by Mayank Sharma, ISB
My Stints in Core Finance
I passed out with distinction from Delhi College of Engineering in June 2011 and really wanted to work in Finance. To that end, I joined the Equity Derivatives team in Evalueserve. My job was to support the Investment Banking team of a German investment bank. I was in Quant Finance for almost two years, where I worked in the Equity Derivatives space, risk arbitrage, which is essentially dealing with arbitrage situations that exist due to merger and acquisition situations, and Index Futures. The trade ideas we used to suggest were sometimes to the tune of $50 million. One of the projects that I worked on became the blockbuster offering for our team and helped our team gain the number 1 rank in the annual interbank rankings. The main skill I gained here was the innate understanding of Finance and the experience of working in a high-stress environment of Investment Banking.
I had also started studying for my CFA level 1 examinations in the meantime, and realized that Equity Derivatives was too narrow a field for an engineering graduate like me. To that end, I joined the Equity Derivatives team within Evalueserve. I was supporting the Investment banking team of a Swiss Investment bank and was covering the US gaming sector. I learned how to analyze businesses through a financial lens.
I loved Consulting!
After about 6 months in the field, I had the opportunity to work in the field I was really interested in- Consulting, supporting the consulting services of a Tech 100 giant. Here I worked mostly as a strategy consultant to clients in the TMT domain. Think about the image of a consultant you might have had in mind: Late hours, high pressure, living in hotels and advising top management. I loved my job and knew that this is what I wanted to do but at a much higher level. And so the decision to do an MBA was a very natural one. ISB was the only college I wanted to go to and knew I had to ace the GMAT in order to have a chance of getting in.
The GMAT – Accuracy First, Speed Next
I studied for three months on my own. I knew that my strength was Quant and so decided to dedicate most of my efforts to the Verbal section. My armament consisted of the books from Manhattan GMAT and GMAT online forums. These forums have a wealth of information and question, and I found them to be a very useful guide. My suggestions to candidates would be to first focus on getting the concepts and questions correct. The speed will come later on. Once you have reached a 95% accuracy level, now being timing yourself. Also revise, revise, revise: I cannot stress this enough. Using these strategies, I scored a 750 on the GMAT.
The Essays – Look Within
I knew that to have a decent shot at ISB, I must be very thorough with my story. So, I suggest the candidates take a hard look at themselves and honestly answer the following questions: Why MBA? Why the chosen field after an MBA? What skills do you need to get from point A to point B? Are you being realistic enough? And finally why ISB.
I would even suggest putting this all down in a separate word document. The key is to be very honest with yourself and the essays will then automatically flow from this story.
The Interview – Stay Calm
I was interviewed in the Hyderabad campus itself. By this time, I had my answers very clear in my head, but most importantly, was very calm during the whole process. And this is the mistake that most candidates make: They get so caught up in the answers, they forget to work on the mental side of the interviews. And this would be my last advice to prospective candidates. All the best for the process.
Mayank Sharma is a student of Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad.
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