What A New IIM Can Teach You – My Journey At IIM Bodh Gaya

When one is at his threshold of B-School life, he writes about his experiences. This isn’t really going to be a pointer to debunking myths surrounding ‘’baby’’ IIMs – a term I despise, or about my ‘shattered dreams’ or a desperate attempt to penetrate through a student’s consideration set, but a candid confession from my end – about IIM Bodh Gaya and my experiences – my institute to which I owe so much, the kind which you wouldn’t find on B-Leaks.

Throughout my life, I’ve believed that there is no substitute for perseverance – be it any aspect of life. And although this belief was waning during graduation, IIM Bodh Gaya has invigorated it, hence positively moulding my behavioural intent & impact and attitude. Personally, I have faced various dilemmas regarding pursuing academic courses – which started with the dilemma of pursuing Engineering or Economics for undergrad, considering the social value of these degrees. Yet, at this juncture, I’m more than content with my choices. After CAT, IIM Bodh Gaya was the only choice I had, getting selected from an extended merit list, and the admission offer was a surprise – an opportunity I couldn’t forego.

The interview went smoothly for me, with them asking me technical questions pertaining to economics and general knowledge. Given that I had to forego a re-exam for a subject in graduation to attend the interview for IIM Bodh Gaya, I consider it to be my blessed fate to be part of this journey in IIM Bodh Gaya.

From my undergrad college Ramjas and school Xavier’s, both of which I consider to be shrines of knowledge being more than a hundred years old– I had learnt and experienced the value which an institute can add to your life – in terms of values, holistic knowledge and excludability. And here was IIM Bodh Gaya, a new IIM – and yet an IIM – a tag which instantly evokes a sense of pride, grandeur, ‘royalty’ – as my friend would put it and excludability, reflecting the subjective norms which the aspirants are subjected to in Indian Society – mirrored by the requirements of recruiters in job portals.

I remember the Whatsapp groups discussions where everyone was anxious about the ‘average package’ and brought with themselves a perceived right attitude – and boy! has so much changed. Although I wasn’t really engrossed with my seniors like some of my peers, some of them have taught me immensely about teamwork and have aided me in the process of self-discovery.

So, when I finally entered through the gates of Hostel No. 6, IIM Bodh Gaya – and was nervously waiting for the admission process to commence, I met a batchmate who graciously landed with a trekking bag of disproportionate size and a badminton racket and within a few minutes of interaction, I realised that we weren’t here by default – all of us had valuable distinguishable and non-distinguishable attributes, and all had dexterity in some or the other form. Also, the fact that so many people came from IT astounded me. Some were good with numbers, some with channelling inner voices, some at exams, some at entertainment and some at everything.

Initially, there was an element of cognitive dissonance, as time passed, that dissonance has dissipated and I attribute this dissipation to my batchmates, seniors, and teachers. The induction process and selection processes of committees propelled me towards the rigour of the B-School life. And although this perception is cliched, it’s hard to disagree with it.

Throughout my life, I’ve gravitated towards academics and always wanted to explore new subjects and I’m glad I got the opportunity to learn the plethora of diverse concepts from classroom discussions in IIM Bodh Gaya. I consider myself to be blessed to have been taught by some world renown academic stalwarts from IIM Calcutta who motivated me directly or indirectly to keep striving. From Mr. Goel, we learnt how organisational structure matters – the pivotal role of an organisation’s structure for its profitability. Marimekko wouldn’t be what it is today if it didn’t have a networked structure, rather than a hierarchy. But most importantly, we learnt how to make presentations and how to push ourselves ‘through the wall’ and also about norms in B-Schools. In Mr. Saha’s strategy lectures (which were my favourite), we learnt about how mass production divides fixed costs over more units, decreasing cost and the pivotal role of prototyping while developing products.

I also fondly recall the first case discussion of Starbucks in MM1 which commenced at 11:45 PM, which now seems an early commencement time for group study. We all learnt how team dynamics work and how every member brought something interesting to the table. Even if one was free-riding, it always was an opportunity to learn and put in the extra effort. Time and sleep cycles indeed went for a toss, but it was always fun.

Being a part of PR & Media Cell, which I thoroughly enjoyed – attending conferences, writing press releases, interacting with the aspirants before and during admissions and doing things from scratch – all of which was a cohesive and integrated effort – it was always teamwork which was the common thread– everyone complemented each other. I am so very proud and blessed to be part of this journey. Be it football discussions at 12 AM – about Liverpool’s transition from Mignolet to Alisson, Arsenal’s doomed fate, Lukaku’s first touch or Spurs inability to win trophies – it was always fun. As time went, I realised all these moulded the culture and norms of IIM Bodh Gaya – things which would be difficult to replicate elsewhere.

Also, I was alarmed by the technical abilities some of my batchmates had – ranging from data science to finance. We had people in our batch with 30+ months of experience from IT stalwarts like Accenture, TCS etc who were wizards at R, Python, Excel etc. – I called them “data scientists” and there was always friendly banter around it. It was difficult not to learn relevant knowhows from them.

Hosting our first and second fests did bring us all together – and what amused me was that although everyone had their creative differences, in-groups, ulterior motives etc – all did what was necessary and good for the institute. We all did learn a lot from fests – even if we were involved or not. Being a new IIM, putting up a fest isn’t as easy as one thinks. Our batch has seen the two sides of the coin – under two paradigms – before and after permanent administration & faculty. With the support of the new administration and faculty, which gave structure to our endeavours, we all were eventually able to host a fest which was thoroughly enjoyed by those who wished to.

And then were our recreational endeavours – cricket, football, TT and basketball. It was astounding to see the plethora of diversified talent my batchmates had. The aggressive bowling, sledging, enthusiastic motivating team-talks, shouting at referees all encompassed a thoroughly high-octane sporting experience, exactly the way at least I perceive sports to be.

During exams and project submissions, people suddenly became the genesis of knowledge, their rooms becoming the Mecca for pre-exam knowledge, with the goal of optimising grades (as one of my friends puts it). Seniors just had to know the solutions to the questions asked by juniors – after all perceived knowledge & prestige mattered a lot & nobody liked to not know things, thus initiating the quest for knowledge. I believe that most of the learning happened during classes itself, and hence studying for exams weren’t generally cumbersome, unless the subject disinterested you. But eventually exams did end up being the primary motivation to study – and our batch did well, with everyone having their go-to subject stacks.

I agree that being a new institute, we’ve had some teething issues – almost mostly in terms of infrastructure, but we rarely whined about it and faced it – knowing that things would be better, the results of which we’ve experienced for ourselves – with the new library, construction of our new campus, permanent administration and faculty who are committed to the cause of building an institute of international repute. Don’t worry, the ‘average package’ is in line with the fees, and it has been compounding over the years – with our batch doing substantially better figuratively in this regard – owing to our Placecom’s incessant efforts to get opportunities, backed by administrative support.

A lot of elements from my time in IIM Bodh Gaya have been a silver lining to my learning experience – and every day & everyone in IIM Bodh Gaya has taught me something new, and these cumulative iotas of wisdom is what I wish to carry on when I go to work for OYO in a month’s time. A person encompasses the cumulative sum of his experiences & knowledge. And IIM BG has given me that. Quoting Paramore’s song ‘Last Hope’, “Every night I try my best to dream, tomorrow makes it better” – I’d underline the importance of dreaming about your tomorrow, and IIM Bodh Gaya has given me the robustness to do so.

Chandra Priyan

P Chandra Priyan PGP 2017-19 IIM Bodh Gaya

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