Praneeth Ponnekanti - Interview

All you need to know about the PGDBA programme jointly offered by IIM Calcutta, ISI Kolkata and IIT Kharagpur

The PGDBA programme offered jointly by IIM Calcutta + ISI Kolkata + IIT Kharagpur ranks 14th internationally among full-time business analytics course by the QS Rankings 2019.

With the entrance exam for PGDBA just around the corner we have an insightful interview with PRANEETH PONNEKANTIData Science Consultant at Opex Analytics and a PGDBA graduate from IIM Calcutta + ISI Kolkata + IIT Kharagpur,  answering questions regarding the exam preparation, tackling interview and the kind of job roles that a PGDBA graduate can expect after the course completion. In conversation with Kalyani Majumdar


Q. Do you have any tips for students taking the PGDBA entrance exam?

Since most students who will be sitting for PGDBA entrance test have also taken CAT, so most of the topics are already covered during the CAT preparation.

  • The only additional preparation that one will need for the PGDBA entrance exam is Class 12 Mathematics. It is very important to brush up your Class 12 Mathematics, i.e., Algebra, Geometry, Statistics and Calculus.
  • Going through the old question papers will help you to prepare well and revise in order to understand the pattern.
  • The good thing is that unlike in CAT you can move between sections in the PGDBA entrance test.

Q. How much score should a student must get in order to get a call for an interview?

70 percent of the total score, (eg. 105 out of 150) is the least you have to target for in order to get a call for an interview.

Q. Do you have suggestions on how to prepare for the PI round?

How you handle the interview is very important. Depending on your educational background and your work experience there will be questions asked. Also, some questions from statistics and basic math should be expected. You must prepare your answer for, Why PGDBA? They expect you to be clear about why you are coming for this course. And in case you can’t answer it convincingly then you will be out of the interview in no time.

Q. As we know that this programme is offered jointly by  the three institutes, IIM Calcutta, ISI Kolkata, IIT Kharagpur, so how are these three lending their expertise in enriching the course curriculum?

Each of the three institutes focuses on a separate area of business analytics. The pace of learning here is a bit on the higher side than a general management programme.

  • IIM Calcutta handles all the business components and business related courses. So, the programme takes off from IIM Calcutta. For a month and a half we learn about the Marketing aspects, introduction to analytics and so on. It is important as the human centric aspects might not be captured by data alone.
  • Heart of data science is calculus, statistics and algebra. Every algorithm that you learn is build on top of these three factors.  These aspects are covered at ISI.
  • All the technical aspects of the course are covered by IIT Kharagpur. There is a lot of rigorous technology involved in Analytics.

Q. You are also part of a community called the AIMonks. Can you tell us about the AIMonks?

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AI Monks is a community started by my seniors from the first batch of the PGDBA programme at IIMC + ISIK + IITK. The aim of AI Monk is to:

  • Be a one stop solution to help aspirants with their preparation.
  • Provide information and updates regarding the programme.
  • Publish the latest things happening around the area of analytics and intelligence.
  • Help the aspirants with test series.
  • Enable all the candidates the aspirants who were appearing for the interviews, so we host webinars to help them and guide them with the interview process.  (You can visit their website)

Q. What are the primary challenges that a student might face in this programme?

A student has to put in a lot of effort in this programme and yes, even the best students struggle. Sometimes you might even wonder why I am doing this level of math. All the concepts are very new and advanced but then again if you ask me it is again at a broader level. When you look at it at a granular level, the curriculum enables you to face challenges in the professional space. Having said that, at the professional space, a business leader won’t care about the mathematical equation you have used, all they care about is the result and the impact that it can bring. They will expect you to come up with robust solutions. So, if you ask me from my personal experience you might not be using the same level of math at a job but you are expected to learn every aspect of Business Analytics.

Q. What are the different job duties of a Data Scientist?

Data Scientist is responsible for using the right data in the right algorithm to get business insights. 80 percent of our effort goes into cleaning the data. Applying the technique is the final stage. But getting the correct data in with all the correct features is where your expertise comes in.

In India, the role of a Data Scientist is not clearly demarcated unlike in the US, where a Data Scientist’s role is clearer and they are expected to work on robustness, speed and performance.  You might work as an Analyst in a company and collect data points and recommend improvement backed by analytical proofs. That is another area but the role again is sometimes called as an Analytics Manager. In some place it is called Manager Data Science. In the end this role is attempting to improve the business.

Your role might vary from one company to another. Some companies like, BeSure need quantitative analysis where the focus is more on the visualisation of the data. Financial data needs another set of skills. Although most candidates applying for this programme are engineers, however, one must remember that Analytics is a very wide domain. It is not a particular function like marketing, you can use analytics across all the domains. As you grow in a company your domain knowledge will grow in that particular sector. For instance, some candidates are from supply chain or operations, so they can get into supply chain analytics. However, recruiters from E Commerce segments such as Myntra and Flipkart, are specifically looking for Data Scientists and in a very technical role. So the students are expected to have software skills.

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Placement offer from companies such as: 

JP Morgan Chase, Adani Group, Viacom18, Myntra, Flipkart, United Airlines, Piramal Group