Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management, popularly known as SJMSOM or SOM has constantly stayed as one of the top B-Schools in the country. Being the Management school of IIT Bombay, it definitely has the best of both worlds.

We thought to interview a vibrant alumnus of the college for you. Shachi Shah today is a Banker! She currently works at ICICI Bank, Mumbai in the Corporate Banking Division. She is a trained Bharatnatyam dancer and has been dancing since she was 12. Shachi loves travelling and meeting new people. Let’s see what she has to say about her college and about the most popular course Master of Management at SJMSOM:

What kind of preparation did it take you to prepare for CAT? 

There are three subjects in CAT – Quant, LR and Verbal. For most engineers, Quant is an easy one to crack. It requires practice and perseverance to be good at Verbal. Practice makes you better. The key to crack CAT is in your Speed, in solving Quant questions, speed in deciding which questions to attempt, which to leave, key in reading the passages and solving questions. Admission is through the CAT exam followed by WAT – PI round. The cut-off for our batch (2013-15) was 99.14% for admissions at SJMSOM. A fact that very few people know is that the cut-offs at SJMSOM are higher than even some of the IIMs (IIM K, IIM L, IIM I, New IIMs)

How can one crack the Group Discussions and Personal Interviews at SJMSOM?

The GD – PI has been replaced by the WAT – PI process. WAT (Written Ability Test-essay format) generally revolves around the current affairs. It is necessary for you to be up to date about the recent happenings and that you have an opinion about the things happening around you. The Personal Interview process is generally taken by a panel of 2-3 members. One of them is generally a faculty member, other one an alumni/industry expert. The Personal Interview (PI) revolves around your CV, Basic Management Principles, Global Business Scenario, Economic Trends, Your Interests etc. I remember that I was asked a question about ‘What would you include in the budget if I were the Finance Minister of India?’. There is no right or wrong answer in most scenarios. They just want to know your mindset and reasoning abilities.

The admissions team and volunteers meet each candidate before the interview and tell them about the panel to prepare them for the interview. It is one of the only B-schools which helps the candidates before and through the interview process.

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How is the student life in the first year at college?

The first year is pretty hectic. Apart from the regular academic courses, various teams conduct development and grooming sessions. The first semester has the summer internship process which requires rigorous preparation. You see classes being conducted throughout the day (and even nights)! There will also be events like ‘Diksha and ‘Continuums’, where industry experts come and talk to students on the recent trends in the industry, interact with students on the career options available and is a great value addition for the students. Don’t be too scared, you’ll also have fun events like the Freshers party to load off your pressure.

Does it make a difference to be on the IIT Bombay campus? Can one benefit from it?

It makes an immense difference to be in the IIT Bombay Campus. Extracurricular activities participation is a huge advantage being in IIT Bombay. SJMSOM has an annual business fest called Avenues wherein the students ideate, organise and manage the entire fest. It teaches you important management values. Apart from the dance, sports, art, languages and the various other clubs existing in IITB, SJMSOM has its own clubs – one for each domain. This enables students to discuss concepts and helps the class learn nuances of that field.

Events like Mood Indigo, add up to being some of the greatest college fests in India. During these events, you get a lot of exposure by meeting different people, from different colleges, different states- in fact, enthusiastic students from all over the country. If we talk about the academics side, there are state of the art laboratories where you can go and do your research. You get an opportunity to try, think and combine engineering with management, undertake social programs (One light, One child), be a part of the E-Club and meet the budding entrepreneurs of the country and much more. The horizon is the sky, it depends on how high can you fly.

What would you say about the faculty, curriculum and teaching in Master of Management?

The curriculum is fixed for the first year, the post which you choose electives and accordingly pick your subjects as per your interests. The faculty is a mix of in-house professors and industry experts. Ops and Marketing profs are the best among all. Teaching is a mixture of assignments, projects and theories. A lot of focus on presentations and live projects is laid during the 2-year course.

B-Schools are known for their crowd. What is the crowd like at SJMSOM?

Diversity in SJMSOM per say is rich in terms of industry experience. The average work experience would be over 2 years. For a fact, SJMSOM takes only engineers, but because of the IIT Bombay campus, there are Design, Arts, M.Tech students in the campus to interact with. Female to Male ratio is very less(1: 12) compared to other B-Schools.

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Human tendency is that things fall in line where the Friends and Food are fine. How is the Hostel Life and Food at SJMSOM? 

I was fortunate that I got to live in a new hostel. I’ve heard that presently a lot of old hostels are being rebuilt. Hence the living conditions for students are going to get even better. About the food- it’s a mess. So if you don’t like the taste, a lot of options are available in the canteen. Hostel life is one of the good memories you take when you pass out of IIT Bombay. You will always cherish the friends you make, the fun you have, the celebrations and the losses.

How is the student life in the second year at college? As it is the final year, do things pace up too quick?

The second year is all about placements. With the aggressive third semester, the placement preparation begin. Based on your experience of the summer internship, you would know your liking, your interests and hopefully would have narrowed down your career paths. Corporate games are given importance also help in building a good CV and improve your brand value. You also undertake courses (minors, majors) which help you understand what are your likings and align your career path.

What companies come for Internships at SJMSOM? We know you interned at Cadbury, one of the most cherished brands in the world. How was your personal experience at Cadbury?

Shachi Shah

         Shachi Shah

Varied companies like Danone, Jardine Llyod Thompson, Hitachi Consulting, Piramal etc right from Operations to Finance to Marketing come for internship placements. You can look at the Summer Placement Report of SJMSOM for more details.

At Mondelez (formerly known as Cadbury), I was working on a project to improve efficiency in the distribution model of the company. I was interacting with cross-functional teams to implementing a beta version in Mumbai. These 2 months were enriching and crucial to set a base for my future. It was a great learning experience working at Mondelez (formerly called Cadbury).

Does this course make you employable? How are the placements? Is the course worth the money spent?

I can’t comment if this course can make you employable, but the course definitely gives you an edge over others. The fee is slightly lower (around 8.6 lakhs) than the IIMs. Hence if you have taken a loan, the placements help you recover the same over 3-4 years. You can refer to the Placement Report for average salaries, name of companies etc. There is an active E-Cell in IIT Bombay which is an incubator for students who have innovative business ideas. They also help with funds for their business opportunity, if the idea is good enough.

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Tell us what are some of the best things that make SJMSOM one of the top B-Schools in the country?

This college gives you great exposure, especially because it is in Mumbai. This is in terms of live projects and internship opportunities that you have access to. Faculties are very good and get a chance to study from various visiting faculties, big names in the industry. Being a part of IIT-B, the extracurricular activities, right from sports to art to dance to stage acting to singing, you have a lot of opportunities to groom and develop yourself.

Every college has points that could be improved. What are some of the things that were disappointing or things that you had to bear with? 

No college is perfect. SJMSOM takes only engineers, which is definitely a plus but it comes with some demerits too. An MBA is a lot about classroom discussions, listening to different viewpoints, that make you equipped to the job market out there. In that context, I would say it would be great if the college had a better diversity in terms of gender, fields, and backgrounds. Furthermore, a typical batch has close to 80 to 120 students, which is less compared to other B-Schools. It is good because it retains the quality but at the same time, it also shrinks the alumni base.

(This was Shachi Shah’s experience of SJMSOM. For more, you must go to SJMSOM’s Profile on CollegeBol. Also, did you know which other colleges are in line with SJMSOM? Check out our awesome list of B-Schools  and see what the students have to say about their own B-Schools!)

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