(The tagline of this post goes “What not to do at IIM”)
Yes, folks. It’s been over a year at IIMB; my temporary *marriage* to PGSEM continuing quite successfully. *Wiping sweat off brow*.
I can declare that I have not just been initiated to the world of management, but effectively tainted. I have graduated to the stage where I can dole out valuable tips on:
- How to achieve a zen-like state of calm, when you have
- 4 term projects (20 pages each) to write, 2 cases (30 pages each) to read, 1 mid-term exam to write for B-school AND
- 1 proposal (40 slides) to submit, two teams to manage AND 1 cultural event to handle in office AND
- Several other non-trivial issues to resolve at home (such as your maid doing a disappearing act for a whole week)
all in the span of 1 week (which effectively translates to a max of 10 potential hours that may be used – moral of the story being that no amount of worrying is gonna help you with your f%$#ing backlog)
- Which are the best TV shows that enable you to stay awake till 1.30 PM at night, so that you can simultaneously (attempt to) devote your attention to the cases/reading material/exercises/projects. (God bless the creators of Sex and the City, Friends and all T&L shows).
- How YouTube is such an incentivizing tool
- Smart professors who know exactly what your weak points are, have liberal doses of youtube in the classroom sessions, so much so that you are running to attend class at 8 AM on a Saturday, because you get to see all those wonderful videos … *contented sigh*
- You can devise unique You-Tube rewards to incentivize study hours … say every half hour of study entitles you to 15 minutes of youtube (or for that matter, twitter, google reader, facebook.. you name it ;))
- How you can justify to yourself the phenomenal increase in weight, since it is directly proportional to the amount of MBA jargon that adds weight to your *persona* (take a load of this: “competitive advantage”, “strategic positioning”, “moving up the value chain”, “sustainable ecosystem”, “cost arbitrage”, “network/multiplier effect”… oh boy oh boy oh boy)
- How time-travel is not a miracle anymore. The moment we 30-somethings step into the IIM campus, we zoom back in time, and are reduced to a babbling set of 16 year olds – yanking our book loads around the campus, furtively eyeing anyone who remotely resembles a prof, bunking classes and hanging around corridors whilst drinking tea and munching on puffs, whispering and passing stuff around in class, sms-ing each other making pointed jokes about… well, our state of stupor… I guess you get the picture :P.
- How you can become experts at reading a 30 page case in half hour… the secret being that you never read line by line, you see. Train your eyes to pick up only the most striking of words per paragraph, concoct a story inside your brain that *somehow* links all these up, and then elaborately garnish and transfer onto paper. The likelihood of you matching up to what you would have done after an hour and half of intensive study of the case – is 100%. (Cardinal Rule: If you haven’t got it in you, no amount of breaking your brains is going to help!)
- How back-to-back classes are extremely useful opportunities – NEVER let them pass by. The second lecture is the most opportune time to
- Decide on your dinner plans [you could actually spend some productive time romanticizing about how you could potentially go for a candle-lit gourmet dinner accompanied by soft music, with your hubby (no matter if the two of you land up munching on idlis in the nearby Darshini, despite all the day-dreaming) – the time is still well spent!]
- Make your grocery list
- Doodle on your/your neighbour’s notebook and draw a) pretty girls b) flower art c) ghastly ghosts d) amoeba
- Write down the list of songs that you *must* download and save in your ipod
- Let your mind walk free… and conjure up sufficient gossip or humorous (or humorous-gossip) situations that can be subject for the next tea and biscuits break
- Feel hungry and grimace (or make going-to-die-of-hunger gestures) at your friends sitting nearby – indicating the tipping of a cup with your hands, as they return understanding nods.
- (hmmm, … there are so many other productive pursuits…maybe I should make this the subject of yet another blog)
- How Finance, Marketing, Operations, Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Organizational Behaviour, People Management, Cost Accounting, Economics and Quantitative Methods sounds interesting, only prior to your doing the MBA. Two years of going over the vast repertoire of these subjects , and you’re most likely to do an about-turn and run at the mere mention.
- How the vast perks of being in an institute like IIMB is that you get to see Entrepreneurial masterminds, Ivy League stars, Political greats and yes, Aamir Khan 😉
And oh, my list is not yet over, but you sort of get the point. I’m now truly feeling IIM coursing through my veins.
But what are the real BIG lessons I’ve learnt in this one year (and a quarter that is ongoing…)? Well, that would be these three:
- Chetan Bhagat was right. Cooperate to Dominate or C2D as he puts it, does work. Although I haven’t implemented it exactly as described in the book 🙂 but today it inspires me like nothing else. Of the few thousand eureka moments I have had during the one-year stint, the most useful one was realizing that learning Macroeconomics and Operations Management on your own is like pulling a Vampire to your neck and asking him to suck blood. It was somewhere during the middle of quarter 2, when I realized that Macroeconomics was just not a subject you could cram in a day before the exam, while two-timing it with a movie. On the day of the mid-term, considering the (excellent) shape we both were in, one of my newfound non-chaddi buddy and me, decided to bunk a lecture hour and study together. That one and half hour duration may have been my most productive study session ever, because suddenly everything… GDP, GNP, Consumption, Fiscal deficits, Investments fell into their place in a jigsaw puzzle in my mind, and I was beginning to feel like I had almost authored that book. Over time, the sessions became our most potent weapon. There were 4 of us most of the time, and we spent a bunked class or two or a couple of Sunday hours, to have an intensive study-workout. And the result? I graduated from being a 2 something pointer to a 3 something pointer [4.0 being the max btw :)] and an interesting sprinkling of A’s in my grade sheet. Now do you believe me when I say C2D works?!
- Professors are precious gifts of humankind (No, I don’t know if any of my profs are reading this right now, and NO, I have not been paid to write this). If you ask me what makes IIMs stand apart, I would say it is the professors. Some of them are this unique combination of excellence, unparalleled dedication and pedigree, and yet totally grounded in their values – honesty, ethics and integrity. A few of our lectures are nothing short of near-theatrical performances that evoke thrills up your spine and leave you mouth-wide-open. No jargon, no bombastic speeches – just pure wisdom and insight. And the humanity aspect at the end of it all is what bowls me over at the end of the day.
I have a story to narrate here: One of my friends was finding it really difficult to manage studies, esp. for one of the conceptual subjects, since she was going through a very rough phase at work. When she got one of her papers evaluated, with the lowest marks she had ever got, and a note to “please call me” from the professor – it was like the worst thing to have ever happened. With considerable amount of trepidation, she called him up, fully expecting to be humiliated. The first thing he said to her is “What happened? Where have I gone wrong? And what can I do for you?”… the voice at the other end a mixture of compassion, sympathy, and deep humane understanding. He said to her – “The marks that you have got are not a reflection of your capability. I know you, I have seen you and I know you have it in you. These marks are a reflection of the fact that I haven’t been able to reach you through my teachings, and is just an indication that I need to try harder. So don’t for a moment take it as failure on your part. We will work through your problem areas, and see what we need to do …. Together”.
That for me (ladies and gentlemen) was power. The capability of being able to pick someone up from their lowest point and give them a means to reach the top.. something only an educationist-par-excellence can do.
- And the final aspect. When I decided to do my MBA, I thought it would help me understand “business”… I remember reading the economic/profit/business sections of newspapers and wanting to know more – and MBA seemed the best way. But now that I have done a year of it all, I don’t think an MBA teaches only business anymore. The course has turned out to be “life education”. Every day of class, there is atleast one moment I wonder why my eyes and ears weren’t open earlier, for the kind of knowledge that I had just come across. I wistfully think of the countless years I spent not knowing so much … the way human beings thought and behaved, the way people survived in different parts of the world, the environment, the ethos of different countries, social responsibility, inspiring leadership, wars, movements, economic ups and downs. I can only say that I have a long way to go to make up for lost ground, but I’m glad I have started.
And I’m looking forward to a year and a half of this enormously exciting journey. It has been great :). Adios Amigos!