• Simran Somani

How my finance brain craves for marketing creativity! - MICAT & more with CA Sugandha Bhatia!

Today we bring to you - a CA with a twist.

As already established by many articles posted on our blog, some CAs do go for an MBA, but today we have someone who is not only going for an MBA but a specialized one - And that too in Marketing.

CA Sugandha Bhatia is an incoming PGDM-C student at MICA, has worked in PwC for more than a year and is here to tell about her tale and give us tips on how to crack MICAT!

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Sugandha’s Background:

10th - 9.8 CGPA | 12th - 96% Commerce

Graduation - 70% B.Com (Hons.) Delhi University

Work Ex- 1.5 years M&A, PricewaterhouseCoopers

After completing school, I wanted to pursue a “safe career”. For many it is engineering, but for me, it was Chartered Accountancy.

The ride wasn’t easy but after many bumps, countless sleepless nights coupled with the never-ending syllabus, I did achieve my milestone.

I was CA Sugandha Bhatia.

I then decided to pursue a career in Mergers & Acquisitions at PricewaterhouseCoopers but from the very beginning, I was always inclined to pursue a course with a higher degree of creative freedom. Hence, I decided to leave my cushy job & start my creative journey.

Did you quit to prepare? When was that?

Yes, I did leave my full-time job to prepare for the CAT and this break (approximately a year) also helped me introspect about my decision to do an MBA, and more importantly, in what field.

During this gap year, I narrowed down on my options of colleges to apply to and the exams to aim for. Coming from a finance background, I was not inclined to applying for any college except MICA.

In my opinion, any other college would have been a CA 2.0 - but then again this is just my personal perspective. If you want to do Management Consulting/Core finance, without a doubt the top IIMs, SP Jain, XLRI, MDI etc would further your dream!

The transition wasn’t easy since it meant starting from scratch. Rather than choosing to join a coaching class, I decided to self-study for CAT. There is adequate material available online which is pretty helpful and one can also purchase online mock tests to practise.

My efforts finally materialized, when I received my offer letter from MICA, a B-school which combines logic with creativity.

Studying CA has helped me master finance but I was still curious about how brands work, storytelling, Marketing Analytics, Digital Marketing & much more. MICA fits the bill perfectly due to its unique pedagogy, brilliant professors & gives me the chance to explore everything I mentioned above. With this, I will be in the overlapping part of a 2 circle Venn diagram (intersection part, if one wants to get technical) and getting the best of both worlds. It is going to be a new path but I am super excited for my journey and the learnings which it will bring.

As you know, this post is my journey to MICA, what is MICAT and how I cracked it.

For the uninitiated, MICA is a B-school which deals with specialised MBA in marketing and is also often referred to as C-school (Communications School).

MICA conducts its own test (MICAT) which is mandatory. They also consider your CAT/XAT (whichever is better) along with MICAT.

There is no set cutoff in MICAT which would “guarantee a call and it's still a mystery as to who gets a call and who doesn’t. You should give it your all & hope for the best!

The silver lining is that unlike all other B-school exams which happen once a year, MICAT happens twice. Once just within a week or two after CAT and next in January. You can write one or both the MICAT and double your chances for a call as they consider both results and one does not need to give up any score!

How did you prepare for MICAT?

This paper is one of a kind, a unique structure with unfamiliar sections that you will not encounter in any B-School entrance exam in India. There is hardly any repository of past year MICAT papers available, thus basic logic and general knowledge is the key to crack it.

MICAT is divided into 3 sections:

Section 1: Psychometric Test (35 mins)

Section 2: Descriptive Test (25 mins)

Section 3: Aptitude Test (105 mins)

Total - 165 minutes (2 hours 45 minutes)

Section 1 is the stepping stone and acts as a qualifier. If all the questions aren’t answered within the stipulated time, although the remaining sections can be attempted, they will not be evaluated.

To cross this bridge, it’s imperative, to be honest. This test is designed to get a deeper understanding of the mind & personality of the candidate. Like all psychometric tests, this one also, in my opinion, tests for consistency. This section requires us to answer with the first thing that comes to mind, you know your gut feeling of sorts? It does not require much contemplation.

This make or break section of the MICAT has 150 questions in 35 minutes. Trying to portray yourself to be someone you are not may seem like a bright idea until the time pressure kicks in and you forget what traits you claimed to possess! That will make you look inconsistent and you’d anyway not make the cut! So, pro tip - don’t lie.

The second section, although descriptive, tests your writing ability. It pays to be quirky & out of the box.

There are 4 questions here.

3 of them are based on a single given statement. The statement can vary vastly as there is no predetermined topic. You have to write 5 points for the statement, 5 points against and finally present your own stance (can be either, there is no right or wrong here!) - all within 250 words.

Note: All pointers mentioned should be different & no repetition is allowed.

The last question is definitely the most interesting part as it gives you the chance to let your imagination run wild.

You need to weave a story of 350 words out of 4 seemingly unrelated pictures. Owing to your new-found creative freedom, you can choose the pictures in any order they like. Tired of reading how many things you need to do in this section? Well, you only have 25 minutes to finish it! To ace this section, I think it’s best to read a lot from diverse genres and also work upon your grammar and spellings.

Also, MICAT is an online exam & even the writing sections need to be typed out on the computer. It helps to have a decent typing speed along, with no spelling errors.

The last section is your good, old, regular aptitude test. The catch? 105 minutes to solve 4 sections namely Verbal Ability, Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation, General Awareness, and lastly Divergent & Convergent thinking.

Verbal, Quant & DI are relatively easier to face as they are the same as CAT. For General Awareness, one should be in the know about brands, logos (it is a marketing specialised B-school, after all!) and the latest M&As along with current affairs.

Facing Divergent & Convergent thinking needs some extra efforts, not because it is tough but solely because it is relatively different. This section consists of - word associations, statement & conclusion, proverbs & idiom related questions. A sample paper is available on MICA’s website which gives a fair idea regarding the pattern. For some extra practice, get Career Launcher’s Non-CAT mock test series.

Opportunities for a person from a finance background after studying at MICA?

Just like you are wondering, I also wondered about the nexus and opportunities for someone from a finance background in marketing.

It ultimately boils down to which type of role you'd like to pursue. I believe CA helped me hone my financial skills, now, with a marketing wand, I can do wonders. Whenever one thinks of Marketing, they inadvertently think only of ad campaigns. But marketing is much more than that! It encompasses a gamut of activities.

At the core of any marketing plan, one has numbers, budgets and a P&L to manage. The opportunities are endless with roles like product management, digital marketeer, brand manager etc. being available. We as financial experts have to combine our analytical minds and mix the magic of marketing to serve this unique potion to the Corporate world.

I would like to end the tale of my journey with a quote by Maya Angelou “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated” One should always try to stay positive and calm because nobody is late, we are all on time in our own journeys!

Sugandha Bhatia

To stay in the loop for more tips, tricks & experiences from amazing people like Sugandha, subscribe to this blog!

Interested in learning about how to approach the CAT? Check out our Strategise the CAT series here!

You can also check out some related posts such as:

Executive MBA vs Traditional MBA

What an MBA from IIM-K after CA looks like!

The non-engineer privilege - a reality check!

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