Many thanks for agreeing to speak to do this interview. To start things off, could you first tell me a little bit about your current job role and what you are responsible for?
The pleasure is mine, Nilai. To get started with our interview, I am currently working as a Business Operations Associate with ZS Associates in Pune. My work can be summarized as a business analyst dealing with business insights and intelligence. The company is one of the top notch sales and marketing consultancies in the pharma industry. I deal with a lot of analytics, primarily involves drafting an analytical approach to obtain the required result and implementing the same. I am a fresher to this industry and have been learning quite a lot.
Could you describe your background, qualification and how you got involved in Formula Student?
I come from Madurai, a small city in Tamil Nadu filled with temples. Hailing from a huge joint family of 17 members, you should be able to imagine how hyper and happening my life would have been. I probably was born an extrovert, I studied in Lakshmi School in Madurai and I can easily say it has groomed me to what I am today.
I later joined VIT University Chennai Campus to pursue my B.Tech in Mechanical engineering. Not to sound cliche but I was one of the many students who learnt by doing. My teachers have described me to be hyperactive, I could hardly focus on my books unless it was an absolute necessity. I preferred spending time in the workshop building tangible stuff for projects (VIT University had a curriculum of at-least one project based learning for every practical subject that we took up.)
VIT University Chennai Campus was relatively new and we did not have many proactive student organizations set up yet. That is when some like minded people got together to found Shaurya Racing. With no one to teach us or for us to look up-to, we were a group of individuals starting a team from scratch, college was suddenly such a happening place.We participated for the first time in FDC 2015. Not to our surprise we did not fare very well. The event was however an exposure to the vast scope of learning available. Shaurya Racing has been improving every day since then and I take pride in being a part of its initial stages.
Give us a brief of your role on Formula Bharat.
I play the role of event control lead of Formula Bharat. I like event management and had little experience managing college events etc. Formula Bharat gave me a chance to have a real professional experience in it. It was truly a dynamic experience ensuring the event goes on seamlessly. This was vital for the capability groups to go about and execute their responsibilities without any delay. You would have seen me running around to different part of the event site to make sure everything is in place, functioning and continues to do the same. I had dedicated volunteers to assist me and that made it a lot easier. Apart from my role as event control lead on the event dates, I handle some volunteer management tasks and assist the organizing team in communicating the event operations and updates to the participant teams as well.
Has Formula Student been helpful with gaining career prospects?
The answer to that will be a huge yes! I was able to build a good network of people ranging from the event judges, fellow staff members and volunteers. It was definitely a knowledgeable experience learning more about their work-streams and gives a great chance to build good relationships.
I believe employers are able to trust you more when they know you have been a part of organizing a reputed event such as Formula Bharat, It kind of goes without saying about your qualities like leadership, organization compliance and motivation. Apart from the networking, I think being a part of the event is an evidence to the person I claim I am.
Applying for jobs after graduation can be a frustrating activity; what was your experience post-graduation?
This should be an interesting story. Only because I am a fresher from 2016 batch who has been with 4 different organizations in completely different domains in just 15 months.
I got campus hired as Business development associate in a rapidly growing firm. But that only followed with me vigorously finding a way out of it because I wanted to do something related to operations and strategy building, essentially a place where I can think and solve. I got an opportunity to intern with R&D Siemens technology and services for 6 months. Meanwhile I started volunteering for Formula Bharat and Bhumi- an NGO dedicated to educating the underprivileged. Post the internship I joined a start up, It was a different experience. Three months down the line there was a downsizing and I was one of the many that were let go (although no regrets because that actually gave me the time window to fully dedicate myself and be there for the entire duration of the Formula Bharat 2017 event). After taking some time out for myself I joined ZS on march 2017. That is my story!
They usually say that once you are in FS, you eat, sleep and breathe it. What was your experience when you graduated and could no longer participate?
True that! Even after it was evident I wouldn’t be able to contribute much to the student team since I will be moving out of college even before my final semester. The team used to gather together in the garage and clean up, practice welding, discuss new methods, roles and responsibilities, recruit new members etc. I was there all the time. They gave the bunch of us that were leaving a heartwarming farewell.
I couldn’t participate during my final year because I had already moved out of college for work. However I was constantly contacted regarding procurement, where services can be sourced from and sometimes even translating the request of the team to the native language of the laborer. Any call from the team used to excite me and I was more than just glad to help them in anyway I could. I was handling procurement, accounts and operations of the team. I remember creating a data base of contacts and information for procurement so that it is helpful for the fellow teams of my college down the line.
Till date the team communication channels get active now and then and a candid smile just occupies my face when I read the updates and realize how the team has grown. I am pretty sure it is the case with anyone that has been a part of an FS Team.
What do you think the main benefits of FS are and how would you recommend that students make the most of it ?
I believe for any individual to blend into an organization you have got to feel like you are a part of it and have a purpose there.
College will always be a different place from school or anything that students imagine college to be, in these cases a purpose and ensuring you being a part of it will really help. Shaurya Racing was my purpose there. Something to look forward to and be excited about than just the fear of exams and deadlines. It builds the inquisitive attitude in you and it can go a long way in your personal development if you can be a part of a self governing team and work at taking it to heights.
This has probably been told down generations of students, “Life begins when you come out of your comfort zone.” Being a part of a FS Team is not just something you can put down as two lines in your CV. It will have true meaning only if it has countless sleepless nights, days of roaming to find the right parts, hours of sweating in the workshop, intense learning, research and hard-work behind it. You shouldn’t just make a car, When building one, you innovate, ensure it is better than your previous and as unique as it can be. Most of all create memories along the way.
It gives me great pleasure in being a part of a community that is trying to help students become better engineers. The increasing response is overwhelming and having followed Formula Student for 5 years now, it really is promising to see the standards of competition improving.
I wish all the FS Teams out there all the very best! Thanks!
This interview was conducted by Nilai Suresh, PR @ Formula Bharat on July 12, 2017