Archive for March, 2008

Stepping Back

Posted: March 14, 2008 in Management, Philosophy

Its been a shocking revelation how loads of free time and no work can soil your habits up. After a jam packed past six months the past week seemed almost revolting to our by now streamlined systems. The decadence seemed to set in fast and rather pungently. Watching movies, playing Counter-Strike or Call-of-Duty and chatting with batchmates and junies often till early hours of daybreak caused us to sleep well till noon, skipping breakfast for a hefty Brunch and again after a couple of hours of hovering around various ways to spend (read that ‘kill’) time going out to beach and hopping at some place for a sumptuous dinner. Needless to say the whole body-clock and intrinsic timetable just became topsy-turvy.

When I finally got to writing this blog, it was surprising what all I could write about. Term 5 had been really eventful in terms of learning and take-away. Term 6 had been interluded by lateral placement processes, Backwaters 2008 (our Annual Fest), Alumni meet and Sangram
2008 (IIM K Vs. IIM B Sports meet). Thus, it had by far been the most happening non-academically and least happening academically. The placement interviews and the overall processes were a very interesting affair in itself and do warrant a dedicated post too. By the end of the processes I had three offers one a project finance role in a large corporate, a consulting profile and a front end trading in derivatives with a prop trading firm. I was again made aware of the inherent risk-neutral to bordering risk-averse nature of my personality when I gave the highly lucrative derivative trading profile a go for a more secured career in consulting. The foreign exchange students this year were an interesting bunch, but they ended up faring pretty much miserably when it came to examinations. A stark reminder of the academic rigor in the IIMs, something which is not the case for most global MBA programs. (An IIM term on an average spans 3 months with an average of 7 subjects whereas most US B-Schools have term of 5 month duration with 4 subjects. The course content and curricula of each individual subject is almost identical both in terms of breadth and depth of coverage and the assignment load)

Stepping back for a while and looking at the ‘big picture’ sort of thinking all these trivialities matter less than two cents. Matter of fact remains that it’s been quite an achievement from the dismal 7th ranker among 50 students in my section with 70% marks in my early schooling to complete engineering in computer science from a premier institution and finally graduate from an IIM. The first time I stepped into the 80s was in grade VII and I had duly celebrated that by watching the first movie in a cinema hall. I still remember very clearly it was Terminator 2 and me, my brother, my uncle and my father had gone to ‘Priya‘ in Vasant Vihar, the popular up-market cinema hall at that time in Delhi. Most of my peers were toppers in their batch with a grade point average between 90 & 100%. Most of my peers are doing quite well and most have met with varying levels of successes, which bear no co-relation to their schooling grades or rankings. The fact that I was not built by nature to be a ‘Natural Winner‘ in everything I did hit pretty early and might I say, it hit pretty hard. I was the average student in class with a below average performance in sports. The only silver-lining was that I was immensely and insatiably inquisitive and with very little of a filler between my thoughts and my words. What I thought, That I spoke! And just to be fair to the Creator, had a better than average baritone.

Its really quite futile to try and comprehend the factors behind this because lots of times there is an intrinsic randomness (Refer: Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholaus Taleb) or entropy in environment around us which throws the best plans into a disarray and what we are left with is scanty pieces of an otherwise perfect piecemeal plan. However, one thing can be safely deduced even in this robust stochastically non-deterministic system, the dots truly seem to connect much as Steve Jobs said in his famous Stanford Graduation speech. The idea can be explained as follows. Just like when solving a puzzle in which the objective is to draw a route map connecting a rabbit to the carrot through an array if complex intermingling routes, its always necessary to keep an eye on the carrot and then try and work our way through various combinations of routes to reach it, similarly while making way through various uncertainties both of means and outcomes one should never lose touch of the central objective or the primary motive of the game. Of course, the attempts at trying to rework alternatives at any stage of the process should never cede i.e. one should never give up and accept defeat. Over the entire span, one thing led to another; quite often the fate that my plans for future met was something like ‘I proposed & God disposed‘! However after lots of twisting and turning, the rabbit finally reached the carrot and here I am writing this blog largely content over an MBA degree which I relished earning.

On a largely incongruent note, I came to know a few days back that one of my classmates in school committed suicide jumping from the 7th storey of his office building. Much as I wanted I could not feel sad or sorry for him and this I am really uncomfortable to admit. This boy had been the quintessential mean SOB in school. Unfailingly condescending, taunting and poking sorts. One who never missed an opportunity to demean or humiliate and make others feel miserable. His winning streak however met with a rude shock when I jostled him out of his position in high school graduation. But more importantly, he never really made many friends in school. Most his companions were as self-centered and mean as he himself and hence loosely fitted the definition of ‘fair weather friends‘ at best. Sadly enough, this apparently had not changed in the past 9 years of our disconnect. I find it unethical to be sympathetic to such undeserving candidates for sympathy, after all its very little that nice guys can look up to these days and I can’t deem it fit to cast aside what truly belongs to them on such unbecoming subjects.

Was eagerly wishing that get to see my campus one last time in full bloom and glory before I take leave from it. For that to happen it must rain generously. Let me get into a wee bit more of prelude. IIM K is on the most picturesque location of all IIMs posted right on top of three hills and a valley in between (We literally have Hill #1 for academic campus and Hill #2 for residence purposes). Atypical to ‘God’s Own country‘ its all lush with green trees. Palm, coconut, mango and what not. These are lavishly garnished by multitude of layers of flora and fauna. The campus has been designed with a keen aesthetic view. But all this looks best when they are watered plentifully and naturally. Rains do that trick, washing out the old and bringing in the freshness back. By quirk of fate (or environmental climatic changes as some would say) it suddenly rained today. This is the most untoward time to rain, its usually hot and uncomfortable this time of the year. The rains brought back that aroma of moist soil, the scenic beauty came flooding back all over and today as I opened my balcony doors whiff came the clouds into my room whispering into my ears. It truly was surreal. All the spectacular beauty that we got so used to in the past few years came flooding back.

Couldn’t help feel sad that my campus will not be mine for not too long anymore. But what the heck, K shall always remain my IIM. I will belong to K and K shall belong to me!

Would end with a conscious effort on my part to be regular again on my blog. Till then, so long!