"Being a part of Student Council, Team Ignicion (collective team of class representatives who are responsible for on boarding the next batch seamlessly) and many other associations during IIM Lucknow, IIEST Shibpur and Tata Steel, I have seen life in the harder way. However, it has helped me to mature as a human being. To describe me, I will use three phrases- a person who values integrity as the way of life, principle of staying genuine even in the most dilemmas and a person who knows how to stay happy. As an enthusiastic trekker, I aspire to live the roller coaster life rather than a calm one. I love to see places, talk to strangers, unfold their stories and above all touch people’s lives in whatever righteous way I can. "
Name an instance where you wanted something and went out of your comfort zone to achieve it OR Tell us the biggest risk you have taken so far in your life.
"It was definitely the coveted “Induction of the junior batch”. As Student Council, the team of 8 of us were expected to orchestrate the whole event. I have never seen such a dilemma. A part of the team was dead against induction, where the rest of it was of the opposite opinion. It became un-resolvable, when it struck me that it’s not just our decision. We took it to the batch, the open forum. We discussed it till dawn. We drafted plans, came to the table, scrapped portions went back and redrafted. The grind went for a week or so. However, I knew none of the extreme opinions were going to stand. We had to find a middle path. The scary part was, if anything happens out of the course, we will be the scapegoat and as it comes particularly under my portfolio (Academic Secretary), maybe I will be the first one to be thrown out of the campus. It was more of a suicidal mission. We went ahead with the induction plan. And inevitably, the whole plan got jeopardized several times, got halted, called by admin, chairmen, professors over different issues. Throughout the days and nights, I lived on the edge, ready to be topped off at any time. It was not a perfectly orchestrated event, but it was one of the very rare sleepless nights I spent on campus. Starting from career to degree, everything was at stake, with literally no gain other than keeping the tradition and batch sentiment afloat."
When was the last time someone relied on you? OR What did you do which was purely for someone else - a truly selfless act.
It was my initial days at Tata Steel Ltd. As a part of the community service, we were advised by our manager to coach a bunch of students (literally first generation learners) of nearby villages for Tata Trade Apprentice entrance exam. The first day started off just to serve my duty, but when I reached there, saw them, understood the background they are coming from, the zeal they had inside and their helplessness, my heart melted. I vowed to myself, whatever may come in the way, I personally will help & guide them till the last date of my stay in that particular location. And I lived up to my promise. There were heavy rains, overtimes at the office, missed parties, but I made sure I turned up every day on time. What motivated me was their passion and commitment. I can state with conviction, my problems with respect to theirs were very silly and stupid. So if they can show that level of dedication, I should not disappoint them.
Fortunately, I could convince two of my colleagues to be a part of my mission too. At the end of the tenure, we could empathize with our students' each and every activity and event. I still remember I left Noamundi before the exam took place. But, I was still in contact with a few of them. Even after the results, I got ‘thank you’ calls with the pleasant news of their conversion. I could have easily skipped these and enjoyed my evenings in a conventional-just-employed way. But then I would have missed this lifetime opportunity of hearing the over-joyed voices from the other side of the call “Sir, I have made it. Pappa is so happy today.”
Tell us about a time when you disagreed with an opinion/idea/decision. What did you do about it?
There were a few practices in my last workplace (exchange of favours, though it was not harmful to anyone other than increasing expenses) which I personally did not like. It involved my team workers and contractor labourers and they were made to travel 35-40 km in a frequent manner. As mostly spare labour was used, resource constraint was not an issue. My only concern was their safety and the thing that their movements were not documented properly. God forbid, if something happens on the road, there won’t be any track that they were on the company- business. I raised this point in a monthly meeting, which involved managers in many promotions above my pay-grade. I could not initially sense the situation I stirred up. I made my stance clear- to use my department resources, they have to drop a piece of mail, message or letter. In consequence, I was strongly criticized and faced severe non-cooperation. There was only one person, my immediate reporting manager, who throughout the time supported me whole-heartedly. With his confidence, amidst all, I stayed stuck to my principles. The tough stance and with the team’s support, the deployment became successful. Over time, people understood its value and it became a practice. The most pleasing part is that it still continues today."
What is the one thing you can claim to have some level of expertise or depth of knowledge in - it could be anything - a subject, a sport, a hobby, a venture, an initiative which has led you to do deep work in that field?
"Talking about a subject skill it will definitely be “Supply chain and operations”. Knowledge should never be judged by grades. But it speaks for you, when your juniors after getting allotted with their projects on supply chain drop an immediate message “Anirban, help”; or when your batch mates consider you to be a one-stop solution for their course, assignments, problems regarding the subject; and operations-enthusiast students are recommended by their CV mentors to have a discussion about their resume building. It was never like I could satisfy them with their curiosities always, but what built my credibility was my commitment and love for this particular subject. Since the first time I sensed there is something cooking between us, I have never been disloyal. And in developing this interest, the contribution of one person I will never forget is Prof. Indranil Biswas. Even during his super busy time with teaching and administration, he never denied me any discussion about what-nots of the supply chain world. My dissertation paper on Explaining Contracts Through a Game Theoretic Lens wouldn’t have been possible without his guidance. And to build the credibility of at least initiating a fruitful discussion with him, I went way beyond my coursework and learnt the nitty-gritty of the domain. And it could not have paid back more than helping me to land my dream job in Blue Yonder."
If 10 Million Dollars (approximately INR 75 Crores) is given to you to use it any way you deem fit what would you do with this corpus?
"I will build a chain of semi-urban and rural schools. The interest of Indian parents for spending in child’s education is increasing over time. What they lack is proper infrastructure at the local level and the value system of not letting children go far off places in the early stage of life. Catering to this need, an encircling the values a solid educational ecosystem can be developed. A centralized structure of fully digital (with the advent of Jio and Google’s internet service) schooling system coupled with local talent can give birth to a new education channel altogether. This way, even rural children can be exposed to a world-class education-
- Predefined course curriculum helps us to design and record regular classes and deliver through digitally equipped online classes (within school premises) which will be controlled centrally and standard for all the schools in the chain. Doubt clearing sessions may be arranged region/ batch wise over online mode.
- The day to day administration and other auxiliary assignments can be carried out by local talents, trained specifically for the ecosystem. This will boost employment opportunities too.
- Exams and assignments can too be done online or as a combination of proctored invigilation and postal mode.
- A longer and reliable value chain can be established by identifying local talents and equipping them with the knowledge of running pre-schools and nurseries. This will boost the whole ecosystem, make it self-sustainable, bring in an entrepreneurial mindset even in the rural areas. The biggest challenge of our education sector is the reach and penetration in the BOP. With increasing disposable income and spending mindset, the untapped opportunities are huge as per my belief."