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‘Newly settled in the UK, the pandemic was a rough phase for me with no friends or social life’

Sudipto Mitra, an alumnus of Apeejay School, Nerul, talks about how Covid has changed the way we look at life

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Apeejay Nerul alumnus Sudipto Mitra discovered his love for Statistics while pursuing BTech in Electrical Engineering at IIT Bombay. Based in the UK, he works as a quantitative researcher at ExodusPoint Capital Management. Sudipto, who is visiting his home in Mumbai now, spoke to us about his time at his alma mater, pandemic learnings, and more. Edited excerpts:

Tell us about your school days at Apeejay School, Nerul.

The eight years—from class 5 to 12—that I spent at Apeejay Nerul left behind memories for a lifetime. Apart from the morning assembly and the classes, I remember how we would eagerly wait for the games period. The biggest gift from school was the friends I made there, who still happen to be an integral part of my life. We make sure to meet whenever we are in the same city. School friends are the most diverse group of people you have in your life.

In what ways did the journey at Apeejay Nerul shape your personality?

In every way. Not just studies, there was so much more that I was exposed to as a student—learning soft skills, how to take responsibility, leadership skills, and more. Through various activities, I gathered more and more confidence, which helped me in my journey thereafter.

As a former IITian, can you share some tips for class 12 students preparing for JEE and aspiring to join IIT?

I started preparing for IIT soon after my class 10 board exams. It does take a lot of effort and determination to be well prepared for it. A very simple word of advice is that you need to understand the concept behind each topic. It does not matter if you can solve your board exam paper conveniently or how well you have been able to cram. In PCM (Physics, Chemistry and Maths), there is a logic behind every phenomenon. If you start asking why something is happening as opposed to what is happening, you will also be able to answer what would happen if you introduced a change. That is the level of understanding that competitive exams demand. So, never move ahead without understanding a particular topic. You obviously need to get a grip on the MCQ pattern and practice time management to be able to complete the paper.

From IIT, how did you arrive at the decision to become a quantitative researcher?

Besides pursuing Electrical Engineering for my BTech degree at IIT, I took up Statistics as my minor subject. I did not know much about the department until I spoke to my seniors to understand the relevance of the subject. Worldwide, there is a lot of data that people work with, which is then analysed to prompt suitable actions. One also needs to understand that everything that we do cannot be governed by an equation. In the real world, there is a lot of randomness and uncertainty. There is always some probability associated with whether something will hold true or not. That is where you can assess the uncertainty with some statistical technique. Statistics is used everywhere—from exit polls and finance to data analysis on Facebook and bioinformatics and so on.

Besides studying statistics at IIT, I went on to do some internships at the Indian School of Business Hyderabad, and Deutsche Bank, Mumbai. Since 2017, I have been working in the field of algorithmic trading also known as quantitative research.

The pandemic has made us rethink life like never before. Being away from home in a foreign country during that time, what challenges did you face? What were your learnings?

I moved to the UK in January 2020, just before Covid hit. I was working there throughout the pandemic so I could not come back to India. Obviously, it took a toll on the health and infrastructure in every country; families were devastated. For most of the pandemic, I was working from home. While that gave a lot more flexibility in terms of work-life balance, it had other implications. I was new in the country then, and with the subsequent lockdowns and no friends, it was quite a rough phase. As an individual from a different country with a different accent, I felt out of place for a very long time. But things improved towards the end of 2020. Things again changed with the emergence of the new variants.

Covid has changed the way we look at life. Nobody really thought that something like this could happen. A lot of my friends had opened startups that relied on the consumers stepping out of the house. Now, when somebody thinks of a startup, they think about making it a pandemic-proof idea. Covid has surely brought about a change in our approach towards things. Not to mention how technology has become an even more crucial part of our life now, which is great.

Amid all the challenges and achievements, how do you see your overall journey?

There have been ups and downs, of course. I have sometimes made wrong decisions. But where I am today is the result of all the decisions I took. I am very happy with where I am and have no regrets. I believe there is no end to opportunities—If I fail today or miss an opportunity, I know there is something better I would get in times to come. Things always work out in the end. 

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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