Hiring Goes Interactive at B-Schools

In continuation to my blog on hiring practises in B-Schools “B-School Recruitment in Recession” and a recent column by Joe Scaria “Hiring goes interactive as HR targets Gen-next” in Economic times, this article talks a bit more about newer hiring practises by recruiters at B-School campuses.

Joe Scaria dedicates his article to the newer modes of hiring like hiring via contests and talks about once such instance of PepsiCo’s deployment of case study competition to attract talent. Apart from Pepsi, there are many other companies who have adopted this mode of hiring not only post recession but well before recession hence the mode cannot be termed as a novel mode of hiring. Some of the companies which have accepted this mode of hiring are presented below:

Company / Event

Event Type What do they offer
GE – Genesis Business Plan Competition Winners offered PPI + Rewards
Loreal – Brandstorm Marketing Case Study (International Event) Winners offered PPI
Mahindra – War Room Business Plan Competition Winners offered PPI
Yes Bank – ‘YES BANK – Businessworld TransformationSeries 2010’ Case Study Competition Winners offered PPI

Though these are some of the events reproduced, there are many such competitions which are held in premier B-School campuses meant for employer branding and talent attraction. The competition gives the recruiter a much more air time at campus than it can afford/ is offered during the placement season which leads to a much more informed decision making for both the candidate and the recruiter (Read about Understand Recruiters in B-School at my blog Understanding your prospective employer).

The changes in the recruitment processes are welcomed both by the recruiters as well as by the student community. An indicator to increasing popularity of academic competition events at B-School campus is the increasing traffic toDare2Compete, a website dedicated to provide students with timely information about the latest competitions waiting to happen across India and abroad. I believe the change is for good and will fruit good results.

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Special Edition “B-School Compendium” is really Special

Magazines like Business Today often come up with Special Editions featuring a specific topic. A recent special edition of Business Today named “B-School Compendium” raised questions on credibility of the source of information of these special editions and also pose question on the research work behind the articles presented in the edition. So can one call these editions really “special editions”? Some of the faulty work of the magazine are presented in the blog.

Article “Programs at NMIMS” in Page 63 by Bobonkanta Yumnan lists out programs at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) viz MBA Core, MBA Actuarial Science and MBA Pharmaceuticals. However, the author misses out other prominent regular MBA courses to which admissions are offered this year viz MBA Capital Markets and MBA Banking. The research work behind the article is questionable as the details of the courses which are missing in the article are a few clicks away if one is on Internet or is at the home page of NMIMS.

Similarly, the article on Jamnalal Bajaj Institue of Management Sciences (JBIMS) cites JBIMS accepting MAT scores which is contrary to what the official website for MAT (AIMA) says. The factual error presented in the article can be easily sighted by a B-School aspirant and readers associated with B-Schools who form the target audience of the special edition.  Comment on factual error on JBIMS admission on Business Today’s webpage by Nikhil Daniel can be read hereComment By Nikhil.

“Sir, In the B School Compendium released by Business Today in this month, Jamnalal Bajaj Institue of Management Sciences is cited as one of the colleges accepting MAT scores which is contrary to what the official website for MAT (AIMA) says. Need a clarification for the same as such details could lead people to wrong conclusions. Regards, Nikhil Daniel”

It seems that target audience of these special editions need to cross check the facts and articles presented in the special edition and needs to be extra attentive while reading. Interestingly, these special editions are not special because they feature specific topics but because they require special attention of the readers.

Watch Out! We are MBA

As a reader, I do not have much flair for reading “Indian Authors” and consequentially my reading of “Indian Authors” has been very limited and hence the reason for me to pick the book “Watch Out! We are MBA” from the stands was that the author “Nishant Kaushik” of the book is an alumnus of my B-School NMIMS, Mumbai.

The novel can be easily categorized into stereotyped class of novels which present a plot constructed in college with friends being the protagonist of the plot. The novel in the discussion presents the protagonist of the novel Nakul’s MBA journey in the B-School campus. Nakul fails to cope with the hardships of the tiring MBA at NMIMS and turns to be directionless in the majority of his journey in the school lest the last few pages of the novel. Nakul’s stay in the B-School is presented to be heavily influenced by his peer group and social circle. The story revolves around this peer group of Nakul and its impact on his personal life and professional dynamics.

The author is definitely quick witted and possesses sense of humour. The presentation of the scene local trains of Mumbai coupled with a few other smaller anecdotes in the novel indicates the deftness in writing capabilities of the author. Usage of management lingos like division of labour, strategize etc in the novel is common among many B-School authors as is the case with Nishant.

Being more acquainted with writings of foreign authors, I had expected a greater description of scenes and characters in the novel. The novel is a fast read and does not offer the luxury to the reader to bask in the elaborate and lengthy descriptions of characters and scenes as presented by many renowned foreign authors.

The book will make a good connect with B-School alumni and present B-Schoolers. Summer Internship, CGPA’s role in placement season and tiring assignments/presentations should easily make connect with the readers associated with B-Schools. Book is also a recommend for B-School aspirants, which can offer insights into B-School life awaiting them in the future. Overall, I offer a 3 of 5 Stars Rating.

Happy Reading!!!

Elementary Guide to Networking for Business Students

B-School Networking

B-School Networking

Networking, an intangible part of the MBA curriculum, is one of the most valued key take away from the B-School campus. Not surprisingly, most of the B-School alumni rate networking as the most useful “head fake” (head fake= indirect learning. Head Fake comes from the “Last Lecture Series of Randy Pausch”) in the MBA learning curve. This article covers is meant as an elementary write-up on networking skills especially for the B-School whiz kids covering benefits of networking, essentials and how of networking.

Why Networking? Benefits associated with networking vary from individual level to organizational level. Impact of individual benefits of networking like job referrals, tertiary referrals (a node in your network introduces you to a node in his network), information gathering about organization, business, profession, college etc are limited to an individual however organizational level benefits like business development, new recruit background checks, recruitments via social media etc have much wider impact especially in the times of recession.

B-School Networking: Today for MBA aspirants, networking with MBA students and B-School alumni goes beyond tips on how to prepare for admission to evaluation of college based on first hand information about the college from the concerned students which is generally not available on the information platter (website, brochure etc) provided by the college. No wonder B-Schools have recognized the modern mode of information gathering and many have appointed or volunteered admission counsellors and teams for MBA forums. For the first year students, the networking can form an influencing medium for deciding upon the internship organizations, the selection of specialization and for some in fact it forms a means to get an internship. In times of recession, especially for Investment Banking and Consulting aspirants networking becomes a very powerful tool for entry into the industry.

No wonder why organizations including B-Schools are emphasizing on building and maintaining relationships with their alumni network. Most of the B-Schools sent out SOS messages to their alumni network in assisting the institution in securing 100% placements and have made more than usual efforts in placing the interns in contact with the alumni in the organizations the first year students intern at.

Essentials of Networking: Even though the user base of social networking sites like LinkedIn, Orkut, Facebook etc have immensely increased in India over the period of time, but not all users of the social networking sites are able to leverage their networks. This can be attributed to some of the reasons like low awareness about networking benefits, low interpersonal cum communication skills and low activeness on online social forums. The last characteristic is not only applicable to less internet savvy individuals but also to high internet savvy students of B-Schools.

How do I Network? A few tips on how to build your network are:

  1. Recognize a few friends of common interest even before you land up in your college. Make use of MBA forums for this. The exercise to this would indirectly help you know the common grounds you share with your prospective batch.
  2. Try to be a member of various cells and special interest groups in your college especially the placement cell and alumni cells. These two cells present its members with large exposure to professionally managing relationships, improves communication cum interpersonal skills and most importantly helps you manage cold calls well which you shall be surely doing while building your network. Association with special interest groups like economics cell, finance cell, consulting cell etc will put you abreast to what your counterparts in the same arena are up to.
  3. Be active on online social forums on networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Orkut etc. Note that just being a member of such forums will not serve the purpose; you need to be an active member for developing a rapport among the members of the forum.
  4. Online Special interest group forums outside the campus like ConsultingNetwork, ZeneSys, Learn2consult etc help not only build the basic fundamentals required for entry into the industry but also help to develop networks within the group.
  5. Always prefer telephonic conversations to emails. Emails are sometimes put to the backburner by the respondents.
  6. As far as possible, with individuals with whom you have already established your connection, start conversation on topics away from their professional work life. Especially, investment bankers and consultants would not like to talk on economics, recessions etc as these are the daily chores for them. A small conversation on topic of their interest like movies, sports might help breaking the ice. In order to learn about interests and background of the individual do some homework. LinkedIn, Orkut, Facebook, individual’s blogs etc can be of good help in this regard. However, with individuals whom you are talking for the first time, directly addressing the purpose might be a better tactic.
  7. Make a point that you freshen up your memory with the previous dialogue with the individual before you start your next conversation. It helps you develop grounds for talks.
  8. Tertiary Referrals are preferred over direct contacts. It helps you convert a cold call into a warm call. For Example: If you are referred by Mr. X to Mr. Y and you make the first call to Mr. Y refer to the conversation where Mr. X referred you to Mr. Y, this helps to break the initial thaw.
  9. For individuals networking for job referrals using an excel sheet to track your developments is heavily recommended else your work may go haphazard and this may not reflect well on your prospective employer and colleague. Also, keep an eye on Job Boards on networking sites like LinkedIn which has now being slowly accepted as a preferred means of recruitment to Middle levels and senior levels.

B-School Recruitments in Recession

What measures should a company excercise in the time of recession? A few suggested measures for companies confronted with dire situations like now are cost savings, improving customer relations, product differentitation etc. Do recruitments from B-Schools figure directly or indirectly figure in the list of excercises mentioned? Prima Facie the response is NO. In this article I would try to validate my hypothesis “During recession, companies should hunt for good and cheap talent in B-Schools rather than in market” which perhaps is in complete contrast to what B-School fraternity is observing in the current placement season.

Cost Saving measures are survival measures not growth models. Hence, any company following a cost saving strategy for a long term in recession would soon see itself shrinking. Traditionally, it has been seen that many companies across the world adopt cost saving strategy in a straight jacket fashion. The companies need to revive their strategy of straight jacket cost saving and adopt a selective and intelligent cost saving models.

Moreover, Cost Saving needs to be complimented with growth models/strategies like product differentiation, innovation etc for sustainable growth. One can easily differentiate between a growth oriented company and a survival oriented firm in times of recession by analysing their strategies. Contrary to the common perception of growth orientedeness of Indian firms, one can easily find majority of Indian companies adopting survival strategies rather than growth models.

Recruitment is one of the indicator of growth strategies. Recruitement numbers have gone down due to the fallout of the cost saving models.  Market recruitments are still prevalent but I personally do not consider market recruitments as an indicator of growth strategies. Populance of market recruitment over fresh recruits from B-schools is an indicator of adoption of cost saving strategy over growth models. Market recruits are seasoned and hence do not bring new and innovative perspectives with them to deliver growth strategies like product differenciation, increasing customer responsiveness etc.

A growth oriented firm should take advantage of this oppurtunity to attract fresh talents to the board at cheap prices (Fresh Talents are cheaper than Market Recruits) who would inturn would flower growth strategies for the company. One example of growth company is Directi which has been hiring fresh talents from B-Schools. The blog intends to suggest that growth oriented companies should hire from B-Schools but with caution as the traditional mode of hiring would not be able to filter the appropriate talents that would be able to deliver required results in the time of recession. With the changing dynamics, the companies should adopt newer techniques to filter good talents.  Directi has adopted one of innovative ways of case studies to select candidates. View Directi’s Selection Process.

Changing dynamics of businesses combined with companies’ realisation of the importance of growth models, I believe we would observe change in the recruitment policies of the companies and selection processes at B-Schools.

Why MBA?

Being an alumni of MBA entrance coaching classes and presently a fellow men of MBA student fraternity, I sometimes feel that majority of B-School aspirants and even B-School students are not aware of the reason to pursue an MBA? Cursory glance thrrough the following forum on PagalGuy To Hell with MBA will give you an insight into the veractiy of my statements. Applying 80:20 rule to the number of applicants in CAT, we derive that only 50,000 out of 2,50,000 applicants are aware of their reasons to do an MBA.

A step-wise approach is essential in any decision making procedure and the same implies to the decision making process of pursuing an MBA. The approach consists of three questions “YWH” which need to be asked in the same order as it is mentioned for an effective decision. In case of a decision of pursuing an MBA one needs to ask three questions viz “Why MBA?”,  “When MBA?” and “How MBA?”. The first question shall answer the reason for one to do an MBA and which MBA will suit him the most, the second one answers the best time to do the MBA which he has zeroed in for and the third answers how to go about it.

Though “Why MBA?” is the first and the most important question to be answered, it is the least bothered element in decision making for majority of the MBAs as I have pointed out in the earlier section of the article. Even in a coaching institute, the faculty and students remain confined to the boundaries of how to crack an MBA entrance test and the discussion to answer “Why MBA?” remains at the back burner except during the preparation for GD/PI. The answers prepared during the GD/PI stage are mostly cosmetic and do not represent the real candidates views and thoughts.

Many B-School students pursuing MBA become aimless and hence are not able to reap the best out of MBA course. As per my opinion, this is one of the reason due to which Indian MBA courses create managers not leaders. A Harvard Professor once commented about Indian MBA – Indian managers can keep a ship (business) afloat but cannot salvage out a sinking ship (business)”.

January, Febrauary and March are the seasons of final admission process for majority of B-Schools around India. And a huge chunk of students will be brainstorming on how to get through the last hurdle. Though answer to the question “Why MBA?” is not the sole criteria for ones admit to B-Schools but I would advocate every candidate to do a retrospection before he/she gets into the corridors of B-Schools to reap the best of your MBA. Better late than never!!!

B-School Surveys

PagalGuy.com (The best educational website in India) is in the process of surveying the best B-Schools in India based on the perception of the MBA community (For more information on the survey visit http://rankings.pagalguy.com ) . But how true do these surveys (any B-school survey) reflect upon the quality of B-schools? How are the perceptions skewed in India? Are perceptions really based on the quality of B-School? I hope I would be able to answer these questions in the coming few paragraphs of my blog.

For a highly informed MBA community, the perception about a B-School would be very close to the reality in terms of quality of the education, placements, student community and faculties. However, for a lesser informed MBA community which forms the majority of the MBA community (even in PagalGuy.com) perceptions would surely vary a lot from the reality. The placement figures play the most vital role in forming opinions about majority of the B-Schools. Furthering the argument I feel if B-Schools are surveyed on various parameters like placement, perception, faculty and infrastructure; the respondents being MBA community, one can observe the rankings based on all other parameters following rankings based on placement statistics with very few variations. Hence, I infer the better placement statistics of a B-School relative to other B-School better would be its perception in the years to come. Hence, any B-School with good placement stats should always project its placement stats in the advertising to attract the most MBA prospective flock (Marketing Gyan).

Propagandas and advertising can surely affect the opinions of the lesser informed MBA community. But the one which affects the most is the placements. And as per me, placements are not the best way to judge quality of the education, student community, infrastructure and faculties of a B-School. Hence, I believe a perception based survey cannot be used as the sole underlying principle to judge the quality of a B-School.

For prospective MBA students, the survey (in fact any survey for the matter) can only form a ground from which they can filter a few good B-Schools and then dig information about each of them and then come to a conclusion about whether the B-School is a good one or not.