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Belling the CAT

A. SATHYANARAYANAN
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MEET Rajesh Balasubramanian, director of Ascent Education, who gave up a lucrative career to train students for competitive exams

Mind mattersRajesh Balasubramanian
Mind mattersRajesh Balasubramanian

An IIT and IIM alumnus, Rajesh Balasubramanian had the best of pickings from the job market. But the 32 year old found that his passion lay elsewhere.

Rajesh is the director of Ascent Education that trains students for competitive exams such as CAT, GMAT, TANCET etc. This interview was scheduled for 8.30 a.m. and Rajesh was winding up a two-hour class with a bunch of enthusiastic students. We settled down on the wooden benches and got the conversation going.

“My father had a bank job and so I grew up in different cities. My last four years of schooling were at PSBB, Chennai and that set me up well for the IIT JEE,” said Rajesh. After his B. Tech at IIT, Rajesh joined IIM, Bangalore. “I couldn’t set my mind on Electrical engineering, my specialty at IIT Madras. It needs attention to detail and patience to strip a design analog circuit and put it back again. There are people with fingers that never tire of these things; sadly I wasn’t one,” said Rajesh.

“After my MBA I found myself as an investment analyst at Credit Suisse, one of the two top Swiss banks. I was equity analyst for four years in London before I felt I have had enough despite the seven-figure salary. I left the job because it was monotonous. Also I was starting a family and I wanted my child to grow up in India. I was 28 years old and came back to start afresh in Chennai in 2008. That’s when I got back to my first love: teaching.”

“I was tutoring CAT preparation classes even before going to London. I used to work during the week and take these classes over the weekends. I enjoy explaining concepts to young and eager minds.” So what are the challenges of teaching? Rajesh was forthright, “These days students have knowledge on a range of subjects but there is little depth.”

In the 2011 and 2012 CAT exams he scored 100 percentile. “As a trainer I need to get a first hand feel of how the papers are set each year. It is not uncommon for CAT faculty to take the exams.” However it is not everyone who stands at the apex, it sure adds authenticity to his credentials as a CAT teacher.

“I have been teaching over 250 students a year for these exams. I am looking to teach Mathematics to students of class 6, 7 and 8,” he added. “That’s where you can still plant a seed.”

A. SATHYANARAYANAN

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