Are B Schools Serious?

Every time I hear someone is doing an MBA, I am just frightened to give any advice. In fact I did dissuade a few people over the past few weeks given that they were in a better position and well just wanted to do an MBA for the heck of it. Same way, I did guide a couple who were fixed on what to do and where to go post MBA, but just needed a jolt of confidence.

I am scared to suggest someone to do an MBA or rather PGPM as some B schools call it just because of two reasons 1) The aspirant is unplanned 2) The schools are just mushrooming everywhere and have everything to offer which might not be trustworthy.

The former case is just out of frustration, people are frustrated with the monotonousness in their current role and want to do something big. They just thing they can do big by doing an MBA. It does take a lot of patience and time to convince them that its no use doing an MBA for the heck of a degree in any Tom Dick and Harry B school. No school can be an IIM, XL or an ISB whatever the founder(s) claim(s)! But well, many fall into the trap and hardly get any improvement over their previous jobs or realize later that they would have grown way higher had they put up or been patient with their current jobs.

The second, except the top B schools, read the IIMs, XL and ISB, I am losing trust in the rest. Neither do they have proper industry backing that they claim nor they stick to their promise (Of course there are a few like one of them in Mysore, which openly quote that we are not a job factory, join for learning). Quote Unquote “I will increase the seats in this school over my dead body!”, said a dean of one of India’s still upcoming B Schools, but of late, I saw the same school increase its intake a couple of batches later and well above all change its offering. The school was known for its one year program, but looked like it decided to ditch its own premier offering for a 2 year program. Do understand this might be considering the market dynamics, but well the way it was branded and communicated, it looked like we are ditching our premier offering, which was a key differentiation. So the initial offering seemed like just a platform to build the brand and then….

The B schools go a long way promising placements, hiding the real facts on placements and falsely boost students’ confidence, but well the truth will be a lot different. In fact I know a dean who has claimed for three consecutive years (I did speak to ppl form three consecutive batches), that Mc Kinsey, BCG, Tata Administrative Services and Meryll Lynch would come to the campus for recruitment, but well except for a guest lecture from one of them, the statement has been a damp squib. In fact when I did my Masters as well, I was promised a certificate which authorizes me to do a 6 month Masters in US in a B school, haven’t seen the certificate till now! Glad that I got my degree certificate :).

My word to those who are aspiring any of the B School set up in the past decade or so – Don’t trust the advise given in Meet The Deans/ Admin Directors or any B School Show offs! Visit the school first and get first hand information. Then speak to the alums – who were there 2-3 years back preferably one from each batch and compare the information you have on hand. If you are studying in India, check the placement stats, very much in person. And yes, please do not take decisions in a haste – Not all B Schools are serious.

PS: Some opinions are personal, some shared within a group, expect the reader to visit the schools and take a call. I am still trying to understand why people want to do a Fast-Track MBA (I did as well) or rather an MBA without plans. The article has been written after my interactions with a few aspirants over the couple of months, who just wanted an MBA and probably will get one too…

Bee School Chronicles – Part Trois (III) – AfterLife

If you have missed the earlier parts, here are the links:

Bee School Chronicles…. Part I http://wp.me/pCXKH-6f

Bee School Chronicles… Part 2 http://wp.me/pCXKH-6I

Another Journey Ends: http://wp.me/pCXKH-6U

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The past two weeks has been a life of mixed feelings. Have seen emotions run high. An exit from another home – which had been my abode for nearly a year was tough, given the people I met over there. Three Hundred in the midst of pristine forests, beside a sprawling Bay of Bengal near an Atomic Center was a life to cherish than living in a city with over a Million who do not care who you are. But again, home is always a better place to live with Great friends and relatives looking forward for your return. My return has been decently full of activities. Had a bike rike to Bangalore, an aimless evening on Chamundi Hills with Ajay, Abhi and Abhi, A gastronomic tour of Traditional Bangalore with Narla, RP and Rakesh and of course the lovely lazy Mysore!

Catching up from where I left. Term 6 was very innovative in terms of Learning. I had hardly expected a Prof. to run in wearing a Bandana to the class. That is what exactly Mr. Ratan KK of the GutsGo fame did. He was at it again! He taught his subject with great enthusiasm. He always used to repeat, Lets Be at It… and yes he practised it hard. He was at it always. Hope to cross roads with him again.

For all reasons that Mr. Cherian would disagree, I was happy with Term 7. I probably had found someone who had the same affinity towards Lotus as me! A saffronised three hour journey on Day 1 of the International Business Strategty forced one of the most ardent communists to rethink his stance on the left and the so called centrists who have screwed up our nation since independence! The 21 hours of scintillating lectures on International Business left us dumbstruck and had a great end to Great Lakes. Closed my Term and Life at Great Lakes (academic), with a Mandarin exam. Well even after that, just to show my affinity to French than Mandarin, as a language, I had to replace III with Trois int he heading of this post :).

I had made Itchy, Patchy mentions on placements at Great Lakes. I had not had a great season and looked like that came to an end. Got a decent offer on campus and picked it up. Where when how…. Wait n See. Of course, may not be the career I wanted to be in, but good enough.

Life at Great Lakes, was starry and scarry! The batch celebrated Holi in an Unholy way, the white walls looked pink, red, blue, green, yellow, orange aaah… name a color. And the result, better untold – my purse still wonders where the money was lost. With the world cup fever on, most important matches were screened at Great Lakes and I witnessed the India vs Pakistan semi-final with a near 300 crowd in the Great Halls of Great Lakes. Slowly people started moving out of the campus and a few cried, a few supressed tears. Karthik, Shanup etc… ensured they saw every one off the campus and then bid goodbye. I took a last minute decision as well and left on the first of April 2011 seen off by my best mates with a heavy heart. Not always do you love a place, but you definitely love the pepole in the place.

We have done different things at Great Lakes, probably we have etched our first business plan out of nowhere – Waniben, Somu, Siva and Cherian would probably agree. Met one of the best mentors in the process, from NEN. Yeah B School helps you chart a path for your life if not anything else!

The nature of your stay in the B School is that it will definitely have many lose ends to the tale. (I second Mr. Robinson when he quotes this). You will have 296 different stories about Great Lakes to hear from 296 different Gladiators. Life still moves on. For me, B-School has been an experience that can never be forgotten, for the knowledge gained, for the people….. all at a home away from home.

Closing my posts on Great Lakes with a few who would probably be etched in my memories forever!

1. Binoy/ Midhu, Megha, Iman, Krish – My great Study Group (I think we used to ensure that we stay together whenever possible even after the bonds of Term 1-3 were broken)

1A: Mr. Mukherjee – for all your Guts and Glory :).

2. Karthik Rajagopal *Just Karthik is too common a name!/ Sivaraman – Happy go lucky blokes (I take this back for Siva), Siva – the actual playboy of Great Lakes

3. Sharath Narla – Well, we shared common insights!

4. Puneet Singh – Everyone were preached LIP, he practised it!

5. Narendran – The daily dose of news (real news, not gossip)

6. Mr Aadhar Verma – Cynical, but practical (hmm…..)

7. Somnath/ Waniben – The Spliced adventure!

8. Bhat’s and the Pai’s – Cool, calm and composed!

9. Shiva/ Falguni – The Anupuram Walks

10. Mestha/ Chadha/ Vidhya – For all those IMC days!

11. Jr. Cherian – Alex – If nothing but Mysore and those stunning red Chaddis!

12. Ms. TK – For writing those five additional exams over the last few days. No one cried while they left the campus, but we had caught TK crying for having to write those exams.

13. Gandhi/ Sinha/ Lakhanpal – For all useless things 🙂 – Shanky catch you online buddy! and yes for the Pine Apple – never thought that could be a name when I heard it first.

14. Mrs. Sharmas and Ms Aggarwalas – For their intellectual capabilities and the former for sheer power to even push Mr. Mukherjee off a cliff with one hand.

15. The Menons – Rajiv and Rahul – One a finance geek another a no nonsense adcommer 🙂

16. The Peers – Calm, composed Mr. Shanup, who probably even the most irritating character cannot irritate

17. The Machcha – Mr. Keerthi Ashokkumar, who claimed to be the playboy of the batch on fb, and still owes treat or a lunch to a gal from Mumbai and another from a scary place starting with Muzaffar….

18. Nerur, The Vaidyanathans, Rakesh Singh, Ratan, Rau and his team – the visiting faculty who impressed the very second they spoke.

19. The Swamis, The Srirams, The Venkat, The Bala’s, The Veeravallis: Immortalized names in the lives of Great Lakers

The list goes on, but I stop here as a great lunch is calling me down.

We graduate on the 28th, with Mr. Premji slated to come along with the daughter of NTR whose name I do not remember and is a minister now with the Union Government. For further updates on me or my batchmates, mail back or stay in touch or check this blog, probably a few years, ten years, twenty years downt he line. (Yeah, I dont believe that the world will come to an end in 2012!)

From now starts another life of anxiety and uncertainity. Business School is not an easy way to riches or career changes. Not sure if more than 10% of my class has been able to make basic changes in their professional lives, if they ever thought they would make. The relations developed at Great Lakes is definitey a future economic benefit. Great Lakes has given us the contacts, its upto us to use them. Great Lakes has definitely made us smarter, tougher – We can always think – I made it thorugh Great Lakes, I can definitely make it through this! in times of any difficulties.

CONCLUDED

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.


The Art(Science) of Learning a Language

Whew! Nowadays, I am sitting in language classes at Great Lakes! Yes, I have to learn Mandarin as a part of my curriculum and trust me this has been one of the hardest language classes I have sat through.

Back in the early days of my life, I honestly do not remember the way I learnt my mother tongue Kannada. It somehow seemed to come from the blood and has stayed there ever since. Be it grammar or the accent (all the three – Malenadu, Mangalooru and Uttarakannada bhaashe- apart form the Mysore side Kannada), I have no clue how I caught them up. Many people who try to learn the language feel its tough to read, write and understand, but well…. Even for me, I started following Kannada only after joining Marimallappa’s Institutions, one of the premier schools in Karanataka State. In fact, I had found it difficult to mingle with non-English speaking folks for the first few days when I joined this school, but when I left this school, I had forgotten the accent/ the slang I had learnt from CFTRI!

Then as I grew up, I got acclimatized with English. Somehow it went on and on, with schools having 1st Language English and 3rd Language as Kannada, I was able to gain a decent understanding and vocabulary of the knowledge. Learning came from books, billboards (At that time, most of the billboards were in English!!!) and many other sources including posters in railway compartments! CFTRI school, where I joined for primary education kind of added the necessary fuel to learn this language and more importantly use it until I joined Marimallappa’s.

One more language that added on to my list at CFTRI was Hindi! Being the national language, I picked it up as the II Language and somehow due to the impact of Doordarshan and amazing teachers, I had no issue in picking up the language to a large extent. But now, if the same teachers run me through a grammar test for the language, they are surely going to stop teaching Hindi!

As I moved  on to Marimallappa’s probably given the value system over there, I picked up Sanskrit as my first language. The school had its prayers in Sanskrit (Titled – Om Shri Gurubhyon Namah) and everyone prayed with folded hands, being from Teresian’s and CFTRI, it took me over three months to get adjusted to this style and  I still remember Shri N R Muralidhar, teaching Sanskrit in the most methodical, yet interesting way! From the basics of Ramaha Paatam Patathi to the most complicated samaasas and chandass somehow Dr. Muralidhar made it look like a cakewalk. I also owe my handwriting to him. My writing was like a hen’s leg, before he trained me in all three – Kannada, English and Devanagari scripts.

Then, there was a pause in the language learning process, though it continued with Sanskrit and English at pre-university levels, no major impacts. Meanwhile, I was almost forgetting a dialect which I was speaking at home called Sankethi – the language has no script, its only spoken. My mom’s family used to speak in that language and I somehow caught it and was speaking very fluently. Well but kind of stopped speaking it after sometime, regaining the lost tongue now.

During the final year of my Engineering, was jobless with only two days of classes. I used to work in Hewlett Packard for four days and under a special arrangement, used to attend classes on Friday/ Saturday in Mysore. Sunday used to go waste and me being me, did not wanna let go of this time. Alliance Francaise under the leadership of Mrs. Meenakshi Sukumaran had opened up a branch in Mysore and I registered for French classes with her. Superman Subramanya also came down for a class, but well did not go beyond the first class given his busy schedule! Took about a year or so to learn basic french, given that I used to attend classes only once a week. Even now, I am in the same state, with no one to converse in French – but somehow it remains a nugget in my collection of the jewels called language.

As I traveled to Scotland, thoughts of learning Galic had crossed my brain, but when my tour guide made me listen to the Scottish National Anthem – The flower of Scotland in Galic – I gave up! But got to know that Scots are striving hard to preserve Galic as hard as we are trying to preserve Sanskrit, the oldest language in India. In a similar way, Welsh, is being promoted in Wales.

And now, the reason for the blog. Of late, whether one wants or not, everyone in Great Lakes are learning Mandarin. In this jargonized world – to gain a Competitive Advantage, one has to learn the language of the country which has the maximum population in the world – China. Trust me, however the geo-political scenario might turn out to be, I pity the Chinese for having had to learn the language. Someone once said, the volume of data coming today every second apparently matches the volume of words used by New York Times a century ago over a year and that probably matches the number of characters in Mandarin. Well, with such a large character set, I really think, Chinese take at least half their life learning their own language! So tough is the language that our professor here has declared that she would be happy if we say Hello in Chinese and ask for ‘Ubhayakushlopari Sampratha’ in Chinese. I meant ask for the well-being (and that was in Kannada)!

If I can claim that I can understand something in Mandarin also, that would be my Seventh language. I am not counting the few words I know in Galic, Welsh as an extended vocabulary – I am not certified in them! And yes, even after trying to learn and still learning Seven Languages I am wondering what is the art or science of learning a Language? How does it happen? May be calls for some research.

Managing the Impressions of a Brand

Half way through my MBA program, I rue that I cannot write much. Not that I have been lazing around, its just that I have not been spending enough time on wordpress, except when I get an IndiRank :). In Sanpshots from Hell, Peter Robinson recollects that he was lost somewhere in the midst of his MBA at Stanford not knowing what to do? Wondering was it because, Stanford is more Stats oriented and just now, I read somewhere that analysis with stats mostly leads to paralysis :). Joking. My stats based subject will start only next term, or wait, even after that, so until Dr. Seenu V Srinivasan from Stanford tries to ignite my mind with his Conjoint Analysis – Some Rest.

Am I contradicting my own statements, yes it looks like that, I started off writing that I had no time and looks like I ended exactly opposite. Huh!. That’s the way it is. Half the way you lose touch with what you speak/ what you write. Is it true??? I do not really know, must be true :). I have had some 18 hour days in the main block itself this term. The term started off with Distribution and Sales management where I was walked through quadrants after quadrants and I was lost for sometime as to which quadrant I am in. But well Prof. Murti rocked.

Have taken up very interesting courses this term, one Leadership, Influence and Power and two, Brand Management in sync with Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). Though I rue that I have not had even one single free day this term, pretty much I have enjoyed it and am continuing to enjoy it. As the term nears its end am wondering if there is a clear share of voice between the two subjects, Brand and Impression Management (some glances in Leadership Influ…). Clearly I feel ‘Yes’. Impression Management is branding yourself and Brand Management is of course Brand Management (hehe yeah it can be a person, place, product or a service). So in turn impression management is a part of Brand Management? You Agree? May be or may not be! IMC was more fun with pros from the industry coming down and sharing their experiences in advertising, Direct Marketing and PR/ Media. These are anyway going to drive the impressions of the brand.

Will not write more on the course/ curriculum, if you want to know about them, come join Great Lakes, the admissions are open for the Batch of 2012 – http://www.greatlakes.edu.in/admissions

As brand Great Lakes reaches new heights, I hope we Gladiators start planning for the Spartans arrival and mentor them from now itself towards becoming future managers with Global Mindset and Indian Roots.