Four-letter word never to be forgotten - 'IIM-C' welcomes new batch with legacy of brilliance & campus humour

The Economic Times

View News Link

From the toothbrush you pick up first thing in the morning to the whisky you might nurse before dinner, there is a bit of IIM-Calcutta in every home. This was how the dean of academic affairs introduced the B-school at the freshers' welcome for the 54th PGDM batch on Friday afternoon.

Dean Biju Paul Abraham was referring to the many IIM-C graduates who have over the years gone on to head companies that make almost every product under the sun.

For the 462 aspiring managers in the audience, the inspiration to emulate came after IIM-C director Saibal Chattopadhyay had spelt out what life on the Joka campus would be like. "Endless hours of struggle and sleepless nights over the next two years," he said.

Bhushan Gopalani, in a wheelchair, knows what it is to struggle. "Four years ago, I was fighting for life in an ICU. Today, I am here. It feels surreal," he said.

The 30-year-old electronics and telecommunication graduate from Mumbai had worked with a software company before deciding to quit the job and prepare for CAT. On October 20, 2013, he met with a near-fatal motorbike accident.

"I went completely blank for a few months. Then I realised there was no point cribbing. I decided to continue with my pursuit of an MBA degree and went on to score 97.92 per cent in CAT," recalled Bhushan.

More than one-third of the new IIM-C batch comprises women, a figure Chattopadhyay highlighted in his address at the freshers' welcome. Around 90 per cent of the batch are engineers, most with professional experience.

Nikhil Hegde, 23, an MBBS graduate from Topiwala National Medical College, was among the freshers. His father owns a hospital that he hopes to run someday. "I was always interested in learning corporate governance and putting it to use in a medical institute. That is why I am here for an MBA degree," Nikhil said.

Returning to his alma mater as the chief guest was Shyam Srinivasan, the managing director and CEO of Federal Bank. He joked that "IIM-C" was one four-letter word that would never disappear from the vocabulary of a student of the institute, present or former.

Srinivasan then revealed that he had asked for tips from his niece on how he should address the gathering. "She told me not to sound like an uncle," he quipped.

He enthralled the audience for close to an hour, speaking on leadership, campus life and a lot more.

On his last day at the institute as a student, Srinivasan recalled, a batchmate could not stop crying. "She hugged everyone, showing how attached we had all become during our time here. Then everyone started leaving one by one. But the responsible man that I was, I could not leave her like that!" he said.

The girl Srinivasan stood by that day is now his wife.

Federal Bank's head honcho advised the freshers to be "obsessed" with their dreams and predicted that the next two years at IIM-C would be life-changing for all of them. "The study circles, late-night projects and PowerPoint presentations are going to be memorable, but equally important are the evening walks around the lush green campus and the birthday bumps," he said.