Well what if you underwent an orientation camp for two full days in an institute - wouldn't it be rather tiring as also energy sapping? It was exactly the opposite this last week when I was inside the IIM Bangalore campus attending the three night, two day orientation camp for the PGSEM Batch of 2008. I am in awe after getting a feel of what a fine institution can be like. Never before have I had an experience quite like what awaited me as I entered the hallowed portals of this elite institution, which was setup in 1973. As cliched as it may sound you got to experience the same in order to believe it. Actually last Friday (30th May 2008) the IIMB PGSEM (2.5 year part-time programme which I joined) was having their summer event called L-CUBE (Leadership, Learning and Leisure). It started off with the aptly chosen words of Saint Iqbal: A grand vision, beautiful speech and a compassionate soul are the true characteristics of a caravan leader. This was followed by the inaugural speech by the Director of IIMB Prof. Pankaj Chandra followed by a short speech by Prof. Shankar Venkatagiri, Chairman PGSEM.
This was followed by an insightful and deeply touching lecture by the MD of Accenture, Mr. Harsh Manglik. Some key points from his speech include the fact that he extolled the young audience to consider themselves as unique whatever other people's opinions might be. He also told an anecdote on how his father's statement that his son (who was then settled in the US) would one day realize that his history is written in the sands of this country and who his true mother was, and would return back to India; made him take up the post of MD, Accenture in India.
That evening couple of us joined the Hostel block and finding our rooms seemed like a game of passing through a maze, the difficulty being that all places look similar among the stone walled buildings. And the natural scenery inside with a plethora of trees and gardens all very well maintained, is a contrast to the busy Bannerghatta Road just outside – words such as serene, green, sylvan etc come to mind with every step you take – a veritable lost paradise full of peace and tranquility. The evening was spent in the auditorium being an audience to the role-playing competition that was moderated by the MD of SAP Labs, Gurgaon -Mr Feroze. Later that night over dinner, we met up with more of our batch-mates whose work experiences vary from 3 years to over 20 in some cases, some programmers, other leads, managers and some even VPs etc and also with the senior folk, whom we had discussions with around the social canteen area with the IPL being projected on big screens in some rooms around. We chatted till well after midnight!
The next day (31st May, 2008) was the start of the orientation; the first one of its kind to mark the 10th anniversary running of this programme. It was started by an impassioned speech by the Chairperson extolling us to adhere to the high standards of IIM as also participating in all events and ended with a wish that all of us do well. This was followed by an outdoor event conducted by a passionate set of trainers with the intention of team building. This ran for more than three hours and by the end we all got well introduced to each other and also thoroughly exhausted. Late afternoon we were given presentations by the admin folks on code of conduct etc and later lectures to introduce their subject by two professors (Organizational management and Microeconomics). Their witty remarks, challenging questions and sharp insights ensured we did not doze off.
The last item that day was a lecture on negotiation and communication skills by an expert guest professor from the United States (I am unable to recollect her name). She stressed on the point that it is always good to adapt to the cultures of the region where a person is interacting or working so that conflicts etc can be kept to a minimum. In the evening we had a tough quiz programme in which we participated but were eliminated in the very first round. However we stayed back and enjoyed the finals with its fair share of complex quizzing, and equally sharp contenders for the winner's title.
That night we were to create groups and complete a case study on Principles of Personal Selling. The sales theory of Prospecting->Preapproach->Approach->Presentation->Allaying Objections->Closure->Maintenance. This we did manage to do among a few of us and submitted the assignment online. This was a good experience to work on certain caselets of a manufacturing company which makes mistakes in getting a sale done. Later in the night we had a mutual ragging session with the seniors of the PGSEM.
Sunday can you believe that, yes we had classes on Sunday too and jam packed with classes! It started off with a jolt with a surprise Quiz, test on Maths, with a plethora of questions on Calculus, Sequences, Cartesian Geometry, Matrices a lot of which I had forgotten; ended up getting an unsatisfactory score! Anyways the next session was one of the most amazing lectures I have seen. Prof. YLR Murthy a branding expert and a professor of sales and marketing was to call one of the teams and they presented their case study findings in a presentation. After this started the roller coaster, witty, humorous, add to it a superb set of anecdotes to explain where and how personal selling can and is used. He seemed to have the most relevant and remarkably humorous examples for every topic that he was teaching. Such professors are one of a kind and seeing is believing, and you got to be in his class to understand what joy a student can feel! It ended with his suggesting several books including the book 'Godel, Escher and Bach' by Hofstadter, 'Not for Bread Alone', 'Sales Management' by Charles Futrell, some of which I am sure to take up soon. He even mentioned a very relevant point from the book 'Godfather'.
Next was a session on Presentations by an alumni of IIMB PGSEM, Rakesh Godhwani, who seems very young but is smart nonetheless. He made good use of audio, video and a very captivating presentation style to point out the importance of the person presenting, rather than just the aides, slides etc. also the components of voice modulation, gestures etc were demonstrated. A good presentation should have an Opening, Body and Conclusion approach, 7-7-7 and 5-5-5 rules etc were annunciated. Post lunch toppers in certain subjects from our seniors gave presentations on those subjects.
That evening we were witness to a keynote lecture by the head of Nasscom, Som Mittal which talked of general statistics in the IT industry and the fact that the employable population in India would be the highest in the world of about 47 million by 2020 – but the productivity levels were drastically coming down and something needed to be done about it. Right now even though the IT industries having raked up revenues of close to 5.5% of the GDP from what was a meagre 0.2% in 1991, still a lot more needs to be done. This was followed by a panel discussion among high profile, seniors executives from companies such as Wipro, Oracle, Subex, SAP etc along with Som Mittal and moderated by Prof. J Ramachandran which focused on the topic: “DNA for the next generation of IT Leaders”. This threw up some interesting points and the audience questions were rather stunning ranging from the social imperative of business, mindset of Indians and PPP (Public Private Participation) and other points for which there were no clear answers. A dinner and heavy rains that night brought down the curtains on the fabulous orientation camp. The energy levels at the end were still palpable and it was an experience that cannot be washed off so easily even with the heavy rains that followed. This will only make us look forward to a plethora of exciting activities and tons of studying on some heavy intellectual subjects in the days to come as classes start 20th June.
IIMB - here we come!