Perspectives from ISB

This week, I wanted to give you an inside look at some of the opportunities and challenges that a year at ISB exposes one to. And who better to hear it from than the person who led an entire class of peers through them? Prashant Ivaturi, alumnus and President of the PGP Class of ‘12, guest blogs today and shares experiences from his time at ISB:

Three years ago, around the same time, I was in a pensive mood – thinking hard about my MBA plans and the kind of schools that could nurture my dream. Since then, three gorgeous years have passed – one, where I put in a lot of hard work to get into ISB, another where I went through the journey in ISB, and the third when I started putting my B-school education to practical use. Through these three years, I have continuously learned and evolved as a person, and overcome some of my doubts and fears; and I have emerged a more confident and stronger person. Some amount of determination helped, but it is the hard work and meticulous planning that helped above everything else.

ISB offered the best in business education by tying up with some of the best B-Schools and bringing in world class faculty. That was a given. But what I realized pretty soon, was that ISB was much more than just classroom education, and networking with peers and industry. It had built a brilliant eco system of students, their families, alumni, administration and industry. The warmth and friendliness, even after you graduate, is unmistakable, and something worth spending the one year at ISB. While doing so, what impressed me most was the set of values and ethics that the school advocates and stands for. The classroom discussions and the case based learning are just the icing on the cake.

A lot of hard work, from students, faculty and staff alike, goes in to making this place really world class. Being part of the Graduate Student Board, or one of the many professional clubs or social clubs, are all great opportunities for the students to take ownership, participate in the decision making process and run the affairs of the school. Personally, for me the journey was enriching as there were several opportunities to meet, interact and learn from top notch industrialists, visionaries, academics, diplomats, political leaders and several other luminaries. The plethora of activities, the academic rigor and industry exposure through various summits, conclaves and high profile visits is really what make this 51-week rollercoaster a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

One of my proudest moments: sharing the stage with the 12th President of India, Smt Pratibha Patil. Not a regular day for me surely, but such opportunities did come by fairly often at ISB!

ISB’s Leadership Summit (ILS), the school’s flagship event, is another example where students are tested in their leadership and management skills. Leading a team to organize this summit, and representing the school to the external world was a challenging and a very enriching experience for me personally. Along with my team, I look back with pride at the huge success of ILS 2011 – one that had unprecedented levels of participation and high quality discussion on a variety of topics. It was possible because everyone on the team worked together for the same objective. It gave us the opportunity not just to collaborate with one another, but to think, to lead, to coordinate and to learn and evolve. Such experiences are hard to get sitting in cozy offices.

If there were success stories, there were failures too. Diverse backgrounds of fellow students give a great opportunity to interact and learn from one another. But they also pose a great challenge and chance of failure if one does not attempt to relate to another. With so many individual thinkers bringing in varieties of opinions, we had our share of disagreements in all matters, from course work to administration, and often found ourselves frustratingly stuck in a logjam. At least until we learnt a simple truth that managers dealing in uncertainty face every day: Sometimes, there is more than one right answer. Disappointments also came in various other forms, from something as simple as missing out on a grade one desired, to not making the cut at an international B-plan competition. Maybe an initiative fizzled out when success was within reach, or perhaps one messed up an important interview. Challenges weren’t limited to professional ones alone, and many people had to learn how to handle their personal relationships as well. The hectic pace of life can be unforgiving and relentless, but only till one learns to manage the ups and downs of B-school with maturity and equanimity. It also helped that at all times, we had a strong network of friends and classmates to support us.

Personally for me, with a young and growing family, and plenty of years of experience behind me, I was skeptical of taking a year off from work to spend on education. I was even more skeptical that I could devote time to do justice to my education as well as my family. In hindsight, my family was my biggest strength, and I feel happy to have taken a break to understand the direction of my career. There were several others like me who had overcome such fears, and from whom I draw inspiration even today and look up to with respect.

As a class, we sometimes felt that we had many ideas but too little time to implement them. However, in reality, 51 weeks is a lot of time if planned carefully. The camaraderie of the class, the intent, sense of urgency and merit of ideas will ultimately drive the whole class. We feel really proud of what we received as legacy and fairly satisfied with what we left behind. All this did not seem possible and powerful until we had tried.

There is definitely an aura and charm to the school that pulls students towards higher thinking and reasoning. It is difficult to express in words what I experienced during the one year on campus, but looking back I feel really proud that I made that choice. It has been just over a year since I graduated from ISB, but the memories still live on. I still long to go back to my alma mater on one pretext or another, and keep those relationships that I forged while in school, alive.

For those of you who are thinking of embarking on this path, all I can say is – take the plunge! I wish you the very best.

About the Author: Prashant Ivaturi is an alumnus of ISB and graduated from the PGP Class of 2012. He was the President of the Graduate Student Board of his class. He currently works in a multinational retail organization in Bangalore.

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