I started mentoring a couple of young professionals in Pune somewhere back in September 2019. One of the things I’m known for during the talks with my mentees is advocating upskilling. I keep on telling my mentees to continue developing themselves. I’m not only preaching upskilling to others, but also practicing this myself; I’ve joined various inspiring trainings on a variety of topics in Pune, Bangalore and Mumbai. During the first week of March I travelled to Bangalore, to join the first week of a course called ‘Leading Digital Transformation’. Having worked in the marketing and innovation field for decades, I wanted to understand more about the dynamics & business models within the digital world. Furthermore: I also wanted to get some context about the successes and failures in this industry. The course is being offered by IIMB, the Bangalore branch of the Indian Institute of Management.
IIMB: the number one business school in India. It was India’s first Prime Minister Nehru who initiated the so-called Indian Institute Of Management. With 20 institutions all across India, they mainly offer a post graduate 2-year program in management, which is the equivalent to an MBA program. IIMB, the Bangalore branch, opened its doors in 1973 and has since received multiple awards. In 2019 it was ranked as the best business school in India and has a notable alumni; the current CEO of Reliance Retail, the co-founder of BigBasket and the founders of Urban Ladder have all spent time on the IIMB campus, amongst many other business leaders. The Financial Times ranks all the MBA programs in the world. The flagship program of IIMB is on number 27, not far from the Switzerland based IMD, which holds the number 25 position. US-based Harvard Business School holds the number one position on this list, followed by well-known institutes like Standford and Insead to name a view.
Arriving on the campus: green lawns and modernistic buildings. The course started on a Monday and I had to be there at 9am. The Bangalore traffic could really be unpredictable, so taking a morning flight from Pune was not an option for me. I therefore booked a flight on a Sunday, checking in at one of my favourite hotels in Bangalore, the centrally located Radisson City Centre. After spending an afternoon and evening in Bangalore, I woke up early in the morning and headed towards the campus. If I hadn’t seen Bangalore during my many previous visits, I would have been a bit more alert during the long but speedy ride to the campus; being distracted by pre-reading for the first day, the driver almost had to drag me out of the car after arrival at the campus. After dropping my luggage at the check-in desk of the Management Development Centre, I walked to classroom N103, the space that I would call home for a week. It was a 10-minute walk to reach the classroom, crossing some of the campus’ well-maintained gardens. As I approached the main building of the campus, I was almost blown away by the by the incredible architecture. The modernistic structures, almost entirely created by only using raw concrete materials, are stunning architectural masterpieces. The architect of the complex is B.V. Doshi. Being one of the leading architects in India, he has worked under Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier and has built and created numerous contemporary buildings within India.
The group: people from almost all parts of the world. Joining the IIMB’s flagship MBA course is challenging. They only accept a limited number of students and the acceptance criteria is difficult. I signed in for a course called ‘Leading Digital Transformation, one of the long-term courses offered in their Executive Education Programs department. The Executive Education is considered easier to enter, but during the enrolment they advice that they would checking all profiles. I’m sure they did, because I heard from two people who got rejected during earlier courses. ‘My’ group consisted of a good mixture of people from all across India. There were people from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and also some from Pune. There were also people from Dubai, Singapore and even a guy from Germany. After 6 f long days with lectures and some evenings spent over beer, some of the participants I actually consider as friends.
The lectures and assignments: six days of new inputs. Prof. Dr. R Srinivasan, or ‘Professor Sri’ as many people call him, is one of the driving forces behind the program. IIMB teamed up with the Friederich Alexander University and Prof. Dr. Kathrin M Möslein, the Vice President of Research, who was also present in Bangalore. Looking back, especially recall Professor Sri’s lectures. He is a very gifted storyteller. He can explain complicated things very easily. One of his favourite sayings when anyone tried to overcomplicate things was ‘Let’s talk English’. I can recall many inspiring lectures, but I want to highlight one, which was conducted about organisations. The professor started his lecture by asking the people a very simple, but hard question: Why do we have organisations? It was followed by an almost philosophical discussion and I’m grateful to have been there to listen to the professors’ unique views.
Living on the campus: no alcohol, no smoking. IIMB is not a very large university. It offers an education to approximately 800 students, a comparatively low number when compared to other universities. I’m not sure, but it seems as if almost all students are interns, all living at one of the guesthouses or residential blocks. IIMB offers a lot: there is a beautiful sports complex, with a swimming pool, tennis courts, badminton courts and a gym. There are multiple restaurants on the campus and even some small shops. It was fun to spend time on the campus. For some of the participants it was difficult. The no smoking, no alcohol policy continuously drove them to the main gate for the much needed nicotine shot. The bar- and restaurant business located outside the campus are probably very happy with the university policies’. I was able see more than an average number of really good bars because of this.
Due to the Corona Virus restrictions, we couldn’t visit one of the companies. Futhermore: the Germany Trip, which was planned for May, has now been postponed untill October. Moreover: I’m now a member of a multiple WhatsApp groups, and the first catch up – of the Pune chapter – is about to take place very soon!