20 Apr 2017 20:12 IST

‘MBA helped me gain a winning attitude’

Surajit Bose says the course helped him harness group potential and infused self-confidence

Surajit Bose is the founder and CEO of Stupa IT Services Pvt Ltd. He is also on the advisory board of several companies with diverse business interests ranging from tea to technology, in the areas of organised plantations, eco-tourism, insurance, IT, and real estate.

He has held leadership positions with large conglomerates like Mahindra & Mahindra and the ICICI Group, in the areas of strategy management and new market expansions, enabling them to meet their strategic objectives across various countries.

As vice president and head of Asia Pacific for ICICI Onesource, he grew the business to $100 million and was part of the core team, which took the company to its first IPO. During his tenure with the M&M Group, he led the team responsible for forging an industry-defining alliance with SAP. He was also part of the core project team that launched India’s first indigenous SUV, the ‘Bolero’.

Surajit has done his Business Leadership Programme from IIM, Bangalore, holds an MBA degree from Welingkar Institute of Management, Mumbai, and has completed his Bachelor of Science with Physics (Hons) from St. Xavier’s college, Mumbai. He is an ISO-9001 auditor. Surajit has been a visiting faculty to many leading B-Schools such, as IIM-B, Xavier’s, Bajaj, Welingkar, SSN and has lectured on various subjects ranging from strategy, marketing, advertising to analytics. Here are the lessons he learnt from his MBA.

How MBA helped me in corporate life.

First, MBA helped me realise the power of harnessing group potential versus individual potential. Second, the combination of mental stimulus and rigorous, unabating challenges I experienced as part of the course helped infuse a certain level of confidence, which resulted in me believing that I could deal with anything and come out shining.

It was these two fundamental self-realisations — what I like to call ‘winning attitude’ — that held me in good stead during both good and difficult times in my corporate life.

Key learnings from my MBA.

I believe MBA is like a finishing school. It helps develop a broad set of technical and interpersonal skill sets. From a technical standpoint, since I studied Physics in my undergraduation, MBA introduced me to the worlds of finance and accounting and helped me apply it in the business world.

The other important aspect it prepared me for was for the competition that awaited me in the corporate world. Inundating us with projects on tight deadlines and constantly benchmarking us against each other at B-school gave us a realistic glimpse of what was in store for us, and taught us the importance of being competitive, 24x7.

If I had to revisit my MBA, I would have liked to see this as part of the course...

An opportunity to work on live projects in collaboration with the corporate sector is an unparalleled experience — something I feel I would have hugely benefited from, if it was structured as part of the course.

I would also have liked to see personal mentoring as part of the course, as mentoring at an early stage has a multiplier effect on young minds and eliminates the need to unlearn and relearn a lot of things later.

Chief ingredients in my career success...

Persistence, hard work and the ability to keep things simple.

Best and worst moments in corporate life.

Since I am still working in the corporate sector, I would like to believe that my best is yet to come. As far as the worst moments go, I have made several mistakes in my corporate career. If I had to pick one from which everybody could learn a lesson from, it is is this: putting your career in your manager’s hands is as safe a bet for success as letting your child run wild in a busy street!

Guard yourself against committing this mistake, especially early in your career.

My advice to young MBAs who are joining the corporate sector.

Keep It Short and Simple: This is much more difficult to practice than it sounds. Whether you are making a sales pitch, a board presentation or writing an email, the ability to articulate things succinctly will go a long way. The ability to navigate through clutter and present a short and simple explanation for everything will significantly contribute towards your success.

Get the right experience: Continuously reflect on the type of experience you are gaining. Is your experience multiplying year on year (i.e. three years of different experiences) or is it getting repeated (one year’s experience repeated thrice in three years)? Ensure that you don’t get trapped in the latter and always look for the former in your roles throughout your corporate career.

Am I happy with the way the MBA is structured today?

With the advancement of technology, the world today has become one global village. But it is important to note that consumer behaviour is heterogeneous. A lot of the management concepts and case studies are representative of what has or hasn’t worked in the Western market.

While the broad concepts might remain the same, applying them without factoring in the Indian context will lead to failures, as many have found out at the cost of huge financial losses. It is imperative to localise global concepts and then apply it. The MBA courses that quickly plug this gap will have a competitive advantage over others.

My advice on what young MBAs should read.

Read business newspapers every day and the following books:

The Hard Thing About Hard Things — Ben Horowitz

Data Smart — John Foreman

Fortune At The Bottom Of The Pyramid — CK Prahlad

What I do for my inspirations and ideas.

For inspirations, I read biographies. I don’t believe ideation is a time-bound process in a conference room or at an offsite. The way I get ideas is by constantly observing and studying everything around me and from that stems ideas of my next project or venture.