ISB 2011 Interview experience- IT/ Semiconductor background

Interview Experience 1

Profile: Semiconductor 5 years

I1 = 2006 Alum, I2 = 2004 Alum, I3 = Professor

I3: First time in Hyderabad? You like the campus?

Me: Yes, it is my first time. The campus is just amazing!

I1: You had a look around?

Me: Only after the interview … laughs all around

I1: Walk us through your responsibilities at your work, what things you do, what things are you good at?

Response Quality: Perfect

I talked about my responsibilities in previous company, why I left my previous company and responsibilities at current company.

I1: So you make products for the automotive applications. Is this the industry you are focusing on?

Response Quality: Good

I1: Give us an application which you have worked on.

Response Quality: Perfect

I gave the simplest example I knew.

I2: What made you transition to finance?

Response Quality: Good

First I said though I didn’t do an undergraduate course in Finance, but I always had an interest in. I wanted to know the nitty-gritties of finance, how mergers and acquisitions happen and things like that.

Then I said, now let me step back a little and tell you why do I believe I can do that. I talked about my technical experience, that I have worked in the industry and seen it from both perspectives i.e. I have worked in the EDA tool company as well as a semiconductor design company. Now I know how market requirements transform into design requirements, and how design requirements transform into requirements for EDA tools. Also, its not that I just want to go into finance, I have worked hard for it. I talked about NSE, CFA and FRM.

Now I have skill set which is an amalgamation of knowledge of technology industry and fundamentals of finance. But there are still two things lacking, 1) hands on exposure on the financial industry and 2) knowledge on how to effectively use both my skills together in a corporate finance role. That’s where MBA from ISB comes in picture.

I2: But my question was that what made you interested in finance? Why did you enroll in the CFA / FRM course in the first place. Why not marketing or consulting?

Response Quality: Good

I won’t say that I always had the interest in finance, to be honest … with a nice smile. I started with NSE certifications, then I got interested and enrolled in CFA and then FRM program. After doing all this, I understood that corporate finance is the role where I can apply my technology knowledge with finance concepts. Its not that I want to completely switch industry.

I2: So the best way would be to go back to your company?

Response Quality: Perfect

I will look forward to a corporate finance role in any technology company.

I1: What really is corporate finance?

Response Quality: Perfect

I talked about the roles in corporate finance.

I1: What makes a good corporate finance professional? What is the difference between an investment banker and corporate finance professional?

Response Quality: Good, but not what was asked

I will explain this with an example. As I want to move into a corporate finance role in a technology major, I will take the example of Micromax. Then I talked about its history, its growth, its financial numbers. Going forward I am sure that they will acquire smaller companies and there I can play a major role as I have knowledge of technology as well finance.

I3: But the question was what is the difference between investment banker and a corporate finance professional?

Response Quality: Good, but not what was asked.

When an investment banker is going to acquire a company, he is just looking into the financial aspects of the company, such as cash flows, financial leverage, valuation etc. But from a technology background, working in a technology major, I know the technical aspects as well i.e. when we are acquiring a company, what technology it has, how is gonna benefit us in the future, what innovations there are doing right now. So that ways I have an edge over the other guy

I1: The question is not specific to you.

Response Quality: Average

I said, though I don’t have enough knowledge on the roles of an investment banker, according to my knowledge, when an investment banker is looking to buy a company he is just looking at the financial aspects, so he is basically on the sell side. But the corporate finance guy will be on the buy side of it, i.e I have to buy a company, which one to choose, which one has a good future.

I1: What do you understand about the NPV analysis?

Response Quality: Perfect

I explained in one line about discounting future cash flows, current investment and then calculating NPV.

I1: How would you explain NPV to your grandmother?

Response Quality: Bad .I could have answered in a better way.

I1: What is a discount rate?

Response Quality: Average

I talked about WACC.

I2: We are not asking how to calculate discount rate, but what actually it is?

I1: Lets take ISB. Evaluate ISB as a project.

Response Quality: Average

I thought they are asking that studying MBA at ISB is a project, so I started answering about the loan I will take, the opportunity cost of leaving my job.

I1: No, what I mean is suppose we 3 are investing in a building of ISB. Now what is the discount rate.

Response Quality: Average

I talked about 3 sources of finance, debt, cash or equity and what rate will you apply for them.

I1: What is the equity return rate? We are not a publicly traded company.

Response Quality: Bad

I talked about the different models to calculate the equity rate of return.

I3: Suppose your marketing team comes up with a requirement for a chip with a $1 price. There is a lot of potential for that in the market. But your design team says, now we can not make it below $1.2. What will you do? You have to take a decision like a corporate finance professional.

Response Quality: Bad

I kept going here and there and kept saying that if the cost is more than the selling price, there is no use of producing that chip.

I3: What about Tata Nano? Its cost is 1.2 lacs and its selling for 1 lac. How?

Response Quality: Bad

I said the same thing, that if the project is not profitable there is no point in going ahead, unless you have committed to somebody and keep the brand name.

I3: So you mean, Ratan Tata took a wrong decision?

Response Quality: Bad

I kept messing up and said that Ratan Tata is a man of commitment.

I1: There is no point in decreasing shareholder’s value just for personal commitment. What do you think is the other reason behind the nano project?

Response Quality: Good

Finally I could think of the point they were looking for all this time. I said I am sure that with Nano, Tata is able to cover their variable costs, and in the long term they can cover their fixed costs. But if they are not able to cover even the variable costs, then their has to be a reason which only Ratan Tata knows … with a nice smile.

I1: May be he has gone old.

Response Quality: Good

I talked about Tata salt, how used to sell for no profit no loss and how they kicked captain cook out of the market and then again brought the prices back to no profit no loss, and praised Ratan Tata for his moral values.

I1: Plan-B?

Response Quality: Perfect

It has to corporate finance only. I will clear my CFA L-2 in June 2011 and complete the FRM program by the year end. I will also try to get some hands on exposure on the financial industry and then reapply to ISB next year.

I2: Why only financial industry? You can also move into a corporate finance role in your industry.

Response Quality: Good

Moving directly from technology background to corporate finance role is really difficult. Before that I need more exposure on the financial markets.

I1: If you get through ISB, and not land up in a corporate finance role?

Response Quality: Average

I will still remain in the technology industry and then in the long term move to corporate finance role.

I1: The challenge is that ISB is a diverse school and people will be there who are from corporate finance background. If they are gonna sit in the interview then the recruiter will prefer them.

Response Quality: Average

1. The guys from finance also don’t have CFA and FRM certifications. So I will be better on the finance fundamentals. 2. I have a skill set which an amalgamation of technology knowledge and finance, so that will be my plus point.

I2: That can be seen as a negative point also, as you have technology know-how, you can not take harsh decisions as a finance guy

Response Quality: Perfect

It will be a plus point as I know where the costs can be decreased.

I2: You have diverse interests. Which one is your favorite?

Response Quality: Perfect

Biking. I talked about PlanetWayRound. I also talked about India Bull Riders.

I1: Which bikes you have?

Response Quality: Perfect

I listed my 3 bikes. Then I said I hate driving 4-wheelers.

I3: But you guys drive the 4-wheelers mad .. laughs all around

Response Quality: Perfect

No. At India Bull Riders, the first thing we take care of is the road safety and following the rules and regulations. I joined the group just 6 months back, and I was promoted to the Sr. position because of the leadership I have shown. If anybody does anything irresponsible, we just expel him from the group.

I2: How many hours on the average you spend on bike?

Response Quality: Perfect

Sometimes 2-3 hours in a week, sometimes its 2-3 weeks continuous on bike. I have been to Leh, Kashmir and Rajasthan on my bike. I was also thinking of coming to Hyderabad on my bike, but with butterflies in the stomach, it was a bad idea … laughs all around

I1: Any questions for us?

Response Quality: Perfect

I showed my knowledge about the Fin club activities and ELP program and asked that what more steps will the CAS committee take to help me in the transition from technology to finance?

Handshakes and good byes …

Total Time: 30 minutes

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Interview Experience 2

Profile: 4.5 years in IT Services & Semiconductor, GMAT: 690

There were two members in interview panel.

I1: Lady from Ad-com

I2: Alumni

Here are some of the interview questions:

After formal greetings, they started with my college experience.

1. So you are from XYZ College. How did you get admission to college (as college had changed the admission process sometime back)?

2. How was your experience in college?

3. What are your job responsibilities at work place?

4. How do you manage your team? How do you assign the tasks to team members? (As I had mentioned in my essays that I have led different teams)

5. (There was a cross question on this as I said that I will assign the task on the basis of expertise and criticality)

How do you make sure that there is no gap in team, if any critical member of your team leaves the company?

6. What techniques/measures do you take to keep the team motivated and focused?

7. How do you rate your team compare to other teams in your company? Tell us about some achievements which your team has accomplished.

8. What are your post-MBA goals?

9. (I talked about my product consulting role in High-Tech industry after MBA)

So can’t you achieve the same goal being in the current position and company?

10. Who are the major competitors to your company? If given the chance, which company would you join after MBA?

11. Briefly tell us about your initiative. (As I had mentioned about my initiative)

12. What were your roles and responsibilities?

13. What is the revenue model of your business venture?

14. Then they asked about my hobbies. I had mentioned that Indian traditions fascinate me.

So they asked what do you like about Indian traditions/culture.

15. Do you have any questions for us?

Most of the questions were asked by Ad-com lady. And at several occasions, there were cross questions.

Environment was quite friendly and stress-free.

Total Duration: 20-25 Minutes.

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