Thursday, 25 July 2013

IIM Placements - The true story

Objective: To show the truth about placements to the current and future students, the misinformed and everybody else by showing that the figures they see are representation of only 10 - 20% of the batch’s performance.

Issues to be addressed:
1. Placement reports - tampered numbers, misleading words, publicity techniques
  • bloated salary figures
  • bloated name/number of participating companies
  • misleading using ambiguous statements
2. IIM fooling students, pressure on students, recruiters exploiting system, DP
  • IIM’s rationale for high fees
  • IIM’s accountability for placements
  • Credit for placements
  • Pressure on students
3. Placement Process Details
  • Placement Committee
  • Control Team
  • Involvement and Supervision of faculty
  • Format - Laterals and Finals
  • Numbering of slots and days
  • Company Presentations - WWR, Dress Code, Fines
  • Desperate Participation, Company Interactions
  • Duration of the finals process
  • Recruiters practices - misleading salary figures, processes, requirement for desperate participation
4. How to change all this?
  • Faculty involvement
  • Standardized formats
  • Prioritizing studies over placements
  • Guidance and Support

1. Placement Reports
What they show?
  • Number of days in which placement process got completed
  • Number of students placed
  • Sector wise break up, i.e. percentage of students who got offers in Finance, Marketing etc
  • Number of participating firms and the number of offers they made
  • Average salary
  • International Offerings

What they do not show?
  • Number of offers from each firm (Usually big names hire small numbers)
  • The salary spread among the students (If 2 students get a 25 Lac offer, it takes 10 student with a 13 Lac offer to achieve an average of 15 Lacs and considering 1/6th of the batch gets offers in the >20 Lac range, 5/6th of the batch gets below average offers)
  • The places where international postings are given (If somebody is getting 16 - 18 Lacs per annum in a country where the standards of living are almost 2.5 - 3 times that of India, does it not mean it is equivalent to 6 - 9 Lacs per annum in India)
  • The sector break up of summer internships of the same batch (If 60% did their internships in sales and marketing, then did the same number go for sales and marketing in the final placements or were they even given the opportunity?)
  • Average salaries of the students who are freshers or have different numbers of years of work experience
  • During the summer internships, around 1/6th of the batch goes on a zero stipend internship

Purpose of the placement report (includes my opinions)
A publicity mechanism to show a great picture of how the placements go so well in order to increase the brand value of the institute which in turn will attract more students to join IIMX who will pull more offers from companies for final placements to increase the brand value of the college.

What students need to understand, IIMA and IIMB also do the same with the same motive. The number of students clearing MBA entrance exams will remain the same. The number of positions in a firm can only be a certain number which are being pulled by all of the IIMs. (If X gets it, Y gets loses). But who loses the most? These are the students who put in all their efforts, time and sanity in attracting companies and lose track of what is important - their studies.  

2. IIM Fees and Placements

The following article reports the increase of fees from 5 Lacs to 14.5 Lacs from 2009 to now.
The following explanation for the rise has been given: Infrastructure has to developed because the number of students have increased. Another faculty comments that it will cover the operational expenses but not the capex.

In another article, an IIM A spokesperson said that “there was no reason why students should not pay higher fees, considering the 'excellent' jobs they get with Rs 25 lakh annual packages or more.”  Link to the article is as follows

Caution: My opinions
Do majority of the people even understand what capex and operational expenses mean in this case (Actually, after graduating I still don’t understand these clearly in this scenario). The breakup of the fees is given in the following paragraph (Anybody can verify this stuff). The explanation IIMs give for high fee is that they say students get a high package of 25 Lacs per annum. They do not charge fee on how much they provide in terms of value and education but charge in terms of how much they can suck out of a student and his/her family.

How does it relate to placements?
  • Average package shown in placement reports by older IIMs are between Rs 16 - 20 Lac per annum. Reality: An average package from one of the older IIMs is Rs 13 - 14 Lacs per annum. (Actual breakup of the packages are discussed in further sections below)
  • This puts enormous pressure on students to get a good job
  • The purpose of entering an IIM becomes getting a job and not getting an education
  • 80% of the students get a salary package much lesser than the program fee
  • 3 - 4 % students got a package of over Rs 25 Lacs per annum

Analysis of the situation and explanations:
1. Facts
  • Students increased by 250 to 360 or 360 to 460.
  • Infrastructure needed for this is a new classroom and 100 new hostel rooms and no labs and computers needed (as in engineering colleges)
  • Computer lab has 10 computers in all, 4 available for student use among 450 students
  • Mess fees is over and above this fees

2. Fee structure
A term is 3 months
  • 33000 per term for books and course material - Students filed an RTI concerning how the cost ,of books was so high. The MRP of the books as found on and the cost of Harvard Cases (considering the worst case where faculty buy individual cases and not by faculty subscription) added up to Rs 10000 to 15000.
  • 20000 per term- for the computer centre with 4 computers available and internet usage
  • 8000 - developmental fees (no idea where this goes)
  • Mess fees is again over and above this
  • Any new facilities in the hostel i.e. TV, Pool table, maintenance is funded by the residents of the hostel over an above the fee

Alert: As discussed in one of the meeting in one of the IIMs, from next year onwards they will not disclose the fee break up and will just list the tuition and the accommodation fee (Mostly because of students questioning the break up and filing RTIs, and the administration not being able to justify it)

Responsibility, Accountability and Credit for Placements

Quoting a response from the faculty of one of the older IIMs - “nowhere in our prospectus, we have mentioned that we are responsible for our students to get a placement. It is not an obligation for us, it is just an optional service we provide”

Another Fact: Students are not allowed to apply or approach companies for summer internships and final placements on their own unless they opt out of the process. They are not even allowed to approach companies who have participated in the placement process over the past 3 years whether or not they participate in the current year

Quoting from another mail by the placement coordinator when this year placements were not going well that the students are bringing disrepute to the campus. All these years, when the placements and the market have been good the faculty and administration have just sat comfortably but just as the situation turned around, they were the first to start the blame game (putting it on the students and the disrepute they are bringing to the institute) instead of helping the students in this tough situation. (This is not an opinion. Proofs available)

The credit for placements and the publicity is very welcome by the administration and faculty. However, one should know that placement is a student body run process, a placement team which works very hard to bring recruiters to campus. The following section will contain the details of the placement process.

3. Placement Process Details

Placement Committee comprising of 1st year students conduct the process. This is a process totally run by the students
  • Final process - Happens over 4-5 days in March
  • Laterals process: (for Experienced students) - Happens from January till the beginning of final placements

Placement Committee

Details, Responsibilities and Powers::
  • 10 placement representatives - 5 elected, 5 nominated by faculty
  • Contact companies for recruitments
  • Decide shortlists for interviews during summer internships and placement processes
  • Review the points on the resumes of all students and have the final word on keeping or removing a point
  • Responsible for the job placements of the senior batch and the summer placements of the junior batch next year
  • Co-ordinating the 5 day process during the placement process and overseeing the process entirely

The previous placement representatives have a big say in who will be the their successors depending on various factors (opinions included):
  • Candidate should not be a strong personality who might decrease the say of the other members in the process
  • Selecting people (1st year students) who will provide them with special treatments in their job placements
  • Regionalism: Helps gather votes during the elections; Favour returned by benefits during the placements such as shortlists for companies where they did not get a shortlist from, give an interview before other candidates increasing their chances of success (The companies only interview people till they have vacancies; spot offers are given and so vacancies start filling as soon as the interviews start)

Analysis of the situation (my opinions)
  • The students selected are through an unfair, rigged and hugely despotic process.
  • All the above mentioned factors result in incompetent placereps who are easily manipulated by the previous placereps.
  • The only reason to be a placerep is that you can influence the future process for your own advantage. For e.g.: This year, a first year student was promoted to become a placerep whose brother was in the second year. The elder brother (second year)  got a job with a big company due the younger’s efforts in promoting only the elder before the other candidates. Also, the younger (placerep) helped the elder’s friends to get jobs through various practices mentioned below

Some of these placement representatives talk about being ethical, about doing the right thing and not rigging the process in anyway whatsoever. However, there have been many instances of unethical practices and favouritism. Instances such as
  • Inclusions of tampered points in the resumes; allowing some students (friends) to keep whatever they want in the resumes irrespective of presentation of appropriate proofs.
  • This practice has also encouraged people to forge proofs for approval of the placereps. For eg: When a students gets proof of the work done during employment not from his/her manager but a fellow colleague at the same level from a company’s email id.
  • Asking companies to change selection processes to include more candidates who would mostly be the friends of a placerep
  • Overriding the shortlist provided by a company with their own citing reasons that the students the company wants are busy elsewhere or are not interested
  • Creating something called an extended shortlist which should just be a list of more students the company wants to interview but instead, is the list where placereps put the names of the their friends
  • Sending the students in the extended shortlist for the interview of a particular company before the student in the normal shortlist gets a shot at the interview
  • Selection of students for an interview without participating in a group discussion round even when group discussions round is mandatory

Control Room (The secret backend support team)

Apart from the placement committee, there is a control team which handles the entire placement process. Their structure is as follow:
  • A 9 member core team who handle
  • a 20 member SI team and
  • a 5 member Infra team.

Out of the core team, 2 members handle the IT infrastructure;  2 handle the companies with each handling 5 placereps; 3 monitor the entire process of the SI team while the other 2 handle the infra team.

Existence of the control team is a secret (known by the faculty) but this year, the students discovered its existence. We know the members of this control team and we can tell you the members if you are interested. Please write your email id in the comments below and we will try to give you the information to our best abilities.

Selection of the control team:
  • The top 9 are selected by placereps - mostly friends and students who keep a low profile; regionalism plays a huge role
  • No notices put for selection, no equal opprtunities,
  • The others are selected by the core 9 based on no criteria (except being a buddy)

Alert: My opinion
I don’t know about the composition of this year’s control team but then the awesome placements of Tamil students suggest a strong Tamil hold in the placement control team. (I hate to profile people in this manner, but I can’t help but observe the obvious)

Powers of the control team
After the initial shortlist created by the company with various insertions/deletions by the placement representative, a list of 20 shortlisted students goes to the SI team. The team already knows about the roll numbers that are friends/same state/ same college and goes about sorting them in the order of their preference. The earlier you go in for the interview,the better your chances of converting the interview. So this control team starts sending people to those interviews where their chances are more. Why does a student X have to depend on the placerep for a shortlist and on a control team for getting an interview ?

Denial of control team by placement committee and faculty
Despite being discovered in 2012, the existence of a control team was strongly denied by the placement committee and it still exists. The placement chairperson told all the students that a faculty would monitor all the activities of the present control team. As per a present control team member, no faculty was seen in the control room. This control team selection needs to be made more transparent and the onus is on the new batch to bring about this transparency.

Involvement and Supervision of faculty
The present placement chairperson has flown out of campus even when the situation is so grim. According to some of the placement committee, they have been left to fend for themselves in this bad situation. The director and the other top-level faculty is more involved in their power struggles leaving the 55 left in the process in the lurch. Citing one instance of faculty involvement or lack of it , the placement representative was trying to convince the company to give a chance to a Differently Abled candidate and had been negotiating with the company for half an hour. When the placement chairperson was finally called in to give the final push, he asked the placerep to back off and let the company leave without giving him the offer.

In the first place, IIMC shouldn’t be in a situation to beg companies for offers but if such a situation exists, then the placement chairperson should have been proactive and convinced the company along with the placerep. If the major reason for a lot of students to come to your ‘esteemed‘ college is the quality of jobs that they will get, then at least put efforts to ensure good placements.

Talking about supervision of faculty, the previous placement chairperson used to spend a lot of time in the waiting area interacting with the students left to be placed. He used to visit the control room to motivate the control team members. Even present placereps accept this fact. A faculty is a reassuring figure, someone above the entire system and the students look upto him. Students want the placement chairperson to be strong and exhibit confidence, not be so nervous that the only thing he is good at is looking tensed in the faculty lounge. The faculty are just concerned about the money they get from their own consulting. They are hardly concerned about the academics or teaching.

When talking about the chairperson of the placement committee he is one who is not on campus even when there are 55 odd students yet to be placed.  We brag that IIMC is the best in placements and the companies here have gone on to cancel the job offers that they have given to students and the chairperson doesn’t have the power to handle such errant behaviour of such companies. They don’t even have the guts to ban such companies for the welfare of students. Because in the end how does it matter to them, they are getting fat salaries which the students pay from their bank loans. He is the worst negotiator of them all, we have personally seen him talking to 3-4 companies and the company walking out without giving an offer.

Format ( Laterals + Finals )

In the laterals, there were approximately 60 companies called on campus and this led to around 110 offers in total. For any fresher ( <10 months work-ex), IIMC is not the place to go to because you will be given preference only after all the experienced guys are placed. If companies prefer candidates having work-experience then why does IIMC prefer giving out misleading information. Why can’t it be made clear that students with work-ex will end up getting preference in finals as well as in laterals ? There were around 10 companies during the finals process which had a work-ex criteria for selection. This means that they were companies looking for lateral candidates so why were they not brought during the lateral process.

Numbering of slots and days

Company numbers in the final placements :

Day 0 : 17
Day 1 : 30
Day 2 : 17
Day 3 : 14
Day 4 : 11
People Left in Process : 55 ( rollling starting from 9th March, Saturday )

CTC on Day 0:

Dunia Finance - 16000 AED = 11 lakh Rs. ( Factoring in the standard of living)
Realization = 16 lakh Rs.
Citi = 13.5 + 3 lakh  Deferred Bonus

CTC on Day 1 :

Lodha  Group = 19 lakh Rs.
HUL = 20 lakh Rs.
Cadbury = 19 lakh Rs.
RPG = 12 lakh
IBM = 12 lakh

CTC on Day 2 :

Axis Bank = 14. 5 lakh Rs.
HT Media = 15.5 lakh Rs.
Mphasis = 11 lakh Rs.

CTC on Day 3 :

FINO = 9 lakh Rs.
Emami = 8 lakh Rs.
Channelplay = 6 + 2 lakh variable

The indication from all this is why is there a slotting if the quality of companies and their pays are so varied across all days. We have a company paying 25 lakh and one paying 13 lakh on the same day. Similarly, there are companies paying close to 20 lakh on the next day when they could have been slotted near the 25 lakh companies. The logic here is plain and simple : The placereps have certain friends who they want to get into the high paying companies on a particular day. For eg. consider the case of IBM. Nobody wants to go to an IBM on the end of Day 1 when he/she can go in an HT Media, Tata Steel or Axis Bank in better roles. However, it is seen that the person who has been conveniently getting shortlists all day long ‘unluckily’ misses out in IBM. Finally, some candidates have to make the difficult choice between trying their luck on Day 2 or sitting for IBM. This happens throughout the process and it is seen that the candidates with no contacts or no ‘big’ people sitting in important positions have to make the tough decisions.

  • Company Presentations - WWR, Dress Code, Fines

WWR- Wing Wise Responsibility. This is the unsaid truth of IIMC and this is how the college ensures that the companies remain appeased and their ego is massaged. Students coming to IIMC- Be warned ; You don’t go to the campus presentations of the companies you like, you go to the campus presentations of those companies you don’t even know about. There is no problem with attending other company presentations since its important for every student’s placement but the problem here is you won’t be allowed to even miss a single presentation due to some prior commitment. There are dress codes and fines are levied for not attending, late entry or for improper dress code to these presentations. The only point I want to make here is why is such a sycophantic attitude being shown to companies ? We have had company officials coming us to say that they used to attend such talks in shorts and tees. We are not saying that the dress code should be removed but  there shouldn’t be such a strict adherence to the WWR. Its just an indication, not a rule. The attire of one placerep during the final placement made us realise why we should have a proper dress code. The poor guy was wearing a grey trouser, a black suit and a blue shirt. If a placement representative can wear such a demeaning attire, then how does he expect other people to adhere to the aforementioned dress codes ?

  • Desperate Participation, Company Interactions

The placereps send out carefully worded emails where you are asked to read about a particular company and put in desperate participation. Students are warned that if they don’t put in good participation, then the company won’t show on campus. It has been observed that if the company presentation is good and interests the students, then questions flow in from all directions. Piramal Healthcare - a Day 3 company offering just  8 lakh Rs. got around 11 questions and the placerep had to step in to stop the participation. All this because the 25 odd students in the room found the presentation to be stimulating and the work to be engrossing. Why can’t there be more such presentations? Interested students asking relevant questions which won’t waste the time of the other students as well as the company. The only reason most students attend these presentations anyway is the pizzas and subways provided by the companies after the interaction.

  • Duration of the finals process

When IIMA and other B-schools around the country started having longer durations of their processes ( Cluster system) , there was a huge hullabaloo as to why IIMC was not doing the same. The reason given was that the companies would give more offers if they were under pressure to do so. This meant that the placement committee ( placereps + chairperson ) had less trust on the 460 students and more trust on their negotiation skills during those 5 days. How wrong they were and how it has affected the placements of this batch.
A cluster system would have meant there would have been the same batch of companies coming to IIMC on day 0 spread over a week. Similarly, the same case would have been seen for day 1 and day 2. This would have meant all the students could’ve prepared better for their dream sector and the process would have been more transparent since everything happened a bit slower.
Another reason for not keeping a cluster system is that students will bunk classes to prepare for their placements. Then aren’t the professors concerned about those candidates eligible for laterals? Laterals happen during the same time as the proposed cluster system and we see students missing all classes because after all, the reason for coming to IIMC was the placements. In which newspaper do you see that Prof. XYZ or Prof. ABC from IIMC won the best teacher award or he did something big academically.

  • Recruiters practices - misleading salary figures, processes, requirement for desperate participation

Every student entering campus feels that he is going to be sought after by many companies as soon as he passes out of this great institute. The sooner a future aspirant gets this thought out of his mind the better. Recruiters hire students telling them false information and stating misleading salaries. In the Batch of 2010-2012, atleast 15% of the students didn’t join the company they got placed in through campus because of false or misleading information. A case in point is Infosys - A student hired for the London posting was given an India posting and he ended up leaving his job. Doesn’t IIM Calcutta have any obligation towards its students ? Can’t it ensure that such a company which misrepresents facts is allowed to come to campus again and again ? If a so-called top B-school of the country is cheated by the companies, then what hope do the other students in lesser colleges have.

4. How to change all this?
  • Faculty involvement

In many classes, we have heard the faculty incessantly complain about the lack of students interest in studies and always being worried about placements. I just implore them to think about the situation from a student’s point of view- If you had a loan of 15 lakh Rs. looming large over your head, won’t you be worried about how much you earn after passing out ? The faculty needs to play a very big part in getting IIM Calcutta out of this mess. They have to take the bull by the horns and lead change. Teach well , teach contemporary things and keep the students interested. If you think that the students are only interested about placements, then you are wrong. If the teacher teaches well, then students will concentrate on the subject too.

  • Prioritizing studies over placements

At present, every student joining IIM Calcutta is looking at the ROI from an MBA in terms of the placement he got and the money he was earning when he came to IIM Calcutta. Even when anyway passes out,the key takeaway is always the friends made, the job got and the direction received in life. The biggest lesson is bookish knowledge is overrated. All this suggests one thing- Books have never been touched.

  • Guidance and Support

Every student coming to IIM Calcutta comes with very lofty ambitions and stars in his eyes. As one of the premier B-schools, it should be the responsibility of the college to provide guidance and support to those students who are not doing too well rather than just highlighting the success of a few students. There are a few teachers who have personally cited the lack of confidence in today's youth joining the top B-schools and its not the fault of the students alone. If you have a burden of 15 lac hanging around your neck as your education loan and fear of not being able to pay it off if you don't get a decent placement, then I don't think many students can simply concentrate on their studies. Its time for the faculty to stand up and be counted and set things straight at JOKA- The place we love but was not the HOME it could have been.

This is a very impromptu attempt to set the record straight and we invite more suggestions on how to make IIM Calcutta the real top B-School in our country.