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Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Before I move ahead with other placement related stuff, let me congratulate all the members of the F-6. Just to remind, F-6 is my core term study group.

H will be moving to NY to begin with and will then move to Asia Pacific. She will be the brand manager of one of the hottest FMCG brands. Cheers… for the Network Queen

K, the senior IT guy cracked a big job in one of the leading IT consultancy firms. He will move to Pune and soon Mrs. K and Junior K will join him there. Awesome got exactly the kind of life you desired.

S tried hard for all possible finance jobs, but finally landed up in one of the hottest marketing consultancies. I guess he is also moving to Pune. Great job S, wish you all the best.

A finally managed his career shift to finance and will return to Mumbai. Career shift into finance is very much possible and congratulations to A…the success should be sweeter especially after all the hard work.

V also cracked a great profile in IT business development and will be based in Delhi and US.

Monday, February 26, 2007


In my last post, I mentioned about this system of compensation which the MBA people so lovingly call “Incentive Based Compensation” system. Not that this system was not prevalent earlier, but the respect for this system has increased since the last three or four years. And, as this system is picking up more and more respect, the pay packages of the MBA grads are soaring skies. A package of 10 L p.a. is considered peanuts today in the top MBA campuses of the country. The salary occasionally crossed the 10L margin just a few years back.

So what has changed over the last couple of years? One reason is that Indian economy is booming, but this cannot account for the whole picture. Over the last few years, Indian industry has undergone substantial changes in their management structures to keep in trend with the latest global practices. One of these changes was the implementation of the “Incentive Based Compensation” system. An important topic during our case studies and strategic performance management lectures, this concept rules the management pay structure today. Some of the basic features under such an compensation scheme are-

1. The compensation is divided in two parts – fixed and variable. The ratio of fixed and variable can change from company to company and from role to role. For instance it can be as large as 10 where most of your compensation is fixed, or it can be as small as 1/5 where you receive only a fifth of your stated package as fixed.

2. The variable part suggests the maximum package you can get depending on how much value you add to the organization, which is measured by your performance. In other words, this acts as an incentive to you to compete and excel to get the best out of you.

3. Now the question comes is how the variable part is treated. Again it varies from one company to other. In some companies your variable pay is directly proportional to your performance. For example, if you can manage the best possible results you get the maximum possible variable pay. If you manage to get half of the best possible results your receive half of that. And if don’t manage to do anything special you lose your variable pay. Some other companies follow a yes/no policy. If you manage to cross the target you get the variable pay else you don’t.

Now let me explain the above concepts using a pay pack of 20 L which is not very uncommon these days. Let’s say the fixed component is 12 L and the variable component is 8 L. This means the person will receive the 12L part as his regular pack. The rest 8 L depends on how good the individual is. Thus, such a system makes the compensations rise like anything, at the same time it provides incentives to the MBAs to get the best. This also acts well to discover the leaders within an organization. Thus next time you hear of those sky rocketing packages, the first question you got to ask is what the variable component is. It will give you an idea of how hard you need to work within the organization and how much of your compensation you will really carry home.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


When I started posting in this blog, I had never thought that the count of posts will touch the double hundred mark. Feeling great to post this as the 200th post of keystoimaginations. So many things have changed in the meantime. The roller coaster drive has already slowed down. The placement week is over. Anyone who wanted jobs was flooded with jobs. However, there are a handful of people who have very specialized requirements and are working with CAS to find the best fitment.

Pay packs in MBA schools look really huge....but how huge they really are. Is it wise to divide your per annum package by 12 and say that this number is your monthly package? What is incentive based package structure and why is this new system so prevalent today? And what role does this incentive based package structure play in making these packages really great? Look out in my next post for all such facts.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Time and again, people have wanted to know how the scene of investment banking is in ISB. Well…to be frank I am not even remotely connected to investment banking…neither by profession nor by aspiration. However, I have been in close contact with people from investment banking aspirations. So let me write my understanding of investment banking in ISB.

The heavy pay checks of investment banking jobs make sure that a reasonable chunk of the population aspires for these roles. CAs, economics or mathematics graduates and engineers are mostly the people who crack these jobs, though there can be exceptions.

I can divide the investment banks into two kinds – “the most sought after ones” (mostly based in London, NY etc) and “the sought after ones” (located in Mumbai, Chennai etc.) The most sought after ones are the huge global brands while the second variety constitutes of regional or Indian companies. Some people have great work experience in finance (including investment banking, mergers acquisitions etc,) before joining ISB and these are the people who are likely to crack the “most sought after ones”. Others with finance background and engineers who want to go for career changes settle with the “sought after ones”.

Now if you are the kind who have already collected great experience in finance before coming to ISB, you are the right candidate for the most sought after investment banks in lateral roles.

If you don’t have the required finance experience, but have still fallen in love with the investment banking jobs, you need to give your best in learning the concepts of finance in great details to the level that you can crack the finance questions which the “sought after ones” ask in their interviews or other selection processes. Also you may do some kind of self study or independent study to learn the topic better.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Let me cut copy a small story which SV sent to students07, during the beginning days of the placement week. Quite an inspiring story and I though it should have a place in my blog.

Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty."
Then the second tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."
Finally the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me."
After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter" ... and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.
At the second tree a woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.
When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, "I don't need anything special from my tree so I'll take this one", and he cut it down.
When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark. The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.
Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time. Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and he stood and said "Peace" and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.
Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined. We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Finally I was offered a role which is relatively close to what I wanted to do. A mix of operation, finance and mid-management level strategy, this job is titled “Manager, Planning (International Division)”. Package is more than last year’s average… (I guess this year’s average might be too high to beat). Considering the fact that, this role was offered to me by a leading Indian conglomerate in diversified business, I guess it should be a pretty challenging …from hiring and forming my team… to completion and delivery of projects to international clients.

Now that, I am relatively free, I should try to put down my experience of placements in the next few mails…of course don’t expect the numbers….the placement cell of ISB has done all the hard work, so none other than ISB should come up with the official numbers.

I will try to picture out some of the salient features of my …and just my….experience. And the first and the most important tip to the students entering next batch is



The role of spouses can never be underestimated in ISB. In the earlier days of ISB, every festival and family social activities were more or less handled by the spouses. During the placement time, the role of spouses in the decision making process of their husbands is even more evident. Career of spouses and the location of jobs are as critical a choice as the salary structure. Especially families where both the spouses are from IT can easily integrate their personal and professional life by their choice of companies.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


It is so easy to go attend an interview and get an offer. Companies are offering left, right and center. It is so difficult to battle the mind reminding the fact that it is not wise to go and accept any offer.

It is so easy to pack the bags and leave for home once you get an offer. It is so difficult to stand at the window and see people moving out with their luggage.

It is so easy to come back after accepting an offer and keep on cribbing that “this is not the offer which I wanted”. It is so difficult not to compromise on the desires of heart.

It is so easy to make a dull face even after getting an offer. It is so difficult to have a charming smile even without an offer.

...But the road to real success it not has to be difficult. And in the process of walking this difficult path, one learns some of the most valuable lessons in life.

Monday, February 19, 2007


NM and SC made it through their dream roles. SC got an offer from an investment bank and NM from a leading conglomerate. (For those who are not yet aware of NM and SC are, just to reiterate that they are my quad mates). Congratulations NM and SC…you deserve your bit of success.

SC never compromised with his dream of crafting a career in investment banking and finally his dreams came true. NM also got the role for which he is the best fit. And the good thing is that they are moving to Mumbai.

Placements are moving at the rocking best…..

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Day one and Day zero offers, mostly from the consultancies, investment banking and some leading FMCGs have started flowing in…The pending international offers are also being declared today. Some people are just gearing up for the champagne, while others are trying to get their rhythm back to face the rest of the week. The campus is a vibrant and emotional mix of success and hope.

As a person with a slightly different set of ambitions, I was a silent spectator to the day one happenings. Felt nice to congratulate the people who got through. Felt slightly awkward to meet those people who worked hard from the very beginning of the year but couldn’t make it through the day one interviews. I am sure these people are made for bigger things.

A few other consultancies, IT jobs and other industry jobs will begin to flow in from tomorrow. The excitement is only likely to increase with time. It is also the time where one learns the practical ability to take risks in life. Does a person have the ability to say no to a company and wait for the role which he aspired for…or will be accept any offer to get out of the pressure?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Before I move ahead, into the most important week of ISB, let me take a u-turn and look back at the courses which I studied during the 6th and 7th term. By 7th term, I have already completed my specialization in Finance and Strategy, thanks to my 5th term when I managed to complete 4 finance courses.

In the 6th term, I had Investing in Private Equity, Strategic Performance Management, Strategy implementation and Managerial Decision Making. A strong recommendation from my side to those who will be ISB next year – don’t miss the course Managerial Decision Making. If you are in the ISB, and you have not taken this course, you got to miss something really serious. Mostly dealing with the concepts of process, meta knowledge and framing, this course is likely to redefine the way you think.

In the 7th term I had International Finance, Group Dynamics and Organizational Politics and Change Management. Professor Kenwyn Smith who was the instructor of the Group Dynamics is one of the most influential persons I have ever met. Most of the professors always start the lectures by giving their interpretation of what “value” is. After Kenwyn completed his series of lectures, I feel I can convince myself and get a closer answer to this elusive concept of “value creation”.

8th term will start from 27th of February, but before that is this long gap. For some people, it is amongst the most frustrating moments of life, for others it is the period of self discovery, for some it is the time for peer discovery, and for others this period is just a collection of ten simple days which are in no way distinct from other days.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Once you enter the ISB campus, there are many things that are likely to catch your attention. However certain things that possess a distinctive charm are the boulders and the huge rocks that are present inside the campus. For a tourist, who visits ISB, these boulders serve as a scene of momentary beauty. But for someone who has stayed in the campus as a student for a year, these are more than just boulders.

Each boulder is marked by its own dignified and mystic appearance, relaxing majestically as though it has life. Some of these boulders are even attached with a symbol of good luck. Here is a snap of one such boulder.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Tolerance for ambiguity”….We were used to hear this term quite often during the classes of entrepreneurship during the third term.The phrase basically suggests that a person who can live under highly unpredictable and ambiguous situation comfortably is an ideal candidate for entrepreneurship. Later lessons made me believe that “tolerance for ambiguity” is equally important in practically every aspect of management.

But listening and appreciating such phrases is just one side of the coin….experiencing this is another. When the campus talks nothing but placements, it is real easy to succumb to the peer pressure. The average level of “tolerance for ambiguity” for the complete batch is at an all time low. It might not be easy for somebody to self discover and wait for the right job. But then….the interesting thing is that one side of the management education teaches us such wonderful phrases and at the same time they create the ambience where people who undergo management education tend to lose the ability to use these skills during real life periods of ambiguity.

Sometimes, I do feel that there exists a kind of negative correlation between formal education and risk taking abilities. We tend to speak the jargons quite well…can formulate a structured approach to any problem in the world….can work much harder than what we thought we could….but perhaps it is this structured way of leading life that makes us compromise on our levels of “tolerance for ambiguity”.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.

You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don't do too many things wrong.

In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.

Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.

It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.

The business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective.

I don't look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.

Price is what you pay, value is what you get.

I buy expensive suits. They just look cheap on me.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


In the complicated world of corporate dynamics, “Finance” is the language which the corporate warriors use to win over enemies and protect themselves from stronger adversaries. Finance is also the language which often dictates the strategy of an organization and hence its direction. “Finance” is abundant of such weapons which are used extensively in both defending and attacking. It is sometimes surprising to realize how such weapons can be strategically used to define the future of an organization. Books have been written on this issue and movies have been screened.
Just think of phrases like friendly takeovers, hostile takeovers, reverse takeovers, shark repellent, white knight, black knight, gray knight, leveraged recapitalization, white square, poison pill, golden parachute, golden handshake, winner’s curse etc…..and we can get an idea of the strategic games that follows the rule of finance.
Each of these phrases is a method employed by an organization either to attack another organization or to defend itself from another organization.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Resource” and “capability” are two words which are used very closely in the MBA lingo. Mostly these are used in the broader context of an organization, group or a firm. But I feel there is no harm if these two words can be extended to the individual level as well. Every individual has access to his share of resources and at the same time he has to rely on his capabilities to convert his access to resources into something valuable.

To understand this process of conversion we need to look into two more complementary words that are again treated with high respect…. these words being “energy” and “focus”. If we try to instill these two characteristics in an individual then we can identify four different categories.

1. High energy and high focus – amazing individuals.....will succeed in whatever they do.
2. High energy and low focus – these people will spend a lot of efforts and energy trying to put their hands into every basket…..will achieve something or other at the end….though the clarity factor will be missing
3. Low energy and high focus – these people have a decent idea of their meta knowledge and with the high focus they tend to like what they do even though their progress can be restricted due to the lack of energy.
4. Low energy and low focus – God bless this category

In a place like ISB, especially when the atmosphere is so hot…I can divide the group of individuals mostly into Group 2 ……followed by Group 1….and then by Group 3. Good that I am yet to meet an individual in ISB who falls in the fourth group.

Friday, February 02, 2007


Some movies are complex and some scenes in such movies are even more complex….it is so difficult to understand the underlying unfathomable depth of emotions and every time such scenes walk in the memory lane, it makes me think hard. Though these are just movies…I am sure they are the reflections of the real life and this adds to the invisible turmoil.

What would Guido have in his mind when he winked at his son and paraded away, knowing well enough that his son would not see him again?
(From the closing moments of the movie “Life is Beautiful”)

What kind of mental turmoil did Scarlet’O’ Hara face everytime she met Rhet Butler?
(From the movie “Gone with the wind”)

What would have been in the mind of Rose when Jack was capturing her in the brush….what role the “heart of the ocean” would have played in defining her thoughts?
(From the movie “Titanic”)

What could have inspired Benjamin Martin to attack a complete troop with the help of his two little kids and how would he have felt after destroying the enemy?
(From the movie “The Patriot”)

What could have led Pelagia to slowly enter into the life of Captain Corelli?
(From the movie “Captain’s Corelli’s Mandolin”)

......Too complex to have an answer