Kumar Saurabh Singh spent most of his formative years in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh, a district known for its coal fields and energy plants. The youngest in his immediate family, Singh opted to study Commerce and Finance – areas of education that are very different from his family’s proclivity for Science. “This is a field that excites me because of its concept of profit and loss, which is applicable to almost everything,” he says.
Undecided about what he was going to do after he had graduated and after weighing the pros and cons between a degree in Chartered Accountancy and a PGDM, Singh chose the latter. “My reason was simple,” he explains. “A management degree would not only give me a proper insight in to the world of Finance but it would also give me a closer look at other segments like Marketing, Human Resources and Technology – all very essential to my all-round growth as well as my survival in the industry or in a core finance job.”
The young man says that he zeroed in on Jaipuria Institute of Management, Lucknow (batch of 2011-13) because it was “not only a very reputable institute in the state, but also because it had an excellent placement record.”
Looking back on his time at Jaipuria, Lucknow, Singh says, “Those two years were the most constructive and unforgettable years of my life. It was the first time I had experienced living in a hostel, making lifelong friendships, adhering to tight deadlines for assignments and quizzes, making presentations and preparing for two exams a day!” He is also grateful to the “brilliant faculty, all of whom helped me learn the tricks of the trade.”
Singh recalls the supportive role that professors RK Ojha, Masood Siddiqui, Rashmi Chaudhary and Reena Agarwal played in helping him realise his dreams. But, as he adds, life was not all about academics – there were a host of “extra-curricular activities as well.”Winner of a gold medal at the Inter-college Football Competition, Singh also volunteered for annual festivals and was a part of the Alumni Committee. These activities gave Singh the opportunity to get in touch with his seniors and obtain their valuable insights. Extra-curricular activities, he says, are an essential part of an all-round experience: “They teach us a lot of things – how to work in a team, invent new moves, and be innovative and push harder to achieve new heights. I still pursue some of my hobbies to remain in a positive frame of mind.”
Recalling his summer internship program, Singh says he interned with the Bank of India’s zonal office in Lucknow. The subject of his dissertation was:“Comparison of Products and Services in Banking Industry and Customer Satisfaction”. This, he says, helped him understand the various products and services offered in retail banking:“My responsibilities included focusing on businesses, as well as individuals to identify the problems faced by customers. I also worked in various departments, including Marketing, Finance, Asset Recovery and SME Loans. In addition, I conducted a field survey in around five to six branches to analyse customer satisfaction levels.”
With an industry exposure of over two years, Singh confesses that his career has revolved around the Financial Services industry, which also happens to be his area of interest and expertise. “My first job was with Mahindra Finance (a leading Non-Banking Financial Company),” he begins.“It was a campus placement and I was posted in their Gorakhpur Territory Office as Management Trainee, Operations.”
Singh has since changed his job profile. He is currently employed with the Royal Bank of Scotland Business Services in Delhi in the capacity of Senior Process Associate. “It is essentially a desk job which not only concentrates on client services but also on process improvement discussions,” he explains. “As a part of a team, my role is collective as we have to meet deadlines and provide quality service at the same time. We also take up additional responsibilities as and when required, support business exigencies and extra initiatives and projects as per the unit’s requirements. This is all done to ensure that all process-related controls are in place.”
One of the biggest take-aways this young man says he got from his days at Jaipuria, Lucknow was in the areas of handling pressure and meeting deadlines. “Be it in the assignments or in the delivery of presentations, my years at Jaipuria, Lucknow taught me to push harder to get things done,” he says.
Singh’s advice to students wanting to pursue a career in finance is simple:“Know your strengths, identify the area in which you want to make a career and opt for subjects that can help you in that area.” For those wanting to explore jobs in the banking industry, his message is clear as well: “Banks today are opting for written aptitude tests so as to select the most suitable candidates. The qualities you need are good analytical skills, communication skills (verbal and written), team-working skills, an attention to detail and the ability to work under pressure.”