In the hot seat

“Winnie, I remember looking at you and seeing how terrified you look. Ha ha ha!”

That’s what my professor told me after I expressed how intense the Q+A sessions were following our group presentations. What should have been 30 minute presentations followed by 15 minutes of questions turned into a 4-hour meeting with no breaks. Though the Chairman of the Istanbul Stock Exchange wasn’t able to attend because of a scheduling conflict, the representatives that attended made a formidable panel of experts in their respective fields.

My group finished and immediately the microphone lights for the panel went on. Question after question came, quizzing us on everything from the what specific improvements the ISE needed to make to compete with a NYSE, tax reform questions, civil law v. commercial law, OECD rankings, etc. Our project had a marketing focus and an advertising campaign. The only question even remotely related to that topic was, “I believe you can take those same advertisements and apply them to a Moscow or a Dubai. How is Istanbul different?”

Other groups faced similarly tough questions. The project tasked with expanding the domestic investor base had created a comprehensive plan for financial literacy education targeted at the youth. The ISE had invited the director of its education programs.

The project tasked with creating a model for demutualization had worked under the assumption (after consulting with both the professor and our client coordinator) that demutualization was unavoidable. The ISE questioned that assumption and had the group members defend their model.

And the last group analyzed the relationship between the cash and derivatives markets by looking at the efficiency, volatility, and the lead-lag relationship between the two markets. During Q+A, the ISE revealed that the woman who had been sitting quietly in the room was actually the author of one of the studies the group had cited in their report.

I will say, however, that we did an excellent job answering tough questions and handling ourselves under pressure. Even the professor commented on how impressed the ISE representatives were with our ideas and with our answers.

The best part of the Q+A was when Prathistha took the hot seat to answer a question. A member of the panel questioned the statistical tests and conclusion of her findings. Before she finished, Prathistha stopped her and said, “No. I think you’re looking at the something-something data, which we determined was not normally distributed and ineligible for the something-something test. We had to transform the data and something-something I am a math genius.”

Get it, girl.

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