How Diversity helps in a MBA classroom – Meet SPJIMR students

Diversity by design gradually should lead to diversity by extension being a natural part of the student pool at a Business School. However like everything that is slightly off the beaten path, this idea too has taken root and shape gradually at SPJIMR. With a unique approach which incorporates a focus on “value based leadership” from where can emerge leaders with a grounded perspective on things-that-be; diversity certainly adds to the “value” in the “value based leadership” that SPJIMR assimilates within its students.

With one of the highest percentages of female students in business school, SPJIMR has a well balanced mix of students with a relevant and robust work experience and students who have just graduated from undergraduate colleges. Unlike in other Business schools where students choose their electives in the second year and do not therefore have to choose a specialization; SPJIMR mandates students to choose their specialization ahead of the admission process itself. This therefore leads to an extremely grueling selection process with students with the relevant qualifications pertaining to the specialization chosen (one of the four- Marketing, Finance, Information Management and Operations) are ultimately selected. This brings diversity to the haloed portals of SPJIMR than any other selection process which may be based on scores, educational qualifications alone and so on.

Thus develops a unique class composition which distills into an enriching peer based learning experience that helps shape the very unique viewpoints and professional practices that each outgoing SPJIMR student holds.

Having interviewed some extremely diverse candidates that form part of the current batch of 2015, here are excerpts from their experiences thus far and the reasons behind their decision to undertake a Management Education…

Tanvi Kapoor

Tanvi Kapoor, 24, PGDM-Finance

Undergraduate Studies: Bachelor of Arts, Mathematics (Honors); Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University, Delhi

Work Experience: Analyst, McKinsey and Company

An honors degree in Mathematics sounds weighty and daunting? Why don’t you tell me what it really was like having undertaken such a rigorous course?

At 17, just like many others at that time, I opted for science in class XII with the hope of getting into a prestigious engineering college. Like many others, I decided to start preparing for the variety of entrance exams on offer to get into the “ultimate engineering college” (read the IITs or the NITs). However, honestly by mid 12th I realized that I did not wish to pursue engineering; I somehow couldn’t imagine myself sitting through four years of that! I was a good student, and I did really well in my class XII exams. I opted thus for the Honors programme in Mathematics at the Lady Shri Ram College. It is one the most prestigious colleges in the country affiliated to the best and most vibrant university in India. The rest I would say is history.

The course I opted for is only for someone with an aptitude and pure passion for the subject. The course has 22 subjects with 18 being pure mathematics. For anyone who is disinclined towards Mathematics, this course would be a nightmare. For me with my unbridled enthusiasm for the subject, the three years were a breeze. And to add, I was part of the typical Delhi University life – part intellectual, part spiritual (yes), part hectic but wholly energetic and compelling. I had some of the best moments and built some really great memories during that time!

 How did you education translate into your work experience at McKinsey and Company?

Delhi University attracts a strong network of recruiters who not only look for the ubiquitous, erstwhile engineers but also for those who have opted for other undergrad streams- thus I had an access to them as they came on campus for recruitment. Of the ones I targeted, McKinsey and Company offered me an opportunity to work in the biggest consulting company in the world that revolutionized so many business practices and changed the way business is done today. The roles offered to me was that of an Analyst at their Knowledge Center- a role which required a lot of learning and to some extent – even unlearning! With a thorough grounding in Mathematics, I had honed my analytical skills and was able to think logically with a structured thought process. This was what really helped me while at McKinsey.

Why an MBA- did you not think of possibly doing an MS in mathematics or its more favored cousin statistics- that would have definitely opened up career opportunities in exciting avenues such as actuaries for instance?

Having worked for two years with McKinsey, I had the opportunity to work on a series of projects- each different from the other in terms of scope, problem definition, and approaches to solutions proposed. With my analytical skills firmly behind me, a management education seemed like a natural transition to further my growth opportunities.

While at LSR I had of course considered doing an MS in Mathematics, but to be honest this was not really a lucrative field in India. The US would have been tricky because I had only three years of under graduate experience rather than the mandatory 4 years most universities in US require. Europe was an option that I considered however given the economic scenario at that time (2011); it seemed like a risky proposition. Then McKinsey happened and it helped me look at a whole new series of opportunities in the field of consulting that required management education.

How would you position yourself given diverse background and equally diverse work experience to potential recruiters? Are there any specific industries you are looking at post graduation?

Well, as you can see most of career advancement has been of inorganic kind! However in the process I have managed to be associated with top institutions like LSR, McKinsey & Co. and now SPJIMR, which individually and collectively have taught me a lot and have provided me with a comprehensive view. For instance at LSR, I learnt how to think analytically, at McKinsey, I learnt how to go beyond the minimum base requirement in a fast and result-oriented environment, and here at SPJIMR – besides the classroom learning, I am learning the soft skills of time management, working under pressure and excelling while doing so, and getting to learn from my peers coming from varied backgrounds.

I am specializing in Finance here at SPJIMR, and I look forward to a role in Consulting, Corporate Finance or the Banking sector. I was part of the Consulting Committee in my first year and was the Key Point of Contact in organizing the hugely successful Consulting Conclave- as part of the SPJIMR Business Academia Conclave. I am also part of the Consulting Cohort in the second year allowing me to minor in Consulting along with a core major in Finance.

How in your opinion has your diverse background added value to the classroom learning at SPJIMR?

I follow a very structured approach towards completing time targeted tasks and I can say that both my academic group and my consulting committee have learned immensely from it. Given that I did not follow the traditional path, I have picked up various skills along the way which has only helped enhance the overall peer learning at SPJIMR. While I have contributed to the learning here, I shall be honest, I have learnt a lot in return as well. The ability to work under pressure is something I have picked up from my engineering friends at SP. Also, I feel SPJIMR is a hub with a rich and eclectic mix of people from various backgrounds and I actually feel I am a perfect fit here!

Gyayak Jain

Gyayak Jain, 26, PGDM- Finance

Undergraduate studies: K.C. Law College (LL.B.), University of Mumbai and H.R. College of Commerce and Economics (B.Com.), University of Mumbai

Work Experience: Assistant Manager, Deloitte

A practicing Chartered Accountant, law graduate and now an MBA? Why this shift a by extension a choice to go down a different career path?

With a thorough grounding in law and accounting I was equipped with the necessary foundation which can serve as an arsenal that can help sustain in the corporate world. Having worked at Deloitte for more than two years where I handled audits for various clients – big and small, I realized that corporates spend millions of dollars annually on legal counsel, sometimes for really simple topics such as partnership formation or even drafting a legal agreement. I wanted to leverage my legal expertise and by extension my education thus far from a management perspective whereby I can be on the other side of the table and thus in a position to actually decide and adjudge what legal counsel would be necessary and what wouldn’t be. I felt therefore that a management education would most certainly help embellish upon the education I had received thus far and provide me with more fruitful insights.

As a CA and law graduate you have naturally chosen Finance as your major, what are the major areas in finance that make sense for you given your background and therefore possibly interest you?

Financial Consulting such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategy for Corporate Finance, Asset Management, IPO modelling, etc. are the areas that make sense for a profile like mine. Apart from these, the areas which interest me are Management Consulting and General Management roles where I have to work under the shadow of top management. Given my prior work experience in a consulting and auditing firm like Deloitte, I am of the firm opinion that a company’s financial statements are not just a statement of the past but a look into how its future can be. With my background, I can certainly in the capacity of a consultant or as part of the top management within the company help shape the company’s strategy.

How would you position yourself given diverse background and equally diverse work experience to potential recruiters? Are there any specific industries you are looking at post-graduation?

For potential recruiters, I would be a person whose knowledge and vision is not compartmentalized. I am the person who can see the bigger picture, think logically and devise sustainable solutions. Since I have diversity with me as I have worked for various clients from various industries before such as Banking, NBFC, Real Estate, Media etc., I want to get into Management Consulting. I derive my inspiration from the Late Marvin Bower who was the longest serving Managing Partner at McKinsey & Co. He was a law graduate from Harvard Law and a management graduate from the Harvard Business School.

How would you say diversity helps in a business school? In terms of personal experience would you say you bring to the table some essential skill sets/experiences that would enrich the learning process for your classmates?

In my opinion, a business school is more like an ecosystem in which a student greatly advances more through peer learning than from the traditional classroom teaching. My roommates are engineers and it is a very different experience to see their approach towards everything. Sharing thoughts and experiences on various topics helps in development of a thought process which is refined and exempted from what may be your personal biases/prejudices/lack of a perspective. These discussions are generally like a two way information expressway. Diversity helps in personality development. It opens a person to many avenues which he or she would have never thought of.


Dr. Kunal Joshi, 26, PGDM- Marketing

Undergraduate Studies: Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS), SDM College of Medical Sciences and Hospital, Dharwad Karnataka

Work Experience: Casualty Medical Office, DGMAMC Hospital

As a doctor, the immediate choices are a post graduation, possibly a super specialty or maybe an independent practice…an MBA is a radically different path? Why?

I don’t think it’s a radically different path, but a much needed path for the future of healthcare. Today medicine is not just about doctor-patient relationship, it has grown way beyond it. There are chains of hospitals, research centers, pharmaceuticals, health insurance, medical equipment companies, medical consultancies and they need managers like any other sector. A Doctor-MBA is a manager cum technical person of healthcare who knows the best of both worlds- healthcare and management would very well fall in line with any branch of healthcare sector.

How do you think an MBA would help you revolutionize the healthcare sector?

With so many opportunities around us in the healthcare sector we are also facing a paradox, the falling vital parameters of the healthcare system in India. We need a lot of reforms in the healthcare sector both public and private. The way to resuscitate and revive the Indian healthcare is to think different, think new and I don’t think anyone knows the healthcare terrain better than a doctor. MBA at a top notch business school like SPJIMR amidst some of the brightest brains in the country gives that ignition to think different.

You are currently doing you rural internship in this very sector, could you possibly elaborate on that?

I am an intern at Heads held high (HHH), Bangalore. HHH is currently working in north Karnataka to empower rural people by providing them entrepreneurship opportunities in the field of education and skill development. Now they want to foray into the healthcare sector so I am preparing a go to market strategy in healthcare which is a pilot project in Gadag district of Karnataka. I need to analyze the healthcare situation of a district, find the demand-supply gap and fill the gap with the products or services available across the globe leveraging on the existing HHH value chain. It’s a very challenging project and I have got some radical insights regarding healthcare scenario at the bottom of pyramid along the course of this project.

Would you say that it would be difficult for potential recruiters to view as a viable candidate? How would you position yourself in that case?

I don’t think it would be difficult for any healthcare company to view a Doctor-MBA combo as a viable candidate. It’s a win-win situation for both. The recruiter gets a person with managerial skill plus domain knowledge in a niche sector like healthcare and I get an opportunity to work in the healthcare sector from a completely different perspective which in itself is fascinating for any doctor.

Does diversity help and could you possibly give one maybe two instances in how you may have added value to classroom learning at SPJIMR?

Yes diversity plays a major role in learning at a B-School. Thanks to SPJIMR I had a very diverse class in my first year which was a beautiful mosaic of engineers, chartered accountants, architects, lawyers, commerce graduates and a psychologist. We had a lot of business cases related to healthcare and I was an authority to clear the core medical doubts. Being the only doctor in the batch the déjà-vu moment was not missing the clinical practice here as I had the privilege of being the on board Doc for my fellow future CEO’s.


As told to Sonal

Sonal SapaleSonal is a Chemical Engineer from ICT Mumbai currently in her 1st year at SPJIMR. She has worked for C Tech Corporation, a specialty chemicals company. Travelling and writing short stories & human interest articles interest her.  She has served as the editor for ICT’s non-technical magazine.

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