IIM Culture: Alumni Reveal What Makes It a Breeding Ground for Industry Bigwigs
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While walking down the lush green lanes inside the IIM Bengaluru campus, one is awestruck by the scenic ambience and tranquillity of the space. I had to continuously remind myself that these are corridors that have honed and witnessed the growth of the finest entrepreneurial talent in the country for more than four decades.
While attending an event at IIMB, I asked a student as to whether she wanted to become an entrepreneur.
She said, "I am not sure if I want to, because that's what people typically expect from an IIM graduate. However, I'm sure many of my friends have already decided to take that career path!" My conversation with this student further intrigued me as to why students are so keen on joining the start-up ecosystem post their course at any one of these 20 colleges.
Focus on entrepreneurial topics
Guhesh Ramanathan, CEO and Cofounder of Excubator, says, "When I graduated from IIM Bangalore, in
1988, there really wasn't any talk of entrepreneurship. Of the total batch of over a 100, just two went on to start their own businesses just after graduating. Yet in five years, at least 10 more had joined the entrepreneurship bandwagon. I think this happened for two reasons: one, all of us had a very, very strong grounding in almost all aspects of running a business (marketing, finance, sales, accounting, operations); and two, five years at a large company was more than enough for us to get the experience and the savings needed to get started.
Today, the subjects taught at IIMB focus on entrepreneurial topics too, which is another advantage. And yes, the ecosystem too has changed (a far more open investment climate) and this is driving many students to become entrepreneurs after they notch up a few years of experience in a large company." Guhesh has also held several important posts at The Nadathur S. Raghavan Center for Entrepreneurial Learning, which was set up in March 2002, to synergise with IIMB's focus on entrepreneurial studies.
Good appreciation of management and nonengineering disciplines
Ganesh Krishnan, Founder of GrowthStory, who backs several entrepreneurs today, says, "For me IIMC, has been instrumental in giving a good appreciation of management and nonengineering disciplines. In a short span of 20 months, you get to understand all functions involved in running an organisation albeit theoretically. In those
days, prior to internet and accessibility to information, the case studies, visiting faculty and practitioner interaction gave me confidence about running multi-disciplinary functions."
Rigorous academic schedule
Anup Viswanathan, Venture Principal at Venture Factory, who is an IIMB alumni says, "IIMs put you through a rigorous schedule of academic and co-curricular activities with world-class professors and brilliant, hard working classmates - all of which prepare you for an entrepreneurial career. Also, on the positive side, being a graduate from a Top School provides one a safety net to fall back on if an individual's start-up does not pan out as planned. On the flip side, at a psychological level, it gets difficult for an entrepreneur to struggle and persevere
(especially during the tough days) when they notice their peers in cushy jobs. The bottomline, however, is that the individual's innate resilience and ability to persevere has to be strong and is probably made stronger due to
the training they receive at IIMs."
Perspective to the practical functioning of things
Prakash Rengarajan, Co-Founder and CEO, HelloClass, is an alumni and today hires suitable candidates for his company. "The IIMs give a whole new perspective to the practical functioning of things. The course
equips you to understand how capitalism and businesses work which is very difficult to get if you are not from a business family. Everything from macro-economics, microeconomics to business finance to marketing
and HR is taught here, which gives a great perspective and a solid foundation. IIMs also do not force you into a particular specialisation like marketing, finance, HR or IT, which then gives the freedom to students to take whatever electives that they are interested in. Having this kind of general management expertise is very important.
(The article was first published in the January 2017 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine)