Placement – College Essay Essay
1. What do you propose to do in your life short term and long term? Seven years ago, I graduated from IIT Madras as a dis-oriented graduate with no direction in life, but plenty of advices of many well-wishers. I had applied for an engineering degree due to my fascination with engineering and constructions of some magnificent infrastructure. So on graduation I decided to pursue my ‘core’ industry and joined a shipping company. After seven years of working in the technical part of the industry in various locations & conditions, the experiences have taught me a lot.
Now after joining a MBA school, it is time to again evaluate what I want my career to be. I am still attracted to the marine industry and the challenges posed by it. In the near future on completion of my education in IIML, I would like to seek a corporate/management position in a shipping / shipping related company, preferably in Middle East or South East Asia. I intend to work with the management in learning the business side of the industry for a few years. This is the best way that I can make an immediate impact from my recent education and grow professionally.
In my due stint, I have seen the difference between effective & ineffective managers. Unfortunately, the industry has been negatively affected due to some questionable decisions taken by the management of various organizations. My education in IIML and my earlier work experiences of working in the field would provide me a perfect base to for contributing to the industry. I would like to incorporate few management philosophies followed extensively in other similar industries. Majority of the organization in the marine industry has not upgraded itself to the recent management practices followed in the other similar industries.
I would like to work my way up the corporate ladder in an international organization which has good business practices and is open to innovating with new business ideas. Unfortunately, the marine industry has not matured enough in our country to accept internationally rated management practices. But in future (subject to improvement of the industry) I am interested in pursuing my interests in India. I hope to see myself contributing to the success of the marine industry in India in the long term.
2. Do you think that results (mentioned in CV) were a true reflection of your academic abilities?
Please elaborate. In my SSC, I scored well in the subjects (Maths & Science) I was interested in and therefore better in it. My weakness in languages and social studies are well known. Hence the scores in those subjects were relatively lower than others. In HSC, I was preparing for clearing the IITJEE entrance examination. Hence the priority on the result for the HSC examination was extremely low. In those days, there was no importance attached to the HSC score. The score had to be greater than a minimum mark defined.
Since the minimum mark was extremely low, the preparation for the HSC was not top notch. Yet I performed consistently in my HSC examination. My weakness in the English language was again exposed by the mark, though I do not agree with the mark received. The under-graduation at IIT was a roller-coaster ride in terms of academic achievements. The first semester being the toughest, I was able to score an average grade point. But later in the remaining semesters, the academic performance fluctuated depending on the courses/subjects. But it never varied too wildly, and consistency was maintained.
The scoring system in IIT Madras is a CGPA system where the grades are relative to the performance of the batch. So the score only reflects my academic abilities compared to the batch of students in IIT during my batch. When compared to the scoring system of another CV from a different university, the deduction will be unfair. The scores in my CV, when compared to the scores in other CVs of the present batch, may not reflect a truth of my academic abilities in the present scenario because my scores reflect the competition and the scoring pattern during a different time period. Rather than my score, a percentile of my score (from the year of examination) will reflect the true nature of my academic abilities.
3. Describe a situation where you initiated a new idea or approach and implemented it. How did you go about it? In January 2013, I was assigned a project in Ghana to repair a Ship which had damaged its bridge wing during operation. The repair had to be carried out at a fast pace without making a big dent in the ship’s earning capability. I was provided with 3 Polish fitters and a small team of 7-8 local Ghanaians (foreman, fitters, and carpenters).
The repair was to be made in a location difficult to reach and dangerous. There was no availability of dock space to dock the ship for a safe repair and the only available space was becoming too expensive for such a small repair. So, I decided that the repair had to be carried out in the anchorage of the port – open of Atlantic winds & currents. So I had to think of a different way to repair the damage as the facilities available in a shipyard will not be available away from the shore. After cropping away the damaged areas, I forbid the local team from bringing full sized plates on board the vessel from shore.
Full size plates would have become too heavy & dangerous for us to handle without proper crane facility. So I created steel plate parts drawing with dimensions and asked the contractor to cut into size prior to bring it on board. We had limited lifting facility; we could lift the parts form the shore boat to the deck only. But the parts were required about 15 meters above the deck. So we created a small pillar near the repair area. We put a pulley on the pillar and another pulley on the side of the ship. The pulleys were used to re-route the rope so that the winches located in the aft could be used in lifting the parts near the repair area.
Once the parts were lifted up, they were immediately welded in location and repair completed in a relatively short period. The idea of getting most of the hot work done on shore and reducing the risk on board the vessel helped in completion of the work in relatively short period of time and hence reducing the losses due to loss of operation days of the vessel.
4. Describe a situation where you achieved something after overcoming obstacles? In Dec-2011, I was assigned to lead a team of marine designers to assist the engineering team of Oakwell Shipyard, Thailand.
In the initial stages of our work, the engineering manager was impressed by my work and made me the project engineer of re-instatement of the world’s largest dredger, Fairway (which had been declared a Constructive Total Loss). When I was assigned the new project, the project was in a total mess. The project was already delayed by over 3 months and there were many pending working. The planning and the work on board the vessel was in disarray. The new project manager was stubborn and was unwilling to change the prevailing practice. So I convinced the Owner’s representative to scrap the existing planning sheet of the project.
Over the next week, we identified the essential or priority jobs and created a planning for them only. Due to the local holidays on-going during that period, the work was stopped. The foremen were briefed about the new jobs and told to stall their existing work until further notice. Also many obstacles were observed, like many steel workers were idle during working hours due to lack of material. The materials were not cut due to mismanagement of the CNC machine and varying priority of the other projects. So, with the help of the owner’s representative, the management was forced to allot an evening slot exclusively for this project.
Then due to backlogs in the paint department & improving the speed, the materials were sent directly to the vessel for fitment. Instead of crowding the ship with materials, the jetty near the vessel was cleared out and a working space created to make small assemblies with the material before lifting and fitting directly on board the vessel. It was also noticed that modification/renewal of various fitments were becoming problematic on board the vessel. The steel workers were spending more time due inconvenient working space and lack of easy accessibility to proper tools.
So these fitments were identified and cropped out. They were transported to the bay near the workshop so the renewals work. This resulted in some additional work and usage of heavy machinery, but the work completed faster with requirement of lesser people. The procurement team was slow in purchasing items for this project due to credit freeze on the company by various local suppliers. So an inventory of the available items in various stores was created. These items were for the other project which was due later. The design was then changed to adapt to the available fittings. This how few changes were made in the operating procedures to improve the speed of the process. I completed my contract 5 months later and the project was running 2-3 days ahead of the planned schedule.
5. Describe a situation where you had to persuade others to achieve a goal after overcoming resistance. How did you go about it? This incident occurred over time during my stint with Vedam Design. We were a start-up firm and growing slowly in the field of technical marine consultancy. The economy was going through bad times and the projects from the shipping industry were drying up.
We needed to look up avenues to increase our revenue. So, my colleague and I identified the offshore sector as the target. But our Boss was not convinced. We lacked knowledge in the field and had very little acquaintances in that field to help us with either work or networking. We then started identifying free seminars provided by various companies which we could attend to learn and network. This continued on for a year, we attended seminars of survey companies, suppliers, software sellers related to the offshore industry. After about a year we received our first query.
We did not have any capabilities nor did we have the essential software. Our boss was not willing to spend money to buy the software for a capability we did not have. The economy being in a bad shape we were able to negotiate a rock bottom price for the software. The boss then agreed to buy the software but he was sceptical. We then hired an acquaintance to teach us the software and the work while working on the project. Though we lost money on the project we were able to add an additional service to our portfolio. This service earned us lot of revenue during the next year.
6. Please provide an example of a time when you needed to adapt your approach to a project based on new information becoming available. How did you deal with the ambiguity? What was the outcome? This is phenomenon is very frequent in the marine industry. I was leading a team of designers in a project for providing the production design of a series of ships to a shipyard. The basic design of the ship was being designed by another firm in Singapore. Due to the rapidly approaching deadline for the completion of construction of the ship, the shipyard was pressuring us to provide them with all outputs with the provided data.
Suddenly, the basic designer modified the concept of a piping system. This revision in drawing was going to cost us lot of man-hours in rework. So the issue was raised with the shipyard. Then hectic negotiation ensued between the shipyard and my company. Both were not willing to relent. Finally, both sides decided to work together on solving the issue. The materials had already been bought on basis of the previous design. Some of the materials had been assembled. Then the design changes were incorporated in the virtual model, keeping in mind to make the maximum use of the exiting materials.
This resulted in additional man hours which were logged diligently. In the end, the shipyard had to discard some pipes causing some losses and the new design was not efficiently designed due to the constraints. The production time table was delayed by couple of weeks. The additional man hours were negotiated to an agreed rate. The cost of our additional man hours was later billed to the basic designer.
7. What are the 3 most important values that guide your thoughts and action? Personal values are important for me in achieving my life goals on and off the job.
The following are the 3 most important values that have guide me in my actions and career choices during my life: a. Honesty – It is not easy being honest and I admit to being dishonest at times. Honesty is a value that should be instilled in a person as early as possible. An honest person can easily win trust of a person. Once the trust of a person is won, all dealings with him become easier and open. b. Discipline – It is very difficult to explain this, but I have been able to achieve many things in my life due to discipline. Elders often say that a disciplined person gets result.
Discipline does not mean only routine and rules, but the ability to follow responsibilities and duties. c. Determination – In my opinion, determination is sure method of achieving some level of success. Determination is important for a person to keep him/her in the path to achieving the result which may not be easy.
8. At times, many of us are caught in a situation of conflict, where we have to choose between 2 seemingly right alternatives. Give us one situation where you face this.
9. Three things you are proud of? I am proud of what I have been able to achieve in my professional career.
On graduating from IIT Madras from Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering, I was warned by many well-wishers not to pursue a career in the core company. But I pursued with my interest. Now after 7 years in the industry, I was able to exclusively execute complex projects which many experienced naval architects in the industry have not done. I am very well recognized for my work in the industry and all of my clients always return back to me with repeat works. During my stint in the industry I have worked on variety of projects ranging from design works to construction.
I am also proud of being viewed as a role model among the younger generation in my family. Though I never had a stellar academic background, I have been able to achieve certain amount of respect for my admission in IIT Madras (though I do not rate it highly) and my work. My sister was inspired by my success and with her own hard work & perseverance in now a doctor. Many other younger cousins and relatives approach me for various advices and guidance. I have been always able to spare time and make effort to guide them in the correct direction.
I left home when I was young to study in a boarding school. This event in my life has taught me humility and the ability to adapt. I am very proud of my ability to adapt to various situations. I have lived and worked in extreme conditions. Very often people with me in those times either dropped out or quit. But I was able to adapt to it and perform my duties.
10. Reflect on a time when you turned down an opportunity. What was the thought process behind your decision? Would you make the same decision today? This is going back to the time described in question 4.
I was in Oakwell, Shipyard, and in the middle of the process of changing the minor processes related to the re-instatement project. The management was taking notice to the changing effect on the project. There was a buzz around the shipyard with work picking up pace and the owner’s representative were showing urgency. I was to return to India to renew my visa. The engineering manager, approached and would I consider working with them. He then enquired about my pay packages and my contract with Vedam. He also asked me put down the remuneration amount I would want and he could negotiate it with the management.
I asked him for a couple of days to decide and then turned down his offer. There was temptation to accept the lucrative offer. But I thought my actions would have been totally unfair on Vedam. Vedam had trusted me with responsibility of leading our team there. If I resigned from Vedam to join them, it would amount to poaching and loss of trust of faith which Vedam had imbibed on me. The process would have been deemed unethical on my behalf. Though I felt appreciated & noticed for my work there, looking at the working culture in the company, I felt that the offer was only a short-term solution to the yard’s problems.
In this project I was successful due to the strong forceful nature of the owner representatives. But I was not sure if I would have been able to get the same support in a different project where the owners may be lackadaisical. They had been facing problems in their other new building projects and would request my help sometimes on day to day basis. Also growth opportunities did not seem good in the shipyard. The engineering department was always blamed to others incompetence’s. So I still stand at my decision to forego the offer and would have taken the same decision today.