Shalini Jalan, IMT Nagpur 2011-13 Batch – “While most of the interns were figuring out the basics at Reserve Bank of India, I was able to hit the ground running”

Shalini Jalan is the perfect example of how misleading CV’s can sometimes be. On paper, this young lady from Ranchi has a hard-core science background, with an Engineering degree from Birla Institute of Technology; yet her colleagues at IMT Nagpur believe that she will make the perfect manager of Finance. Shalini is passionate about quants. But more than that, she shoots straight from the hip, and does not ‘beat around the bush’ – the ultimate quality of a good Finance executive.

According to Shalini, it was this one quality that got her a prized summer internship with Reserve Bank of India, in Mumbai. Infact she was the only one from IMT Nagpur to have been selected on the basis of an interview. No wonder therefore, that she was allotted to the highly confidential, Department of External Operations and Investments. Her project was about Sovereign Risk Management.

“Sovereign risk refers to the risk that a government may default on its debt obligation. With the onset of the sovereign debt crisis in 2008 which is still unfolding, sovereign risk management has assumed importance in recent times. Reserve bank of India being the central bank of the country is the custodian of nation’s foreign exchange reserves. It deploys FX reserves in different permissible assets such as balances/ deposits with other central banks, top rated foreign commercial banks, and with BIS; treasury bills and dated securities issued by top rated sovereigns and supranational entities etc. Deployment of reserves in the above mentioned instruments were so far considered as risk free. However, with the onset of debt crisis, the role of central bank as an investor and manager of FX reserves has become very important. My role was to determine which all parameters to be considered for assessing sovereign risk and recommend the step that can be taken by the reserve managers to contain the sovereign risk.”

At RBI, Shalini hardly felt like an intern from IMT Nagpur. Infact, she even had her own cubicle. Shalini knew right from the beginning that she would have no access to documents or data of this highly confidential foreign investment department of the RBI. But she was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful co-operation and advice that was given to her, right throughout her project.

“My mentor, Shri R. Subramanian, the General manager in this department, was actually on the front-end; which means he was the person carrying out the investments. So, his amazing experience and insight actually made up for the lack of access to documents. I also carried out my own research, sieving through information in the public domain, which helped me join the dots. Also, to be able to recommend the right parameters for investment, I resorted to certain assumptions. For example, I carried out a detailed study and zeroed-in on the seven most risk-free countries. I naturally assumed that RBI must be investing in them.”

Shalini feels that her biggest plus was that, thanks to her IMT Nagpur curriculum, she was aware of most of the technical jargon that was used in RBI.

“While most of the interns were figuring out the basics, I was able to hit the ground running. It made me realise the importance of what is taught at IMT Nagpur.”

Shalini is back to IMT Nagpur with a renewed vigour, now that her learning is alligned with onground realities. She is hopeful that the recommendations that she had made as a part of her project, will be implemented by reserve managers. She knows that even if one of her recommendations is implemented, it will be a red-letter day of her life.