29 Mar 2017 19:11 IST

The red bricks were my building blocks

Anushree talks about how the MBA took her places in her career

After graduating from a top-notch school — IIM Ahmedabad — one does ride the wave on the brand name. It gets you to right places and it makes you feel proud and confident. Strangers show sudden respect if they hear you are ‘from IIM-A’. But not many jobs will feel like your MBA prepared you to hit the ground running. Early months will make you realise that you are still being trained and seniors are pretty much hand-holding you. I felt the same.

But as I look back now, six years out, I can see more clearly what I learnt from my MBA. I learnt to learn, clichéd as it may sound. I learnt concepts and formulae and theory too, yes, but I’ve already forgotten the specifics of many. What has stayed and what is actually valuable is an over-arching understanding of how things work, the ability to structure problems and the mental make-up to decipher system dynamics.

Is your MBA still helping you? How?

No doubt it is. I’ll leave the value of the peer network and brand out of this, since you are surely convinced of those already.

Is what I learnt during MBA helping me — most definitely it is! In certain cases, it’s fairly straightforward. For example, I learnt to read financial statements during the programme. That helps me analyse and understand businesses, competitors, projects, and even my personal finances.

Then there are more fluid and intangible concepts like marketing and strategy. A conceptual understanding of these is extremely useful, especially as you grow to take more responsibilities and are vested with decision-making powers; or if you’re starting up on your own.

A good MBA sows the seeds, but they continue to grow and get nourished with real-life experience. In some ways, I feel it is a well-rounded crash course. It sets you up with tools to learn from your environment.

What courses do B-schools need today?

The world is changing very rapidly around us. Technology is enabling huge disruptions across industries. Some crucial concepts I learnt through my years in strategy consulting include business models, disruption of established ones by new models, and innovation. Even an area like innovation can be taught, to some extent, through guiding frameworks and case examples.

I feel MBA programmes could do more to drive a strong understanding of technology-driven disruptions, technology trends and innovation. Understanding change will be a strength required of professionals in strategic and leadership roles.

What were the best things about my MBA?

Personally, two stand out — pedagogy and calibre of the class. At IIM-A, most courses are taught through a case-based method, where students are hypothetically put in the position of decision-makers, and the class discusses and debates the best decision or choice. The professors skilfully guide students to arrive at answers and learnings themselves.

I feel this made the learning more relatable and engaging than learning through theory; and also more memorable. The class’ calibre is also a huge factor in how much you learn. A talented peer set definitely keeps you driven to do better. Though what’s more important is that through collaborative work and class discussion, one learns as much or more than one does from the books.

Last but not the least, the MBA taught me to work hard. It was the hardest I ever worked in my life, going most nights with just four to five hours of sleep. But I had the energy to socialise, build some deep friendships and participate in several activities beyond academics and I was happy. It didn’t kill me — it made me stronger!

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