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‘Management consulting firms are looking for problem-solvers, good communicators and perpetual learners’

Some of the world’s top companies are customer-obsessed and invest heavily in analytics, says Toronto-based Apeejay School Pitampura alumnus and strategy and analytics professional Sumiran Manghani

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He says the time he spent in Apeejay School, Pitampura, was a great phase in his life. Based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Apeejay School, Pitampura alumnus Sumiran Manghani is a strategy and analytics professional who works with software leaders around the globe. At present the management consultant is working in corporate strategy with one of Canada’s largest software acquisition companies: Constellation Software Inc. Before this, he has gained valuable work experience with Bain & Company, one of the big three global management consulting firms. 

Outside of work, Sumiran enjoys playing outdoor sports and cooking new recipes. In a wide-ranging interview, he elaborates upon his educational and professional journey, the importance of analytics for business, the flip side of AI and ML, fond memories of the time he spent in school and shares tips for a successful career as a globally renowned strategy consultant: Edited excerpts:

How did you develop an interest in a career in management consulting and how was the experience of learning the nuances of management and analytics at the University of Toronto?

I was always interested in problem-solving. It is a skillset that is thoroughly tested during engineering. During my time at the Delhi Technological University, I designed automobiles and that taught me a lot about breaking down complex problems into smaller logical steps. Management consulting firms are looking for the right mix of problem solving capabilities, communication skills & a learning mindset. I went to University of Toronto after my stint at Bain & Company to do my masters in Management Analytics. It was an interesting experience with a steep learning curve as we got to work on real-life cases during our programme.

How important is business analytics for the success of a contemporary business and to understand and retain its customers? 

Business analytics helps uncover customer behaviour. It helps being proactive as an organisation and improves customer retention in the long run. Some of the world’s top companies are customer obsessed and invest heavily in analytics. It is important to note that business analytics is usually the first step dictating strategy, having a strong execution plan based on the insights is equally important.

How can businesses gain from emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) and what is the flip side of these?

Different businesses leverage AI & ML for varying purposes. Firms such as Amazon, Netflix etc. use it for improving their recommendations; Tesla is using AI for self-driving. There are endless opportunities in these two disciplines, and they are only going to grow with time. However, sometimes a heavy focus on AI could overshadow the importance of core operations. A number of companies are just beginning to use AI and there isn’t a clear strategy around it so managing expectations is critical with these technologies.

Please share some tips for those who want to be successful as an ace global strategy consultant and follow your career trajectory. 

  • It is important to have a diverse set of experiences and apply a problem-solving approach towards things. Good Math skills always help with the quantitative side of things, but a qualitative skillset comes from the understanding of different industries, business trends, and technologies. Strategy consulting at its heart is structured problem-solving and business communication.
  • For someone in school or college, I’d say just try getting exposed to different kinds of business problems/situations such as profitability, growth, M&A etc. Consulting firms are looking for a well-rounded candidate with a learning mindset.

What are your memories of the time you spent at Apeejay School, Pitampura?

I have lots of great memories of Apeejay School, Pitampura. These include playing badminton in the centre court and representing Apeejay in various inter-school events. All my teachers were great to be honest, picking one would be unfair to the rest. Apeejay was a great phase of life! I still occasionally visit the school to connect with the teachers and remember those moments.

Are there any life lessons that you picked up in school that have helped you in your career?

Be fearless yet humble. All the teachers and staff at Apeejay are really supportive and empowering.

How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect you and your sector and how did you overcome the challenge?

Covid pushed things into a virtual setting. Working on activities such as Mergers & Acquisition or growth projects became more challenging. Similar to most firms, we defined best practices and the use of technology to be efficient. Looks like we may be out of troubled times soon.

Aasheesh Sharma is a seasoned journalist with an experience of more than 25 years spread over newspapers, news agencies, magazines and television. He has worked in leadership positions in media groups such as Hindustan Times, India Today, Times of India, NDTV, UNI and IANS. He is a published author and his essay on the longest train journey in India was included in an anthology of writings on the railways, brought out by Rupa Publications. As the Editor of Apeejay Newsroom, he is responsible for coverage of the latest news and developments in the Apeejay institutions. He can be reached at [email protected] He tweets @Aasheesh74

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