Guru Talk: Week 1 at ISB – Drinking from a fire hose!

vpr– written by Vishnu Prasad Ramachandran: ISB class of 2014

There we were, starry-eyed, as we entered the Indian School of Business’s campus in 2013. We had made it to the Class of 2014. After several months of tests, applications, reviews, recommendations, essays, interviews, we finally had gotten the email. I had received the email a day late – what a torture those few hours were. I had almost given up on getting the coveted admit, putting up a brave face to my family, while trying to not let my emotions get the better of me. After getting the email, it was all joy.

But wait – there’s more to be done before schools starts:

But wait. It took a lot of work to prepare all the docs for the loan, pack up and move to the Hyderabad campus. It was an emotional few weeks. As we entered the campus, the big banner, put up by the Class of 2013, welcomed us saying “Welcome to your 1 year roller coaster ride!” What a ride it was!

Day 1 – week 1 – hitting the ground running:

ISB is a one year MBA program, and nothing prepares you for the deluge of everything that hits you right from day 1. Once you settled in to your allocated room or studio, you ran to get the registration completed, and immediately, you are presented with the packed schedule – for the next week. Just one week, and the schedule was an A3 sized print out. Class of 2014 had sessions with professors for leadership courses, recent alums for gyaan on coping at ISB, and older alums for career planning. Apart from this, there were sessions from 13-14 different Centers of Excellence, Career center and so many more that I don’t remember right now. And then, there was the business simulation game, Chanakya. In this, you competed with your classmates, in running a soft drinks company. This is the first instance where you met your study group – 3 to 4 of your classmates, with whom you will do assignments (and much more) for the first 2 terms.

Hung over on a Sunday – with pages to read before I sleep:

The week ended with a big party and then the reality hits. It all starts to sink in when you wake up hung over on a Sunday, with 50-70 pages of pre-reads to be completed before Monday. Pre-reads, damn them! These were the book chapters, case studies, research papers and whatever passed the fancy of the instructor, that you had to read, synthesize and understand before each class. Cold calling happens and if your CP (class participation) is poor, you lost grades. As much as one wishes to be an adult and say “I don’t believe that grades define me”, one puts in the hard work to be prepared to dazzle the Professor. After all, we are all type-A personalities, and if we weren’t, what are we doing in a B-school?

Drinking from a fire hose:

Homework, midterms, group assignments, quizzes, finals – the regular schedule sets in surely and quickly. A 1 year MBA packs a lot of information, and it is “like drinking from a fire hose”. One has to be ready for this emotionally. And that is the roller coaster ride your alums told you about as you entered the campus!

Friends and friend-mentors:

As you make friends (and frenemies) over the term, you get along with a lot of people, and learn from each other, and end up teaching something to others – both related and unrelated to the curriculum. My proud achievement was teaching the nuances of “that’s what she said” jokes to a very innocent classmate of mine.

 

About the author:

Vishnu currently helps companies in the manufacturing space (in the US) rethink their business and design process as part of Cognizant’s Emerging business accelerator.  He is available at the following pages:

Linkedin: http://in.linkedin.com/in/vishnuprasadr

Quora: https://www.quora.com/Vishnu-Ramachandran

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