Aug 12, 2015

3 Learnings in 3 Years Post Harvard

Looking back at my previous 3 years post HBS, I am pretty satisfied with the developments both in my personal and professional lives. Below is a brief draft of three of my thoughts/actions post HBS - 2 that worked and 1 that did not.

(What worked)

1. [I "forgot" that I ever went to Harvard]

Very soon after leaving HBS and Boston, somebody complimented me – “If you (a Harvard MBA) don’t know about something, it’s perhaps not worth knowing”. While I felt flattered, I found that statement very provocative. I realized that I could not learn anything if I moved around with that mental model. Immediately, I made a deliberate choice NOT to ever leverage my educational pedigree (Ex: “While I was at Harvard, ...) to win an argument. That enabled me to always have my head over my shoulders and to avoid unreasonably biased exchange of ideas with colleagues at work and friends outside work. I am glad that I have been learning so much everyday from folks around me.

1. ["Family First" even if the on-the-job demands are at their "worst"]

According to a recent OECD statistics, Koreans are one of the most hard working employees (length of working hours is approximately 1.6 times that of Dutch workers; no offense intended). Despite experiencing that first hand during my first innings in Korea (prior to HBS from 2004 to 2010), I chose to come back to Samsung, Korea with the sole motivation to continue to make my humble contributions in the advancement of cutting edge technologies. That required me to work for long hours and I did that without any hesitation. However, I made it a point to always have dinner with my family and to have some playtime with my 2 awesome kids post dinner. If needed, I went back to office after the kids were asleep. That has worked out really well. Like most of us, I confidently juggle multiple balls every day and feel great to have done a decent job thus far. My wife, Pooja, has been a big support.

(What did not work)

3. [Focus only on "Value Creation"]

After an awesome experience at HBS, I was fully charged to make an impact at Samsung. There was lot of value creation in the first 2 years post HBS - I pioneered new innovation processes, designed idea-generating systems worthy of a mention in a HBS case study, and came up with multiple ideas for which we later filed patents. However, all my efforts and contributions did not translate into an equivalent professional growth (read promotions and appraisals).

How to make this one work?

The urge to decipher the reason for this dichotomy led me to pause and reflect. I read a lot and also talked to my mentors to decode the situation. At the end of this discovery process, I came up with a list of success factors to bridge the gap between my contributions and career growth. One of the prime factors was/is – Proximity to the top management (the decision makers). I acted on my findings and in May, 2014 transitioned to serve as an advisor to the CTO of Samsung’s over $200 Billion business with globally leading market share in several consumer electronics categories, including TVs, smart phones and digital home appliances. Professional life in this new role has been very fulfilling and equally rewarding.

Going forward, I hope to continue to learn and to avoid costly mistakes while reframing any upcoming uncertainties, risks and exposures to judgment as allies for leading a worthwhile life.

Thank you!

Jun 30, 2014

ETM Reaching 100,000 Visitors!

Reaching 100,000 visitors today - It’s indeed a landmark moment for this blog and I feel proud to host the same. I take this opportunity to thank all my blog readers. 

While I have not been able to actively write blogs over the last year (due to busy professional life @ Samsung), I have always tried my best to respond in detail to all the questions that are posted here. I expect the same for quite sometime going forward. However, if there is any topic you think I should write on, please feel free to drop me a line at - I will try my best to come up with something meaningful for my readers.

On a side note - Having responded to so many questions, I got to know of the top reasons for engineers wanting to pursue an MBA. Please see the snapshot below.

Mine was a combination of 3 and 4. Am curious to know what’s your reason to pursue an MBA?

Sep 24, 2013

USB in my pen stand reveals "Why MBA? Why Now?"

While clearing up my desk today evening, I came across a USB memory stick in a pen stand. Apparently, it had been lying there since last 4 years - Found a solo word file (contents below) that I saved then in my very early days of MBA preparation. Am posting the contents below - Hope it provides some perspective!

Why an MBA?

I am presently a hardcore circuit engineer. Over the last 5 years, I have done detailed analysis of different complex circuits and have even created some worthy enough to get patented. It has been a very enriching and an enthusiastic engineering experience. I have worked on numerous projects – some were successfully released into the market while most were dropped in the development stage. The reason for dropping the projects was often put forward by our boss as – “the management decided it that way”. Though I did feel a bit uncomfortable, other ongoing projects kept me busy enough not to probe beyond – In fact, the dropped projects have always come as a relief to our busy schedule. However, there has always been an inner desire to look at the bigger picture. Why did the management decide so? What parameters influenced the decision?  Besides having these questions, working in a big company like Samsung triggered a lot of other related questions. I now yearn to know how the big corporations with tens of thousands of employee actually work. How do they (who are they?) manage such a big workforce? My interest to acquire the know-how of running a successful business has got deepened. How business deals of billions of dollars are negotiated, materialized and how they later result into a huge loss/ huge profit deal? In a nutshell, I am very curious to learn how corporations manage the entire system, that too in a diverse, multi-cultural global setting.

Though I have worked on many projects, one of them has been very significant both for me and Samsung. Last year, I played a significant role in proposing, implementing and finally verifying the circuit ideas that saved Samsung US$10.6 per LCD TV (40 inch size and above). We have already sold more than 1 million of those TV sets so far. Looking at the figures, a simple equation and a question pop up in my mind. Profit = US$10.6 * 1 million. What if I had my own consulting firm and had sold the idea to Samsung, LG and other TV set makers while just making 10% of the above profit?  It is indeed a bold thought – bold because it motivates me to change myself - to upgrade myself with business skill sets and effectively integrate them with my engineering perspective.

A knack for circuits and an ability to generate value by applying the VE (Value Engineering) methods in existing electronic circuit boards coupled with a budding entrepreneurial spirit looks like a great combination to start aiming at establishing a technical consultant firm. However, to make this move a success and to be able to think even bigger, I need to acquire the necessary business skills and practise those. I ought to quench my thirst to know how corporations work, how finances are controlled, how the brands are managed, how strategies for multi-billion dollar business deals are developed and much more that I am definitely unaware of now. I want to learn about entrepreneurship, study different cases and discern the dos and don’ts.

Hence, pursuing an MBA curriculum that covers topics on general management comes as a natural next step in my career.  

Why now?

I can foresee a big wave emerging in the electronic industry. Super-fast cell phone chargers, wireless powered gadgets like TVs and music systems and systems powered by renewable sources of energy are going to be some of the hot-picks of the next decade. All the above have one thing in common – they will all demand intensive research and development in electronics. The chemical engineers and researchers are working hard to come up with a battery that can accept huge amount of instantaneous charge. But, we would also need to have a power source that can supply that instantaneous energy. Similarly, wireless TVs would only be possible if we can efficiently generate a wireless power source and receiver. I have the necessary know-how to start working on the challenges associated with electronics.     


Sep 7, 2013

Engineers thinking of MBA

Below are the slides that I presented to the IIT Kanpur Students during a brief skype session today. Hope it helps!

Aug 15, 2013


Hi Folks,

Thought of sharing my interview which was published in Korea Herald today. Enjoy and please let me know if you have any questions.


Aug 11, 2013

Question of the Week [Week of August 5]


I'm Vishvajith from Bangalore.I'm currently pursuing my 3rd year BE Mechanical engineering. I can't decide what i should do after this. Up until some time back i had an interest in aeronautical engineering and was pretty sure that was the way to go but then I found myself suddenly drawn towards getting an MBA and not because of the career prospects, but because of the syllabus and my interest in management,dealing with people and building network and everything else a manager does(My father's in the management business and i admire his work).So if you could please guide me as to how to proceed further I would be thankful.

I see there are 2 ways to go about it-

1) Finish BE,fly out for an MS in Aero,work for 3 years and then get an MBA
2) Finish BE, work fr 3-4 years, get an MBA and join as a manager.

You see, I need to decide if i have to work or not post my BE. SO i'm asking for your guidance.

Thank you in advance,

ETM Response

Dear Vishvajith,

Great Question! Almost every engineer-in-the-making at your stage has this question. I had it too and kept both options open till the end and went with 1. By exploring both the options, I could better evaluate the merits/demerits of both the options and make a sound choice. In my case, I did not go with option 2 because my recruiting company (in India) didn't pay me much.
Based on my experience, my recommendation for you is that apply for jobs that you would love to do post BE and also apply to some schools for MS. You will find your answer in the process just like I did.

Does it help?


Jul 8, 2013

Question of the Week [Week of July 8]


"hello I am persuing my be in mechanical branch,will a MBA be a better option for me. Are there any good job opportunities for this combo (mechanical engg +mba). Please reply I am in a great confusion...."

Sure Shreyans! Take it easy - In my opinion, that's not a point to be confused or worry about. You can only explore more as you move ahead in your career. For the moment, I would recommend the following steps.

1. Focus on becoming an awesome mechanical engineer.
2. Identify your interests in the domain of mechanical engineering and look for a job in that domain.
3. Work as an engineer for 2-3-4 years and try to create some impact in your job! Make something that you would be always proud of.
4. Start looking/preparing for business schools if you want to go for an MBA then.

An MBA will hopefully transform your mindset dramatically and you would be prepared to take on challenges in practically any field.

I think your confusion is natural mostly because most of us want to skip steps 1,2,3 and move to step 4 directly. That said, there are people who jump to Step 4 directly and also do well in their career/life. To them, I ask - "Why did you pursue a degree in engineering to begin with?"