I had come to IIM Udaipur, fresh from a near 3-year work stint. I was eager to gain the leadership and soft skills that an MBA was supposed to provide. IIM Udaipur was known for its emphasis on academic rigour, so I had no doubt about the quality of technical education that I would be receiving. What I also wanted to do was to overcome habits and biases that had held me back, and learn new ones that would help me become a strong and reliable leader in the future.
When I arrived at IIM Udaipur, I was immediately swept away by the flurry of activities that characterized our orientation week. Our class was a melting pot of cultures. An even mix of people with and without work experience from every corner of the country gathered to learn together. I struggled with names and backgrounds for the first couple of weeks, and I still do manage to quite regularly mix up names, to my classmates’ amusement and irritation.
In the first week of classes, we had a few preliminary courses, Managerial Oral Communication being one of them. Our class was split evenly into two separate groups, each having separate classes. Our instructor was Dr Sunil, a tall, sharp looking and eloquent man. In our very first class, he threw us a curveball, when he looked at us, smiled slightly, and asked if anyone of us had looked him up. We blustered a bit, but it was pretty obvious we had not taken the trouble. Still smiling, he asked us how we would know how to communicate effectively with a potentially significant stranger if we did not take the basic step of checking the background of the person. I was taken aback. I remembered that in my job while prepping for meetings, I would take the time to know about the people who would be there in the meeting. Yet, here I had totally skipped the same due diligence because it was a classroom.
We were asked to prepare a story to tell for our second class of Managerial Oral Communication. I had spent some time thinking up one and was reasonably confident in communicating the same effect. Once the class started, however, we were in for a surprise. Each of us was given a sheet of paper on which we were supposed to mark our peers on their performance in storytelling. After a certain number of stories, each of us had to receive feedback on what our own classmates thought of our performance. The activity suddenly seemed a lot more perilous, stressful, and personal.
None of us was completely prepared. A few of us came to a grinding halt and faltered on after encouragement from our classmates. The feedback was raw, unfiltered and honest. No one had any place to hide. As I was told off by my own friends for the myriad of details that I had previously thought too minor to consider, my pride was in tatters. Our class ended with Dr Sunil giving us a few more pointers for improvement, and emphasising the importance of rehearsal for public speaking.
When I came to my room and ruminated on my dressing down, I was surprised to find a sense of relief. All my doubts were resolved, and I was reassured that IIM Udaipur would indeed be the challenging and fulfilling MBA journey that I had wished for.
Which ABG company would I want to work for and why?
One of the things I became aware of with regards to my understanding of the workings of a company was the complete lack of understanding of the many intricacies and complexities of the Finance department of an organization. It is because of this very reason that I want to specialize in finance in the next two years and do hands-on work in the financial services of a large MNC to gain further understanding and experience on the various complexities involved. It thus makes sense that I would want to work for one of the largest financial services in India and one of the top 5 private diversified NBFCs in India, Aditya Birla Capital Limited.