From Marina Bay To MBA – Mr. Merchant Navy, Hardik Patel’s Story

B-schools today are yearning for diversity, but we all know for a fact that the 8 out of 10 would still be from the engineering background and an IT work experience. So, when you come across individuals who hail from diverse backgrounds, it is always interesting to know their perspective of the whole MBA journey. Hardik Patel, part of the merchant navy for four years and now at IIM Trichy was kind enough to narrate his experience.


1. How does it feel to be from such a diverse work experience at an IIM?

It does feel great being a being a part of a group which has diversity. Although a majority are from the tech plus IT background, there are students from fields like commerce, medicine, arts, etc. This diversity plays a major role in peer to peer learning. At times, being from a unique background, I am able to share views which helps sets up a stage for an intellectual discussion. It is because of this diversity, that students get the impetus to express their views which takes the discussion to a new level and critical talking points are unfolded. I came to IIM Trichy with a purpose to groom myself and add another dimension to my outlook of the corporate world. The decision is indeed life changing and will surely help to achieve my long-term career goals.


2. What prompted you to take the plunge and pursue a management degree after sailing for 4 years?

The reason that prompted me to pursue a career in management was “professional growth”. I worked as an Electrical officer on board vessel in a reputed organization of merchant navy for 4 years. The perks were the highest compared to other career fields not only in terms of pay cheque but a chance to travel around the globe. During my tenure as an electrical officer I have sailed across all oceans and have explored most of the happening cities around the globe. Being a travel enthusiast and an extrovert, I was totally satisfied with my career. But slowly started realising that the learning was stalling and life was becoming monotonous. Further, there is no promotion in merchant navy with the educational qualification and certifications I possessed. Since I have always strived to grow as an individual, I decided to jump ship to a management career with a target to be a CXO within the next 10 years.


3. Being from a merchant navy background, how was it to prepare for CAT/Any other Entrance exams? What was your preparations strategy?

At first, it was tough to sit through long hours of studying. I can recall the first day I started preparing for CAT, which was about six years since the last time I attempted a university examination. As a result, my communication, reading and quants had gone for a toss. I hadn’t even studied a single magazine or for that instance even a newspaper since the last six years, the reason being my job was hard-core technical.

I started preparing for CAT the very next day I signed off from the last served vessel, jet lag et al. I started with a slow pace, first tackling the quants section. I studied for almost 10-12 hours a day on regular basis for four months. I realised that my weakness was not the concepts but pace. Hence, I kept practicing more and more while focusing on speed, consistency and accuracy. I allotted less time to prepare for VARC section initially as I felt the quant and DILR was make or break. Later, I allocated more time for VA & RC as my confidence QA and DILR grew. As a balance of scores is critical for getting calls, I started giving mocks with the strategy to score high on both sections. I also watched motivational videos occasionally to inspire myself and keep the enthusiasm going.


4. How has your journey at your B-School been so far? How do you think exposure to management education has honed your skills or added a new dimension altogether?

The first term was a roller-coaster ride. The challenge was to attend classes all day long with placecomm activities scheduled in the weekends. At first I felt the pace of teaching in class was too fast with the assignments adding fuel to the fire. But gradually you get used to the teaching methods of the B-school. Within a period of five months I feel I have added a lot to my knowledge pool through classes as well as peer interactions. You tend to realise that peers are probably the most valuable source of information which even newspapers cannot provide. In addition, the concepts of Marketing, Finance, Economics, etc. will play a vital role in my long term career aspirations of being a top Executive. I have started looking at things from a different angle which was not a case before. For example, today when I watch an advertisement on television, I can see what the advertisement wants to convey, such as the target audience, the segmentation, the persuasive selling, etc. A perspective which I could have never had without this B-school experience.


5. What are your expectations after having graduated from your B-School? What kind of roles would you like to pursue?

After graduating from IIM Trichy I would like to initially pursue a career in operations management. Since I have already worked in the domain of operations, this career path will suit me perfectly. My career Objective is to work my way up in a reputed organisation, from the entry level to a management position, further advancing to a top level executive. My long term goal is to keep expanding my knowledge pool, contribute to the fullest to my organisation and at the same time to be satisfied with whatever job I am doing. Further into the future, I wish to be at a position where I can take multi-faceted decisions and tackle all problems faced by the organisation.


6. Any message for those who wish to join an IIM or any other B-school, from unconventional experiences such as yourself?

I would like to say, “Management is not about learning jargons or some esoteric concepts.” It is rather, about seeing things you already know from a business perspective and presented in a polished manner. There is a general perception in society that, it is as important to pursue MBA after engineering as it is to perform final rituals after death, for the soul to rest in peace. But IIMs are not only for engineers but people with open minds and a positive attitude to learning. The best of ideas come from a group of diverse people. Diversity is a blend of similarities and differences and thus all IIMs are looking forward to moulding a bunch of MBA aspirants into managers who will perform globally. I believe all non-engineers should leverage this recruitment policy and be a part of an elite management institute such as IIM Trichy.




About the Interviewee:

Hardik Patel is an Electrical Engineer and is currently pursuing MBA from Indian Institute of Management Tiruchirappalli, batch of PGP 2016-18. After completing his engineering in 2010, he did a residential training program in Marine Engineering at Coimbatore. He has been sailing from 2012 and left the fraternity in 2015 to pursue a career in management. He enjoys working out and listening to music in his free time, apart from reminiscing his sailing days!


One comment


I stopped reading after he said he has a target to become CXO of an organisation in 10 years