GD-PI Experience : Akshay Gupta (Zzeke from PagalGuy)

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GD-PI Experience : Akshay Gupta (Zzeke from PagalGuy)

A Brief Introduction

Name-Akshay Gupta
10th-79.6% (CBSE)
12th-67.6% (CBSE)
Graduation(SRM University, Chennai)–CGPA of 8.911 out of 10-ECE Engineering.

I have no extracurricular activities to justify my High school debacle.It took me 2.5-3 years of extreme efforts to crack XAT entrance test(98.83%). It’s a myth that one can’t learn aptitude. Infact,one can learn anything on this earth if one is motivated enough,and willing to go under fire.Now words come cheap,so let’s have some statistics-

XAT 2011-44.22%
XAT 2013-98.83%


The Beginning of Preparation

XLRI interview shortlist came on 17 Jan 2013. I was in Goa. I heard myself getting shortlisted for both interviews(BM and HRM). I left my friends,and came back to Mumbai the same day. Next 2-3 days,I was very tense on how to go about preparing for the interviews. There were millions of things to be covered, and I knew I have to give an exceptional interview if I have the slightest chance of making to the hallowed portals of XLRI.

Firstly,I benefitted immensely from keeler.drummer/Implex post on IIM C conversion(Pagalguy).I got in touch with few XLRI seniors. I had to develop my own study method and find something special about myself. On 20 Jan 2013,I started preparing and asked one of our Mumbai Maverick Dream Team 2012,Harshil to collaborate our efforts.


Material Used

I made a fat notebook (around 200 pages or more), and everything that I used to see, read, hear…any relevant detail, I used to jot it down in that diary. It had numbers, figures, charts, quotes, drew India Maps, world Maps, electronics diagrams, equations, world capitals, major sports, everything. It was one thing that I kept with me at all times. The purpose was to devote the last week on revising that diary. I answered 18 straight questions in numbers, figures and quotes in the HR Interview because I revised that diary 6 times.


General Reading:
Took last 8-9 editions of The Chronicle(IAS preparatory material, monthy magazine used by IAS aspirants),and marked all the important articles that could be relevant . I read each important article twice and wrote all the numbers, figures, and made a small summary of each in my above mentioned diary. (Economic & Political Weekly):
It is a website which has good quality content. The website uses articles by PhDs(Doctorates) on their thesis. It can extremely taxing to read articles by them but I did. I wrote summaries of all the articles in my diary keeping an approx time of 30 minutes per article.

The Hindu, The Indian express, Business Standard:
I used to read Indian express and Business Standard completely everyday and devoted 2 hours on these 2 papers and editorials in The Hindu. I can cite one particular example-James H Buchanan died recently at that time, and I was reading about his obituary. I made notes about his economic and political theories, his Nobel prize etc and I talked about him in my interview when we discussed corruption in India.
The Economist, Project Syndicate, India today, TIME, BBC etc:
I used to use my TCS library to read articles in these magazines and make notes when I was tired of doing the normal stuff. This exercise was mainly focused on the international world.

TIME, Career Launcher:
I collaborated material with my friends from TIME institute, Career launcher etc, and used their material as well.

Competition Success Review Year Book 2013:
Marked all the major events and relevant statistics. My HR GD Topic was-“UN the Security Council”. I was the only one in 13 people who was throwing numbers about when, how and why it was formed etc. For eg-UN formed in 1942,during the 2nd World war, during the time of Winston Churchill(England PM) with 193 countries in general assembly, the latest being South Sudan comprises of 5 permanent veto powers etc.

Apart from this, I studied the following things:
All about India–Used Wikipedia and Google maps to read about India and world in  and make notes(I drew India Maps and world maps to remember what all places are where). Our History, all civilizations-Vedic, Indus Valley, Mughals, British, Mauryas etc. I also read about geography-Rivers, lakes, mountains, terrain, oceans, weather, temperature, winds etc.

Politics-NDA, Congress, PMs, Presidents, Parliaments, Upper house and lower house. The no of members, elections, State assembly etc. Our neighbours, Our area, Human development Index, Asia, World…Everything.

All about myself-My family, History of Guptas, History of Chandra  Guptas, Kalidas, Aryabhatta. Each link will take you to the next.From Guptas to history of Chandraguptas to Kalidasa(During this empire, he wrote),from kalidasa to his works and so on. Keep branching out, and anticipate questions as to what else can be asked.

My job,TCS,TATA…Tata sons, their history, remembering each year and name, Major businesses, the countries and recent developments.

HR-HR verticals, companies, HR course structure, favourite subjects, How HR works, Major HR professionals, Recent HR trends, learnt everything about best HR firm in the world ie. MERCER-how,when,why,what,who etc…Numbers and figures..

Hobbies-I developed reading habit to improve my verbal in last 3 years or so. I had read 75 plus books, and I researched each and every book and categorized it into fiction and non-fiction, and put the list in my interview folder. Also, I read a large number of good non-fiction books(Around 32 non-fiction books) i.e  Amartya Sen, Mohd. Yunus(I converted HR bcz of this),CK Prahalad,Malcom Gladwell,VS Naipaul,Joseph Glitz,Frijita Kapra,Stephen Hawking,Larry Collins etc. This had to be my strength…Something special about me. I wanted to drive interview on my reading habit, so I prepared it well.

Academics-My engineering scores are mind boggling after my 12th.I bought a foundation book on Electronics and Communication engineering, and prepared from there. I had great difficulties initially but by the end, I was thorough on major areas.

Interview Experience

Here is my interview in brief:

Prof1- Akshay,we made you wait so long for this interview. You are the last person…You must have been very bored and tired by waiting for more than 3 hours.

Me- No, Sir.I am feeling very upbeat. I was preoccupied with the newspaper, so it was not an issue at all.

Prof1- Which newspaper were you reading? Was it provided in the reading hall?

Me- Sir, newspapers were provided in the waiting hall but I used Business Standard that I brought with me.

Prof1- (Hmmm)So is BS your favourite newspaper?

Me- Sir, I try to keep myself abreast of the latest happenings in the world.

Profs 1,2,3 together- OK, so what did you read today?

Me- CAG reprimanding UPA for a new scam.

Profs 1,2,3 together- This CAG is a foolish organization. They have brought the whole country to a halt. They make exaggerated claims. Bureaucrats fear making decisions…Nothing is happening in this country.

Me- (Took Chairman name because I wanted to show my knowledge) Sir, You are talking about Vinod Rai ,the chairman or CAG all together?

Prof1- CAG.

Me- Sir, They estimated 1.28 lakh crore loss based on the 3G auctions that took place in 2010…Sir, their claims are not of out thin air or notional.

Prof2- But the country is not able to work.

Me- Sir, then you would say the same thing about judiciary…The current judicial activism. You cannot use corrupt means to get things going.

Prof3- First they said 1.28 lakh crore loss then they changed to 2000 crore loss…What is this?

Me- I thought for 5-10 seconds…Sir, irrespective of the figures and numbers, there was something wrong that happened. If CAG wouldn’t have brought it out in notice then things would have gone the same way. This cannot be the excuse for civil servants not to work.

Profs 1,2,3- (Impressed).

Prof2- This essay of yours on India…What are you trying to say?

Me- Sir, it is not the corruption; the bureaucracy; the red tape that affects our country…It is our attitude. For eg: I am a 24 year old boy who has not voted even once. So Am I correct on my part to blame others? We should look within ourselves before looking outside.

Prof3- (Staring at me-Interested and curious)

So on it went…..

Prof1- So you read? Do you know what is a booker prize?

Me- Sir, the first booker prize was given in year XXXX…Definition of Booker Prize…I started counting the names of Booker prize winners from 1971.

Prof1(Irritated)- No no no…What 1971?Tell us some latest Indian Booker Prize winners.

Me- In 2006 the booker prize was won by Kiran Desai for her work The inheritance of loss. She is the daughter of Anita Desai, another renowned author of Games at twilight. In 2008, Arvind Adiga won the booker prize for The White Tiger: it is a black humour genre; There is something also called as Booker of the booker prize which is given once in 25 years to the best of the booker prizes; It was won by Salman Rushdie who writes on Magical realism and is famed for Midnight’s children which is about post Indian independence condition till emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi.

Prof1- VS Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Amartya Sen, Malcom Gladwell, George Orwell…You read all crazy authors. (Starts laughing aloud.)

Me- There is a very thin line demarcating a genius and a crazy person, Sir.

Prof1- Hmmm so you read a lot. What one book would you suggest as an HR?

Me- Sir, I would recommend, ”Banker to the poor by Mohd. Yunus”.It is a book by a Nobel prize winner who founded the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. It is a book that tells you how a sustainable business can be developed from the section neglected by the corporate sector. For reference, we can use CK Prahlad’s work on Bottom of the pyramid theory or James H Buchanan about development economics. We can also talk about Amartya Sen paper on Nutrition and development that he presented in 1998.

Prof2(Amazed)- What do you know about Microfinance (related to Grameen bank that I talked about in my last answer)?

Me- Sir, the 2005 Krishna crisis?

Prof2- No, something recent.

Me- Sir, the 2011,Microfinance bill?

Prof2- No more recent.

Me- Sir,the AP crisis in 2012?

Prof2- Yes…Tell me about it.

Me- Sir, the NABARD and state banks work…Cuts me in between.

Prof2- (Gave in) Quiet.He thought for 2 mins to ask me something that I wont be able to answer,and then asked me the rate of Microfinance that the institutes charge in India.

Me- Sir,I don’t know but can I make a logical guess?Proff3-Nods.Me-Sir,since the poor people have no option but to resort to the money lenders if Microfinance institutes don’t provide them money so, I think, they would take benefit of this position. The money lenders charge outrageously high interest, so MF too would charge something around 14-15%.As per the govt. priority sector lending norms, govt. banks are supposed to provide loan to poor without any collateral of about 10% out of their earnings but the banks hardly follow it. This gives MF to create a monopoly and charge high interest, failing the whole objective of microfinance.

The portion that I have written above lasted for just 5-6 mins, and my interview was of 21-23 mins.I completely overwhelmed ,all of them, all the time. They were shocked, impressed, irritated at the same time.

My GD was exceptional, and they talked about that in interview. I put in index in my folder, marked stickers of different colours, arranged things in a very organized and neat & clean way. I did everything that I could meticulously. Everyday around 8-9 hours and 15-16 hours on weekends saw an average guy getting through.
The secret of motivation

“When determination wins over fate, honour comes calling” is what I believed in.

Some of my most motivating songs. Pay attention to their lyrics-

1) Eminem: Lose yourself

2) Fort Minor: Remember the name

3) Nike commercial: Rise and Shine

Amazing Inspirational Videos. They will give you all the motivation you want-

1) Mateusz M on YouTube (Dream, why do we fall etcetera)

2) Eric Thomas on youtube

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