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IIM Calcutta Letter of Recommendation

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IIM Calcutta PGPEX Letter of Recommendation Questions

  1. How long and in what capacity have you known the candidate?
  2. If this is a work-related reference, in what position is/was the candidate employed and for how long?
  3. What do you consider to be the candidate’s principal strengths/talents?
  4. What do you consider to be the candidate’s weaknesses or areas that need improvement?

IIM Calcutta PGPEX Letter of recommendation – 1

1. How long and in what capacity have you known the candidate?

I have known Vikas for more than five years now. I was his direct manager for three years from 2015 to 2018 in TCS.

2. If this is a work-related reference, in what position is/was the candidate employed and for how long?

Vikas has worked for TCS for more than 12 years now. He started his career in TCS right after college and quickly progressed in his career to become a Project manager/Program Manager. He joined my team in 2015 as a Functional Consultant/Program Manager when I am a Business Relationship Manager for the Life Sciences Unit of TCS.

3. What do you consider to be the candidate’s principal strengths/talents?

Since Vikas joined my team, I have mostly staffed him on international client-facing roles. His prior international experience and good functional knowledge made him a good fit for such roles in my team. 

One of Vikas’s primary strengths, which I noted while he was working on the Amgen Multi-Channel Marketing project, is people management skills. The project was in trouble and we were in fire-fighting mode. There were many escalations from the client and a lack of synergy amongst the multiple TCS teams involved. This was when I decided to put Vikas into the project as Functional Consultant/Program Manager, and he immediately took the lead on most burning issues. With his clear communication and understanding of who needs what, he was able to win client’s trust within the first few interactions. He also worked with stakeholders from over nine different countries and built fantastic relations with all the stakeholders. This helped bring a lot of cohesiveness and alignment amongst the multiple TCS teams that were at loggerheads before. By acting as a bridge between them, Vikas was able to bring everyone on the same page and solved the client’s issues. After the project, I received numerous appreciations regarding his contributions from our clients.

Another skill that impressed me was his analytical Skills. His analytical ability came to the fore when he single-handedly did the entire CRM system data analysis. Client’s CRM data, the backbone of any commercial unit of pharma, was set up on a toll and was implemented about seven years ago. It had to be brought into a new system we were building to do trend reporting. But the problem was that the interpretation of data was not straightforward. Vikas took this task up and went the extra mile in analyzing the data, for which he often had to reach out to different people in the client’s organization to understand how they were using that data. With his persistence and hard work, he was able to understand the data and its usage for clients. Then he completed the activity in time and managed to keep the overall project on schedule. 

Overall, I think People management and analytical skills make Vikas standout from his peer group and help him succeed as a consultant and project manager in our team. 

4. What do you consider to be the candidate’s weaknesses or areas that need improvement?

Although Vikas has the excellent technical knowledge and good domain understanding, two areas where I saw potential improvement were Presentation skills and business acumen. 

I gave this feedback to him in our appraisal feedback session also. During his tenure in the Amgen project, we were often required to explain the value proposition to senior business leaders from the client side in a business-friendly language rather than technicalities. Vikas’s language was often too technical and he could not speak the business language that would have excited the audience of that level. After 10 years of experience, if he wants to continue growing, he needs to enhance his business acumen as well to be able to connect with senior business leaders. 

Another important feedback that I gave him was to improve his presentation skills – both preparing the content and delivering it. I am happy that he took both the feedbacks very positively and I have seen significant improvement in one of the areas. I recently worked on one client proposal with Vikas and was impressed with his progress. His presentation skills – both in terms of the ideas and contents he captured in the presentation and delivering messages to clients – have significantly improved. Though there still remains scope for improvement. I believe Vikas has a lot of potential to become a leader. I fully support his decision to pursue MBA.

 

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IIM Calcutta PGPEX Letter of recommendation – 2

1. How long and in what capacity have you known the candidate?

I am Engagement Manager for one of the accounts within TCS’s Life Sciences vertical. I have known Vikas for more than 13 years. I was his direct manager from 2008 – 2014 and then again from 2018 onwards. I have seen Vikas come a long way as a professional and as a person.

2. If this is a work-related reference, in what position is/was the candidate employed and for how long?

I have worked as Vikas’s direct supervisor in various roles. First, when Vikas was a developer and I was Project Lead, and then again, we got to work together when he became a Program Manager, and I was the Engagement Manager.

3. What do you consider to be the candidate’s principal strengths/talents?

From early on in his career, Vikas demonstrated promising leadership skills and I think that’s what made me trust him with project lead responsibilities back in 2008 when he was only in the 2nd year of his career. 

Seeing his performance in the first project we worked on together, I was thoroughly impressed with his thought process and how he managed the project. I made him the backup project lead in the next assignment, Material Master, for our client. I made him responsible for leading a large team in which some people had more experience than Vikas. It added to Vikas’s challenge of leading a team for the first time, but he did exceptionally well. 

He patiently worked to earn everyone’s trust and his place in the team. I have noticed that he inspires his team members. He also won the Cynosure – best leader award that year, which is a highly sought-after award in our organization for two reasons – the entire team has to nominate their manager for this award and then have to make a case presentation to the senior leadership to convince them.

Another area where Vikas is very strong is client management. The way he interacts and engages with people, be it clients, peers, or direct reports, is excellent. In one of our engagements, we were doing a POC, Scout to EDC integration. The POC was delayed by more than two months. Some reasons were attributed to us while some were to clients. Vikas managed the entire situation very well. He presented facts and figures to a client so that there was not even a single escalation. The same client went on to give us more work worth $800K.

4. What do you consider to be the candidate’s weaknesses or areas that need improvement?

In my opinion, the area where Vikas needs the most improvement is strategic thinking. In the consulting industry, providing out of the box solutions and evaluating multiple options is becoming more and more important. Vikas has the skills to propose the solution when a problem is described to him, but he needs to sharpen his skills in identifying the improvements that can be brought in the existing business workflows. 

For Vikas to take up a leadership position, he should be able to identify what users need, understand the vision and should be able to influence them. He sometimes works with a short-term vision. He once proposed and built a solution without properly understanding what exactly users want and hence did not understand the user’s vision. As a result, he made a solution that had to be rebuilt four months after the go-live. The client was not happy with this rework. Vikas needs to look at the big picture and understand the vision.  

I believe that his decision to pursue MBA will provide him with the above necessary skills. He has leadership qualities and an MBA will fill all the gaps for him to become a successful leader.

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