Interview with Jithesh Jayarajan
Jithesh Jayarajan, MBA
Director - Infrastructure Services Manufacturing Vertical - Europe at Tata Consultancy Services
"The secret of your success is your knowledge and your network"
We all have different stories to tell - career paths differ. What is yours?
For you to be able to understand my story I need to start at the very beginning. Being a child in India we did not have the luxury of thousands of toys to play with – children’s favorite activity back then was playing with the coconut’s leaves. One day I got an old radio, I enjoyed pulling everything out and ask my cousin what each part meant. Little did I know that would represent the beginning of my engineering career - I graduated as electronics and avionics engineer. As the university was ill equipped for the needed experiments, we had to go and visit different companies. I would say that was how my entrepreneurial mindset came to life. If you want something- go and do it. Being street-smart was my first important learning.
Fortunately or not the degree did not prove to be the immediate door opener. My first job was a salesman, being more precise, door-to-door vacuum-hoover salesman. 7 o’clock in the morning I would be ringing the doorbell – the timing could not be worse, rejection I got very familiar with. Yet, no one wanted to be rude to me in front of their children so I would get offered an evening appointment. The opportunity was there. This little psychological trick still comes handy – paying attention to the people’s reaction and use it to my own benefit.
The other learning is that we need to know ourselves well. There was a time when I was considering applying for a driver position with the Indian Railway Company. Nothing came out of it since my uncle prohibited it, saying I am way overqualified and overeducated for the job. This moment stuck with me – someone believing in me and there I was – I went for higher positions. I have worked for several IT companies and finally ending up a position at Tata Consultancy Services.
What brought you to Hungary?
Practically everybody in India has a dream – going abroad. USA, UK, Australia are the prime locations. When it comes to moving to Europe, France, Germany would be considered good countries to land in, certainly Hungary would not be one of those. Having been given the opportunity to move to Hungary, I considered it as a possibility for me to grow. The position I was offered was a higher one, green field job - setting everything up from scratch. In all honesty, the level of competition was close to none. I still think taking this position was one of my best decisions I have ever made – despite it not being obvious from the very beginning.
Your achievements in Hungary are considered to be a story of a success
Absolutely. Today Tata Hungary has a total of 1,300 employees. I was in charge of infrastructure services which were newly introduced in 2006 and later became responsible for my company’s growth in Hungary. Today, the department consists of 650 people. Besides the number, the added value of this new activity to the global deals is of prime importance.
Taking risks resulted in being successful. And I was far from being a technology expert, I was technocrat.
Thanks to my engineering background, which allowed me to see this industry clearly, from different aspects. I was focused on a bigger picture, not getting trapped in details. My personal aim was to help my team be successful and build relationships that last.
What convinced you do your MBA at CEU Business School?
The main reason I would say was peer pressure at my workplace. I have seen many colleagues who have completed their MBA, who were able to see the problems, tasks in a different light. Their mind was structured. Something I, myself at that time did not possess and could clearly benefit from at my daily job. I weighed out both options, full-time MBA and part-time Executive MBA and finally applied to the Executive MBA. Predominantly since it offered me staying connected to the daily work. Real life experience and learning complemented one another. During the studies, I was in the position to immediately implement the knowledge gained in class as well as rely on professor’s advice. They were my best consultancy group ever. Real life case studies enhanced the whole MBA experience and they benefited everyone in class. Knowledge sharing and discussions is the important part.
People sometimes say they are done with learning…
I was over my thirties, in a leadership position, yet, I do believe in life-long learning. There is certainly something you can get from the trainings that are being organized by the companies for their employees, offering them continuous education. Doing an MBA, that is a different story.
Hungary is in some respect a small country. If you want to make global business or at least look out of the box, you need to find the community where this is possible. One can find different schools in Budapest, however CEU Business School is the only one that is truly set in an international environment, with an open mindset, where the vision of this region is on the table.
Thinking in a bigger picture is not only a phrase but a real, everyday task. All of my studies were set in the actual global business situation. The knowledge I received from the professors and from my international cohort was extremely useful in my professional decisions, and still is today.
Any thoughts about the CEU Business School’s network?
The power of the community cannot be underestimated – wherever you are, whoever you deal with – this is what is important. Thanks to the MBA studies, I have been exposed to their alumni network which translates into new professional connections. Being an active member of the alumni community, these connections keep on growing.
The platform exists, but nurturing the connections will make them last forever. Let me offer an example: when my company needed to find a new location and personnel in Poland or Romania, Macedonia, the alumni network was of great help. A simple call out to my friends. MBA expanded my capability with at least 50 bedrooms, bed and breakfasts, and beyond all over the world.
Has the MBA contributed to the increase of the respect received from your colleagues?
After completing my studies I could say I was in the position to express myself very clearly. I was able to make a decision with a clear vision which certainly draw people’s attention. I was head of Business solutions and delivery of Hungary and Eastern Europe now I am heading a whole business unit as a Director of ITIS Manufacturing Vertical in Europe which has a few thousand employees and operations from Mexico, China, Hungary and India. I would strongly encourage everybody who still has any hesitations to go ahead and do the MBA. You will notice how you and the world around you will suddenly change.
Interview with Dénes Horváth
April 07, 2016
Horváth Dénes, MBA
Family Business Consultant | Business Mediator
The main driver to do an MBA: “I no longer wanted to live someone else’s dream”
I have spent 5 years in professional recruitment – they call it headhunting because this name is sexier. – I consider myself to be lucky to have been a part of the company in its growth stage, involved in various great projects. I have gained relevant, meaningful experience. I did, at a certain point, strive for challenges in different industries.
After graduating from BGF, why doing an MBA?
At my work I was involved in what is essentially pure sales activity. Connecting supply with demand; a sort of human trafficking, if you like. I had higher hopes. I did not want to limit myself to that profession. I was interested in business consulting, I enjoyed working in services, mainly with big companies, like for example Morgan Stanley, on an executive level.
I have once been asked by a VP why not making it on my own. The question made me think and opened my eyes. Already then I knew I had achieved what I wanted in the HR consulting field. I wanted to bring it to next level – to business consulting. Having an MBA would be a ticket to this particular industry. Since I knew I wanted to stay in the region for the rest of my career, the reason for choosing CEU Business School was a pretty straightforward one. Making the most out of the MBA and the network I would consequently be exposed to. The second reason is CEU BS’s full-time faculty. This is of critical essence. Lectures offered at CEU BS leave a lasting mark on you, especially when doing an accelerated, one year MBA. They change your way of thinking, the approaches used by the faculty are different when compared to ‘traditional’ ones.
How would you describe the interaction with the professors at CEU Business School?
All the professors gave their very best, high quality of teaching, mentoring not only during the MBA year, but afterwards too. The phone calls/emails were never left unanswered. The attitude remained the same after having completed the program. I can clearly remember having had difficulties at my workplace and a simple call to the CEU BS professors offered an instant solution. All the materials we were provided with during the course of the program, handbooks, case studies etc. were of extreme help too.
Enrolling into a full-time MBA also means the whole class becomes a real team, a community. Not only a study community, a party one too! At that time I played in a band which meant that the whole cohort would often come and see me perform. Above it all, I can say it was a real game changer, in every single aspect of my life.
Technically I could face my fears, obstacles – such as accounting which I have studied earlier but had difficulties with and the MBA offered me a chance to refresh my knowledge and I could say that I not only managed it, but got the self-confidence, which was crucial for achieving the next level in business consulting. The only constrain was time – otherwise the courses offered were literally limitless.
Would you say, having completed the MBA, you managed to shift, elevate your career to the next level?
Having been in recruitment before, I knew the preparation had to start months prior to the graduation. I used the school’s career service to the full extent. I have explained what my wishes were, that I wish to end up in business consulting. They put me in touch with an alumni member which proved to be extremely useful. I got information I was after, a contact to the industry. Thanks to the thorough preparations, I took the arrived opportunity, introduced myself to the company and after a long recruitment process, I managed to secure my first business consultancy work for one of the biggest players – A.T. Kearney Hungary. Looking back, it certainly was the knowledge I have received throughout the MBA, together with the previous experience that led me to the admirable position.
Three years later and the next career decision has been made
Indeed, 3 years in consulting business feels more like 13 years: 16 hour long working days, projects abroad, boarding the plane Monday morning and landing Friday night. Besides tiresome hours, a great learning experience. Finding my own way and reaching a point of owning a consulting company.
Would you say the MBA unveiled the entrepreneurial mindset?
Definitely. During the accelerated, one year program it all became clear to me. I wanted to create my own business however I have realized I needed to develop both, professionally as well as personally. Both, the CEU BS and consulting experience gave me the chance to achieve my dream, having my own business consulting company in yet another field.
I have realized that my clients, mostly focusing on family businesses, require a different approach. Methods for problem based analysis, used by the big companies, can still be used, however it needs to be backed up with interdisciplinary knowledge. That was also one of the reasons I have decided to do the Law Degree, which will strengthen my skills and add extra to my skillset. Studying family psychology can be seen as additional and essential set of skills in managing complex challenges of family-owned businesses.
Despite the common misconception of continuous studying – it being a waste of time, you certainly seem to think differently
One never stops developing. Consider a business portfolio – new products have to continuously be developed, services improved. When we talk about business schools, the main idea came from North America. Looking at the best practices, experience, we need to join this ideology. CEU Business School certainly has values, the faculty behind and if someone wants to stay in the region, it is an obvious solution – the best decision in my view is to study here, not overseas. Getting exposed to the network, acquiring specific knowledge of the region.
One of my favorite quotes: “Change... before you have to”. I believe everyone needs to realize the importance of unique self, its unique purpose in life. Call it a professional one, private one, a special one. The MBA gave me the chance to achieve my personal aims, wishes and it has given me the tools which will always be relevant. I would like to encourage every single student, current or future one, to get involved in every single conversation, subject and at the end of it all, walk away with their own purpose. Finding out who you really are, what your dreams are, unless you wish to continue living someone else’s dream.