This post, taken from Oct '07 PGSEM Newsletter, has been written by Srinivas himself.
Srinivas B Vijayaraghavan
PGSEM Batch: 2004
Before PGSEM: AIX Product Support Engineer (IBM India)
After PGSEM: Business Development and Marketing Manager for the automotive business unit in IBM India.
The one question that haunts most of us at PGSEM during and after the course is, "what returns am I getting from this program?" I have been no exception in terms of asking myself and others this. I believe it is an essential question which all of us should ask continually and also should answer.
My simple answer to that is "You make it happen for yourself and don't expect anything to come to you automatically". This has been a hard truth to digest. We in the program always compare ourselves to other programs in the campus that have campus placements and end up feeling that we don’t have that opportunity.
My belief always has been that, the first step in any process of change is acceptance of present reality. So, just accept this principle as your guiding principle. "What I get from this program, is what I make for myself. I am not going to get anything on a platter. What I will get is a top notch education from a top notch institute".
Once I accepted it, the next question I asked to myself was "Now, how do I go about making something happen for myself". I did the most natural thing for anyone to do. That was to ask my seniors. I got two sets of view points. One was to focus on the program, learning the concepts, participate in it fully and as far as application is concerned, look at the present role and see how you can apply concepts learnt to that role. The second view point was that while the first view point holds some merit, fact is that you might apply maybe 10-15% of your learning in a role where your business skills are not your primary/core skill. So, look for a change, while you are learning so that you find a platform to apply most of it. Providence had it that at the time I was reading Paulo Coelho's "Alchemist" which is a book about following your heart, because it already knows what your mind can’t fathom. So, that’s what I did.
I eventually chose the second view point. I had a mentor in my senior, good friend and colleague, Piyush Shrivastava, who had made a change from working on OS/2 in the IBM labs to being sales manager for Websphere Pervasive across the country. We used to interact a lot and I started my journey to move from AIX Product Support Engineer to something else. I knew that if I had to make it clean and bloodless, I had to tell my management. That I did and I was quite clear and consistent on that.
My first application was for the position of Marketing Manager for Websphere. The interviewer asked me to explain my background. When all he heard was C, Unix and hexadecimal, the interview turned into a counseling session on the path I needed to take to make it to that role, which as per the individual was presales->sales->marketing. I was disappointed but I kept trying. One thing which I used to do a lot was to look at our intranet listings (blue pages as we call it) at the org charts, role mapping and just cold-mail people. Some mails were like I want to get into this particular role, can you give me a chance.
Some were, I want to build a career in this field, tell me what I should do. At all times I used to mention that I was studying in IIMB. And I thing I always noted was that, people gave you the time. That is the power of the IIMB brand. Whether something comes out of it or not, one can’t say, but they will surely hear you out.
I tried my hand at chasing/creating opportunities in marketing, sales, operations, finance, and technology-presales. Those were trying times indeed. Lots of self doubt when you don’t make it or when you know the person is giving you advice and not the role. I have traveled across the city to be in offices for meetings which might not have had the desired outcomes, making up for lost time at work at night.
It was a 6 month exercise and finally I landed an opportunity in the business development group of the services division. I remember when I took up that role, I had to convince my 3rd level manager who was the director of the lab to release me and that I was following my heart. But, I had my apprehensions on doing the new role and the course at the same time. I was not prepared to miss out on classes in case there was a clash between a client visit and Friday. So, I shared the entire schedule for the year with my manager-to-be and discussed this with him. Credit to him and my new team, that they helped me in this aspect, to complete my
course. And in that team, I got great exposure to meet and interact with C-level execs from Fortune 500 companies across 16 industries. It was an awesome learning experience, more like a finishing school.
Post that, I went on to become a business development and marketing manager for the automotive business unit in IBM India. It has been a rewarding journey so far. And yes, I am applying a lot of what I have learnt to my work and getting closer to doing what I love doing. As Steve Jobs said, "You can only do great work if you love what you do. If you have not found it yet, keep looking".
So, this has been my short but eventful journey during and after PGSEM. What I would tell you as current and past students of this program is to see how you can make a difference. If you can make that difference in your current role, great. If not, and you want to apply what you have learnt, or quite simply, if your heart is in doing something else, then put in the effort to make the change. And always remember that you are from IIMB. No matter what program you do, you are putting in your sweat to learn, just as much as anyone is. Keep that in mind and you will do just fine.
You know, we all measure this program in different ways. Some would measure it on current salary as compared to salary before the program, or current designation as compared to past. My measurement is purely on the kind of person that I was 3 years ago and the person I am today. Vastly different! I am using that as a platform to try and make a difference.
My memories of my stint in IIMB are those moments of truth in classrooms when you understand something, the walks in the campus, quiet times browsing through tomes in the library, sitting on a stone slab, sipping tea and contemplating. Swami Vivekananda says that "The education that we need is man-making education". I
can say that my 3 years in IIMB have made me a better man. And I am fortunate that I am a part of this family.
Therefore, “Arise, Awake and rest not till the goal has been reached"