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‘NO to IIM Bangalore’ – Manas Garg!

11 May 2008 42 Comments

Hi All,

A lots of us want to get into IIM Bangalore.. There is so much about getting to A B or C.. Its a dream!! People slog for it for years… But today, I have a very special guest, Manas Garg! Manas, is also one among 250,000 people who took CAT 2007 with a dream of making it to the IIMs.. But when he got a lonely call from IIM Bangalore, he rejected the offer to attend the interview.. Manas has given some of his thoughts about why he rejected the call in this episode of Coffee With Experts.. Today, when a lot of us are gha-gha about making into IIMs, without even having any idea about why they want to be there.. This interview could be an eye-opener..
Its my pleasure to invite Manas Garg!

Coffee With Manas Garg!

Me: Sundar Rajan G S
MG: Manas Garg

Me: Hi Manas, First of all – Let me tell you.. You have taken a gutsy decision. When did you take the decision to pursue CAT/MBA? And more imporantly when did you decide to reject the call?
MG: It was in the final year, after working for Spider Club.. I realized that I throughly enjoyed working independently. I felt that entrepreneurship was my goal.. and thus an MBA seemed to the right thing to do. However, I was never completely convinced about this idea, and I kept getting second thoughts all the time. It was only after the results were out and I got the call from IIM Bangalore that I finally decided that I’d reject the call.

Me: Just to add context to this discussion, what was your cat percentiles, how many calls did you get.. Can you share these details..

MG: I had 98.5 percentile, and got just one call – from IIM-B. I attempted very few questions in the English section and my percentile in that section (apparently my strongest) turned out to be just 83. I was expecting calls from other IIMs but definitely not IIM-B. Getting the B call was a pleasant surprise.

Me: Where was the mismatch… You were enthusiastic at one point and suddenly u decided no after getting call.. Why did you change your decision.
MG: After getting the call, I spoke to a lot of people – people studying at IIM-B, people studying in ISB and people with commendable experience in the tech sector. The common things that came out of my discussions were as follows:

  • IIMs are not a good place if you want to go into a tech company after your MBA. People in IIM love finance, economics and dream of Investment banks and Consultancy firms. I’d be a mismatch – I dream about technology all the time!
  • Most engineers who join IIMs do it mainly ‘coz they have had enough of coding. I still haven’t – Again – I’d be the odd one out.
  • After two years in such an environment, I’d lose touch with technology – and everyone agreed that it would be hard to get back into hardcore tech.
  • It is not a do-or-die situation for me as yet. I can always go do an MBA later if i want to. Why hurry things up? I’m all of 22 years old.

To top it all, I love my job. I love the workplace, I love the kind of work I’m getting and I love the people I’m working with. As you can see, I have enough reason not to go for an MBA just now. I have described the reasons in detail and had a debate with my friends on my blog here – http://manasg.com/2008/03/25/mba/

Me: Now that you have thought a lot about MBA in India.. What are the pros and the cons of it.. (According to you!)
MG: MBA is more than the glamorous profession people in school or college look up to. The entry is difficult, and upto an extent, random too. Once in the institute, you need to work very hard. What we did for our engineering is nothing compared to the hard work an MBA course demands. And finally, the high paying jobs one gets after the MBA are also taxing – they don’t really leave you with time to relax.

MBA courses in India are highly inclined towards finance, and there are hardly any reputed MBA courses with focus on technology or entrepreneurship.

Me: Microsoft gives a good Pay package for software engineer.. How much did money factor play a role in you decision.. even if it played a small role?

MG: I’d be lying if I say money did not pay a role. Had I been earning much lesser than what I’m just now, maybe this decision would have been tougher for me. Microsoft is an amazing place to work. The work environment, unlike most other tech companies, is very relaxed. However, relaxed definitely does not mean it is not challenging. The combination of good work, good work environment and good compensation is very satisfying. Also, I learn a lot everyday at work – there are always new things to do.

Me: What does your bold decision mean.. No MBA or No Indian MBA? What are the other options that you are looking for? Are you thinking of MS/Phd? Or MBA abroad.
MG: My decision does not mean no MBA. As of now, I’m enjoying my work as a developer at Microsoft, and don’t want to do anything to spoil it. If I feel that I’m done with technology (which is highly unlikely), I’d have no option but to go for an MBA. To put things in perspective, entrepreneurship has always been my dream, and I’ll do anything that is required to achieve it.

Me: Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?
MG: I’m not sure if I can answer this truthfully – so I’ll skip it.

Me: What is the message that you would like to give to juniors in NIT Trichy.. And to all the other CAT aspirants & MBA aspirants?
MG: All I’d like to say is that don’t get caught in the rat race. Introspect, think and find out what you really want to do. College is a great time to figure out your passion. If you come out of college with a set goal, life will be much easier. Most of us have no idea about the job we’re going to take up – and consequently have no concrete plans for the future. Set a goal for yourself that you want to achieve in this lifetime – everything else is only the path leading to it. MBA or CAT is only one small piece in the whole jigsaw puzzle.

Me: What do you think about CWS initiative? What do you like about it.. Do suggest areas of improvements also..
MG: Sundar’s passion for his blog is really commendable. Even though he goes around telling every time there is a new post, I think it is only because he wants to share what he has discovered. I’m sure Sundar’s blog will soon be counted in India’s best blogs. I’m a regular reader of his blog and am so happy that he asked me to appear on his blog!

Me: Manas, its my pleasure to host you as well! All the best for your future.

Readers, hope you enjoyed this edition of Coffee With Experts! I hope this will help you to take a more informed decision about your MBA/CAT etc..

For previous episodes of Coffee With Experts – Click here




  • Karthik said:

    Superb post.. i thought I was the only having recurrent second thoughts.. good to know there are other techies who are unsure of MBA and the enhanced clarity got thro’ debates and introspection of manas and friends.

  • Srinivas Prasad said:

    This would be really informative for people like me entering fourth year of college. Many of us want to do an MBA just thinking about the huge money packages we would get without giving thought to what it takes to do the course . This article is an eye opener.

  • Sundar Rajan G S (author) said:

    @ karthik, srinivas

    Thats the purpose of the post.. To ensure that people get a clearer understanding of the scene..

  • CAT 2008 Aspirants - Page 158 - PaGaLGuY.com - The Everything of MBA, CAT 2008, GMAT, XAT, IIM said:

    […] but he rejected the call offer after preparing very hard to get the call.. The interview is here. ‘NO to IIM Bangalore’ – Manas Garg! ? Coffee With Sundar The important inputs given are: IIMs are not a good place if you want to go into a tech company […]

  • Ram Kumar Hariharan said:

    I liked this part. A see 100% truth in the answer.

    Me: Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?
    MG: I’m not sure if I can answer this truthfully – so I’ll skip it.

    But I was looking for the answer to this question. But ????

  • Pradeep Kumar said:

    Definitely a mature decision. His view points are correct. IIMs are not the best place to do an MBA focussing on technology and entrepreneurship. People would give very stupid arguments that IIMs open up opportunities to get into technology firms but people don’t take it or that there are profs who are into Technology and Entrepreneurship etc. The point is what is the opportunity cost. The opportunity cost is not the salary but the opportunity to do an MBA focussed on technology and entrepreneurship itself! If he does an MBA from IIM B, he would probably not do a second MBA and hence he has missed the chance to do a MBA focussing on areas which he wants to work on. IIM B would definitely have a peer group where he is in definite minority. Peer group is as important as profs. Even those profs would not be all that enthu and up to date.

    Its like the set of students who select UC Berkeley over Chicago GSB when their focus is technology and entrepreneurship. The latter is ranked better but is focussed on finance!

    Some good schools he can consider are

    – Stanford
    – UCLA Anderson
    – UC Berkeley
    – Queens (1 yr)

    These offer MBA programs with a very good focus on technology and entrepreneurship. Definitely competitive schools. He must try one of the above programs (and there might be many more) when he feels an MBA is important/right for him.

    Its a very good decision that he did not join IIM B. He actually took an extremely important decision. It helped that he was working in MS and was getting a good salary there, which to some extent can remove the focus away from salaries.

  • Sundar Rajan G S (author) said:

    @ Pradeep Kumar,

    Thank you very much for taking pains to reply to this thread. I do believe that he has taken a good decision.

    I will fwd your inputs to him.

  • Manas said:

    @Pradeep Kumar,
    Thanks a lot for your advice! πŸ™‚ It will definitely help.

  • Prashant said:

    A wise decision taken !! I appreciate Manas for not indulging in the rat race, and for daring to be what he is best adapted to do. All the best to him in his future endeavour !!

    And Thanks Sundar for initiating such discussion which Iam sure will be an eye-opener for many.

  • Badri said:

    Hey Sundar, good venture here mate. As for Manas’s decision, it is really a bold step. There is nothing as absolute correct and oppsite that is universally acceptable. Everything is subjective, relative and here is an ideal example. I really hope this post makes people think what they would like to do rather than follow the beaten path, be it for writing CAT or GRE or GMAT.

    All the very best for you blog initiative to succeed and Manas’s decision to lead to a satisfied life for him.

  • Sundar Rajan G S (author) said:

    Hi Prashant, Badri,

    Thank you very much.. I wish Manas on your behalf to succeed in whatever he does.

  • Ram said:

    A nice decision but not sure if its a wise decision. In my opinion, pursuing an MBA just for the sake of salary or for the kick of cracking the seemingly challenging CAT is like preparing to walking down a dark alley, blindfolded.
    Most of the students joining the tier-1 engineering colleges are pretty smart analytically. But what they dont understand is the difference between the ability and passion. Any job is joyful only if its done passionately. Ability can only give you the edge, not the satisfaction. The argument holds true for CAT as well. Its just another analytical test for testing the ability. And not always does it transform to passion. Always remember, abilities can only give you an entry pass. The important question to ask is, what settles in later. Complacency or Passion.
    If Philips Curve and RBI’s Credit Policy do not excite you, then there is fat chance that the marriage would be happy. And remember that it would be very hard to divorce.
    Having said that, personal interests must also be accounted. If a person’s aim is just to make money, then an IIM course would be the right one. And it makes sense to not waste anytime trying out the corporate culture in an MNC. Of course, there are always other ways to make money like joining a startup as a shareholder and taking it to success.
    From my personal experience I could tell that in most of the companies, complacency sets in and engineers become seasoned. Though dutiful, there is no great passion amongst people. Of course, there are always exceptions. Even in the top 10 companies, its not very difficult to find such people for whom the job is just more than a government job. Accept it or not, thats the harsh reality.
    My point is, cracking CAT is not a big deal. A simple analogy like comparing it to the JEE or perhaps UPSC should show you that CAT preparations are a tenth of that for JEE/UPSC. But, understanding what your passion is a much bigger deal. For all the engineers preparing for CAT, try to ask the question what you are really after in life. If the answer is money, start pouring over Arun Sharma’s book. Thats the shortest cut that I know of.
    Just my two cents.

  • Shyam said:


    Yup, I see a lot of points in your thread. I have worked in a tech company for 7 years now and yet I decided to leave all this coding business, for taking up a PGP course at IIM-B. For my initial years, it’s all very exciting, coz my learning curve was very sharp and I could see a lot of value add to myself. But soon enough, the niche-tag became my identity, meaning I was looked upon as the master of onle few portions of the code and I was required to keep working on it as it meant a lot of profit to the company. This is when I realised that to make the best of my abilities, I need to add more value to my career. And, after 7 years, even in a tech company, as a team lead/manager, you are just supposed to assign the work properly and help the new developers. Aint is same as managing human resources or a fund house or some investment, etc?

    For Manas it may make sense coz he’s still to become a tech lead (Im assuming he’s still a developer) but 4-5 years down the line, the perspective about tech industry may change (esp if you are in a company like MS, Yahoo, etc).

    Surprisingly, these are the same thoughts that I used to have when I was just 2 years old in my company πŸ™‚ And that’s the reason I was never serious about CAT or any other MBA institutes, at that time.

  • anshul said:

    I had a friend in my engg days who had all the calls but did not attain any interview becuase he wanted to go for MS which he finally did.
    Even I had all the calls in my final year and chose not to join any of them as I was not sure thsi is what I wanted. After one yr stint with an Indian Multinational I understood high notional value of an IIM MBA and so joined it .
    I don’t regret either of my decisions.

  • Prasanna said:

    The absolute beauty of this blog, comes from it’s honesty!
    Hats off

  • Sundar Rajan G S (author) said:

    @ Ram, Shyam, Anshul

    Thanks a lot for taking your time to reply to this thread.. I am sure this will be help for manas, me and all the other aspirants…

    @ Prasanna..

  • Tech Sector Vs MBA: Thoughts from Junta » Coffee With Sundar said:

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  • Tech Sector Vs MBA: Thoughts from Junta » NITTians.com said:

    […] think this interview with Manas Garg, about rejecting IIM B call was quite useful. There is nothing right or […]

  • Elam said:


    You’re talking about the management cadre of tech companies. Tech companies do have technical ladder(that can go upto a VP/CTO in our company).

    There is a large chasm-altogether on a different plane- between the level of technicality/leadership skills involved in envisioning/architecting/developing/testing version 1.0 of a product and version 7.0 of a product. Lot of the tech companies in India are yet to roll out products from India and currently are largely about supporting version 7.0’s.

    The problems indicated by you occur in this scenario. But this is also a self-feeding phenomenon – version 7.0’s are supported because talented technical people with deep technical expertise – who can envision and develop – are not available in India. But this case should fade away slowly as people understand the value of pursuing technical careers, beyond 7-8 years.

    There is also a non-trivial possibility that in engineering – as in the basic sciences – that raw ambition interferes with learning fostered by genuine curiosity and a proclivity to have ‘fun’ with experimentation( a la Richard Feynman).

  • Giridhar said:

    My 2 cents on your comments Manas

    * It is not a do-or-die situation for me as yet. I can always go do an MBA later if i want to. Why hurry things up? I’m all of 22 years old.

    You are perfectly right on this point, The average age of grads in US B-schools is around 26-28 yrs, so its safe to say you are still too young and not yet at a point in your career where you feel the need for an MBA. If your true ambition is to be an Entrepreneur (as is mine) i am sure you will be walking down the MBA path soon.

    Sadly, many people pursue an MBA for all the wrong reasons, many of these people get weeded out during the interview process and the rest manage to find their true calling in the course of their MBA πŸ™‚ Ask the Musician from IIMA – Gaurav Dagaonkar, who recently released his first album “College Days”

    All the best in your future endeavors

    NITT, EEE Kandu, 2004 passout
    Joining IIMB this year.

  • Do people reject offers from IIM’s? at Blogbharti said:

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  • Nikhil Narayanan said:

    I do not think skipping an IIM interview needs this much coverage.
    Had Manas converted the call and then rejected it, well…may be a small mention could have been fine;but this is ridiculous attention.

    We see so many IIM grads quitting placements , that is worth covering. Not this trivial incident.

  • me said:


  • Aravind said:


  • Sanjay said:

    well,while i appreciate mg’s clarity-i find it quite irrational on his part to reject the call ! Does he & so called techies realise that where the main prob is ? Its the attention deficit complex that kids like mg have,wasting not only resources for no reason,but also depriving other serious candidates, who cudev made their lives !for what,just to show off? leme remind him,if entrepreneurship is his call,he should look no further but Suhas gopinath from b’lore,the worlds youngest entrepreneur(globals inc).comeon friends,first this,get substance & mind over matter )

  • Nitin Isloorkar said:

    Ah Sanjay, I think you’re being a little too harsh on Manas here… There is a long gap between attention deficit and cracking the CAT (and knowing Manas a little, I can surely vouch that he’s got nothing of the sort). What seems irrational to you was a very tough decision he must have had to make, and I would have done the same if I were him. As for the rest, well most students from our college atleast, who go to the IIM’s write the CAT after taking a couple of the dream campus jobs. Aren’t they wasting resources and depriving other candidates? Anyway, no one writes CAT just to show off dude. And I agree with Ram. JEE and UPSC are (or were) far far tougher exams than CAT.

  • Vodka said:

    Well… the story is presented in a way that creates a shock-value. Consider these factors…

    * Say 0.1 percent or so of all college graduates would be placed in microsoft in campus placements.

    * Moneywise too one would be roughly the same after two years. Additionally one would be paid at microsoft…

    So i think it was a pretty natural decision… depends on the person actually.

  • shruthy said:

    Complete honesty made you to take wise decession and this article is truly a eye opener to all of us

    More of interview with Manas would help a lot of us πŸ™‚

    wish you loads of luck and a bright future

  • Kiran said:

    @Manas a very bold step indeed!!!
    Even I was perplexed with what next. thanks for just giving a brief idea about IIMs not a place to be if they are techie freaks. πŸ™‚

    @Sundar: Thanks a lot for this useful info
    great going dude… hope to see many of these…

  • gujaratmba said:

    Thank u all of you. you all gave me wonderful information.

  • gujaratmba said:

    I agree with Kiran. really so much of stuff yaar..

  • GCET said:

    Thanks Ram really very good advice.

  • GCET said:

    Thanks Badri..

  • GCET Exam said:

    I agree with Nitin

  • GCET Gujarat said:

    As you say Nikhil Narayan. It has really helped me.

  • MBA said:

    I totally agree with Elam.

  • MBA in India said:

    You all are really trying so much.Really good.impressive too.

  • saikrishna said:

    Its good to see student with clear vision of his goal…rejecting the good coolege where he cant achieve..everyone should take him as example

  • K.Nirmala said:

    good post Sundar

  • Roshy John said:

    You are still the old Manas I know and good work Sundar!

  • Sundar said:

    Hi Sundar! I’m your namesake! And if you still remember your TIME CAT classes in Bangalore, well… I was also one amongst the few students in your class..

    Reading this post, got me some of my own memories back. I too attempted the CAT in 2007… didn’t fare really well though (got a miserly 97.5 percentile) and so obviously no calls from any of the IIM’s.. But again, just like your friend MG, the MBA degree was more of a rat-race initiated activity for me… didn’t really have any conviction at cracking it and joining IIM-A-B-C… I enjoy coding too (just like MG!, we seem to share a few similarities πŸ™‚ and would prefer to be an engineer.. and that was probably one of the main reasons I never tried attempting the CAT ever again.. and i don’t regret it today!

    BTW, nice work on your website. Enjoyed reading your posts.

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