Today’s edition of Real Humans – Alumni introduces a management associate at Citibank , Anoop Kinjavdekar, Cambridge Judge MBA ’20. Citibank is one of the “Big Four” banks in the U.S. and a subsidiary of Citigroup. Founded as the City Bank of New York over 200 years ago, the bank now has 2,649 branches in 19 countries. Anoop shares his story from a Citigroup base in Singapore. Below he offers a peek into MBA life at Cambridge Judge, a sense of the work culture at Citibank, and reflection on how he managed to move from semiconductor manufacturing to financial services–and more.
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Materials Science and Engineering
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Cambridge Judge Business School, 2020
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Five years, Semiconductor Manufacturing
Post-MBA Work Experience: One year, Citibank
Why did you choose to attend business school?
After working in semiconductor manufacturing for five years in various roles, I was looking for a new challenge in my career. I had enjoyed my time working as an engineer on process improvement projects, but I wanted to challenge myself in a new environment and further develop my problem-solving skills. I felt that an MBA would allow me to improve my business knowledge and upgrade my skills to transition into a new role and industry.
Why Cambridge Judge? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
When I was doing my research into which business schools would be a good fit, I was quite sure that I wanted to do a one-year MBA program. I also wanted a program that was focused on experiential learning and gave me a chance to apply what I had learned through real-life projects. The Cambridge MBA checked both of these boxes.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
Being in a classroom environment where we were given different business scenarios that we had to quickly grasp has given me the ability to absorb new problems even if I may not be familiar with the topic. Another important part of the experience was being surrounded by a diverse group of students from a wide range of industries. I learned as much from my classmates as I did from the professors because each individual has their own distinctive ideas and approach to problem solving.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned at an e-commerce startup that was co-founded by a Cambridge alum I had met just before starting the MBA. It was a unique idea for a social e-commerce platform that they were working on. I was fortunate to be a part of their initial journey and learn about what goes into the market research and building of an MVP. I even had the opportunity to take part in a design sprint and conduct user interviews, which was one of the highlights of the internship.
Although I did not end up in an e-commerce company post-MBA, it certainly provided me with insights into how a startup can differentiate itself from incumbents in the industry. I was able to see first hand through the user interviews and journeys, how simple features can have a significant impact on the user experience.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I chose the Citibank Management Associate program because it was a structured introduction to the world of banking for someone with no prior experience. The rotations in different roles across two years was a great opportunity to expose myself to different functions and find out where my interests lie. Citi’s focus on career growth where they encourage employees to explore new opportunities within the bank and in different geographies was another reason why I chose Citi.
How has COVID–19 impacted your industry/career plans?
Applying for roles immediately after COVID-19 was a very different experience from what I saw in the first six months of the MBA (pre-COVID-19). There were still many roles available in tech companies, but because they were the one of few industries still hiring at that time, they seemed to be looking for applicants with prior experience in tech. It meant I had to learn how to present myself in a way that demonstrated that I had the cross-functional skills to cope with a new function and industry.
That is where the experience of the MBA was really helpful because we were presented with a wide range of business cases on a weekly basis, which prepares you to adapt and approach problems with the right frameworks. This was of great help during interviews where you are often asked challenging questions.
Advice to current MBAs:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
I kept in touch with Cambridge alumni that I had met before the MBA and reached out to others as well. They were all really helpful in sharing their experiences and were a great example of how the Cambridge network stays with you for life. I also grew my network of professionals who had made a similar transition from an engineering background to a new function and industry. It gave me a lot of confidence in embarking on the job search.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
It is good to have a clear idea of where you want to end up post MBA but you should also keep yourself open to other paths. I was quite focused on the path that I had in mind and did not explore other opportunities until the second half of the MBA.
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
I do not recall any major surprises, but the first round of interviews was a group case discussion with other applicants over Zoom, which was something I had not done before. In the end, it felt more like a classroom discussion than a job interview.
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
I wish I had been advised to consistently work on interview preparation from the very beginning of the MBA. Opportunities can sometimes arise unexpectedly with little time to prepare for an interview so consistently working on it means that you are always ready and constantly refining your interview skills.