Another Journey Ends…

Some great man once said, its the journey that matters, not the destination. True to the core, another short but sweet journey comes to an end in another two days. Formal academic processes are done and I would be moving out of the campus soon. The nostalgia is sinking in. I see people who decided to leave early move, one by one e-Mails are trickling in bidding goodbye to the family of Great Lakers who were a part of the life for over a year now.

Most evenings are booked in the nearby restaurants for farewell dinners of the groups that were formed/ we were a part of. A few of my colleagues like Keerthi, convinced us to visit the Karmayoga village – Neikuppi to bid goodbye and set a base for the next batch to interact with them. Worthy it was.

Signing off from KarmaYoga at Neikuppi

Signing off from KarmaYoga at Neikuppi

Even now, I do not know where the sleep has run away! (On an honest note, seeing India bat, I had slept across the first innings of today’s match). But before the match, me, Keerthi, Puneet and Ravi made a point to go the village meet the school kids – bid a warm goodbye and head back to Great Lakes. The highly talked about India – Pak match also turned out to be exciting in the second half and my only hope now – India must win this world cup for one man – Sachin Tendulkar (MSD are you listening?). Today’s match was screened in the Great Halls of Great Lakes and almost the entire batch turned up without any force ;).

It has been a great year and I would like to quote Peter Robinson from Snapshots from Hell… (Lil’ modified)

“By the third week of Term 1, business school had succeeded in afflicting me with variations of the Stockholm Syndrome, named after the incident in which a hostage in a stockholm Bank Robbery fell in love with one of her captors.” [ Peter Robinson in ” Snapshots from Hell : The making of an MBA “]

Every one I am sure has fallen in love with this remote place and how much ever experience he or she has, has enjoyed being a student again for an year. Will miss the faculty, colleagues, life at Great Lakes. Our batch was called the Gladiators and Great Lakes shall remain the Colosseum where we fought and won… I salute every classmate of mine and close this post dedicating this article to my fellow group mates who spent quite a lot of energy in ensuring that we will be up to speed in our work… An ode to the group H3 G7.


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Bee School Chronicles… Part 2

[Honest note: Things have changed after writing this article. This must be the third edition after censorship was imposed by quite a few of my friends and exclusive readers of this blog!]

Interestingly, the final version of this article is an outcome of a boring cricket match. I came down to Mysore hoping to see at least one India match on my Panasonic Viera, this world cup and well… ended up watching this till-now boring India-Ireland tie just under a hundred miles away at the Chinnaswamy. In the earlier post BSC1, had mostly covered how I joined Great Lakes and the first few I met over there. Without much fuss in Part II, I would cover the life over the next few terms before we head for a closure of the series sometime in Mid-April. The past two weeks, I have been walking a couple of people around the campus and the sad part, the first question they want to hear about mostly is where will we be placed! Not sure if my batchmates thought so as well. I feel the first question must focus on, I target this, if I need to be there, how will I achieve it. I may not be the right person to comment so given that I am still hunting for the two of my dream profiles, which seem to drift away every time they are near me! In the next few terms at Great Lakes, I saw many such people who did not know where to go, what to do in the long term, will the current profile suit them in the long term, whether, they would suit the organization they join – To me, these mattered more than just a job – My advice to the many who seek (Yeah… sometimes even I give free advice, just like everyone ;)), is that do not focus on a job focus on a career. There is quite a lot of difference between just a job and a career!

Era 2 (IGL – In Great Lakes)

The fun about a one year MBA is that you ‘have no time to think about anything and you have time to think about everything!’. My next ten months at Great Lakes were focused mostly on the lessons from each of the professors who threw light on the various career options subtly in their classes. It was upto us to pick up the cues and some did. Term one ended, Our dean had left and we were receiving his weekly mailers from NorthBrook, which remains a unique characteristic of Great Lakes. He was due to come back and teach us Managerial Accouting. Prof. Surysekar, being the doyen of Financial Accounting, had thwarted away my questions on Budgeting a few days earlier telling that it must be Prof. Bala who will teach you this and I do not want to take away the credits. I was wondering why!

Many took a break after Term 1. A few traveled as far as Mumbai leaving us, who stayed back to complete and submit the assignments on their behalf! Favors were returned back – not to worry! Before we could realize the classes had started. The stories of the terms were spicy, bland, sweet and yeah any other flavor you can think of. Karthik, my dear friend had ensured he will catch a seat for us in every class (more like a bus reservation), depending upon how interesting the class would be. We were assigned desks in some of the classes, but for the rest, we used to ensure that Maama – Krish, would sleep at peace. God knows what he was upto, he even ended up sleeping in the Dean’s class! But the moment he woke up, he would add some value and sleep back again.

Term 2 was lull and boring. Had an array of finance subjects and classes running almost 10-12 hours sometimes. Had the toughest exam of my life in Term 2. For a fact, I did not understand how Faculty Assistants were allocated, we had one of the most incompetent assistant for the most competent faculty (that happens even now!). Some subjects were a cakewalk. There were subjects on IT, Human Resources etc… but to rate the best subject of the Term, it was Macro Economics, taken by Dr. Rakesh Singh. He was dreaded before he landed in Great Lakes and when he left, he was the most adored one. The term also had the announcement of our new Career Services director, who would go on to become one of the most closest to students of Great Lakes in the coming days. He stayed on campus and was easily accessible for any queries 24/7. I think we had our Managerial Accounting classes this term as well and if I am not wrong, they were taken my Krish (whenever he did not sleep), Prannay and Priyanka.

Out of nowhere came Term 3, it was more or less the biggest brush with knowledge. Some subjects were repetitive, Management Information Systems and Statistics. Again, there was a grind of an Empirical Research going on – Just wondered, if I had touched upon so much Statistics even in Engineering! People always have problems and I realized that – Students had a problem with the way everything functioned, and Management had a problem with the way, the students functioned. The sufferers of wrong-regulations always suffered.

Term 3, was one of the most valuable terms in terms of knowledge. I had some fascinating subjects which laid the base for my future. Most people considered Strategy to be a little overboard (Yesterday, Mr. Haider even told me on the Wharf of the Temple Bay, that the way I explained something to him, I must be a Strategy major – Oh Comeon!), but well the basics that subject laid combined with a subject that would come in Term 7 was probably something no corporate should miss! Above all, we were probably being taught by one of the most experienced faculty in the domain. Jack Welch ruled. In fact, I re-started reading Jack – Straight from the Gut, right after my Strategy Classes. Every corporate house from Pepsi to Disney to GE were covered with the BCG’s – McKinseys and Porter’s model not giving a miss in a single class! Then we had Negotiations, by far one of the most practical subjects taught in the most practical way. Ahalya, Amol and Myself were involved in ‘pucca maaru’ types negotiations, sometimes without realizing who was creating value for whom! At end of the course one statement stood out – ‘Hold your bladders!’. The course also had one of the best movies I have seen in Great Lakes screened – The Negotiator. By the end of the course, we had Deepak Chopra’s amazing guide and had negotiated products ranging from a second hand Maruti car to a big Real Estate option.

We had Management Information Systems as well. Though it was a repeated course, for most of us from Technology, the Professor – Sridhar Nerur, added lots of value and gave tons of information on research and how to conduct research and the practicality of the research. We had a repetitive Quantitative Analysis subject and of course not to forget the first Operations Management subject covered by the coveted ‘Showman’ Vaidy Jayaraman. His classes were amusing and informative at the same time. One thing for sure, it was again one of the most enjoyable courses.

The term also introduced us to Market Research, the famous punchline of – ‘Close your Laptops’ was born. As one of my colleagues in one of his earlier mails to the class had mentioned, just to hear Prof. Bhardwaj make this statement, people used to keep the laptops open! It was fun enjoyable and well SPSS (the IBM product, not the nicknames!) was put to the best use in this class. Most of my batchmates ended up doing surveys standing in front of jewellery shops, being chased away by security guards etc… while we chose a path less traveled as usual… pitching in to study the response for the Supreme Court’s law on Article 371!

Last but not the least, we had the most soft spoken and doyen of Organizational Behavior, Prof Irudayaraj from XLRI come down to Great Lakes this term. His OB classes lasted just over an hour or so, but was attended with great respect and patience. He kind of had a fan club of his own, by the time he left the campus. The end of the term was however sad, Prof. Xavier had moved over to IIM Ranchi as its director and had left not only a vacant position in the organization but also in the hearts of many Gladiators. It took some time for the news to sink in.

The Big Bang happened – We moved to Term 4, we had to choose our own electives. My God! Calm down, nothing happened, but I was overawed by the confusion that reigned over choosing the electives! My list was clear, if you wanted to go and do something, you know what to pick – unless that subject was scrapped and you were confused! So big was the confusion that alumni came down to the campus and the Career club had got down people from IIM-C Alumni association to guide us! Cool though, got to interact with quite a few people, though the meets were of little help for me in choosing my electives.

Term 4, by far remains the best in terms of my academic performance as well as interests. The term started off with the much hyped ‘Leadership Influence and Power’ course. The course needs no introduction to Great Lakers and yeah I had written an SOP to get selected to that course. The course lived up to the hype and I will not disclose the course contents abiding by its bylaws. Dr. Venkat ensured that each of us think practically and bring out the best in the class. I am sure that the entire set of 55, who completed the course, did not miss even a single pre-read and are honored to have studied under him. For those who had not picked the course, the fact that we used to stick to our rooms and study was a problem – ‘LIP waalo… Baahar Aaaao Saalo’ had become a synonymous cry everyday in the hostels. We even completed a 35 hour Karma Yoga and authored a whitepaper for this course on our Leadership experiences in a nearby village called Neikuppi – with Mr. Keerthi Ashokkumar, who called himself the Playboy of Great Lakes. Of course, at the fag end, we even got together at the Radissons Temple Bay, for a casual interaction.

The term also had more practical subjects like Brand Management. Even to-date, when I met folks from Vertebrand or did their internships, one of the major savior was Prof. Swami’s Brand Management slides. On the car to Chennai, every time I would have a dose of his slides and how to practically build a brand thoughts run through my mind. Some words like DIODVAC, The four Who, What, What About, What About You and Me???….. questions will probably be etched in the memories of several who picked this course. Coupled with this was the Integrated Marketing Communications program run by Mr. Jayraj Rau and co at Great Lakes. The ex-JWT team descended on our campus and gave us insights on Marketing Communications, PR, Creativity, Media Planning. We too ended up created an advert for a diaper.

Apart from that Iman conferred upon me the award of being the most autocratic person he met :). Thanks for my guidelines for the never ending Project Management assignments. We had done a marriage plan using Microsoft Project Planner (which was supposed to be used for Iman’s marriage) and yes of course had started the steps to prepare for the PMP exam completing the necessary course hours! Supply Chain Modeling and Analysis missed out a major part. Did not like that subject that much!

‘What do you do selling saboon and shampoo????’ – Its a different era and you need to sell different things differently! Understand – ‘Whom to pursue, How to convert’ – Many of the questions raised in between innumerable graphs that were drawn and quadrants that represented so many unknown things! Yeah Distribution and Sales Management had a 100 page book, but the way Prof. V K Murti covered it, it was like expanding the 100 odd pages in Ram Charan’s – What the CEO wants you to know to some 1000 odd! Again, another great subject, professor and read, got over just within 20 hours :(! Meanwhile there were issues here and there, some had issues with food, with scores, with contests and what not, but well with so much knowledge around and a stupid fly that had entered my room, to be driven out, I did not bother!

Aaahh… I had almost forgotten! I must have mentioned that I had picked up Admissions team to serve Great Lakes as a part of my way to give something to the college. We had a photo shoot to shoot the campus from different angles and well, things did not go well with me. At this point, I stepped out of mainstream activities and enjoyed playing the second fiddle by being a campus tour guide ;). Later I realized that not everyone are the same and well, people are thoughtless and never look at the greater good of doing something. No – I am not heading towards altruism.

Meanwhile, Prof. Swami, me and Binoy had picked up a situation with one of a Healthcare major in Chennai and had come up with a case for them to expand into a hub and spoke. More or less, we had covered what they were upto now and what their offerings were leaving the case open at that point.

Term five sunk in. The highlight – T. N. Sheshan, former Chief Election Commissioner India and Shri N Vittal, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner. They taught Ethics at Great Lakes and no two better people to hear about ethics from. Good 20 hours. People like my friend Puneet, used the occasion to increase their political clout. The rest of us listened to the stories doled out by Mr. Sheshan and Mr. Vittal. Had yet another boring subject called Ramayana, Bhagwadgita and Management – Honestly one the courses that I sat through with no use. Talk of to-be-leaders? 🙂 – There are quite a few people who had a mention here, for now, respecting my reviewer’s intent, I leave this space ‘blank’.

Life continued with many subjects – Mergers and Acquisitions, Financial Statements Analysis, Enterprise Resource Planning (I gave a presentation on MS Dynamics ERP here!), New Product Development – which I thought was a perfect example of how to ask people to do a PhD program. No pun intended, but yeah that’s what it was. Pricing Strategies was an enjoyable subject but my dear friend Mr. Binoy ended the course on a high quoting that Toyota Fortuner did not need brakes! Yeah! Our dean took another course in Term 5, called Strategic Cost and Profitability Management.

Below comic (Source: PHD Comics) would add some spice to the New Product’s course I had picked this term!

 

Do You Wanna Do a PhD?

 

The war had begun in Term 5, yeah I had not covered the placement season without which probably the whole of Term 5 would have been boring and without entertainment for me. I was waiting for the right role, location etc…. Okay, Great Lakes had two placement weeks for our batch and the week 1, we had top class firms come in on Day 1 and Day 2. I had applied to only two of them and had ZERO shortlists or in Dr. Bala’s own terms Zilch :). Accenture and Infy were my only targets and the college had rejected my infy application given that I had submitted it Three minutes late (Thats the discipline in Great Lakes and Yes, I RESPECT it). Yeah Three… You always thought Three and its multiples were lucky??? So there I was with zero calls, zero interviews after five days of placements and lifting my hand every time Dr. Bala asked who is yet to be placed in the class! Somehow enjoyed it, though there was a concern in mind, I never had thought the college would need to be a placement agency for me. It is not! Somehow enjoyed this situation.

So Term 5 ended without much ado for me where as celebrations had started and continues for many Gladiators. Vidhya had got through HCL, Karthik, me, Binoy, Iman, were still looking around. Sharath had settled at home ground for Infy. But by far the most deserving candidate was Indraneel. He put in his effort, took the right channels and made it through his dream job at Great Lakes, a well deserved one.

Another placement week came by. Again just one shortlist and well dinged in the interview! Shocked. Had a long chat with my Prof. He too was unable to understand the psychology behind hiring. An excellent interview, a matching profile, still what do the firms want! Binoy got through Accenture this time around

There was also a rumor on campus, if you own a Mac, you do not get a job. Nitin Pahuja, broke the rule last week. Hehe – yeah some soothsayer made this statement and all the MUGs – Mac User Group Members want to prove it wrong.

Term Six went by as well. A highly obnoxious gaseous subject called Technology Management passed by. We presented a notorious presentation on Human Augmentation. Still not able to link this subject to the course! Had e-Marketing. Mr Ratan KK from GutsGo walked us through the Digital Marketing techniques in his 20 hour program which was cool, nice and different. Was probably the only one in the Digital Marketing class who at that point of time, did not have an account on facebook!

Not always will their be a good pair. I did not attend any marriages recently, the comment is unnecessary in that perspective. I always felt that the most inappropriate Teaching Associate is tagged with the Most Appropriate faculty and it happened again. I would not take names here :). Yeah but well since I picked the marriage tag here, I missed quite a few marriages – Thyagi/Rekha, Vignesh, Savitha, Archana, Dhana(?????), Sneha – Sorry folks and yes a few relatives’ as well (this part I am glad to have missed).

I began my journey in Term 3 with Strategy and would probably be ending my journey in Great Lakes studying strategy! We had a great professor teach us the Economics of Strategy. Every concept that Prof. Sriram had touched upon in Term 3, was discussed in much more details with Great cases to follow. Live day to day examples were covered and we enjoyed the classes! Whoever suggested Dr. Suresh Srinivasan, hats off!

‘Ni Hao’, ‘Ni Shenti Hao ma’ – When you probably entered an ancient Gurukul, you would hear Mantras being chanted to appease the gods. Come to Great Lakes, you will hear such un-understandable mantras. Naah.. We are learning Mandarin. And yeah it sounds no less than one of those hymns you would sing. I have given three tests till now in Mandarin and yeah to a large extent have learnt quite a few words to survive in case I land in the Middle Kingdom.

Its hardly over a week to vacate this cozy G3J numbered room of mine. The AC is still running at 19Degrees. But the nostalgia is yet to set in fully. Someone all of  a sudden still sings the old Kishore songs in the midnight while I curse, nudge my Rug back and sleep. My last subject is over as well and it was Damn Damn Damn GOOD and Binoy/ Me/ Indraneel are acting as Tour Guides and answering every minute query that the Spartans who visit the campus have with the former and the latter even extending their presence to the Social Media forums. Puneet sends in the menu for next week and more or less I have decided to eat out unless I have a call scheduled. Have finished my internship as well with Vertebrand and had fun working with them.

As I close these snapshots, I still have a lot to share about the people, the place, the organization and yeah that all will conclude in the last part. There were several events as well at our own Great Lakes, several stalwarts visited us. But if I cover that here, there will be only Spice in the  last version. So Just wait… And Read on… For Now..