“I consider every exam as a battle I cannot afford to lose” – Naveen Prashanth – Director’s Merit List Candidate and Topper – IIM Bangalore

This is a continuation of our series on First Year MBA toppers at elite B schools. IIM Bangalore has a bunch of stellar profiles on campus and it is certainly very difficult to come out on top there. In fact, the top 20 from IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta basically have a profile that is above everyone else from other B schools. Here’s an interview with Naveen Prashanth – a candidate for the Director’s Merit List at IIM Bangalore.

A brief Profile of Naveen


Born and brought up in Chennai, Naveen holds a dual degree from IIT Madras. He worked for a year in TCS before joining the consulting firm Essex lake group in Delhi for a brief tenure of 3 years. He completed his summer internship at Mckinsey & Company and is currently pursuing his second year at IIM Bangalore. At IIM B he is one of the Director’s merit list candidates, captain of the tennis team & one of the lead members in a student club.

Naveen’s perspective

How was your CAT experience?

Honestly it was my third attempt when I got through these stone walls. It was the recession of 2009 that pushed me towards CAT for the first time, but later I took it as a challenge to crack it. But now I feel really lucky about not cracking CAT in the first attempt, else I would have missed the wonderful learning from my work experience.

Why did you choose Management education as a career option?

The best thing about having a management education is that, it’s not about a bunch of facts that you need to remember and put together in your exams. The rigorous curriculum here, enhances your decision making and logical thinking capabilities. When you are at work, there are real problems/ opportunities out there and you need to take calls spontaneously, before you lose track of them. These skills cannot be learnt from books. Over here, you can make mistakes, you can fight with your peers about disagreements in case studies, you can motivate people and most importantly you can learn a lot by just interacting with your professors and peers. To put it in simple words, when I move out of this campus I wish to be a person who has a lot of learning and experiences backing him to be the best in his field.

How was your transition into an IIM after having 4 years of work experience?

I always had a notion that life at IIM B is going to be tough, that too after 4 years of work experience. But it was not that difficult for me. At the first instance I missed my monthly pay cheques and Friday night parties but later I got used to it. The way you are inducted and the tradition at IIM B, allays all your fears and makes it a lot easier to adopt ourselves to this environment.

What were your thoughts and expectations before joining IIM B?

According to me, IIM B is one of the few B schools that emphasise on wholesome development. I feel that this quality is critical to succeed as a manager, because life doesn’t throw the same set of challenges every day. Sometimes you might have to face complex or even funny situations where you had no prior knowledge or experience. Under those circumstances, what I learnt from managing a sports team might help me more than what I learnt in classrooms. If I am myopic in my expectations, then I might lose the bigger picture and subsequently I will miss out on a lot of fun that IIM B has for me. One other fascination for IIM B comes from my love for 3 idiots.

There is a common thought that the first 6 months of any PGP across IIMs are hectic to the core, at least till the summer placements are done, how did you feel in your first year?

I never felt relaxed at IIM B. For me, even today it’s the same. The same rigour and the same commitments, I had on day 1 persist till date. Summers was one of my milestones but I had successive ones that are keeping me engaged. I love to work in a moderate pace because that is when you unleash your best in whatever you do, when you are under pressure then you just finish the task at hand in  a hurry and your creativity goes for a toss.

Your objectives at IIM B?

I wish to be a better person than I am today, I have 5 qualities in mind that defines this better person

–          Ability to Learn from others and also to selflessly help others

–          Ability to take complex/ informed decisions at the right time

–          Socialize and positively engage with people around me

–          Develop efficient multi-tasking capabilities

–          Staying fit

It makes sense for me to spend some time and think through what I need to do and how am I going to do it. I feel that, once we are clear about our objectives, life will drive us and opportunities will come forward. You don’t need to have 100% clarity, but you need to have a sense of what you would like to do in the long term even before joining an IIM. If you are able to articulate these softer aspects of life then it can be a lot more fun.

Can you state five qualities that would help a person succeed in IIM B?

–         Ability to challenge yourself

–         Building the right attitude, be open to help others and also to learn from others

–         Perform consistently

–         Have Self-discipline and timeliness

–         Don’t be myopic about your goals, having a broad vision helps

Can you tell us the little secret behind your success?

Stephen Covey in one of his books talks about, how you should focus on things that are important but not urgent, and why you should avoid last minute rush on important and critical things.


I firmly believe that my creativity/ efficiency is at its best when I am not under stress. So I make it a point, not to procrastinate things till the last minute. It is difficult to practice but once you experience the supreme level of benefits you derive out of it, you will get addicted to it.


Did you have a plans about topping the first year even before joining IIM B?

For me the academic rigour was always there right from my school. I consider every exam as a battle that I can’t afford to lose. I am the hero and I need to prepare myself for the battle in order to win it over .

There are a lot of activities going around in a B school, how do you take a decision on where you want to set your foot?

I would say my decisions are both impromptu (clubs) and planned (academics and sports). As I already mentioned I had my objectives clear before coming here, so I was able to shortlist the opportunities that would help me in achieving them, but if there is something that I hadn’t thought of and I liked it, I never hesitated to try it out.

What do you like about IIM B?

I love the tradition and culture that we have here. There is a lot of dependency on our seniors in every activity we go do. This creates a strong bonding amongst us.  Also our seniors selflessly help us because they had a similar experience during their first year, and am sure this saga is continuing towards my juniors also. Despite the campus growing bigger with every intake, these traditions have remained and are helping us day in and day out.

Any Dislikes you have?

We have only 24 hours a day!! J

We do know that almost all the people here are achievers in their life till date and when they do come in and are exposed to small failures, they break down. How do you handle this?

JK Rowling mentioned this famous quote in a Harvard commencement speech,

Failure strips you of non-essentials and gives you an opportunity to work on adding new and valuable aspects to your personality’

I believe every failure gives us a chance to take a step back, introspect and rebuild life the way we like it to be. It has always helped me to come back stronger and better.

Read other stories in our Special Ones series

Read everything about IIM Bangalore here

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