An Interview with Radhika A R, PGP 2009 by Aakash Parikh

1. Could you please briefly describe your background and why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I did my undergraduate from College of Engineering Guindy, majoring in Electrical Engineering. I was tossing up between pursuing an MS or an MBA and was initially preparing for both. However, I veered towards an MBA program taking into consideration the career acceleration and learnings during the two-year period. Not to mention that I was floored the minute I entered the campus for the GD & interview. That’s how I landed up in IIM Bangalore in 2007. Initially, I had some notion of moving to a techno-managerial track, but life had different plans for me.

2. How was your campus life at IIMB? What activities and events were you active in?

The time I joined IIM Bangalore was very interesting for multiple of reasons. When we joined in 2007, the world economy was going through a boom and we had huge expectations for our careers. If I recall right, my batch had the best summer placements on record until that time. And then of course, 2008 and GFC happened  and the collapse created an exact opposite environment by the time we graduated.

When we started though, it was one of the best times in terms of opportunities for IIM grads, and living on such a beautiful campus was almost ethereal. But reality hit very quickly and we all had to figure out how to maintain a fine balance of work and play. There was no dearth of activities, clubs, and events, and we tried to do have as much fun as we could while balancing 115959 deadlines and group assignments and projects. All the while, somehowmanaging to build strong friendships.. The environment at campus, the camaraderie and the competition, all of it really accelerated the learning … as well as bonding with batchmates, juniors and seniors. Additionally, I was a part of FII during both years at IIM Bangalore. I was part of the Publicity team and I  devoted a significant amount of time in organizing Vista, Colloquium, and other activities, and it was enormous fun.

The movie ‘3 idiots’ was also shot in early 2009 and the campus had completely transformed during the shoot. The college environment became much more happening with the film stars on campus and the shooting crew with them as well. Aamir Khan and Madhavan also used to play games of Badminton, Chess, Table tennis with students. It was fun initially, but once the novelty wore off, we still had to contend with an entire movie production unit taking up many of our precious spots in the last few months of campus life! On the other hand, we now have a bit of our period of stay on campus (along with a prof, many batchmates, one of whom had the opportunity to rag Aamir Khan on-screen!)  immortalized in the movie  – something we can go back to and watch to relive those days!

3. How did you decide to pursue any particular field after your MBA?

I was inclined towards Consulting or Banking as career options. With the certainty that comes with limited knowledge (!), I had somehow decided that the perfect role for me would be one in structuring in an investment bank!  However, the first interview room I went into was for Trading role, and I took up that offer. Barclays was fantastic place to begin one’s career, I decided to take up the opportunity for my internship and then take a call during finals. I enjoyed my work there during my internship and any thought of looking for other options during finalsquickly came to  halt with the GFC and the sudden shrinkage in the universe of choices.  A somewhat accidental choice shaped up decently well, moving across roles and geographies within the bank for ~10 years.

4. What advice would you like to provide to current students?

My batch graduated at particularly challenging times for the global economy, so I guess we’re reasonably qualified to dole out life & career lessons!

  • During difficult times, playing it safe in the short-run can help you win in the long-run. Give yourself the best possible starting point, keep moving ahead and opportunities will keep opening up if you are good at what you do. So, just remember to keep going with what you have without getting bogged down.
  • A second learning that I would like to share with the current batch of students is to be comfortable in asking yourself the right questions. Don’t fall into the trap of going with the herd or specific brand names Please be honest with yourself on the field you want to choose and develop your career in. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it right away during campus placements. There are going to be abundant opportunities, later on, to switch and jump and move up the ladder
  • “Finding a particular passion” is overrated in some ways. A passion need not always be linked to a particular choice of field or sector. Being passionate about one’s work ethic, always putting your best foot forward is a great start. So in a nutshell, have a decent sense of the final goal that you want to achieve and keep working in that direction.
  • Finally, in your choice of career, work to build skills that are transferrable to other kinds of jobs or industries. Along with a depth in a particular field, build in breadth across skills. This will help you move your career along in interesting directions.

This interview is taken and documented by:

Aakash Parikh, PGP 2021