I woke up to a cold weather in Bangalore, awakened by the noises running throughout the hostel corridors. I glanced at my clock, it showed “6:45 a.m.” which is hardcore for a PGP student. All of us were expected to be present at MDC lawn eight in the morning to kick off the summer placement season 2016. I wandered into the odds of me getting placed today. I essentially had zero shortlists for the day except for BNY Mellon, quite a fancy name, don’t you think?
I was still on the fence with the thought of sacrificing the early morning slumber for the MDC call. My only hope for the day rested on the infinitesimal probability of getting an extended shortlist. As per seniors, these will be floated around the end of the process and I could potentially get a shot at an interview with the much-coveted consulting firms.
Hope is a powerful force and it just keeps you pushing ahead.
So, with one big breadth I got up and ready, donned the freshly stitched suit and went dashing towards my destination.
The placement cell had made elaborate arrangements at the MDC lawn. It looked like a big fair with multitude of students seated in their respective marked positions, the scene was bought alive by the presence of seniors, moving all around the place and constantly chatting on their walky-talkies. My colleagues seemed anxious but excited at the same time. Many of us have been preparing hard for this occasion and it reflected on their faces.
Soon, the process of interviews started and out came a mix of happy and sad faces. Those who cracked it were pulling out their ties, exhalation on their faces and surrounded by a crowd of buddies congratulating them. Those who lost this battle, buckled up and got ready for their second round as interviews were lined up one after the other. In addition to these two, there was a third group of people who were like me, quite disengaged from the tension of the moment and making merry among themselves. The chances of getting an interview call was going down by the minute. Some of us even had second thoughts about staying at the MDC, and as a result a few left in between.
This sequence repeated till the evening. I found one part of the process very interesting. Those who were placed early were sitting there to support the others.
These guys, the future consultants and VCs; the sharpest minds at IIMB and they had now formed a team to make sure that all of the batch gets placed ASAP.
We were lucky that such a powerful team of people were now backing us up for the days to come.
I reached my room late at night and awaited instructions from the placement committee. But alas, the tiredness of the day put me to an instant sleep.
“It’s 6:15, wake up dude.”, shouted my neighbor Nikhil as he knocked hard on my door. Today was going to be the pre-processing day for the companies visiting for placement tomorrow. In a nutshell, the whole day was going to be spent in group tasks and discussions arranged by the firms which you have applied to and have you in their shortlists. I quickly downloaded the list of companies and to my surprise, had 14 such activities planned for today. It was going to be a long day.
I reached the MDC at the designated hour and awaited further instructions from the trackers. This is what followed afterwards:
- [8:00 AM, Reliance, failed] I entered the room with nine other participants for this session. The discussion was based on a case which presented the Jio story. Essentially, “a firm has setup the infrastructure for their 5G services and want to penetrate the rural school markets using digital education as a driver.” We saw a fierce discussion with participants taking a dig at each other. I was pleasantly surprised by such vigor from the group and was relatively quiet.
- [9:00 AM, Samsung, failed] This was a repeat of my first GD, with a very generic topic: “Uniform Civil Code”. As expected, there were quite a few enthusiastic speakers. The generic topic didn’t help the process as few members hogged the airtime with their elaborate globing skills. Not much luck in this discussion either.
- [10:30 AM, P&G, failed] This was a breath of fresh air. There were three panelists and three candidates in a room. It felt more interactive with ample participation time for all. The panel was actively communicating with all of us. They presented us with a case revolving around “attrition in an organization and how will you solve it in a short time frame.” There were some excellent points raised by my colleagues and we reached a consensus on the solution. This was the first GD of the day which I learned something from; kudos to the P&G team. My losing streak continues, but the other two in the group made it to the next round. All is not lost!
- [1:30 PM, M&M, passed] We eight entered the room with two panelists. This was going to be a chairman GD with a twist. “There were several case scenarios to choose from across various sectors and each scenario had eight characters; one of whom you had to play.” In total, each of us will chair one case and be a member in the seven other cases, playing eight different roles in the process. I had to play roles ranging from an ex-RBI governor, flipkart founder, pro kabaddi league manager, micromax founder, an Olympic coach, a common man, the chief minister of Gujarat and the producer of a big-ticket movie. It was a fun, entertaining and taxing process which also served as a great learning experience. The breadth of topics we brainstormed during that hour was immense and formed some pleasant memories. I passed through this round but eventually did not get a chance to interview with M&M. One of my buddies here also got through and cleared the interviews. Yay! He thanked me later to bring in the fiscal policy discussion when I played the role of Mr. Raghuram Rajan.
- [3:30 PM, ABG, failed] Another group of 9 people, we were given a case to discuss on. The problem was “to select the best choice of company from a given list for an acquisition into a sector of interest, which in this case was the garment industry”. I don’t know the origin of this behavior but in the GDs of these big conglomerates, candidates try to show their ethical heaviness by bringing out ethics in every possible situation. Anyways, I was brain-dead at this point after my past discussion and contributed little to the discussion. Prior to the discussion, there was also a group task with the members split in teams of two. “It involved crafting origami objects and pitching a business plan associated with it.” Our team quickly split the task and made a lot of puppy dogs, tulips, boats and hearts.
- [4:30 PM, CK Birla, failed] Another generic discussion on the topic –“whether Facebook is good or evil”. Even though I actively contributed to this discussion, couldn’t get noticed.
- [8:00 PM, Alshaya, failed] Alshaya is a Kuwaiti company with an international workforce. The panel consisted of a lady of African origin and a gentleman of Saudi origin. The room had been arranged such that we were sitting in a round table fashion. We were given a topic –“Should social network data influence recruitment?” and each of us had to take a stand on the topic and mention it at the start of the GD. After that, we had a discussion spanning around 20 mins on the topic and came to a consensus. I took a minority stand in this and changed my stand on hearing convincing arguments from the proponents of the other view. This could be a reason for my dismissal?
- [8:30 PM, Airtel, passed] We were presented a case and were to discuss on its solution. The discussion revolved about “relaunch strategy of an already existing deodorant brand”. The discussion saw a few people taking up the role of moderators and delegating the meeting as if they are the chairpersons. I guess, it was the drudgery of the whole day which had forced them into following such tactics to hog the limelight. Anyways, I put forward some concrete arguments and that was it.
- [9:00 PM, J&J, passed] This was another fun activity for the day. I was hoping for another boring round of GDs but was in for a pleasant surprise. “Each of us were given few clue cards and a common problem statement”. There were three set of questions and we had to use all the clues to reach to the answers. I was lucky to get relevant cues for the first question, and could solve it as soon as the matching clue was mentioned. The next questions were built on the solutions to the previous ones and we solved them in due time. Finally, we were asked about our solution methodology and what could have been done differently. Kudos to J&J team for keeping it fun!
- [9:45 PM, Saint Gobain, passed] Another generic GD on the topic “Smart ways for smart cities”. Same old discussion followed by recommendations. One thing bothered me about this was the exceptionally long introduction to the company. I know about it or else won’t be here, we have more GDs to go.
- [10:30 PM, HUL, failed] An enthusiastic and witty panel, we were given the topic – “MBA in India just a degree and no skill”. It is ironic that all my fellow grads of this elite institute took a ‘for’ position on this topic and were going about proving that their MBA degrees are worthless. I was the only guy standing on the other side of the fence and fighting for the importance of MBA. Damn!
- [11:00 PM, TAS, failed] At last, the big daddy of GDs. It was a chairman style GD with separate cases for each member of the group. This one went smoothly; I suggested many ideas, most of which were accepted by the chair in their respective cases. I seriously could not understand why I was not selected for the next round. Sigh! Maybe should have put on some ethical drama in my communication mix.
- [12:10 AM, DBS, failed] Again the same old story. I think it was a case or something, too sleepy at this point to remember it and yeah, mostly silent in this one too.
As soon as the process finished, I jolted back to my room grabbing a bite on the way. It was not time to sleep yet, as preference forms were to be floated in an hour and they had to be filled in a half hour window. So, I kept awake till 1:30 AM, filled the form based on my shortlists, set the alarm for 6:30 AM and fell into a slumber hoping to to catch those few sacred hours of sleep.
I had just close my eyes and the alarm started beeping. It was time, judgement day has arrived. I had a few shortlists which I wanted in on. The top three were M&M, Amazon, J&J; not necessarily in this order. It was interesting to see that I got a call from Amex, who knew? Anyways, business as usual as I got ready and jolted to the MDC.
The A-team of our section was getting everything tidy to make it smooth for the rest of us. My mates were sitting in their respective seats and anxiously waiting for the instructions. Soon, my call came and it was for amazon. Let’s go!
There were multiple interviews going on for multiple roles at amazon. I went to the designated area and was assigned to an interview room soon after. There were two panelists taking my first round of interviews, which went on for half an hour. After this, I waited for some time and went in for a second round which again went for half an hour. Soon afterwards, I was informed by the volunteers that I have been selected for the program manager intern role. Hooyah! The placement process comes to an end for me. I was elated and rushed down to meet my fellow mates, many of whom were already placed.
The process was over for me but it was far from ending for our batch. The rest of my day was spent moving from person to person, who were still in the process of giving interviews, sharing some fundas and info about the companies to follow, boosting their morale and making sure that they are comfortable.
I saw the true spirit of teamwork on this day with everyone making sure that everyone gets placed. I understand that after a few rounds of unsuccessful interviews, there is a drop in morale for most of us. It is at this point of time that the team pushes you through. When you see someone coming out with a smiling face, the fact that you had helped him a teeny-tiny bit, it makes you feel as if you got placed all over again.
That’s all folks!