Monday, April 08, 2013

Bidding adieu...

Last Monday was the most memorable day for the outgoing batch of PGSEM - Convocation and receiving of diploma from Mr. Mukesh Ambani. And I believe this will be my last post as a PGSEMer in this blog.

It has been almost three years since we entered this campus as a PGSEMer. More than 200 case studies, 60 exams, 30 projects and hundreds of sleepless nights - that is what it took for us to reach where we are today as a proud IIMB alumnus. Life as a PGSEMer gifted some of the most memorable days to us. Whether it was the mesmerizing lectures by our Professors, or interaction with the industry stalwarts or the long long hours of intellectual discussions during projects - they provided some of the exciting moments. We had the opportunity to interact with eminent personalities like Dr APJ Abdul Kalam to Henry Mintzberg or from Anna Hazare to Narain Karthikeyan  or from Harish Hande to Anand Sharma. While it would be unfair to pick just a few, I would like to call out some of our personal experiences from PGSEM. Grueling; yet fun-filled orientation days by our seniors were perhaps the most memorable which helped us break the ice quickly and become a group. Some of the occasions that proved our caliber were when the 'one' thought that stuck us at 1AM while sitting in EPGP lounge becoming an insight appreciated by Professor the next day in Consumer Behavior elective or the five minutes pitch that we made during class that was well received or the impact we made through our projects in helping NGOs. At the same time, it was not always positive too; we also had some 'get-out my class' and even professors closing the class abruptly because we didn’t read the case.

Mahatma Gandhi once said “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” I think all the PGSEM students believe in this; otherwise we would not have joined PGSEM sacrificing the weekends, family functions and official promotions for three years to learn more. At the same time we all had the desire somewhere in the mind to achieve those heights that we dream t of, that the media boasted about for IIM students. Some of us are confident of reaching those heights, some are already in the path, some are struggling; some are even skeptical. But, I am one hundred percent sure that with the caliber we have, each one of us will reach the echelons that we dream t of tomorrow if not today and make a difference in this world. Otherwise we won't have reached here, studied in one of the best B Schools and received the wisdom from some of the brightest faculty in our country  and  received our diplomas from stalwarts like Mukesh Ambani or Raghuram Rajan. We juggled multiple demands while we were a PGSEMer; didn't succumb to any pressures and proved what we are capable of. I am confident we all will strike the iron when it is hot!

Some of the life-time friends were made during these years; there was also a couple in our batch :); some of us started our own; some of us are all set to join big names in the industry post PGSEM. While we conquer the new heights every day, I wish we never forget those who helped us to get through this course - the one who helped us quickly revise portions for an exam or the one who stepped up for us during projects when we had a bad day at office or the one who gave advice in handling a personal situation or the ones with whom we watched endless number of movies; and those who provided us the much needed moral support!

While I officially exit the iconic grey wall, some of my long pending dreams are fulfilled, some are yet to come true. Some of the lessons I learn-t will act as a beacon in my future and some of the memories are to be forgotten. This blog gave me an inspiration before joining the course; and to write about my experiences during the course. Managing some aspects of PGSEM online channels including this blog were some of my first online marketing experiences :).  I hope to continue my blogging at An MBA Diary.

I thank all the readers of this blog for the continued patronage to us and I am sure my junior batches will continue to bring the PGSEM life experience to you through this blog.

Once again, I take this opportunity to congratulate PGSEM class of 2013 and wish all the very best...

ps: This post is a vivified version of my final speech given to the outgoing batch.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

5 reasons to do an exchange term abroad

It’s been long since I contributed to this blog however this is a very apt occasion to make a comeback by describing the experience of an exchange term. For those uninitiated: PGSEM offers the students a chance (or 2 chances which I’ll explain later) to take one of their term in a foreign university. This is the same as offered to the PGP batch studying along with you and same to the extent that the rank list for choosing universities is common between the PGP and PGSEM students. For e.g. this year’s 2nd ranker overall was a PGSEMer and he got to choose London Business School for his exchange term.

Anyways, exchange university selection process is a thrill in itself but to keep it short, around the 4th quarter of your studies, you’re asked to choose if you want to take a quarter abroad. Now by 2 chances I meant that since PGSEM has 10 quarters so they get to opt 2 times for the exchange process (though they can only take 1 exchange term during the course). Based on your 1st quarter marks, all students, PGP and PGSEM are ranked together and asked to choose the universities in order of the student’s rank. And don’t worry, IIM Bangalore has partnerships with most top institutes in all geographies.

Now coming back to the topic, what are the top 5 reasons for PGSEM students specifically to do an exchange term abroad? Though reasons below might overlap with numerous folks who have taken exchange term at different universities, ones stated below are strictly derived from my experience at NUS Business School, Singapore. Ordered from least important to the most important according to me:

Subject Choice is good reason for taking up an exchange. A lot of schools IIM has tie up with work in a university system and what I found exciting was that at NUS Business School, you have access to the whole university to choose some of the subjects. People can take up 1 subject outside of Business School in any discipline of their choice. Some people picked up Chinese language, some picked Music and so on. I ended up picking a course with school of design and environment out of my interest in Clean Tech. Even the business school would present you a different subject choice simply because they’re a different school with different faculty. To state it another way: It’s not needed that the foreign university is better, it’s better that there is more variety at your disposal.

Networking:  I feel that exchange term drastically increases your network. Especially when you’re a PGSEMer, you’re interacting with your batch mates in classes and to some extent after classes for extracurricular or projects. Being full-time in a hostel with a bunch of MBA students is a totally different experience. The friendships formed when you’re studying together, networking together (read partying) or eating together are fairly more involved. A totally new environment and new country helps your forge several new friendships in a short duration. Also since you’re studying full time, you could pick up even unpaid internships in fields that you’re more interested in and build your network further.

Diversity: Your network is not only large but more Diverse. Going into a foreign university during the exchange term, brings in people from various nationalities and various backgrounds. If two people had the same set of people they knew, the gain in network connections is not that much, but if the set of people are totally from different field and country, you gained a whole new network of friends. However perhaps scoring high on people you know is the least benefit of working in a diverse group. You learn a lot about team work, cultural sensitivity and tacit knowledge about dealing with a variety of people that’s much more valuable.

Career Services: Another important reason for me to choose exchange was for the career services that the exchange school provided. Let me clarify, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be sitting in placements in foreign school. What it means is that you can take help from career services of these schools to improve your profile, get your resume reviewed or even attend presentations from companies you’re interested in.

Taking MBA without work: Lastly but most importantly for a PGSEMer, an exchange term provides an opportunity to take your MBA without work. You’d note I didn’t use the word “Full-time” because for one I can tell is that the number classroom contact hours are exactly the same per subject either ways. What changes is that you’re much more focussed on the subjects and don’t have to switch context too much. If it was to me, I’d say PGSEMers are the most hardened MBA graduates who can balance more than any other full time folks. However at the same time, it’s a pleasant break to be able to concentrate on your subjects full time, pick up more subjects, spend your extra time in extracurricular activities and be a student again.

However at the end of the day, there is opportunity cost involved.  PGSEMers are constrained by their work commitments sometime and cannot take this unpaid break from work. Such long a break might even put your employment at risk. This decision finally rests on the person taking it and s/he has to fix all these. There are some schools which even give scholarships to IIM students and if not totally free, the trip costs reduce drastically.

It was a great experience for me and I hope some of the above reasons resonate with you and you take this exciting opportunity that PGSEM provides you.


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