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Writing something for the first time gives me a very different feeling.

This is about those two days of my life which most of us here in SIMSR have been waiting since we joined the college. I want to share with you all the 10th Dec, 2011 and the 12th Dec, 2011.

10th Dec, 2011


After getting shortlisted for the SBI Lifes GD/PI process, I dressed up in college formals and was present in the GD/PI room on the 4th floor of old building. This was my last chance to be in the process on Day Zero. Company arrived on time and GD groups were declared. I had decided that whatever may happen, I will maintain my cool and make an entry for minimum 4 to 5 times during the Group Discussion (GD). After the topic is given, I will spend all the given time (30sec, 1min) for preparing the introduction of the GD so that I can start the GD. As the GDs started, we started getting the feel of the moderators, what they were looking for, what topics were being given, etc. I was there in a group of 11. The group was a mix of students from Finance (5), Marketing (2) and Operations (4). A group big and diverse enough to create a vegetable market in SIMSR (vegetable and not fish because non-veg is not allowed in campus). When our turn came, I went inside with a free and relaxed mind, with the notion that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I was lucky this time that I got a middle position on a rectangular sitting arrangement. My number was 9. We were given a choice to choose any topic for GD. Everyone replied that they would like a current topic. The moderator was bored listening to the same standard answers from the previous three groups and while walking he said, I will give you a topic which is social in nature. Thoughts started running through my mind: Social, poverty, equality, etc. STOP. STOP. STOP. Cool down. Dont panic. The moderator sat down and gave us the topic, Marketing, umm umm NO NO, ADVERTISING IS A WAY OF BRAINWASHING PEOPLE. One minute to think and prepare your thoughts. You may start when ready. I was lost. A Marketing topic, but there was hope. I remembered the moderators words that he was going to give a social topic. I tried to prepare an introduction but the time had passed and the person in front of me started the GD. The second person from Marketing gave definitions, etc. I was fourth to enter. Then onwards what went on was blitz Krieg. I came out of the GD room and soon the shortlist came for all the four rounds of GD that had taken place till then. From Finance, few names...........From Marketing, 2 names...........From Operations (my hopes went sky high) Amit Gade. I was still there. Then came the announcement from PCom member to come and meet him. He said that the final interview round for Marketing and Operations will take place at around 1pm. It was 11am and he said that we can leave and come back at 1pm. I was the only candidate shortlisted from Operations. I went back to my room and revised all that I had prepared for. Read around 84 pages on insurance sector, went through all the control measures

displayed on Public Disclosure page of SBI Lifes website, read all the points from the Pre-placement Talk ppt that I had noted down, etc. I went back for my interview at 12:30pm. I came to know that there were four panellists, two of them were asking questions, two were just observing, each candidates interview was lasting about 15-20 minutes, questions were based on CV and continuing questions could be technical. Most of the questions were related to Summer Project. I was last for the interview and my number was 26th. This was the second time I was last in line for interview, first being for Godrej and Boyce. I decided to keep calm and keep on revising. (In my 3rd year of graduation, during my placement interview for TCS, I was rejected because the panellist felt I was a bit tired at 11:30pm. So, I wanted to remain as calm and as fresh as possible.) Finally, at around 5pm, after four hours of torturous wait, interview for Marketing students started. Soon, my phone rang. It was my PAPA. I knew that he was going to come to Mumbai and may have called me to tell that he was leaving. But, the reason was very different and shocking. PAPA: Hello. What are you doing? MYSELF: PAPA, I have an interview anytime now. I will call you later. PAPA: Can you give me the number of insurance agent of our car. Many thoughts started running through my mind. Accident. How big? Is he safe? Is he hurt? How come?..... MYSELF: Why? What Happened? PAPA: Nothing. I have met with an accident but I am safe. Nothing to worry. Give me the number. MYSELF: Ok. I will send it now. I sent the number but was a bit less worried because he had said that he was safe and unhurt and I trusted him that he wont hide anything at this moment. Still, there were few questions. How much was our car damaged. What was the scene over there? Was everything in control? So, I called him again. Myself: Are you really all right? What happened actually? How much damage has the car suffered? PAPA: I am alright. I dont have a scratch. Got hit by a truck. Dont worry. Police are here and the driver is also here. The car had been damaged a lot. (I got worried). Bonnet is damaged, both front and back glasses are damaged and back side is damaged. The accident was big but due to Gods blessing, PAPA was fine. I thanked God. PAPA: You give your interview. Best of Luck. Myself: Thank you.

I started thinking about the interview but couldnt keep the thoughts of the accident out of my mind. I smiled at my luck. I was so clam for almost 6 hours for this interview and here is the twist. I sat down on chair outside the interview room and started waiting for my turn. At about 5 minutes to 6pm, my turn came and I was called. I knew that there were four panellists. The panellist to the extreme left and the one next to him asked questions. The one, second from left, was very smart, knowledgeable and he was the CFO of the company. The panellist to the extreme right was a young Maam and was from HR. The panellist who was second from right was silent till now. Myself: May I come in? CFO: Yes, please. I went inside and while looking at each one of them greeted them. Myself: Good evening. Everyone: Good evening. Please sit down. Myself: Thank you. There was a small pause. CFO: So, Amit. Tell us about yourself. This was a bit different question regarding introduction. They had been asking to describe one starting from 10th, 12th and so on and later family. That meant they gave a structure to ones introduction. Now, here was an open ended question for me to run through. I started for latest thing first. Myself: My name is Amit Gade. I am from MMS, Operations. I have done my BE in Production from K. K. Wagh college of Engineering, Nashik. I am basically from Nashik, i.e., my home town is Nashik. I am a member of Consultancy Committee in this college. We take up live projects and help the client to execute them. As you can see from my CV, I have done two Marketing projects. They were through the committee. (Next, I wanted to tell about my summer project but I resisted because it was in a manufacturing industry. SBI Life was in financial service industry. I didnt want them to think that I like manufacturing sector. I had a similar experience in Godrej and Boyce (GnB). The interviewer in GnB was from New Product Development department. When I told him about my projects (of summer and BE), he said that it looked like I was interested in working on shop floor. I knew that I had conveyed something wrong and my chances had got slimmer.) I have done well in academics. I was 20th in merit list in 10th, first for consecutive two years, i.e., the 2nd and 3rd year, in graduation. (Whenever I gave facts, the CFO would check my CV. All were looking at me and nodding at me. I felt good and continued)...

My hobbies are Map reading and Driving. About my family, my father (few thoughts came to my mind but vanished when I saw the CFO) is a Lead Auditor in TUV India Pvt. Ltd. He does audit of ISO systems. My mother is a house-wife and my sister is studying Production Engineering in VIT, Pune. (All four are still nodding as if they want me to continue.) What drives me is the passion that I have for all the things which I am involved in. My strengths are my passion and my ability to always think in PDCA way. I always use the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle to plan, execute and get to my goals and to know where I want to be, where I am and what needs to be done to get to my aim. (Now, I had exhausted most of my points for introducing myself. So, I stopped) CFO: So, you have a younger sister. Myself: Yes. CFO: (Going through my CV) Tell us about the Bohra Project. Myself: We conducted a primary research for Bohra Exports. They wanted to diversify into education sector by setting up an ITI. We suggested them which student segment they should target and where to setup their ITI institute. CFO: (Immediately) Who was the target segment? Myself: They are students who are from low income families because they cant afford higher studies. Mainly, we suggested them to target students from 10th standard from villages around Mumbai because they have a better chance of getting them to enrol as these students have less knowledge of available options among various ITIs. We also suggested them to setup ITI on the outer side of Mumbai, i.e., near to the villages on Eastern or Western line so that it is easy for the students to come. (The panellist, second from right, who was silent till now looked lost. He asked what an ITI is. CFO and HR Maam explained him immediately that they provide vocational training. He nodded as if he knew it by some other name.) (CFO again went through my CV) CFO: Are you interested in doing a job in Manufacturing sector or Finance sector because you have done Production Engineering. Myself: Whether I work in a manufacturing sector or a finance company doesnt matter to me because I like working on processes. I like managing processes. So, it doesnt matter to me whether I manage processes in a manufacturing plant or a finance company. As you can see from my profile, the projects that I have done were related to processes and also I havent restrained myself in any particular field. As you can see from the CV, I have done marketing projects and also given an NCFM exam. (The CFO started looking into the CV again.)

Panellist, second from right: So, what do you know about Operations in Insurance. Myself: It is basically managing processes that take place after a policy is sold. Basically, it is transaction management. It can be Group operations, Branch operations, new product operations, claims management, redressing grievances, etc. (Gave all the points that they had mentioned in their pre-placement talk ppt) Panellist, second from right: So, what can be the operations work for the firm? (He wanted to ask about the scope of operations.) Myself: It depends on the volume and the products that the insurance company is offering. If it is a company like LIC which is the biggest in the sector, it will be more volume based. For companies like SBI Life, ICICI, and HDFC Life who are new and developing, it will be more related to variety and later volume. It ultimately comes down to which type of processes you are managing based on the volume-variety matrix. The processes can be classified as complex, simple, commodity and capability. CFO: Tell us about your summer project. After asking this question, he came forward and leaned on the table, looking directly into my eyes trying to gauge my confidence and integrity with respect to my summers. Myself: I did my summers at Mahindra & Mahindra, Mumbai. The project was selected amongst the top 23 out of the 360 projects of the college and qualified for Spriha. My project was in Press Shop and we analysed all the operations that go on in the Press Shop. With the help of SSES, i.e., Simplified Safety and Ergonomics Sheet and Version 3... CFO: (Interrupting me) What? What 3? Myself: Version 3, sir. (Pause). SSES sheet analyses the safety and ergonomics status of the stage and classifies it into Red, Yellow and Green with Red being the worst ergonomic status and Green being the best. Then, we selected only the Reds and Yellows to improve them. With the help of V3 analysis, we could get to the root cause of the problem, i.e., why exactly the stage is Yellow or Red and where should we improve. We achieved a conversion rate of 48% and also some economic benefits. CFO: What are SSES and V3. Myself: SSES lets us classify the processes and with the help of V3 we can get to the root cause. V3 rates the stage in terms of four ergonomic parameters: Complexity, Regularity, Posture and Force. Complexity deals with what variety of items the person is dealing with, regularity is about rhythm of work, force is the load that you are handling and posture is about your body position and comfort. (Panellist, second from right was confused. He somehow heard me saying repeatability when I said regularity) Panellist, second from right: Ok. Repeatability is about what?

Myself: Sir, it is not repeatability. It is regularity. The rhythm of work. It means that there should be less interruptions, standardization, etc. (The CFO again started discussion about regularity with the Panellist, second from right) CFO: Who has developed this? Myself: Renault. (Everyone nodded.) HR Maam: Have you read any books related to operations? Myself: Yes. We had assignments in which we had to submit report on specific books. I have read Goal I, Goal II... HR Maam: Oh! You have read Goal? Myself: Yes, I have also read Critical chain..... (Interrupted) CFO: Tell us what happened in the jungle during the camp. Myself: The manager, sorry, I dont remember his name, (HR Maam said: Alex), Alex went on a camping trip with some children. There, he experimented on the problems which he was facing. He asked the fattest, slowest boy to be in the front of the queue so that he could control the movement of the group. In this way, he noticed that in order to manage the production, he should manage his bottlenecks. CFO: To which theory can you relate this? Myself: (Very excited) Theory of Constraints. Concept of Drum, buffer and rope. CFO and the panellist to the extreme right: Ya, right. CFO: JIT has been very successful since the 70s and 80s. Can you tell us why it is now being criticized? (I didnt know exactly.) Myself: Sir, I dont know exactly but I would like to try. Talking in terms of Indian conditions, there are problems with transport infrastructure, demand fluctuations, cultural fit, control over employees. A driver coming from Delhi to Mumbai can stop at his hometown in between and the JIT will, you know, go for a toss. CFO: But the Japs have been doing well. Myself: In India, it wont work that properly.... CFO: But it is being criticized in the Western world too.

(OMG, ye muzhe dubane ki koshish hain. Back out.) Myself: Sorry, sir. I dont know exactly. (CFO looked towards everyone and concluded...) CFO: Ok. Thank you very much. Myself: Thank you Sir. Good Night. I came out. Except for the last question, I had prepared for all the questions and was expecting them. I had answered all questions in the interview except the last one.

12th DEC, 2011.-Day Zero


We were asked to assemble in seminar hall at 6 am. We all went by 6:05am. Hall was going to be full soon. All was set. All rules were explained again. All 26 students in the SBI Life process had to be present. At sharp 7am, process started. First person was called for SBI Life. I thought my number to come last at 26 and would take an hour. Digvijay was asking me to be ready. I was reluctant. In 10 minutes, Krunal came and said, Amit, you are next, be ready. I pulled out my file and there came my name: Amit Gade, SBI Life, Call. I went behind the runner and into the cabin. HR Maam: please sit down. Myself: Thank you. HR Maam: We are pleased to offer you a job. Myself: (Filled with joy). Thank you. HR Maam: It will be an operations profile. We cant tell you the exact vertical but it will be operations. Same package as discussed. Location will be Pan India. Hope you dont have any problem. Myself: No maam. HR Maam: It will be anywhere, tier 1 or tier 2 cities. Myself: Maam, I am from a tier 2 city, Nashik. So, I dont mind living in a tier 2 city. HR Maam: You may have to move out of Maharashtra too. North, South, anywhere. Are you ready to move out? Myself: Yes maam. HR Maam: Congratulations then. Welcome to SBI Life.