Akshay Govindaraj shares his experience on maneuvering the placement season and landing a job at HSBC- one of the largest banks in the world. Here is a short excerpt from our interview with Akshay about the hows and whys of finance.

What was your placement experience? Which companies did you apply to and get shortlisted for? What other options did you have? 

My placement performance gradually improved from the first interview. I remember my first interview was such that as soon as my interview was over, I knew I was not getting through. Gradually, after my second interview, which was for FinMechanics, l knew I had some chance and could probably go to the second round. Then in EXL, I went till the final round and was in the waiting list. But I still didn’t get through. HSBC was Day 2, Slot 1. I already had Ola. But, I had just one hour to make the choice. I preferred HSBC, because I wanted to join a company which had a global presence, which can be useful if I made up my mind for further studies, etc. At the same time, I knew people working in the industry, and they thought I would like the work here.

What were the interviews like?

The interview process is generally such that the first round is harder. It is mostly a technical round. They take a note of all that you have done throughout your college life that’s on your Resume. I had done finance projects which were actually relevant in finance. There were other things like Principal component analysis and a couple of Machine learning courses, which worked out well. In the HR round, they just try to understand if you are more of a fit for the company. There’s no formula to crack the HR round. They basically want to know how enthusiastic you are about Finance. There are some HR questions which can be prepared for, though. I had done courses through Coursera but I didn’t really talk about it during the interview. They are useful for practice but not for the interviews per se. I had done one finance course, but then, I don’t think finance played much of a role in the end. They do ask some stuff that you can read in an Economic Times article, nothing very deep about finance.

Tell us about the work that you do in the company.

I think HSBC is a company that is not much well known on campus. The profile is a relatively new one, but it’s actually similar to most of the banks that come for a market profile. And there are a fair amount of opportunities. I am glad to see that this year they are day 1, which they deserve to be.

The work actually depends on the kind of work that your team does. So, if let us say you are in a quant team, it is very much of a hard-core quant stuff, some Machine Learning and Django, etc. If you’re in some kind of a structuring role, you will have a lot of exposure to finance. You kind of will be like a Jack of all trades. There might be more roles in the next few years.

My profile is an analyst profile in Global Markets Division. It is a structuring role. It is all project based. At first, I had a project where if the clients sent what they required and based on that you need to give them a price. So, I had to make a program which would calculate the price and reply in an automated way. Now, I’m working on a Python library which can generate fact sheets. Fact sheets give financial information in a brief way during the past 6 months, let’s say. We’re trying to make a Python library which makes it easier and more flexible for the Sales team. Others have a different kind of project. A lot of people have ML based projects. So, basically these are just the projects that I have seen till now. I believe I’ll be seeing many more new projects. As for myself, I am pretty happy with the job. I have learnt a lot and I can see a big difference in regards to the practical skills I’ve developed and how quickly I can get things done. This is a really good value add for me.

How does someone go about preparing for a career in finance? 

For starters, the best thing to do is to do projects. Doing courses is a basic requirement but it doesn’t give you a real life experience. Projects which are more relevant and have actual real life applications is very important. I did a few online projects which was helpful. There are courses which are more project oriented. It’s better to find such projects. That is obviously much more hard work but will be more helpful during the interviews. Do read newspapers like the Economic Times, etc. That’s about it on how to go about preparing for finance.

Authors: Utkarsh Srivastav (DD-CH ’21) & Hari Ramachandran (DD-MM ’20)

This article is part of our series – The Placement Guru where we share the experiences of graduates who have cracked the placement process and bagged some of the best offers on campus. For more such articles follow us on Facebook or visit our website here.