The IIMK GD-PI experience

May 14, 2008

My second IIM GD-PI was a special one for me and I tried to remain as calm as possible as I reached the centre a good 1 hour before the official start time.  I was better prepared with acads for this one, using the 10-day gap between the last GD-PI and this one to brush up on basics of data structures, algorithmics , databases and computer networks. The IIML experience had been a decent one, considering it was my first IIM GD-PI, and that saw me much more relaxed and less anxious than I was before the IIML GD-PI. I met a few people who were in the same slot as me for the IIML GD-PI, but saw many more new faces. I chatted with many people, but one among them stood out because of his not-so-common profile. This guy, a B.Tech from the Indian School of Mines Dhanbad, worked with Reliance Petroleum and his job was to perform mathematical modeling for their drilling operations. In fact, he had spent 6 months on one of their offshore oil rigs. I was intrigued by his profile and tried to gather more information on the work he did there. IIMK was his lone GD-PI call and I told him to leverage his rather unique job profile to the fullest.   

                          The conversation with others mostly centered around the volatile stock market, the P-notes issue and the listing of the Reliance Power stock, which was to happen later that day. Like everywhere else, there were speculations galore on the fate of the most subscribed IPO in India’s securities market history, which gave me some interesting insights into the listing process courtesy some hardcore stock market followers.

                            15 minutes prior to the official start time, a professor came to the room where we had assembled and announced the itinerary for the day. Like the IIML process, we were to be split into 3 groups, only this time there would 11 members per group, as opposed to the 8 at IIML. The professor then escorted our group to the “Syndicate Room” on the fifth floor of the building, where awaiting us was another IIMK professor, who bore an uncanny resemblance to the Swamiji in the movie Sarkar. This room was much smaller than the room for the IIML GD-PI, almost to the point of being claustrophobic to accommodate the 13 of us (11 of our group plus the 2 moderators). The seats for the GD had been arranged in a J-shaped formation (which I had never seen or heard about at any GD before – we were told to mostly expect a U-shaped or a crescent shaped formation), with very little space between two seats. I have a propensity for making a lot of hand movements when speaking (something which would be pointed out in my PI later)and therefore I made a conscious decision to restrict my hand movements to prevent me from accidentally nudging my neighbours J. In order to effectively do that, I placed the file containing my certificates on my lap (since the chair had no holder) instead of placing it on the table behind the chairs (where others placed their files) so that I would have to keep my hands on it to prevent it from slipping off my lap J. Pretty ingenious, eh! I was told by the moderators to sit at the 4th position from the head-end of the J (which was nearer to the moderators), which also meant that I would be the 4th one to be interviewed.



The GD


 As expected, we were given 2 minutes to read an excerpt from an article. The  excerpt was about the Navratnas (the top 9 profit making PSUs)  losing their hold on the market due to the entry of private players and advocated that the government relinquish control over these in order to bring about a professional approach towards managing them. The final line of the extract even stated that the government should not remain in the business of running companies. I scribbled some points based on my understanding of the extract so I could use them in the GD. At the end of 2 minutes, the moderators told us to start. Due to the unusual J-shaped formation, the discussion seemed to be concentrated at the lower end of the formation, and I could enter the GD only after 6 or 7 interventions by others, though I had made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get in before that. In fact, one could clearly identify two people who had most of the airtime, while the guy to my extreme right was completely shunted out (courtesy, probably his disadvantageous seating position), until one of the guys at the centre, noticing that, offered him a chance to speak towards the end of the GD. The GD began well and made for a good structured discussion, until, towards the end, it became a case of “who quotes the maximum examples about the boons and banes of privatization”. None of us (including yours truly) made a concrete attempt at reaching a consensus, and before we knew it, the moderators halted the GD some 12-13 minutes after it began and told each one of us to summarize (verbally) beginning with the guy at the head end of the formation. I had barely managed 4 interventions and the points I made were as follows:


          The difference between disinvestment and privatization. I brought up this point so we could discuss the various ways in which private participation in a company can be enlisted.

          PSUs not bracing themselves for competition in sectors in which they enjoyed a monopoly prior to the opening up of the sectors to private players

          The importance of the government as a facilitator and regulator

          I quoted the example of the growth of the telecom sector after the monopoly that MTNL/BSNL enjoyed was done away with, while the TRAI being retained as a regulatory arm of the government. 


The moderators then collected our PI forms and we were asked to exit the room. The post GD- pre PI discussion between us candidates during the tea break centered around identifying the Navratnas, with most people anticipating this as a PI question. I wasn’t particularly pleased with my performance in the GD and decided to switch off from the discussion going on about the ensuing PIs in order to regain my composure. Considering I would be the 4th one to be interviewed, I made a conscious decision not to ask the first 3 candidates what questions they were asked in the PI, once they came out of the interview room.


The PI


After waiting nearly 75 minutes post the GD, my turn to face up to the IIMK interviewers finally came. When I entered the room, only one of the interviewers greeted me; the other interviewer (aka Swamiji from Sarkar) seemed busy reading something and was sitting in a reclining position in his chair. Hereafter I’ll refer to the two interviewers as I1 (the one seated to my left) and I2 (Swamiji, who was seated to my right):


I1: So (perusing through my PI form)…tell us about your hobbies.

Me: Sir….one of my hobbies is following air crash investigations….

I2: (Interrupts, rises from his chair and looks at me with a penetrative, somewhat intimidating gaze, a la interrogation style) That’s interesting….can you tell me about Vishakha?

Me: (Slightly surprised) mean Kanishka?

I2: (Nods)Oh ya..Kanishka.

Me: Sir, in 1984, an Air India Boeing 747 crashed off the east coast of Canada (it actually crashed off the coast of Ireland..but he seemed either not to notice that or noticed it but did not deliberately interrupt me) after a piece of baggage containing explosives planted in its cargo hold, exploded, killing all people on board. Since the majority of the victims in this attack were Canadians, Canada spent a lot of time and money into its investigation; in fact, it’s the most expensive investigation in Canada’s aviation history, spanning nearly 2 decades.

I2: Recently there was some controversy over a  conviction in this case. Can you tell me what it was? (In the same interrogation style)

Me: (I drew a blank at this point; probably I was intimated by Swamiji’s general demeanour)  Sir… I don’t know.

I2: (In a calm yet purposeful tone) You told us this is your hobby. We would not have asked this to someone else.

Me: (Just then it struck me) Sir recently one of Bhindranwale’s (of Khalistan fame) supporters was convicted of masterminding the attack, based on the investigation carried out by India. However, the Canadian investigation could not corroborate the same, and there were allegations that the conviction was carried without granting a fair trial to the accused.


 (I was not at all convincing and confident in my answer; hereafter I became very conscious of the perceived bad start to the interview and the effects were more or less visible in my subsequent answers. Somewhere in my head, the words “Every new question is an opportunity” kept reverberating. )


I2: What are your other hobbies?

Me: Sir singing.


 (I never gave a single word answer to this question and always took it as an opportunity to exhibit my passion for singing. However my confidence had been slightly dented due to the visibly poor start and I stopped right there, hoping he would ask me to sing, like I was at the IIML interview. Instead I was asked something totally unexpected; this is where they would have had the chance to gauge my response in an unfamiliar situation with a slightly dented confidence)


I2: Do you sing ghazals? Can you tell me what is their specialty?

Me: Sir I myself am not an avid ghazal singer or a  listener. But from what I’ve heard, ghazals are generally slow paced with very little variations in pitch. Also there’s a lot of emphasis on conveying emotions through the way words are pronounced. For example, the word tanhai (loneliness) when pronounced in a particular manner conveys a  romantic aspect to loneliness, while when pronounced in another manner conveys the despair, the misery associated with it. 


(I felt I was much more convincing in this response. The interviewer’s body language though, seemed to belie that)


I2: What do you mean by ‘very little variations in pitch’?


(I feel my far from convincing answer to my previous hobby probably led him to probe deeper into how much I know about singing – this is a conjecture I’m making from looking at his demeanour)


Me: Sir the pitch of one’s voice is its perceived frequency. When one sings at a higher pitch than normal, one is actually  perceived to be singing at a higher octave than normal on a particular scale. The opposite is true for a lower pitch. In ghazals, there is very little variation in the perceived octaves at which one sings.


(I know that was a lot of jargon – and that’s probably how the interviewer perceived it to be; but to know what I’m talking about, listen to the song Aye Ajnabi from Dil Se and the vocal variations in it and you’ll know how it is unlike a ghazal)


I1: You work in a IT company. What’s the kind of work you do there?

Me: Sir, our  project is based on a concept called Number Translation…

I1: (Interrupts) All you IT people keep talking in terms of projects. What’s a project?

Me: Sir a project is a group of interrelated tasks we have to achieve in a given timeline at a cost which is either fixed or proportional to the time taken.

I1: So every project has a deadline and a cost associated with it?

Me: Yes. At the beginning of any project, we have to give an estimated time and cost quote to the client, which if approved, leads to us commencing work on it. The aim is to complete it in a time as close to the estimated time as possible.

I1: So what’s the deadline for your project?

Me: Sir, ours is an ongoing project. We get contracts for a particular piece of work on a quarterly or a half yearly basis which is generally for a complete application.

I1: But just now you agreed every project has a deadline and now you are saying yours is an ongoing project?

Me: Sir I meant, if you consider each piece of contracted work as a project, it does have a 3-month or a 6-month deadline.


(Not very convincing with my last response as I felt I failed to convey to him not to take the literal meaning of my words – read ‘project’ and ‘piece of work’)


I1: (Pauses to peruse through my PI form) You have mentioned your strength as ‘good teaching skills’. Can you give us a 1 minute presentation on any topic of your choice?


(I instinctively rose from my seat – as if suggesting I was about to leave the room – and started on ‘PL/SQL basics’. I spoke about the shortcomings of SQL and how PL/SQL with its features overcomes it and how control is passed back and forth between the SQL and PL/SQL engines during the execution of a PL/SQL procedure or a function. What I’ll remember most about this is the look of surprise and possibly amusement on the interviewers’ faces when I rose from my seat to make the presentation – something which they probably did not expect I would do J )  


I2: (After I returned to my seat) Recently there have been suggestions about making Narayana Murthy the President. Do you agree with those views?

Me: (This was déjà vu for me. And for those who have already read my IIML GD-PI experience my answer too will be a déjà vu J) Definitely yes. He’s a role model for many of us in the company and is an epitome of integrity, which is essential for any leader to be looked up to. Also he has been a key contributor to Infosys’ success story and much of the goodwill that the company enjoys stems from his image as a person. I’m sure he has it in him to connect with a larger set of people, if made the President.


(I2 then gestured to I1 as if he had had enough of me and indicated that he carry on)


I1: You are a module lead. Now imagine you need one more person in your team and you have to choose from one among two persons – person A is 100% technically competent but has 0% managerial skills and person B is 0% technically competent but has 100% managerial skills. Who would you pick?

Me: Sir it would depend on the requirements of our project. If our  project demands a high level of technical competency which cannot be acquired in a short time span, I’ll prefer person A over B and train him or her on the managerial aspects which are lacking. However if the technical competency that our  project demands can be achieved in a couple of weeks of training, I’ll prefer person B over A.

I1: You can choose only one. Who will you choose?

Me: Sir its difficult to select any one without setting a context.

I1: (Now forcing the issue) But as a manager you will be required to make decisions like these. Choose any 1 and justify.

Me: Sir, as a manager I will also be required to do what is in the best interests of the project and I believe choosing any one without giving due consideration to the project requirements  would be tantamount to not upholding that interest.

I1: (Finally relents in a feeble but slightly deriding manner) Kya yaar….tumko ek choose karne bola woh bhi nahi kar sakte!


I2:(Jumps in)Do you follow the newspapers?

Me: Yes

I2: Could you list 3 issues of socio-political national importance that have been making headlines recently?


(Its strange that outside of the interview, one is easily able to recall at least 5 issues without much effort. But in an interview situation, one tends to become tongue tied and hard pressed for some recollections of the same. At least that’s what happened with me)


Me: (After much effort) The Indo-US nuclear deal

I2: Second?

Me: (After double the effort) The local v/s outsider debate brewing in Mumbai

I2: Third?

Me: Ummm…Sir, I can’t recall anymore.

I1: Have you heard about the Sethusamudram project?

Me: Yes Sir. It’s a project that envisages dredging of a canal in the Palk Strait between India and Srilanka so that Indian ships and cargo vessels don’t have to circumvent Srilanka to go from India’s west coast to the east or vice versa. However, right since its inception, the project has been mired in political controversy over the Ram’s Setu or the Adam’s bridge being dredged to build the canal. Environmentalists have also voiced concerns over the purported damage to the marine ecosystem that the project may cause. And recently, the navy has alleged that the government is expediting the approval of the project without giving due consideration to national security. They have cited the threat to Indian ships and vessels from the LTTE which controls the northern part of Srilanka.

I1:Please hand over your file to me. (I handed him the file which I had kept in my lap until then)

I2:You could have kept the file on the table. Why did you not keep it here? (In a polite tone)

Me: Sir…no specific reason.

I2: You seemed very tense during the GD and very restless as well, as you seemed to be fidgeting with your file. And you didn’t speak much. Why?

Me: (Visibly more conscious and feeble and nodding as if to agree with him) Yes Sir its true that I didn’t speak as much as some of the other members of our group, but I believe I made some incisive points.

I2: (Interrupts before I finish, while playfully stroking his long beard) Also, you speak a lot with your hands?

Me: (Ah…the umpteenth time! In fact one of my friends jokingly says that I would be dumbstruck if someone tied my hands J) Yes Sir many people have told me that (with half a smile).

I2: What are your thoughts on privatization?

Me: Sir it certainly brings in a more professional approach to management with higher accountability and being deadline driven, its more focused on performance. However social responsibility does take a back seat over profitability.

I2: But you see that there are certain sectors like defence that cannot be privatized. What do you do to increase accountability there?

Me: Sir our defence forces are considered one of the most professional and one of the best in the world. If there is need for greater accountability, its in the process of acquiring new technology for our armed forces. Here it can be achieved through greater transparency in the acquisition process and of the ways to do that is the government acquiring technology directly from private sector Indian companies like L&T which have a reputation for manufacturing defence technology, instead of relying on a network of agents to acquire the same from foreign companies. This would also reduce India’s dependency on foreign assistance.

I2: Why do you think the Indian government relies on these network of agents?

Me: Sir I’m not sure of the actual reason, but it may be because of vested interests of certain bureaucrats, who are known to receive kickbacks for allegedly shady defence deals, the Bofors issue being a case in point.


I1: (Pointing to my 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th semester engineering mark sheets) Why are these of a different colour?

Me: Sir these examinations were conducted by our college, which also issued their mark sheets whereas the others were conducted by the Mumbai University, which issued the mark sheets for the 1st, 2nd, 7th and 8th semester examinations.

I1: (Handing over the mark sheets to me) For your next interview, please arrange them properly.


(That was surprising. I had arranged them in chronological order and thought that was how they wanted them. In hindsight, it struck me that I had handed them loose mark sheets from my file, which may have ticked him off; so the first thing I did after this interview was to purchase a transparent folder for holding my certificates)


Me: Right Sir.

I2: All the best for your future (Ummm…does this mean a future devoid of an IIMK admit?)…you may leave.


I thanked both interviewers and heaved a sigh of relief that it was over. I felt I did well in patches and felt I could have handled certain questions differently, in a much better manner.  In fact, over the next few days, I must have gloated over this one the most, considering the next one at the ‘Big One’ was just 5 days away. As I exited the centre, I was glad not many people mobbed me about my experience, as I felt completely drained and the only thing I was looking forward to doing was reaching home and catching some shuteye.


















May 7, 2008

The 1st day of February saw me heading for my first B-school GD-PI. The air outside may have been chilly (what with Mumbai’s temperature plummeting to 8 degrees about a week later), but I was shivering (rather trembling with nervousness) at the prospect of facing up to my first IIM interview. Just a day before, I had taken a mock PI at a coaching institute and the feedback I got was “You know your CV inside out; but you are grossly under confident. Stop being anxious about converting your calls; you’ll make it”. As I approached the GD-PI venue (which I reached a good 1 hour 40 minutes before time), I kept seeking comfort in the words “Stop being anxious about converting your calls; you’ll make it”.  When I reached the venue I saw a couple of familiar faces; people who I had met during the weekend GD-PI workshop at the coaching institute. Being the first GD-PI for most people, not everyone was keen to strike a conversation. But I decided to break the ice, courtesy some intense persuasion by my friend, who told me that it was a good way to make oneself feel relaxed with the added benefit of expanding your friends’ circle. The conversation inevitably drifted to the IIML PI form which had just 2 lines for mentioning one’s hobbies and extra-curricular activities and did not have any of the standard career goal oriented questions (E.g.: Why management?, Alternative career) in it. There were surmises galore on what are the kinds of questions the interviewers would ask as there was not even the slightest give away in the PI form as to what are the things in a candidate that IIML is looking for. Though I too felt that the form asked for “too little” information about oneself, I rationalized, thinking “These guys have been conducting PIs for the last 23 years; surely this form is the result of extensive research into who constitutes IIML’s dream candidate”. 15 minutes prior to the official start time, two men in black suits walked into the room where everyone had assembled and announced the itinerary for the day. We were to be split into 3 groups (panels in GD-PI lingo) and our GDs would be conducted in parallel in 3 different rooms. After that, we would be called for PI one after the other in a pre-decided sequence. The GD moderators would also be our interviewers.

As we stepped into the room where the GD was to be held, we were greeted by two moderators seated at the other end of the room from the door. Our chairs had been arranged in a crescent shaped formation. The moderators asked us to occupy seats in an anti-clockwise manner beginning with me, which meant I was sitting at the right extremity of the crescent. The moderators then collected our PI forms and gave us ruled sheets of paper. We were told to write an essay of not more than 500 words on the topic “The ability to avert crises rather than tackle them is the  hallmark of a successful person” for which we were given 20 minutes, followed by a 15 minute discussion of the same topic. I kept a spare piece of paper at hand to note the points on which I was expanding on in my essay, so that I could use those points in the GD. 


The GD

We were supposed to be a group of 8; however 2 people did not turn up and so we were only the 6 of us in the GD. I had been mediocre when it came to GDs at the coaching institute (which typically were conducted in groups of 12 to 15)and fancied my chances of a decent participation with a smaller group. I was the 3rd person to enter the GD and had 5-6 equally spaced interventions in the GD; in fact everyone got decent airtime and the group seemed to be moving towards a consensus all along.  To summarize I conveyed the following through the points I made:


–     The ability to foretell and avert a crisis comes with experience which generally   involves  facing up to that crisis

–     It is essential to have the right temperament to tackle a crisis because there will always be a problem that we have never faced or anticipated


Several examples supporting both viewpoints were stated, which was obvious given the nature of the topic. I quoted the example of how certain companies had managed to stay afloat in the wake of the “subprime crisis” while others could not. In fact, at one point, I believe I brought the discussion back on track when it threatened to centre around the validity of an example that was quoted. However, in hindsight, I believe I committed the mistake of forcefully generating (and possibly repeating) a point when it seemed that at the end of about 10 minutes the group reached a consensus and had run out of points. I remembered one of the coaching institute profs quipping “You are not hosting the GD; just shut up once you are done with your points!”. Once I became conscious of this, I was desperately hoping the moderators would stop the GD (I’m sure they would have realized the group had run out of steam) and to my relief, a couple of interventions later, the GD was stopped. I would be the first person in my group to be interviewed after a short tea break. Overall I felt good about my GD (this would eventually turn out to be my best GD performance) and the fact that I could do well in a GD (which to be frank I dreaded prior to the IIML GD) gave me some confidence going into the interview.


The PI

I gingerly stepped into the same room in which the GD had been conducted. The interviewers greeted me, told me to take a seat and asked me to hand over my file containing original mark sheets and proof of employment certificate. Hereafter, I’ll refer to the interviewers as I1 (the one seated to my left) and I2(the one seated to my right):



I1: So what do you think about the GD? How did it go?

Me: Sir, I think we had a good, structured discussion which eventually resulted in the group reaching a consensus.

I1: And how would you rate your performance?

Me: Sir, it was decent. (Interrupts before I could say anything more)

I1: So Ameya, you spoke about the subprime crisis. Can you tell me why the rupee is appreciating against the dollar?

Me: Sir one of the factors that determines the value of a currency vis-à-vis other currencies is its demand in the international market. The higher the demand, the more valuable a currency becomes. Due to the US economy performing below par in recent months, most countries’ central banks have been selling large amounts of the U.S. dollar. This has resulted in it depreciating.


(One of the professors at the coaching institute I attended later told me that I should have also stated the booming Indian economy and the resulting investor confidence in it that had pushed the rupee higher. According to him, the answer I gave was the reason for depreciation of the dollar and not the appreciation of the rupee.)


I2: Why does any country keep foreign exchange reserves?

Me: Sir for trading.

I1: (With a puzzled expression on his face)Trading?

Me: I mean, if a country wants to buy something from another country, it needs to pay that country in its currency. Hence countries keep foreign exchange reserves.

I2: So can I say that countries need foreign exchange to finance their imports?

Me: Yes (I thought  to myself “Wow! That could have been a short and sweet answer.”)

I1: Recently the Zimbabwean central bank has been printing million dollar denomination bills? Why do you think they would do such a thing?

Me: Sir I’m not sure of the exact reason, but I think it may be due to spiraling inflation in that country (which was a guess) and the high exchange rate of the Zimbabwean dollar against the U.S. dollar.  


(The day after the interview, I read in a newspaper that Zimbabwe’s inflation had zoomed past 26000 % and that 1 USD was more than 6 million Zimbabwean dollars)


I2: Yesterday, and even today, instances of the Internet slowing down were reported due to some cable rupturing in the sea near Egypt? I always thought the Web was wireless. Why would some undersea cable rupture cause the Internet to slow down?


(Upon arriving at the GD-PI centre, I happened to read a newspaper and in one of the inner pages I read in detail a story about a fiber optic link rupturing in the Red Sea which had caused disruption of Internet traffic between the US/Europe and Asia-Pacific. Tellingly, I had experienced loss of connectivity while I was surfing the Net on 31 Jan, just a day before my GD-PI. Call it stroke of luck! J )


Me: Sir, long distance Internet traffic propagates over high speed fiber optic links. One of these links that ruptured yesterday was a major corridor for Internet traffic between the APAC region and the U.S. As a result many ISPs had to reroute their traffic over alternative links which probably could not handle as much traffic as the link that went down, thereby resulting in slow, or in some cases, no connectivity.

I2: But why don’t they use satellites for sending Internet traffic?

Me: Sir the delay involved in sending traffic via  satellite is 540 milliseconds, whereas over fiber optic links its about 200 to 300 milliseconds, which is a significant difference in the web world. Most web applications just cannot work with that additional delay.

I1: Ok…explain to me the principle behind fiber optic cables.


(Now this fellow was getting into hardcore physics. Fortunately I remembered the principle of “critical angle” and “total internal reflection” and told him the same. Thankfully for me, he did not ask me anything more on physics or my engineering subjects, as I wasn’t well prepared on acads for this interview, something which I made sure I did for the next interview which was for IIMK)


I1: Ok (now perusing through my PI form)….So you say you have represented college at a singing competition…can you sing for us a song you had sung there?


(Wow..this was something unexpected! Nevertheless, I sang Ghar se nikalte hi…  from the movie Papa Kehte Hain. Singing at an event or on someone’s request is something I love and I felt  extremely comfortable and confident doing it. It also helped me calm any “nerves” I may have had. The “performance” was followed by a barrage of questions like the name of the movie, the music director, the lead actors, etc. which I could answer confidently and correctly)


I1: (Reads off the PI form)…Organized quiz competition… you are into quizzing as well?

Me: No Sir. I was the organizer of that event and was also the quizmaster. Although quizzing is something I did in school, I did not pursue it once out of school.

I2:Are you still working with Infosys? (While looking at the ‘Employment Details’ section of my PI form)

Me:Yes Sir.

I2: Then why have you left the ‘To Date’ column blank? Shouldn’t it read TILL DATE?

Me:Right Sir.


(He pushed the form towards me so I could make the change in my form)


I1:Tell me something about Narayana Murthy. (With an obvious reference to my employer)

Me: Sir he’s the non-executive chairman and co-founder of Infosys.

I2: (Interrupts)…Is he still an employee of the company?

Me: No Sir, he retired from the company in August 2006.

I2: So does he still come to office?

Me: (With a hint of surprise and hesitation on my face)…Sir….I don’t know that.

I1: Ok..(with a broadening smile)…Have you met him?

Me: Sir I have seen him at close proximity at the Mysore campus where I underwent training. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to speak to him.

I1: So..(as if throwing the gauntlet at me)…do you think he would make a good President?

Me: Definitely yes. He’s a role model for many of us in the company and is an epitome of integrity, which is essential for any leader to be looked up to. Also he has been a key contributor to Infosys’ success story and much of the goodwill that the company enjoys stems from his image as a person. I’m sure he has it in him to connect with a larger set of people, if made the President.

I2: What do you know about Lucknow?

Me: Sir Lucknow is known for its delectable Nawabi cuisine and for its historic monuments.

I2: Can you name any of those monuments?


(I hadn’t heard or read about any. But still I took a long time trying to think of any names without much luck)


I1: (Impatiently interrupts in a sarcastic tone) Is there something called as ‘Don’t Know’?…anyway…tell me what you know about IIM Lucknow.

Me: (Visibly shaken; rambling off whatever I could recall off the website) Sir IIM Lucknow is the first IIM in the country to have two campuses in the country. The campus at Noida was recently set up as a hub for executive management education. (Ummm..) At Lucknow, the courses offered are PGP, PGP-ABM…

I1: (Impatiently interrupts again; visibly rude this time)…And you have applied for the PGP!  (Perusing through my certificates and pointing out to my 10th and 12th certicates which stood out like a sore thumb; just a day before the GD-PI, as I was consolidating my certificates, I noticed I hadn’t got my 10th and 12th certificates laminated and decided I would do so after the IIML GD-PI)These are in bad shape!

Me: (Let out an embarrassed muffle) Yes Sir….I’m sorry about those.

I2: What do you think is Lucknow’s biggest contribution to India?

Me: (Thought for a few seconds…couldn’t think of anything) Sorry Sir, I don’t have enough knowledge about Lucknow to be able to answer that.

I1: Ok..thank you Mr. Mahadeshwar…you may leave.


I thanked both interviewers and left the room as gingerly as I had entered. Though I felt good about the interview as a whole, I felt that I didn’t do well towards the end because I gave “half-baked” answers. The first thing I did upon reaching home was to get the 10th and 12th certificates laminated, well in time for my next GD-PI, a good 10 days later.