“New IIM” vs “Old” Private B-School

The new IIM dilemmaEvery year, a lot of students get confused between getting into a “new IIM” or established “non-IIM private” B-schools. I hope this article will help them in making a choice.

In last 8 years, we witnessed 13 new IIMs which brought the total number of IIMs to 19 in India. CAT aspirants, who are unable to secure admission in older IIMs and get selected in new IIMs, find themselves in a huge dilemma whether to join these new IIMs or some already established premier non-IIM B-School.

With a lot of opinions of so many so-called “experts”, it is obvious for a prospective B-school student to get confused. So, lets try to find a solution to this problem by analyzing some facts.

Let us first look at what is the current general perception. I heard many people say that new IIMs are not good. They swear by other established non-IIM B-Schools. The sole reason for them is good placements in those colleges compared to new IIMs. Other than that, old established colleges have good faculty, thus good education, good infrastructure and finally good alumni base (which is again good for placements). I do not think there is any other reason due to which these people prefer other B-Schools over new IIMs.

Now lets see what it actually means to be a “good MBA”. As per my understanding, apart from classroom teaching, MBA is mainly about “peer learning” while performing different tasks together in teams. Unlike technological courses, it does not require any sophisticated infrastructure/laboratories other than decent classrooms, auditorium, seminar hall, computer lab, library and faculty/staff cabins/offices. Other than that, any good college will provide some sports facilities and a decent residential facility (hostels).

As per my knowledge, all new IIMs, though operating in makeshift campuses, provide decent level of all these facilities through various means. So, good infrastructure may not be a differentiating factor.

Then comes the learning part. First we consider peer learning which means we need to have good students. As we know, the criteria for getting into IIMs is CAT which is considered one of the most difficult exams of the world due to its very low conversion ratio. For less than 4000 seats in IIMs, 2,00,000+ students are competing every year. This means that the conversion rate is less than 2% which is very low compared to top B-schools of the world.

Even for new IIMs the general cutoff has been near 97 percentile which is higher than or equal to cutoffs for most of the non-IIM B-schools. It means no general student of new IIMs has got percentile less than nearly 97. If good CAT percentile is indicative of hard working, sincere, intelligent and talented students, most of the students admitted to new IIMs are good and thus facilitate good peer learning.

Same is the case with faculty. In most premier colleges, there is a tradition of employing visiting faculty who are experts in their respective fields, along with permanent faculty. As a part of a new IIM with 15+ permanent faculty and 150 students in a batch, I have seen visiting faculty from old IIMs, other top B-schools and industry veterans for various courses. I do not think that I missed any superior kind of learning which I could have got in any non-IIM B-school.

Regarding the course structure, the pattern in new IIMs is almost similar to the older IIMs with similar subjects, electives and exam criteria.

The spirits of students are high in new IIMs as well. They organize events/fests, take part in (and win) various national/international competitions, celebrate majority of festivals, write research papers, attend conferences etc. I did not find anything significantly better in the description of such things happening in premiere non-IIM B-schools from people studying there.

Till now, we saw that when compared to premiere non-IIM B-schools, new IIMs does not have any significant difference or disadvantage in terms of infrastructure,learning, environment, and student spirit. Then where is the actual difference.

This brings us to a very interesting and highly controversial topic of placements. I do agree that old IIMs and a couple of non-IIM B-schools provide excellent placements. Apart from these, I find good placements in some other colleges, but not excellent.

And this is the case even with their huge alumni base. A new IIM without any alumni base getting placements comparable to long established non-IIM B-schools is a huge indication of the excellent quality of an IIM. It shows that the quality of students in IIM makes them not overly dependent on alumni for placements and industry is ready to offer them good profiles.

Moreover, the source of information of placements of any college is the placement report prepared and distributed by that college. There has been a history of highly inflated and misrepresented placement figures by many colleges. Can we actually believe the placement report of any college? I think, it would be better to consider more than just numbers. Though, in case of an IIM, you can try filing RTI to get true information.

May be the new IIMs are new, may be their inception (in 2010) coincided with the world-wide recession which caused them to begin with somewhat less but still decent placements. But is this slight “apparent” difference, the reason to miss the opportunity to study in an IIM?

Also, most of these non-IIM B-schools are expensive than new IIMs in terms of fees. Is it really worth it?

I have shared my viewpoint. You have to take your own decision while considering realistic facts and avoid getting influenced by irrelevant hype and rumors.

After all, an IIM is an IIM and its equally difficult to get into a new IIM.

How to develop the habit of reading

How to Develop Reading HabitFrom our childhood we are told that reading habit is a very good habit. Specially, if you are preparing for any competitive exam like CAT, GMAT, GRE or even UPSC (it now has a paper with questions on reading comprehension), you must read a lot of books written in English. In this context, from here on, by reading I mean reading books written in English language.

Why Reading Habit is good?

Reading improves our comprehension as well knowledge. Reading a lot of good books makes us familiar with English language and we no more need to memorize grammar rules to find out if any sentence is wrong. It is the same way as a child learns his native language just listening to his parents and not by learning grammar rules.

Once a respected gentlemen rightly said that to write well, you need to read a lot. So, apart from helping us to understand what others write, reading is also essential to express our thoughts in good words and proper language.

But what if someone doesn’t read at all? What if mere thought of reading a book makes you yawn? Is there any way to develop this habit, easily?

Well, all big things in life require some amount of work. However, there are few ways to do it the right way so that you get maximum benefit in minimum amount of time. And obviously, you need to be motivated enough and self-determined to maintain a disciplined schedule, atleast when you begin.

I was not exactly a reading buff. Though I read books every once in a while, I was not the kind of guy who reads scores of books every month and asks for even more. Every time I finished a book, it used to be an achievement for me. But during my CAT preparation, I realized that I need to read a lot and I was actually able to read a lot of books during that time. How? I followed a simple approach.

Pick the right book

First of all, reading here does not mean reading “anything”. I am no one to criticize Chetan Bhagat for his books. He writes books in simple, lucid language to be easily understood by anyone. But for the kind of competitive exams mentioned above, those books may not help you. You need to read something with a higher level of English. Books of famous English authors written in standard English is a good point to start with.

Pick a book from a famous author, an interesting one. You can pick J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books or Dan Brown’s books like DaVinci Code, Angel and Demons etc. There are many more authors like John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Stephen King, you can pick any of their books based on your interest. This is because once you get involved with the story of the book, you would like to continue reading it, even if you find the English difficult or boring.

Stick to a simple schedule & Take it easy while reading the first book

Now make a schedule to read for 15-20 minutes every day before you go to bed. Yes, this much is enough to begin with. Whatever happens, read for some time everyday before you go to sleep. Slowly your reading time will increase as you will get involved with the story. Don’t worry even if you do not understand many words. No need to look them up in a dictionary. Just try to understand the meaning from the context and move ahead. Referring dictionary continuously will obstruct the flow and make reading boring. Completing a book is more important at this time.

Level up once you cross the milestone

After 1-2 months of this when you finish reading your first book, you will definitely feel accomplished. You would also have developed at least some interest in reading. Now you can refer to difficult words while reading the next book. You can also read using an ebook reader as it is very easy to look-up words in these devices without breaking the flow of reading. You just need to touch the word and its meaning pops up.

Finally, keep it going

Slowly and gradually you can read more and more books. Finishing each book, will boost your confidence and as you go on, you will get familiar with more words making it easier for you to understand and time to finish a book will keep on decreasing. If all goes well, by this time, you would have developed the habit to read books. It will be no longer a far-fetched dream.

The method described above may not be the best way to develop this habit but it worked pretty well for me.

I hope you too find this useful. Feel free to leave feedback or suggestion in the comments section below.

Additionally, if you are preparing for CAT, you may find following links useful-

For CAT Preparation, you can refer to my article here- How to start preparing for CAT (IIM)

List of most important books for CAT Preparation- List of Important CAT Preparation Books

And I said, Good-Bye Infy!!

Image Credit: Flickr

Its been 6 months since I left Infosys. Today, when I look back at all those days which I spent being a part of Infosys, I feel what I am today has been highly impacted by what I was being in Infosys.

It was a cold December when I first left the warmth of my home to join Infosys in a far away part of the country. And when I left Infy, I felt a similar warmth that followed me. And I felt like I was leaving home again, the new home.

When I joined Infy, I was just a college student. I had to learn a lot about life. And yes, I learned. I learned how to add value to the things I do, I learned how to talk to people who I do not know, I learned how to enjoy with people whom I do not even share the same culture, I learned how to see beyond what is visible, I learned to listen to the unspoken things and most importantly, I learned to keep learning.

A few years ago, I read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. It talks about the importance of journey and not destination. The destination is just to give us a direction. It is the journey that matters. The experiences of the journey of life help us appreciate the beauty of our surroundings, the complex world which works on its own with different people, parts fitted together seamlessly. While leaving Infy, I realized that it was never my destination. It was just a milestone of my journey.

The joy of reaching the destination is short lived. Once we achieve something, we start looking for the next goal and the life goes on. Seldom we identify what keeps us looking for new destinations. While on the way, we live dreaming about the destination, and when we reach there we cherish the experiences of the journey. Life is clever enough to keep us a step away from the present.

My journey in Infosys taught me to walk with the present. I saw people running towards things they think they want, leaving behind all the things they have. In that environment, it becomes hard to remain what you are. But once you realize this, life is never the same. Those people become your reason to live your own life to the fullest.

Even Narayana Murthy conveys this message to stop running and start living. But people are too much comfortable in the race, they hardly want to stop. This is really ironical.

Being in Infy, I realized two things: One, Narayan Murthy has created a great organization by following his values and virtues, and two, for a sizable chunk of people working there, those values are mere words to boast about. For me, those values are vital to any individual and people who follow these actually add value to Infy as well as their own lives.

The most important value which is my favorite is “Leadership by Example” or in simple words “Walk the Talk”. Each day I strive to be what I expect from people around me.

During my Infy journey, I found some really talented and cheerful people whose lives are reflections of real joy and learning. Some of them involved in so many social activities, some of them organizing some entertainment events every now and then, a group of people going for adventures on a monthly basis and even a few people innovating new things using latest technologies without even being asked for. These are the people who made my stay in Infy worth remembering.

I hope Infy will retain such people and will find a way to utilize their potential to the fullest. To rise as an organization, Infy has to go beyond just being a software service provider and to find a way to tap the potential of the gems hidden among its few lakhs strong work force.

While closing this post, I want to share something interesting. Narayana Murthy left after a few months I joined Infy. It all resulted in huge chaos. I missed being guided by the regular insights of the great leader through his town-halls and common addresses. Co-incidentally, Narayana Murthy joined back just the next day I left Infy. I was sitting at Hyderabad airport waiting for my flight to home when I saw the news of his return. I was joyful. I am sure the company which I always loved will further go places.