From Architecture to MBA- Best of both Worlds – Mwblib Basumatary – Lions of Lucknow

After a tete-a-tete with an ISRO scientist and an all-rounder, next up on the Lions of Lucknow list is, Mwblib Basumatary, generally addresses as Mwb, an architecture graduate from one of the best design schools of the country. Lets read on to understand him a bit more.

Before I start firing questions, can you tell me the meaning of your name? It’s a unique name.

It means quick, electric.

Suits you. Lets start with a standard interview starter. Tell us something about yourself.

(Answers smiling) I could also give you a well-prepared answer for this 😛

I am from Udalguri. It’s a border town – a trijunction point of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan. That’s where I studied till class 10, post which I moved to Guwahati for my further schooling. I completed my degree in Architecture from the SPA School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi and worked for 3 years after that in Delhi.

You studied at one of the finest Architecture schools in the country. Was this always your dream?

Actually, no. Architecture happened. I did not even have Engineering Drawing (a subject most people probably interested in B. Arch take-up in school) as an option at my school. I studied Science with Statistics instead.

So, you wanted to be a statistician (I asked slightly surprised)

(laughs) No. As I said, I didn’t have a choice. It was Biology or Statistics. I didn’t want to be a doctor, so took up statistics. Though I didn’t have Engineering Drawing as a subject, I was interested in design and there were things that I learnt and taught myself on my own. Its when I finally joined SPA that I realized I was actually right in a lot of my estimates and guesses (smiles proudly)

Great. So, how was your experience at SPA? You spent 6 years there.

The experience was great-both with the school and with the city in general. I learnt and grew as a person quite a lot. For my training in the penultimate year, I worked with a small architecture firm and worked on core designing, primarily for competitions. (On looking at a puzzled expression on my face, he explains….) In Architecture, you bid for projects not in the traditional way most of the time and take part in competitions for projects instead. You create designs and presentations, just like our competitions here, and the best ones get to present to the project owners who then decide based on pricing, bids etc.

Then, in my final year I started working with the India International Centre as a part of the National Youth Forum fellowship program where we discussed city planning, poverty alleviation techniques etc under the guidance of academics and young professionals from University of Delhi and across the country.

Architecture

Sounds interesting but slightly more biased towards economics than Architecture…..

(Smiles) There were students from all disciplines and we all had specific tasks. I ended up working on drafting a blue-print for development of an inclusive slum free city.

Wow. So, how did this design loving student of Architecture turn to business education?

I think the seed was laid when I was working on the blue-print. I realized I wanted to do more than just design and build houses/buildings for clients. But, by then, I had no experience of working on the ground. All I had done was designing in the classroom setting. So, I took up a job with a 5-member firm.

It exposed me to all aspects of Architecture-from desigining, to working on the site with engineers, to working with the clients to understand their needs. I did move to a bigger firm briefly but came back to my orginal firm because of the holistic exposure I was getting there. 1 year into the company, I was given the chance to build a housing society from scratch for a big client. I was clueless, not having much exposure at that time to working on the field but I learnt everything on the job.

While working on these projects, I realized that there was a need for people with business knowledge to know about the nitty-gritties of designing too. The business side, i.e. the client, being an engineer, would at times come up with demands that showed lack of clarity towards the project. It was mainly because he did not have an in-house designer to advise him. I saw how quite some time was lost on most construction projects because of the same reason.

So you basically want to be the man with knowledge of both sides of an assignment….

Yes. I hope to understand the business side of my field now. There is a need for more people with both design and business knowledge these days. I am very happy that there are 2 other people from the profession here as my batch-mates. The number might be small, but it’s a start atleast (he says with a hopeful smile).

There would be a paradigm shift in the kind of classroom learning that you are used to, the kind of pressure that one has to deal with here. How do you cope?

Yes. I am used to different style of learning and working. We used to learn through doing and barely had lectures the way we do here. I accept it took me a few days to adjust but I got used to the style here.

As far as the rigour is concerned, I am used to much more. This place is much kinder than the pressure I worked with-both in the past 3 years, and when I was pursuing Architecture.

What are your other interests?

Besides design, and now management, I like to follow politics and sports, particularly football. I also have a deep interest in the policy set-up of India. I have been writing about Indian policy changes, the set-up and challenges for the past 3 years now.

Any other hobbies? What do you do in your free time on campus (if any :p )?

(laughs) I get sufficient free time. I like to play football and that’s what you’ll find me doing in my free-time on campus. Besides that I like writing-stories and poetry.

Nice. What other things are you involved in on campus?

I am the joint infrastructure secretary.

Council

I seriously need to take lessons on time-management from you since you have free time even after doing so much. Any particular reason for this particular position?

I hope to be able to use my knowledge in improving the campus further. Though our campus is pretty access friendly for everyone, I will just try and see I could help in better utilization of this beautiful campus.

We hope you are successful in your endeavours J

Now that I am armed with the knowledge that you write, you will have to compose a few lines for us:

(Smiles) Okay!

You write a word: and then its two; and its a song,

You sing it out – heart and soul to who you belong;

Your song is all you have to reach out all along,

…is desperate attempt to rhyme – this is wrong..! 😉

My cards all played well..

Heaved a little, sighed a little, heartbeats all fell…

The walks I walk, all is stepped away from a little hell..

Sigh again, breath again, dream well again..

This life’s just beautiful, there ain’t no reason to complain…

 

-As told to Swati Thakur

(This article is written by Swati Thakur, a supposed economist, proven day-dreamer, self-certified poet. She is a PGP student at IIM Lucknow, batch of 2016 and is the Creative Head and Core Coordinator of the Media and Communication Cell at IIM Lucknow. )

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