There’s no two ways about it.
IIM Ahmedabad students are confident, and often over-confident.
There is something about the brand of IIM-A that stokes the fire (read, ego) inside many young students. This resultant superiority complex gets many neat things done in the world.
These neat things perpetuate the IIM-A brand further. This often leads one of our seniors on a solemn Saturday late-night, or one of our faculty on a solemn Saturday early-morning, to spin some advice around it.
For about 10 years, use the IIM-A brand to get ahead. Then, use your skills to get the IIM-A brand ahead.
Sometimes the 10 years is 15 and sometimes it’s 5, depending on the fellow’s idealism levels – but the message is the same: Today’s students are what will uphold the IIM-A brand in a few years.
The Alumni Cell is at the heart of understanding this very well, and their initiative from 2015 – the Young Alumni Achiever Award, and this year’s winners, is the focus of this article. By their own words, “The program is designed to encourage and recognize young leaders who have made an impact and inspired others.“ Last year, they awarded it to Raghunandan G, Rajesh Gopinathan and Prof. Aparna Labroo.
The skeptic should ask why it’s important. Raghunandan G and Aprameya Radhakrishna, for example, who are from Dorm Number 17 at IIM Ahmedabad, came down to this writer’s dorm for a little chat after the award. For the uninitiated, Raghunandan G and Aprameya Radhakrishna are the founders of Taxi For Sure, and they came in fresh out of selling it to Ola for USD 200 million.
Let’s be materialistic for a moment and enjoy that. Imagine this: the pizza-party they gave made a smaller dent to their net worth than a Melody would probably make to yours or mine. That’s incredible. Now, with all materialism aside and addressed, let’s level on why this is truly important.
The reason why an award like YAAA is so critical is that it makes a first-year student who just came in to a dusty room to a hot June weather believe in himself. It makes him pulse with confidence because the men he aspires to be like, are the same people around him. Who sat in similar dusty rooms many Junes ago.
He’s just as likely to be the next guy with a multi-million valuation – because the dream that is a cloud in his head, manifests itself in front of him. He is struck by how the people he looks up to are all blood and flesh, same men as him who just lived 5 or 10 or 15 years ago, who probably struggled with balancing balance sheets when they first came in, who must been absolutely puzzled how reports of business communication are graded, or ran to the placement office to meet a deadline, adjusting their formal trousers approximately every 10 strides or so, in the ultimate juxtaposition of professionalism & cluelessness.
And once you truly see that mental image of your ideals clicking in, perhaps you realize that you’re already where you wanted to be for a long time. The confidence kicks in. You begin to feel like you belong. He goes back to his room, and his accounting book seems simpler for a moment.
Solace is taken in the fact that his confidence will stay him at least till next Friday, 1:45 pm.
About this Year’s Winners
This section of the article deals with this year’s winners of the 2016 Young Alumni Achiever’s Awards and what they spoke about in the PGPX Speaker Series.
Abhinay Chaudhari is the co-founder of Bigbasket and from the batch of 1997. His journey is in many ways what I picture as a life of an entrepreneur – there were times when he had to sell his house to sustain capital flow, there were times when optimism was pitch center on his head during the 1998 dotcom boom, and there was, according to him, a pervasive sense of knowing that ultimately, he had to be doing something of his own.
The PGPX speaker session focussed quite heavily on Bigbasket and it’s retail capacity. Abhinay spoke heavily in favor of the hub-and-spoke model (Bigbasket has H&S) over the hyperlocal delivery model. His prime argument was surprisingly simple – the margins for hyperlocal were simply too low. Within Rs. 30, companies were expected to do last-mile deliveries, which is a complicated problem in a city as large as Ahmedabad, let alone bigger ones like Mumbai or Delhi. He also spoke out how he never really saw kirana stores as competition, because even now – organized retail players like Bigbasket are still 1% of the total market.
Bigbasket’s primary bet is on the fact that the they’re in a market where paying a little bit more for better service is not unheard of. Within this arena, there are many problems – such as the homemaker still insisting on touching and perceiving the goods before she buys them, or orders that don’t work out correctly, but Abhinay insists that these service gaps are ones Bigbasket will actively be fixing.
Neeraj Agarwal is the Managing Director of the Boston Consulting Group, India and heads the India business. He is from the batch of 1999. He began his session by joking about how he was the ‘Grand Old Man’ of his batch because he joined the college having a cumulative work-ex of 5 years – and how in that sense, he related more with the PGPX batch (which has a minimum work-ex of 7 years) than the incoming PGP batch. He worked at BCG for 17 straight years since his graduation.
He talked about how his career choice was determined by two preferences1:
- A desire to work on complex business problems.
- A desire to interact with people as a significant part of his job.
His stint at BCG especially allowed him the former, where he cited his work on the Aadhar Card (2009-2011) as one of his most memorable projects. Later in the session, he also talked about how it was important for individuals to discover their true passions, despite being good at multiple things. His core tool for dealing with a mind good at multiple things was advice around time management – being able to work smart, and getting the most out of 24 hours was one of the most important abilities to gain in the competitive workplace.