Club Culture at B Schools

Management EducationManagement Education is a western world concept and Indians borrowed it about three decades ago. It started with mere management of a company’s board and has developed into a science of numbers, people and psychology put together. Gradually, this knowledge trickled down from a company’s board to college classrooms.

This knowledge is imparted right from colleges to the post graduation level in some form or the other. Business schools have pioneered in promoting this education and Clubs have acted as a catalyst adding fuel to the learning with an element of fun.  Choosing a Business School is an important decision of one’s career that can be equated to choosing a life partner – the right ones creating heaven and other ensuring a hell. There is hardly anyone who thinks of clubs as an important parameter when choosing a B School. Aspiring students check out rankings in magazines or newspapers and get confused with the same.

 Secondly they would look at the highest placement packages and ponder over other less relevant information while choosing a B-school such as the ratio of students to professors. They tend to overlook important things like the network of Alumnus or Professors’ expertise on subjects. Clubs also form an important parameter which one should look for. Although enough information is unavailable on official websites, one could get more details through online public forums.

So what really are ‘Clubs’? A club is a group of students, sharing a common interest or passion, coming together to further hone their interests, learn something from one another and create something meaningful.  College’s faculty members act as guides and consultants, though the clubs are completely managed by the students. It encourages them to enjoy similar passions while setting conducive environment in forming strong bonds with their peers.

Clubs help in carving the niche interests in students. World’s best business schools encourage club culture. Some common clubs running across global campuses include those of Marketing, advertising, finance, entrepreneurship, alumni, sports and so on.

Kellogg School of Management which is considered as one of the top B schools is known for its student-led culture. It offers a variety of clubs for students to participate in, right from professional clubs where students build relationships with world-leading external companies with the likes of consulting or investment banking, media and entertainment, and marketing.  It has carved a niche for its own in the same.

Another talked-about business school for its clubs is Harvard Business School. This reputed University became the birth place of Facebook when a young boy decided to create a portal for students and clubs from the important business schools across America and connect them to create one of the most powerful club communities. Today Facebook is public and amongst the most renowned social networking sites. The school likes to add three to four clubs every year in its kitty and is believed to have more than 70 clubs running across the university. Some clubs are niche and very few B-schools offer clubs like “Bit Coin Club” that deals in digital currency, which many economists says will take over the plastic and paper currencies in near future. Another unique club is “Wine & Cuisine” Club to promote a sense of good living through the enjoyment of fine wine and cuisine for future managers.

Indian business schools are steadily catching up the westerners. Although general club formations are a normal practice, hardly any innovation comes out of the same. Unfortunately, clubs are considered just as the part of students’ extra-curriculum which diminishes its importance. Alumnus networking is absent except a few who make an effort to connect with their Alma mater. Additionally, clubs are strictly monitored with rigid rules which kill creativity and freedom of expression. It even puts a roadblock on any kind of innovation.

Management EducationEminent Indian B-Schools like IIMs has been successful in developing a sustainable and favourable environment for ideas to develop in any domain. They are encouraged and even funded to help them grow. Alumni play a big role in the development of these clubs. Some even go a step further to take sustainable ideas and provide a suitable business platform for them. IIM Ahmadabad has one of the best incubation for entrepreneurial ideas and has been in creating many success stories. IIM Calcutta has one of the powerful Finance clubs called “Fin Club” that creates a mark in its domain.

Most B-Schools are quite aloof with their engineering or commerce modules. The reasons range from low strength of the club or the lack of any noticeable impact. Western B Schools have common clubs across the University addressing all curriculum and education fields including the technical ones. Once these clubs gain traction, more students would sharing similar interests would want to join the club. Eventually such clubs become sustainable and provide invaluable lessons to its members.

Another B-School that has placed great emphasis on its club culture is IBS Hyderabad. The campus has more than 20+ innovative clubs each creating a niche of its own. They are managed and run entirely by senior students who then pass on the torch to their juniors once they graduate. Every weekend 3-4 clubs indulge themselves in creating activities for other students to participate in which would entertain them while imparting some learning at the same time. Apart from mainstream clubs like marketing, advertising, finance or economic clubs, an online Club called “Stu-Z” is a unique online portal that connects the students and brings campus news, entertainment quotients as well as educational information. Another unique club is the photography club which was started a few years ago by a single student who was passionate enough to make its presence felt all around the campus.

These clubs work as a small ecosystem of corporate where a definite hierarchy, whether flat or vertical, prevails. Every person has a role to play and run the show, creating events and marketing them so that sizable audience participate in it and make it a success. Being in these clubs teaches numerous lessons such as handling peer pressure, working in teams, respecting each other agreements and disagreements, putting forward ideas, handling criticism to implementing them and working passionately to make it a success.

Sooner or later all B schools will focus and encourage club-culture more and won’t regard them as mere extracurricular activities. Until then, every aspiring student should consider the club culture while applying to different universities.

Contributed By : Apurva Singhi, Class of 2009-11, IBS Hyderabad

What should you expect from a B-School?

business management school

Tips to set the right direction for your MBA

M-B-A, Master of Business Administration has become one of the most sought after courses in the recent years. It is because post-graduation in an MBA from a B-School makes us corporate ready (proved by the increasing acceptance for MBA graduates from a variety of corporate fields) regardless of the undergraduate background we may have to our credit.

Thus, the demand is matched with the increase in number of MBA seats in existing Institutes by the increase in number of institutions offering Diploma courses in Management. With more number of Management course offerings (the place and field of study) the prospective candidates now have a plate full of options to choose from. Yet, with these options come confusion and this multiplies, as the selection of the choice is a life changing one.

Such life changing decisions need to be made smartly, so before proceeding on the selection let us fully understand and set the right expectations that guide our selection process, with a little help from your friend, who has successfully crossed the Rubicon (selecting a right B-School) and reaping the benefits (by securing an apt placement) by making the right decision then (by choosing IBS Hyderabad). I would like to discuss few finer tips that would help shape-up your selection process.

  • Diversity- “Making of a multi-faceted personality”

“Management education cannot be taught, it needs to be self-learned and experienced”. To master in this field you should keep your mind open to new experiences and be aware of the differences stemming from a single point. To learn this you should share experiences with a mixed group of people who hail from different age groups, geographies, cultures, languages, academic backgrounds and professions. This experience is an invaluable asset in your life-time as it shapes your decision-making process and Emotional Intelligence to a great extent.

Additionally, having a diverse knowledge helps you grow and progress in your career. Luckily my institute had a planned set of pan-India selection process and a systematic classroom was set up wherein people from different categories (by profession, education, geography, languages, etc) were evenly split among the classes and the classes were shuffled every semester which helped us learn a wide variety of different experiences from different people.

  • Faculty-“A ‘NO’ to teaching!”

You may ask “If Management education cannot be taught, why should we speak of the Faculty?” It is because the right learning can happen only under a right faculty. The faculty discussed here are the people who have the right blend of academic background which is enriched with years of corporate and teaching experiences.

A good MBA institute takes effort in selecting the right faculty and learning from them shapes up an individual’s thinking prowess and introduces them to different ways and dimensions in approaching a particular issue. Such remarkable faculties will also present you with a huge number of high-profile industrial contacts. In order to receive the best from them, you should show your thirst for excellence and knowledge as they would frequently encourage you to participate and raise intelligent and sensible questions from time to time.

  • Curriculum- “Design for Doers”mba graduates

When you have the right mix to discuss and a great faculty to direct you to your cause, the next step is to understand that the essence of right learning happens with the right curriculum, as this is going to be the theme on which the great minds are going to work. An MBA is a real-time course and has one of the most dynamic curriculum which need to be updated every year or even every semester. To ensure this, the top end institutes offer a hands-on-experience to theory oriented program in the ratio of 80:20 ratio. This type of curriculum is brought about by the means of Simulation exercises (offline and online), Summer Internship Projects, Tie-ups with Entrepreneurs and Incubation centers, Case methodology, mini-real time business projects, etc.

They also give a major component of evaluation for the above techniques ahead of theory/ written examinations and most Institutes follow an open-book examination. You should understand that in an MBA curriculum it is not about teaching the right solutions but it is about learning and using the right tools to solve an issue by your analytical, logical and emotional abilities in a proactive way, which premier B-School faculties are known to inculcate in their students.

  • Infrastructure- “The training ground”

There is no exception that the B-School’s infrastructure should also facilitate a flawless functioning of students, faculty and the management. This encompasses uninterrupted power supply, internet and telecommunications connectivity, clean water and a rich, natural environment. This will help the students in campus to be in tandem with the changes happening in the society and economy in real-time and also help them to go ahead with the curriculum in a smooth pace.

A Wi-Fi campus, video-conferencing facilities for placements and lectures, air-conditioned class rooms and the like have become the order of the day in many institutes. A special mention should be made for the libraries which should be well stocked with the proper books. They should also include quality national & international magazines (viz. HBR, TIME, FORTUNE, etc) and newspapers subscriptions (The Wall street Journal, Washington Post, Mint, etc), with online subscriptions to international business and social research databases (like Wharton Research Data Services, Proquest, EBSCO, etc). These are the qualitative resources that an MBA graduate has to rely heavily upon to evaluate his business case inferences.

The institutes should also have a complete refreshment and rejuvenation infrastructure through of games and sports facilities. These would include the availability of board games as well as infrastructure such as indoor stadiums, swimming pool, auditorium, open air theatre and gym, etc as these enhance the quality of study in the institute.

  • Investment-“Nothing comes without a price- better you go higher the price”

Premier institutes offering management education charge considerably higher Tuition Fees/ Education cost, but here I would like you to consider that amount as an investment for your future and not a waste of money. If an institute is able to offer the above said quality atmosphere, then the individual is sure of becoming erudite and thus he would be able the make profits of such investment. It should be considered as “Investment for life” and not as cost for education. I am not trying to justify the fees that these institutes charge you, but they promise to give their heart and soul to kick-start your career. Thus, the fee alone should not hinder your decision making.

  • Placement- “A Cakewalk”

“What is the placement scenario?” This question should be the last question that you should ask if you have selected an institute with above expectations as the core of your selection. An MBA institute which offers the right faculty, a diversified and a deserving student mix, dynamic curriculum, supportive infrastructure is itself a brand (viz. IBS group of Institutes, IIMs, etc). Such brands are meant to attract corporate across the globe for placements, because the global and domestic corporates foresee the graduates from such branded institutes as smart and impeccable.

So friends, all in all, do select an institute which

  • Puts you with the right mix of people
  • Presents to you high quality faculty
  • Does have real time curriculum (enriched with cases and real-time business projects)
  • Encompasses you with reliable infrastructure
  • Charges you the correctly for “Value for Money”
  • Connects you to the proper corporates to fetch an apt placement

It might be hard to appreciate the above mentioned items during the course of study however its benefits would be reaped post MBA.  Steve Jobs famously said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards!”. Thus I am proud to announce that I am able to connect them now and I am thankful to my alma mater- IBS Hyderabad for making me a better professional.

All the best.

Contributed By : L. Gowtham ( Class of 2013, IBS Hyderabad )

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Sneak Peak into a B-School’s typical day

IBS mba graduatesDid you know? Every morning in Africa, when a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up, it knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. Life at a B-School is wickedly analogous to this anecdote. It doesn’t really matter which B-School one has sought admission into. The core modus operandi essentially remains the same.

And actually it doesn’t really matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running. Because there is fierce competition even within the B-School. And there is a damn good reason behind it. Think of it as a specially designed miniature blueprint of the unforgiving corporate world outside. The values of competitiveness and time-management are intentionally inculcated during the course so that they are innately ingrained in your personality after getting through those gruelling two years.

Your B-School knows that you are good and that you are capable of executing a given assignment proficiently. So it is going to test you by making sure that you don’t get enough time to do multiple assignments simultaneously. Ultimately, time management is what they want to teach you. And that too the hard way! The result of this hard-hearted yet ubiquitous approach clearly reflects in the quotidian time-table of a quintessential B-School fresher. Just a few days into it and you’ll quickly realize that the usual schedule is  much tougher and hectic than you had heard.

Here is what is roughly looks like:

6:30 AM

You wake up to a mildly irritating cellphone alarm and sleepwalk through the customary drill to make yourself rather presentable. At this point, you have to take some important decisions regarding time management (especially if you are a guy). Usually, you’ll have four options:

Option A- Have a bath and breakfast (rare phenomenon)

Option B- Bath but no breakfast (manageable for gals)

Option C- Breakfast but no bath (not uncommon for guys)

Option D- Neither (a distinct possibility)

8:30 AM

After arriving at the college campus, meet-up with your classmates at the canteen/reading room. Exchange notes about the forthcoming lectures. Discuss with your preformed group regarding any presentations or group assignments that are supposed to be delivered today. Push off to the lecture hall.

9:00 – 10:15 AM

Find a strategically placed back-seat if you are feeling sleepy. Though I would advise you against it as paying attention inside the class would eventually pay you rich dividends at the end of the semester. That ways you would have to study less after college. Actually, it saves a lot of time, which will be a precious commodity during the entire course. Active class participation, however boringly nerdish it may sound will certainly help you in the long run. There are about 40-50 people in a class. You’ll tend to open-up and learn much more when you are proactive. Its an underrated technique to simultaneously hone your soft-skills as well as your hard-skills.

10:15 – 10:30 AM

Your first mid-morning break. Smell the coffee and gear-up for an impending group presentation on marketing management. At ICFAI (my alma mater), the class constitution remained uniform during the first year of the course. So there was quite a bit of familiarity amongst us. Which led to a certain level of comfort. So presentations were relatively easy unlike surprise quizzes and tests, which induced goosebumps every time they cropped up. The main reason for the anxiety was that they directly and majorly contributed to our semester GPAs, which in-turn was the basis for good placements.

10:30 – 11:45 AMGDPI Sessions

Around 4-5 group presentations can be accommodated per session. After every presentation, a brainstorming question-hour ensues. The audience (read adversaries) raise distressing queries on the subject matter to which logical replies are expected with infallible spontaneity. Whether you crack under pressure or not entirely depends on how prepared and CONFIDENT you are. And remember you are being attentively watched and marked by your examiner. It creates a more stressful situation and tests your limits to the core.

11:45 – 1:00 PM

Right after a mentally exhausting and seemingly interminable session, a much dreaded surprise quiz on Financial Accounting suddenly pops up. You’re in a soup and more so in case you belong to a non-commerce background. Somehow, you eventually get used to this recurring feeling of impending doom. India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was once asked in an interview about how he deals with the combined pressure of being a wicket-keeper, captain and finisher of the game. He replied, “It’s like having 100 kgs put over you. After that even if you put a mountain, it will not make a difference.”

During the course, especially during the first two semesters, your predicament will be somewhat similar. But amusingly every time you experience it, it makes you stronger than before. I can say that now with the benefit of hindsight. Every single episode in which I personally endured tremendous pressure subsequently transformed me into a different person.

IBS MBA Students

1:00 – 1:05 PM

Time for a short recess. Have a cup of hot tea and pull your socks for the next joyride. One unique feature about an MBA course is the excitement derived from its inherent unpredictability. You actually don’t know whats in store for you next. As a result, the assortment of quandary mysteriously adds to the already existing thrill-factor and the fear of the unknown. Now, get set for the next escapade.

1:05 – 2:20 PM

Usually, Human Resource and Soft Skills classes are conducted alternately in most B-Schools. Considered extremely productive for the long-term, a Soft Skill session can be equally invigorating and de-stressing depending on how you use it. Moreover, proactive participation and whole-hearted involvement will do a lot of good to your GPA as well. In addition to hard-skills, soft-skills (however underrated they may be), will always be an exceptionally high-yielding asset to you after even 5/10 years down the line.

You’ll have loads of role-plays, inspirational pep-talks, mock-interviews, mock GDs etc. which will help you come out of your comfort zone, open-up and articulate more effectively. After all these years, I still think that if you are able to communicate well with your colleagues, then the chances for a vertical growth of your both your professional and personal pursuits will increase manifold. Very valuable and a scarcely found asset indeed!

2:20 – 3:00 PM

Lunch break. You’ll find the college canteen flooded with bustling students to have a quick bite and then invest the spare time preparing for the next class/test/quiz or whatever.

3:00 – 4:15

Usually the longest and the most agonizing session of the day as its just after lunch but is of the same intensity. Experienced professors are always on the look-out of bone-tired students catnapping under cover. So beware! The only way out is through. Brutal – isn’t it?


An Operations/IT class is generally scheduled during this time of the day. Both of them are considered comparatively undemanding and less harsh on you. Even for people from non-engineering background. So relax as you can take it easy for a while.

5:30 – 7:00 PM – 12:00 AM

The last class ends at 5:30 PM but this is not the end of the day. You have to attend several pre-arranged meetings with your respective groups as a pre-preparation exercise for various presentations/assignments which are due for the following day. By 7:00 PM, you wind up, go back to your PG/Home. Listen to your favorite music. Relax your nerves for a while and re-energize yourself. Do your homework and complete pending assignments. Finally, get ready for the next day’s battle after getting at least a 6-hours sleep!

Contributed by Pranshu Awasthi ( Class of 2007, IBS GURGAON )

Grades aren’t everything in a B-School


ibs bannerI want you to recall the penultimate interview scene of the film ‘3 Idiots’? Remember how incredibly the protagonist cracks the interview with his fearless attitude & soul-stirring honesty despite his consistently declining grades. Branding it as suspension of disbelief in the name of cinematic liberty might be an obvious old-school standpoint. For others like me and hopefully you, there is a more rational alternative reasoning to it. Mull it over or read further!

Ask any old-hand MBA about the importance of grades. He’ll most likely advise that once you are out in the real world, its not so much as your GPA that counts as your white-collar disposition and business acumen. I am not trying to suggest that you should skip classes or that your degree is vain. In fact, I advise you do the exact opposite. Confused? Let me paraphrase.

A typical MBA curriculum comprises presentations, assignments, quizzes, tests etc. And all these fetch you grades. But there are other more important things like industry clubs, student associations, networking etc. They don’t directly contribute to grades but will surely enhance your people-skills, which are undoubtedly vital post-MBA.

A professor once told me that a B-School education is as much about what happens outside the classroom as inside it. You have to manage the trade-off between these inside and outside activities. Inevitably, your grades will suffer. I know intentionally sacrificing grades is not an easy habit to break. Especially for academic high achievers. But you have to look at the bigger  picture. Temporarily, neglect all old-school opinions of your well-wishers.

I reiterate that not studying is not what I mean by the above statement. On the contrary, study hard. Be thoroughly involved. Vigorously interact with you batch-mates. Bounce off questions to the professors. Challenge pre-conceived theoretical notions. Try to gain a practical understanding of the subjects to avoid the highly unproductive last-minute cramming sessions.

I’ll give you an interesting example. When I was in 10th grade, I distinctly remember a class-mate who asked a peculiar question to our science teacher. “How can anything be burned without the presence of oxygen?”, he queried. It was a recurrent statement in the science text-book. The entire class including me was flabbergasted by the astounding simplicity of the question. Even the teacher took her own sweet time to gather her senses.

I was unwittingly introduced to the concept of ‘Out of the box’ thinking. This ingenious catchphrase a.k.a Christopher Columbus’s Egg Puzzle is widely used by Management Consultants globally. Its a quiz where you have to link 9 dots using four straight lines without lifting your pen and without retracing the same line. Try it in case you haven’t. Its a dare. I’ve drawn it for you below. (Hint: Think beyond the box)

During the two years in a B-School, you’ll literally be coerced to deploy lateral thinking and think unconventionally from a fresh perspective. I am re-educating you with these worldly-wise philosophies for a damn good reason. Professional and even scholastic success is a function of several factors and your grade is just a single data-point. Unless you score exceptionally high or abysmally low, your CGPA will just be an arbitrary number post-MBA.

And even if you are a Five-Point-Someone (please disregard any correlation with Chetan Bhagat), be honest and own up to the grades during your placement interview. Never forget that your prospective employer wants to hire intellectually curious, well-rounded people who culturally fit within the organization. As a matter of fact, it’s been proved at a multi-national B-School called INSEAD that there is a negative correlation between high grades and high salaries. Need I say more?

Some MBAs argue that B-School students should take their grades seriously because of the cut-throat competition during placements. More particularly for students applying for Investment Banks and Consulting firms.The very same self-proclaimed Executive Coaches fall flat & go astray when you ask them: “Do good grades guarantee success on the job?”

I recall an unintentionally funny incident concerning one of my MBA batchmates. Unlike me, he was quite good with textbooks and grades. However he struggled a lot while getting a job. If I remember correctly, he was finally selected by some company in his (hold your breath…..) 21st interview (I suppose they have set a threshold limit now). He got it at a substandard CTC.


My friend’s experience compelled me (and hopefully him) to juxtapose two scenarios: (a) A bookworm topper who slogs for 2 years to get good grades and (b) A well-rounded average-scoring student who gives a crack-shot at the final interview and secures a hefty package. Which one would you chose?

Bill Gates once said “I studied everything but never topped….but today the toppers of the best Universities are my employees.” It implies that a stellar student may be a mediocre employee and vice versa. So learn enough in a B-School to make you ‘savvy’. But not a ‘nerd’. Anyway, as a manager or entrepreneur you can always hire lots of nerds (with good grades) to do specific tasks for you. Just don’t fall into that trap yourself.

I am aware that its very convenient to preach while sitting at home. Genuinely following an eccentric advice is the hard part. It requires both trust and courage on the part of the reader. Just contemplate whether cramming the four P’s of Marketing or flawlessly drawing the BCG Growth-Share Matrix would necessarily benefit you in the corporate world. Unfortunately, things don’t happen in the marketplace the way they do in the textbooks.

Because the real world will often surprise you by throwing new variables at you. Be prepared to tackle the disturbances created on your pre-existing theoretical notions. In order to achieve that, first you would have to overcome the orthodox and outdated Socratic way of critical thinking/learning. Discover and adopt more modern ways of assimilating useful knowledge.

Grades are overrated, bigtime! So don’t give too much importance to them. Moreover an MBA student is graded in two phases: (a) Classroom projects, where you are judged on your assignments, presentations, quizzes & soft-skills and (b) Semester Exams where you have to score in traditionally structured written exams. Its noteworthy that Phase (b) judges you at a single point of time unlike Phase (a), where you are judged over a period of time.

Both the components have an equal weightage for the purpose of student evaluation. I strongly believe that the assessment should rely 80% on the former as the appraisal analysis is spread over some period of time. Following this approach would positively make the grading process more transparent and sensible. Unwittingly, it will also benefit MBA students who religiously follow our current grading system.

Takeaway: Grades, according to me, are synonymous with a pat on the back for your good work. That’s why you crave them. Whether they reflect your actual performance to the corporate world outside of your B-School remains a matter of concern. 5 years into your job and they’ll hardly matter to anyone. Including you. Change that traditional frame-of-mind before entering a B-School. You’ll learn to enjoy and enjoy to learn much more!

Contributed by Pranshu Awasthi ( Class of 2007, IBS GURGAON )