A few years ago in an interview to India today, the head of Facebook India, Kirthiga Reddy said, “…when you decide something is important, it is amazing how nature conspires to make things happen for you. The message here is to create your own choices. To not accept the tyranny of the ‘or’ but embrace the power of the ‘and’.” She was speaking about work life balance, the choices being – being a mom and being the career focused woman.
That statement has stuck with me ever since and I have far broadened the context every time I have thought about it. Every single day in our lives is about choices. From being the kid on the first bench and asking all the stupid and intelligent questions or sitting on the last bench looking out of the window building castles in the air, from accepting what mother says or being the sully faced rebel, from eating that ice cream or listening to your jeans that says, “Eat a salad, woman!” to choosing a career for yourself or letting someone else make that choice for you – life is all about making choices, and most times we don’t realize we are making them. In a bschool, choices just become too conspicuous.
When you get into a bschool, you find yourself in the middle of all kinds of people. Those, who have been trying hard for 3 years, those who already know they want to go into finance or consult and have been studying all kinds of finance things for ages, those who know tons of things and people, those who are trying to figure out between paths A and B, and those, who have absolutely no clue about what they want to do.
This environment will confuse, cheer, scare, encourage, motivate, discourage, annoy or inspire different people to different extents. But what it definitely does to everyone is – it makes them aware of the choices they have. This doesn’t mean a career choice – whether to go to finance or marketing or consulting or operations. This is something bigger. The choice of people versus work. The choice of the proportion of working or relaxing. The choice of ways you deal with people. The choice you make about ways to deal with pressure. The kind of choices that help you find your passion, with likeminded people or the lack of them. The kind of choices that last for life. And you learn to make them, here, in these two years at this Bschool.
Most people outside the walls of a Bschool may not be able to see what is behind those swanky suits or why do some people succeed phenomenally or some fail miserably. It is these building years and the simple choices that make all the difference. Alumni from the institute often tell us, “The two years we spent at Joka were the best two years of their lives”. A year here, and I have only started to feel that once I leave here, I am going to say these very lines to my juniors.
One thing that every student, teacher, anybody at Joka will tell you, proudly, is, “We at IIM Calcutta treat our students as adults.” – and you cannot understand that statement unless you are here at Joka. They treat us as adults in the sense that they give us this platform to exercise all these choices, to make our own mistakes and learn from them.
So you can sit on the last bench and ask the stupid questions, you can listen to your mother and explain to her why you’re a rebel, you can eat that icecream and burn those calories off. You can do anything in the world, even if like everybody else you chose to become an engineer.
At IIM Calcutta, I have started to learnhow life can change with the power of the ‘and’.
IIM Calcutta Batch of 2016
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