Student Speak

Of the Muse and Musings
by Sonali Kumar (FMS '05)

To most of us, the phrase 'business school' conjures up an image - a vision (usually accompanied by envy) of people who are going to start their professional careers with some of the largest brand names that exist today (or for that matter, have ever existed), and commensurately, pay packets that are usually the stuff dreams are made of. And for the most part, that image is not very far off the mark - there are also courses, of finance and marketing, of HR and IT and Operations and what-have-you, there is the usual overabundance of classes, case presentations, assignments, internships, projects ad infinitum, that usually leave very little time to breathe, and there are also guest lectures, industry interactions, the ubiquitous 'b-school fests' and the ever important 'placement season' that complete this picture.

So to offer a course, even one as eclectic (and often esoteric) as management education, is not necessarily all that difficult - there are enough institutions, business schools and otherwise, across the vast geography of this country that are doing so quite adequately. But, to be able to keep people awake nights before case presentations, not because they have forgotten deadlines or had other things to think about, but because they are neck deep in analysis, applying frameworks and models but more often than not, modifying them with homegrown, proudly self developed versions, because they are relentlessly teasing out, tweaking and perfecting solutions - to be able to breathe life into a case study, that is the true hallmark of a great institution. To be able to re-construct the dilemmas that face business firms, ranging from the mundane to those that define its strategic intent and can alter its own course, and, with an ever-widening ripple effect, that of the stakeholders whose fortunes are intermeshed with its own, with a degree of involvement that usually comes to those with a personal stake, but with a level of detachment that enables one to see the larger picture - that is the essence of learning. And to be able to do this, to whet this desire to question and learn, to give wings to this spirit of inquisitiveness in the larger context of an educational system that fosters rote learning, is not a challenge met easily. And this, at FMS, is not seen as the 'new' way of looking at things - it is the only way of looking at things.

To give individuals opportunity, and the ability to recognize and the power to leverage the potential of that opportunity, that is what makes the difference. And this is why, to those of us that have traversed its corridors and peopled its classrooms daily, charted courses in its library, trod its stone stairways in the relentless pursuit of goals and had the privilege of learning from its faculty, to people whose dreams begin and constantly take shape here - to all those who make up its student community - past and present, FMS has an abstract connect - at an emotional level, and at an intellectual level. And this is why, to those of us that have experienced its vibrant energy, its questioning, challenging, and achieving spirit, this institution represents the amalgam of a thought process, an attitude, and a belief manifested in a distinct way of life.

And that is also why, each year, alumni events are such a huge success. Because individuals who are thought leaders in their own right come back to inspire future leaders, and to take inspiration once again from people at an institution that has taught them not what to think and which model to automatically apply, but how to think and analyse, to create dynamic solutions that are always relevant to the metrics of their time.