Message from the Director to incoming PGP students

Message from the Director to incoming PGP students

Prof. Janat Shah, Director of IIM Udaipur, recently sent the following message to the incoming PGP students. You can read it below.

Dear incoming students,

In a few weeks you will be arriving to start your journey as IIMU’s class of 2020. This is therefore an opportune time for reflection. What does IIMU as an institute expect of you, our students? What do you expect of us? More importantly, what do you expect of yourselves?

One basic expectation is at the heart of all we do – IIMU aspires to take its place as a management institute of global quality. We already offer our students an accomplished faculty who bring the highest academic standards to the classroom. We expect our students to bring the same level of commitment and to never settle for anything less than being fully prepared and fully engaged. But this is just a point of departure, a foundation for growth and change.

There are three main pillars of life on campus – academics, the broader skills you acquire through involvement in clubs and committees, and preparation for your careers. All of these must be seen in the context of our underlying objective, as enunciated in our mission: to provide a transformational learning experience. Transformation is a broad concept that is not neatly definable; it is not one single thing but encompasses a host of related attributes. The MBA experience per se is definitely transformational and full of personal and professional growth for students. Indeed every graduate will leave as a different and more able person. But can we aim for a higher level of transformation? In order to try to make the concept less amorphous let me describe some of the ways we hope students will be changed by their time at IIMU.

We hope our graduates will see management as much more than a way to achieve material success. We want them to look at management as an honorable vocation, a path to creating a positive impact on society. We hope our graduates will be adept at going beyond the obvious, diving below the surface, considering projects and problems from different perspectives, questioning assumptions, constantly broadening their world view. We want graduates who bring a sense of passion and curiosity not just to the workplace but to their approach to life as a whole. We want graduates who have a strong moral compass, not just because they are worried about the consequences of their actions but because their innate self-respect demands nothing less.

The last point is especially important given the reality that we live in such an imperfect world where corruption often seems like the norm. One need only consider the recent cheating scandal in the Australian cricket team or the Nirav Modi scandal with the Punjab National Bank or a multitude of cheating, doping and financial scandals at the IOC and Formula One – in such a world, should we expect our students to care about mundane matters such as plagiarism, cheating and punctuality? My answer is an absolute, resounding and unqualified “yes” – in such a world it is even more important that our MBA graduates, who are the nation’s and the world’s future leaders, be role models of rectitude in everything they do. This must be part of transformation if the word is to have any real meaning.

I also want to make clear that while you should not consider IIMU simply as a road to placement we recognize that strong placement results are important to you. But they are not an end in themselves and we look at placement as just one outcome of your academic, extra-curricular and transformational journey.

Our challenge and responsibility at IIMU is to ignite your minds and expand your boundaries. I am reminded of an anecdote recounted by Sumantra Ghoshal, one of the most esteemed management academics India has ever produced. He contrasted the sweltering heat and humidity that sucked up all his energy on his visits back home to his family with the forest of Fontainebleau near INSEAD where he used to work, where the crispness in the air made him want to run and jump. He used these metaphors to describe how many companies have created the heat of summer inside their offices and the result is an environment that stifles the people who work there. The question Ghoshal asks is how to create the Fontainebleau forest inside companies — to encourage an atmosphere of stretch rather than constraint. One could well ask how we can do the same thing in IIMs and that certainly is our objective at IIM Udaipur.

I hope all of you will reflect on these ideas and on the questions I have raised. We want you to make the best use of the opportunities and experiences that IIMU provides. We at the Institute will support you in every way we can but ultimately the ownership of your IIMU journey rests with each one of you. The sky’s the limit and we will find many ways in the coming weeks and months to continue this discussion.

Welcome to 'U'!

Janat Shah