For our success stories segment, we interviewed Ameya Prabhudesai who is joining Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM, Pune) (MBA, 2018-20). In this candid interview, Ameya talks about his preparation journey, his background and interests, and why he chose SIBM.

Ameya, for the benefit of our readers, share your profile with us.

SSC: 90.36 (Swami Vivekanand High School)
HSC: 90.16 (Swami Vivekanand Junior College)
Engineering: CGPA: 7.83 (K.J.Somaiya College of Engineering- Electronics & Telecommunication)
Work-Experience: I started my professional career with Accenture as an associate. I was a part of the Content Management team, which handled the content for the website avanade. I went on to become an Analyst and resigned from the firm after 21 months.

Tell us about your extra-curricular achievements and hobbies.

I am a person who is heavily involved in sports. I have played cricket and badminton at the state level. During my engineering days, I was a part of the cricket and badminton teams. Our team was victorious in SKREAM- the sports fest of our engineering college. I was the best batsman for two consecutive years in the Avanade Premier League as well as in the Accenture Cricket League. I was a part of the Avanade Fashion team as well. During my engineering days, have presented a couple of papers, one of which was in PRAKALP- A state level paper presentation competition. Apart from this, I love to travel and cook.

When did you decide to do MBA and why? When did you start your preparation?

The wave of MBA started in my college during our final year. Also, my father is an MBA, so that added inspiration was always there. However, due to our final year project being an Antenna related project, I couldn’t dedicate myself to the preparation of CAT. I started preparing for CAT in May 2016 after my 8th Semester Examination.

The why part of the question, I believe I realized this during my work. I was heavily involved with the marketing team and I was into a techno-marketing role, I had to understand the Content Management System and create a lot of web-pages, depending on the requirements from the marketing team. I felt that my role was one dimensional and that I lacked a holistic approach as I was unaware about a lot of things. Hence, MBA 🙂

Did you join any coaching? Do you think any coaching is required? What material did you use?

Yes, I did join the Learningroots classroom coaching. I believe coaching is required, the reason being that you get to interact with people who have been there, done that and enjoyed the journey of getting into a college. CAT/XAT/NMAT/SNAP/IIFT are the elimination tests that one needs to clear, the GDs and the interviews are pretty grueling and one should definitely take the required guidance. I used the notes provided by learningroots and books available in the market. A lot of content is available on the internet and also I had solved 90% of the sets from the past papers.

Did you have an advantage because of your engineering degree?

People have this notion that Engineers have an advantage as we have mathematics in our curriculum, but trust me CAT doesn’t ask questions on double integration or double derivatives. Yes we do have the expansion series and Probability as a part of our curriculum, but I feel anyone can master the expansion series with practice and Probability constitutes a very small percentage of the entire examination season (P.S. Probability can be intimidating as well). In conclusion, I wouldn’t say a person has an advantage just because he/she is an engineer. There might be some intangible advantages but they are associated with the person because he/she is brilliant and not because the person is an engineer.

How many months did you prepare for and what was your schedule?

As I had mentioned above, I started my prep for CAT in May 2016 and I had a good two months before I started with my professional career and in my first attempt l scored a 95.78 in CAT, 209 in NMAT which helped me secure 8 calls at that time. I dedicated around 4-5 hours in a day for CAT. After my office started, my timings were 11.30-8.30. Generally, I had a good session of 2 hours in the morning and 1 hour after I came back. However, I had a day in the week where I didn’t study and on weekends, I stretched a bit. In 2017, I did the same. Around 4 months before the examination season, I started with mocks and took mocks every weekend and on one of the weekdays. How many months would one take? The portion for CAT and other exams in infinite and I guess one needs to cover all the topics. The question types might be similar but the questions aren’t repeated. People with different calibre will take different amounts of time. We often read on Quora and on other informative websites that “X candidate cracked CAT with just 4 months of preparation”, but trust me “Mr. X” was preparing for CAT throughout his life without realizing that “Mr. X” was actually building a great aptitude. The key is to understand what the examinations demand, your strengths and weaknesses and then try and improve on your weaknesses Also, the fact that you need not complete the portion per say to score a 99+ percentile.

What were your strengths and areas of improvements during preparation and mock phase? How many mocks did you take?

The examination season is long enough and even though the portion is pretty much similar, the pattern is different. Taking only mock tests on CAT will not be sufficient, in order to crack other examinations. Candidates here can be sorted in two categories, people with an aggressive tendency to take the mocks and these guys will take around 70-80 mocks. The other category of people is like me, I took around 40 mocks for CAT, 4-5 mocks for NMAT, 2-3 for SNAP, 3-4 for XAT and 2-3 again for IIFT which makes it around 51-55 mocks. Mock analysis is the part which will separate a 99+ percentile candidate from the 95 one.

Mock analysis for Verbal: After a point in time I went wrong only on questions which were inference based and I guess this is the point wherein your prep is up to the mark. Try and understand the subtle differences between options. Generally, it will boil down to two options and we need to choose the one that is better than the other. For critical based questions try to understand the reasoning and for parajumbles try and figure out the way in which a coherent paragraph will be formed without using the options.

Mock analysis for LRDI: Accuracy is the key here. Try to figure out the sets which you will be able to crack. Check out the percentage of people who have got it right, if this number lies between 40-90 then you should have solved the set.

Mock analysis in Quant: For the past 2 years, this section has been relatively easier and this is the section where one should score the maximum marks. Try and divide all the questions in 3 levels of difficulty. Level 1 questions being the easiest, level 2 being moderate and level 3 being tough. Level 1 questions should be solved, a polished candidate should breeze through level 2 questions as well. As Shashank sir once said, “If you don’t see the 34th question then you wouldn’t score a 95+ percentile.” The key is to try and solve as many as possible.

Can you tell us about SIBM?

SIBM is one of the top 20 B-Schools in the country. SNAP is the exam that a candidate needs to appear and this year the cut-off was 97.xx. SCMHRD is another B-School which is in the top 20 for which a candidate needs to take the SNAP and cut-off was 97.yy where xx > yy. Both the schools are in Pune. My score in SNAP was 99.21. Post this we have the GEPIWAT process.

SCMHRD: There was a group exercise, wherein the entire group has to discuss on the topic given and then come to a consensus. There were two topics.

Topic Number 1: If everyone agreed on a similar point of view, will the world be a good place to live in or will it become a living hell.
Our group was a versatile one, couple of guys from the NITs, couple of guys from renowned state engineering colleges and a few guys from BBA/BMS/B.Com background. We discussed excessively from the Doklam to section 377 to 3 idiots (The famous dialogue by Farhan’s dad: Mera beta engineer banega:p)

Topic Number 2: Plan the events that you would do in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of SCMHRD.
This is where I guess we scored; Generally, people will come up with the events for a day, we decided to plan events throughout the year as it was the 25th year celebrations.

WAT: 2 topics were given. The first topic was the pros and cons of the current reach of the internet. The second one wasn’t a topic per say, but it there were three images, one was of a rich man being carried by poor people, the second was an eye and the third one was of the RBI. I wrote extensively on the post effects of demonetization, used the eye to indicate that people who weren’t declaring the exact income should be careful as there are stricter measures in place.

PI: Asked almost everything from Why MBA to my hobbies to why I didn’t try to compete at the national level to my work-ex to Hampi.

SIBM: The group exercise here was different. We were given a business case and we had to figure out how we could resolve that situation using the four verticals of MBA-HR, Finance, Operations and Marketing. A paper sheet was given to us to present it to the interviewers. In WAT, we were given a passage, we had to write the summary and 5 key words.

PI: The PI here was great, I was asked a variety of questions from sports to my educational background. Also, the interviewers went on to ask about my work-ex, my roles and responsibilities, any strategic decisions that our workplace team made. The interview also had a few rapid fire questions like, headquarters of Accenture, number of world cups that India has won, Australia has won, questions on Roger Federer, number of states in the north east.

Converted both SCMHRD and SIBM. Even though SIBM and SCMHRD are almost at par with each other, there are small differences which actually matter to me a lot. Joining SIBM batch of 2018-2020 🙂

It was great talking to you, Ameya! We wish you all the best! Thanks! 🙂

End of interview.

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