Vaibhav Kher who is currently pursuing PGDM from S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR) in Manufacturing & Operations Management. He is graduated from VJTI specialized in Electronics Engineering. He has worked in Siemens India for almost 3 years before getting into S P Jain. He has learned German for 4 years upto advanced level.
Can you share a little bit about your experience in SPJIMR?
The experience in SPJIMR has so far been quite enriching. Due to the relatively smaller batch size, I know almost everyone in the batch. The level & quality of peer-learning has been of a very high caliber thanks to the selection process of SPJIMR which emphasizes not just on academic performance but on well-rounded profile as well. The socially inclined courses such as DOCC and Abhyudaya have been influential in sensitizing me towards the underprivileged and the ADMAP course has taught me to go beyond the “thinking” aspect of the management education into the “doing” aspect of administration. As a part of Research & Publications committee under ADMAP, we were able to pioneer the 1st student research journal of SPJIMR. All in all, it has been a great going till now.
Can you tell me how SP Jain is different from other B-schools ?
Broadly speaking, SPJIMR is distinguished by 2 main aspects.
- Selection process
- Inclusion of socially oriented and administration-oriented courses in the curriculum.
The selection process relies not just on the academics but the profiles as well. An extraordinary performance in any co-curricular or extra-curricular activity is given its due importance. The form itself relies on questions concerning challenges faced in life and so on.
Thus selection of well-rounded students is the first point of differentiation for SPJIMR. The second is various non-academic courses. In DOCC i.e. Development of Corporate Citizenship, we undertake a 6 week-long internship with an NGO wherein we apply our business learning to the strategic and operational problems of the NGO. We travel to the rural areas and stay there for the entire duration of the internship as we work on our projects. This kind of exposure is unique to SPJIMR.
The Abhyudaya course teaches us to be good mentors, which is what we would be expected to do as we move up in our careers. We mentor a child from secondary school (Std 7-10), who would be selected based on his academic performance, economic condition etc. We call them Sitaras. This year long journey with our Sitaras helps both of us learn from each other.
And finally the ADMAP course puts us into committees which work for the common good of the batch in their own capacities. Through this course we actually put into implementation our management learning. The “doing” and “getting the work done” aspects of administration are best learnt through ADMAP.
What are your short term and long term goals?
In the short term I would seek to work in the management function of a distinguished corporate, making my contribution to the organization and the industry in general.
In the long term I look forward to head a business unit / operating company which can make difference to communities and people at large, particularly the localities and local communities by way of employment, quality of life, environmental protection etc.
You were topper all the way from Engineering to MBA, did you feel any pressure anytime to maintain that level?
I would not say “the topper”. I was one of the toppers. Well, I didn’t feel any pressure. I studied not for marks or rank, but for knowledge. The rest followed. In fact, except for the Diploma Engg., I have never “topped” any course in the truest sense i.e. by securing 1st rank. But I have always managed to shape my career well by timely decisions and planning, for example my decision to learn German played a key role in my placement with Siemens and thus subsequent admission into SPJIMR.
Thus, I feel that it is the meticulous planning and decisions that impact your career and not marks as long as they are consistent and decent enough.
What is your biggest takeaway from SP Jain?
The biggest takeaway from SPJIMR is that business is an enabler and not an end in itself. In other words, business, profits etc. are enabler for a better quality of life for the stakeholders, communities, environment etc. While one applies management principles to maximize the success of the business, one must keep in mind the fact that it is only an enabler to attain greater goals of industry development, national development, community development and environment development.
Did your MBA provide you with any skill apart from bookish knowledge which helped you to perform any part of your internship or any project efficiently or effortlessly?
As I have mentioned earlier, the course on ADMAP exposed us to the “doing” aspect of management. It is the people-handling skills and operational skills like planning, execution etc. which lead to the success of a project. These skills can be learnt with greater efficacy through actual work and not through books. Moreover courses like DOCC & Abhyudaya exposed us to the social aspects of management which helped us appreciate the impact of management action and business on the society at large.
Which type of student shines in the B-school like SP Jain?
I don’t think that the success of an individual depends on the organization. If one is talented, one will shine anywhere. However the cultural match between the organization and the student may impact the relation in general. In SPJIMR, for example, the emphasis is on combining western efficiency with eastern ethos i.e. application of modern management practices and at the same time high regard to ethics in business and social & environmental responsibility. Thus students with broader objectives i.e. beyond mere placements are more likely to find SPJIMR their home and the selection process ensures that this happens.
Any challenges you faced during 1 and half year of rigor which defined your career path?
My career path is yet to be defined. Nevertheless the key challenge for me has been to acquire people-handling skills. And courses such as ADMAP, People & Performance (HR) have been of great help to that effect. Most people overlook the “soft skills” aspect, but it is these skills that come in handy as one climbs the organizational ladder.
Can you throw some light on the facts about what you would like to change in SP Jain which will help other students to grow and evolve more rapidly?
I don’t think this lies within my purview. And even if it did, I personally am of the opinion that SPJIMR is already pioneering an innovative pedagogy with inclusion of administration & socially oriented courses like ADMAP, DOCC & Abhyudaya. And there has been a great deal of international recognition for SPJIMR’s programme structure.
What do you think, the main reason students want to get associated with SP Jain? Is it fame, better job prospects, better quality of education or alumni network or anything else? What was your reason?
There are many reasons for students to opt for SP and each student may attach varying level of importance to different reasons. There have been many instances of students preferring SP over “Non top-3 IIM’s”. Some of the key reasons are merit-based selection process (i.e. no reservation of any kind whatsoever which ensures that only the deserving get through), relatively smaller batch size, consistent “Top-10 ranking” for around 30 years, innovative program structure, good placements, and the location advantage. For me too, it was all these reasons combined.
While working on the job & simultaneously preparing for CAT, how did you manage your time?
Basically I kept a disciplined schedule. I never bunked any classes for CAT preparation. I attended each and every mock-CAT. You are right that handling both job and CAT preparation is not an easy task. I started revision or self-study only 2 months prior to CAT. Till that time, I kept on attending every class. Thus paying attention in class is very important as it cuts your self-study time in half if you do it sincerely. I didn’t take any leaves from the job for preparation. Thus, to sum it up, I would say that regular preparation and diligently writing the mock-CATs with a little bit of last minute effort should be good enough.
What are your curricular & extra-curricular achievements?
I am passionate about German. I have studied German for 4 years at the Mumbai university right up to the advanced levels. I have even taught German at a language coaching institute and also in SPJIMR to my own batch-mates and seniors (batch of 2010-2012).
How do you feel about professors, infrastructure & colleagues? Any noteworthy thing you would like to mention ?
SPJIMR is one of the premier B-Schools in India and thus it is not surprising that the faculty and colleagues are of extremely high caliber. Being in Mumbai does impose some infrastructural constraints such as the size of the campus, but nothing that really matters. We have a tie-up with Andheri sports complex for the use of their facilities at discounted rate; we have Wi-Fi in the campus. The location of the campus more than compensates for its relatively smaller size.
What did you expect from SP Jain when you joined it? Did your expectations (Academics, infrastructure, faculty, extra-curricular) meet? If not what things you want to change to benefit students more?
My expectation from SPJIMR was to have a favorable environment for learning, conceptual as well as practical; and that has happened. The diversity that the batch brings has been a wonderful asset which has helped a great deal towards collective learning. I was also able to pursue my interest – German – by teaching German to interested colleagues and even seniors in a proper classroom environment, and also by getting the opportunity to interact with foreign exchange students from Germany. All in all, it has been a great experience.
SP Jain generally prefers students with a work experience, what is your take on it? What is your opinion?
I don’t think that’s entirely true. As you may know, in SPJIMR we are asked to select our specialization right at the time of filling the admission forms. Clearly there is a reason behind this and the reason is your career goals and profile.
Historically Operations Management and Information Management are the only specializations which have not had any freshers. Finance & Marketing specializations on the other hand are quite open to freshers.
If there is one piece of advice that you would give to MBA aspirants “if you remember nothing else remember this”.
Don’t take random decisions. Plan you career carefully. Every small decision counts.
For example, my decision to not pursue GRE, CAT in my engineering years when the whole lot was doing so and instead investing time in German, has really defined my career. Also the decision to pursue diploma in engineering rather than going for HSC (12th Std.), shaped my career.
All these were planned moves, and not random ones.
So don’t be a drifter. Plan your career. Take the road less traveled and have confidence in your decisions.
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