The Chennai36 team interviews an alumnus who was placed with the Boston Consulting Group and currently works at Bosch. Kaushal Narayan talks about the valuable skills that need to be developed to enter one of the world’s largest consulting companies, about the indelible joy and the fierce competition that moulded him, and seniors who left him awestruck. We present the thrills and travails he underwent after the alluring campus opened its gates to him till the time came to bid a tearful farewell, with the edifice of BCG waiting.
1. How was your placement experience?
Well, I was ecstatic at getting placed on the first day and in as prestigious a company, notwithstanding the huge amount of luck involved in Institute placements. The placement experience is more than the events on the actual day(s). The preparation phase of around two months or so brings back vivid memories, especially when you are forced to think about questions which you would normally not think about.
I had applied only for consulting and core engineering companies. On the placement day I had interviews from two consulting firms including Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and a Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) firm. The BCG interviews were very interactive and it felt more like a discussion rather than a drab one-sided interview. My first interview was almost fully a case on improving the profitability of a newspaper company.
The second interview focused more on the HR aspects and a short case on improving the efficiency of insurance agents. I confessed my ignorance about insurance companies and their model. The interviewer, who was an Insti alumnus, was more than willing to explain the basics of the industry. By the end of the interview we had had an animated discussion on wide swathes of annual events in the Institute including the analysis of Godav’s loss in Schroeter that year! My third and final interview was with a Partner. This one was again a case-intensive interview about a beverage manufacturing company wanting to enter a foreign country. I remember asking a lot of questions while thinking aloud. After the case, the discussion veered towards my experience with the Insti Water Polo team. After some more discussion, I was offered the job, and I heaved a great sigh of relief. Of course on that day there was a lot of running around for the interviews of other companies.
2. What are the job profiles offered by BCG?
BCG hires only for the position of Associate from the IITs. This is the starting position which in the firm is followed by Senior Associate (hired from IIMs and ISB), Consultant, Project Leader, Principal and Partner – hierarchically speaking.
3. Simply put, what does the work involve doing?
This very much depends on the case. You work in teams (average 3 to 5 people). Your average work could involve interviewing shopkeepers or creating elaborate excel models to simulate something or getting data from the employees of your client or reading reports about a new area… you get the drift. The good thing about consulting cases is that you own your area of work and have the complete responsibility of your module.
There is no dearth of material online about what a typical case team does and how a consultant spends a typical day at work.
4. How important are Positions of Responsibility, CGPA, and extra-curricular activities?
Very important, but not necessarily all at once and for the same person. To use the cliché – peaks in one or more areas are preferred. Something has to stand out – be it in PoR, academics or extra-curricular activities. However the chances of getting hired of a person with poor PoR and extra-curricular activities but great academics are better than that of a person with poor academics and strong PoR and extra-curricular activities. You really have to be exceptional to compensate for a poor CGPA.
5. What advice would you give to students sitting for placements?
I think the following points should be kept in mind
– Follow a targeted preparation for select companies instead of applying and preparing for everything
– Have a mind-set of the placement process being a two-way evaluative process. Prepare intelligent questions. You are trying to evaluate the company as much as the company is evaluating you. This leads to the interview being a discussion rather than a one-way test of the candidate.
– For consulting, practice case-studies in groups, but don’t overdo it. Don’t stress too much on the set-piece models like 4C, 3P, etc. Try to solve cases through common business sense.
– Keep in mind that luck plays a colossal role in Insti placements
6. How has Insti helped you with your work?
Well, it is difficult to pin-point exactly given the mammoth part Insti plays. Apart from the IIT tag, the best thing that Insti does to you is that it gives you the courage and confidence to take bold steps. Well, for one thing – insti has spasmodic activity, no consistency!
7. How has Insti NOT helped you with your work ?
Well, for one thing – insti has activities which require a burst of energy and then you are done! Be it acads or extra-curricular activities – you work voraciously for a few days or months and then there is a lax period. Sometimes this is not helpful when you graduate. Consistency and planning are appreciated and rightly so not everything can be accomplished in the last few days or hours. I will limit myself to one example – don’t want to get banished from the Alumni Association.
Other than placement fundaes Kaushal also shares some of the memorable experiences of his insti life. Have a read through.
When I set foot in insti I became aware of the sporting discipline and rigor that IITM is known for. From insti practices to Schroeter, you could see people fighting till the last ball was bowled. I remember in my first year – we had the semi-final water polo match and my hostel senior – Praveen Carvalho (Shampoo) was in the team. Incidentally he was also in the hostel teams for Football and Hockey. And it so happened that there were matches in all the three sports on the same day! Try as we did, we could not reschedule the matches.
We were very apprehensive about the impending disaster as we didn’t have extra players and water polo was at the tail end. We were sure that Shampoo would be battered and bruised after both football and hockey, but he did turn up as spruce and fit as he could be if it was his first game. Though the outcome was as expected, a loss for us, it was a win for me as I had learnt the simple lesson of “Never Give Up”. There were many such inspirational figures who are etched in my memories.
There was this time when Godav lacked drummers for western music (WM), a group event. No one had any tangible hopes of our getting anything from it. We had decided to concentrate on LM. But one day, a senior – Kartik Balasubramaniam (TI) called us to jam. We tried out the Tabla instead of drums on melodious rhythms of Porcupine Tree. And the result wasn’t as bad as we feared. So much so that we even dished out an original composition for the main event. And we went on to take the podium as runners up, finishing ahead of many hostels whose preparation wasn’t as shambolic as ours. It was exhilarating for me to be able to play Tabla in WM and wear the silver!!!
Kaushal Narayan is currently working at Bosch in a strategy role. He graudated in 2011 with a dual degree in Engineering Design.
P.S: Final years who may have queries regarding job profiles and placement fundaes with respect to Consulting and especially to Boston Consulting Group may comment on this post or contact directly the Blog team (firstname.lastname@example.org) to reach the alumnus 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!