“Getting an international placement in Khimji Ramdas, Oman with the highest package of Rs.14.40 lakh is not an ordinary everyday happening,” says Ashraf Asif Siddiqui, PGDM from the Jaipuria Institute of Management’s Lucknow campus (batch of 2014-16). And it most certainly is not!
Coming from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, Siddiqui did a B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering before he decided to pursue an MBA. “My primary motive was to get a holistic perspective about the business world and also to acquire more knowledge and a new set of skills,” explains Siddiqui who also worked as a teacher for a short span of time. The teaching experience made him realise his potential in terms of his “interpersonal as well as management skills. This also prompted me to enrol in an MBA,” he says.
Choosing a Business School is always a tough decision and depends on several factors. For Siddiqui it was simply to get a “serene academic environment with the add-on of extracurricular activities for my all-round development. These were perfectly met. The college’s outstanding faculty and their tremendous attitude towards enhancing our learning and personality development contributed immensely.”
As far as extra-curricular activities go, the Jaipuria Lucknow experience ensures that students graduate with a holistic approach to life. Siddiqui concurs, “There are uncountable moments that this college gave me to cherish forever. The most enthralling moment was when I received the first prize in extempore during the inter-college festival, Ojas. As I was about to return from the stage, my name was announced once more – this time for the first prize in the debate category! Heading and coordinating various sports events during Ojas were other occasions I will always remember.”
Siddiqui says that his years at Jaipuria Lucknow certainly changed him for the better. “I have attained a lot more domain knowledge and a sense of work ethics. I am also more disciplined in my approach to deadlines, and most importantly I’m now a person who is more responsible and ready to enter the ‘real’ business arena.” However, as he goes out into the world of work, he will miss the “learning process at Jaipuria, my friends, the festivals, the sports and all the ups and downs” that contributed to making him the person he is today. “I will always be nostalgic about Jaipuria,” he admits.
Talking about his summer internship with Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), Siddiqui says that he was a Sales and Marketing intern in the OOH (out of home) division with the topic of his dissertation being: ‘Corporate accounts’ purchase behaviour analysis based on the study of the beverage vending solutions market.’ His role included analysing the major factors that affected customer purchase behaviour and taking steps to strengthen HUL’s brand image in various beverage segments.
Today, as Section Sales Manager in the Consumer Product Division of Khimji Ramdas, Oman, Siddiqui looks back at the interview that clinched the deal for him with pride. “It was a pressure 45-minute interview” during which he was grilled “so that my true personality was revealed. They checked me out right from my school days to my graduation. They got to know my domain knowledge and laid emphasis on what I did and achieved in the past two years at Jaipuria Lucknow. They questioned me about my internship as well,” he says.
In his new role, Siddiqui will be handling key accounts; enhancing the company’s business proposition; advising on shelf management, merchandising and other sales-related activities.
Having come out in the placement process with flying colours, what advice does Siddiqui have for the current batch of students who are preparing for interviews? His answer is fairly comprehensive. “Do a SWOT analysis of yourself. Talk more about what you can do for the company and what qualities you have that match their profile rather than what you can expect from the company. And most importantly speak with conviction!”