Ritesh Sagar

Country of origin: India

Management Consulting Director, KPMG (India)

Before he joined the Lancaster MBA programme Ritesh had spent nearly 10 years working and living in multiple countries including India, Italy and Greece with short stints in the Netherlands, France, Spain, Austria, Sweden, Germany and China.

He writes here about the successful job-search strategies that led him to receive numerous offers before graduation, as well as the integral role of the MBA career advancement programme.

When I first arrived in Lancaster, I was unsure of whether or not I would stay in the UK after the MBA programme or return back to India to be with my wife and eight-month old daughter. Once I decided that I would move back to India, I began to research and shortlist companies that had roles that aligned with my interests. This exercise allowed me to build a list of contacts, and tailor my CVs to match the skills required.

I have always believed that leveraging contacts is the best approach when applying for middle or senior management positions. Therefore, from the beginning of the second term (and when I came to India after the winter break), I managed to arrange meetings with 19 prospective employers. These included my previous employers, Lancaster alumni and clients with whom I had done business in the past.

My agenda for such meetings at this early stage in my job-hunting was not to ask for a job, but instead to establish contacts and understand which company could offer the best package in terms of role and salary. These meetings proved quite educational for me, as once I returned to the UK, I targeted the companies and available roles which were the best match. This allowed me to have a focused approach, resulting in my completion and submission of only five applications between April and June. From these, I received four official offers, and I accepted my final offer letter from SAP in August 2011 with the start date one month later in September.

Structured approach

Reflecting back on my experience, I credit an alumna who suggested that I approach my interviews in the same manner in which we approach our MBA consulting projects. Rather than just looking at the job description and getting an overview of the company, she provided the following helpful advice:

  • Review the annual report in detail;
  • Analyse the challenges the company was facing;
  • Study trends in the industry;
  • Prepare a short-term and long-term strategy for them; and
  • Highlight how you can add value not only in the said role, but to the organisation as a whole.

With this holistic approach, you can show that you have knowledge in all areas of the business including sales, accounting, finance, culture, strategy and marketing. The results of implementing this advice became clear to me when the CEO of one company told me that he had never met anyone like me before who knew so much about their business without actually working there. The action dimension of the MBA helped prepare me for an easy integration of multidisciplinary theory into practice.

Although I was expecting that more employers would come to LUMS for recruitment, which would have made the process a bit easier, I now realise that the educational process of the research and analysis provided me with core skills that I can leverage throughout my life. The time I took to think of my search strategy and execute it helped to create clarity in my mind as to what I really wanted to do after the MBA and to properly exploit all my resources at Lancaster and within India in order to find the right job.

Throughout the MBA programme, I received incredibly helpful support from the MBA careers office, which assisted in networking, CV development and interviewing skills throughout the year. However, it is important to note that while the careers office is available to assist you with your search, you are ultimately responsible for your next step and must properly assess your prior experience and skill level, and manage both your strengths and weaknesses.

I already feel that the Lancaster MBA has equipped me with the skills I need to achieve my career goals. Although of course, I'm still on the road to discovering where it will really lead me – career management is a continuous process!

Ritesh now lives in New Delhi and is happy spending time with his family while managing the extensive travel that his role demands.