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Nanyang (NTU) Interview Experience

Total Time: 30 minutes

Interviewer: Prof. Vishvanathan

V: Prof. Vishvanathan

V: You essays are contradictory. You have 5 years of experience in designing components for automotive products. You have also done you CFA L-1 and FRM L-1. You mentioned that you want to work in Finance. What kind of finance industry you want to work in?

ME: I want to move into a Corporate Finance, M&A role in a technology major.

V: At one place you say that, but at the other you have written, you want to work in Banking & Finance sector. So which one you want to go into?

ME: I again said I want to move into Corporate Finance role in a technology major.

Then I said, now let me step back a little and tell you why do I believe I can do that. I talked about my technical experience, that I have worked in the industry and seen it from both perspectives i.e. I have worked in the EDA tool company as well as a semiconductor design company. Now I know how market requirements transform into design requirements, and how design requirements transform into requirements for EDA tools. Also, its not that I just want to go into finance, I have worked hard for it. I talked about NSE, CFA and FRM.

Now I have skill set which is an amalgamation of knowledge of technology industry and fundamentals of finance. But there are still two things lacking, 1) hands on exposure on the financial industry and 2) knowledge on how to effectively use both my skills together in a corporate finance role. That’s where MBA from ISB comes in picture.

V: I still don’t understand why you want to move into Finance? Don’t you like design?

ME: I like design, but I have reached a level where I want to move up the career ladder and have larger set of responsibilities.

V: But can’t you do that in a technology role? You understand the customer, requirements and design really well. Why can’t you go into technology management and through that role go into senior management role? You right have knowledge on how to convert the customer requirements in design. But moving into a senior management role, you need to have a more holistic view of technology and that might me more important that the finance part. Even for M&A, some account can crunch the numbers for you, but you need to understand the overall strategy. You need to spend more time in technology domain rather than finance. What is your say on this?

ME: Its never about the glamour or money that the finance domain has. Also if I say that I wanted to move into finance, I will be lying to you. I started with NSE certifications, then I got interested and enrolled in CFA and then FRM program. After doing all this, I understood that corporate finance is the role where I can apply my technology knowledge with finance concepts. Its not that I want to throw away my technology experience and the engineering degree.

To answer your question on how I will be better than a guy who will just do number crunching, I will take an example of telecom industry. I talked about the number of handsets sold, expected growth. Then I talked about Micromax, its history, the profits, the future. Now if I am working in telecom major like Samsung and I have to acquire a company in India, I will be a better judge of which one to acquire, than a guy who will just do the number crunching.

V: You are saying what I am saying. Why go into number crunching at all. Its just a factor to help make right decisions. But the decisions are made by the technology force. If you want to go into a bank or VC and invest in those companies, then I can understand, but if you want to be in the technology space, why go into finance?

ME: I have an interest in finance, and by doing the CFA & FRM, I know I have the potential also. At the same time I want to use the technology knowledge as well. So that is the reason I want to go in this field.

V: What I can say is that you will get through any reputed MBA program, if not Nanyang MBA. But you need to think about your career plan as such. People who do M&A, and strategy are at very senior levels. But if you are in a firm who help them do the M&A, then you can be a junior person. Finding a perfect niche for you might be very difficult. You might be better off staying in technology for some more time. Build up on finance knowledge, and when you move into a general management role, you can use both. That will be a more realistic plan for you. Rather than competing with people from Finance background, you should leverage your skills. This is the small piece of advice I wanted to give you.

V: Since, work in the automotive product group of your company, you must be aware about all the recent problems that Toyota had, right?

ME: Sorry, I am not aware of that.

V: You have any questions about Singapore, NTU or Nanyang MBA?

ME: I asked about the internship. How one goes about it?

ME: I asked about how the career services team will help me in the transition from technology to finance?

V: Let me ask the same question to you. You know you have to join Nanyang MBA within next 6 months. What additional steps will you take to successfully transition to finance role?

ME: I talked about CFA L-2, industry projects, connecting with alumni, gaining from peer group.

V: What exactly is corporate finance for you?

ME: I talked about the roles in Corporate Finance.

V: What is the part of strategy, because you also mentioned strategy?

ME: Revenue generation, business model and holistically planning the areas of development for company.

V: You have done designing of chips. How will you use that experience in a corporate finance role?

ME: My experience has taught me what goes in an overall product development flow, not only in semiconductor industry.

V: I am just trying to help you articulate what your strategy for converting into a finance person. So how can you leverage your experience in such a role? You don’t need to answer this question right now. This is something that you need to think yourself. What is that you bring to the table for a corporate finance or strategy role?

V: I talked to a person who joined a brokerage firm right after B.Tech. He said he moved there because the brokerage firm was going more tech-savy. Finance has lot of technology going in. So you have to leverage the technology to go in Finance role.

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