Saturday, October 08, 2011

Let’s talk about the economy. Home prices that were thought to always go up are steadily going down. I should know, myself being a homeowner trying to sell. Jobs are hard to come by, and those who have it are in constant fear of losing it. Home prices are at record lows, and so are the mortgage rates (4% in US compared to 10% in India). But that is not motivating renters to buy homes. Partly because of lack of job security and partly because banks are not lending as easily as in earlier days. Stricter eligibility standards adopted by banks is a good sign. But with lack of money flowing in the economy, things are slowing down. Manufacturers may not be able to secure their working capital loans at favorable rates, consumers will not spend as much, everyone will cut down, and economy will contract. Add macro-economic factors like sovereign debt of some European countries defaulting, and you have a recipe for disaster across the world markets.

We are living in turbulent times. Just a few years ago when I was in b-school, I heard people wanting to join the likes of Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Bear Sterns etc. We have lost those brand names forever. I wonder what the dream companies for students are now. There is talk of Morgan Stanley doing a Lehman. Goldman Sachs stock is touching new lows. You never know what would be the next collapse if a too big to fail bank truly fails.

What’s a common man to do? I think the answer lies in entrepreneurship. Recessions are when some of the biggest companies hatched. This may be the time to execute on that big idea you always had. To create something tangible, to be your own boss, to invest in yourself. It does not have to be a big bang theory. Baby steps to test the idea could be the right approach. I see wannabe entrepreneurs on the TV show Shark Tank and wonder why I did not think of doing it. Sometimes the idea is clever, sometimes the execution.

May be one of the readers of my blog would be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. You never know, but I do wish more and more people will consider taking that next step and not be lazy like me!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

I attended ISB’s 10 year celebration event in NY yesterday, and it ignited the fuse to blog again. It’s been 3 years since my last post. Time flies!

What have I been up to? A lot. Changed jobs two times. Changed cities two times. And of course my new born son is a 3 year old handful now.

I was with Capgemini’s Financial Services consulting group for about a year, based in Toronto. I must say Toronto is a lovely city, more like a cleaner and safer NY. I lived in the downtown area next to Air Canada Center, and there was always something exciting happening. Summer weekends are especially eventful. I climbed up the stairs of the world’s tallest tower, CN Tower, as part of fundraising. Took me about 40 minutes and countless breaths to finally make it up. But it was a unique experience. I also visited Montreal, which brought back memories of my Paris visit. Even the road signs in Quebec are in French.

I travelled to Bahamas, Jamaica and Cancun on separate occasions to unwind from all the work. The blue/green ocean waters and sunny tropical climate was a great relief from all the snow up in the north. Bahamas was my first cruise experience.

After all this travelling, I took up a Senior Manager position with Accenture’s Financial Services Management Consulting practice in New York. Moved back from Toronto to New Jersey, which is like a déjà vu as NJ is where it all started for me in the US.

So in three short paragraphs I have summed up the last three years of my life. Not bad.

When I met alumni from various batches yesterday, it dawned on me how far ISB has come. I realized how lazy I am when I heard about the accomplishments of some of the alumni who are much more hard working. We talked about the companies that our batch mates have started successfully and tried to catch up on what’s going on in their lives. I met Paul Romer and heard him talk about Charter Cities, which will be like special economic zones where people can have better quality of life. I think he may be up for a Nobel. Luckily I was seated at the same table as one of my favorite professors at ISB, Prof Raju of Wharton. I was happy to reconnect with professors after so long.

What else has changed in the last 3 years? I don’t believe many people had heard of facebook, twitter, youtube or ipad when I last wrote a post. So not sure how relevant a blog is in today’s world, but I will keep it going. Hopefully my next post would be sooner than another 3 years. And with the economy the way it is, there should be plenty to write about.

I am looking forward to my India trip next month.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

I am a dad now. My son, Ryan Banerjee, was born on Sep 9th in Delaware. It is an amazing feeling and I am so excited. Can’t wait for him to grow up and play with me.

Last few months have been eventful. In July, we moved into our new home. Here’s what it looks like.

In August came the green card, so no more standing in the line for a visa. It took a year under EB1 multinational executive category.

And in September came Ryan Banerjee. Exciting times!

The continuing credit crisis is making interesting reading, with big investment banks going belly up. I am sure business schools are busy writing case studies and future MBA students will analyze such events in great detail. The best and brightest MBAs made some wrong calls, took on too much risk and ended up losing fortunes. Could it have been done differently, will it happen again - time will tell. But expect fundamental changes in how the financial services industry operates.

There was a question on MBA salaries. If someone is getting, say, $80k in a software developer role now, how much will it get boosted after an MBA? The classic MBA answer is, it depends. You could choose to join a non-profit, and make $50k after your MBA. Or you could choose to join an IB or MC firm and expect at least twice your pre-MBA salary. Your salary mainly depends on the skills you bring to the table. If you have a niche, in-demand skill, you can make millions without an MBA. Companies pay you based on the perceived value you bring to the company, not just because you have done an MBA from an Ivy League institution.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Am still in Wilmington, Delaware. Bought a house. It is under construction , but it will look somewhat like this when complete in six months.

Since the housing market is in a bad shape, I figured now would be a good time to get into a house as builders are offering various incentives. There are even some who are offering a free Hummer if you buy a house! I got quite a few upgrades (stone front, finished basement, Jacuzzi etc) in the house free. Only time will tell if I made a sound decision, as I intend to sell it in a few years.

Last week visited Las Vegas and Grand Canyon. Vegas is truly a city of lights. The hotels are huge; in fact about 15 of the largest 20 in the world are in Vegas. It’s quite a sight.

Since ISB is a young school, it did not qualify to enter international ranking exercises so far. But this year, for the first time, it entered itself into the Financial Times rankings (http://rankings.ft.com/global-mba-rankings) of top MBA programs worldwide, and it did so with a bang! ISB is ranked at number 20, ahead of established schools like Kellogg, Duke, Michigan and Cornell! It’s a nice feeling to see one’s school ranked in Top 20 in the world. However, one has to read the rankings carefully, as different rankings use different criteria, and you may find a number one ranked school not figuring in Top 20 in the rankings of a rival publisher.

Tomorrow is Super Bowl. I feel Patriots will beat Giants, but you never know. Last year I had a chance to go see the Philadelphia Eagles from a JPMorgan Chase VIP Suite at the Lincoln Financial Field. It was an awesome experience. Will be watching Super Bowl on TV though. There is a Super Bowl party at a friend’s place, and on the agenda is a post-game Nintendo Wii tournament! Should be fun


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Back after a long time. Am still in Delaware. Got a promotion - from Assistant Manager to Manager. Path ahead is Senior Manager -Director - VP... Long way to go!

We had an ISB alumni get together in NY sometime ago. It was nice meeting others in the area. Also met our Deputy Dean and got updates on what’s going on at ISB and future roadmap.

Bought an Apple Macbook. I am very impressed with the product. Now I spend more time on the macbook than on my Dell. Also bought a radar detector for my car and a Sony T50 digital camera that James Bond used in his most recent movie! Now I am hunting for a home theater system.

Did a bit of traveling as well. Have been to Atlanta and Virginia Beach. Also went to Philadelphia to watch a major league baseball game between Phillies and Chicago Cubs.

At work, I have been learning a lot about credit card processing. I am quite enjoying working with the business people who have spent their entire career in the industry. I am currently focusing on credit card authorizations, risk and customer strategy management, using products from FICO and Total System (TSYS).


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Lot of water has flown down the Ganges since my last post. I got relocated from Calcutta to Wilmington in Delaware in September. Met with many old friends here, made some new ones. Initial few days were spent in getting settled here. Renewing US driver's license, getting new credit cards, buying household furniture etc. Got a new car, 2006 Nissan Altima. Was carried away by its looks. Equipped it with a GPS Navigation system. Really cool with voice prompts for turns. Also bought a Sony LCD HDTV. Brilliant picture - better than DVD. Lots of other purchases, like a robotic vacuum cleaner, have made a good dent on my bank balance!

On the work front, so far so good. Lot of learning opportunities, especially about the credit card industry. Also, by working closely with the account management team, am getting an understanding of the dynamics of client relationship mgmt. My primary role is that of a subject matter expert/lead business analyst.

ISB alum get together is coming up, but alas I cannot participate this year. Heard the news of the Indian Prime Minister visiting ISB recently. Last batch witnessed George Bush visiting. No such high profile visit during my time at ISB :(


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Am headed to Wilmington in Delaware. I will be stationed there from this Monday for a long term assignment. I would be the lead business analyst for one of our major clients, a bulge bracket investment bank. This is for their credit cards division.
Like everybody, I used to receive pre-approved credit card offers in the mail, and most of them seemed to originate from Wilmington, DE. Never thought I would one day end up working there! Had passed by Delaware many times while driving from New Jersey to DC. It used to take only a few minutes to cross the state, as it is a very small state. Only attractive thing about Delaware seemed to be the zero sales tax.
While I had wanted to be in the vicinity of NYC, Wilmington is not too bad. It is 1.5 hours from NYC and DC, and 20 mins from Philly.
Am looking forward to this challenging assignment.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I am back! Marriage ceremonies went off quite well. Thanks everyone for your wishes. Now I have a boss at home as well!

After finishing business school, many times I have considered retiring from blogging. But have still kept up, though only with occasional posts. What started off as an effort to capture life as a student at ISB has gone on to look at life beyond school - at post MBA career. I believe it is important to continue recording this experience, as it helps complete the picture and provides insights to MBA applicants on what to expect after getting the degree.

At work I am currently engaged in an initiative to build stronger financial services domain knowledge among employees. Domain knowledge is a key differentiator for this company and helps understand client businesses better. In a recent Forrester Report, MBAs in Cognizant were called the secret sauce for success because of the domain knowledge and business analysis skills they bring to the table.

Cognizant recently announced a change in top management. A Carnegie Mellon MBA would become the CEO from Jan. Interestingly, he is all of 37 years old. I wish I could be that successful when I turn 37. The COO is also a Carnegie Mellon MBA and the CFO is a Tuck (Dartmouth) MBA.

Cognizant as a company is doing well. As per recent earnings call, we are likely to hit the $1.3 bn revenue mark this year and have surpassed Satyam to become the fourth largest IT company in India, behind TCS, Infy and Wipro. Cognizant stock has also been doing great, and had briefly crossed the $70 mark. My stock options are becoming valuable!

I have had an opportunity to understand the offshore model better in the last one year, and it is now time to rotate into a new role. I am looking at taking up a client facing role. This will allow me to engage with clients face-to-face and to build relationships and grow accounts. The role would also involve domain consulting. I am looking at various such role options in the US and am trying to decide which way to go. Have got myself an L1A visa to this end.

Today's newspaper reported that picture-tube TVs would likely be extinct in two years. They will make way for LCD and plasma TVs. One can therefore expect significant price drops in this segment due to economies of scale. Technologies change so fast! Floppies have already become almost extinct. Blu-ray DVDs have also entered the market. We can expect a standards war soon.

Through this blog I have met many of my old friends with whom I had lost touch. Hats off to the many benefits of living in a connected world. Technology rules! I was also surprised to find many of my old friends/colleagues still reading my blog. Thank you for staying with me.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I am getting married to a lovely lady on the 30th of this month in Kolkata. Which means I am going to lose my bachelors degree and she's going to gain her masters! Looking forward to this next phase of life.
Very busy with wedding preparations. Will blog again after the marriage.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another batch has passed through ISB. Class of 2007 has already started their journey. My b-school days seem like a distant past now!

The hoopla surrounding astronomical salaries during campus placements has subsided by now. It is unfortunate that the focus is towards rupee-converted CTCs of outliers rather than the more realistic median salaries. I overheard a restaurant conversation one day where a group of youngsters were discussing about “that one-crore salary b-school”. I wish they had at least touched upon the quality of faculty or the peer group.

At work front, I have been pretty tied up with various activities, mostly pre-sales. One of the upsides of getting involved in pre-sales is that you get to know many senior level managers and directors in the company. There is always something to learn from these people.

Cognizant gave away video iPods to its employees, so I am a proud owner of one now. However, I haven’t used it much. When I have to listen to music at home, I use my laptop and Altec Lansing speakers. When I am traveling, there is the car stereo where I listen to FM. And in office there is hardly any time to listen to music. This is turning out to be just another addition to the list of gadgets that lie unused at home. The others include things like VCR and camcorder. Digital camera is soon going to be on that list, as mobile phone cameras are now available with megapixel resolutions. I think Apple should think about convergence and come out with an iPod that has in-built mobile phone and camera, among other features.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

George Bush’s visit to ISB was a welcome surprise. I wish I was a current student this year – would have got an opportunity to be there. From the transcript, it appears he was his usual self – more so as he himself is a b-school product. He started off like “So whoever would like to begin, we can start. And if not, I'm just going to call on somebody -- like you.”. This is so like a professor cold calling! I hope the Indian President also visits the institute in the near future to share some of his immense scientific and academic knowledge.

Last week I was busy traveling. First I went to XLRI Jamshedpur for campus recruitment. I liked the campus, it is very compact and cozy. The newly built badminton court was very inviting, but alas I was there for a different purpose!

Then I had to go to our office in Chennai on business. Chennai seemed to have made good progress since my last visit there. The roads were quite clean and there was a new mall, City Center, that had come up. Didn’t have time to explore much beyond that.

Now that a fresh batch of b-school grads will be joining the work force, I have been receiving enquiries from them about what to expect when they join IT services firms. Well, I keep telling people that it is what you make of it. It is common knowledge that the main engine of such companies is quality of execution. You provide good deliveries and you get repeat business. That’s the business driver. What role do MBAs have to play in this scenario? Most MBAs don’t want to be in delivery role. They went for an MBA to get away from delivery. Most would like to be in tech consulting or business development roles.

Now pure business development is a sales function, and is typically the territory of people with strong sales background. A person with only IT project management experience is more suited for pre-sales, account mining and consulting roles. A typical MBA might start off as a business analyst – the critical link between the business side of the client firm and the technical side of the IT firm. He would understand the functional requirements and ensure that the final delivery meets those requirements. Afterwards, the MBA would likely move up to become an account/engagement/client relationship manager. One would have profit and loss responsibilities and would be judged based on the amount of revenue growth in the relationship.

This is my understanding of the typical role of MBAs in IT services companies. There would be many other career paths as well. Most MBAs have the freedom to choose which path they would like to take. Also, salary differentials of one or two lakhs don’t matter much at this stage – it is the role and quality of work that matter more. So I would advise students to choose companies based on the role offered.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

It’s placement time in ISB. I can sense the current state of students – full of anxiety. Within a few days the suspense will be over and they will know where they are headed after graduation. I was also scheduled to go to ISB as part of my company’s interview panel, but it didn’t happen due to some last minute changes.
While there may be excitement that a new chapter of life is going to start from April, it also means that the days at ISB are soon going to be over. It is a hard feeling – but you have to move on in life. It feels just like yesterday that I was an ISB student, and already another batch is about to graduate. Getting nostalgic!


Monday, January 23, 2006

Had a good time in ISB. It was a mixed feeling – happy and nostalgic. There were a good number of my batchmates who had turned up. Played badminton at the familiar court in recreation center. Unfortunately my opponent, a colleague of mine, injured herself and had to be rushed to hospital at midnight. So the trip turned out to be eventful!
Somehow each passing batch at ISB seems to outdo its predecessors in being serious about studying. Maybe that week was particularly bad in terms of work load.

My next visit to ISB will probably happen during the campus placements next month.

Few weeks ago I visited IMT Ghaziabad for campus recruitment. I hadn't been to Delhi in last ten years, and boy, it seemed such a different city now. Infrastructure has improved by leaps and bounds. Impressive.

This weekend I interviewed few prospective students seeking admission to ISB. As is usual, the applicant pool in Kolkata mainly comprised of entrepreneurs and family business background people.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Am currently in ISB campus and having a good time. Alumni meet over, but have another engagement related to my company, so staying over until Tuesday. Lot of my batchmates had turned up for the alum meet, so lot of catching up done. Met many from the current batch also, and was happy to put faces to names I have been hearing through emails and yahoogroups.
Going to the on campus DJ night now.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Next weekend is going to be special. I would be back in ISB campus next Saturday (10th Dec), and will stay there for four days of fun and nostalgia. It’s our alumni meet and I am so looking forward to it.


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