The Appetite – My Initial Days At IIM Calcutta (VLM Program)

It requires a lot of courage for a caterpillar to break the comfortable cocoon and engage itself in the dangerous world outside. The risk pays off and it gets transformed into a vibrant butterfly gliding from one flower to another.

Though I am a human, a creature far high up the evolution tree, the crushing fear does not change when I decide to step into the unknown. I always believed there is something more inside me, and I can add more value to my professional life and moreover to my nation than I am currently doing. Mundane work at an automobile company would lead me nowhere other than some appraisals here and there, often spiced up with lot of salt. I was hungry to have more on my plate, though scared of having too much than I can digest.

Appetite. That is the other name given to ‘desire’ in today’s corporate culture. We predominantly work in industries in India which have a lot of hunger to become the market leader, product innovator, cost leader etc but seldom we encounter organizations which can take big risks, can stand up in the boxing ring and take in rounds of punches and still stand strong. Satisfying the hunger is short term solution to the problem whereas satisfying appetite goes over a life time.

Risk taking does not occur overnight, it has to be cultivated inside through years. The notion of quitting my good paying job and pursuing higher education did take a good amount of time to materialize into action. Four years of engineering has imbibed in me a technical and practical approach within me. A way of thinking which rationalizes every decision, often mixing up choices with desires. I seek for the right and the wrong, ways to increase efficiency of an age old process etc, all aspects of thinking while being inside the box.

The quest for knowledge has led me to IIM Joka. Here I have not come to seek the truth, but to know the complete story. A story which, being a confined engineer I could never fathom. I never intend to kill the engineer inside me and jump onto some other suit and do things which have no relevance to my past. Rather I would like to use that base to build a magnificent tower on top. Last year I came to know about this one of a kind program called the PGPEX-VLM which is a one year executive MBA program for people from manufacturing industries. VLM stand for Visionary Leaders in Manufacturing. The course structure appealed to me a lot, in the sense that it offers the right blend of management and technical courses. I was looking for something like this, wherein I can utilize my technical knowledge & experience and contribute to the development of India. Run by the three premier institutes IIM Calcutta, IIT Kanpur and IIT Madras it commanded a high sense of quality, enough to convince my risk mind to grab the golden opportunity. My desire of becoming a “qualified” professional seemed materializing in front of me.

Now, as I have completed my first term here in IIM Joka, I can feel the difference between management and engineering attitude towards approaching a managerial problem. The first and foremost learning here was imparted by one of the stalwarts of the management world – professor Shoji Shiba . Introducing us diligent engineers the idea of breakthrough management and quick FSDP was in itself a big lesson. I had considered concepts of TQM, Lean production practices etc as the buzz word in the industry but now here I am pushed to think that those are ways of the past and what the world needs now are breakthroughs from its age old practices.

Breaking the shackles of constrained thoughts and unlearning the past, I endured into the new world of finance, marketing and strategy. The essence of all these diverse courses have one thing in common, i.e. nothing is absolute right and wrong, it all depends on lot of factors and everything gives rise to some consequence. Filled with fascination, I slowly tried to recall all the work I did back in the industry and understood that many things were not “right or wrong”, all initiated chain of outcomes and repercussions.  The more I am learning, more I am inclined to read this engrossing novel.

Though there are no seniors on campus to guide and help us to get along with the course on a daily basis, we have been constantly mentored by the previous batches since we got selected to join this course. Seniors regularly give us valuable inputs on how to make the best use of this program and areas on which we need to focus. We are overwhelmed by the helping nature of our seniors and the commitment shown by them even after passing out from this course. These gestures instill a feeling of confidence within us that the learnings from this VLM program will definitely give us edge over many other professionals in the industry.

When I finish this unique coveted course I intend to develop a much broad rationale and mindset to deal with real life situations at work. Leaders are not eccentric individuals but are ones whose far sighted vision is often understood after it turns into success. We, the protagonists of industrial transformation in our country and leaders of the future want to propel our country into becoming a technological and economic super power.

India as a country is currently taking a lot of risk in its varied paths of growth and development. I wish to be a harbinger of the next industrial boom of my nation and this Visionary Leaders for Manufacturing program, I firmly believe will provide the much needed fuel to keep the learning appetite alive throughout my life.

Sourodeep Chakravarty

A mechanical engineer by education, an automobile enthusiast & scuba diver by passion and a MBA student by choice.