My Placement Story- Anushree Naik, IIM Ahmedabad

It’s okay to not take the right decision, what’s important is to make the decision right!

My placement story is extremely special to me. It taught me a lot about decision making and risk-taking. A few goof ups and some brilliant moves helped me bag the job of my dreams. As John Adams rightly said, ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader’, this is my humble attempt to channelize the leader in me before I start my MBA Journey!

My CA results were out on the day when I experienced my first scuba dive at the Havelock Islands. After a very quintessential, calming and exciting Andaman trip I was geared up for The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) placements. I appeared for a few off-campus interviews just to get a hang of them. After all, ‘Practice makes everyone (near to) perfect’.

I screwed up my interview at a top Investment Banking company. I remember becoming teary-eyed when I couldn’t answer questions on stock market because I wasn’t prepared for them. The sheer experience of getting silently humiliated helped me learn my first lesson – Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst!

I absolutely nailed my next off-campus interview and was tempted to join the organisation because of the overwhelming travel opportunities they were offering though the job role wasn’t of my interest. My father advised, ‘A little impatience spoils great plans’. He said, ‘Don’t forget your long term goals for something so temporary, when it is not even worth it’. A job that would require me to fly to different time zones every week, would hamper my CAT preparation.

Soon it was the week of ICAI placements. I had prepared my subjects well and read the newspapers in detail. I spoke to a few seniors before D-Day and was blessed with a very candid advice – ‘Don’t think too much about the consequences of your decision. First job is usually about learning and absorbing as much as you can’. HenceI decided to trust my instincts.

I read about the company I was going to be interviewed for. It was the industry I wanted to work in; manufacturing. And they were offering the job profile I was looking for; risk management. But for that profile they had vacancy for just one candidate. Thus I had to be at the top of my game. Also, the company was offering two locations, one that was at a walking distance from my residence and the other required me to travel for 4 hours a day. I wanted the former. Was it too much to ask for? May be. But ‘If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse’. I dropped messages to some employees of the company on LinkedIn to ask about their work culture. Out of the many, one replied. She had really good things to say about the company and even better things about the profile I was interested in. She assured that learning would be optimum. This made me happy but not for too long as she also informed that the risk management profile would require me to be placed at the far off location. I went to bed with confusion in my mind but determination in my gut.

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Despite leaving 3 hours before the reporting time, I got stuck in an abnormally horrible traffic jam and reached 10 minutes late for the Group Discussion. My world collapsed. I was disappointed by my own self. After all the home work I had done this seemed to have crushed my dreams. But, hard work puts you where the good luck can find you. They decided to do a GD round 2 for all those who reached late. I made some stimulating points in the GD, made it to the technical round, answered the questions relating to Accounting Standards and Audit satisfactorily and swiftly moved to the HR round to answer questions on my strengths and weaknesses. Out of the 48 shortlisted candidates, 8 got selected for the final round of personal interview with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). We were told that the final round would give us insights about the job role and the location we were going to be offered. I remember having gulped gulab jamuns in lunch to boost my energy. I was positively hoping for the ‘Internal Control and Risk Management’ role but I knew it came with a cost, that of the enormous amount of travel time I would spend, every single day. I decided that I would take it as it comes. ‘If I am not offered something, then there will be a good reason behind it’, I told myself.

I entered the room with a smile. The CFO smiled back. It was the very first time that I was interacting with someone from the top management of a company and I was more excited than nervous. Here is an extract of my conversation:

CFO: So Anushree, how does it feel to have cleared CA Final?

Anushree: It feels great! All the efforts now seem to be worth it. It was indeed a very wonderful and enriching journey so far.

CFO: So which profile are you interested in?

(Skipping a beat and grinning like an idiot)

Anushree: Sir, I am really interested in the ‘Internal Control and Risk Management’ profile.

CFO: Okay, but I am sorry to inform you that the locational preference that you have chosen in your form isn’t in sync with your profile preference.

Anushree: Yes sir. I am aware of that. But I am really passionate about the profile and hence I chose to answer your question honestly.

(To quote Jacques Bossuel, ‘The heart has reasons that reason does not understand’)

CFO (smiling): Okay, so tell me what do you understand by Internal Controls?

Anushree: Sir, Internal Controls are the mechanisms and the procedures followed by organisations in order to ensure financial accountability, enhance integrity of financial transactions and prevent fraud.

CFO: Can you give me some examples?

Anushree: Physical controls include biometric systems that record employee attendance, identity cards issued to the employees, etc. Technological controls include laptop, system and software passwords. Internal audits ensure error-free accounting and physical verification of inventory and assets ensure accuracy of record keeping.

CFO: Good. What do you understand my Risk?

Anushree: Risk is a situation when the organisation’s vulnerability is exposed to an internal or external threat. In my understanding, there are two types of risks, internal and external. Do you want me to elaborate on the same?

CFO: Sure, go on!

Anushree: Internal risks would include employee frauds, server shut down, virus attacks, etc. External attacks are stock market fluctuations, natural calamities in the areas of our factories and offices. Usually internal risks are controllable and external are not.

(I was surprised by my own answers. My articleship experience and passion for the subject helped me answer these unconventional questions. By this time, I had realised that he was clearly considering me for the job role I wanted. What I was worrying about is the choice of my location but I did not let the anxiety show on my face and answered the remaining questions with supreme confidence)

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CFO: This profile requires you to be analytical at all times. Why do you think you are a fit for this role?

Anushree: Sir, I have been interested in analytics right from teenage. For instance, I did a course graphology at the age of 15 and ever since then, analysing handwritings has been my passion.

Even before I could finish my sentence, the CFO quickly wrote a line on a page and asked me to analyse his handwriting. I spoke for the next 7 minutes at stretch. I knew that I had made the cut.

The CFO wanted me to be in his team and work for the Risk Management profile. I requested him to allot me the nearby location, but to no avail. He assured to take me under his wing and train me under a very able team and this is what made me feel that it would be worth it. I called up my parents before I signed the document and as always, they asked me to follow my heart!

I knew that it was extremely important for me, to enjoy my job and hence I decided to manage the travel along with my studies. Where there is a will, there is a way! I loved my job all throughout and it ensured that I was a happy soul. I scored a 98.20 percentile in CAT 2019 and made it to IIM Ahmedabad.

Sometimes it’s okay to not take the right decision, what’s important is to make the decision right!

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