Life @ Office

My CCAP Experience – Tejaswi Subramanian

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tej– Tejaswi Subramanian, CCAP Batch VI
CRISIL – Infrastructure Advisory

I threw my hands up for the nth time and asked my dad- ‘Why would an introvert like me be assigned to consulting?’. Ever so wisely, with his seasoned calm, my dad replied, “Always be open to new experiences. Don’t enter a new phase in life with a closed mind.’

And the CCAP program has been just that. A completely new experience in terms of the job, the people, and learning itself.

Firstly, consulting is hardly what it is made out to be in popular culture/ literature. A stereotypical consultant is definitely not a power-crazed, testosterone- charged fast-talker who is constantly taking clients out to three-martini lunches. Rather, the consultants in my team are fast-thinkers who spot logical inconsistencies and gaps in information within a fraction of a second. They are methodical, and pull insights from seemingly dull, voluminous data in a jiffy. And all those reports with those neatly-organized SmartArts and graphs- a consultant’s got to figure out how to present all the information and forecast such that even an industry-noob will be able to grasp the idea and base his decisions on. And if that’s not all, every consultant on the team remains keenly on the lookout for new opportunities for the team. And sometimes the nature of assignments leave all the team-members completely stupefied, because nobody has worked on anything remotely similar before, but only for a little while before they get down to figuring out the approach and methodology before taking on the project in full-force. I had an adrenaline rush just writing that out, so you can imagine being involved in those tasks in person!

Secondly, CRISIL lays a lot of emphasis on being a learning organization. Working on a team where it is quintessential to constantly keep oneself updated with the latest changes in the law of the land, business ventures, and analytical techniques, keeps you on your intellectual toes, and I believe that there no other way for a 20-year-old to be. The knowledge-sharing approach to teamwork shoos away all those butterflies in a fresher’s stomach. There is no fear of seeming silly, and questions are encouraged as against jumbled-up outcomes that don’t meet expectations. This culture has helped me drag myself out of the comfort-zone of reading and figuring things out by myself (I am an introvert, remember?), and asking people for clarifications, and explanations on various topics.

Lastly, the learning. My team-members frequently ask me about what is being covered during my classes. As soon as I list out a few of them, they jump at the opportunity of presenting me with a task that directly applies this theoretical knowledge. Without this practice, I would be riding out the CCAP without any value-addition.

As a special mention, let’s not forget the friends I have made here. It can be comfortable to fall into this work and study rut. There is always an upcoming deadline for a report, or a presentation for which you will need to read-up, but my friends simply won’t take ‘no’ or a no-seeming ‘maybe’ for an answer. Having that group of 20-somethings who are in the same boat as you are, definitely serves the cake and the icing too.

Despite the various options I had after graduating from college, I do not regret moving out to a new city to start on CCAP. It has helped me hone a perception about the world at large that has helped me striving for more, while retaining my sense of wonder in life and all things new.

My CCAP Experience – Deepak Joshi

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Deepak

– Deepak Joshi, CCAP Batch V
CRISIL – Risk Solutions

Having gotten the chance to work for one of the most trusted companies in India’s financial markets, I felt a strong sense of achievement. Accompanying that, there was also a feeling of fear. I was doing away with all my experience of three years in Human Resources. My parents were happy for me, but my friends wanted me to stay. And so I started my journey from one capital city to another on June 9th 2011 with mixed feelings in my mind.

Initial Days:

The early days were pretty easy. I got placed in the Research Business Unit (BU), where I was hoping to continue. But after spending about 45 days there, the CRISIL HR people concluded that I was more suited to CRISIL Risk Solutions. Of course, I protested, but all in vain. Along with a batch mate (who was also in Research), I was asked to report to CRISIL Risk Solutions.

To prepare, I was asked to read a good number of manuals and guidelines. I was told that the person you report to will come to you and ask any random questions from the material you have been (or are supposed to be) reading.

Days passed, and it took a bit longer than usual for me to actually understand why I was in Risk Solutions. The job involved lots of testing, understanding the RBI and other Banking guidelines, demos after demos and sometimes, extensive travelling.

And now:

Over time, things got organised. A full-fledged clientele was assigned to me and I started handling the work with greater ease. Later, I realised that had I continued working for my previous BU, I may not have got the opportunities that CRISIL Risk Solutions has provided me.

You start understanding the various things that drive Risk Management at banks – Credit Risk, Operation Risk, Capital requirement. Not only do you get an overview of Risk Management; you also get to know the various reporting requirements for a bank.

It’s a good sign that more people are being recruited by CRISIL Risk Solutions. Even more important is that CCAPians are now driving the Risk Solutions team. Currently, 10 CCAPians work in the team — double the size of the team that existed three years ago.

Alice in CCAP-Land – Rikta Doshi

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rikta doshi

– Rikta Doshi, CCAP Batch VI
CRISIL – GAC

[Mad Hatter] “Do you think I’ve gone round the bend?”
[Alice] “I’m afraid so. You’re mad, bonkers, completely off your head. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the
best people are.”
– Lewis Carroll, in Alice in Wonderland.

In my opinion, there isn’t another dialogue that describes CCAPians as accurately as this one. It makes me wonder if Alice and the Mad Hatter are referring to the world of CCAPians!

Yes, we’re all probably “mad” to have signed up for this, but then CCAP makes sure it makes world-class analysts of us mad hatters.

Not many of us knew that CCAP would be the overwhelming journey that it is. CRISIL’s work-cum-study programme, CCAP, comes with an unspoken warning: only for the strong-willed.

All CCAPians now have a split-personality – straight faced people at work, who transform into fun-loving students in the classroom persuading the professor for mid-lecture breaks.

The phrase: “best and worst of both worlds” is applicable here. The best, because we have the privilege of learning from highly influential people in the classroom and the office. In class, we are taught by highly experienced teachers – each a luminary in his/her own field. And at work, we interact with some of the best brains in the industry. This is not something a lot of places could offer.

I precisely remember two occasions which had me overwhelmed with the idea of being associated with CRISIL. The first was Roopa Kudva’s Town Hall (my first). And the second one was Terry McGraw, President of the McGraw-Hill group of companies, addressing the CRISILites during a visit here. The proximity to these veterans, to actually see their predictions play before your eyes, to even be a part of the audience that they address, is intoxicating to say the least.

Having said that, let us now take our rose-tinted glasses off. Along with so much learning comes the pressure to deliver, to perform, to exceed expectations. All the time. At all places.

With every day that passed working for GAC, this became more and more evident. The Global Analytical Centre or GAC, as it is commonly abbreviated, works in sync with Standard & Poor’s headquarters in New York facilitating activities in the US markets as well as other regions, in a wide spectrum of verticals — from US corporates to structured credit and project finance.

The GAC task force is quite young and the kind of opportunities that GAC tosses at us is incredible. What is more incredible is how this task force has managed to deliver on these opportunities — the result of which is the high engagement quotient that we now share with S&P.

Considering the long-distance relationship that we have with S&P, clarity of communication assumes an even higher level of importance here. However, that is vital in the whole of CRISIL.

What is unique to and often the high point for GAC-ites is the close interaction with the analysts and senior analysts in the US. To learn about your respective domain and to get the bigger picture from experts in the field is invigorating.

Plus, the work day for most teams in GAC starts at 11. Talk about GAC privileges! :D

But on a serious note, stepping into GAC — into CRISIL in fact — comes with truckloads of opportunities. The challenge is to make the most of those opportunities and turning the smallest of chances into big ones. Just like the way Alice grows to fill the whole room.

In the bigger scheme of things, CCAP aims to create world-class analysts. We live by Albert Camus’s quote, “Always go too far, because that’s where you’ll find the truth”. However, while going that far, we do find our share of Rabbits, Mad Hatters, Red Queens and White Queens.

My CCAP Experience – Shashank Upadhyay

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– Shashank Upadhyay, CCAP Batch V
CRISIL – GR & A

If you are eager to broaden your mind by analysing markets and companies across the globe, then CRISIL GR&A is the place for you. Working for GR&A gives you an opportunity to work for 12 out of 15 top global investment banks and support 150 leading analysts across several big brand firms and banks. GR&A’s ability for deliver cutting-edge analysis, opinions and solutions differentiates it from its competitors. With coverage of 2000 global stocks, our research covers a whopping 88% of the global market capitalisation.

Being a CCAPian, you get ample opportunities to explore your skills under an experienced mentor. This is the only business unit I know, where making mistakes is not frowned upon, provided you learn from them. Your peers and team keep you motivated at all times.

But the best thing about GR&A is that people here are open to suggestions and opinions. I would not have learned my CCAP concepts well if I hadn’t been given the freedom and time to apply them at work. As part of the second batch integrated into GR&A, sometimes things tend to be quite random — others might call it ‘unstructured’ — but I’d say this is the best thing for a CCAPian. You are not ruled by processes and work; you can go to your manager and figure out the most productive way to work.

Welcome to GR&A — a supportive and flexible team.

My CCAP Experience: Alokik Pandey

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Alokik

– Alokik Pandey, CCAP Batch V
CRISIL – Ratings

To the layman, CRISIL is synonymous with Ratings and CCAP’s association with CRISIL Ratings, which began in its Second Batch, has been immensely exciting. Today, CCAPians form an integral part of the Analytical teams in all divisions of the Ratings business,from Corporate & Infrastructure Ratings to Financial Sector Ratings, Structured Finance Ratings, Criteria & Product Development and Bank Loan Ratings.

For the uninitiated, let me provide you with a sneak peek into CCAP@CRISIL Ratings. CCAP is a rigorous programme where the rigour is directly proportional to time, unless you master the Japanese art of ‘Just in Time’ like many CCAPians do! CRISIL Ratings tosses many challenges your way throughout the day and round the year. People who plan to join this business need to pull up their socks for the roller-coaster ride.

At CRISIL Ratings, the work load will be humongous, but it is also directly related to your initiative and ability to demonstrate your potential. Not only do the managers give plenty of opportunity to CCAPians, most teammates also look up to CCAPians for delivering results during crunch time. This relationship is not unidirectional; every team member helps the other in every way possible by sparing time from their hectic schedules and taxing deadlines.

Within CRISIL Ratings, you can expect to undertake a wide variety of roles within one day. From filing for regulatory audits to punching the data from annual reports into Excel sheets, preparing analytical reports, approaching rating committee with rating recommendation and calling high-profile clients; it’s all in a day’s work. I do not say that CCAPians in this business have some special quality, but to paraphrase Sumantra Ghoshal, ‘the smell of the place’ keeps you on your toes at all times.

When I look back on the two years that have passed since I was introduced to my team in financial sector ratings, the journey has been extremely fulfilling. I could not have asked for more. The kind of learning curve that I have had here is unbelievable. From banks to MFIs, NBFCs to HFCs, capital market entities to insurance companies (my favourite!) the diversity in the sector was something the appealed to me from day one. Also, the passion and commitment my team mates bring to their work every day is inspiring.

At the beginning, I spent my days at a desk getting access approvals and reading criteria notes, bored to the hilt. My phone rang and a known extension number appeared on the caller ID. It was my manager, whose desk I was occupying while he was on vacation to Kashmir. He said, “There are sweets at my desk; come and have some.” (An unwritten rule here is that you have to get sweets for team-members whenever you go on a vacation.) After an informal introduction, he asked, “What understanding do you have of banks?” When I stood mutely, he smiled and said, “Google some of the latest developments on the list of small private sector banks I am mailing you. We are going to a committee with the portfolio, followed by a public release”. I pulled out the latest information and updates on those banks. In the following week, I went back to my home town for some work. When I returned to Mumbai, I saw a mail in my inbox from my director, praising the team for an excellent showing, followed by congratulatory mails from other senior directors. To my surprise, my manager called me to his desk and said, “We had no granular understanding on these banks except for broad financials and a general understanding of the sector. Thank you! Your updates were very useful.” That incident made me sure of one thing: whatever I do will never go unnoticed in this organisation.

In addition to the hard work, the classroom sessions were fun too. We call the NITIE campus ‘God’s own campus’, because it is lush, serene and surrounded by two lakes. The days at NITIE always came as bliss after a hectic week at work. Fridays and Saturdays were full of engaging lectures by faculty drawn from the best B-schools and industry. The teaching pedagogy was extremely engaging, with discussions, role plays, quizzes and assignments. And the rest of the days were spent chatting with buddies and playing football after the classes at NITIE’s football ground.

Some people may boast of being a product of a premier B-School; others feel proud of working with a top-branded employer. But me? I have the best of both worlds.

My CCAP Experience – Mahima Maheshwari

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– Mahima Maheshwari , CCAP Batch V,
Global Analytical Centre

Looking back at 2 years of being a CCAPian (read… ‘at college and at work’ ), I have witnessed a progressive change in my work environment at GAC which has also positively influenced me as an individual.

For the uninitiated, GAC stands for Global Analytical Centre, and it is one of the business units at CRISIL that absorbs CCAPians in large numbers every year. Whenever one joins GAC, one realises that there is at least one present or former CCAPian per team,which in turn, is absolute bliss since that person often turns out to be your saviour/mentor/guide.

CCAPians have evolved to become an integral part of GAC, from being ‘resources for support on basic tasks’, to becoming ‘important and responsible members handling high-end analytical tasks’. However, the transition is not as direct as it seems. It frequently entails 10-12 hour work days, following New York time/GMT more than our own IST, and spending more time in understanding US Markets than the time spent reading our favourite novels.

One of the most critical experiences for me has been my interaction with the S&P analyst, which was quite unusual to me at the beginning (because of the differences in the accent and work culture). However, it is now something I look forward to as I get an opportunity to put forth my views in rating committees and interact with the analyst on a one-to-one basis, thereby enhancing my knowledge about the sector.

To sum it up, GAC has an army of CCAPians who are recognised not only at CRISIL, but also at S&P for their commitment towards the timely execution of assignments, high quality standards and analytical abilities even as a CCAP intern.

Nostalgia!!!

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Nostalgia

 –  Isha Bagga (CCAP – Batch II)

The time soon comes for parting
And our time together has come to an end,
A different phase of my life is starting,
And I need to say good bye in the end.

We knew one day we’d have to go
But always thought that time was far.
We can’t reverse time’s one-way flow,
The time has come at last.

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