Deutsche Bank – Suhani Mohan [Career Series]
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With Placement season and Apping Season round the corner, InsIghT brings to you a new series, ‘Career Series’ which will capture the experiences of alumni who had been in your shoes. In the third article of the series, Rahul Maganti speaks to Suhani Mohan. Following are excerpts from the interview.
Senior Analyst, Deutsche Bank
Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science,
Why did you opt for placements instead of higher studies?
I was very interested in Materials Science and I had, in fact, considered applying for a PhD too. I had a couple of “core” interns in India followed by a University Intern in University of Alberta, Canada after my 3rd year. During my intern, I realized that this is not something I would want to do for the next five years. I wanted to do something more dynamic in my 20’s. Masters was an option too, but job prospects in Materials Science with only an MS were not too lucrative in the 2010-11’s. (Things are getting better now as I read). So, I decided to opt for placements instead and gain some work experience, though keeping an open mind for a Masters for sometime in the future.
I was very interested in Materials Science and I had, in fact, considered applying for a PhD too. I had a couple of “core” interns in India followed by a University Intern in University of Alberta, Canada after my 3rd year.
Could you describe the selection process of DB and how it went for you on the day of your placement?
In the placement season of 2010, for DB, we had an aptitude test. Based on the test score and resume, the shortlists were released. Having no background in finance, it was a pleasant surprise for me to get shortlisted in a finance company at the first place. To make the shortlisted candidates understand what finance is and what the work profile at DB looks like, there were a couple of interactive sessions organized before the interviews. We also had a floor walk in DB’s office, which gave me a good overview of the industry and work culture at DB.
Day-1 was quite hectic, especially when you have multiple companies to interview with in the same slot back-to-back. My first interview with DB was very candid, primarily on my resume and a couple of puzzles. I had two more rounds of interview with DB. Since I had no finance intern, I wasn’t grilled on financial markets related questions, luckily! To gauge my aptitude and problem solving skills, I was asked to solve some questions on probability and basic math. Interestingly, the interviewers had made a problem statement out of one of my internships and asked me to solve a finance problem in it. None of the interviews with DB had any fixed pattern which made them really interesting and made me think creatively.
Could you tell us about the preparation that you did for DB?
Some preparation was generic to all companies – like reading up about the latest macro-economic events, preparing for resume based/ HR questions etc. Specifically for finance companies, I had prepared for puzzles along with my case group. Each time we met, we would solve a case, a puzzle and take up some HR questions. This helped us collectively in saving time and solving a variety of puzzles and cases.
To make the shortlisted candidates understand what finance is and what the work profile at DB looks like, there were a couple of interactive sessions organized before the interviews. We also had a floor walk in DB’s office, which gave me a good overview of the industry and work culture at DB.
Can you describe your work profile for us and tell us whether it was what you expected when you sat for placements?
Through all the interactions we had before placements, I had a decent understanding of how my work profile would be like. There are a plethora of roles at DB, function-wise (trading/structuring/sales/research), product-wise (forex, equities, commodities etc) and geography wise (Asia/ Australia/ Europe/ US/ Emerging Markets). The best part is one has an option to choose from a variety of roles that suit one’s personality the best. We also have the flexibility to move from one role to another internally.
Is the job challenging? Intellectually and emotionally?
I personally wanted a role which was quantitative as well as made me interact with different teams. So I chose to work with a team called ‘Strategic Transactions’ where we help Corporates/ PEs/ Financial Institutions manage their large strategic equity stakes. For each new project, we structure a bespoke product which requires a lot of creative thinking. During the process, I interact with traders, sales, lawyers, tax advisors and various other teams, which brings a lot of different perspectives to the table, intellectually as well as in my personality.
Could you describe the work culture within DB? How friendly/helpful/intellectual are the people and co-workers?
The work-culture is highly meritocratic. If you are a good performer, your compensation will also reflect the same. There is a good mix of Engineers from IITs, MBAs/ MFins from IIMs/ foreign universities, CAs, lawyers etc. Most of them are the best performers of their respective colleges, so are quite intellectually sound. It’s a friendly lot and teammates help each other out which actually helped me pick-up the basics of finance quickly though having no finance knowledge previously.
How is the work-life balance at your job?
Unlike the myth about IBs, I have a great work-like balance. I have hardly ever worked on a weekend. I get enough time to travel and pursue my other passions outside of work.
Can you tell us something about your satisfaction levels? How satisfied you are?
Personally, I am never satisfied with what I have. I always want to learn more, want to take up more responsibility, contribute more to the company and my own self. But in the past 2.5 years with DB, my personal and professional growth has been tremendous which keeps me motivated.
Social Entrepreneurship really excites me as of now. I would like to pursue it when the time is right. But I want to build a strong understanding of the finance sector as a whole before I take the next step.
Did you feel like ditching this job at any point of time?
I have been with DB for 2.5 years which is a very long time as compared to the average time people in my batch have spent with their first jobs. There have been times, when thought of pursuing social entrepreneurship but I want to build a strong understanding of the finance sector as a whole before I take the next step.
If you are given a chance to go back to your placement time, would you still choose DB?
Yes. It has been a wise decision to take up a job in an IB because no other place could have given me such a good exposure to finance. Having a good finance knowledge is not only an asset for jobs in IBs/Hedge Funds/PEs, but also in related fields in Corporates as well as start-ups.
What do you plan to do in future, say in the next 1-2 years?
Social Entrepreneurship really excites me as of now. I would like to pursue it when the time is right.
How is the cultural, geographical and topological factors of the city you got placed effecting you?
I have been born and brought up in Mumbai, so this is the best place I could have been in terms of geography. My job requires me to travel quite often, which keeps the explorer in me satisfied too.
Can you tell us one thing that you love the most about DB and your Job?
The thing that I love about my work is that it is very intellectually stimulating. I tend to get bored with repetitive work, but the industry in itself being so dynamic, keeps me excited.
Can you tell us one think that you hate the most about DB and your job?
The industry structure is such that it promotes competition by making the compensation structure performance based. Though this takes the best out of some, it tends to make some very aggressive.
Did you get to meet infy hot bandiyan/dudes in the course of your job?
I like this question :P. You will actually find a lot of diversity in DB – gender diversity or ethnic diversity.
Thanks a lot for the Interview. InsIghT wishes you all the very best for your future.