Monday, March 12, 2007

The Beginning of New Life @ DoMS IITM

The taxi entered the gates of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. The driver headed towards the Gajendra circle, and I was seated in the backseat, staring out of the window. Just looking around, a strange current flowing through my body……Yes I had arrived!! As a youngster, getting here had always been my dream and today here I was…..There are some moments in life, very few of them which can’t be expressed in words. It can only be felt. The feeling of being at IIT was certainly one of them.

Getting to my hostel, setting up my room, meeting new people and before I new it, my first day at IIT was over. Over the next three days we had our formal orientation programme. Brief introductions by our faculty members coupled with a couple of sessions conducted by the people of the industry made it quite interesting. The highlight was the address by the Director of IIT who happens to be one of the most erudite persons I have ever heard speak. He was simply over whelming in his clarity of thought and speech. Citing numerous examples, quotes and excerpts from books, his speech was greatly inspiring, to say the least. He managed to drive home the importance of hard work and excellence and also urged us to spend a lot of our time in the library. Following his speech we had a welcome note by the HoD, DoMS and then got down to the most interesting part of all- getting to know our classmates. There was great sense of excitement as each one of us went on to the dais and introduced ourselves to the whole class, and as we did so, a mini-India had already started to evolve in front of our eyes. We started chatting with one another, had tea in the department with the Profs. The warmth which had been generated was enough to keep us chugging for the rest of the day.

The itinerary read: 04:30 PM- Movie “The Corporation”. Nobody among us had even the slightest doubt that the name of the movie was misprinted. “It ought to be ‘Corporate’ macha!!” the word spread and excitement was brewing among the guys- I mean what could be more exciting than watching the sultry Bipasha Basu right on the first day of the curriculum. But alas! That was not to be. There was no mistake in the print. To brand ‘The Corporation’ as a movie would be at best a euphemism for a dreary documentary running for an entire 3 hours. Meant to open our eyes towards the activities and responsibilities of corporations, the documentary was no doubt an informative one.

After that got over we were about to jump from our seats and get back to hostels in anticipation of a good nights’ sleep when the ‘breaking news’ came in – a strict deadline by the seniors to present a power point presentation by 10:00 PM which was a pre-requirement for the seniors-juniors interaction. To be frank our hurriedly prepared presentations were pathetic- didn’t deserve a consideration, but then who was there to consider them – our seniors were simply preparing us for the difficult days ahead. The interaction was a cool one, had lots of fun asking weird questions, receiving equally weird answers, eyes red from sleeplessness, dozing off towards the end it seemed to me as if the session would never end. It ended with another announcement “We are not happy with the way it was done. Tomorrow make one more presentation and also sell a product!!! “.So the next night was even better. Things went on till about 4 am. There I was walking back to my hostel room and cursing as to why we should be subjected to such treatment so soon…..

When I went to class the next morning I realized that I knew the names of most of the people in my class. That’s when it struck me and I said to myself 'Geez..The events of the last two nights organized by the seniors was indeed a very good ice breaking session'. The entire exercise was to help us know our classmates and our seniors better.

We had a brilliant and interactive talk session by Mr. V. Balaraman, President, Madras Chamber of Commerce who gave us real insights as to what the industry expects from an MBA graduate. His experiences during his long stint at HLL, which he shared with us generously, helped a lot of us to get over with some misconceptions and instilled many new ideas about the workings of the corporate sector. And this was just the beginning of a series of more inspiring and informative lectures by industry leaders, not to forget a good session on ‘leadership’ by Daniel Jebasingh, Director – HR, Ajuba Systems. And yes… orientation at IIT can end without the mention of the concept so popularized by Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone, the CGPA. We had a faculty member explaining the intricacies of the CGPA and asking us to put in our best effort.

Fresher’s party is something one associates with engineering college. I had no clue or rather not expected it at a B School in such a pompous fashion. Maybe I wasn’t aware. Still if you ask most of the students, the general opinion would be that we would have a party. But what we got was just amazing. Two of them, back to back on a Saturday and Sunday night, both in complete contrast to one another, thus by no means making it repetitive. The first was a very formal one with the faulty members also joining in. After the declaration of Mr & Ms. Freshers and a small ‘nick-name’ game, our group was supposed to come up with a dance, song & play but we got lost somewhere in between and managed a medley only. However the medley was so well received that we had almost the entire student community on the dance floor. Later the movie ‘Italian job’ was screened and we finally got back to the hostel at around two in the morning.

The second party was a much more ‘energetic’ one if I may use that word. Dance, dance and more dance was the order of the night. By the time it ended there was great deal of camaraderie among students of both batches. The kind of effort put in by the organizers during the entire week was just amazing. They have set a benchmark for us and it’s up to us to raise the bar higher.

I was also privileged enough to witness the Convocation ceremony held at the SAC Centre. Listening to the Director and also Mr Ratan Tata was really inspiring. This was followed by an Annual Reunion for DOMS students, a great idea conceived by our HOD. It allowed us to interact with a lot of our seniors who are in the corporate world and get a real feel of the things.

In just 2 weeks we have already had two business quizzes organized by students of DOMS. We also had a crossword contest organized for all the students of IIT. I’m sure it’s a sign of great things to come. The other day I was sitting in my room, doing some self introspection about how it felt to be back at school after having worked for quite sometime. And the answer I got was what my heart truly felt. It feels great to be at IIT.

I would like to end by saying something that I strongly feel about. Perception is something on which the world operates. There is a strong feeling that IIT is a technology oriented institution. It’s very difficult to change people’s minds. I don’t think we need to also. We need to use this aura of excellence and quality as one of our strengths, build on it and make DoMS IIT Madras one of the best management schools in the country. This would take a lot of effort from all of us. I’m sure we will be up to it.

Being at IIT is a dream come true and the pressure works on each one here. However harder we study…. The harder WE PARTY!!(Compiled by MBA Students, Batch 2008.)

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