B-Stung: A Mad Tea Party

Yes, I know there’s no use of me posting my IIMB experience… because, well, IIMB PIs are over.
Nevertheless, for all those who follow in our footsteps and wondered “Hmm, wonder how IIMB PI treated Shrutz?” (Hoping there will be some!), here’s my misadventure chronicled in great detail.
Yeah, this is Shrutz in IIM-B. Hang on to your seats, people, this is a wild ride!

Yeah, I hope you fellas know the yada-yadas.

Profile
A poor little fresher from College of Engineering, Trivandrum doing her 4th year Applied Electronics & Instrumentation. (you will see why)
Marks upto S6: 84.42%
Xth: 87.6% (438/500) CBSE
XIIth: 95% (475/500) CBSE
What other info did I put in the SoP? Hmm.. family background, hobbies (unusual by the violin thing I keep getting asked on), extra-currics, good organisational thingies (yeah, that’s how I speak, thanks for asking), strong co-currics, good acad record.
Why MBA? Same ol’ crap…. Oh come ON, aren’t I just a fresher?

I got there bright and early for a 2 o’clock GD on 4th April at 12:30 pm and flashed my customary 29 teeth (too much info, do we ask?) Our panel had 5 people, because one guy decided to skip the Gee-Dee, Pee-Eye process at Bee.
GD was a case study. Went on these lines.
The case was about the ‘BAT‘, the Biomedical Aptitude Test, conducted by the 10 IIBs *ahem* for admission into their institutes. A not-for-profit organisation called the BES with 25 employees is in charge of conducting the test, processing applications and generating score-cards. The integrity of the test depends upon these staff. This year the test had 1 lakh takers and for the past 3 years the numbers have been increasing at 12% per annum. Prof Mani, in charge of this body, is in a dilemma. Without upgradation of the facilities, the test will be impossible to conduct. So, he has 2 options in front of him…
1) A 15 lakh low technology upgrade that will be easy to get approved by the Board of Directors of the IIBs, will enable him to keep the staff with a little training, be able to process 2 lakh applications.
2) A 1 crore technology-specific upgrade that will cut the staff to 5, enable the BES to process 3 lakh applications, pay itself off in the way of salaries by 4 years, but well, is expensive.
Anyway, a rather self-evident case, nevertheless, we had to discuss it.
I began the GD (well, a very chivalrous guy let me)
Everyone let the others speak and well too… Do the maths, 15 minutes and 5 people. We had periods of silence in the middle when everyone was staring at the paper with nothing to say. Repetition of points was rampant and we couldn’t conclude satisfactorily.
Not a very good GD, I summarised okay.
I was last into the GD, so the two panellists grinned at me after informing us that the PIs would be in order and would be around 20 minutes each, so if we wanted to go out and refresh ourselves, we could. They added (to me) “You’re going to have the benefit of most of the information. You’re the lucky one.”
I could only weakly grin back.

PI Experience…
It was around 5, when I was called in. The person in front of me was the only other fresher and was asked about npn & pnp transistors, and I was explaining about it very enthusiastically when the two panellists left for a refresher and told me to wait (again with a wide smile)
After 5 minutes, they came back and went into the room, M13, without a word. Sometime later, the lady popped her head out the door and motioned me, the poor little sacrificial lamb…
Well then, I got in.
I had scarcely taken 2 steps in when the gentleman Moorthy (GM) said “So, Susan, I hope you talked to all of them.”
“Good evening sir, yes I did.” I nearly sat down before I remembered and got up.
He looked up and asked me to sit. Meanwhile the Lady Moorthy (LM) also sat down.
With a grin he asked me, “So, what questions do you expect here?”
“Uhm, sir nothing really.” I was trying hard to evade the question.
“Oh, come on Susan, you’ve talked to the people in front. What did they say?”
“Well, sir the person who came in front of me had a similar background. You asked him acads. To the others, you asked general questions.”
“Okay, so what do you expect?”
I smiled.
“Susan, you have to expect something!”
I decided to be slightly flippant. “Well sir, if I did tell you what I expected, you wouldn’t ask me those questions. That would imply what happened here would not be what I expected anyway.”
He smiled and nodded his head yes. “Anyway, tell us what you expect!”
If that’s what he wanted so badly, I’d give it to him. “Okay, sir. Acads”
“What in acads?”
“Uhm, Electronics.”
“What in electronics?”
(Why does this feel like a kiddy-game?)
“Circuits?” I shrugged.
“What in that?”
“Digital Electronics.”
“What in Digital?”
“Sir. Generally Digital Electronics”
“Come on, I can’t ask you generally anything or the definition. You have to tell me something specific”
“Well sir, digital circuits, say counters, gates that sort of thing”
He smiled (GAH) and said “Okay, Susan. So tell me….”

*LONG PAUSE PURPOSELY INSERTED TO LET YOU KNOW HOW BUGGED I GOT AFTER THIS*

“…What is Instrumentation?”
I must have looked like one of the most surprised girls this side of the Nilgiris. “Okay, sir. Well, Instrumentation is a branch of engineering that deals with measurements and measuring instruments, control systems. We have subjects like Transducers, Sensor Systems, Digital Instrumentation Techniques…”
“Okay, tell me what are the requisites of a good instrument?”
I blabbered the usual.
“No, that’s with respect to the gauge. I want a basic detail.”
I talked about hysterisis, creep et al.
“Have you heard of the principle that a measuring instrument shouldn’t interfere with the measure quantity”
Realisation dawned, too late. “Yessir.”
“Can you give me an example?”
I gave him one about a voltmeter.
“No, that’s a text-bookish example. Give me a practical one.”
I looked up, thought hard and shook my head.
“Okay, you talked about calibration. What is that?”
“Well, sir, standardisation of an instrument is called calibration. There are 2 kinds of calibrations and 3 kinds of instruments…” I went on to explain the different kinds. (Don’t wince, Instrumentation is the least favourite of my subjects…)
He looked satisfied and grinned again. By now, I was wise to his smiles & wiles. “If I calibrate an instrument, is it for life?”
“Nossir, you might need to recalibrate owing to aging of components or the creep, stress and strain effects.”
“Okay. So, how do you judge which of two instruments is better after a while.”
“Sir, assuming they are similar and calibrated the same, the one that shows the least aging and debilitating effects.”
“Are all scales linear?”
“No sir, they can be linear or non-linear depending on measuring quantity and measurand. For example, when you are measuring pressure with displacement.”
“When are they non-linear?”
“Sir, when the characteristics are non linear or over a large range.”
“Give me an example.”
“Sir, for a black body, wavelength radiated is proportional to the fourth power of temperature. This is a non-linear measurement.”
“Is the scale non-linear?”
“Sir, we can make the scale linear”
“Is this done by the design engineer? How?”
“Sir, by manipulation of variables.”
His eyebrows shot up. “WHAT? I am asking a professional, Susan.”
Whoops! “Sir, what I meant is processing of variables.”
He almost looked ready to laugh. “When does a designer make a scale non-linear?”
“Uhm, when the range to be measured is very large?”
“Okay, let me give you an example. Have you seen a speedometer?”
“Yessir.”
“You know how it works?”
“No sir” I grinned back.
“You have seen it surely. Is it linear or non-linear?”
“Linear, sir.”
“When does a designer make it non-linear?”
“Well, sir, I guess it should be when the range is very large. For normal vehicles, the speed range is limited. So, for vehicles like rockets and aeroplanes, it might be non-linear.”
He didn’t look convinced. “Okay, what’s the average speed of a vehicle on Indian roads?”
Wow! From Design Engineer to Civil Engineer, I have gone places.
“I guess 45?”
“45 what?”
HUH? “45 kmph”
“What kind of vehicle is that? A two-wheeler, truck, what?”
“A normal car, sir.”
He repeated that “A normal car….”
All of a sudden he shook off whatever he was thinking and smiled again. (Alarm bells rang out, the earth shook, whatEVER!) “So, Susan”
I was almost tempted to remind him that my parents had named me something else, anyway, I let it slide…
“You said that Prof. Mani must make the decision palatable to the Board. What does that mean?”
(Uhm, sir, they might have digestion problems worth a crore?)”Basically, sir, the 1 crore deal might be too much for the board to swallow in one go, so Mr. err.. Prof. Mani has to point out the advantages and disadvantages to the board.”
He did not look convinced.
“Okay, tell me what are the criteria to be used by the board to judge the effectiveness of any decision?”
“Uhm, with respect to the GD, sir?”
“Okay”
I talked about the pros and cons of each option and weighed them, and also didn’t commit either way.
After he heard me out, he asked again, “So, what is the disadvantage of the second option?”
“Mainly the high initial investment.”
“Susan, may I ask you a personal question. You may or may not answer it…”
“Sure, sir”. I looked slightly startled, I am sure.
“You’re going to do an MBA from an IIM, where the initial investment will be high; to the tune of 3 lakhs or so. So, will your parents say ‘That’s too high, go for a job’?”
“No sir”
“Why not?”
“Sir, because it has a high return of investment”
“Very good. Now answer the question. What will the board look at? How can they be convinced?”
“Sir, the second option has a high return of investment, low payback period, more efficiency, processing capacity.”
“How can you quantify efficiency?”
“Sir, you want quantified results?”
He smiled and didn’t say anything.
“Well, sir, we could look at processing cost per application. Pass the extra cost over to the application cost. Speed of processing for technology specific procedures.”
“Okay, suppose you are running a hospital and want to buy a new X-ray machine. What are the criteria used to judge whether you need to buy one?”
I must have looked very confused, because he added, “Will the hospital administrator look at overall costs in the year or cost per X-ray?”
Well, my thought processes went that the hospital administrator needed to look at overall costs, since he needed an overall view, “The former, sir.”
“Are you sure? What about patient welfare?”
Okay. That was seriously mean.. “Yessir.”
“Now, what will the board look at?”
“Speed of processing.”
“Susan, suppose you wrote the CAT and we gave you the results the same day. Not accurate results, just anyhow..”
“Sir, you need accurate results in the minimum amount of time.”
“What about the staff?”
“With minimum amount of staff working to ensure integrity.”
“How many staff would be employed with the 2 options?”
“25 for the first and 5 for the second.”
“Which is the better option?”
*sigh* “The second, sir”
“Why didn’t you say that before?”
I looked incredulous.
“Okay, suppose you do take the second option, how would you tackle the laid off staff?”
I opened my mouth to answer when he interrupted, “Someone suggested relocating them into other jobs in the IIBs.”
“Sir, that was my idea. Relocating them would stop them from striking.”
“Yeah, maybe, but they might still be unhappy because they were taken from confidential jobs to normal boring administrative jobs..”
Hmm, how can we put this delicately… “Okay, sir we have to look at relocation viz-a-viz a raise in salaries.”
He laughed, “So, you’re planning to pay them off?”
I reciprocated with the laugh, “Technically, yes sir.”
He looked at the Lady Moorthy, who had been busy flipping through my form and recos till now. “Do you have any questions?”
She smiled as well. (ARGH!)
“Well, you’re still in college. Are you placed?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
She waited.
“Infosys & IBM-hardware”
“IBM Hardware?”
“Yes, ma’am. E&TS, in Bangalore, they’re the hardware arm.”
“So, why are you going for an MBA now?”
“Ma’am, in the IT sector or hardware jobs, we’re told to think in a straight line, a linear fashion, with no deviation from the norm. I perform best while thinking creatively and problem solving.”
She kept nodding like I was talking a lot of sense. I did not like the look of it.
“So, what kind of job would you like after an MBA?”
“Ma’am, I’d like to see where my talents lay after 2 years and decide and not decide in a hurry.”
“But I am sure you know what companies come on campus.”
I smiled and nodded my head.
“Tell me your dream company.”
I was trying to avoid the question, because it would open a can of worms, so again I repeated the answer.
“Okay, a dream field?”
“Not really, ma’am.”
“Where do you think your talents would be most utilised?”
I was quited tired of it, “Uhm, Advertising, I guess.”
She looked very literally SHOCKED. And I admit, I was biting my tongue then.
“Why?”
“Well, ma’am not the exact copy-writing, but an overall perspective. It’d be satisfying to my creative impulses. Anyway, any job that lets me do writing in my spare time (hah!) would be good!”
She almost laughed out loud. “You do know there are institutes that offer such degrees even an MBA?”
“Yes, ma’am”
“Which one?”
I sighed, “MICA”
They grinned sardonically at me.
“Did you apply?”
“No, ma’am”
“So why IIM?”
“Because they’re the best!”
“You know such companies don’t come here.”
“Yes ma’am, but getting a job there wouldn’t be hard.”
“Name some advertising companies.” She had delivered her ace.
“JWT..”
“HUH?”
“J Walter Thomson, Ogilvy India.”
Now, I wanted to get out in a hurry!
GM looked at LM and asked, again with a grin, “Any questions, Susan?”
I shrugged and nodded my head first, then changed my mind, “When will the results be out, sir?”
I am sure they thought “As if that matters to YOU. Bahaha”
“Month-end.”
“Thank you sir.”
“Bye, Susan”
“Bye, sir, ma’am”

*sigh*

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6 thoughts on “B-Stung: A Mad Tea Party

  1. Emme

    Ha the same old problem .. The same old question , why do you need to move with the tide . You are talented , but is this the right thing to do ? Seems very obvious that you are moving with the tide ……
    You think that you will have a lot of control over your career after an MBA as a fresher . Think again . Look what other folks from CET are doing now ! Dont waste ur capablities and talents by just moving with the crowd ..Ur special and thats what u need to figure out …

  2. Senthil

    Wow, lady, that was longer than all the interviews of my career put together! Wheeew.

    Oh, and I finally completed that tag… what tag, you ask? I know. It’s been that long. But I completed it. *Whew*…

  3. Anonymous

    thanking you for your experience in the interview and congratulating you for your success .hope you will come up with more such interesting articles n experiences

  4. Great Genes

    Hey there, I stumbled on ur blog somehow & liked it. I’m a CA who temporarily has no work (actually am shiftin jobs ;)). I read this post (bein a non tech person kinda made it a bit harder to follow), but I was (as predicted by u) in a roller coaster till the end. I guess half way thru, the interviewers realised ur brilliant & then just decided to play along to see where u crack! (In fact, I felt as if I was holding my breath in a pipe filled with water & was struggling to survive till I reached the opening & could breathe fresh air again). Keep it up gurl, & hope u shine forever!!!

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