Making managers out of (wo)men:
Day 1 of my making as a manager saw me thrown in with another 239 of the best brains in the country. We were divided into sections (based on the alphabetical order of our names) and assigned our roll numbers. The roll number at L easily identifies the course (PGP, FPM) that you belong to, the serial number of your batch since the inception of the school as well as your own individual identity. The first class was held to familiarize us with the case study method. IIM L as well as most other B schools follow the case study method of instruction. The basic idea is to assign a situation depicting a particular concept to the class and allowing them to discuss and debate the same. It is envisaged that this kind of analysis equips the student to respond to any unstructured situation that he/she may encounter in the corporate world. The cases are mostly drawn from real corporate houses and can be anything between few pages to many many pages long. Some professors also divided the class into smaller groups and asked for group analysis and/or presentations which may/may not contribute to the final evaluation.
Another interesting method of instruction that I encountered at my second year at L was that of teaching via a game. This was for the MarkStrat (Marketing Strategy) class where the professor split us into smaller groups and introduced us to a computerized game. This was a simulation based game where each group was provided some amount of capital along with other requisites of business. The group had to decide on different aspects of its strategy such as production volumes, marketing expenses and so on. These were then entered into the game which in turn simulated the output in the form of profit, inventory and other figures. This was the closest that we could get to the real life scenario seated in a classroom and thus was a very interesting experience.
Classes, Lectures, Studies and (yawn...) libraries:
Classes in the first year usually started at 9 in the morning and resumed after a lunch break in between. Second year classes purely depend on the professor's availability and the flexibility in accommodating all students who have opted for a particular course. Evenings at L were also pretty busy - mostly devoted to readings for the next day, case analyses & presentations, pending assignments etc. etc. My favorite haunt in the afternoons and the evenings was the research carrels located on the second floor of the library.
The library at L is definitely the best that I have encountered – huge space, loads & loads of great books as well as space to study. The carrels on the second floor offered a calm atmosphere where you can completely lose yourself in the reading for the next day or your dreams – whichever be your choice. Also the sofas on the second floor doubled up as a comfortable bed for many a tired student especially during the humid summer days; of course if the librarian caught you, no more sweet dreams for you! In fact, I think it would be safe to say that the only other place where I have spent most of my time other than my room during my two years at L is the library.
I could never stay up late and so on exam days, I would wake up early, go down to the library for that last bit of studying that would hopefully help me get through. The atmosphere in the library during those early hours offered an interesting contrast to the times when it would be filled with students discussing a case or doing a project. This frenzy peaked in the days before any major submission when almost the entire batch could be found either at the library or the computer lab next doors until late hours doing research or typing up reports. Why we waited for the last minute to complete these assignments is still beyond me!
Evaluation at L is grade based and is a culmination of assignments, quizzes, project work, seminar, mid term and final term examination. Grading is done relative to the best performance in the class – a concept that is responsible for a key item in the IIM L vocabulary. The entire PGP course comprises six terms of about three months each with a 2 month long summer internship in between. Each term has two examinations – a mid term held 5 weeks into the term and a final exam held at the end of the term. Also through out the term you had to be ready for pop quizzes. So you could not afford to miss up on the readings for the next day. A lot of the questions were also based on topics that were discussed in class and by the second year, the folks with the most comprehensive notes were identified and their class notes were very much in demand by the entire batch. I was also one of the eager stenographers – hanging on to every word that the prof said and writing the same down at jet speed. I am proud that these notes were the lifeline not just for me but many of my friends who had either dozed off after registering their attendance or had sneaked out of the classroom on other important work. With so much of reading, writing and other stuff on our plates, we earnestly wished there were more than 24 hours in a day!
Is that all?
Other stuff? Sure. There's participation in either the Student committee or any of the many Special Interest Groups. The student population at L is represented by the Student Committee - an alert community of individuals. Every year there are elections held for committee President, Acad Secy., Mess Secy. and such other posts and these elections are serious business. In addition there are many other committees that one can join depending on one's line of interest. There is SIGFi – the Special Interest Group in Finance, Abhivyakti for the finer arts, IIC or the Industry Interaction committee, INDEX for those keen on Marketing, the Web team for the techies, ManFest for the annual B school fair held at L, 3.4 – the insti rock band and perhaps the most serious of the lot – Placecom for final and summer placements. Each of these groups comprises students from both years and is responsible for organizing events, lectures, competitions to further their common interest.
These committees served as an interesting backdrop for the gag that our seniors pulled on us during our initial few weeks on campus. At the risk of revealing too much,let me say that we were all asked to apply to these committees by submitting a CD with a presentation on our answers to some questions. It goes without saying that the whole thing was a hoax and our answers were simply used to haul us up and rag us thoroughly during Parichay – the Fresher's party at L. Yours truly was one of those who faced this embarrassment. In response to a question – What is it that you do not like about L?, I'd said – the fact that none of the guys is taller than 5 feet.
Imagine my embarrassment when I was called up before the entire student community, asked to stand on a chair and literally interrogated on my response by YPM – the shortest individual in our senior batch! The whole scheme was carried out beautifully like a well oiled plan as was another hoax with respect to the Exchange program. We were asked to fill in a form for application to the Exchange Program to some vague university in Switzerland. And the unsuspecting lot that we were, we spent hours deliberating and poring over our answers unaware that the same would be nothing but ammunition in the hands of the seniors to tease us for the rest of the year! All in a great vein of humor.
However there is nothing humorous about the Exchange program. Under this IIM L offers an opportunity in the 5th term for students with great grades and those interested to apply to universities such as ESSEC Business School, France, McMaster University, Canada etc. Not only is this a great academic opportunity but also a wonderful chance to visit and experience a new country.
Coming up: all heLL breaks loose