carrier to an unimaginable extent. Be knowledgeable and skillful, money follows the wise.

All the Best!

Contributed by Vaibhav Chandra (Class of 2009, IBS HYDERABAD)

Tips for MBA freshers: Dealing with workplace harassment

work placeIt’s a story we’ve heard many times, of a woman being bothered by the persistent interest that a male colleague (sometimes even the boss) is taking in her. He may be direct about his intentions, passing lewd comments, issuing invites for dinner or coffee or flooding her with text messages or he may bother her in other ways, touching her ‘accidentally’ or setting up situations in which she is left alone with him, and so on.

Either way, she is left feeling helpless and angry. Confronting the perpetrator of this harassment may result in job loss, and not doing anything about it means a daily struggle of fending him off.

So what to do? This is a pressing question especially today when more women are entering the workplace and are faced with this scenario regularly. A November 2010 survey of 600 women employees in the information technology and outsourcing industry found that 88 per cent of them had faced some form of sexual harassment at work. In two-thirds of the incidents, the perpetrator was a superior at work, according to the survey conducted by the Centre for Transforming India, a Delhi-based non-profit organization.

Workplace harassment and office bullying are all too common in this day and age therefor every woman in the workplace needs to equip herself with information about what she can do if she is being harassed.

It’s important to pay heed to any sense of discomfort you may feel during your interactions with male colleagues and confront the problem directly.

As an experienced HR professional, I have a fair idea of what you should do to avoid/ report such issues. Here’s what to do to alleviate harassment or bullying in the workplace:

  1. Communicate your disapproval: If you can avoid the colleague who makes you uncomfortable, do so. If you have to work in close proximity to him, avoid being alone with him. Tell him to stop his specific behavior. If he stands too close, you can say: Can you stand away please, because such closeness makes me very uncomfortable. Or, if he touches you, say: Can you please avoid putting your hand on my shoulder because that makes me uncomfortable. ‘If the person has sent you a joke through an email or SMS, reply through email or SMS when asking him to stop,’
  2. Write It Down: Keep a detailed journal of what occurred with as many details as possible. If your colleague isn’t getting the message, prepare to report him. Gather evidence to substantiate your claims. Note down the date, time and details of each incident. Save any emails or text messages that contain inappropriate language. Try to use your mobile phone recorder to discreetly record his remarks.
  3. List Witnesses: If there are witnesses, compile their names and share the situation with a colleague you trust in the office. She may be able to keep a watchful eye on the situation. But be picky about who you share this information with, and ensure that your confidante is trustworthy. A senior colleague or mentor who carries more weight in the organization would be ideal.
  4. Seek Help: Go to the supervisor, if necessary. Make the complaint in writing and keep a copy. Remember, an oral complaint can be hushed up. Often women don’t report sexual harassment for fear they might lose their jobs, but unless you are willing to take action, your problem will persist.
  5. Do not rise to the occasion: Choose not to react to the bullying or harassing behavior. (Quite often, bullying is power through aggression).
  6. Use Company Resources: Use your company’s resources, such as a harassment advisor, mediator or employee assistance program (EAP), if necessary. Many EAP programs offer you a choice of talking to someone by phone or in person, and possibly the opportunity to seek assistance outside of your community.
  7. Identify Workplace Stressors: Take a work stress inventory to identify your sources of stress, your triggers and your current coping mechanisms.
  8. Change Negative Thoughts: Learn to identify and change your “mind maps” (thoughts swirling in your mind) in such a situation and remind yourself this stressful situation is temporary. You CAN transform negative thoughts and energy into positive thoughts and positive energy.
  9. Learn to Relax: Teach your body to relax with “keeping well” resources: deep breathing, progressive relaxation, mindfulness, guided imagery and relaxing music.
  10. Create a plan B: Leaving your job should be your last resort. But before you take this step, it’s best to start looking for another job. Leaving without an option may result in a feeling of powerlessness.


A look at the law

In India ‘The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2012’ is an act “to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment.”

The brutal gang rape of a social worker in Rajasthan in 1997 brought to the attention of the Supreme Court of India, the absence of domestic law occupying the field, to formulate effective measures to check the evil of sexual harassment of working women at all work places.  This resulted in India finally enacting its law on prevention of sexual harassment against female employees at the workplace.

Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment, Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in employment or Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status Interferes with work or creates an intimidating/hostile/offensive work environment. Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health and safety.

India Inc has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to sensitizing employees to gender issues at the workplace, HR experts have said, amid increasingly frequent reports of sexual harassment charges in the country. Employers need to have a clear and written policy that sexual harassment is misconduct and will result in dismissal. The message that it will not be tolerated should be sent out loud and clear. Sensitization programs at the workplace to put norms of acceptable behavior in place are necessary and prompt action must be taken against the perpetrator.

Contributed by Shilpa Verma Kansal ( Class of 2008, IBS GURGAON )

Creating Creatively

MBA Graduates Creating Creatively

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. – C. S. Lewis

We are repeatedly told that in a day and age where ‘change’  is the only constant, the ones unwilling to embrace it are sure to be left behind.

This raises some obvious questions.

Would it not be infinitely easier to just work within a set of boundaries that must never be crossed?

Isn’t it more rational to follow a successful standardized method instead of concentrating on customization?

No doubt it is tempting to follow a set of routine and emergency guidelines, but what happens when the ever-changing market dynamics interferes with and limits your resources and desired output?

Here is where Creative Management surpasses Traditional Management in a business setting.

Often confused with creativity management (which is the management of creative thinking skills and other mental processes), creative management celebrates creativity and innovation in the business processes.

What is creativity?

Is it Originality?




We know that both innovation and creativity intend value creation and innovation without creativity is unheard of.

Ideas have little value unless applied. If ideas exist but no action is taken, it is imagination we are left with, not creativity.

Peter Cook, of Beverley Gardens, Maidenhead, had an idea and he pursued it. He innovated to benefit homes prone to flooding. The new product is a natural jute bag containing a super-absorbent polymer weighing only 400g. When placed in contact with water it absorbs the liquid and expands to 32 times its size. Peter creatively managed to effectively prevent indoor-flooding.

For our purposes, creativity can be defined as concurrent problem identification and idea generation whereas innovation can be defined as creative idea selection, development and commercialization.

Creativity in management decisions and processes make incumbent businesses and new entrants stand out from their competitors ensuring more market share.

Sternberg & Lubart, in their signature work Defying the Crowd tell us – A product is creative when it is a) Novel and b) Appropriate.

An innovation can have a long-term impact but the creative managers need to ensure that an immediate need for it exists.

The process of creativity in Management is the ability to perceive things in new ways by questioning assumptions, reasoning, synthesizing information by finding hidden patterns and connections, taking calculated risks, modifying or creating product, service or process; all with passion, commitment and agility.

The Traditional (or Classic) approach views creativity as a deliberately managed process. In both Classic and Creative Approaches, it is up to the management to set frontiers or boundaries while managing organizational change. The initiation of change however is not as big a taboo in the latter.

The biggest problem with the Classic approach is that it fails at proper crisis management in spite of being a consistent and “tried & tested” approach.

Simply stated, new problems usually require new solutions. Keep up or perish.

In the case of creative management, crisis produces challenges that must be taken on as a risk or chance, demoting the status of crisis from that of threat to an opportunity. In short, crisis becomes the catalyst for potential positive change.

The change can be approached as either sustaining or disruptive.

Sustaining Creative Management needs more structure and focuses on doing things better. Disruptive Creative management isn’t too wedded to the existing system and believes in doing things differently.

There are various factors that must be considered before deciding the most suitable approach at any given period of time.

Innovation impulses arise out of the internal environment and external environment. ** They originate out of unexpected events, contradiction, change of work process, change in the structure of industry, demographic changes as well as changes in the worldview and new knowledge.*

IBM’s 2010 Global CEO Study states, “The effects of rising complexity calls for CEOs and their teams to lead with bold creativity, connect with customers in imaginative ways and design their operations for speed and flexibility to position their organizations for twenty-first century success.”

Creative Managements chase insights that help them to connect more resolutely with their target audience. In the Marketing scenario, modern marketers create the intended perception by constructing a web of associations and targeting the creative consumption.

Social Media Advertising is just the tip of the iceberg. Anything from innovative packaging to a discount deal can assist in moulding the brand image as planned.

A Successful Innovating Company is quite easy to spot. It has an aura of collective creative consciousness, which pervades throughout the organization and into the hearts and minds of their consumers.

It manifests as motivation and creativity of employees throughout all sectors. Each employee heartily takes up the oft-silent pledge to do by the greater good of their organization and commit to teamwork. The love is reciprocated by the organization to its employees. There is a focus on continued creative education and wellbeing of the employees.

No stone is left unturned towards the possibility of further innovation and  new opportunities for creative change. All alternatives are investigated before employing any new idea through systematic Research and Development.

A Successful Innovating Company conquers the markets using a project-based approach with a healthy rate of risk taking. It carries the talent to legally finance the innovation activities and does not hesitate to cooperate with external experts when required.

Since the Creative Approach focuses on using the limited resources in the most effective manner, it has become the go-to style of budding entrepreneurs today. Creative start-ups adopt this Management style to make a lasting first impression and to nudge it in the desired direction.

Creatively managed Businesses mba graduatesunderstand their customer like an old acquaintance would, making the most of the insights collected, providing value (and striving to provide more) where earlier there was little or none.

Creative Management envisions and takes steps towards a glorious future, yet is proactive when it senses the winds shifting.

It is always on its toes, strategically choreographing its moves and simultaneously dancing in tune with the market rhythm to the delight of consumers and the awe of its competitors.

Believe you can change the world. Work quickly, keep the tools unlocked, work whenever.

Know when to work alone and when to work together.

Share – tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.

No politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage.)

The customer defines a job well done.

Radical ideas are not bad ideas. Invent different ways of working. Make a contribution every day. If it doesn’t contribute, it doesn’t leave the garage. Believe that together we can do anything.


-1999 HP Annual Report

**Internal: Own R&D department, technical division, production divisions, marketing and sales, logistics, guarantee and post-guarantee service, owners; External: customers, suppliers, competitors, consultants, R&D institutions, schools, universities, professional publications, Internet, exhibitions, fairs, specialized seminars and conferences, advertising agencies, investors, media, authorized testing labs, certification agencies, state institutions and public sector, legislation, globalization.

*Seven sources of Innovation impulses by Drucker.

We will be discussing in our following posts the tools used for creative management in an organization, the characteristics of a Creative Manager and how Creativity is a discipline, which can be learnt.

Contributed by Ankita Verma ( Class of 2009, IBS HYDERABAD )

What company looks in a candidate ?

mba aspirants

All set to enter into the corporate world? You must be excited — and tensed too.  And I am sure several questions must be swimming in your head: which profile to choose, which course to join, which technology to study and, of course, that big fat question — will I get company of my dreams.

Folks, I’ve interviewed a lot of candidates, for my current and previous organization. Amazingly, I fail to understand the thought process of an applicant during the screening process. Essentially they forget most of the tricks taught during their management program.

When we believe Google knows all, you search the web and end up with so many confusing ideas, like what’s your body language telling? Are you showing your real self? Do you have the personality to do the job? Are you resourceful?   These may puzzle you but organizations these days are clever in selecting a candidate.

We usually give a simple case study to solve and judge the candidate on different parameters and surprisingly we find most of them scoring low. I’ve put in my thoughts around 5 big common but so uncommon notions around the interview process which I thought will be helpful for you.

  1. Be smart not over-smart
  • You need to put in all your efforts to ensure you don’t behave like a fool. Perhaps this is an important life lesson. Most people think just to dissect words, by giving wrong references and exchanging peculiar examples will help them crack an interview. They are absolutely clueless about how much the interviewer is silently mocking their idiotism. Basically, detouring never fetches great results.
  • The idea is to answer what has been asked, it’s good to back your statement with an example but the pattern should match. Say you are talking about vendor risk, you should not suddenly jump and link it to payment processing. This confuses the interviewer and put you at risk.
  • The theme is KISS (Keep it simple stupid)
  1. Get off my back 
  • Many candidates are rejected because of their casual attitude to answer the interviewer. Even though they don’t have a fitting reply to a question, their tendency to speak more and eventually digress leads them to a downfall. By telling “I don’t know, but can I come back to you with an answer if required” will make you a bigger and a better person.
  • Don’t steer in a circle to find a corner i.e. by bugging the interviewer with your vague illustrations, lecturing him on the learning you have in your MBA classes will not work.
  • Organizations prefer smart idiots over a stupid genius any day. Perhaps a person, who doesn’t know, can be trained but a person with an incorrect knowledge will be a disaster. Even the great champions acknowledge they don’t know everything.
  • The idea is not to stretch the envelope.
  1. Sell yourself
  • I’ll tell you a secret. Organizations these days are desperate for talented and dynamic professionals. Leaders go an extra mile in terms of compensation, joining date and employee benefits to pull in the right candidate. It’s all about how well you fit the bill and how keen are you to fit the bill. But it’s quite sad to see the applicant miss this loophole.  
  • Be prepared to sell yourself. Applicants should carefully read the job description, research the market dynamics, organization vision, mission and core values. Align your sales pitch in accordance to the Job description. No one knows you better than you. The true sign of intelligence is the imagination to sell.
  • The goal is to sell ice to an Eskimo.
  1. mba graduatesHigh and mighty Attitude
  • Organization accepts that a candidate with a constructive attitude is a rare find. I’ll give you an example. I interviewed a candidate who had amazing communication skills, unexpected domain knowledge and immaculate interpersonal skills but we observed one imperative behavioural characteristic. During the interview process his attitude towards life and work was found to be very indecisive. He hemmed and hawed when we asked direct questions.
  • Organization don’t like when they are kept hanging in the air. They judge you on your attitude. They constantly look if the candidates can handle problems without cribbing, be a potential billable resource and fit in well with the team. You ought to have an attitude which is positive, constructive and inspiring.
  • The notion is don’t carry “devil may-care-attitude”.
  1. Be a Leader
  • One of my all-time favourite sayings is “Leading is like a love affair, every fool can start one but to end it tidily requires considerable skills”. Today organization suffers from a leadership crunch. Business units often complain about the lack of talented people who can lead their vertical. Perhaps they constantly look out for candidates who will lead the team, who will inspire and motivate the team members. This is one quality which gives you an edge over others.
  • You need to show your leadership quotient to the interviewer, request a moment to talk about the activities and initiatives wherein you have demonstrated leadership skills. In those 30 minutes they really want to see the leadership quotient in you. They primarily consider if the candidate can roll up his sleeves and turn the game or if he’s a kind of a person who just enjoys his past laurels.
  • Rally the troops, don’t become a case of blind leading a blind.
  • The mantra is “You can’t make an omelette without breaking the egg”. I’ll prefer a candidate who doesn’t necessarily be a great fit for the role, but if he’s proactive, has the ability to lead, above all has a great attitude towards life. He or she essentially should be a cog in the wheel for the organization.

THINK plenty before taking the plunge. Once you take that leap, start swimming. Don’t let the thought of gain or loss or success or failure distract you. It is important that you play the game seeking the goal you have.

If you act just for the boss at the workplace, you cannot act your role with dedication. Act not for the boss in the cabin but for the Great Boss within.

All the best! I’m sure you will be a great success.

Contributed by Vaibhav Chandra ( Class of 2007-2009IBS HYDERABAD )

Clear Communication, Effective Impression

Clear Communication- Effective Impression

Almost every soul in the class was trying hard to understand and comprehend what Vikas was stating. Those who were in no mood to wrack their brains went into deep slumbers. The presentation was on a particular topic in Human Resource Management. The team presenting their views on the topic with the help of audio-visual aids undoubtedly had worked hard but Vikas was turning out to be a wet blanket.

Vikas, a bright and promising student was trying to deliver his part of the presentation with utmost zeal and enthusiasm but every word he was speaking made audience lose interest and finally when it got over, the loud voice of the mentor had brought everyone back to senses. Vikas was left dumbfounded and was wondering what went wrong. He had worked against time to make it a grand success as it had some value as far as internal marks were concerned. Anyways, dejected he assumed his seat and went in a state of confusion. “Were my peers unable to understand and comprehend what I spoke? But why?”

This is not something new, in fact, it is quite common in classrooms. Being a B-school student myself, I had encountered this problem several times and it had left me completely drained. Master in Business Administration (MBA) involves and demands effective communication and interpersonal skills, no matter which field you major in such as Finance, Marketing or Human Resources. Majority of us work sincerely on honing our communication skills but often ignore some few basic facts and our efforts go to waste.

 Many of us have a fair command over the universal language, English but we all tend to improve upon it. Editorial pages of Economic Times, magazines like Business Today along with novellas and novels become an integral part of our lives. It makes us better informed but it takes a great deal to become an effective communicator. I seek to share a few useful aspects which I learned from my own follies and try to avoid in when I present something.

  • Being too verbose can be an overkill

Here I would like to mention my own student life and some personal instances. I started learning new words, phrases and expressions  and  soon  they  found  space  not  only  in  all  my  writings  but  also verbally. New and difficult words became a part and parcel of my vocabulary of daily use and soon I got addicted to it, without realizing when and how to use them.

I did not pay any heed to this aspect and would be really engrossed in learning new words and expanding my vocabulary with each passing day. I used to get immense  pleasure when my friends were unable to understand the umpteen words which I would use and I would fill them in with the meaning. My peers congratulated me on my impressive vocabulary every now and then. My sense feeling of pride was going out of bounds but I did not care much.

I got the biggest jolt when I was delivering a presentation. In a particular paragraph on one of the slides, I had  mentioned- ‘When companies adopt Blue Ocean Strategy, they cannot afford to be pusillanimous and once they enter a new market, it is not so easy to elope’. Majority of my peers started scratching their heads looking at the first bold word. I had to explain that it meant non-courageous but soon the entire class including my mentor burst into uncontrollable peals of laughter.

I was getting hyperactive when one of my friends pointed out- “Brother, elope means to escape”. That’s what I had meant which was why my tone was filled with agony and anger. “Escape with a person”- he continued and started smiling. I looked at my mentor and apologized. Do remember friends, use simple and effective words which are relevant to the context you wish to bring to others notice. We do not join the course to become a litterateur.MBA Graduates

  • Be thorough, Be confident

When you start talking about any topic, discuss any issue or simply deliver a presentation on any topic, make sure that whatever information you are sharing is accurate, updated and precise. There will be many instances when your peers will put up a counter question or simply question the authenticity of the information provided. It can be truly genuine or simply concocted.

If you know that you have delivered accurate information, be confident and face your peers putting valid points and evidence to support your points. If you are not unsure about the accuracy of the facts, be confident and mention that you will check about it and revert. Never ever surrender your guns and start apologizing. But yes, if anyone from the audience puts forward enough and real evidence to support their point, never hesitate even for a nanosecond to admit your mistake and thank them profusely.

Further, you should never digress from the main topic. You may share your viewpoints with others but need to link the information provided in such a way that  it  appears coherent, related and relevant in all respects.

  • Be natural and conversant

It has happened to me numerous times that my presentation appears to be incredible but when I start delivering or discussing about it, it becomes utterly boring and uninteresting. Capturing audience is an art which you need to be dexterous at. Be natural, simple, conversant and clear in what you intend to convey. Using personal incidents, experiences and anecdotes makes it more conversational, arresting and appealing.

In the end, I must admit that I have not scribbled something which you do not know, have not heard or experienced but this is a tiny write-up to reinforce what you subconsciously are aware of but if followed religiously, it will be of immense use and help. You may turn into an effective and impressive communicator in a real sense. Learn from your experiences as everyone does but learn from others sermons as well.

 Wish you luck!

Contributed by Vineet Mani (Class of 2010,IBS GURGAON )