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B-schooled in India, Placed Abroad

Young, desi MBA-grads are out in the global market broadening their horizons. Some say ‘Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani’ and plan to return. Others say they will ‘play it by the ear’. Nivriti Butalia finds more on that...
By Nivriti Butalia | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUL 13, 2008 02:53 AM IST

Angana Jacob, 25
IIM-A alumnus
Deutsche Bank
London

A computer engineer from Madras University, Angana was “bored to death” all through her engineering stint, so she concentrated on her first love — dancing. But after a year, and for want of a better salary, she joined an IT firm. Knowing she couldn’t stick it out there for too long, Angana took the CAT, and says,“While I waited for the exam results, my biggest fear was that I might have to actually work in IT for another year.”

Benefits of an IIM degree: job opportunities. The degree (and the exposure) helps you get your foot in the door of all those great jobs, she says. “The course is very competitive and you have a decent amount of knowledge at the end to hit the ground running. Our course is more quantitative compared to US B-schools. In America, the focus is more on networking and softer skills.”

What also counts is the strong IIM-A alumni network in most big shot investment banks. “In Deutsche Bank, for instance, there is a huge IIM network with some of them doing outstandingly well, so you’re received with a lot of respect.”

Angana does plan to come back to India, but that’s more for personal reasons — “family and stuff rather than for anything more idealistic”.

Himanshu Gulliani, 29
ISB alumnus
Macquarie Bank Sydney

Himanshu has been in Sydney all of a month and a half, and so far so good. Work is intensive, but he says it doesn’t quite compare to the rigorous training that a B-school puts you through. He quantifies this saying, “Here in Australia, I’m working 12-13 hours a day here, but in ISB, I’d get to sleep four hours a day — if lucky.” The investment banker’s not complaining. All he’s hinting at is that he’s had it worse. With the process a management course puts you through, at the end of the year (at ISB) you emerge almost over prepared, and then work is relatively cushy. Himanshu did his MBA already backed by five years of work experience in the industry.

His day starts at 8.30 am and ends anytime between 7 and 8.30 p.m, his house is right next to Sydney’s Darling Harbour, and like Himanshu says, “I’m working with the best investment bank here, enjoying myself, and it’s all pretty chilled out.”

He eventually plans to be in either India or China. “The US is crying, Australia’s GDP is forecasted to be 0 per cent, where else is there the high of a 9 per cent growth rate?”

Rohit Sethi, 24
FMS alumnus
Arthur D Little
Dubai

In Bali, Indonesia, at the moment, the FMS alumnus, and B. Tech grad from IIT Roorkee, is based in Dubai, “but consulting involves going to client locations”. Rohit will be flying frequently to countries within the Middle East and South East Asia. On a steep learning curve and enjoying his work, he says Indian B-schools have been preparing students to work in a global environment for a while now, and are only getting better each year.

Still slightly taken in by the new global exposure, there are though factors that helped him face the corporate universe outside India.

Hundreds of assignments and presentations that they were made to do at FMS — all with tight guidelines, in groups of people from diverse backgrounds — went a considerably way in preparing him for work abroad. He doesn’t leave out the importance of corporate interaction that they were exposed to. “Top people from big shot companies would come down for guest lectures, and talk about how they run their businesses” — it clearly helped bring in perspective later on.

It’s early days yet, and even though he’s young and just starting out, Rohit isn’t dismissive about coming back to India: “Maybe for a settled life some years down the line,” he says.

Poulomi Basu, 29
IIPM alumnus
Lehman Brothers
New York

Life in NY City is hectic, and working for the financial industry is very challenging. But the dynamism of this environment has a charm of its own, and success here enhances one’s self belief like nothing else,” says Poulomi who bagged a First Class First in Personnel Management and Marketing Management — something that helped her considerably in gaining admission to good universities in the US.

She went on to specialise Human Resource Information Systems from the State University of New York (SUNY)-Albany, as she felt it would best enhance her existing knowledge and expertise in Human Resources — her major at IIPM.

After working for Morgan Stanley in New York for a year, Poulomi recently joined Lehman Brothers “in a similar role as the earlier one, but with greater responsibilities.”

Her “fast paced-learning environment at IIPM” has made her adapt to the demanding and “intense” nature of her work with Wall Street firms.

She eventually wishes to settle down in India: “There are no strict timeframes, but I have it in my mind to work for 5-6 years before I come back.”


T Chacko, 27
MDI alumnus
Emerio Globesoft Singapore

Thariyan joined Emerio Globesoft, Singapore, in May 2007 as a Deputy Manager with the Corporate Planning and Marketing department, and currently works as a Corporate Planning and Marketing manager. “I have absolutely no regret about having left India” and adds that he’s always wanted to work/study abroad.

“I’ve learnt a whole lot here at this early stage in my career that I wouldn’t have been able to back in India.” But despite all that, he admits he misses the Indian feel: “Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani!”

Contextualising the movie Crash, Chacko says, in Singapore, you tend to miss the nosey parker in the buses and trains of India, who would latch on to each word you talk on the phone or would notice each movement of yours.

Thariyan says he takes things as they come, is positive about life, likes to write — and blogs when in the mood. On comparing working in India to Singapore, he says there isn’t much difference — be it working hours or office politics. On the personal front, Thariyan got married this year to Binny who also works in Singapore as a Siebel programmer with Accenture.

Saumya Sharma, 29
IIPM alumnus
ANZ Bank
Melbourne

Down Under, “you have to be proactive in your work, be ready to take up challenges and remember that no one works on weekends.” That’s the mantra for success, says Saumya, adding that her education back home has been exceptionally useful. Saumya says choosing finance was an obvious choice for her post-grad as the subject had fascinated me right from her college days.

“Packed with my MBA and stories that I had heard from Dad about his experience overseas, I decided to come to Australia to begin my career.” And not for a moment has she felt it had been a wrong move, because everyday at work, Saumya says, she is presented with opportunities to practise what she learnt during her time at IIPM.

Not alluding to climate, the Hyderabadi says that besides Australia being a warm country, her current role as a Business Analyst has taught her to adapt to the Australian style of working that encourages creativity, innovation, and independent thinking.

And yes, Saumya is now convinced — and will someday return to her Indian roots and live her father’s belief — that students who travel and work overseas return home greatly transformed in both outlook and perspective.

Samir Chaudhary, 30
IIM-B alumnus,
Reckitt Benckiser
New York

Pallavi Chaudhary, 30
IIM-B alumnus
Headstrong
New York


Back in 2004, and right after his MBA, Samir was placed as the Reckitt Area Sales Manager in Tamil Nadu. But a consistent performance saw him rise to the level of Associate Brand Manager in the New York office. Ask Samir how working in India is different from working in NYC, and he says the pressure to perform is much more in India.

In the US, systems are already in place. It’s all defined, and very process-oriented. Work hours are strictly 8 am to 5 pm, unlike the 9.30 am to say 8 pm or later which is the norm back in India.

Samir is happy to credit a B-school degree for his success: “Performance had a major role to play, but I got here in the first place because of my degree.”

He plans to come back to India in a few years — with wife Pallavi, who was a batchmate of his in IIM-B — and give something back to the country; maybe work in the education sector, and sponsor a few kids. “It’s not all about the money, there’s satisfaction and reward in giving back.” Also, he feels that if he’s back in India he’d be among the top 10 per cent earners, while that isn’t the case in the US.

What about the cultural differences? There’s a very clear demarcation between the personal and professional. Colleagues are colleagues, it’s very impersonal, unlike back in India. “I don’t go to my colleagues’ homes. They don’t come over.

It’s just an office rapport, and that takes some adjusting.”

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