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Adventures of Achamba - The Super MBA

Posted: November 10th, 2013, 4:20 pm
by MBACrystalBall
Just for fun, we introduced (unleashed onto our unsuspecting readers would be a more apt description) our friend Achamba in an earlier blog post.

Unexpectedly, despite his superiority complex, obnoxious personality and general sh*tty attitude, he got quite popular among our readers.

So we asked him to hang around and share more gyan about himself and the world he operates in.

He makes the occasional guest appearance on our blog to help tense and stressed out MBA applicants unwind.

If you've missed meeting him, here's a quick introduction to all that he has been doing so far.

Achamba - How it all started

Posted: November 10th, 2013, 4:27 pm
by MBACrystalBall
Greatness wasn’t thrust upon him. He earned it, or rather paid for it, depending on how you look at it. All his alleged super-powers were hardly the result of an experiment gone horribly wrong (some might dispute that theory).

At the risk of causing serious damage to his financial well-being, he went through a rigorous 2-year process of conditioning and training that converted him into the super-being that he thinks he is.

Now with his super-powers he selflessly strives hard to save the corporate world and make it a better place for all innocent, hard-working and ignorant souls around him.

But it wasn’t always like that. Aditya Chamba (Adi to his friends) grew up as a regular kid with all the normal fears that plague the untrained brain. Maths, exams and data overload jitters were the popular plots that his nightmares were based on.

After close to 2 decades of basic education, he thought he had learnt everything he needed to help him lead an enjoyable life and sail towards retirement. He was so mistaken.

His real education started when he entered the corporate world. Very soon he realised (or rather his bosses made him realise) how little he knew. He realised that the functioning of the business world was too vast and complicated for his little brain to comprehend.

The 12 hours of his life that he contributed daily to his employer from his small cubicle were less than a drop in the ocean. All the big decisions were taken behind closed doors of cabins where the powers that be, stay put, coming out occasionally to gulp huge quantities of fresh air mixed with cigarette smoke (or vice versa).

Adi wanted those powers and he wasn’t willing to wait like the rest of the sissies around him to develop them organically. It was a question of working smart versus working hard. Well, not working was also an option, but Adi’s dignity and bank balance wouldn’t allow that.

After a lot of soul searching, he knew what stood between him and the powers he seeked – an MBA degree from Bizcool B-school, the premier management institution he always dreamt of.

Not too many people are sure of what happened in the next 2 years, but he came back transformed. The simple guy next door, Adi Chamba had become Achamba (that’s uh-chum-baa, meaning ‘Wonder’ in Hindi), the Super MBA.

He had strange and wonderful powers that none could fathom. He could come up with answers to all (ALL) problems, using strange looking diagrams and notes that he referred to as ‘frameworks’.

His fear of numbers had vanished and in fact replaced by an obsession, as he sliced and diced into random data that he could access out of the blue.

The scariest part was he had figured out how to use the Pivot Table feature in MS Excel! Plus many more powers that would be gradually revealed on unsuspecting occasions. His bosses love him and those around him wonder why.

Adi claims that his Achamba avatar has been grossly misunderstood.

People think he is arrogant. He defines it as ‘natural confidence that emanates from knowing all the answers’.

Folks think he underestimates the complexity of real life problems. He thinks this general public perception stems from his peers’ ignorance about his problem solving toolset.

Many say he is overpaid. He says he is just a prime example and a personification of how successful products can be created and marketed to fill a void that never existed. To which the others say, ‘Huh???’

Some say Achamba is just a urban legend. Others say they have been at the receiving end of his magical powers. What’s your stand? Have you seen him lurking in your office?

Share the post with your MBA friends, only with the cool sporting ones though. Keep it away from the real Achambas in your office.

If you found this interesting, read more about the adventures of Achamba – The Super MBA.

Achamba is looking for some new friends (the first few are always extra special), and his morale would get a boost if you like his Facebook page and share this with your social media friends.

Dealing with MBA Entrance Exam failures

Posted: November 10th, 2013, 4:35 pm
by MBACrystalBall

We bumped into Achamba – The Super MBA on Facebook when he shared the picture above that seems to have gone viral.

Despite the pathetic resolution, everyone and their dog has been forwarding the image to everyone else and their cat. So we asked Achamba if he’d be willing to take up a secret assignment on our behalf. He had cracked the engineering entrance exam and then the mba entrance exam. He seemed like the best candidate for this critical task.

We asked him to reach out to all the characters in that cartoon to find out what really happened after the animals took the competitive entrance exam. Being a cartoon (literally and figuratively), Achamba took up the challenge. His lineage allowed him to access forbidden worlds that our best MBA admissions consultants can’t.

What Achamba uncovered was surprising and enlightening. He has shared the follow-up story exclusively for MBA Crystal Ball readers.

What happened after the Entrance Exam

A little bit about the tree first. After a recent acquisition it’s now called – Corporate Tree. Its primary function is to bear fruits, which are then shipped across the world. In the early days, it would produce apples. But after the first two beta testers (tasters, rather) identified as Mr Adam and Ms Eve complained of forbidden psychological and physical side-effects, the Tree’s senior management decided to produce something safer – oranges.

Achamba first met up with the monkey. As expected, the monkey had cracked the challenge in the entrance exam, graduated from an elite business school (the one that rejected Achamba’s application) and went back to take an enviable position on the by-now-familiar Corporate Tree.

The rest of the test takers (again as expected) didn’t fare too well. Though everyone had high expectations from the crow, surprisingly, it was disqualified for cheating. ‘You were supposed to climb to the top, not fly. Shortcuts not allowed,’ was the explanation given.

Not being content with this abrupt ending, Achamba was keen to find out what happened to each of those who had failed the entrance exam. He didn’t have to hunt too hard for them. The monkey said he was still in touch with the others, as they were providing services to the Tree.

The elephant had opened up a security company. His team now protects the Corporate Tree from unauthorised access. As part of their CSR activities, they also provide protection to endangered species in national parks whenever movie stars are expected to go on a tour.

The penguin launched a startup called Just Chillin’ that provides processing and refrigeration services to the corporate tree. The company makes impressive profits, the culture is informal, the policies are employee friendly. The only gripe that the employees have is with the dress code that the founder loves – tuxedoes.

The technically astute crow started ‘Escrow Payment Services’, an online payment gateway that allows the Corporate Tree to accept orders online. It has recently attracted Series A funding from some of the best Venture Capital firms.

The fish and the seal started a partnership venture (‘Fishy Deals Sealed‘ or simply FDS) to transport the fruits via sea. After all these years, they still can’t climb trees. Also, allegedly, one of the founders (hint: the one with the fins) suffers from body odour. So, all business meetings happen over Skype. Customers have been happy with their service though, and it reflects in their balance sheet.

The dog had a track-record of, er, barking up the wrong tree. Well-wishers told him that his public displays of affection were unprofessional and needed to be controlled. But that’s not what we are talking about here. We are more interested in his professional life. Numbers and excel sheets were boring. Marketing seemed like an exciting area to get into. Thus, the seeds were sown for the marketing consulting firm ‘Doggy Style’. You might’ve heard their tagline – ‘We make your bark better than your bite’.

What Entrance Exams really teach us

It was heartening to see that despite the perceived failures during entrance exams, everyone had done well for themselves. In fact, those who faced failure earlier struggled harder and were now enjoying the fruits of their labour.

As entrepreneurs, they provide various services to the Corporate Tree. The monkey, despite cracking the toughest entrance exam, was still working for peanuts.

All this might seem like an untold chapter from the folk tales and fables you’ve read as a kid. But just like in those stories, there are lessons here as well. Not from the entrance exam itself, but more from what can happen after it.

Lesson 1: When corporate fables involve 2-dimensional animals that take entrance exams & manage companies, the level of credibility can be extremely low.

Lesson 2: The seeds of entrepreneurship just need some fertile ground. The inspiration to follow your dreams can help you overcome odds and find workarounds.

Lesson 3: Statistically, out of every 3 lessons that you read on the internet, only one is worth remembering. In this blog post, it is lesson 2 (so please read the previous point again).

If you have felt disappointed with your performance in entrance exams of any nature (IIT entrance exams, medical entrance tests, MBA entrance exams) or are feeling paranoid about taking one, let this post take off some of that pressure.

Share this story with your friends. Tell them what they can expect from you in a few years.

We thank Achamba for being our undercover reporter for this story.

If you found this interesting, show thy generosity by sharing this article on social media. Here's the link.

How to get a promotion quickly

Posted: November 10th, 2013, 4:45 pm
by MBACrystalBall
You think it is just the MBA that's getting Achamba all the frequent promotions?

You couldn't be more wrong!

Achamba reveals the magical tool that has helped him sound knowledgeable in meetings with the senior management.

No matter the topic, you can sound as impressive as Achamba and be in the running for a quick promotion.

Read how to impress your boss.

Why MBA aspirants are leaving their jobs

Posted: September 22nd, 2014, 12:32 pm
by MBACrystalBall
Achamba, the Super MBA minus the cape and the bright coloured external underwear, did some research. That’s one of the very few things he’s good at. He wanted to get behind the AAP growth story.

No, it’s not what you are thinking. He wanted to know why the Aam Applicant Pool (AAP) was growing at such an alarming rate.

Traditionally, this category of MBA aspirants was known as the Indian IT Male Pool (or IIM Pool). But the acronym was creating a fair bit of confusion, specially among an audience conditioned into interpreting things in bizarre ways.

Achamba’s intellectual discussions would get derailed every time he mentioned ‘IIM Pool’ and one of his friends would quip, ‘IIMs are our national assets. They should focus on management education, not swimming pools.

So Achamba came up with terms & acronyms that, he felt, had very little chance to be interpreted in any other way – Aam Applicant Pool or AAP.

What drives MBA aspirants from AAP to bschools abroad

For his research, he found many MBA applicants working in software companies lurking on GMAT and MBA forums, reaching out to admission consultants and asking for MBA profile evaluations, getting satisfied with 10-15 completely disconnected responses (oblivious to the guerrilla marketing that was going on rampantly) and then disappearing from the forum.

There was only one way Achamba could gain their interest. Pretending to be an admissions consultant, he created an ‘Ask Achamba’ thread. And soon enough, the typical ‘what are my chances’ queries started pouring in magically.

Achamba cajoled a few of the desi MBA applicants from the AAP category to share their stories of why they were aiming for MBA colleges abroad. Initially, most of them gave standard and predictable answers. ‘Broaden my horizons and deepen my pockets’ was the top response.

But Achamba wasn’t one to give up so easily. He had watched enough episodes of Rendezvous with Simi Garewal to know how to break up hard exterior shells and get the water flowing (this comment was sponsored by the Tourism Department of Kerala, God’s own country!).

It was only then that the tears and the cribbing started flowing freely. The air-conditioned environments of software companies could barely control the heat that was being generated in the office due to the monotonous work, the dwindling supply of overseas assignments, the pathetic canteen food, the improbable promotions, the why-the-fish-do-I-have-to-wear-this-fishing-tie culture.

The aam (common) employee was being taken for a ride. And we aren’t talking about the company’s transportation policy here.

Achamba’s research was bringing out facts that were relevant not only for Admission Officers who’d be reviewing the MBA applications, but for the HR team from the offices that were driving their employees out in droves.

As is always the case with research projects, you get more insights than you bargained for. Achamba realised that AAP wasn’t the only MBA admissions category in the fray. There were a few more categories of bschool aspirants.

His earlier experiences helped him come up with additional terms to describe them. Yet again, he was dead sure that his creative new terminology concoctions and the associated acronyms wouldn’t be misinterpreted by the less talented ones.
Disclaimer on behalf of Achamba: As you read on, we request you to keep in mind that these are categories of MBA applicants from India. Any resemblance to persons/groups living or dead or in comatose state is purely coincidental and a direct result of your hyperactive imagination.
Other Indian MBA applicant groups looking at bschools abroad

Under Paid Applicant (UPA)

The Under Paid Applicant came from conventional & often bureaucratic industries like power, infrastructure, engineering, manufacturing & the government sector.

The big complaint here was that their employers relied more on tenure & sycophancy than potential to give out the perks. And even when they did, the goodies were hardly comparable to what AAP candidates were getting (like 5BHK homes).

Their top boss was often silent on key corporate decisions and unapproachable to the regular staff. Such applicants hoped that an international MBA would get the recruiters to value their skills and reward them accordingly. The influence of a foreign hand would help their sagging careers.

Business Joinee Pool (BJP)

Candidates from the Business Joinee Pool did not have the usual complaints of the other categories. Hailing from family businesses, they had a pretty comfortable life and a general tendency to blow their accomplishments out of proportion.

Though they knew their long term plans were in India, they wouldn’t mind a little love from Uncle Sam…and the day when their damn tourist visas would stop getting rejected.

Their friends would often compare them to the exotic flora species Nelumbo Nucifera, as both were able to bloom in wet messy environments.

These MBA applicants had a well-laid out career path too…unfortunately, laid out by their autocratic dads. The choices were limited. For instance, no coffee at home, only chai. Their favourite colour and favourite fruit were the same – orange.

What happened to democratic freedom of choice, etc etc?

For this pool, an MBA was a diplomatic way of rebelling. No egos hurt & no relationships strained in the process.

Non-Commital Pool (NCP)

MBA candidates from the Non-Committal Pool were applying to MBA, MS, MPhil and MiM programs…simultaneously.

They wanted a foreign degree for the credibility, but their short-term & long-term goals weren’t very apparent to anyone reading their MBA essays and SoPs.

As long as it got them the opportunities they wanted, they were willing to be flexible with the degree.

Differentiation among the applicant pools was an ongoing issue. Like their Business Joinee Pool competitors, their profiles didn’t seem to have much variety. Their favourite insect and their favourite sport were the same – cricket.

Corporate Phobic Indians (CPI)

The Corporate Phobic Indians were mostly left-handed and considered companies to be a necessary evil within society. They felt, if the government could provide food, clothing and shelter directly, we’d never need companies or salaries or promotions or FDI.

Rather than continue to be part of the mainstream evils, venturing out independently and launching their own start-ups would be so much better. That’s where the MBA came in.

Their general philosophy – MBA admissions, and business in general, does not determine who is right – only who is left.

Temperamental Candidates (TC)

Temperamental Candidates, though very simple and down-to-earth in appearance, were a little difficult to understand.

During the alumni interview, when Achamba asked a question about what poribortan (change) they were aiming for in their career, they called him an undercover agent of the Admissions Committee and threatened him with dire consequences.

Not keen on spending a night in jail, Achamba stopped further research on this pool…and his overall survey as well.

However, based on whatever work he had done, the common wisdom that came forth from all these interviews (and after watching a lot of Bollywood movies) was that there’s was one main villain in the story. In this case, it was the corporate politics that was driving good employees away and into the open arms of business schools.

At some point in time, it may be interesting to carry out a similar survey on folks who’ve completed their MBAs to see if their expectations were met or are they more confused now.

While Achamba is busy tabulating these findings and creating colourful pie-charts, let me ask you.

Which of these applicant pools do you fall in? Are you aware of any other categories that Achamba’s research hasn’t brought up?

Editor's note: This was originally published in 2014, around the Indian elections. Inspired by this article, one of our readers (Anujan) posted this in the comments section.
Anujan says:
April 14, 2014 at 4:12 am

Fantastic article as always Sameer! Kudos for the timing and the creativity though out! Was gripping from alpha to omega. Whilst reading the article I could not stop grinning the whole time while people around with the political outlook were wondering whats wrong with the Normally Dissecting Applicant.

A few other applicant pools that sum up the other remaining quota is :

1. All India Artists Doctors Mariners Kommerce (AIADMK)

These MBA candidates are a highly indigenous tribe and may either be process maniacs or extremely creative. Their main motivation is to get rid of the existing boredom which stems from years of the same work.

Unfortunately nobody from the Aam Applicant Pool (AAP) or Under Paid Applicant (UPA) can fathom this boredom since the other side is always green.

These people can dole out freebies for greater good of the people whenever they feel like and at other times they would blend in so much that they cannot be distinguished as a separate entity.

2. Jovial Distinguished Undergrads

These are the people who have been sold the dreams that post graduation life is going to be heaven. Since their school time where their next promised elixir was post SSC then post HSC and finally post graduation kept on moving ahead.

The under promise and over deliver with huge margins. Some tend to lose their way and end up in negative growth cycles.

However these are quick learners and easily from 20 to 60 marks which is an unbelievable 200% increase given the circumstances. They tend to be strong headed and its either way or the highway.

Cheers. Hope more creativity flows in from the other avid readers who have always had your help to gaze into the future!

Samples & examples of MBA Essays that won’t work

Posted: September 22nd, 2014, 12:36 pm
by MBACrystalBall
If you are intending to refer to MBA essays as examples, that’s one thing. Re-using them as templates is going too far.

For applicants who are writing MBA essays, MBA Admission Officers have 2 common tips:

1. Be honest
2. Be yourself

Here's what can happen when you stretch those tips too much.

Read MBA essay samples that won't work.