12 Oct 2020 18:11 IST

‘Work for great people, rather than great salaries’

Jaspreet Bindra, founder, Digital Matters, wants the MBA to become more tech-oriented and hands-on

Jaspreet Bindra is the founder of Digital Matters, an advisory firm in the exciting new areas of digital transformation, blockchain, and the future of work. Considered one of the foremost ‘digitalists’ in India, this former SVP Digital Transformation at Mahindra Rise, has shared his vast knowledge on emerging domains in a book called The Tech Whisperer. The chemical engineer from Gujarat University did his MBA in International Business from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi, in 1994.

How has your MBA helped you in your corporate life, if at all?

It does help in a few ways — getting the right company to start your career with — Tata Administrative Services (TAS) in my case, meeting great people and building a network, and learning some concepts of marketing and finance that you never forget. (Most of them, you do forget, though.)

What have been the key learnings from your MBA for you?

I spent 50 per cent of my time on curriculum and 50 per cent on extra-curricular stuff — quizzing, debating, writing, reading, gathering knowledge. I think it is what you make of the MBA, not what the MBA makes of you that matters.

If you had to re-visit your MBA what would you have liked to see as part of your course?

I would have perhaps chosen a different MBA. One with more tech, say at MIT, or one with more case learning, say Harvard. Easy to say this in retrospect though.

What have been the chief ingredients in your road to the top?

I am still on the road, and it does not necessarily lead to the top. I have taken many side-roads along the way. Key ingredients in this journey, which is not necessarily a conventionally successful one : curiosity, working with great people, a sense of humour, equanimity, begging for forgiveness rather than asking for permission, and doing stuff I wanted to do rather than stuff one was conventionally meant to do.

What have been your best and worst moments?

Best: Getting into TAS, my Microsoft stint, my Mahindra experience. Worst: A big career mistake in working with a company called Getit for a year or so, between Microsoft and Mahindra.

What would be your advice to young MBAs who are joining the corporate sector?

Follow your heart. Work for great people, rather than great salaries. Learn all the time, learn something absolutely new every year.

Are you happy with the way the MBA is structured / taught today?

Short answer: no. Long answer: everything needs to change with times, so does the MBA. It needs to be more tech-oriented, and much more hands on. And we need practitioners to teach.

What would you advise young MBAs to read?

Oh, my book The Tech Whisperer, obviously. Plus a whole lot of philosophy, classics, poetry, humanities, and stuff about technology. Ditch business books, they were written for a different era.