RBI Grade B Topper

Consistency pays- Successful in 10th Attempt- Meet Abhiram K

It is an old saying that “fortune favors the brave”, in case of Mr. Abhiram K, this is an apt analogy. After 9 successive failures he finally tasted the success. Now all set to join “Mint Street Monks” , a group that silently runs the financial system of this nation.

Abhiram is working for Mercedes Benz Research and Development India Ltd for last some years and also had one-year international work experience at Daimler Trucks North America, Portland, USA. So, it was a conscious call to switch to Central Banking from Auto sector. This also reflects that finally, Central Banking has now been accepted as a full-time career option by totally un-linked industry personnel.

Here is the list of attempts made by Abhiram before finally getting selected.

  • RBI Grade B 2017 – Did not qualify Pre
  • IRDAI Grade A 2017 – Did not qualify pre. Cleared overall cutoff, but missed in reasoning cut off
  • RBI Grade B 2018 – Did not qualify Pre
  • OICL and NICL AO – Did not qualify pre
  • NABARD Grade A 2018 – Did not qualify Pre
  • SEBI Grade A 2018 – Did not qualify mains
  • NABARD Grade A 2019 – Did not qualify mains
  • LIC AAO 2019 – Did not qualify Pre
  • NHB 2019 – Did not qualify
  • RBI Grade B 2019 – Final selection
  • NABARD Grade A 2020 – Appeared for mains.
  Education School/College Stream %Marks/CGPA
Class10 Vijaya Vittala School 89.44
Class12 Vidya Vardhaka PUC PCMC 82.67
Graduation SJCE Industrial & Production 87.6
Post Graduation  NIL    
Professional Degree   NIL    

Abhiram belongs to a small service class family, his father works in State Bank of India while his mother is a Yoga Instructor. Abhiram’s younger brother also pursuing engineering.

Let’s read what Abhiram has to share with us regarding his journey.

Insta- abhiramk720

Dear Sir, congratulations for your grand success in the RBI Grade B 2019 examination. You have cracked one of the toughest fought examination in the recent times. What was your first reaction when you got the news?

Thank you Ma’am. I could not believe that I got selected as an officer of RBI. Had to recheck the roll number multiple times to make sure it is my roll number.

What was the reaction of your family and friends?

They were happy and excited. My mother cried with joy when I informed her 😊

When did you realize that this is the right career for you? How you came to know about this examination?

I knew about RBI Grade B examination from college days. When I started investing, I discovered more about the functioning of RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, PFRDA, NABARD, SIDBI, NHB. I also developed interest in finance related topics and decided regulatory bodies are one of the best career options in public policy.

The first impression about this examination is confusion. Not enough of guidance and quality study material is available. How you started? This question is very important from the point of view of newcomers, because they miss the track from day 1?


I started reading the books recommended in RBI grade B notification. But I didn’t feel I am preparing in the right track as I did not know what to study and what to leave. So I started searching for online coaching and joined EduTap in 2017. These materials helped me to cover static portions of ESI and FM in my initial days.

Advise for future aspirantsfind any reliable source and finish static portions of ESI and FM. Then expand your study for current affairs.

How important is preparation for phase 1? Mostly, it is a tendency that aspirants ignore phase 1 of the examination. What was your strategy? (you can freely mention all books and sources).

I ignored phase 1 in 2017 and missed the cut off by huge margin. Phase 1 and Phase 2 preparation should go simultaneously.
My strategy for QRE was to study mainly from mock tests and its analysis. For Phase 1 GK, I used Affairs Cloud pocket PDF.

There is a common perception that RBI Grade B is only for IIM guys or people with strong finance and quantitative skills. Do you agree with this?

No. IIM guys or a UPSC candidate will not have any upper hand in this examination. The nature of this exam is such that everyone will have a fair chance. I am neither a IIM nor a UPSC candidate.

Topics of Numerical one shall study? What you did?

The weightage of numerical in the exam has decreased. But one needs to study numerical while preparing because solving numerical will help in understanding the topics very well. It helps us to apply the concepts and make our fundamentals strong.

What you did for preparation of English? What was your strategy for this often-ignored section?

English should be given equal importance as other sections. English can make or break the final selection. I practiced a lot for English and improved my writing skills. Daily newspaper reading helped me to broaden my understanding on finance and economics topics, this helped a lot in essay writing. I also gave English mocks in exam environment (attempting essay, RC, precis in 90 minutes). This improved my time management. I practiced writing essay on unknown topics without reading any fodder materials, so that I will be prepared to face any bouncers in exam

What you did for preparation of Management? What was your strategy? Any books you would like to recommend?

Did not read any books. My source for management was EduTap.

What you did for preparation of ESI? How you tackled ever confusing schemes?

Initially studied static portions of ESI. Then complete focus on current affairs. For schemes, I referred EduTap scheme document with supplementing it with PIB.

How much Economics (subject knowledge) is actually in ESI?  Toppers over the year suggest that it is more of current affairs than core economics.

I agree that ESI is mostly current affairs. But knowledge of static is necessary to understand current affairs in a comprehensive way. So before reading current affairs, it is important to finish ESI static.

What you did for preparation of Current Affairs? What was your strategy? Any source you referred.

For phase 1 current affairs I referred Affairs cloud pocket PDF. For phase 2 I made daily notes from PIB and referred monthly Affairs cloud study monthly magazine.

How you prepared yourself to face the interview? Can you share some details?

Prepared standard answers for HR questions. Daily newspaper reading (livemint) helped me to broaden by understanding on finance and economics topics. I was also watching few RSTV debates and CNBC TV 18 Indianomics.
Gave 3 mock interviews, and improved upon the feedback given in mock interviews. (Interview transcript is given in the end of this post.)

Aspirants are often confused or rather scared about “Profile Building” – what is your take on that?

It is not possible to “Build” a profile just for this exam or interview. It is a on going process over the years. Do not fake anything in the profile to impress the interview board.

Please share your brief interview experience? Questions asked.

Interview was mainly based on my profile. Interview transcript is here.

Can you suggest, top 5 websites which are essential for RBI Grade B preparation?

https://www.rbi.org.in/
https://www.investopedia.com/
https://www.pib.gov.in/indexd.aspx
https://affairscloud.com/
https://www.youtube.com/

During the long course of preparation any set-back you faced and how you tackled that?

Main constraint was time. 12 hours in a day was consumed by work and associated traveling. This journey thought me to manage my time well. (Working aspirants shall focus more)

How you managed your studies with work?

I made sure I study for minimum 3-4 hours before (read carefully- it is before going to work generally people do it after coming from work) heading to work. Also, I was studying all day – I used to study even if I get 5 minutes time in between. I used to study also during lunch breaks, traveling. Main aim was not to waste even a minute.

Focus on the main AIM

What was your study routine? How many hours and months you devoted to this examination?

Weekdays – 3-4 hours study before work. And small study whenever I get time. Weekends 10-12 hours of study.

Do you think, it is possible to do it along with work?

Yes. Most of the people cleared this exam with a full time job.

In case of current affairs, how many months you need to cover for phase 1 and phase 2?

Phase 1 – 3 months. Phase 2 –  4 months of detailed study and next 4 months only very important news (reports, schemes, new initiatives). But ideally, I recommend to do 6+6 months.

The final selection ratio is less than 0.2%, so there is always uncertainty. What was your back-up plan? Do you really think we need a backup plan?

My plan was to appear for RBI, NABARD, SEBI, PDRDA, IRDAI exams until I get selected or exhaust all my attempts / age. There was no back up plan as such as I am already in a very good job and I could always continue in my current organisation if none of the exam works out.  Also having a job decreases mental pressure for me for not clearing many exams.
I recommend aspirants to have a back up plan if they are not working anywhere. If you can afford to prepare for this exam full time, it is good, otherwise I advise aspirants to give exams where selection rate is high, and then come back to RBI preparation.

 What is your ultimate career aspiration?

As of now, to learn as much as I can in RBI.

How you kept yourself motivated, it is a grilling process?

Interest in economics and finance helped me to push each day.

Now since RBI has chosen you, we can ask “Why did You choose RBI?”

RBI is an elephant in the room. Learning and growth opportunities in RBI is highest when compared to other organisations. Also RBI Grade B is the highest entry level, where as other organisations recruit in Grade A.

Any advice to new aspirants based on your experience? Things which we shall not do and things we must do.

Keep your sources minimum. Prepare current affairs, reports and schemes from actual source as far as possible. Revise many times. Do not spend much time on telegram. Have patience and consistency.

Team Maggubhai.com wishes Abhiram K a very successful future as a successful central banker.

Finally time to fly high.

Abhiram K, RBI Grade B topper 2019

Interview Snippets
Interview was majorly based on my current work profile, and few questions related to finance. The interview board was very cordial.
Date: 6
th Feb, 2020
Place: Chennai
Duration: ~20 minutes
Last to appear before the interview board for the day out of 15 candidates

Set-up of the interview room

Chairman Sir :

  1. Please have a seat
  2. Where do you work?
  3. Challenges of R&D field in automobile sector?
  4. There is a lot of cash in automobile companies. Where is it being used if they are not ready to give funds to you?
  5. Why automobile industry is in stress now?
  6. What is your company’s strategy for 6 months from now and also for one year from now?
  7. Which component you work on?
  8. Will electric vehicles be accepted in India? Why govt is pushing it inspite of lot of challenges
  9. What is the cost of Lion battery for 1 Kwh? Is it being produced in India

Female 1

  1. What is the relationship b/w automobile and banks?
  2. What is the risk faced by banks why financing R&D of automobile company?
    I didn’t understand her question properly and could not answer well. She was not satisfied and finally moved to next question
  3. How are the interest rates being charged by banks for loans now?
  4. What were the problems in MCLR regime?

Female 2

  • You are so passionate about your job, and why do you want to join RBI?
    Told interest in economics and finance. This is the best job in eco and finance for graduates of other streams. Also I would like to take higher studies option in economics while working in RBI
  • So you will leave for higher studies as soon as you join RBI? Everyone laughed
  • How do you know this scheme about RBI? Do you know what Percent of employees get this opportunity ?
  • Tell me the details of CSR activity of your company.
  • Are you aware of CSR circular of RBI for Banks?
  • What is carbon footprint?

M1

  • Tata had a collaboration with Mercedes Benz, Is it where you work?
    No Sir, That collaboration was in 1980s, and it parted away in early 2000s
  • You said you work on trucks but Is there Mercedes Benz trucks in India?
    No sir, In India we have bharat benz trucks. For India we have a different brand
  • No, I don’t see those trucks in India. I see only Tata and Leyland. Is it only heavy duty trucks?
    No Sir, we have Bharat benz all over India. We are 3rd in the market share. We have different rage of trucks from 60 tonner to 15 tonner
  • What is inflation?
  • What will be the impact of inflation on currency?
  • What is currency stability, financial stability?
    Told something, he was not happy
  • Give examples: again faced difficulty

M3

  • What are NBFC?
  • Should NBFC continued in India or should it be converted to banks?
  • There was a news on one big NBFC recently. Can you explain me that issue?
    This was in reference to DHFL crisis of September 2019
  • Why this issue happened?
  • Ware the measures taken by RBI and govt to protect the interest of investors
  • What is leasing and hire purchase?
  • Give examples

M2

  • Do you have bus in your portfolio?
  • You said about charging infra, how can we improve it?
  • Is your company working on creating charging infra?
  • Who are those small entities working on charging infra?
  • What is difference b/w average cost and marginal cost?
    Chairman : ok you may leave.. Thank you