Hari Raghavachari, an alumnus of IMD, has been sharing his experiences with us in a 3-part series. In this final post, he describes his career hunt. ||
This blog post for MCB focuses on my journey to and through an MBA at IMD International (www.imd.ch). Located in Lausanne, Switzerland, IMD is a Top Tier European school, with an MBA ranked in the Top 20 in nearly every global ranking of business schools. I graduated the MBA program in 2005 and am since working with a Fortune 50 Healthcare Company based in their European Operations HQ just south of Zurich.
Over the next 3 posts – I will take you through:
Part 1 – Why IMD : The process by which I chose to apply to and attend IMD (if I was admitted)
Part 2 – IMD MBA experience : My experiences in the program itself
Part 3 – IMD Jobs & Careers : My search for a career and where it has led me today
Please note the views expressed here on IMD and some other schools are my own.
IMD – The Job Search!
It felt way longer and more frustrating to draft than any MBA application essay; all of its syntactic, grammatical and formatting rules, and symptomatic of the stresses in the 2nd half of an MBA. It’s just one page, but it does take quite an effort to draft the perfect CV. The borderline slobby dress-code through the first months of class gave way to $500-1000 pin-stripes, while conversations with wife and classmates got a bit strained and distant.
“Dear Hari, we are impressed by your qualifications….but….you unfortunately don’t fit with the role….and we will not proceed any further with your application” – 3 of these in one afternoon, was enough to leave any confidence I had thoroughly shot to pieces, and an already bruised ego thoroughly dead. It didn’t make sense that 2 of these dings were for roles I could fit like a glove.
Aaah…. c**p start on the job search!
I have posted a lot on various threads on the Pagalguy forums about the 75/25 logic why employers would at all hire any experienced Masters Degree holder (including an MBA) out of any particular school. 75% is the combination of pre-MBA skills, and functional experience or competencies one brings to the table, along with how transferable they to the role one seek after an MBA. The quality of the school, its reputation, strength of its alumni network, and (most importantly), the capability of its career services office determines the 25%. One must aim to therefore go to the school that provides the best 25% for the role / career sought after one’s MBA / Masters Degree!
That actually came from my career services advisor in a long session, and convinced me to try working on a technique where I would present the best 75%! Three such sessions of objective feedback resulted actionable insight and a slightly revised strategy for the job search. I expanded my search to a wider group of companies and jobs off-campus. I searched for and found alumni working in the kind of roles I was interested in, and started contacting them directly. Out of at least loyalty to alma mater, most alumni were likely to help, and many at least point me in the right direction. It meant individual, personalized, uniquely drafted or verbalized communications to all the people I wanted to make contact and network with. I had it down to what was to be said in each conversation, and what was to be written in each communication!
4 frustrating weeks later, the first breakthrough was with a company in my pre-MBA industry (logistics and transport) where a client development role was possibly going open. A separate informal discussion with an old friend working in a Fortune 100 healthcare company suddenly resulted in a day long interview at their HQ in central Switzerland. I passed the 1st round of a consulting major (on campus). While I stumbled with a European Oil & Gas major’s assessment day (their final round), a large steel company (also on campus) actually made an offer. Several other conversations started leading somewhere. Suddenly I started hitting my 75.
Things were very different that October, but the tension wasn’t over. The steel company wasn’t a preferred choice, so I had to keep them waiting (which was a separate set of “can I please have more time as I need to convince my wife”? :-D). The logistics company was taking too long to internally approve the head-count for the role I was talking to the alumnus about. The healthcare company (incidentally my first choice) went silent for nearly a month after a second “fit” interview with a top executive! The consulting company 2nd round was my only hope of converting one of the preferred choices.
After another session with my career advisor, I bit the bullet late October, went on the offensive, gave the healthcare company a call, told them I wanted to work for them, and explicitly asked them to offer! While risky, my discussions with them had run long, and I felt the relationship (though not yet as an employee) was strong enough to take this assertive stance with them.
That Friday, I signed on the dotted line with the healthcare company, and politely declined the steel company, the consulting firm, and closed all other discussions. It had taken 5 months to this signature. The faith in IMD’s methodology had paid off in a top notch role in a top notch company.
The 75/25 worked, and I hope those who read my posts on PG will understand where I come from .
P.S – my approach is not necessarily for everyone. Choose your job search strategy based on your career interests, the skills you bring to the table and your preferred geography or industry. At the cost of being irritatingly repetitive, the best schools offer not only reputation, academic quality, but also superior access to jobs through a strong career services office! If a great career is what you want your business school to enable, go to the best one you can.
This concludes my series on IMD, which I hope provided you with relevant insights to help you make an informed choice on applying to this school.
I wish you all the best in your careers.
That completes Hari’s story. But his association with our blog will continue as he launches another series on ‘Career options beyond the MBA’. So stay tuned in and subscribe to the blog to ensure you don’t miss any of the future posts.
If you have queries for Hari PLEASE POST YOUR QUERIES ON THE DISCUSSION THREAD –> IMD Switzerland MBA forum.