Inevitably, one of the foremost questions in the minds of B-school aspirants is “How can the school help me progress in my career?” To answer this question, V K Menon, Senior Director for Career Advancement Services at ISB and our guest blogger for the week, walks us through the immense machinery in motion behind ISB’s placement success:
Enrolling into a premium management program is a serious decision that you are taking, both in terms of the year that you are staying away from work and also the investment that you are going to make. So, the more clearly you understand the various aspects of the program, the better off you are. Let us take a look at ‘Careers’ at the ISB.
ISB students come with significant work experience, which could be anywhere from 2 to 20 years. They add to their skill sets tremendously during the PGP, and so look for significant improvements in their careers after graduation, where these new skills sets can be leveraged and will be appreciated. Naturally, placements at ISB are all lateral placements and we are not in the business of facilitating entry-level jobs. From our side, this requires tremendous effort. Apart from finding the right opportunities, we want to ensure that our students are well-prepared to make the most of those opportunities. Not many people realise this, but unlike most other global B-schools, we start our ‘placement process’ in the first month of the PGP itself and it goes on till the end of the year.
Our placement cell, known as Career Advancement Services or CAS, consists of three divisions: Learning & Development, Corporate Relations, and Process. Let us take an example to illustrate the role of the Learning & Development (L&D) team. Suppose a current student who used to be a program manager in the IT industry prior to joining ISB wants to get into a Sales & Marketing role after graduation, but doesn’t know what this entails. The L&D team, which has several domain experts, will conduct a one-on-one session with him in Term 1 of PGP. They help him understand the nature of such a role: kind of day-to-day responsibilities, skill requirements, necessary aptitude and attitude, realistic remuneration and potential upside, career growth paths, etc. They help him determine his fit for such a role and identify companies that he may be interested in. Maybe he is also interested in some other functions or industries. If so, they repeat the process for each of his prospective career goals. They could even suggest options that he may not have thought of. So fairly early in the year, he gets a lot of clarity on what career he wants to pursue.
After he understands his options and decides to build skills for his dream career, the L&D team helps him get good exposure to the industry. They organise one-on-one as well as group interactions with ISB alumni and industry veterans from those domains/functions. In a year, we conduct several sessions such as Knowledge Transfer Sessions by Alumni (KTSA), Horizon Speaker Series, Gurukul Series, etc. Closer to the placement season that starts in Term 6, L&D team conducts resume reviews and mock interviews for students to ensure that they are well prepared to get interview shortlists and also convert those opportunities into actual jobs.
While the L&D team works with the students, the Corporate Relations team engages with recruiters to understand their talent requirements and to connect them with the right candidates from the graduating PGP class. Given the wide range of skills and experience among the students, a lot of effort goes into mapping the companies’ requirements with the available talent pool. The Corporate Relations team also facilitates interactions between industry and students throughout the year. For example, many top consulting firms conduct workshops on campus in the areas of structured problem solving, analytical thinking, etc. Senior management of companies also participate in events, panel discussions and industry focus groups held on campus. The Corporate Relations team facilitates all this and helps companies recruit the right talent for their needs. For the 767 students in the Class of 2013, companies made a total of 820 offers by the end of the placement season. If you guessed that many of these could be for senior management roles, you are right.
The Process team consolidates the efforts of L&D and Corporate Relations teams to ensure that the placement process goes on smoothly every year. Our placement process is done completely online. Participating companies provide detailed requirements and job descriptions of their open positions. These are uploaded to our proprietary portal. Students go through the roles and interested candidates then apply to the jobs through the portal. To help students with their decision making and preparation, CAS team provides students up to 5 years of past data of companies’ recruitment efforts at ISB. If a company shortlists a student, the Process team arranges an interview.
As many of you are already aware, ISB’s entire placement process is campus-neutral. At the time of shortlisting candidates, recruiters are not aware of where a potential candidate may be currently residing. So the shortlist almost always has a mix of students from both campuses. For the interview, the Process team brings candidates from both campuses to a single location and the interview is then conducted. All interview time slots are assigned by the Process team to ensure that no student misses any opportunities because of conflicting schedules.
The entire CAS team works very hard through the year, coordinating with each other to ensure that the right company finds the right student for the right role. The results speak for themselves, as can be seen by our placement trends and placement highlights over the last few years. But while the CAS team can help the student get to the negotiating table, at the end of the day, it is completely up to the student to impress the interviewers and secure an offer letter! Let me assure you, you really need to prepare well to bag that “dream offer”. Companies recruit from ISB for middle- and senior-management positions. They expect our students to display a very high level of intelligence, expertise and maturity. Once recruited, they will be expected to hit the ground running from Day 1 of the job, which will be in a higher position, a different area, or both, as compared to their pre-ISB jobs. In short, students have to clearly demonstrate their value to the interviewers sitting across the table from them.
This puts the onus on you as a student to effectively develop your skills and temperament throughout the year. Understand the theory behind various management concepts, get your hands dirty with experiential projects in your target industry or function, take on extracurricular activities and leadership roles, learn about the world around you, learn about working in high-performance teams. Become a capable and mature individual, and develop confidence in your abilities. At the end of your year at ISB, when you get the opportunity for a career you have always dreamed about, you will be ready to seal the deal.
I wish you all the very best!
About the Author: V K Menon is the Senior Director for Career Advancement Services (CAS) and Admissions and Financial Aid (AFA) at ISB.