Perspectives from ISB

As past president Prashant Ivaturi’s guest blog on One Year at ISB has indicated, there is a tremendous amount of activity all through the year on ISB’s two campuses. There is a constant stream of club activities, conferences, student initiatives, sports meets, B-plan competitions, guest speakers, industry workshops, field trips, festivals, social gatherings, and several more. Almost all of these extracurricular activities are driven completely by students and form an integral part of their life on campus, outside the realm of academics.

At the beginning of the year, elections are held for the positions of President of the Graduate Student Board, Directors (from Placement Committee to Academic Services, Alumni Affairs, etc), and Presidents of various professional clubs like Consulting, Finance, Marketing, Women in Business, etc as well as social clubs like Arts and Creativity, Sports, Quiz, etc (See full list of clubs). Elected representatives select their teams and prepare the agenda for the year. They work closely with administration and industry to host various events and successfully launch initiatives. All clubs come together to host the flagship events of the school, Pinnacle and ISB Leadership Summit (ILS). As can be expected, leadership responsibilities held by office-bearers add tremendous value to their learning and B-school experience.

Apart from graduate student board and club activities, students often launch their own initiatives and volunteer for different causes. ISB Super League (ISL) was launched successfully in 2011 and has become our primary sports meet, and it teaches investment strategy and management through the medium of sports. Shadow a CEO was another successful initiative launched by students along with the Give India Foundation that allowed students to bid for the opportunity to spend a day with business icons like Narayana Murthy, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, etc. The bid amounts were matched by the CEOs and all the proceeds went to charities of the CEOs’ choice. Students have also launched several other initiatives over the years, from establishing peer-to-peer learning networks, to conducting ‘Sahayak Workshops’ to educate blue-collared workers about energy conservation, and even organising flying lessons (yes, some students actually got to fly a plane while at ISB!) If students champion an interesting idea and convincingly build a case for it, the school supports them in any way possible to help the idea take flight – sometimes, literally.

So why have we built such a strong support system for extracurricular activities that take time away from classroom-based academic and applied learning opportunities in an already hectic year? There are several reasons, but the four most important ones according to me are:

  1. These activities enable students to learn by doing rather than just reading. Leading large teams of high achievers, rallying support from disparate stakeholders and taking responsibility for the project builds great leadership skills. And since you have to manage with limited resources, you learn to prioritize – a critical skill that all managers should develop early in their careers.
  2. When students take up ambitious initiatives, they quickly learn that a well-managed team is far more effective than a single high-performer acting alone. They learn to work together and become comfortable with relying on each other’s expertise. Several times along the journey, they celebrate their successes together and support each other through failures. The bonds built here last a lifetime. Apart from flatmates and study group mates, some of your best memories and relations from school will be with people you shared a common cause with. So when you hear about building a network in B-school, this is what it is all about.
  3. Putting in a remarkable effort to make a change for the better is not without its rewards. Successful projects bring with them well-deserved recognition from peers, industry and recruiters. At ISB, we specially honour students for their outstanding performance in non-academic areas with special awards like The Chairman’s Award and the Young Leader and Torch Bearer awards.
  4. While all of this is taking place, a quiet transformation is underway. This is something I have seen happen every year, and in most cases, students do not even realise that it is happening. Pursuing something that you are truly passionate about, having an ambitious goal and achieving it, and proving your capabilities to yourself and to others is an absolutely life-changing experience. It gives you the confidence that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to, and it makes you hungry for more success. When you complete a difficult project successfully, you start looking for even bigger challenges, you take up greater responsibilities and you deliver with greater ease and confidence.

At ISB, we recognise the value played by extracurricular activities in bringing about this transformation and equipping you for great success as a leader. That is why we place so much significance on it. But keep in mind that while the school provides the necessary ecosystem for academics, experiential learning and extracurricular activities, it is equally important that students prioritise their time effectively to gain the maximum from the school and make it a truly transformational year.

All the best!