07 Jan 2021 20:02 IST

‘My MBA from TAPMI taught me to manage time and large workloads’

It gave me the right attitude to solve complex problems, lead teams, and deliver quality work

Abhishek Sekhri, MBA graduate from TA Pai Management Institute (TAPMI), Class of 2015, is currently Manager, Cyber Risk Strategy, in a Big 4 consulting firm. He believes the need of the hour is to innovate and think out of the box to tide over the Covid crisis.

How did you decide to pursue the management field after your BTech?

I completed my BTech in Information Technology. Engineering helped me to understand the fundamentals of technology which continues to be extremely helpful even in my current role. But I always believed that my skill set aligned with the management field. I also got exposed to a few ‘management’ subjects, such as corporate finance and marketing basics, as electives, which intrigued me further to learn more about management and organisations in general. I still remember organisational understanding used to be a buzz word for most MBA aspirants. Although it’s a cliché, it works well for motivation.

Did you have work experience before you enrolled for an MBA?

Yes, I worked for an IT services company before enrolling for an MBA. My first job was extremely valuable as along with technology/systems, I also learned about organisational processes and got first hand experience on various other aspects of the company, such as customer orientedness. Most importantly, I learned how vital it is to be a team player and have a good attitude. I was able to apply learnings from my first job during MBA. That made MBA concepts much more relateable and easy to understand, as they no longer sounded bookish to me.

What does your role entail currently, and how has the pandemic affected the nature of your job?

I am currently working as a Manager, Cyber Risk Strategy, in a Big 4 consulting firm. My role includes assisting organisations of various sizes and nature, assess their cyber risk posture, and develop strategies and roadmaps to achieve the target. I started my career in India but soon moved to the US, where I am more focused to help Silicon Valley, technology-sector clients. The nature of work is extremely fast-paced and keeps me on my toes all the time.

As a strategy consultant in a pre-Covid world, it was almost unimaginable to work remotely and not travel to the client location. This pandemic has changed the consulting industry completly. Our clients are also accepting this change, even though it came with many difficulties initially. Needless to mention, remote work is equally effective, but as a consultant, it is challenging to foster relationships with your colleagues and clients. I think the need of the hour is to be innovative and think out of the box to excel in the job.

Looking back at both your engineering degree and your MBA, how would you say that it is helping you in your work life and career now, if at all?

I can say with utmost surety that I would not be what I am today without the knowledge and learnings from an engineering degree, and especially MBA. It has helped me develop a positive attitude to solve complex problems, manage time effectively, lead teams, and deliver quality work.

What are the B-school learnings that you are applying to in your work?

Well, this can be a long list but let me try to summarise:

Technical concepts: This is straightforward and the most obvious. Our curriculum at TAPMI included courses on IT risk management, project management, and IT sales, which are directly helping me in my day-to-day job.

Time management: TAPMI prepared me to manage time effectively. I used to multi-task with academics, working in the placement committee, and participating in other co-curricular activities. Not to forget, everyone in TAPMI values time, as the processes are built like that.

Stress management: With multiple deadlines, assignments, placement committee activities, TAPMI helped me enormously in managing stress. When I left TAPMI, I was prepared to face the pressures of the corporate world and deal with stress effectively.

Networking: This is something I owe to my MBA at TAPMI. I learned the art of developing and fostering relationships with my peers, faculties, and recruiters. This quality benefits me a great deal as a strategy consultant. I have developed healthy relationships with my colleagues, seniors, and clients, which helps me deliver quality work on time.

Do you think there was something missing when you did your engineering and MBA that you feel should have been included/taught? And which would have helped you in your work life?

Although the curriculum was holistic and covered most aspects needed to be successful in the corporate world, but it also could have emphasised the importance of work-life balance and how to achieve that balance. Besides, from a curriculum standpoint, the MBA could also include courses on the latest tech trends affecting businesses such as block chain and AI/ML.

What would you like to say to students looking to pursue an MBA?

Attitude this one word can decide success and failure. I often say during campus recruitments that any skill in this world can be acquired but attitude cannot be moulded that easily. So, focus on developing the right attitude. The attitude to always learn, accept criticism, keep your ego aside and work in a team, show accountability …… the list goes on.