Sunday, August 28, 2005

Other side of coin

I have been here at IIM Bangalore for the last 2 months, and the experience, to be fair enough, hasn’t been great. And the reason is not academic rigor. Surely, there are enough quizzes (surprise and scheduled), lectures, exams, and assignments to keep you engaged for days, weeks and months. But, it is not new for me, especially with my 4 year stint at IITK! So, why is a sense of disillusionment creeping in?

Coming from a middle class family, I have always followed the crowd. Be it choosing engineering in Class X, or preparing for JEE, or taking up Comp Science at IIT Kanpur. Now, I was coming to this prestigious management school of India, with an aroma of innovation, creativity and what not. I expected a different dynamic culture based on out of the box thinking, breaking the shackles, so to say. I come here; I find the same rat race!! Right from day one, there has been only one thing haunting all of us here, our summer placements. All people (including me) think about is job, job and job. So, what are the typical issues to talk on here: “Hey which investment bank is the best? How many “bullet points” have you got? Teri to life chill hai, i-bank pakka hai!”. Where is thinking, innovation, creativity? Peer pressure is too high. No wonder, one of the basic problems with B-schools worldwide is that they produce managers and not entrepreneurs.

Course material doesn’t help either. Freedom of arguing with professors, and being a rebel, that I enjoyed most of the times in IITK, is absent here. You have to accept the system; otherwise it’s going to destory you.

Few minutes back, I met a senior of mine (IITK and IIMB alumni). He is currently working at a leading consulting firm in India. He told us an interesting distinguishing feature between analysts recruited from IITs and those from B-schools. Those from IITs tend to get frustrated soon as their work is not to their expectations (no revolutionary thinking, etc.). But, B-school graduates understand this “global stuff” in a much better manner, so are much more satisfied with their jobs. Is it good or bad? Do B-schools “widen” the scope of thinking or “erode” thinking itself?

Trust and binding in the student community is lacking. I come as a fresher here and from an environment where I could blindly trust most of the people around me. Not true any more. Here, people take competition and relative grading too seriously. Who will tell them, lower score of one guy in class won’t affect your grade? Cooperation and trust is very low. Perhaps, people who work in industry learn these traits!

All said, I don’t want to be a rebel here. So, I also think about how to be a part of the system, I also think about getting grades, and a job. I do not want to separate myself from the system, as I am a part of the system and I take full responsibility for it. At this point, I remember a dialogue of a Hindi movie (I am pretty bad at remembering names), “System ko sudhaarne ke liye system kaa hissat hona padta hai”.


Mrinal said...

One of the reasons people take relative grading so seriously at IIMB is because most of them have not been exposed to such a system before and people realise that grades play a big role is determining your future. How true that is, is contentious. But everything said and done, a recuiter more often than not would give more importance to a continuous system of evaluation more than a 20 minute interview. And you can't blame him for that.

Another point that I'd like to make here is that most organisations still are looking at people as cogs in a machine and would like to find a good fit. they ae not looking for people who would question the system very often because such people can be hard to control. Dissatisafction among employees in any organisation is highly contagious and that is the last thing that they want on their hands.

jinx said...

Couldn't have agreed more to what pango has put down in a very well articulated manner. Though I have seldom taken the "rebel" role at IIT Kanpur, the potential freedom of being able to do so has always been reassuring. A very sad contrast that I find between the IIM Bangalore environment and that of IITK is in the inherent lack of flexibility in systems here as opposed to a culture where you could question and argue upon every rule and procedure under sun.

One other phenomenon that I find difficult to contend with, that pango has also touched upon, is that the focus of all attention here, or perhaps in any (Indian?) B-school, is on the best (read most successful) ways of leaving the place rather than the growth and learning achieved during the stay itself.

btw, the movie dialogue qouted is of the film, "Page 3."

Abhishek Porwal said...

Your dissatisfaction seems to be genuine enough as generally, we don’t find an academic elites(that too from starting till today :)) giving such remarks.
“Industry needs managers and not thinkers or innovators”. This statement is true to the core. They want people to stay and master the work culture. The very first thing that people are told in training is “not to reinvent the wheel”. (I’m not sure about others but its the same in all the software firms). If someone tries to do something “out of box”, s/he will start possessing threat to seniors (project leaders etc.) and eventually themselves because now their senior will think that you are coming for their bread and butter. I was amazed at first seeing this kind of attitude but now I see where the roots are :).
Lackluster teaching and avaricious people will never make a healthy learning environment. But said that, it’s a materialistic world and we (at least, you and I) came from a background where playing safe is the only way to play. As far as the rat race goes, I think they (people you have talked about) have never seen/lived a sharing environment (like iitk :)). So they will never understand how much fun a hostel life can be without these silly/foolish/mindless practices.
As for the summer placements.....
i’m very sure that people like you don’t loose to rats.

Jaya said...

Well - just commented on one of your earlier posts (comparing orientations of IITK and and IIMB), but I can see that time has changed things even for you :-)

This makes much more sense to me...

diwan said...

agreer....btw movie's name is Sarkar :))

Dudeonthemoon said...

Well, I wont completely agree with you there. How can you say that life at IIT-K was pretty much different from the one that you are facing now at IIM-B. Im a final year student in IIT-K... and boy, even I had the same expectations from IIT. IIT, the sound rrings in every boy's head, who dreams of making it into one some day. When i came here, things started to whither away really fast.. all the charm gone in a month or so. All the people around you make you work like a dog continously, and if you don't you'll be left faar behind. Anyways, thats not the point of this posting, I just wanna ask you, which batch were you from? Coz I feel the same feelings about IIT Kanpur now.

Anonymous said...

An investment in a technical degree (say MS/MTech) is always better investment over PGDM at IIMs.

You will learn all the boring and easy stuff about accounting, financial management, marketing (kotler) and some operations research stuff with a whole lot of ob. Second year, you will specialize in what accountants/Bcoms/CAs are good at (equity research/and all the valuation crap i.e. finance) or in global marketing subjects. Systems electives are too simple to be useful. Only good thing is operations.

In the end, you will probably end up in an i-bank (given ur IIT background) pricing bonds, calculating their durations etc for a rigorous monotonous job or u will be selling credit cards/insurance of icici or u will be in citi. if u chose fmcg, you will sell toothpaste and soap at HLL. If you go to IT, you will do lead generation and pre-sales for some IT major.

Of course u will get 6 to 8 lpa for sure. But what is it worth?

With a BE degree from IIT, if you work in a hi-tech company for 2-3 years u can get 8 lpa easily.

Never follow the crowd (atleast from now on), if that is what you have been doing!

IIMs are like a placement agency. Heavily marketed in the media, they will first talk of summers, then laterals and then finals. It is all about getting a 7 lpa offer and the IIMs feel that they have done their duty. What about learning?
you will find the biggest free riders in group projects, political student committees etc.

Best path for an IIT guy is to work in a hi-tech company on latest tech or to go abroad for MS or do a MTech in IISc.
I am sure you have Bcom classmates. What a letdown.
I am in the same boat as you