The Road Optimistically Taken Towards IIM Trichy
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
When Robert Frost wrote those lines, he was probably alluding to a path strewn with obstacles, dangers and one that was less frequently travelled, maybe a choice that was less preferred by the herd. But that path made all the difference to his life. In my life too, I was on a fairly comfortable path, working in a reputed IT company, I was paid decently and had a normal life with friends, family and Netflix. But I decided to embark on a road far difficult from the life that I had been accustomed to, when I went to pursue the Masters of Business Administration from IIM Trichy. It was akin to having Jasprit Bumrah in your side and yet you decide to go with Joginder Sharma for the death over.
“Foolish”, some said. “Why?”, Exclaimed an overwhelming majority of well-meaning relatives whose opinions were as valuable as a Zimbabwean Dollar to me. But some people did ask the right question, “A lot of people do their engineering, then work in an IT company and later quit to pursue MBA. Why do you want to do the same thing?” That question hit the bulls eye. I had pondered over that for many sleepless nights before deciding to go for MBA. I had a prepared answer for interviews as to how I wanted to explore the horizons and leverage my work experience, to be a better manager. But deep down, I knew I could do a lot more and achieve much more professionally. And it is that ambition that led me to the gates of IIMT.
I vividly remember my first class in college. The young professor, Mr. Vishnu barely looked a few years older than me (later I found out he was 34). The class was about the case study methodology that institutes of international repute, like Harvard, had pioneered and which is being followed effectively in IIMT. The case in itself was simple- A drug lord was having problems because his revenues were declining. We had to analyse why. I had watched a lot of movies and serials, from Deewar, Godfather, Goodfellas to Narcos and I thought I knew everything there is to know about running a profitable cartel. So, I threw in my analysis- there is a mole in the gang and he is leaking stuff to the cops.
“Ok. How does this affect the sales?” The professor asked.
“Cops get the information, raid the warehouse and seize the goods. The gang has less to sell and hence fewer sales.” The Singham in me replied.
The professor questioned again, “And where in the case is it mentioned that the sales declined because the police confiscated the goods?”
“Well I made an educated guess.”
“And that is where most of you make a mistake.” The professor’s voice was stern and yet he was not chiding. It seemed as though he expected this very mistake to happen and the whole exercise was to help us identify what it was. “We have the habit of making assumptions and going by the gut feeling without regard to the data given or trying to find the missing information. And when you do that you try to find data that fit your theory rather than find or invent a theory that fits the complete data.”
The class was listening to him with rapt attention.
He continued, “The world today runs on data. But gathering data is not very easy and neither is identifying the correct data. From terabytes of data available all around, you’ve to sift through and find which is the relevant one you need and then analyze it. And sometimes data is not readily available and you’d have to work hard, think out of the box to obtain it. But data is irreplaceable. Never ever make the mistake of assuming data before you’ve done the due diligence.”
The class continued for some more time. But I vividly remember his words about due diligence because it brought about a drastic change in me. Till then my decisions were based largely on ‘gut-feeling’. But from that day I decided that I would look for data. True, in the world of business, gut feelings work and assumptions work. But I would not be relying on them until I had sufficient experience or understood the nuances of business better. And it has shown in my projects as well. Most of the time is spent on designing the right questionnaire rather than assuming the responses. And professor Vishnu’s speech always comes to my mind when I start to work on an assignment or project. “Don’t assume. Get the data.”
Maybe this change in the way I work will help me in the future. Maybe it’ll help me in analyzing the situations better and draw conclusions in an informed manner rather than go by the gut. Maybe what I thought about IIMT helping my career and in enabling me to achieve more was true. But for all the ‘maybe’s’ to turn into a resounding ‘yes’, I still have to go through a few more months of rigorous academics.
But I am optimistic. Because sometimes, even Joginder Sharma can win you tournaments.
Which ABG company would you want to work for and why?
If given an opportunity, I would choose to work in Aditya Birla retail limited. Given India’s booming organised retail sector which is expected to reach $950 billion by 2018 and the relaxation of FDI in retail, the sector is poised for numerous growth opportunities and challenges. Newer players like Walmart would bring in their expertise and the existing players would also have to contend with the threat of e-commerce in India as well. It is a highly competitive environment and the ‘More’ brand is sufficiently well equipped to deal with the challenge. I would like to work in this environment to identify avenues of growth, attracting customers better, survive profitably in an unforgiving sector and also to learn from the marketing heads of ABGPL and enhance my professional career further.
This article is written by Harsha Wurali – Class of 2019