‘I have always seized any opportunity that could help me in my All-Round development’ – Aakash Kaku – Best 50 – Class of 2016

Aakash has been chosen as one of the top 50 most employable candidates across schools and programmes in India for the Class of 2016. He/She has one of the best 50 profiles among the candidates who participated in the Best50 competition.

About Me

I’m currently pursuing PGDM from one of Asia’s top business school, IIM Bangalore. At IIMB, I’m in the Director’s Merit List, which is awarded to top 5% students. Previously, I did my bachelors from Asia’s best chemical engineering school, Institute of Chemical Technology (AKA UDCT). At UDCT, I was awarded prestigious Sir Ratan Tata Scholarship for excellent academic performance.

A high playing field for me is tackling difficult problems using structured problem-solving techniques. Combining big data analysis techniques in the field of operations, marketing and finance has been my forte.

I have loved playing cricket from my school days. I am a key member of IIMB’s cricket team and won several inter-IIM competitions. In Dramatics, I have performed many street plays and won awards for the same.

What have you done at your Post-Grad/Business School/Undergrad level that makes you stand out from the crowd?

I have always seized any opportunity that could help me in my all-round development. Even at IIM Bangalore (IIMB), I have ventured into many diverse activities that helped me to develop a well-rounded personality. Fortunately, I have excelled in whatever activities that I have pursued be it academics, sports, dramatics, case competition, taking up leadership roles or tutoring.

In academics, I am in the top 5% students from the batch of over 400 for which I was awarded prestigious award of Director’s Merit List (DML). I was also bestowed with the honor of section topper by the director of IIMB, Dr. Sushil Vachani. My brilliant academic record is a testament to my strong problem-solving skills and hard work.

As far as sports are concerned I always loved to play cricket since my school days. Even at IIMB, my zeal for playing cricket never diminished. At IIMB, cricket is the only sport that demands two hours of practice daily so that one could secure a position in the Institute team. Given the passion for the game, I was more than ready to dedicate two hours a day for practice. I was, eventually, part of institute’s cricket team. As a part of the team, I have won many inter IIM competitions like Sangram and Sangharsh.

In Dramatics, I have performed many street plays for social causes (e.g., For Cancer Patients) as well as took part in many competitions and won awards for the same. Via street plays, my main purpose is to contribute to creating social awareness among the masses. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mM-oDrbaB5M  is one of such street play performed on the occasion of Independence Day in IIM Bangalore with a theme highlighting the challenges India faces after independence.

In B-school, taking part in case competitions is almost mandatory. Even I tried my hands in some of the case competitions and was fortunate enough to be zonal finalists in Airtel case challenge (one of the 19 teams to be selected from 2000 registered teams). I was also a part of winning team of Asian paints case challenge.

B-school is a place where future leaders are nurtured and if an opportunity is given one shouldn’t scruple from grabbing it. I have also taken up various responsibilities that have helped me to hone my leadership skills. At IIM Bangalore (IIMB), I am a senior coordinating member of Dramatics Club of IIMB. As a senior member of the club, I have written, organized and directed several street and stage plays in IIMB.

I have also been an official tutor to PGP 1 (first year MBA students) students for a subject of Quantitative Methods-2 (QM).  Tutoring gave me an excellent opportunity to help my juniors and to contribute to their success. But mind you, tutoring students of IIMB was not easy because the students were equally intelligent and if the tutor was not well prepared he/she could find himself/herself in a spot. But, I did manage to stay out of the spot for the majority of times. However, I had always been interested in teaching and QM being my favorite subject it gave immense pleasure to teach my juniors. Additionally, I feel I was able to contribute indirectly to the society by tutoring, this feeling gave additional pleasure and contentment.

Given that in an environment where the majority of students only think about marks and grades, I was able to achieve and learn much more than just by focusing on academics. These activities have also developed many essential qualities in me like being a team player, resilience, willingness to accept responsibilities, communication skills and stage presence.

My excellence in academics, sports, dramatics, case competition, taking up leadership roles or tutoring, all at once, has only been possible due to my attitude of going an extra mile and be motivated to drive positive change.

I was able to build a well-rounded personality at IIMB and this, I fell, is the point of distinction.

What have you done in your life that you are the proudest of?

The moment I am most proud of was when I managed to feature in the Director’s Merit lists of IIM Bangalore. At IIMB, students come from diverse background and are highly competent. To succeed and excel in an environment where the competition is so hefty is a self-satisfying affair. Out of the vast pool of highly talented individual, it is really a challenge to make a mark and distinguish oneself. During our batch’s inaugural ceremony, my seniors who stood among top 5% of the batch (DML) at the end of the first year and section toppers for each term were felicitated. Looking at the sense of achievement in their eyes, and the appreciation they received, even I set a target for myself to be in the similar position a year later. But it was easier said than done, it required me to put in consistent efforts and hard work to perform constantly well among the pool of achievers. Hard work alone wasn’t sufficient; I also needed the support from family and friends to back me up in hard times. Finally, at the end of the first year, when my name featured in the director’s merit lists, I understood the importance and the puissance of support of closed ones and consistent hard work. The fact that I had set a target for myself a year back and was able to achieve it gave me immense self-confidence and a feeling of contentment. My parents also felt proud of the feat I had achieved, and this gave me an additional pleasure and happiness.

If you were the Prime Minister of India, what would be the one problem that you would solve. Please explain your reasons.

The burning issues at present are the poor quality of primary education and high drop-out rates at primary level education that needs to be addressed at earliest. According to a report by Pratham, 78% of third-grade students and 50% of fifth-grade students cannot read the second-grade texts yet. This delineates the lack of quality in India’s primary education. As far as drop-out rates are concerned, although the enrollment rate in primary school is as high as 92%, not even half of them complete high school education. Approximately, 29% of enrolled children drop out even before the fifth grade, and 43% of enrolled children drop out before completing the upper primary school. This shows, enrollment alone is not sufficient for improving the Indian primary education system. The possible reason for low-quality education and higher drop-out rates are a lack of infrastructure at the rural level, lack of proper assessment methods and lack of competent and educated teachers. To overcome the above issues, the technology should be leveraged. Using smartphones, tablets, and PCs, learning can be made more interactive in nature. A study shows that interactive means of education can help children to retain and understand concepts 1.5 times quicker than the traditional method of teaching. Such active learning initiatives also increase engagement and would assist in decreasing the drop-out rates. Simultaneously, teachers would also need to be educated about the latest technological solutions used for learning purpose.

Hence using technology, issues of low-quality primary education and high drop-out rates at primary school level could be addressed. After all the importance of education is also emphasized by the Noble Laureate Amartya Sen: “India is the only country in the world which is trying to become a global economic power with an uneducated and unhealthy labour force. It’s never been done before, and never will be done in the future either.”

If you had unlimited money, what would be that one mobile application that you would create and what problem would it solve?

If India eyes to be a global economic power, there will be no better opportunity than now to start focusing on education. The means of imparting education in India has been outdated. My vision is to revolutionize the education system in India by introducing novel and innovative learning methods. This would help to learn to be fun, more interactive and engaging. If I want the new ways of learning to reach every nook and corner of India, there is no better way than using the smartphone route. Therefore, if I am given unlimited money, I would develop the mobile application that could facilitate learning by having an interactive UI. It would be available in all regional and vernacular languages so that language wouldn’t be a barrier to anyone. Such application would also be helpful in improving primary education quality levels and will lower the drop-out rates at primary school level. Another potential use of this app would be to impart vocational training to the individuals wishing to work directly after completing the upper primary school. India would, therefore, have a higher percentage of skilled labour force that could contribute to the GDP of the country.

Meet the rest of India’s 50 Most Employable Management Graduates from the Class of 2016 here.