ACING THE MGB JOURNEY WITH RANK #1 IN EVERY TERM – THE STORY OF ALVIN KARKUN (MGB 2022)

Being the class topper throughout your Master of Global Business (MGB) journey at SP Jain is no easy feat. How did Alvin Karkun (MGB 2022), an Engineer from India, achieve this with ease? We caught up with Alvin to find out.

Q. Why did you decide to join SP Jain’s MGB program?

While working at TCS, I was often included in various calls with seniors like the Technical Leads, IT Analysts, Consultants and Service Delivery Managers. They engaged with global clients to understand their business needs, propose relevant solutions to fulfil them, discuss the requirements to develop those solutions and create a roadmap for implementing them. I used to be quite intrigued by these discussions, and it made a considerable interest in me to understand the underlying business values associated with a product or solution instead of restricting myself to thinking about it only from a technical standpoint. Hence, I was determined to pursue an MBA degree to help me understand those nuances and accelerate my career growth.

I was keen on pursuing an international MBA and started researching the best b-schools around the globe. This was when I learned about SP Jain’s Master of Global Business (MGB) program, which was well suited for someone like me with less than three years of work experience. The industry-relevant curriculum, the school’s highly experienced faculty, global project opportunities, and a globally accredited degree were ideal for an international MBA aspirant like me.

Q. How have the last 12 months at SP Jain shaped you?

The last 12 months at SP Jain groomed me both personally and professionally, allowing me to build a solid foundation for myself before stepping into the second phase of my corporate journey. The entire program curriculum was perfectly designed to impart relevant pre-requisite knowledge about the industry before joining an organisation and shape an individual like me into a global business leader. 

Almost all the courses included Harvard Business Cases, which helped us understand the relevance of the concepts in the real world. The assignments in the form of Student Board Rooms (SBRs) allowed us to discuss and brainstorm ideas among the group members and provided us with a mock experience of how a Board Room meeting takes place. Furthermore, the simulation exercises were exciting and challenged us to think strategically and take practical business decisions.

I also got an opportunity to be a part of three different student committees –

  • The Academic Committee (Term 1), where I acted as the point of contact between the program office and the cohort
  • The Industry Interface Committee (Term 1), where I had to ensure timely project submissions by the students, share essential information about project deliverables and timelines and hold regular student-mentor meetings to achieve those deliverables
  • The Placement Committee (Terms 2 and 3), where I guided students through their placement process.

Being a member of these committees allowed me to galvanise my communication and leadership skills.

We had to undertake two Industry Interface projects to fulfil our academic requirements, which was the best part of the program – the International Business Research (IBR) Project in Term 1 and 2 and the Global Immersion Project (GIP) in Term 3. These projects helped me to gain thorough expertise in conducting research and creating well-structured research reports. Dedicated research mentors guided us throughout the tenure of our projects and provided valuable feedback. We also had the liberty to choose our research topics for the IBR, which made our work even more enjoyable. The GIP gave us the added advantage of being associated directly with the industry and solving real-world business problems for various corporates.

Q. What was your experience with SP Jain’s Professional Readiness Program (PRP)?

The PRP program at SP Jain was conducted by Harappa and played an integral role in preparing me for the campus placement. Every student was assigned a coach responsible for grooming that student throughout the PRP process. This also helped monitor the students’ progress and performance from time to time.

Courses like ‘Speaking Effectively’ and ‘Writing Proficiently’ helped me improve my soft skills. After completing these courses, it became easier for me to articulate my thoughts and frame them properly.

With the help of these frameworks and the suggestions of my Harappa coach, I could draft a decent introduction about myself and my elevator pitch, which I could successfully articulate during my interview. Courses like Structuring Problems, Making Decisions and Reasoning Logically allowed me to approach every single problem holistically and come up with solutions. The best aspect about the PRP was that the learnings were not confined only to online videos. The team also conducted regular workshops to make us interview-ready.

Besides CV Building and Storytelling Using Data Analytics workshops, the team also conducted several specialisation-based workshops. Since my specialisation was in Global Marketing Management, these workshops gave me in-depth knowledge about current trends, jobs, and key concepts in the marketing field. The post-course exercises enabled me to apply all my learnings from the courses and workshops practically, and the feedback from the mentors helped me understand the areas of improvement. The one-to-one mock interviews and check-in sessions with my coach helped me improve my CV, introduced me to many interview questions, helped me understand the dos and don’ts of an interview, and constantly kept me motivated to perform better in my interviews.

Q. What were some of your top achievements through your SP Jain journey?

My most significant achievement at SP Jain was to make it to the Dean’s list, awarded to the top 10% of the cohort who stand out for their academic excellence. I made it to the Dean’s list as Rank-1 with the highest GPA in my batch for all three semesters of the MGB program. I was also honoured to have my International Business Research Project on the ‘Consumer Behaviour Towards the Purchase of Pet Products and Services’ chosen among the top 5 projects across all the campuses. I got to be part of SP Jain’s LinkedIn Live Discussion for the best IBRs with our Associate Dean Dr Veena Jadhav. In addition, I won an intra-campus Debate competition, the ‘Jag Den Disruptive Start-up Competition’ for the Mumbai cohort with my team, and reached the Finals of the PIDEA-A cross-campus Entrepreneurship competition along with my team.

Q. You recently landed a full-time offer with Cognizant. Congratulations! How did you find out about this role? Why did you choose this organisation?

I received an offer for the Senior Business Analyst role at Cognizant in IoT Business Unit. I learnt about this role directly from SP Jain’s Corporate Relations (CR) Team when the campus placement process had just commenced in Term 3. The CR team also brought in several other consulting-based roles at Cognizant. From the beginning of my MBA journey, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in Consulting, which perhaps acted as the most significant lever for me to choose Cognizant. Since it is among the world’s Top 5 IT Services and Consulting MNCs, I was never hesitant to apply here.

Furthermore, being an Electronics and Instrumentation Engineer, I was always fascinated by IoT and its applications. So, the Business Unit for this role was undoubtedly perfect for me. The Job Description demanded me to work on business requirement gathering and documentation, conduct secondary market research and use various market frameworks for analysis. These have always been my favourite areas of work during my MBA. It was an amalgamation of business, management and technical aspects.

Q. Could you tell us how you stood out from the other candidates and landed this role?

Well, prior experience in IT Services and Consulting, along with my foundational knowledge of IoT, proved beneficial.

However, the most significant edge I got during the interview was when I was asked to describe my entire Global Immersion Project at SP Jain, where I worked on a real-world business problem with Tata Coffee Limited. A significant part of my interview revolved around this. Since my group had already completed 80% of our project by the time the interview took place, I could describe every minute detail of my GIP.

Being confident and maintaining my composure throughout the interview was crucial, and I could pull it off well in the end.

Q. Now that you have secured a full-time opportunity at Cognizant, what are you looking forward to the most?

I look forward to undertaking some challenging assignments at Cognizant and delivering my learnings from SP Jain to fulfil the expectations of both the clients and the organisation. These challenges at work will ensure that I can upskill myself and outperform my potential and abilities daily. I would also like to constantly commit myself to additional training and courses alongside my work to keep my learning curve afloat and contribute significantly to Cognizant’s growth in the future.

Q. What advice would you give future students about starting their SP Jain journey? How can they make the most of the SP Jain experience?

SP Jain is going to be a one-of-a-kind experience in your life. Be prepared to develop yourself both personally and professionally. Instead of looking at the MGB program as another piece of degree, look at it as a source that will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, allow you to work on them, and groom yourself for a better prospect. Try to follow a Learn >> Network >> Enjoy >> Grow >> Succeed principle throughout the tenure of the program and even after that.

  1. Make the most of your learning experience during the regular classroom sessions, industry talks and guest lectures. Ensure that you choose the topic of your IBR carefully which is relevant to your specialisation. IBR and GIP are the two most essential deliverables in the entire program, so try to dedicate sufficient time to them. Since the schedule is very hectic, try not to procrastinate and pile up your work.
  2. Do not miss out on any networking opportunities SP Jain will provide, be it with your professors, guest speakers, alums or peers. Break the ice and connect with your classmates, embrace the differences in their opinions, cultures and backgrounds, and participate in the group activities as much as possible like the SBRs, group-based Simulations, Competitions and any other Group events. Try to become a part of the different student committees, which will allow you to network with your peers better. Also, never be hesitant to connect with your professors or alums. They are super approachable and are the best mentors and guides you can ever get.
  3. Do not forget to enjoy and participate in fun events and group outings. There will be plenty of such occasions the school will organise along with the Global Learning and Student Life Committee members. Try not to miss any of them, as these will perhaps be the best memories that this program will gift you, and you will remember them for your lifetime.
  4. Grow as an individual and enhance your knowledge bank by applying your learnings of the program in your work like the SBRs, Individual assignments, Quizzes, End term exams, IBR, GIP and during the placement process. Apart from the regular courses, try to enrol in additional external courses and certifications, which will broaden your knowledge bandwidth and help you to perform better during the interviews. SP Jain will also organise regular workshops for you to gain new skills; make sure to attend them. Do not worry much about the grades and the results. Just enjoy the process, and the rest will follow.
  5. Once you have actively pursued the first four principles, congratulate yourself on having transformed into one of the potential future business leaders and be ready to taste success in all your future endeavours, which is the fifth and final principle.

Best wishes to all of you for your MGB journey at SP Jain!

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