One Year stand with ISB

This Blog aims to capture my affair with ISB and beyond.

Location: Hyderabad, India

I promise not to make this a chronicle of events unfolding in ISB or the world in general. These posts will generally qualify those events with my thoughts. At the same time I promise it will be enjoyable :-)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bye Bye ISB?

So we are in the last week. Its been a very eventful year. The last month was one of the busiest. not the usual kinds. We were too busy partying. All clearances need to be completed before the big day on 7th. This would probably be the last post from the ISB network. I am taking the laptop to the IT dept for stripping it off its preferred ISB machine status. In a few hours it will be a dumb terminal. And i hope it will remain like this for sometime now.

SO its been a great year. Now back to the real world, back to the grind. But am fully equipped!! This space shall continue...

Friday, February 09, 2007

I know you

I know you very well. You hide behind the giant screen that separates the real world from the virtual and think that I cant find out. From your point of view your world is real but for me its not. I dont know who you are and what you do, but you very well know me. But you dont know something. You are part of an elite group of people who have but 1 thing in common. you wanna know what that is? you read my blog. And not only that you come back and read it again. Some of you might be waiting patiently for me to write something. some of you might be fleeting pilgrims who just came, read and moved on. Some of you got stuck and realised that this blogger is a lazy bum who writes once per month and subsequently dropped, but returned back again. Some of you never left and waited patiently for a new entry. It is to all you people who have taken the time out both regularly and sometimes that I dedicate this post.

When I started out with writing the blog, it was all with passion and enthusiasm, to capture the relatively different life that I expected to have here at ISB. After all, you guys will have to agree that living at ISB is one experience worth writing about. But Father Time played its rusting game and the enthusiaim dwindled a little. The thoughts were always there. Putting it on the screen to light the pixels took an effort, especially after the reams of reading and writing that one had to do to complete the so called assignments and exams. At the same time there was about half the class writing about the same things and the same happenings and the same thoughts and there was no way to differentiate. But now I realise that I have differentiated. And that is in the type of readership that I have. You are a bunch of exclusive people who read my blog and wait patiently for a new post. You are anonymous and stay anonymous. The best thing about you is that you are few. That enables me to share an intimate relationship with you through these words. I havent seen you guys, nor know you, nor interacted with you but still we share a deep relationship. I might have passed you on the street, stumbled on you somehwere else. It is also possible that most of you know. But I know you very well my friend (not in the sense you think) and thank you for coming back to my blog.

If you would like to get in touch with me, you can drop a comment or write me an email. If you prefer to stay anonymous, you are most welcome. :-)

Leaving all the soft things aside, simply cant imagine how time has passed. Actually the trigger for this post was the mail I recieved about the graduation day preparations and our last day on campus. That got me thawed and thinking. I was in the middle of an assignment which is due midnight and the mail just changed the course of my thinking. Its already time to leave?? Just a month and a half remaining? It was just yesterday when we had arrived and looking forward to a great year. Its all coming to an end? I knew I had to put my thoughts together, so I left the assignment and came here (to the blog). After coming here I realised, I have already shared a 1 year relationship with a group of people who I dont even know. And most of you will also leave me once I go out of here. So it was time I wrote to you my virtual friends, who have not only spent reading this space but must have also spent some thought imagining what I was going thru. So a heartfelt Thank You my friends and if you want you are most welcome to come out of your anonymous shield and write me a few lines. I assure you that you are very few and that is very much in line with what has always been my philosophy: Have a few good people around you rather than have many good (and bad) people :-)

All the best to you guys.

Hey this doesnt mean that I am signing off. This space will continue...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Problem of the Plenty

PPTs(Pre Placement Talks) are going on in full swing. more than 150 companies have registered for placements and the number is set to increase. Companies are offering a plethora of roles in different locations and the number of international companies on the campus have also increased manifold. All this is good you say? Well on the face of it, its very good. But it has lead to one serious problem: Confusion. where do you wanna go? what do you wanna do? unless you are totally focussed its very difficult to come out of this mess.

Its considered a bad sign not to be focussed on your career goals. You are supposed to have a clear cut view of what you want to do by this stage. Some HR gyan gurus and also alums and other speakers who came on campus to distribute the gyaan underline the above statement. But nobody sees the main unerlying problem. The role that we want to be in the responsibilities that we wanna take are all based on our past experiences and judgement and all that we have seen and known. But there is a vast black box of the unknown which we know nothing about. We have only heard about it, learnt about it and have imagined what it can be. But we havent lived it, havent felt what exactly it is. Every job has its pros and cons and there is no such thing as a dream job.
All this blabber is very important at this stage precisely because of the vast choice available. If I believe something to be good and choose it and later on find it was something I never wanted, then the feeling of choosing the wrong thing will be very overwhelming. It is not that there will be no way to turn back at that point n time. The ISB brand name will take care of that. But the fact that you chose the wrong thing will be very intimidating. Every choice does not stand by itself. Its a tradeoff. You are giving up something to take up something. And that precisely is the problem.
But fortunately there is a way around this problem. Focus on the holistic. Forget the roles: Asst vice presidents, Business development, consultant, account manager. Imagine a day in your life, what will make every moment every hour well lived. Is there a remote chance of living that kind of life with the role that you have chosen. If the answer is Yes, go for it. Again as i said, its not necessary that it will turn out as you imagined. But there is so much you can do. If it doesnt turn out well, either adapt or leave.
I know most of the above doesnt make sense, or does it? :-)

Friday, January 05, 2007

"the anatomy of compromise"*

Well term 6 is over. We are now 3/4th MBA. Just 2 more to go. And in the middle, there will be the placements. Junta is taking lesser courses next term to focus on placements. I am also thinking of doing the same. Last term was very eventful both in the classroom and outside. First of all there were innumerable assignments which really kept us busy. Then we had the party at our Aikya family's house (who is incidentally an ISB alum). No need to mention about the alum gathering - solstice. All of you must be familiar with it. Then we went carol singing a day before Christmas eve and it was a huge hit with the kids, the profs and the junta and spouses. yours truly went around distributing sweets and presents as the grand old man clad in red robes (minus the reindeers). Then there were innumerable number of PPTs and talks. Finally the new year intermingles with exams. Top it all up with a trip to Ramoji yesterday and that's term 7 for you.

You are wondering what all the above has to do with the title of the post. Well you are right, nothing! The link starts now. It is the title of a chapter from Ayn Rand's book "capitalism". Just got to lay my hands on a torn an tattered copy which I had kept for years. I knew it was a great timeless classic, also read and appreciated some of the chapters (though not all of it) and so never wanted to part with it inspite of its precarious condition. Today it just happened to grab my attention and while turning the pages I couldnt help wondering at the intellectual content this great lady possessed and how well she understood. Most of the principles and thoughts which are so fervently thought in today's BSchools as something which is time tested and developed recently, already find place in this great book of an outstanding visionary. I would like to quote here 3 basic rules (without context) from the chapter "The anatomy of compromise"

1. In any conflict between two groups (of people) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent who wins.
2. In any collaboration between two groups who hold different basic principles, it is the more evil or irrational one who wins.
3. When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side.

If you dont understand the above. Gotta read the book. Meanwhile am off to face the new term.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

PMs visit and 5 year celebrations

The media is agog with the PMs visit last Tuesday and almost every paper and electronic media website has covered it. There was huge security arrangement at ISB and there were lotsa cops around. It was really a proud moment for us all. It was his first visit to the ISB and he was impressed by the campus and the work done over here. I wont go into the details of what he said and did as I am sure you must have already read it all in the papers.

The PMs visit was a part of the 5 year celebrations that are going on this week on the campus. It started with the ISB Leadership Summit last Saturday which saw the presence of many industry dignitaries on the campus. We also got to meet the founding dean Mr. Pramath Sinha who tool us on a nostalgic trip when they had conceived the idea of ISB way back in 1995. The vision of the initial pioneers is really commendable and the execution impeccable. There were many roadblocks on the way but finally ISB saw the light of the day and rolled out its first batch in April 2002. This was a moment of truth for the founders and today 5 years down the line the look at ISB with pride: their baby which has grown by leaps and bounds.

There were some initial core mandates which the founders had set for themselves which really proved instrumental in the success of the school. They were: to seek the mentorship and sponsorship from some of the biggest names in business schools like Kellogg and Wharton, to be an independent institution and not be affiliated to the government or to the foreign B schools, to build a world class international campus, seek sponsorship and strategic direction from the Indian industry titans etc. The model on which the school was based was also entirely different: the one year course, the visiting faculty, the ELP etc which posed many more challenges than a normal upcoming business school might face. Then there was also the problem of relentless scepticism and discouragement from people and government who thought that such a model wont work, that India doesnt need (or is not capable of establishing) such a business school. But all the sceptics were proved wrong and the initial vision was proved right. The PM explicitly mentioned that there is a need for 100 such B Schools in India. Considering the ratio of the number of Bschools to the popluation in US and considering the indian population, the PM might be right. There is vast potential in India waiting to be tapped and given the right direction and the right coaching, there is no end to what India can achieve in another 50 to 100 years.

But the primary ingredient that is needed to meet that end is a different vision. To see what others normally cant see. To gage the direction of the tide in advance, or to put it more properly change the direction of the tide to where you want it to be. To build models that are differentiated and sustaining. Hmmm lotsa fodder for thought :-)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The little piglet

We have a new addition to our family. Someone who came 2 months back. But it is occupying a major portion of my mindspace since it came. It remains a little sick and sometimes behaves funny. But it has done a great deal of help. Cant imagine life without it.

My folks are here on a holiday and enjoying the hyderabadi winter. You must know that back there where I used to live in mumbai, there is no winter at all. Here the nights have become a little chilly and I can find myself searching for a blanket before sleeping. Rest assured I ll be having a wonderful cool Xmas here in Hyderabad.

Speaking of Christmas, Last Christmas was my first white Christmas. It was a dream come true. And just like a fairy tale Christmas, it was actually snowing. But the only problem I was all alone. But thats the law of life right? You get some, you lose some, you cant have everything at the same, you cannot have some things all the time, you can have some things all the time, gawrsh what am I saying! guess am feeling sleepy, exams on Monday but no intention to study. Tomorrow I need to make an all out effort to do some serious studies. Ever wondered why we make plans always from tomorrow. Why not from now? Well am too lazy to think about that. I ll think about that tomorrow :-)

Coming back to the new someone who came into my life, we have named it piggy. Its because it looks like a little piglet and is very cute. It does a great job of carrying us around the city and takes Kandy to and from office or is it the other way round? never mind. Its all relative. Gotta go to sleep now. Otherwise God knows what I ll keep muttering. cya

Thursday, November 16, 2006

End of Term5

Today is the last day of term 5. We have exams next week and Term 6 starts the week after that. Cant imagine how quickly time has passed. However, it is ironic that the events that happened only a few weeks ago seem as if they have happened long past. We are doing so many things. The days (and nights) are so full. But this fullness seems to be taking its toll. There is a feeling of saturation. This is only term 5. 3 more to go. And the huge placement expectation. Things are only going to get more hot.
Talking of placements, this period is the moment of truth. This is the period (when placements have already started and many international companies have posted job openings) when you will get to know what is your market value. Since ISB is different in the sense that there are many here with comparatively high work experience, this is the moment when we ll know the true value of the industry experience prior to ISB. Whether what I have done in the past more than 5 years has substance or not. And what is the premium I can command on this substance due to the value addition done in ISB.
The Big Mac was on campus yesterday, to talk about the nuances of case interviews and the generally accepted approaches to crack them. They told us to keep it simple, start from basics, take help from the interviewer, dont ask naive or too out of the box questions, be creative, look at the bigger picture, dive into the details once you get the bigger picture right etc. Seems easy eh? wait till I start solving some sample cases.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The international placements are in full swing and quite a few have been shortlisted by the international Ibanks which came in pretty early this year. The opportunities available here are tremendous. This has led to a lack of focus and sometimes there is confusion as to where I wanna go. There is also very less time to think. Already Term 6 biddings have started. I managed to get all the courses I bid for in this term. Some of the finance courses are in very high demand and lot of people stand a chance of not getting what they want. Again a lack of focus?

Last Monday I alongwith some batchmates went to dinner with an executive of an Indian Software company from UK. He initially gave a presentation on the different activities of the practice he hailed from and the different roles available. It was great interacting with him and knowing about different openings available in the organisation. It remains to be seen whether those roles will come up during the placement week.

One course which continues to intrigue and surprise session after session is the marketing Services course. The prof really leads the class slowly and steadily to new insights through structured case discussions. The different "mental models" that he seeks to imbibe with relation to funcioning effectively in an organisation are really different and thought provoking. Most of the things are not what they seem at face value when you look at it from the organisation view point. The various different activities/processes established by an organisation seem trivial and of no consequence when seen from the perspective of an employee. This course gives the point of view from the other side and its truly amazing how all these things matter from a strategic perspective and makes the organisation truly what it is. The Marketing Services course seems more of a strategy course than a marketing one. For the aspiring ISBians, this is a must have in term 5.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Placement blues

The boat has started to rock. Suddenly its placement season. Some of the international banking and IT companies are already here and we are busy squeezing time for resumes and EOIs. I got all my electives and academics is cruising. We already had around 3 PPTs and 4 to 5 psuedo PPTs from the consulting biggies. Last thursday was the PPTs were kicked off with a large international IT biggie looking for some strategic roles. Planning to apply. There is also the stark realisation that how quickly time has passed. Day zero would come calling and we wont even know. Gotta be prepared and organise and prioritise things.

Diwali was well spent on campus. After a long hiatus a wonderful party was organised with great music and the usual suspects: drinks and food. There were also great display of fireworks and the campus spotted some new faces from Italy, Pakistan, China etc. here on exchange. Our people will start to go out on exchange by next term I guess. Some of them will have to miss the placement season but it shouldnt matter much. The different school experience from Wharton, Kellog, Darden etc should really do them good and build a great perspective.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Surprise Surprise

OWWWW Crap, she again gave me the ditch. Just when I was starting to believe in the goodness of things, I get dunked(not in the sense this word is used in ISB, but more figuratively as in fooled, taken for a ride etc.). You are wondering what this is all about? Well I am talking about my electives for term 5. i only managed to get 2 out of the four I bid for. Unfortunately there are many other vying for attention in these specific areas more than me, who are ready to pay more price than me and 'she' chose not to include me (as of now). But I still believe in the goodness of things, I know rationality will prevail, I know I ll get what I want, its just a matter of time.

The campus wears a deserted and sleepy look. Some of my friends who had come to attend an executive program were commenting on the lack of activity and lethargy in the campus. I clarified that this is just the exam and the term break season. It is more like the silence before/after the storm. Just wait till the storm begins.

This period actually brings an end to a phase in ISB. This is the point where we enter the part where theres some uncertainty and turbulence. The placement preparations and other realted stuff is also going to take off in the next few weeks and there is a lot of earnestness and enthusiasm around. The alums also warn that the same earnestness and enthusiasm can turn into frustrations and tantrums. Everybody need to keep their cool. No need to get excited.

Speaking of alums, my study group got to interact with a bunch of them at the phenomenal party that we had at our Aikya family SL residence. We had a wonderful evening and the alums and 'spouse alums' really made us feel at ease and asked us to enjoy the experience and not to get too much worked up about the events that are going to unfold in the future. We realised what a great big beautiful and buoyant family we were actually a part of!