This is Sparta. That is exactly the kind of feedback that I got from every alum I had tried to speak to when I had finally got a call for PGPX, at IIM, Ahmedabad. But such is the charisma of the institute that despite getting calls from some other top institutes from the country, I still decided to opt for IIMA. In fact, the choice was quite straightforward- it didn’t involve much utilization of the grey cells.
First things first. When I had decided on pursuing an MBA after seven years in the healthcare industry, post my MBBS, I was met with a lot of startled stares. You are a doctor, so why would you need to go for an MBA? From shock to complete bewilderment, I had seen it all! To a point that I had even stopped explaining my point of view to people. ‘My choice’ – was kind of the in thing to say to people at that point of time, as endorsed by a popular Bollywood actress- and I decided to go that way too!
With the work experience behind me, I knew an one year MBA would be a better choice for me at this stage of my career. After the written exams, I knew I had to put in my maximum effort for the applications, as the essays were going to be important. So I decided to only focus my attention on applying for IIMA (whose PGPX is ranked No. 3 in the world for career progression), with ISB as a back-up. I very well remember the day, when I received a mail, with the IIMA logo, in my inbox. I had been shortlisted for interviews!
I had back to back interviews for both colleges- and after that a long agonizing wait. ISB sent me a mail informing me I had been selected for their PGP. However, in my heart, I knew I still had to wait for that final decision. And then it came. I wouldn’t forget the day perhaps. I was coming down from office, when the mail with that logo came in, asking me to check my results. With a shaking finger I pressed ‘enter’ on my mobile. ‘Congratulations’ – I didn’t need to see more!
The next four months went off in a jiffy. I had some personal affairs and office work to attend to, that kept me busy. I connected to a few alums who told to enjoy the last month at home, as once out there, it was to be …..Sparta!
13th April was the date of our Induction Programme. I had come down two days earlier to complete the registration process. As I came out of the airport at Ahmedabad, the scorching heat at 43 degree Celsius greeted me. But I was too excited to pay heed to such trivialities. The cab arrived- I sensed a nervous excitement in my voice, as I pronounced my destination, IIM Ahmedabad. The cab driver sensed something too- perhaps the same expression which he gets on the faces of all new entrants, and asked me,
“Apka pehla time hain kya?” The answer was written all over my face.
Half an hour, and I was here. As I went in through the gates of the New Campus, I could feel my pulse quickening. I stopped a moment in front of the gate- a picture was in order. I didn’t mind the smirks on the faces of the guards- this moment comes only once in your life. Crossing that gate opened another world to me, the full significance of which perhaps I was to realize much later.
The first day went off in a daze- registration, getting our ID cards, taking possession of our rooms, meeting my batch mates, and arranging for groceries and stuff. As a part of the welcome kit, we were handed a backpack, that contained a 25 page case study- that we were supposed to prep for our first class! Some welcome that. We also got an umbrella- we couldn’t afford to fall sick, we were told. And yes, a tee with the IIMA and PGPX logo- which was to be our uniform for the next day.
I could hardly sleep that night. I got up at 7, got ready, took my bag and went off to the auditorium. The atmosphere was electrifying. 120 people, each of them filled with nervous excitement and apprehension, had gathered in the auditorium, for the inauguration ceremony. As I got to know my batch-mates, I realized this was going to be one hell of a journey. There were people from the navy, lawyers, doctors, scientists, chartered accountants, experienced professionals from sectors like manufacturing, oil and gas, and of course IT, with work experiences ranging anywhere between 3.5 to 20 years! We also had two international candidates in our batch, who had come down all the way from Poland and Lesotho to join our batch. The professors did mention that each of the members had been handpicked, but this was some combination! I couldn’t wait to interact with them all!
The programme was kicked off by the lighting of the lamp by the Director of PGPX, Prof Ashish Nanda. It was followed by his inaugural speech, and that by the PGPX Chair, Prof Sunil Sharma, who aptly addressed himself, as the ‘Papa of the batch’. Well, we could not have asked for a better papa!
Their speeches made us realize that we needed to sort out our priorities and manage our time from the very first day- the course was going to be gruelling; but at the same time each one of us looked forward to living every bit of the life at the institute.
The professors then took a question answer session, which had us rolling out in laughter. Someone had asked, “Do we address our Professors as Sirs?”
“Not only that, you need to bough three times….” Came the prompt reply.
Then we broke for lunch. The dining hall was a mad rush of hungry people- and that hunger was not going to be satiated by what got served on the table. We were eager to know more about what lay in store for us, what the coming year would bring.
And just when we thought the day was coming to an end with the supposed last session at 5, we were handed out our first presentation. We had one hour of prep time! It was an interesting group activity, where everyone had to participate. It was actually an exercise designed to make us know our fellow participants, and also was a trailer to the movie that was to unfold soon!
All this was followed by the inaugural dinner at the PGPX Lawn. By the time we went back to our respective dorms and rooms, we were exhausted physically. But such was the magic of the place, and of the events that had unfolded over the day, that we couldn’t sleep, despite knowing it was the last opportunity at it!
I decided to take a stroll down the heritage campus, through the subway that connects the two campuses. Sitting down at the Louis Kahn plaza, I realized that the feeling hadn’t sunk in yet. This was that place, whose pictures had fascinated me for all these years, being where had been the driving force behind all my preparations. To say the feeling was overwhelming would be an understatement. As 50 years of history stood staring at me, the red walls standing guard to what has been, and creating a gateway to what could be, and with the silence of the night creating a profound atmosphere to reflect in, I felt a voice inside my head saying, that I had been blessed with an opportunity to be at that hallowed campus, and I couldn’t afford to let down.
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(Archya, is a doctor-turned-healthcare administrator, who is in his idle time, likes to ruminate on his journeys through this material world, that has brought him everything but fame and money. May be Blongshong is his second chance !
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(The pictures have been taken by the author, and sole copyrights are with blongshong.com)