The events are crystal clear in my memory – I was in the hallway of the college when I got “the call” – literally and figuratively. The std code was 022 and I understood exactly what it meant. “Hello… This is Kshitij calling…from SJMSOM, IIT Bombay.” And my hands were trembling already. 3 weeks at the institute in Pune had given me a lot of friends and acquaintances. I had a hard time explaining to them why I had to do this 3 weeks into the programme and eventually saying goodbye to them all. Though the institute had treated me fairly well, my heart was never in it. I had my eyes and my heart firmly set on SJMSOM and I knew I would never be happy anywhere else. Finally I had reached where I had to. What now?
All these thoughts rushed through my mind on my way to Powai. “The IIT Bombay” awaited me. But that was still some time away. The past week had been hectic. I hadn’t even got the time to celebrate my “SOMcoming”, when I had the pre-joining assignments sitting in my lap. The PDF looked every bit impressive – from the cover page to the rules and regulations page which stated the font and size of the teext to the 23:59:59 hrs deadline. Sexy. I felt like an agent on a mission. But one look through the contents sent many a shiver down my spine.
“Plagiarism will not be allowed” read the golden rule in the rules and regulations page. “Arre yaar…then are we supposed to make up things on our own in one week?”, I thought. There was a lot of ‘cut-copy paste’ going on in my head and finally thought gave way to action. So with the help of “that”, google (dude, what would the human race do without you???) and a little beautification from MS Word, I finished it. Where? On the train enroute Kurla. I found time to read the book only on the train and its not like I found someone interesting to talk to amidst my 50 year old fellow passengers. But ‘Super Freakonomics’ was decent. Atleast decent and interesting for a book on economics. I wondered if the first sem economics and accounting would be as interesting ans I also wondered whether this would be my last outside reading for another 2 years.
IIT Bombay looked different from when I saw it last – while during the last time, it looked like a campus where dreams came true and a place of liberation, this time I was having last minute jitters. That, coupled with the bomb blasts in the viscinity “welcoming” my arrival and a late night entry in torrential downpour gave Hostel 1 the ambience of a haunted mansion in no man’s land. Making friends wasn’t hard. I understood that language was no barrier when everyone was as intimidated as I was by the institute. The room ended where it started, there were gaping cracks on the walls, doors and windows unwilling to be opened, snakes, rats, and many a “that-which-shall-not-be-named” thingies roaming around. We finally accepted the fact thinking everyone on the campus must be having the same conditions after all. Until we saw H12,13 and 14.
The induction started off on a high. The director, dean, student coordinators wishing us warm welcomes. Except for a few technical glitches (Yes! They even happen here) the programme was smooth. So smooth that most of us only came to know when everyone clapped at the end. We were then led to the SOM building where we were to have the remaining programmes. Hemal Dani made his way into the room. And the room was as quiet as Wankhede when Sachin got out in the WC final. We were welcomed, details of the registration and induction were given, the dos and the do nots of IITB were illustrated.
By this time, there had been limited interation between the students and geographical boundaries had been created. The SuperKings and Tuskers found their way to the south of the class. Then there was the Knightriders, Chargers and many similiar groups. But that was only bound to happen – you connect with the only obvious similiarity initially. The session by Mr. Kaustubh Kulkarni was our first serious lecture. It was an astounding new VMCC. Though the comfy recliner chairs and the chilling AC gave us reason enough to sleep, Mr. Kulkarni kept us all awake with his experiences at SOM and his lessons on how to leverage your two years at the institute and on what skills to learn on the way.
Professor Pandey’s smart new way of introduction of the batch brought a smile on everyone’s face. It broke apart existing groups and created new ones. Students introduced themselves and others, made fun of people whom they barely knew hours ago, sang songs, shayaris, drew their imaginations and what not. It was so pleasant to see students and teachers losing their inhibitions and taking part in the fun event so early into the course. There were small sessions with the IR team, the R&D team which were effective in their own way and to the people it mattered. The highlight of the induction week for me was the next session – “Placement Committee Interaction”, and its not for the obviious reasons. Suddenly, and I have no idea from where it came, the class came to life. The professor didn’t even get the time to explain before he was bombarded with questions left, right and centre. “Sir, investment banks…”, “Sir, summers salary…”, “Sir, interview for placement committee…”. I could hardly keep track and the professor being only a faculty rightly shifted the mantle to the committee itself. He went on to his presentation, “The mean salary last time was…err…”, he was switching through his slides “13.XX LPA, SIR.”, said half the class in unision with an assertiveness that will put a soldier to shame. “Yes”, he replied, “and the median was…” “12.XX LPA SIR.”I was banging my head to the desk.
Mr. Ambwani’s class on business ethics was an eyee opener on many fronts as he showed that even in this era of cut throat competition, one could survive and the business could flourish by practising ethics. For all those who were still skeptical. he illustrated real-life examples from his life at Johnson & Johnson to show how consumers would reward morally good values. HOD ma’am lectured on what she expected from us as the new batch in SOM and on how the changing curriculum would help us become better equipped at managing things in the future. There was also a lecture on how to leverage your two years at IITB and what to and what not to expect from IITB, which was revealing.
A lot of clubs and teams also came visiting – I couldn’t count them all. Though all of them claimed to be the backbone of SJMSOM, they all established one fact – no programs would be successful in SOM without the backing of each one of them. And what we have learned in this past one week isn’t too different – it is practice, and practical knowledge that makes us effective managers. A good B-school is one which not only teaches how to become a good manager but also puts us through the grind. With all these student driven activites in SOM, we are rest assured that we will be ready for the world in two years time and that we will keep the SJMSOM brand riding higher than it ever was.