Interview of Susmitha Reddy: CAT 2016 Topper

Interview of Susmitha Reddy: CAT 2016 Topper
Management has always gone hand in hand with engineering. If one has to succeed in the corporate world, it has become almost mandatory to have good managerial skills along with technical knowledge. With the need to have good managerial qualities, comes a demand for management courses. Hence, it comes as no surprise that 54% of the students taking the CAT- the well-known entrance test to management courses- are engineers. BIT Mesra, being one of the premier engineering colleges of India, also saw many successful CAT attempts this year. This is an excerpt from our interview with one such success story, Susmitha Reddy. She belongs to the Civil Engineering Department and has scored a staggering 97.6 percentile in CAT 2016. Read on to know about her style of preparation and her experiences with the CAT:-

Question: What type of mind-set should a person have while preparing for CAT? What was yours?

Answer: When it comes down to competitive exams, it’s all a “game of mind”. I mean, if you give a question paper to a student and ask him to solve it at any regular hour, the performance would be something, whereas under pressure it will be something absolutely different. So I think the attitude which you develop matters and then how you use it to solve a problem or in attempting a question is important. The paper had a variety of questions, ranging from easy to difficult. I remember two weeks before CAT, I was struggling with various subjects, but I finally decided to stop running from my problems and I faced them, and I did succeed. My performances were really bad in the first couple of tests but I gradually improved.

Question: In the context of BIT, What mode of preparation do you think is better suited for the CAT? Self-study or Coaching?

Answer: It doesn’t really matter. You just need to be motivated. The coaching centres only teach you the practice part, you know the normal mathematical part, but the mental preparation is in your hands. I preferred self-preparation; you need to be an organised person if you are preparing for CAT. You cannot be totally dependent on a coaching institution.

Question: What were the rumours that you had heard while preparing for CAT which you found were not true?

Answer: You see, most of the time, people get the entire examination wrong. I mean the exam is simple; it isn’t difficult. Other factors playing in might make it difficult. But then it’s your attitude which goes wrong, which we generally don’t realise and at the end of the day, we simply complain.

Question: Is getting a good CAT score enough or do we have to look after other parameters too in order to get into IIMs?

Answer: It’s a very random procedure with old IIMs. At least with the first six IIMs A, B, C, I, L and K. Their mentioned parameters are: The CAT percentile, 10th and 12th marks, CGPA, work experience and diversity factor. Now I know a person with 99.7 with two years of work experience of 2k11 batch from our college who couldn’t get calls from either A,B or C. So it is absolutely random when it comes down to a few profiles. But to be on the safer side you better have good CGPA, above 8 and give better performances in 10th and 11th which is above 85 or above 90.This generally gets you through.

Question: Do you think engineers make better managers or something of the sort? Does engineering degree supplement the management degree in any way?

Answer: Well I would obviously say a yes but I don’t know. I mean I can’t compare because I haven’t seen another person. I mean I only can compare when I have seen both the cases. I have only seen one case i.e. me.

Question: Can you let us know the eligibility criterion for different IIMs like A, B or C? What are the differences in criterion for each IIM?

Answer: I too am not completely aware of it. The general belief is that Kolkata and Lucknow go more by the percentiles than the rest of the parameters. Whereas in case of Ahmedabad and Bangalore, the criteria keep on changing every year. These IIMs set up committees to do this. During my internship at one of the IIMs, my professor once mentioned that they keep experimenting. That is what they love doing. One year they decided to increase the diversity in the class, by increasing the intake of other branch students apart from engineering and also girls, you know, trying to keep up with gender equality. There were 140 girls in a batch of 400 where as generally it ranged from 70 to 80 girls. But then they considered it a failed experiment. Then again they did something else the following year. So it keeps changing. But the general belief is that Kolkata and Lucknow go by the percentiles whereas Ahmedabad and Bangalore give more importance to work experience.

Question: You mentioned about the gender inequality in the IIMs, why do you think it exists?

Answer: I can’t answer for all of them, but I don’t see any difference between a girl and a guy. You just have to be goal-driven,motivated enough to do what you want to do at the end of the day. I don’t see how being a girl or a guy comes into play.

Question: How are you preparing for the interviews?  Is there anything you are strictly following?

Answer: I think I’m decently apt with general knowledge. But when it comes down to the current affairs, world affairs, that’s something I need to strictly prepare for. Because when it comes down to these matters, it’s not just about knowing facts, it’s about your opinion, how you perceive things matters the most in the interviews. So that’s something I need to have. So I will have to look into it, analysing how the other person is receiving things of those kind.

Question: What is the area of management you are interested in?

Answer: I worked for business development and marketing in AIESEC. So as of now, I have knowledge in these two fields, of which business development is something I love doing and I’m kind of good at too. But then I haven’t explored the other fields yet. So I can’t judge something without exploring it at all.

Question: Those three hours matter regardless of the preparation you have done. So what kinds of mind-set, as you said “attitude” should a person go with while giving the exam?

Answer: The attitude which a person develops in due course of time, in the due course of his preparation, is what he goes with. These three hours are going to turn your life upside down. That’s a fact that everybody knows but how much control do you have on that fact, how much control do you have on that bug inside your head is what matters. So that is the right attitude. How much you supress the stress under all that pressure; how much you supress it and still let your rationality work.

Question: You have been a BITian for the last four years. Considering the general BITian, what would you suggest to them if they are preparing CAT, given that he/she is interested?

Answer: See, I might be interested in a lot of things, but in the long run it’s how you are going about it that matters. Do you give up easily or do you not? If you are not giving up, you are making it. I mean atleast if you are giving your best and not giving up, you at least achieve some success. I consider it as success. I mean CAT percentile is not the only measure of success. At least for me, it’s more about challenging yourself. It’s not about CAT. It’s about me preparing for it and then cracking it. So, you need to place yourself above everything. Things come and go. You have to be constant in this entire journey. So keep the attitude like: Are you goal-oriented or not? Are you giving up or not? Because one thing I have seen with many of the BITians is that many did coaching, but how many of them seriously appeared for CAT? Very few! That is because people give it up in between either because of placements or something else. Some things come up in the way and they simply give up. There are a lot of factors. Obviously people would love relaxing. People love easy options. There is always a choice between the right and the easy path. People go for the easy path generally. They don’t give it a hard try. When you want something then you give it a hard try and work till the very end. When you are giving up in between, it’s as good as giving up in the beginning itself.


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