Accidental thoughts from my life @ IIMC - Anoop P S, IIM Calcutta
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Anoop P S did his PGDM from IIM Calcutta (2005 - 2007) and is currently serving as the Director for the ForEx Division of a preeminent Asian based investment bank. His works received awards from prestigious financial journals like Asiamoney and Asiarisk. Anoop enjoys his additional role as a trainer for marketers in pricing and execution of the trades.
I believe all experiences are relative. What I learn from an experience might be completely different from what you will learn. So, when MBAtious team approached me to write about my experience in IIM, I was scared whether I can give an objective analysis of something which is so close to my heart. The more I thought on those lines, I realized that it is impossible to separate me from my experience. But, does that mean there is no value in documenting it? Finally I decided to write this article with a disclaimer that ‘These are my personal opinions and cannot be generalized ’.
Let me tell you a little bit of my background before I went to IIM. My background will help you put my experience in context. I am from Alleppey, which is in Kerala. I did my entire education till bachelors in Kerala and was working as an engineer in Kalamasseri (in Kerala). I used to love my job. Though I loved my job, I felt the need to upgrade myself with an MBA to be able to do the job my boss was doing. I cracked CAT and got enrolled in IIM-Calcutta (IIMC) PGDM course.
First thing I learned in IIMC is that however good I am, there will be someone better sitting next to me. This happens in a wide array of matters – in basic intellectual power, command over language, ability to work hard, sporting abilities - you name it and that there will be few of my batch mates who are better than me. Because of the stringent selection process, students who end-up in IIMC are some of the best brains in the country. This had a strong impact on me and I could learn tremendously from my fellow batch mates. By design, an MBA course is packaged with courses from different academic disciplines. There are courses in economics, marketing, finance, behavioural science etc. And invariably there will be few students in a batch who have real working experience in these subjects. What better way to learn about operations than along with someone who has more than 5 year’s relevant experience. What matters most is how this brought out the best in me. However hard I tried, there was someone who was doing better than me. Old methods which worked for me were no longer enough to survive and excel in IIMC. Working harder or regularly attending classes were no longer enough. I had to take it one step further - I had to be smarter. 2 years of MBA experience immensely improved my time-management skills and efficiency. It is quite common how a new student will take up to a week to prepare a project and the same project can be completed in less than 2 days by the time you are in your second year. It was fascinating to see how my efficiency improved during the 2 years I spend in campus.
Many of the courses are structured in such a way as to facilitate group projects. This is another way to learn from your fellow students and to work in groups. You also start to trust your team mates to deliver. Some of the friends you make in campus are going to be your best buddies for life. Power of this network of friends will get unlocked only with time. Almost all of them will go on to become really important people handling important roles across a diverse set of fields. And in future when you face with an issue, there will be someone close to you who can provide a solution to your problem. Your problem can range from choosing a logistics vendor in Latin America to which venture capital fund can provide financing for your new business.
Even though this article is about why you should think about an IIM experience, probably it will be a good idea to discuss why I decided to do my MBA in the first place. Very early during my engineering studies I realized that engineering is not what I wanted to do in my life. Like many others in my position, I stumbled upon management education as a way out from engineering. I wanted to do my MBA and go into a sales/marketing kind of role where I could benefit from my previous experience as a sales engineer. But fate had something else stored for me. The two years I spend in IIMC helped me realize my real interest. The kind of exposure I got in campus was beyond my expectations. First indication towards my true calling , came from finding out my favourite subjects in the course. I was drawn towards economics and finance subjects much more than other subjects in the curriculum. Armed with this knowledge, I started exploring an ideal career match for me. Based on feedback from my seniors and discussing with various companies which visit campus to talk to students, I identified my passion for finance. I was lucky to land a job in my chosen field at the end of my course. I am eternally grateful to my professors to help unearth my love for these subjects. Some of my professors are sheer geniuses who inspired me into digging deeper into the subject matter. They made the time I spend in the classroom richly rewarding.
My alma matter include CEO of one of the largest food and beverage company in the world, one of the most popular writers in contemporary India and run one of the most successful IT start-up in our country. When you are from a long line of such eminent and successful people, the brand you carry becomes very valuable. In most places, I am assumed to be smart (until I prove them wrong). This belief people have in me is a powerful ally. It makes it easier to get things done on my day-to-day job as well as makes it easier for the various doors in this world to open in front of me. As i have it, many of my alumni are in very senior positions in my chosen career path. The guidance and political help you get from alumni in your industry is a key ingredient to the success in your post MBA career.
Life is about seeing and making sense of the world around you. You get to meet students from a wide variety of backgrounds and nationalities during your stay in campus. This was my first experience of interacting and working together with diverse cultures such as people from Europe and other parts of Asia. It is such a simple and quite an obvious fact that people around the world are similar to you. But this philosophy will get ingrained in your psyche only with regular working level interaction with people from diverse cultures. Once I formed good friends with some Europeans in my batch, I was intrigued with their culture and wanted to know more about it. Thankfully IIMC had a strong student-exchange program by which I got an opportunity to spend one term as part of my MBA in Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. To get a closer look at a different philosophy towards life in general and academics in particular was an enlightening experience. For those of you who will land in a B-school with a strong exchange program, I strongly recommend you to take up such an opportunity.
Let us be clear that a successful career after an MBA will come with its share of stress and pressure. Luckily a good management program prepares you to handle the stress. It teaches you the importance of having fun and good health. With a vibrant extra-curricular and sports scene in campus, students also learn to find time for things which excites them apart from academics. This is such an important aspect to have a well-balanced life. And some of the works produced by students in the art scene are of very high quality. I am a big fan of the dramatics club in IIMC. I believe some of the productions that they came up with can match works of professional groups. What this taught me was that this world is lot of fun. One doesn't have to be serious all the time to achieve success. Sometimes we have to let go and be stupid. This ability to stay relaxed even at the face of immense pressure abides with me and is one of my greatest strengths today.
I am told that any half decent article needs a conclusion. So, I am attempting one in the next few lines. Readers who are against the concept of conclusions can skip this part. I sincerely believe that the key ingredient that made environment in IIMC beneficial for me was my constant appetite for self-improvement. Factors like good professors, smart fellow students and wide exposure certainly helped. Probably, these cannot guarantee a person material success. But, take my word for it, you have nothing to lose by working hard and constantly trying to improve yourself. Personal improvement is a continuous process and it requires polishing at each stage in your life. If you are waiting for that MBA admission to embark into the process of self-improvement, you are a bit behind .Kick start now and come out in flying colors. All the best!
Recommended Read: Lessons Learned From The Financial Crisis Of 2008