Perspectives from ISB

A psychology graduate churning out codes? That’s unusual, but it’s Krishma’s story, one she had not planned. Like many other parents, her father too insisted she pursue a career in either engineering or medicine but Krishma’s disinclination towards science would have none of it. Her father, persevering as he was, got her enrolled in a two-year course at Aptech, a computer and IT education institute when she was in the second year of under graduation pursuing Arts. Since he had paid the fee in full, he advised her not to let it go waste. ‘Coding is like a germ. When it gets into your head, it sits there. In two years I started liking it and appeared for MCA and here I am. Given an opportunity I would love to go back to coding,’ Krishma says.

Krishma Singla, PGPMAX Co ‘18, is the VP and Head, Global Data and Analytics, HSBC Asset Management. She builds analytical insights for the business and helps in data-driven decision making. ‘I was fortunate to fight off stiff competition and get selected by IBM product development team for IBM Watson project. I have not looked back since then.’ IBM and then ISB were the two most important occasions that scripted her life. ‘The flavour of ISB is unmatched. It attracts you.’

‘I give credit to IBM for building my career and filling me with essential knowledge. ISB gave me the business perspective I longed for.’ Her last role at IBM as a presales consultant necessitated her to interact with business clients and help the sales team to sign technology deals. ‘However, the business jargons and the abbreviations bemused me. I understood technology, but business didn’t seem like my cup of tea.’ The decision of PGPMAX came about when she peered into her future, of how her career would shape in the coming five to ten years.

‘I admired the business acumen of a close friend at IBM, an ISB graduate. I liked his thought process and his impressive responses during our business interactions. He would gush about the culture and faculty at ISB.’ PGPMAX turned out to be a perfect fit for a technologist like her.

‘I feel confident now. I may not have a deep insight into the wide range of subjects I learnt, but I can relate to each. I can understand the terms and terminologies and the way business functions in a generic way.’ She is now comfortable with the ET finance section of The Economic Times, which earlier was incomprehensible, she says laughingly.

She has amusing recollections of her days of group assignments at ISB and of the toil that tested her stamina and patience. ‘The week we spent at the campus was always very exhausting. Sleeping like a log uninterruptedly for 14-15 hours on the weekends was usual. But I am glad all of it brought stupendous result in terms of my overall growth and the way it shaped my thinking. It prepared us for the rigour of the professional lie. It was a paradigm shift that moved us out of our comfort zone.’

One of the most memorable lessons Krishma learnt at ISB is the importance of the evidence-based approach and is something she applies to work often. ‘The way I put a proposal to my manager has changed. I take a demonstration-based and evidence-based approach with all the necessary feasibility study to prove the working of the idea along with the benefits.’

On her views about the qualities of a good leader, Krishma says a leader must be strong in empathy and uncompromising in values. She cites the Tatas and Satya Nadella as the flag bearer of these virtues. ‘My views on empathy got strengthened at ISB. I was fortunate to have good mentors in life. You could be very talented, communicate well, ideate well, you could even be a change champion but if you don’t have empathy all of it is of no use.’

Krishma made lifetime friends on the campus. But for ISB, it wouldn’t have been possible for her to meet people from various walks of life or from disparate functions and domains. The alumni community of ISB is very responsive, and it feels like a family, she says. ‘We support each other and take out time for those in need of support whether it’s about job openings or referrals or any other help. It’s a matter of pride to be a part of a world-class school.’

Krishma is an avid reader and makes time to read each day. She believes there are always better ways to do things. ‘World is changing at a rapid speed. Keeping myself abreast especially on my subject is critical for me to stay ahead in the game. The millennials have a lot more knowledge and confidence. If you have to lead them you have to be at par with them.’ She is intrigued by world history and loves watching documentaries in spare time on how the world has changed and what changed it.

Her advice to the PGP class is that they must get immersed in the ISB and enjoy even if they have to disconnect from the entire world. ‘ISB is a world in itself. Grab whatever you can. If you come with baggage, you will have that much less storage space.’ She likens the subjects with a buffet spread where one decides on the plate fills after tasting a bit of all. ‘Pick the ones that make the most sense to you. Focus on those and grasp as much as you can. They are the ones to stay with you.’