‘Time Management is the key to surviving such a competitive environment’ – Samudra Mukherjee – 1st Year MBA Topper at SJMSOM, IIT Bombay

This is a continuation of our series on First Year MBA toppers at elite b-schools. SJMSOM, the b-school at IIT Bombay, has established itself as one of the premier b-schools in the country. With the stellar bunch of candidates it attracts, topping the exceedingly competitive first year of MBA is no mean feat.

Samudra Mukherjee is Class Rank 1 in his batch at SJMSOM, IIT Bombay. He spared time out of his crazy schedule and spoke to our student team about his first year in MBA.

A brief bio:

Samudra is an IT Engineer from the Institute of Engineering & Management, Kolkata. In his free time he prefers to play Cricket and Badminton. He also loves to read about Acharya Chanakya, who also happens to be his role model.

Samudra’s thoughts on life in a b-school:

How and why did you decide to pursue a management degree?

Although I had the desire to do a post-graduation right from the 1st year of my engineering, it was only in my 3rd year that I decided to pursue a management degree. Ironically, coming from a family with a management background, my parents wanted me to go abroad for MS. However, I wanted to join the corporate world and be in a decision-making role where I could lead from the front and make meaningful contributions to the organization. So, I decided to prepare for MBA entrance examinations.


How was your CAT experience?

It was the journey that tickles me rather than the examination itself or the end result. A year and a half of complete devotion, commitment, diligence and almighty’s grace saw me through in my very first attempt at CAT. Needless to say, it takes something special to be within the top 1% in what is arguably the most fiercely competed and widely sought after tests in India. CAT tests so much more than just your academic acumen. It takes good time management skills, decision-making skills and quick thinking to bell this one. In fact, I would go a step further to say a serious effort at preparing for CAT itself teaches a lot about management. There was a key takeaway from this journey – the secret to success is hard work and there cannot be any substitution for it and I believe success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. In fact, this lesson was pivotal in my accomplishments at B-School.


How has your SJMSOM, IIT Bombay journey been so far?

The journey here has been a roller coaster ride for me so far. Fresh from my engineering days, it was a struggle to survive in the insanely competitive environment of a top B-School in the country in the initial few days. Coming from one of the best schools and colleges in Kolkata, I was no stranger to competitive environment. Much to my surprise, IIT Bombay was quite different. It pitted me against the best in the country. However, I could quickly settle down, thanks to the lively bunch of friends I have here. Add to it, the constant support from the wonderful faculty members, the ever buzzing atmosphere and the IIT environment and you have a lovely experience to cherish.


What were your expectations before joining this college and how different has the experience actually been?

I always expected B-School to have a heavy atmosphere, given the profiles of our esteemed faculty members and a bunch of serious students. I was pleasantly surprised when I found this to be hardly the case. Faculty members are easily accessible here and my batch mates are as much fun as it can get. It was astonishing to find out that even the people with good amount of work-ex are ripe with humour.

One more thing which was pretty different from my expectations was the kind of freedom and facilities IIT provides to its students.


The first year of PGP is really hectic. How did you manage your time effectively? 

Time management is really the key in this environment. Hard-work alone cannot be enough. Reason – If you are competing at this level, everyone else is as diligent as you are.  One needs smart time management to succeed.

For me, the mantra was effective planning and giving due importance to the bits and pieces of time one gets between different activities. It is very easy to ignore the importance of it. However, one needs to understand that in such a schedule, even the 20 – 25 minutes, which one spends travelling to hostels between sessions , can be effectively utilized and the aggregate of these will result in a healthy figure which can go unutilized.

Another important lesson I learnt here is procrastination can be devastating in the unpredictable schedule in the 1st year at a B-School.


Can you state a few qualities or habits that you feel have helped you thrive in your first year?

Defining priorities was my starting point. In a B-School environment where there are infinite number of things happening at the same time, I decided to focus on academics and make it my number one priority from the word Go.

Hard-work and commitment along with effective time management saw me through the first year of MBA.


What aspects do you like the most about your college? 

SJMSOM, IIT Bombay is pretty unique in its own way. On one hand, we have the intense, yet lively atmosphere of a top B-School, while on the other we have the pleasant IIT life.

The college, thus, boasts of superior sports as well as cultural facilities. One more thing, which is really great about the IIT system is that there is no boundary imposed on learning. As an MBA student coming from computer science background, if one wants to study say, mechanical engineering, he / she can easily do so by contacting the respective faculty members. No one will stop him / her.


What were your favourite subjects/areas of academic interest in the first year?

Owing to the incredible faculty members that SJMSOM boasts of I can hardly recall any subject, which I did not like as much. The complexity of a supply chain, the magic of marketing and the subtlety of economics are a special mention in my list of favourite subjects in the first year.


How was your summer internship experience? 

I interned with Marico this summer. My project was about analysing the benefits and the infrastructural requirements that they will require at a Pan-India level, when they move to a replenishment driven supply chain model.

Marico is known for throwing challenging projects to their interns and this was no exception. Going in there and within a span of 2 months, understanding the nitty-gritties of a big FMCG supply chain, right from the operations to its distribution and that too at an all India, all brands level was a big challenge in itself. Then to come up with suitable infrastructural recommendations for their new system made it an entirely different experience.

The learning was immense and I thank Marico, for providing this opportunity to me.


Any advice for our readers/ other MBA aspirants?

People should not treat MBA as a degree just to pocket hefty pay checks. Unless, one feels strongly for it, it is difficult to make hay in this field.

For friends appearing for CAT this year: Please keep in mind that understanding which questions you cannot do within seconds, is as useful as solving one. Know your weakness and strengths, set realistic goals and attempt smartly in the paper.

We wish Samudra all the best in his journey!

You can read more articles from this series here



Samudra Mukherjee

Hi Ashish, IIT Bombay don’t have specializations as such. We get to choose electives. It depends on you, whether you want to take all the subjects of a particular domain or a mixed lot.