OCTOBER 12, 2003
 Cover Story
 Personal Finance
 Back of the Book

Kashmir On The Map
After a succession of false starts, this might actually be something worth taking note of. The World Travel and Tourism Council has joined hands with the Jammu & Kashmir government to promote the state as an international tourist destination for just about anybody who appreciates natural beauty. The plan.

Cancun Round-Up
The drumbeats on the way to Mexico were low-key, but audible enough. Now that the World Trade Organisation is back in pow-wow mode and India has attained some clarity on what the country's trade agenda is, it's time to do a quick round-up of the Cancun meet.

More Net Specials

Business Today,  September 28, 2003
It's All About Perspective

All of us from IIM-A have an ambition and a winning streak. The question is, how to achieve the goal? The real world is different from the world of class rooms. People aspects and dynamics that are part of every organisation are usually the most important part of management. At the institute you can discuss real-life examples, debate them, but at the end of the day, practice is what makes a person perfect. I believe that your learning in the first three to four years has a lot to do with whether you will develop necessary skills to be a true leader. Some of us who did well have these skills or were conscious that these skills are required and have been able to hit our goals. My goal when I joined Bank of America as a management trainee, fresh out of SRCC in Delhi, was that in under 20 years I should become the CEO of the bank, either in India or in an equivalent country.

In an organisation, you have to grapple with complex, unstructured situations, whether they are business related, process related or people related. Confidence to deal with these situations is a lot because of one's attitude that says "No problem, I can do it." That's simply because better institutes tend to better prepare their students for challenges. That's the biggest takeaway. The other is how to deal with peer pressure. IIM-A provides a highly competitive environment and if you have come out of there strong and with lots of friends, then there is learning. When you experience peer pressure in any organisation, are you going to deal with your colleagues as pure competitors or somebody you need to carry along and make part of your success? It's something you pick up in an environment like IIM-A's or in a competitive sport. Is my success also in sharing it? Am I carrying people with me and becoming a role model? All these are critical issues as you climb up in your career.

In the past I've found that many IIM-A students tend to come out with a chip on their shoulders. There are case studies that show how IIM-A grads tend to be misfits in certain organisations, largely because while they carry a lot of positive attributes and a huge amount of competence to make the difference to an organisation, they tend to be weak on interpersonal aspects and soft skills. Here, the value system that you pick up at home and your primary school has a lot to do. I don't think any institute can teach soft skills. They are learnt and derived from experience.

As businesses get more sophisticated and, therefore, a lot more complex and integrated, the need for specialisation has increased. When we go to the institute to recruit, we find that a lot of the students come out in silos or with a product-oriented focus, with specific spheres of activity in mind and have already started building specialised skills and are itching for a fast take-off. Unfortunately for them, they are losing on the broader perspective and I hope they are conscious of it and learning on their own. I, in contrast, started my career as a management generalist and developed specialisations along the way.

As I look back, I feel that a broad-based perspective is critical. In the past you could get by being jack of all trades and master of none. Today you need to be a jack of all trades and master of some. Otherwise, you end up with a limited perspective and vision.