Fellow Program in Management (FPM) - Ashish Kumar Jha, IIMC
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Ashish Kumar Jha is a doctoral candidate at IIM calcutta in field of MIS. He has presented at multiple top tier international conferences like Australasian conference on Information Systems, Asia Pacific Conference on System Dynamics, World Management Conference among others. He has invented various systems for IT services management which have been filed for patent in India, US and Europe. His case studies on Microsoft IT India and Bosch India are used as texts in various management classes globally.
This is a first person perspective of someone who has completed 3 years at IIM Calcutta in its PhD program called Fellow Program in Management (FPM). Typically speaking I would say all PhD programs are unconventional that is because you are typically working on a problem that no one else is working on (In the narrowest definition). You are totally on your own. IIM Calcutts's PhD is not much different with a twist that most people don't know that such a program exists. When I tell relatives about what I am doing, I am met with open eyes with disbelief in them. More often than not the conversation stops when they say that I am doing "PhD in MBA". I am still trying to figure out what it means.
Coming to the stuff at IIM Calcutta. Yes it is a very very rigorous program. What more do you expect of such a program. The first year is of PGP level coursework with PGP students and the expectation is that you need to be better than most of the PGP students. Check this
Minimum passing grade in a course for PGP : C+
Minimum passing grade in a course for FPM: B-
Minimum CGPA required from a PGP student: 4.5
Minimum CGPA required from a FPM student: 5.5
Expectations are pretty high from a PhD student at IIMs. the above figures are for IIMC but the expectations are similarly high at other sister institutes as well. Once you have cleared first year. You move to second year which consists of doctoral level courses. The courses are deep, intellectually stimulating and very very demanding. We read extensively during the second year. You would be surprised at yourself if you look back after second year on realizing how much you have read.
Typically, the routine of a first and second year PhD student is not too different from a PGP student. After that you are charting the unknown territories so you have your own schedule. I myself am a night creature so I sleep through the day and work at night. Others do the opposite. You regularly meet your advisor to discuss your progress and issues etc. The whole philosophy is that a management PhD should have enough breadth to talk about all aspects of management, should understand the managerial practices to do relevant research and should be extremely widely read. Even if you are doing research on Supply chain management, probably IIMs would be the only place where you would also be reading Foucault, Kuhn, Popper etc.
After second year you do your thesis with your advisor. Here again there is a difference from the way PhDs happen at IITs (Please note that i just say difference, not better or worse). At IITs or universities you mostly work on your advisor's research issues. At IIMs you define your problem in 2-2.5 years and then talk to different faculty members with diverse opinions and make your committee to best help you in your research. Surviving 4-5 years is not that difficult, if you are enthusiastic about your work. Most of the times you would not know day from night. Years would pass by swiftly. The famed "Joka Culture" would make you addicted to Joka. Campus is a vibrant place and you would want to stay here as long as possible.
Reward for quest of knowledge is knowledge itself. There is no higher reward than the feeling of knowing the world better. I can talk about great faculty salaries, brilliant work life balance of a faculty member, being in campus with brightest minds of nation for rest of your life, corporate consultancies, corporate research etc. but none of them would make you feel as satisfied as the feeling of knowing the world better. You are changed man after PhD from IIMs. You can earn good money after doing a 2 year PGP or even 1 year PGPex. Its not the money that can hold you for 4-5 years in a gruelling schedule. Its the satisfaction that comes when you are in a serious discussion with a philosophy major on Kant's philosophy in morning, discussing with a banker in afternoon on best investment policies, discussing national economics with economists and strategy with COO's. You are a changed person at the end of the program and the journey is worth the effort.