MBAtious People - Richie Pandey, UPSC Rank 52, FMS Delhi

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    Richie Pandey secured Rank 52 in the UPSC Civil Service Examination and is all set to become a part of the coveted Indian Administrative Service. Richie did his MBA from FMS Delhi and worked with Axis bank in their Corporate Credit Department.

    1) Dear Ritchie, Hearty Congrats from MBAtious community for your exceptional achievement. Can you please share a bit about your back ground?

    My birthplace is Rewa, M.P.(maternal house) although our family primarily belongs to Lucknow. My father, Dr. Subhash Chandra Pandey is in the Indian Audit & Accounts Service (1983 batch) and presently posted as Additional Secretary in Ministry of Commerce and Industry. My mother, Veena Pandey is a home-maker and younger brother is pursuing LLM in Faculty of Law (Delhi University).

    Since my father is in the government service, I have largely lived in Delhi since childhood (except 2 years in West Indies in 2002-03). I completed Bachelor of Engineering from Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (Delhi University) in 2010 and MBA from FMS, Delhi in 2013. During MBA, I got a pre-placement offer from Axis Bank and am presently working in the Corporate Credit Department in Delhi.

    2) IAS is among the most sought after Indian dream. When did you decided to pursue Civil services and which all factors influenced you in this decision?

    Although the latent desire to become a IAS officer was in me since childhood, I never thought that I could excel in such a competitive examination since I have a very ordinary hand-writing and had never worked so hard. Another factor that kept me away from the UPSC examination was the fact that the earlier pattern had more weightage on optional examinations instead of General Studies. The pattern change in prelims/mains exam in 2013 was the turning point and I decided to initiate my exam preparation after MBA prior to joining my job. My mother was instrumental in motivating me to appear for the exam.

    Moreover I recognized that the private sector would not provide the platform of serving the entire society and would narrow my loyalties to a limited set of stakeholders. I realized that the immense responsibilities and scope of work of a civil servant could enable me to become a change agent and bring positive transformation in our country.

    3) There is an increasing trend of candidates from MBA background aiming IAS after their graduation. What is your view on this, in this age of lucrative private sector jobs?

    Although the public services do not provide remuneration at par with the private sector, they are undoubtedly ahead in terms of job satisfaction and societal respect. The diversity and scope of work is also much wider in the civil service. Even this era of liberalization, the government has a paramount role as a facilitator and coordinator. I feel these facts lure MBA graduates towards the civil services.

    4) What was your major struggles in this journey and how did you managed them?

    I had cleared the mains in the first two attempts as well but could not make it to the final list due to low marks in Public Administration (optional exam). My primary concern was devoting more time for the optional exam. Another major struggle in my preparation was in ensuring effective time management as I was working alongside as well. Also, improving my hand writing was a challenge.

    I addressed these issues by increasing the study hours for optional exam, making detailed notes and joining a test series in this attempt. To ensure effective time management, I had saved some important documents in my mobile phone which I could study outside home as well. Also, I cut 1 hour from my regular 8-hour sleeping schedule to extract more time for studying.

    5) What was your strategy in general ?

    Prelims preparation was easier in the first two attempts due to the CSAT exam, However, in this attempt, the CSAT exam was made of qualifying nature. I tried to ensure that I commence preparation for mains examination concurrently with prelims examination. I relied on manuals of TMH and Pearsons for the prelims exam to complete the syllabus and solve questions from the data bank.

    For the Mains GS exams, I used standard textbooks such as India yearbook, Laxmikanth, Arihant GS books, Rajiv Sikri, Majid Hussain, NCERT, Spectrum and Arjun Dev. I read HT and The Hindu regularly to update my current affairs knowledge and also used websites such as gktoday, mrunal, jagranjosh and PRS legislative. Also, the Economic Survey and 2nd ARC reports are very important for GS papers.  For Public Administration, I referred to Mohit Bhattacharya, Prasad & Prasad and Laxmikant.

    The most important aspect of exam preparation is the syllabus outline of all subjects. All aspirants should memorize the syllabus by heart so that they can compartmentalize information and facts in a better way. Another strategy in my preparation was detailed analysis of past exam papers to detect any key trends. In GS papers, my focus was on completing on all papers even if I had to curtail some answers. Also it is very important to read the questions very carefully and provide specific answers.

    For the interviews, it is critical to study one’s profile thoroughly and make a list of anticipated questions related to educational background, hobbies and work experience. I discussed key issues with my father and articulated on them in front of the mirror as well.

    6) IAS interview syllabus is usually described as “anything below sun” and is definitely among the toughest hurdles in this planet. Can you please share your interview experience with us?

    The Chairperson of my interview board was Vice Admiral (retd.) D.K. Dewan and coincidentally he had also taken my interview in my first attempt two years ago. He has a very warm personality and radiant smile which calms the frayed nerves of candidates. The questions in my interview pertained to India’s national security, China’s expansion in the Indian Ocean, terrorism (Jaish-e-Mohammed), sub-prime crisis, rising NPAs, RBI guidelines, US presidential elections and Black Money. Dewan Sir also enquired as to how I utilized my engineering knowledge in my banking job.

    As an aside, I would like to narrate an interesting experience. The first question of the interview that Dewan Sir asked me was the name of US president during 2nd World War. Since the question was entirely unexpected, I could not immediately recollect the name. However, at the end, once I was told that the interview was over, a brainwave hit me and with the permission of the board, I gave the name of “Franklin Roosevelt” which brought smiles on the faces of all board members.

    7) How did your MBA experience helped in your IAS preparation.

    I would attribute my time management and multi-tasking skills to the hectic MBA schedule at FMS. Also the understanding of basic concepts of HR, Finance and Marketing is critical to develop a holistic perspective about several issues. Also, the never-ending PPT presentations in college helped me to think in bullet points so as to encapsulate key ideas in limited words. The MBA course is designed to groom future leaders and further honed my personality which helped me immensely in the interview.

    8 ) What would be your advice to future aspirants?

    My main advice to the candidates would be to ensure that the motivation and drive to join civil service should emanate from self rather than due to any external compulsions. Read newspapers regularly as they are the best source of dynamic information. Develop the habit of speed reading and separating the wheat from chaff by focusing on key issues and not getting bogged by irrelevant information. Referring to too many textbooks for the same topics leads to redundancy/inefficiency and must be avoided. Have sufficient exam practice and try to increase writing speed.

    The focus of GS papers is critical analysis of major national/international issues and not mere statement of facts. Try to develop opinions based on your understanding and provide well balanced answers which should have an optimistic outlook. Make a comprehensive list of anticipated questions and frame your answers accordingly to sharpen your information retrieval skills.

    The most important aspect of preparation is to remain happy and cheerful throughout. Stay in touch with family/friends and always get sufficient sleep. Reserve some time daily for your hobby or any pastime (music, gym, sports). Never lose hope as this exam is as much about patience, perseverance and exam temperament as it is about knowledge.

    9) Now that you are into the game, how you think, as an IAS officer, to bring positive change in our country.

    An IAS officer is ultimately a civil servant with the primary responsibility of serving the nation. The job obligates me to fulfill this immense task by incorporating the key facets of good governance as exhorted by our honorable Prime Minister. There are several reforms required to bring holistic improvement in areas of poverty alleviation, healthcare, education, gender empowerment and I hope to utilize the techno-managerial skills acquired in engineering, MBA and banking to be able to become a change agent for the betterment of society.

    10) What is your take on Being MBAtious?

    I would define MBAtious as having a well-rounded personality with varied interests and high level of general awareness. It also involves having visionary leadership skills complemented with the qualities of time and people management. Most importantly, being MBAtious is to have a high degree of result-orientation whether through hard work or smart work (jugaad)!

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