career thus far has been a story of diversity. After graduating
from IIM-A in 1993, I joined FMCG major Hindustan Lever, where I
spent four years, first as a brand manager and then as an area sales
manager. Then, in 1997, I signed up with McKinsey & Co. as a
consultant specialising in consumer goods, pharma, and M&A.
In February this year, I joined Max New York Life as VP. It has
been a varied experience-first as a line manager in an FMCG, followed
by consultancy, and now in the insurance business. But in all these
phases, what I learnt and was exposed to at IIM-A was very useful.
In a sense, the two years at IIM-A were like an advanced preparation
for what was to happen in the future.
To be able to succeed at Hindustan Lever, my
first job, you have to have a very strong desire to learn and work
across different functions. By rote, Lever recruits are put through
their paces in different functions-marketing and sales, accounts
and finance, and even HRD and production. IIM-A nurtures in you
a very strong passion for learning. Your ability to learn and survive
is driven by this passion. At Lever, you get immense opportunities
to travel and learn. As an entry-level executive, I was made to
travel across the country and also work across different functions.
The passion for learning new things that IIM-A had stoked in me
was very useful. At my second job in consulting, the challenge was
very different from marketing or selling consumer goods. Here I
had to work across projects in different industries and interact
with senior managers at the client firms. The skills I learnt in
IIM-A-of being able to take a top management view of businesses-were
very handy at McKinsey. It was a big change from Lever where I had
been a brand manager and a sales manager. At McKinsey, I had to
often take a bird's eyeview of different businesses and solve problems
that were multi-dimensional. Secondly, IIM-A teaches you how to
quickly grasp the essentials of a new problem and, consulting is
all about that. Thirdly, on campus, you learn to use analytical
skills, which helped immensely in the job.
My current job in insurance is very different.
Here you have a product that everybody needs and yet you have to
sell it very hard. Again, it is the training we got at IIM-A, which
helps you get down to the basics of business and operate from there.
What helps most is that the IIM-A faculty has
always been of a very high standard. And there is a frenetic pace
that you are put through at all times, but that helps you to be
prepared for anything later on in your career. From a recruiter's
point of view, what helps is the screening that students from IIM-A
go through. The rigour of the course ensures that you get people
of high quality with high performance standards. The high salience
of the IIM-A brand helps too. When you graduate and go to work,
the outside world automatically recognises you. Besides, there is
the great advantage that the networking brings-from a business perspective,
doors open more easily across the alumni network.
Yet, the IIM-A brand is perhaps not as well-known
internationally as IITs are. And that's a pity. I think there is
need to attract more international recruiters and make efforts to
get more international faculty members, perhaps on an exchange basis.