Deepak Ramamurthy has joined one of the most respected companies in the technology world, known for its obsession with quality and innovation. He got the job in Singapore after his INSEAD MBA. He talks about his application journey, life after INSEAD and how the INSEAD placements process helps students get jobs in Singapore after the MBA.
How I got a job in Singapore after MBA from INSEAD
by Deepak Ramamurthy
It is a very pleasant Sunday morning in Singapore and having just taken up a new job post my MBA, it is a perfect time to sit back for some introspection and ask myself the question “What has helped so far in my career?“
No matter how many times I think about it the answer I get is persistence. I know the answer is so clichéd and vague that if it was a business school essay the admission director might have already dumped my application but I genuinely believe it is very critical for the MBA journey. One of the biggest difference between the year I got admitted and the previous attempt was how badly I wanted to get into a good business program.
Before I started my MBA, I was working as a management consultant focused on data science and analytics in the Silicon Valley in the USA. I thoroughly enjoyed what I was doing and with the use of data becoming more important across many sectors it was certainly a very interesting space to be in. However, I also had a strong desire to explore another function and hence I saw an MBA as a natural next step in order to make that career switch.
GMAT preparation debrief
My first challenge was GMAT. My story would be similar to many others you would have heard of. Being an engineer, I was good at quant but had to work hard to improve my verbal score. I was targeting a score of around 740.
When I got a score of 720 my feelings were mixed but I decided that I am going to apply with this score. I felt that even though the score might not be a spike in my application, it should clear the minimum bar for the top business programs.
My two cents on GMAT would be: get it done early and not close to the application season, create a time management strategy – it will help you calmly get back on track when you run out of time during the test – and during preparation, thoroughly analyze the mistakes. I would be very conscious not to ignore any mistake of mine as just a silly mistake rather ask myself if I truly understand the concept being tested.
Once I got the GMAT out of the way, I spent a few weeks attending coffee chats/networking events and visiting business schools. This may be overlooked by some people but I felt it gave a good insight into how the schools looked at applications and also positioned their school amongst others. I found this knowledge to be quite helpful while crafting essays.
By this time, I had my schools shortlisted based on the fit between school’s recruitment strength and my career aspirations. I actually went overboard and applied to ten schools as I felt I had enough time to write my essays; in hindsight, I should have applied to less schools and focused more on the quality as I could not do justice in the end to all my applications.
MBA Application experience
I definitely consider application essays to be a very important component in an application. Hence, I decided to engage a consultant to provide feedback on my essays as we could be biased while reviewing our own essays. However, I would say that I was not very happy in the choice of my consultant as the feedback I received wasn’t critical enough (of course the consultant was not from MBA Crystal Ball).
I made the decision based on fee/application but what I realized later is that I would rather have the right person look at just one application than have the wrong person look at all my applications.
My suggestion would be to choose a consultant who is going to make you introspect a lot, provide honest feedback even if you are uncomfortable, and make you iterate a lot on the essays.
Anyway, I did not want to let this decision impact me. So I worked harder to write better essays. In the midst of the application season, I even read a book on how to write better essays that I felt was quite helpful. In the end, I became confident that my essays did justice to the stories.
I started receiving interview invites but I told myself the work was only half done and started to focus on the interviews immediately. I reached out to Sameer Kamat as I had very good experiences with MCB before. He signed me up with Manish Gupta (MG).
Since INSEAD was one of my top choices, I choose INSEAD for my mock interviews. I found the mock interviews to be very useful. I could see that MG had put in a lot of effort to ask me customized questions taking into consideration my profile and INSEAD’s style. It made me very confident to face my interviews.
I found my INSEAD interviews to be slightly different compared to other schools. In both the interviews, there were specific questions regarding my job whereas I found the other interviews stopping at a high level and not diving much into the details.I was quite happy with how my INSEAD interviews went.
Overall, I found the INSEAD admission process to be very applicant-friendly. An admission officer was assigned as my POC once I applied and she was very responsive to my queries throughout the process.
Finally, the day I have been waiting for arrived. On the morning of Nov 26th 2015,I got a call from a French number and my heart was pounding as I knew it would be the decision to my INSEAD application.Once I was told that I got admitted, I was elated as it meant a lot to me.
INSEAD was definitely among my top choices and hence I very soon accepted the offer. Since the program is intense, I quit my job almost 4 months before the school starts; I returned to India to spend time with my family before starting at the Singapore campus.
Student life at INSEAD Singapore
When I started at INSEAD, I immediately understood why the experience is going to be very special. It was not just the fact that my peers were super talented but also more importantly it was as diverse as it could get. I had classmates from 80 odd countries with very different life experiences.
Everyone is a minority at INSEAD, hence we tend to respect all our differences in the way of thinking. The diversity best comes to play during a class; it is very fascinating to hear how people approach the same situation in very different ways. The classes really broadened my line of thinking.
The biggest challenge that I faced after joining INSEAD was to avoid FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Everyday there are more events happening than what you have time for. It is very easy to drain all your energy if you try to do it all. There are three major dimensions that you would need to balance – academics, recruitment, and social events – apart from boot camps, competitions or other events that you sign up for.
How you decide to spend your time is up to you but learning to let go of certain things becomes crucial. Different people have different priorities and the best part is it can change over time. My advice to someone joining INSEAD would be to be very clear of what you want to get out of the program. If I have to do it again, I actually would have attended more social events than what I ended up doing.
How often would you get opportunities to form lifelong friendships with people from all around the world? Not just that, learning to build relationships is a critical skill to succeed in a workplace later on.
Placements at INSEAD Singapore
Let me also talk a bit about recruitment. We are assigned a career coach at the start of the program and he/she will be our POC for any recruitment help. Since I am from the July batch, I would say we had a bit of respite with no internship to recruit for.
Still, when we start the program, the previous promotion starts to recruit and hence we sit through their presentations to both understand what each firm has to offer and get a feel for the entire process.
In parallel, we start working on our CV and iterate multiple times with feedback from career coaches and classmates. So, right from Day 1, you should expect work for your recruitment to start.
Our program is divided into five periods (P1 to P5) and the idea is that by the time we start P3, we are ready to start networking with finalized CV in our hands. Many people start preparing for case interviews in P3. Once the P4 starts, it gets down to the business end of the program.
Firms start coming to the campus almost every day for presentations and the application deadlines start accumulating. I got multiple interview invites from both of the sectors (Technology and consulting) I was targeting. Most of my P4 and P5 was focused on recruitment while balancing the academics as much as I can.
Very soon after graduation, I accepted a job in the Supply Demand management team of a large multinational technology firm. My advice would be to remain calm during job hunting because it is very easy to get stressed out.
Also, there is a lot of hard work needed to get the right job and it is important not to underestimate the effort needed. If you look around, you will be surrounded with peers who are as good and are looking at the same opportunities. So, it is important to relax, not get bogged down and look for the right fit.
Life after INSEAD
In my current role, I am responsible to maximize sales while minimizing inventory costs by keeping the supply and the demand in balance. It is a new function for me so I am very excited to learn the fundamentals and connect the work I do with learning from my operation courses.
What I really like about the job is that I find it very tangible; the work I do directly impacts the product availability and consequently the happiness of the consumers.
On another note, I have heard feedback that when some MBAs return to work they tend to have know it all attitude. I feel it is important to respect the experience of the team when you join the workforce again.
Overall, the MBA journey has been a very thrilling ride. For sure, there were several highs and lows but it is all part of the learning process.
Finally – as an Indian applicant, I was initially focused too much on the quantitative part of the application but I realized that the qualitative part is at least as important. Yes, super high GMAT scores are great but please do not be fixated only on that.
Spend your energy on the rest of the application too. All the best for each of your careers!