Monday, 18 May 2015

Why MBA to why ever not!

To be very honest, I was just another one of those wayward guys who seek an MBA to extricate themselves from the hegemony of their current job. I desperately wanted to run away from my employer, despite it being the most favoured IT workplace wherein I even managed to stay on bench for more than 70 percent of the time. But something seemed amiss and MBA appeared as a possible catharsis. And boy did it turn out to be true. Here is an account of those 22 months at the coveted, the revered and the indomitable Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies which have literally made me and many more I know, into much more evolved beings than we could’ve ever hoped to be.

For a Delhi boy, JB was a far-fetched shot. With just 18 seats competed for by the thousands who appear, my chances appeared squalid. And hence a final admit came across as quite a bestowal. But as it always is, we all are a little too trenchant and full of hubris. While on one hand I was definitely humbled to get my golden shot at being a part of this glorious tradition, I was still the obstinate guy who won’t quit. So my first brush began with a rather acerbic touch wherein I questioned the inevitable lag in the entire admission process and the subsequent induction.  To not spill many beans, the induction process is a very cordial, heartfelt, earnest, pliable and wholesome process wherein you’re allowed to come and go when you want and even otherwise it’s pretty much a cakewalk. And almost anyone who’s been through the cult program will vouch for it. So I was immediately granted pardon for my misdemeanour with no questions asked and it all started on the right footing there. And amid all of this, we finally kicked off on the journey of a lifetime.  

Realization #1: Unlucky, No time for love

So while JBIMS batch of 2015 had a rather rigorous debate on the exorbitantly skewed gender ratios at top b schools, with one able and innocent man drawing fire from a set of confused ladies, to whom he finally apologized, without them knowing if he owed one or not (Actually the induction was so serene and tranquil, that everyone was sleeping, so no one knew what the hell was going on!). The story stays pretty much the same for most of those who came to a b-school with the hope of seeing a reversal of fortunes in that regard. So if you’re one of those timorous guys who never asked the girl next cubicle out, and became a heckler when she got booked, then even post 22 months things will stay the same either because your girl at the b-school is already gone, or because she never really made the cut! But that doesn’t mean you get crestfallen. Post 22 months, your prospects with the arranged marriage route become accentuated by 10 times on an average. So congratulations!

Realization #2: You’re no longer an undergrad

Okay so if you thought you still have the look of Adonis, you’ll soon be clad in formals that will definitely take you out of contention for  being a part of a random gorgeous girl’s snap because her selfie pout appears better than you with her. You suddenly appear much more suave and sophisticated and develop a charisma of your own. Gone are the days of that grisly stubble and 250 Rupee EL Hardy which with proper bargaining could’ve cost 150 actually. And now you develop a style and gait, and don’t just walk but strut, only to realize that your shoes are all spoilt when doused in mud during rains, and that your shirt is a mess because you travelled so long. But you still manage to show up on time and in style, thinking you’ll be noticed. You’ve watched suits so you know the appeal and she should know it too, right? But you’re actually branded professional now, and just because undergrad guys and gals have to mandatorily fall for gypsies(Who may actually be decades older than you), you’re their ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’ already.

Realization #3: Yes, You’re no longer an undergrad indeed

Okay, undergrads are bullies, they’re renegades, they’re apostates, but undergrads can study and still attend classes, either by force, or in some exceptional cases, by volition. But by now you realize you’re too old for that. And on the top of it, you’re having at least twice as many lectures as you had to attend back in the olden days. So here begins the seemingly eternal and unnerving struggle between that part of yours which is luring you so that you could get that perfect sleep while the statistics professor is singing lullabies, and that part which forces you to wake up when a 95 percent confidence interval has been established of the same statistics professor having noticed you snoring!

Realization #4: Anything, almost anything can get ‘fucked’!

Many of us were acquainted with MBA grads, past and present, from various B-schools. So we were pretty much familiar with multiple facets of the same. We all knew the buzzwords upfront. Faculty, industry interface, curriculum, ET, case studies, innovation, entrepreneurship, MBA 2.0 and the quintessential hallowed word of them all ‘placements’.  So while you’re struggling with a flurry of lectures of all sorts of subjects and you barely took a note of their count, you’re now staring at the consecrated and with a halo on top of it term “Summer Internships”.

So here comes the season of pre-placement talks with companies coming down to the campus to sense the energy and gumption. But wait, you’re sleep deprived and some of you were even hallucinating, so how the hell are you going to make sure that you’re on time, in proper attire, and that your conduct is just what’s expected?  So here is where the figures 150.300 and an occasional 500 work like magic wands and everything falls in place. You’ll know how this works once you’re in Bajaj. And yeah, while most people get the profiles they need, you might witness unusual things being termed as getting ‘fucked’.  Anyways, everyone is happy at the end. I was happier for the fact that I finally managed to make my resume after all!

Realization #5: One doesn’t simply balance a balance sheet. 
So here begins the saga of subjects which you’re not willing to have as a part of your specialization but which you have to pass anyway. Marketing guys curse accounts and FM, and Finance guys curse every other subject where you don’t have numbers, and Operations guys don’t even know if there will be an operations batch so they hold on to their cards. And there is a sea of struggle all around. No one knows how something got debited or credited, no one knows how the cash flow turned out that way, and no one knows why we had so many marketing lectures. And finally, everything fizzles out with a simple realization that “Everything is matching”.

Realization #6: Yeah, I see all ‘em gold coming.

So everyone joins their companies, knowing that they may have to reappear in some second sem exams, but money weighs more heavily. So people disperse happily with everyone putting ether their name plaque as a dp, or someone putting group photos of their internship batch(with many girls!) to the envy of those who’re seeing how toothpaste is sold, or worse, how deos can become sexier. But everyone is happy because money starts flowing in and the cash inflows exceed outflows for the first time since you joined an MBA. Life’s gotta be a bliss right?

Nope. It’s only in the middle of the internship that half of the guys and gals realize that the pleasure of getting a PPO/PPI is notches higher than in splurging all the money even without showing up for days. So suddenly, energy levels go up, attention levels soar by leaps and bounds, and the real MBA begins going to work every day, until some realize that the sanctified ‘offer’ is not far away, and some realize that their job sucked anyhow!

Realization #7: Ini mini miny mo, with which specialization should I go?

You realize there are three kinds of people in the batch. One’s who from the very day of them making their intro to the batch were sworn allies of the marketing or finance fraternity. The second caucus includes guys who flipped their preferences during their internships because they saw them for what they were. And three, the guys who still have no idea what’s going on.  And the decision making process of the third category is just about as well understood as the concept and subsequent removal of heteroscedasticity is.

Realization #8: Competitions. Yeah, time for some god level ideas!

So then commences the season of corporate and academic competitions. You were waiting for this all the time as folks from your senior batch grabbed perks from offers to handsome cash amounts(Which in fact, seldom get credited!). So you already know your teams and you barge all guns blazing the moment the first flier comes out.

You sit up with your team, all revved up and invigorated. You bring all the management acumen to the fore. SWOT, PESTEL, ANSOFF and BCG matrix, and what not comes into play. Deserted and desolate professors who only witnessed students sleeping and coming late and paying the penalty by sitting in the first row, now become pretty much sought after. In short, you put in everything and do everything and you literally prize that sanctimonious idea, only to see it get hurled away because the presentation chosen from campus was either having an annoyingly simple idea, or because the submission didn’t have an embedded idea but it was all too lurid and had so much content that the panel got overwhelmed. So the winning team fights again, and everyone else goes back to sleeping in lectures.

Realization #9: Fuck! MBA is about to get over so early!

And before you could catch a whiff, the final placements season is all around and by now everything moves like clockwork. Assignments, lectures, case studies, presentations, exams, they’re all too menial now. You’ve seen it all. And now as you move towards the executive placements season, it’s time to get the dust off those really pricey books you never touched till now. Moreover, you suddenly realize you had a business newspaper subscription all this time. You also see an air of eerie restlessness all around because everyone is running here and there, and you can’t even watch the next episode of Breaking Bad! Finally when you get your placement, you’re too happy to resume watching it!

Realization #10: It wasn’t that bad, was it?

As it’s time to see the end of MBA just a month or two yonder, you suddenly realize that the classrooms, the lectures, the presentations, the professors, and most importantly the canteen, they’ll all be missed. You have a fairly good idea on what you’d be doing once you’re out, and you suddenly see how much an MBA has transformed you. While you’ll still have to work to earn, you’re now going to get much more than you’d have imagined with the erstwhile job. You can already see the class and exuberance of the life you’re likely to live from thereon. And it’s precisely at that moment where you realize that your MBA has given you friendships that are priceless. So you go on trips, make promises on meeting up, plan trips for one year down the line, and you dearly hope it’ll all stay that way.
Realization #11: You feel indebted!

And as it’s time for #TheLastLecture and #TheLastExam, you suddenly grow remorseful that you’d not see the iconic portico of your college again. You get these photo sessions, you collect as much of college paraphernalia, and you just crave for that one extra day on which you could just visit the campus again. And finally, there comes a day when you’ve got to say goodbye to everything. And so you do, but only with the promise of coming back. You just have to come back to this place which has by now become such an inhered part of who you are!

Realization #12: MBA is not a degree, it’s an experience.

So as you wrap up everything and prepare for the first stint post MBA, you contemplate on what those 22 months have done to you. You cant’s just pinpoint at one single aspect through which a B school is evaluated. They say the ROI, the placements, the faculty, and the industry interface is all that matters. And it’s only now that you spurn and repudiate it all. It’s only now that you know all those aspects individually are just a modicum of what an MBA has done for you. An MBA is much more than the subjects and the prospects and the learning. An MBA is what redefines tour attitude towards life and broadens your vision. And at least for an MBA from JBIMS, I can safely say, it’s your key to that utopia!