Don Bosco School, Liluah and St Xaviers’ College, Kolkata laid strong academic foundations.He was School Topper – Std X and XII Boards as well as Batch Topper (among 800+ students) during First Year examinations and ranked 9th (among 360+ students) in the Finance specialization batch.
Rajesh subsequently leveraged in his stint at Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), New Delhi. He has also cleared Group 1 of CA Final.
Currently he is into Business Development – Commercial Banking at Citibank
Snippets of our conversation with him
1. What prompted you to get admitted into an MBA program? What were the things you considered when you took that decision?
It was a combination of multiple factors. Firstly, an MBA was about staying in a hostel environment, away from home. I had earlier foregone an opportunity to study at SRCC Delhi because of family pressure, and wanted to make up for it. I feel it is a huge learning which people miss out on in day-scholar courses. Secondly, while I was doing decently with my CA studies, there was also a feeling that the softer aspects of a professional career were not properly addressed. And finally, I wasn’t doing my article-ship from one of the Big Fours – so an MBA from a well-known institute seemed more of a hedge strategy to ensure I start my career on a good note.
Having said that, going for an MBA is not an easy decision to make. I had to weigh the pros and cons of getting into a new course from an opportunity cost perspective. It was a decision based on –
- What are the best and worst case scenarios if I do not do it?
- How quickly do I need to settle down into a stable career?
- Is the cost going to justify the returns in the long term?
2. Tell us about your life on campus, be it academics/non-academics/any interesting happenings?
Those two years on campus have been the best part of my life so far. There was so much of diversity among batch-mates – different ages, ethnicities, academic backgrounds, domains of prior work experience, etc. Although the academic rigor played an important role in its own way, the non-academic part was what stood out for me. Group projects/case studies, competitions, club activities, organizing events, mentoring and getting mentored from peers – this formed the core of my major learning from the course. I ensured to keep myself involved in positions of responsibility during both the years – which could diversify my academically strong CV.
A special mention about the first year hostel rooms on campus – each room is connected to a second one, with a common toilet. So I essentially had 2 roomies and 3 ‘loomies’ which added to the fun and experience. Birthday celebration at IIFT was a special affair. The guys ensured it was not only the birthday boy who gets the bumps but also the roomies and the loomies. I strongly recollect there was one birthday where almost 60% of the hostel guys were given birthday bumps – just for fun!
3. Which courses from MBA have been the most useful?
Coming from a finance academic background, the courses on Corporate Finance, Fixed Income Securities, Financial Modeling and Trade Finance interested me the most. However, the courses on International Business were novel and an eye-opener. IIFT is known for its expertise in IB and hence, all the specialization courses had an international focus – be it marketing, operations, finance or trade. I also had the opportunity to learn a little bit of Mandarin, as part of the Foreign Language curriculum. The courses on international trade have actually helped in the professional world when I sit with clients and try to structure bespoke trade finance solutions.
4. Tell us about the revered ones – the professors who impacted you the most at the campus.
Professors make the courses interesting or otherwise. We were lucky to have some of the best minds teaching important electives. I remember not having slept in any of the lectures taken by Prof. Rajiv Srivastava (Derivatives & Risk Management) or Prof. Jaydeep Mukherjee (Micro/Macro Economics). The ocean of knowledge that they possessed in respective subjects and their easy-to-approach behavior won the student’s confidence and interest. The other professors were good too, but could not overpower my somniacal tendencies during their lectures.
5. In retrospect, what has been your expected/unexpected and most cherished gain from your MBA journey?
- Expected gain – A good placement from campus (joined Citi in their coveted APAC Management Associate program).
- Unexpected gains – Networking and exposure to leadership roles
- Most cherished gain – Friends for life. The immensely talented and fun-loving friends will continue to be the most cherished gain from the course
6. Post the course completion, is there any key personal/professional experience which you have been immensely proud of and would like to share with readers?
The last five years post-MBA have been an exciting and challenging journey with Citi. During this time, I have been fortunate enough to work in four different cities and work across four different profiles in the bank. However, one experience that stands out has been my stint with the sales team in the commercial bank. When given an option to switch roles under the management trainee program, I had taken a punt to venture into front-end sales and to my surprise, I achieved 140% of my targets in the very first year – resulting in an outstanding appraisal and promotion in the shortest possible time. That particular year of my professional career has given me the confidence to further try out newer roles in future.
7. Any words of advice for future MBA aspirants?
Before joining the course, make an informed decision based on what matters to you – staying with family, job profile, level of desired financial stability etc. You would be lucky if you have all of these factors existing together. Be prepared for the sacrifices and the struggles.
While on campus, make the most of it. Life will change a bit, once you graduate. So enjoy to the fullest, travel, participate in events, forge great friendships and network with alumni/ seniors/ peers/ juniors alike. These are precious investments and will hold you in good stead forever.
I would encourage aspirants to take up an MBA but with some clear thinking and definite goals attached to the decision. Once they do that, the course will take due care of the outcome. All the best!
Please feel free to reach out at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rajeshberiwal/