The best B-schools around the world give a great deal of importance to demographic and cultural diversity in their classrooms. When a group of bright young minds from different backgrounds are thrown together, it must necessarily result in the creation of new ideas and perspectives. Such a cross-pollination of thoughts and attitudes gives rise to innovation. This is exactly why Global B-school like ISB emphasize on building a diverse class.
As a discerning candidate, you should certainly consider classroom diversity as a key factor in your decision to ultimately join an management program. This is because in a B-school environment, a great deal of the learning happens not just through classroom sessions and books, but also through interaction with peers. Here are 5 reasons why a diverse classroom is a big advantage from your perspective:
Exposure to Diversity:You don’t always have to travel to get exposure. In a residential program like ISB’s, you will have to live alongside people from different regions, social and cultural backgrounds, age groups, and even life stages. In a single year at ISB, you may get to celebrate half a dozen festivals from different religions, learn a new language, sample delicacies from unknown cuisines, and make friends from different parts of the country!
- Exposure to Perspectives: Your background, habits, and life experiences determine how you see the world. As you engage in lively debates with others who have very different world views, you will get exposed to new ideas and new ways of looking at things. As you work on team-based projects, you will realize that a diverse group is more creative and critical in its thinking than one that conforms. This will make the sessions far more interesting and enlightening than if you were to work with a homogeneous group.
Self Awareness: The foundation of learning is simple: Build on your strengths. Counter your weaknesses. But someone who thinks and behaves exactly like you may not be able to help you in your self-improvement project. Only when you meet and interact with people having strengths and weaknesses different from yours will you realize what you need to change and how.
Hone your skills: When everyone in the room thinks differently, it will be very tough to build consensus. You may have to negotiate, compromise, or just take a hard call at the end. This is exactly the kind of workplace situation you may encounter on a daily basis once you graduate. Your experiences at ISB will prepare you to handle these situations effectively.
- Build your Network: A diverse peer group with varied career goals help you widen your network. These peers most probably would be your colleagues, clients or vendors in the future. If you have entrepreneurial dreams, chances are you’ll partner with someone from your MBA days. In a diverse classroom, you’re more likely to find people who complement your strengths, so that each of you can contribute to the startup in different ways.
However, remember that diversity, in its real sense, is something more than your demographic background and profile. If you come from a very conventional background, but have very unconventional thoughts and perspectives to offer, then you are definitely bringing something unique to the table. On the other hand, you may have been a volunteer with the UNO and worked in 4 different countries, but if you are not able to share your experiences and learning with others, you’re adding no value to the class.
So, don’t worry about how conventional or different your profile is. Bring your own brand of uniqueness to ISB – those crazy ideas, unorthodox thoughts, questions, and personality quirks. As Dr.Seuss said,
“Today you’re you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you!”
And this you is who we want.
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