On 18th September 2010, a Saturday, the third Corporate Wisdom session in the academic year 2010-2011 was organized. The speaker was Mr. P. Jeevan Jose, Head of HR, Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance. We students thought that the topic would be ‘expectations of the corporate world’. When the session started however, we saw that the topic title on Mr. Jose’s presentation was ‘Expectations...’
Mr. Jose began by asking us a simple question-‘What is shelf-life?’ A fair number of people were aware of shelf-life in the general context, but the shelf-life he referred to was the shelf-life of an MBA. He defined the shelf-life of an MBA as ‘the average time spent in the first job’ and that the shelf-life was a disappointing one year and six to eight months. This figure is not at all surprising to most of us. But companies, he said, though not astonished, are trying very hard to unravel the mystery behind the number. So, we figured, that the ‘expectations’ being discussed were not only the expectations of companies of MBAs, but also the expectations of the MBAs of companies and of their B-school. Some of the common expectations of freshman MBAs are getting a good job with a high salary, social recognition etc. Ideally though, the expectations of MBA students should be to learn to add value, to question, to seek answers and the alternatives, to learn to analyze and channelize the efforts of not only themselves but also their colleagues.
The audience was absorbed. What we had just heard was a little out of the ordinary. None of us anticipated that a discussion on expectations would be so thought provoking. Most of us were waiting to know what the world wanted out of us, in terms of what services we were expected to provide. But nothing more crossed our minds.
Going beyond the classroom, when we had finally touched upon what the corporate expected of MBAs, Mr. Jose gave us a beautiful example to illustrate, that the companies hire MBAs not for their fancy degrees but for their ability to see problems with great attention to detail while not losing sight of their long term objectives. He went on to add that the corporate world seeks a professional- one who can work unsupervised and who can certify his own work as complete, a person with integrity, speed of execution, courage and immense patience.
As a final piece of advice, he said that an MBA student must plan not for a job, but for a career and happiness, must practice professionalism, seek counsel, learn from diversity, learn to influence people without power and most importantly, he must have the heart to admit that he doesn’t know.
Our minds were processing question after question once the session had ended. So much had been conveyed with so little that was said. The session had opened our minds to a new dimension, one which not many people stumble upon while still in college and fewer still would recognise when not guided by great people such as Mr. Jose.