Tejas ‘Meow’ Balasubramanya graduated in 2014 with a Dual degree in Aerospace Engineering. Being a proud Saras-ite, he takes the slightest opportunity to tell anyone and everyone about how Saras won LitSoc 5 years in a row. He was the co-founder of IITMTv, Shaastra Sponsorship core and was also Soc-Sec in 2012 when Saras narrowly beat Mandak to the LitSoc trophy. On days he’s not busy, he is usually photo-walking or watching football. Currently working at Capital One, he describes the nature of his work and his placement experiences.
1. Why did you choose this area of work?
Let’s just say I didn’t really get to choose. I was open to job opportunities mainly in Consult and Analytics as I was (and am) not sure about what I really wanted to do in the future. I had BCG and DB shortlists on Day 1 of placements and it just wasn’t my day. I ended up bombing a very simple case in the BCG interview while DB felt I wasn’t very inclined towards Finance (and rightly so!). Nomura and Capital One had shortlisted me for interviews on Day 2 and I managed to convert Capital One.
2. Simply put, what does your work involve doing?
While Capital One is a US based bank (offers credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, retail banking etc), the profile being offered at IITs is that of Business/Data/Operations Analytics. These analysts are required to study, understand and crunch data from millions of transactions taking place everyday, interpret results and based on that, formulate strategies that might positively impact Capital One business and operations.
I am an Operations Analyst for the US Credit Card Collections Strategy Team. Collections is a business operation that deals with customers who default and my team tells them how/ why/ what to do. For example, setting targets for number of calls to a certain population that defaults or analyzing why a particular state in the US has been having too many defaulters lately fall under our realm.
3. What has your experience at Capital One been like?
To me it feels like I am still in insti despite being in the Corporate world largely due to the flexibility Capital One offers. There is an emphasis on getting the work done instead of ‘being in office everyday from 10AM-11PM’. So this means that I have a few days where I might have to put in 12-14 hours (but they are rare and very few) and some where I visit the office to relax on the massage chair. Such a setting allows you to pursue your hobbies and take vacations when you need. In fact there are a few people in the company who are simultaneously working on start-ups. Also, if you make a really good case, you can initiate deep-dive projects on your own- trust me, it feels great to end up owning a strategy decision.
Something that I really like about the office culture, much to my surprise I must admit, is that the India office is considered at par to the US offices. What I mean by this is that a Business Analyst in the Capital One US does similar work as we do in the India office, the only difference being they can observe strategy implementation better because they are located closer to operations. Unlike a few Investment Banks, there is not that great a disparity in the quality of work being done in India office and abroad. Also, on an average, associates in the India office get to go on a month long business trip to the US every year.
4. How has Insti helped you with work?
I feel insti experience prepares you for corporate life (except the waking up by 7 AM part) in quite a few ways. Things I initiated in insti like IITMTv and IITM Student Research magazine gave me enough confidence to push for and initiate a couple of projects at work. Also, aspects such as team dynamics, professionalism and even writing concise mails were inculcated in me through teams I worked for, especially Shaastra Spons. To be competing or collaborating or even interacting with a lot of smart people around you in insti brings out the best in you and that can reflect in your work.
5. What does Capital One look for in its potential employees?
From my personal experience and interactions with the interviewers, I feel these attributes matter to Capital One- clarity in your method of solution, good communication, having an open mind to incorporate solutions and ideas from others and most importantly, making good business decisions by interpreting results correctly.
PS- It helps if you are an ardent football fan and watch the Capital One Cup
6. On preparation for interviews
The best part (or not) about the interview process is that your resume does not matter. All the interviews will be business case studies that are expected to be 2-way conversations instead of the conventional I-question-you-answer approach. I think it is pertinent to cultivate the etiquette involved in doing case studies and for that, practicing a couple of cases, maybe from Case in Point, with friends is the best way forward. Take turns between being the interviewer and the interviewee. My preparation for consult had a huge role in helping me crack these interviews, the only difference being Capital One cases are a lot more quant-based. Also, it might help if you practice formulating, solving and presenting cases on a sheet of paper and running the interviewer through your thought process and calculations.
7. Any last words of advice to juniors?
Placements can make your future but they can’t break it. It’s a pity that the placement process is used as a meter to judge a person’s capabilities and ‘studness’. I must admit that I could deal with my Day 1 rejections very well only because I did not care about the slotting system and had banished the notion of Day 1 placement > Day 2 > Day 3 and so on from my head.
A lot of randomness and luck do play a part and you will only realize it on the hindsight. My advice is to not yield to apparent peer pressure and not to get disheartened in case it isn’t your day. Also, remember that there are LOTS of opportunities for placements off-campus in start-ups and a lot of firms which don’t hire on campus. IITians are in demand!
I would like to repeat – Placements can make your future but they can’t break it.
P.S.: Final years who may have queries regarding job profiles and placement fundaes with respect to Capital One may comment on this post or contact directly the Blog team (firstname.lastname@example.org) to reach the alumni mentioned above. The team wishes to create an IIT Madras Network to enhance the placement process and experience for our final years. They are also requested to keep in mind that the above are merely guidelines that pass-outs wish to pass on and are not rigid or sure-shot ways to make it through interviews.
The Blog Team wishes all the final years sitting for placements all the very best of luck in their endeavours!
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