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Indian MBA Graduate shines in World Championship of Public Speaking

Posted: March 25th, 2022, 3:17 pm
by MBACrystalBall

It fills us with pride when friends of MBA Crystal Ball get into good business schools. The feeling is even better when we hear that they’ve graduated and secured excellent jobs.

Facebook page Aditya Maheswaran has given us (and Indians in general) reason to move around with a chappan inch ki chhaati (56-inch chest).

After accomplishing the first two milestones (he got into ISB and managed a career change from IT to human capital consulting), he’s gone on to put India on the global map for a skill (i.e. speaking) that’s often considered a source of mirth by the western media.

In the 2015 World Championship of Public Speaking (WCPS) which had around 40,000 participants from across the world, Aditya was judged as the second best speaker in the world.

MBA Crystal Ball founder Sameer Kamat caught up with Aditya to find out how his career and life have changed over the years.

From ISB Hyderabad to WCPS Las Vegas
Q&A with Aditya Maheswaran

MBA Crystal Ball: Can you share a little about your pre-MBA profile?

Aditya Maheswaran: I am an engineer by qualification and started my career with the IT major Cognizant. I worked for a year in projects and then moved to the Strategic Marketing Group (SMG) in Cognizant.

I had a total of 4 years at Cognizant post which I felt a need to do an MBA since most of my team members were from reputed business schools and were able to have an angle of thinking which I admired. So I wrote the GMAT in 2011 and applied to ISB.

MCB: What was the toughest part of the application process? How did you tackle it?

Aditya: The toughest part was focus. I was involved (and continue to be involved) in multiple activities both at work and outside work. To set aside a couple of months for GMAT prep was tougher than the preparation itself.

I tackled it by making my prep lean. I spent time on what I knew I was weak at rather than unnecessarily solving many quadratic equations which I was anyway good at :-)

MCB: Why did you choose to work with MBA Crystal Ball?

Aditya: My friend had googled for consultants who would guide in the application process and had found MBA Crystal Ball credible. He passed on Sameer Kamat’s number to me.

The most interesting part of my experience with MBA Crystal Ball was Sameer’s ability to listen, his knowledge of b-schools across the world, and his ability to give an objective and informed opinion.

MCB: What are the top 3 similarities & differences between creating & delivering a good speech versus writing effective MBA essays?

Aditya: Similarities:
1. Both need to create impact.
2. Both need to connect with the audience.
3. Both need a definite structure.

1. You write for the eye, you speak for the ear.
2. Essays can be read multiple times, a speech does not have that luxury.
3. Essays have the limitation of words, a speech carries a visual appeal.

MCB: Apart from academics, what resources and opportunities at ISB helped you gain new skills and exposure?

Aditya: ISB provides a plethora of opportunities. But none bigger than giving you a large appetite to learn.

I used to host events, anchor conferences, and conduct peer learning. Group discussions, study group learnings – these give you tremendous learning.

MCB: You got the consulting job off-campus. Tell us more about how you went about it.

Aditya: I was specific about the kind of job I wanted to be in. Hay Group offered me that. Along with management, I loved behavioural sciences and consulting. This trio came to life at Hay Group.

I applied through a contact at Hay Group and got through after a 5-round selection process.

MCB: What are the top issues that MBA applicants in India face during placements?

Aditya: The main issue is the perineal debate between passion and money. It’s mostly seen as mutually exclusive, and to an extent, that is the truth.

But over the last few years, things have seen a drastic change. Investment banking and Strategic consulting have become second to Start-ups and social work, which is great.

MCB: What do you do in your current job as a consultant?

Aditya: I’m a consultant with a global management consultancy and specialize in human capital consulting.

I work with varied clients extensively in Leadership Development, Coaching, Talent Management, Organization design and transformation etc.

50% of the time is spent at client locations – either in BD, facilitation, coaching etc.

30% is spent with colleagues – in brainstorming, solutioning etc.

20% is spent doing back-end preparation – making impactful presentations, collaterals etc.

Preparing for the Competition

MCB: This was the second time you represented India in the world championships. What lessons did you learn and improve upon from the earlier experiences?

Aditya: Yes. Last year I represented India at the World Championship held at Kuala Lumpur. I ended up in the top 27 in the world.

This year, I once again represented my country in Las Vegas. I ended up as 2nd in the world.

What made this shift possible is a combination of reflection, feedback, and preparation.

MCB: The top 3 winners were non-native English speakers from Asia. What does that say about what’s important to win a competition such as this?

Aditya: It validates my belief that communication goes beyond flowery language or accent.

It’s the ability to give a part of you to your speech. Conviction, Credibility, and Concern for the audience wins in the end.

MCB: Speaking of accents, in your winning speech you altered your accent to connect with an international audience. How did you work on it?

Aditya: I did not really alter my accent. I polished it to ensure that their inability to understand a few words does not hinder the impact I can create on them.

MCB: Share a little about how body language and props can be used to enhance the impact of the speech on a bigger stage? Anyone that you’ve idolized and learnt from?

Aditya: Honesty and conviction seldom come through words. It radiates through your face and actions. Body language differentiates performance.

I learnt stage attitude from Don Rickles, the coolness factor from Dean Martin, and the power from Barack Obama.

But I’ve always been myself on stage. I think that has been the biggest enabler to my success as an orator.

MCB: Did you get any support from any organisation?

Aditya: Toastmasters gives its members a platform to express – in other words, stage-time. I think that is the biggest gift any public speaker can ask for – an audience!

MCB: Good luck for your future endeavors, Aditya.

Aditya: Thank you!