IIMs – “Stairway to Heaven” or “Just Another Brick in the Wall” ?

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    Manish Bhatt did his PGDM from IIM Lucknow (2011-13) whereupon; he joined Axis Bank as a Management Trainee.  Manish is currently part of the Rural Banking Department of the Bank having previously worked in the CSR arm of the Bank – Axis Bank Foundation. As a firm believer of living diverse experiences, he is an avid reader, a striving traveler, a fanatical foodie and most importantly, an impulsive writer (most times a poet). Further, Manish believe in the policy of “whilst doing right by ourselves we must do right by not so fortunate others in our society”. you can check his Blogs at here and here and can check out his food reviews here

    Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity” was a watershed moment in the history of humankind and whilst purely in scientific terms, it helped explain and advance the world for better (as a layman may perceive it). Similarly, perception is akin to “Theory of Relativity” which animates this world at a more superficial (for lack of word) but more realistic level for the common man – it embodies the paradox of unity in diversity (the cliché talked about in our history books). Look outside to the road and you will see the physical manifestation of it in the people travelling on foot, on cycles, on bikes, on cars, buses, all of them, on the same road.  And that brings me to the perception question I want to answer – are IIMs a “Stairway to Heaven” or “Just Another Brick in the Wall”?

    For me, IIMs were a getaway from the too constricting a job in Goldman Sachs (largely through my own immaturity) and I wasn’t much concerned with “what afterwards”? Euphoria of having scored 99.95 percentile and finally, getting through IIM Lucknow blinded me to the pertinent questions which people generally ask (in hindsight that was the best thing that could have happened), before I could realize what it actually meant, I was in (hel)L. This lack of motive on my part helped me being unbiased through the experiences (not just mine) of those 2 years which were to define my life but not traditionally as it is thought to be – it is somewhat ironical that given my lack of appreciation of diversity (you are going to hear a lot of it in there), it was the diversity which indirectly became a life changing factor for me.

    Diversity for the institute is primarily a constraint given the case study pedagogy which is followed there not always successfully or even reasonably but it brought me across some of the best people I have met and who have shown me many more varied aspects of a life which were hitherto unexplored by me (reading books, travelling junkie, being foodie, writing poetry) in its holistic significance primarily due to ignorance  and as I have come to realize, play a very important role in widening of the mental horizon (no, it’s not philosophical). Now the validity of such an argument (which is also similar to self-boasting with or without the pride) might not connect with you directly but I would implore you to look back at your life and identify those friends who introduced you to something new at any point of time and which has eventually become an important part of your life today – would you, if given an opportunity, want it to go any different? You might reason that all of it was accidental and you would be right but that’s the point I am trying to make. Stepping into an IIM, you can be rest assured that the batch itself will have a meaningful diversity which will come across strikingly and which will open your mind to things that you didn’t know of or consciously/subconsciously ignored. Personally for me, this was my greatest learning from IIM Lucknow and whilst grades may be the most important thing for you (rightfully so, for a good job), never compromise on this aspect for it will benefit you in ways you will realize only later.

    So coming to the question again, it’s best to say that IIMs today are portrayed by the society as the “Stairway to Heaven” but for some individuals it just ends up being “Just Another Brick in the Wall”. Truth of IIMs lies somewhere in between just like the fact that average salary there is between the highest package ever so highlighted by the media and the lowest one whose story is not so truthfully told to the world but like every other outcome, it depends on us and us only. If we were to restrict ourselves to the yardstick of money (which a lot of people do), we are bound to be just marginally better than what we were before (holds true for the majority) but there is a way which no one talks about which is equally important, if not more, which helps in the long term by complementing the IIM brand as it is perceived to be. IIM is more than just a placement agency; it’s an opportunity to get to know the world better not necessarily through knowledge but through understanding the different aspects of the world (art, literature, poetry, food, culture etc.) better from the experiences of those around you.

    In the end, remember long after you have passed out of IIM and have a family and a job, you will look back the time in IIM as a happy memory irrespective of whether you had any regrets at that time because it just wouldn’t matter – you would be content and thus, happy. So, don’t treat it like something which is a do or die matter but like an opportunity where you can harness the true power of diversity to build a strong base for your future career whatever it may be.

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