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Welcome to Nanda Kishore’s personal page.
You can find a detailed descriptions of my journeys, my passion and my thoughts (reflections)
Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions.

VISA was the only thing in my way to CMU. I wanted to get that out of the way so that I can safely let IIMA admit go!. I reached Hyderabad on 4th June with all my luggage from Mumbai. I was to leave for Kerala on 6th June and be back on the 11th. I filled up all the necessary documents required for the VISA. I also just received the i20 form from college that finished the list of documents required for my VISA interview.

To my disappointment there was a slot open on 7th June and the next slot was 18th June. June 16th was the D-day for IIMA and I did not want to take the risk of scheduling my interview on the 18th. In a hurry I cancelled my kerala flights and booked the slot on 7th. I took all the necessary paper work and appeared for the interview on 7th. The interview lasted less than a minute and was a piece of cake. The Visa interviewer kept my passport telling me that VISA will be stamped and the passport mailed in 2 business days! As the last hurdle was also out of the way.

I booked a same day flight to Madurai to meet my friends in the middle of our previously planned kerala trip :)

After taking the decision of joining CMU, I put down my papers and wanted to spend 2 months at home with my family. I desperately needed some time to reflect upon myself and to gear up for an amazing adventure that waits at CMU. It was finally May 30th and my last day at work. It was an amazing 3 years that I had at Morgan Stanley, Mumbai. I learnt a lot of things from the numerous mistakes that I had made in the past 3 years.

I met a lot of people, bid my adieu to grad mates, completed all my formalities and came back to my desk by noon. My team had become my second home. The bonds I had built were hard to break. I felt very sad that I was leaving. Natasha wrote me a nice little poem, something I will not forget in the years to come. I stayed at office till 8 pm after spending good quality time with everyone I knew at work. I had a tough time controlling the tears in my eyes as I parted ways. For the next few days I will be busy packing stuff and will leave soon for kerala where I will be spending time with my wing mates at IITM.

Two weeks after I got the admit from IIMA, the dilemma started. CMU was my choice but I couldn’t defend my decision well. I wasn’t sure whether that was the right decision. Getting into IIMA was hard and I had spent a better part of 3 years to finally achieve that. Everyone recommended me to go to IIMA as if it were a trivial choice to make. Sreejith and Mayur however suggested CMU.

Some of the positive points I was considering were:

MFE programs in the US:

1. Proximity to all the happening things in the Finance industry.

2. 12 to 18 months course duration — Lesser opportunity cost.

3. International exposure

MBA from IIM’s

1. Cheaper in terms of fees. (30k USD for 2 years)

2. Very good career services. 100% placements irrespective of economic downturns

3. Very well recognized in India

4. Broader range of career options

MFE was significantly costlier and riskier. So if my decision were to be CMU I had to be absolutely sure that five years down the line I would be a quant researcher and I would be loving my job. Among the various other job opportunities that IIMA would offer me I was only interested in finance jobs or taking up roles where I had a good amount of responsibility.

I wanted more time and hence I paid the initial non-refundable deposit to IIMA. I began to explore myself to make a decision. Math has always been my area of interest and that made me believe quant job would give me the required job satisfaction. I bugged Ashutosh Fonia at work often and he helped me think my way out. A long discussion with Sreejith on IIMA and my seniors at CMU helped matters.

I had finally decided to take the risk of joining CMU.

My father supported me well with my decision. I feel following my passion will help me achieve things. This meant I had to pay more fees, take on a bigger risk of not getting a good job and in short “follow the road not taken”. I might have been one among an elite few who don’t end up going to the IIM’s after admits from the top three. This was the first time in my life I was taking a decision against the advice of so many. This made me jittery and nervous but I hope I will not regret this decision later on! I am now all excited to be in CMU soon and follow my passion and experience the US education system.

Soon after my CMU admit I had already made up my mind of joining CMU. I wasn’t eagerly waiting for the IIM results! One fine morning IIMC released the results. That was the worst interview that happened according to me. My sister checked the results for me and told me I was 3rd on the waiting list!! That was a sure shot admit. Most of the top students get all the top 3 IIM admits and they prefer IIMA. So there was a high chance I would convert IIMC.

I took my entire team at office for a lunch at Little Italy for my CMU admit the same day. The treat had been pending for over a week now and finally everyone found the time out to come along. We had a lot of fun there and at the end I announced to the team that I almost made it to IIMC. The immediate response was “where is the next treat :P

I was very elated and was almost sure that I would clear IIMA and IIMB easily. I had done their interviews pretty well. The same day I began to wonder if in case I get IIMA would I change my mind and join there? I had been aiming to score well in CAT since 2008 and this was my 3rd attempt at it. I had finally done well in Verbal to get all the calls and had done well in my interviews too! Finally when the results were near I felt very uneasy ditching them.. IIMA had been my dream. Just attending the interview for WIMWI made me so happy that I would remember that moment for the rest of my life. I realized this would be a very tough call to make. Suddenly I began to pray not to get into IIMA.

I left home late and on my way Mayur called me up a couple of times. I thought that IIMB results were out too! Since I was on my way I gave him my test ID and he verified the results. He called me back to tell me that I had not made it. I was shell shocked. The interview went well. I had a decent profile and a very good CAT score too. I reached home in despair and wanted to check the results for myself. I looked my test ID and realized I had given the wrong one. The last two numbers had gotten interchanged. I keyed in the correct ID and then the result was there! I had made it through to IIMB. I called up Mayur to tell him I made it. The joy was there, so was the confusion too! What now of IIMA? The results were not out yet.

IIMA interview was near flawless. I had done extremely well, even to my expectations. I was 100% sure I would get through. I tried calling Sreejith and Namuna for some advice on IIMA without even waiting for the results. Next day morning my sister called me up when I was in the office to tell me I was selected to WIMWI too. I wasn’t as happy as the day of my interview. Confusion was all over me L 3 years of waiting and it was finally here. And all I do is not join?!? My manager and my teammates then congratulated me. Everyone reminded me as to how hard is it to get there. What were the odds that I would have made it to the top IIM’s? All the effort that went in to improve my English! From a 52%le in my first year to 85%le the second time and to 97.3%le the third time I took CAT, there was a remarkable improvement. Over 200,000 students gave the test and to score a 99.7%le was a great feat and then to have a strong enough profile to get interview calls and then convert all the three was just a dream come true for me.

I seriously started to consider joining IIMA over CMU and if I were to make the decision at this point in time I will be a WIMWI-an :)

April 3rd and its over a month since I had my IIM interviews. My interview for Masters in Computational Finance at Carnegie Mellon University went pretty well too. I was quite sure that I would get at least 2 IIM admits between IIMA / IIMB / IIMC and also that I would get the MSCF admit too!

So I was pretty sure that rejecting a Columbia admit wouldn’t prove that detrimental at the end. But I felt uneasy and disturbed. Wasn’t myself during the entire weekend eagerly waiting for the MSCF results. Last night I got a freakish dream where I imagined myself with no admits at all and I was repenting for my decision over Columbia. I woke up from the nightmare and was happy to realize it was only a dream. With so much hopes pinned on the result that were to be released on April 4th I came home early from work.

I refreshed my mailbox every 5 minutes and checked the CMU site very frequently. But no sight of any results.!! Soon when Synti came from work and I ask him for a game of DotA. We play the game together for a couple of hours and I totally forgot about the result. Just before going to sleep I checked my mail box again. There was a mail from CMU. I nervously opened the mail and I was asked to click a link to find out the result. I clicked that! Internet was way too slow and it took a while to open up. It was a flash file and it loaded slowly. The wait made me even more nervous. My roomie was also eagerly waiting with me breathing down my neck.

And finally the file got loaded and there were fireworks on my screen with a message displaying “Congratulations”. The very next moment I was jumping in joy!!

I was literally screaming and dancing. Synti immediately congratulated me. My heart felt light. CMU was on the top of the list of places I would go! I wanted to call everyone with this great news. Since it was already 1 at night, I decided to wait on and had a great nights sleep!

 

Rajesh bought a new swift and we decided to go to the marine drive Friday midnight. I had been there last Sunday, but that can never be the reason to say no. We left at 9:30 after we finished our t/o’s and took the western express highway to south Mumbai. I had never been beyond Bandra on road and so this was the first.

We paid 75 bucks in toll (to and fro) on the sea-link and sped along on it. The ride was amazing. I got a close look at the structure, a sign of India’s progress over the last decade. The view of the city was amazing from the sea-link. The tall barricades on the sides prevented the view of the sea but the well-lit sky scrappers of Mumbai were a treat to watch along the way. Natasha and Akshay ditched us immediately after the sea link at worli and we then took to south Mumbai via the peddar road. All the restaurants on this road usually host big parties with a lot of celebs frequenting them.

On the way I even got to see the Antilla (Mukesh Ambani’s house). It did not even have a good entry from the main road. Apparently he doesn’t stay there! Goes to show how much money he has to waste. I also got to see Haji Ali from a distance. I do want to visit it again during daytime. The marine drive was amazing with the road curving to the right as we travelled all the way till Nariman Point. Rajesh and me were very hungry and so we decided to go to Bademiyyan again (2nd time in this week ) After a 15 mins wait, we got our food at 11Pm. I started to now develop a strange liking to the Butter chicken masala and the rumali rotis we get there.

Since no trip to Marine drive ends without a scoop of natural ice cream, we went there and I got myself a mango ice cream J YummY. Enjoying the starry night and listening to Jagadish’s belief in palmistry (which he kind of explained emotionally!) we spent 30 mins chilling out. It was almost 12:30 by the time we started and on our way back I sat in the front enjoying every moment of the next 1 hr drive back to Malad. It was an amazing road trip to marine drive – the high-rise buildings, traffic at midnight, imported cars, ice cream, sea-link and the amazing new swift. I want more! and a big thank you, Rajesh, for the ride :)

 

After the 3 minute interview I had for Columbia University, I was certain for sure that either they liked my profile that they wanted to admit me or they wanted to reject me. I was asked 3 questions – Why columbia? why MFE? and how will i fund my studies? Last year everyone who had an interview was either wait listed or admitted. So the chances were high :) From 24th feb, the last date for the interviews, I was eagerly checking my mail box every 2 hrs to see if i had an admit. It was a long wait. on 26th Night i had a dream that i got through. All excited i got up only to realize it was a dream. But to make sure, i got to my Mac and to my distraught! – NO Internet!! :(

I used my 3G on my mobile to find out what happened and after 15 mins of sync up! – No Email :( I went to office and for the entire day never looked at my inbox. I came home late from work and played dotA with synti till 1 PM. Just before going to bed, I opened my mail box and the “Most important” mail was there. The subject read – “Decision on your Columbia M.S. application”. My heart was in my mouth as i opened the mail. The second word said “Congratulations”. I was erupting in joy. I couldn’t read further and was getting very emotional. I stayed away from games for almost 9 months as i spent what ever free time that came my way improving English, giving GRE, CAT and GMAT in successive months. Then went through tough times writing SOP’s and essays and what not! It was a tough 9 months in my life and finally a sweet result — “COLUMBIA ADMIT”

My Facebook status as of now has over 70 likes and 50 comments! something i never got ever! ever!! :) (of course I am a boy! ;) ). I am all excited now and am eagerly waiting for MIT, CMU and my IIM results. It will be a tough next few months as i am now spoilt for choice :D . I dunno which option i will choose, but it is a very confusing choice to make. I will be talking to as many people as possible who can clear my doubts and help me make the decision. Though i don’t want to count the chicken before they hatch, I am now highly optimistic of my profile now that an IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL has considered me worthy :) \m/

It has been nearly 6 months since I have had a weekend without an agenda! No preparing for GRE or GMAT or CAT, no weekend office work and no more app -ing. The thought of the same on friday got me scared. I hate getting bored and always love being busy ;)

I rang up Sam, very old school friend of mine to come to marine drive, where we would meet up after an year! After synti was done with his weekend football, we went to churchgate when the blistering sun decided to cool down. Synti wanted to eat chicken and after meeting up with sam, we went to the “Bademiyaan”. For those of you who are not familiar with this place, I would definitely suggest this place. It is a roadside eatery behind hotel Taj, near gateway of india, with the yummiest butter chicken I ever ate. People do come in all fancy cars, stop by to have some chicken there. Synti was on a high after he had his share of chicken and when a car passed by, he exclaimed – “See, i told you imported cars do come here!!”. Btw, that was a new model of TATA INDIanCAr ;)

After that lovely little trip on Synti, we went to marine drive to have natural ice-cream. Of-late natural is the only brand of ice-cream i am having, as I get the real fruit flavor when i have one. I took a double scoop (Kesar Pista and Roasted Almond) and enjoyed the ice-cream sitting on the marine drive facing the sea and enjoying the starry night in the cool sea breeze. It felt so awesome! and then, I realized why so many people go to marine drive just for the sake of going! :)

I was having an amazing time, before i realized time absolutely flew by and Synti was getting desperate for a game of DotA. I bid Sam adieu and returned home for a game of dotA. Synti played Alchemist and rock-ed it! A very good end to an awesome and peaceful weekend. I WANT MORE OF THOSE :)

9.00Am slot – Hotel Sea Princess , JUHU

Was asked to come at 8.00 AM (did so! and waited for an hour :( )

Was 3rd in my panel and the essay started on time.

Topic: Media have focused on the disasters more often than not and that desensitizes people with the horrible scenes. (30 mins)

Wrote about how media helps people learn about why and how to protect themselves from these disasters. Then wrote about ppl have choice of what to see and what not! So its ok for media to focus on disasters provided they don’t cross the line and over emphasize on that. gave examples of tsunami, WTC attacks and  japanese earthquakes and the help media provided to mobilize people. Overall: 3/5

Was waiting outside when my name was called. I was so busy chatting with some one else that i did not notice! Made the panel to wait for a while though!

3 member panel, 1 lady (P1) and 2 male profs young (P2) and old (P3)

P2: Graduated in 2009 is it!?

Me: yes sir, from IITM in elec.

P2: what is the relation between what you studied and what you are doing! (oh no! not again. 4/4 times have been asked the same)

Me: putting them side by side, Not much to say there sir, But taking a step back, I learnt about a lot of stuff at IITM. It nurtured my math skills and blah blah blah!

P3: Maths! what maths do you use at work.

Me: told about number crunching for ledgers and stuff.

P2: why not Msc in math if you are interested.

Me: Did not think of that at the time i began work!

P2: What is this ledger engine?

Me: explained

P3: before we digress assuming it was for math you came to MS, why MBA?

Me: Sir, i want to work with the business. want to move out of IT. blah blah blah

P3: What were you options after IITM ?

Me: Sir, Initially i wanted to join a semiconductor firm and work in the digital verification area. But in the crisis of 2009, companies went bust. But i managed to get into MS with my skill set. Told him about my core strengths – number crunching, Logic and quick learning.

P3: isn’t this a better answer to your earlier question?

Me: yes sir. apologies for beating around the bush.

P3: suppose instead of 1 project that you are currently doing if you were to do 3 projects how will you grow?  Assume you have 3 more reportees

Me: sir, will analyze their skill sets and assign the work accordingly.

P3: if A is good in management and bad at coding. what will you do?

Me: will give him an organizational role. I will assign him the work of getting reqs from business and deciding on the deadlines. (geez! how dumb was i to give all my work to person A) All i said was i will keep assigning work – do nothing!

P2: what about this innovation club at morgan stanley.

Me: explained.

P3: how will you decide what benefit your club can do to morgan stanley.

Me: told him will remove redundancies and stuff.

P3: I want a quantitative answer.

Me: calculated for a sample scenario, hours saved and then * cost of resource = money saved for MS.

P1: The work for cotton farmers? is this your work or you just put it to make your SOP look good?

Me: explained what i did and how much of it was my work. Told them about all my achievements and helping reduce the number or suicides and stuff. (should have shown paper clippings! to convince them! they looked on as if i was faking :( )

P1: What is the reduction in the numbers? want a quantitative answer like before.

Me: No idea madam. atleast in the area i surveyed and tried my solution, there was not suicide after my work related to cotton crop.

P2: you seem to be very innovative. Why not work for the society instead of an MBA?

Me: sir, I need money to do anything. Especially, in charity you need money as an investment that yields no returns. That is my long term objective sir. I wish to grow a social network of successful people who will oblige to my requests for money (for charity). I wish to make the best of my ability to raise money.

P2: when did you start feeling the need for money?

Me: sir, from engineering sir. To help kids from my village with education, i need money. for their books, schooling and blah blah blah. Sir also, i wanted to setup a reverse osmosis plant for water purification. water in my district has too much fluorine. Showed them my teeth as a proof! (was so involved in explaining stuff! i started acting dumb!! geeeezz!!) The water purification plant needs money in excess of 6 lakh sir. hence my motive to earn.

All the panelists have a smile..

P3: we are done. Every one also nods. Do you have questions for us?

Me: No sir, not at this moment!

P2: you last chance to ask us (dunno what this meant! )

Me: Sir, I have friends at IIMB, whom i contacted for most of my doubts.

P1: oh! well you have all the answers then.

Me: yes, madam. most of my close friends stay there. (shouldn’t have said the same thing again and again!!)

P2: in that case, we are done. Thanks.

Me: Thanked everyone and left.

Was very happy that the interviews were over. Wanted to just go home and crash like anything!! Overall i felt the interview was peaceful. occasionally i bulbed heavily. But the biggest take away was that i am starting to feel less nervous. I started to take time for answering Q and cool my nerves in the interview.

In all an Amazing weekend. I absolutely cherish every moment of this exercise. I can chill out for a while probably for a month or 2 till the results come.

Result: Converted :)

Feb 19th Morning 9:45 slot

Getting a WIMWI call itself was a dream come true. I couldn’t sleep the previous night! prolly IIMC interview was haunting me or the fact that i was to be interviewed for IIMA was exciting. I woke up early (6AM) had roughly 4 hrs of sleep. But i was confident as i thought i just needed to give an interview. no WAT or GD!

I was with panel 1 and little did i know that WAT existed! I was shocked and very nervous.

Topic: From the inventions and discoveries of the past, which ones would you like to have under your name! (10 mins)

Thought for a minute. electric bulb came to my mind. Then did telephone. But later decided to write about bulb as i had only 9 mins left.

Wrote about edison and his invention of bulb – Increasing productive hours (work after sunset). How it inspired other physicists to invent other electrical devices and the industrial revolution that followed. Life with/without all the good gadgets we have and stuff.Even before i knew, 10 minutes were up and we submitted the forms.

I waited outside for about 2 hours as mine was the 6th interview for the day. I entered very nervous and excited.

P1: Male prof; P2: Female prof

P1: Ok, Mr. Nanda, you are a manager at morgan stanley. what is the organizational hierarchy?

Me: associate – sr Associate – Manager – Sr Manager – VP – …

P1: how long does it take on an average to get there ?

Me: 3-4 years. (proudly, I did it in 2 1/2 years)

P2: The other guy we interviewed earlier – he says grads get promoted straight through

Me: Not always sir. But we have an edge over laterals.

P2: why so?

Me:  I think we have a good network, thanks to our mentorship program and hence it is easier for us to grow and deliver

P2: you have no one reporting to you and still you are a manager??

Me: Ma’am, I was told on promotion that i was given the title for my project management skills and not people management skills!

P1: what do you do at work?

Me: told about my project.

P1: you report to Anil D’souza and he is a VP right? What other projects does he lead

Me: told something

P1: What is your daily work?

Me: started off telling about what i do, but then digressed and explained my Innovation club stuff!

P1: What is the motive of the club

Me: stammered a bit, and explained finally! ( should have told more confidently)

P1: Ok Nanda, Accountant + Electrical engg ( not again!!)  Can you help government with a Energy vision 2020 document?

Me: started off – was quickly interrupted

P1: take you time, i want a detailed report. write down if you please about the broad areas. we can go to specifics later.

Me: i wrote down: Current scenario, Current consumption patterns, consumer base, Estimated growth ( from five year plans), Energy technologies – feasible/ non feasible (if not what resources to make it feasible) , Estimated budget – Fund raising from capital/debt/equity markets

Then i explained the same for like 2-3 minutes as both the panelists listened peacefully.

P2: what % is current energy derived from thermal ?

Me: 60%

P2: Solar and wind energy

Me: around 5 %. India is a developing nation and doesnt have the resources for such huge investments

P1: can you explain where will you get tech from ?

Me: If we are not able to research by then , we can import sir

P1: what is the company in china producing solar power

Me: No idea sir

P1: it has been in the news, you should know it.

Me: sorry sir, must have missed it

P1: what is the efficiency of solar power?

Me: around 20%

P1: close! its actually half of that

P2: You mentioned about electric bulb and it influencing industrial revolution

Me: told that i read somewhere that physicists like Faraday (blunder) were inspired by the buzz around electric bulb to pursue other inventions.

(I was to realize, partially this is true, just that faraday was born 50 years before edison and edison was not the inventor of bulb!! It was found out years ago. Edison just made a long lasting bulb)

P2: What is this achievement of yours on farmers suicides?

Me: Explained. Passionately again. I was interrupted, but then as i was explaining keenly, they let me continue

P2: you also wrote about financial inclusion right ? What is the current scenario?

Me: explained about my village. (stammered quite a bit here)

P2: What about the suicides recently in AP?

Me: explained SHG and stuff in coastal India and they leading to Microfinance/ greed and stuff.

P2: that is not what i want. Why is it that only suicides are reported from AP? why not other states. Is something wrong there?

Me: explained that the 2 cases: cotton farmers suicides and microfinance suicides are not linked. coincident that both are from AP. But also told, the farmers suicides also happened in maharashtra and karnataka, where cotton is grown. mentioned that since i did not know the condition of the farmers in other states i couldn’t draw any comparision.

P2: you have a lot of “bridge” certificates. But i dont see that in hobby!

Me: i mentioned that in the extra curriculars part. So i wrote only chess in hobbies.

P2: you play both chess and bridge. Thats interesting!

P1: We are done with the interview. You can have a toffee and leave.

Me: thanks sir, thanks madam. Very gleefully picked up an eclairs! Wanted to store that as a memoir for life. but then couldnt resist the temptation of seeing a choc on an empty stomach :)

Overall I think the interview went decent, except for stammering here and there and the essay goof up! It was a feel good interview for 25 mins and the panelist nodded for every answer i gave (god knows what went right and what wrong!)

Whether i get through or not – Proud to be interviewed for WIMWI!! :P \m/

RESULT: Converted :) — April 16th 2012 :)