Phase 1 (DAY 1):
“The real test starts when you come here”
Going crazy and cracking the CAT wasn’t enough that we got to hear this almost on a daily basis.
Now, we knew that the MBA journey would be hard thanks to endless stories posted on various social media and online learning platforms, but intimidation on a daily basis was just an annoying exercise. Nevertheless we took it for we had no other option.
We were fresh off our preparations and have had a good cool down before this ‘long test’ to commence. Though there were slight tremors of jitters, our enthusiasm has covered it for all.
We had enough practice on the ‘net’. We had our gear – our business suits. We had our kit – our CVs and books, and we were padded up to face the bouncers of the faculties, commentators, tractors and detractors, peers, and obviously the senior batch students.
I remember, some of us were flamboyant. Coming from the upper echelons and already having tasted success in the fields of Accountancy, Architecture, Medicine, Literature and the all-time favourite Entrepreneurship, they were out to hook and pull every question that would be thrown to them. While many of us cowed down to the scathing pace of arguments, the potential captains took their stance to blast and win.
But it was no T20, it was a two year long test. The test that polishes a talent to be a success story. And all those who flirted with the skittish pace, were either retired hurt or were out for a duck.
We were relentlessly exposed to the exacting sessions of CV building, club interactions, committee inductions, faculty exercises that none of us got really any time to settle down and check our shots, our actions. One after the other, the pace just got build up and the most extravagant were forced to stop. The coaches shouted their instructions, the guidelines were provided on EBSCO and Gartner, the guest faculties gave their own tips and the mainstay seniors kept upping their game. A true testing time.
The best of the CVs were deemed incomplete and now there was this uphill task to get the right CV done. Certifications, Live Projects, Courses, and so many other requirements started to loom over our head ominously.
Plus the other opportunities to participate and assume the captaincy also started to do rounds. The elections would be up soon, and to be a part of the starting XI, one has to pass all the ‘Yo-yo’ tests.
And then there was the sacrosanct rigor of the academia that was about to cause more spasms. Deadlines, assignments, readings, presentations sapped out whatever energy we were left with after the regular operational exercises.
The raw pace and the enormous swing with the ball of this new start moved, and all under this sun of enormous pressure to survive, soon started to take a toll. We were wailing, the running between the wickets became all too slow. But then the run rate had to be ticking. We had to find the loose ones and steal the moments to strengthen our profiles.
The glory doesn’t lie in one-two shots but persistence. It is about latching onto the opportunities galore that lie in front. This test at IIM Amritsar was conducted, organized, scored and ticked by the entrepreneurial and the enterprising students of the workhorses. And after successfully competing and taking things with our own hands, all the while dealing carefully, made us learn that it is going to be a tough test. But an enlightening and rather promising one. For the future and the rest of our innings, figuratively and literally, lie in our hands.
Phase 2 (Day 2):
After a first tough session, the pitch seemed to ease up a little. The ball was still swinging but our eyes were set. Whether it were the beamers of unexpected sessions or the yorkers of sudden deadlines, we managed to keep our wicket intact. In general, the runs started to come easy.
But then the pitch still had some grass and the session still had some quirks. There were no inductions but now we had a responsibility to carry the entire innings, all by ourselves. The coaches (seniors) were occupied for their own bigger battle – the final placements, and soon various selection committees from various lustrous franchises would be bidding for us for the summers.
The resulting pressure was unreal. For the first time the warnings of the first session actually started to make some sense. There were conclaves lined up, and we had the entire onus to carry it on our shoulders. Plus, as a junior batch of ‘talent’, we had to initiate some campaigns of our own. The goal sheet was designed and our performance would be evaluated on the terms of how we perform. There were milestones set for us. The HR Conclave – Yukti, COE Entrepreneurial Summit, Ted Talk, Finance and Marketing Conclave – Pariprekshya, Operations and Strategy Conclave – Sankshetra and so many other events were lined up. Like every session ended only for a tougher session to get started. There was no respite. But as I already wrote, we were more seasoned.
Now, the spinners also started to sprawl the web. There were case analysis and the daily assignments which required us to go to the field. And there were opportunities for the overseas conditions too – as different B Schools started to introduce their management events in full swing. And the upcoming tests were doing no good to ease off the pressure.
Competing was tough but then the sense of autonomy to carry out our own game with a responsibility to carry the innings helped us score. The pool of primary coaching staff – a large pool of in house faculties, gave us enough paraphernalia to get our own game. They did help us improve our tactics and the understanding of the game.
And months of grit, coaching from the senior staff, the healthy competition and the ever so tough competition helped us to slowly come close to our century. We respected the good deliveries and bashed the occasional loose ones comfortably past the boundaries. After all, we were always active on and off field.
Phase 3 (Day 3):
The pitch started to slow down. Or perhaps we were now used to the pace. The ball stopped troubling us. Things started to settle as all of us are picked for one or the other reputed franchise (companies). The added pressure on our future is over. We could now work on our natural game.
Over the course of the entire three days, there was a lot of guidance, in terms of student driven courses, meetings, activities and the best – knowledge sharing sessions. And whenever the coaches were too occupied, we formed a huddle of our own. These huddles (informal sessions, where people from different cultures, different backgrounds, different ethnicity, different ideologies, different philosophies, and different skills met) helped us learn a lot from and about each other. It was then we understood why Team India, despite having world class players who needed no tip to improve their game, form a huddle before every session. Collaboration is a powerful tool.
There were assignments and the research reports. There were guest lectures and the oddly timed classes. But we managed to get over everything and score off at a healthy rate. A lot of the success was attributed to our partners at the non-strikers end. He/she would always come down to tell us which bowls to leave, which ends to focus and what shots to play. He/she would also run hard and prod us to run even harder for the smallest of the events. Together, we were piling up runs. The monster scores with triple hundreds against our name just started to seem a possibility.
And then we started to close on Aarunya – The cultural, sports and management festival of IIM Amritsar. We were told that this would be a tricky part of the game. This was more like a powerplay of the One Day Internationals, or a spell with the notorious partnership breakers in Tests. You would have a great deal of opportunity to quickly score but at the same time, overenthusiasm could cost your wicket or at least your motivation.
There was just so much going into Aarunya. Being the first of its kind among all the newest IIMs, there was a great sense of pride and greater quantum of responsibility to build it stronger and carry the legacy. We spent a lot of time on nets just preparing for this one patch and we were sure that we would definitely leverage out of this golden goose.
And when the change happened and the opportunity came, we did hit the ball out of the park. Competing with a new set of talent was always challenging. But the vim of playing in our own yard and being swayed by the home support, we managed to up the game. Everyone contributed. From the committees, to the management, to the administration, everyone contributed to the common cause. And no matter the result, we felt we were the winners. And by the way, we have easily scored our centuries and now were cruising towards a precocious double.
Phase 4 (Day 4):
It was a tough start. We had to bid farewell to the most wonderful coaches, trainers, motivators. Surely, it was a tough call to bat alone with no support. But we didn’t stop.
The pitch was almost flat and the batters were given a little window to experiment. We were the senior players now. More responsibility than ever. Our innings have made us more mature and more reliable.
We started to enhance our skills. We practiced at different places, on different terrains. The summer break started to come handy. The practice on a more workable, and a tougher pitch had made our grit more tenacious. The training started to show its impact. We were on the leadership boards everywhere. The records were shattering and the portals were all over covered with our names.
During the slightest of the breaks, we reflected on our performances. We have come a long way from what we were before the ‘test’. We conducted ourselves with grace. We didn’t crumble but scored under pressure. We were better negotiators. We were better players.
It was only a matter of time that we were now assigned the roles of the mentors and coaches. We were closing on our innings and the fresh lot was ready to take our and accelerate the innings. The onus of providing a platform was all upon us.
We welcomed the new lot, helped them with the equipment but at the same time exposed them to different beamers, yorkers and bouncers to help them survive. As expected, there were a few splashy stroke-makers, but we were able to tone everyone down. And at the same time, we helped the young blokes get out of the jitters and be ready to face the dancing new ball.
At the same time, interacting with the young blokes helped us refresh our skills which became a little jaded after playing for so long under the scorching sun. People from different backgrounds coming together made a perfect mix for us to share and glean more knowledge. While the new guys learned about the finesse of judging the ball, we also were induced to go fearlessly after the loose ones.
The platform was set though the roles were reversed. But we were content for the run rate would never flag when these new guys would take the control of the game in their hands. And in this relatively easy session, we could now concentrate on hitting our triple hundreds to be finally placed in the team (company) we want.
Final Phase (Day 5):
The pitch has become flat. The opposition bowlers are exhausted. There were a few good deliveries here and there but for most of the part, it was drab. We eventually reached to our triple tons and continued to cruise smoothly.
The only thing of our concern was the selection in our dream team (final placements). Looking at the exemplary record of 100% placements, we were at peace and we still had to make our way to better the team’s total from the last time.
With every passing moment, the nervousness kept piquing. We sometimes lost our cool and wildly swung our bats. We survived for the balls lost its edge, else there was no way we could have stayed alive.
A dropped catch and an opportunity missed to convert the first company was the firm reminder to get our basics right. We stopped and proceeded with caution. The balls were loopy, asking them to be hit. But we kept our head and placed them in the gaps without lofting.
The runs started to come easy again and though the patterns of session 2 – the various conclaves and the other installment of Aarunya started to make their presence felt, we steadily balanced our defense with offense.
It was one loose delivery which we punched to the covers to reach to the covetous 350 mark. And there on the stands, we got to know that we were shortlisted for one of the bigger teams. We went during the drinks break, gave all we had in the interview and finally bag in the offer. Oh yes! We were placed. We were handsomely placed. 100% placement, every time.
Only a few overs were left and then the proceeding will be over. We became ruthless again in our shots. We were quickly climbing the scoreboard. The records were waiting to be shattered.
It was the last over and the proceedings were almost over. The umpires were checking the lights. Standing there, we knew that we have won the contest. We have come out as the winners of this two years long test. We have improved in almost every department. We had the tools to lead any team in the future.
And as far as the careers were concerned, our futures were secured. We had made to one of the biggest teams. Having played for so long had definitely zonked out our bodies and minds. But the place, the magical place where it all started have prepped us to dream big. We were at 394. We couldn’t miss out now.
The first few balls completely flummoxed us. The variations in pace, lengths and the wild swings didn’t help the cause. We started to panic. But then we have learnt a lot from this place. This wasn’t the first time we faced the pressure. We just had to recollect ourselves.
And when we opened our eyes, there was this dangerous loopy slower ball all ready to deceive us. This was one of the deliveries that could fleece the best of the batsmen. But we were different that very moment. We stepped out and gently lofted it over the mid-on. It wasn’t a powerful strike and there was a fielder set to catch it. But as it had been the trend with the IIM Amritsar, the fortune favored the brave as the ball sailed over the ropes and we reached our quadruple century.
This has truly been the test of the ages. We started off as a little nervous, a little swanky group with a lot of potential. But the challenges faced helped us to shape our personalities to be the captain. Yes, people say that leaders are born. But even those leaders need a platform to exercise their skills.
IIM Amritsar has provided us with ample opportunities to shape our lives and become the updated and upgraded versions of ourselves. Where the academic rigor helped us to be the master of the art, the organic structure in an entrepreneurial set up helped us to take initiatives and be original. The IIM Brand has always come handy when it came to opportunities for the Summer and the Final Placements, which have been 100%, it was the diversity in minds and the desire to learn and grow that helped us to step out of our comfort shell and grow. Being a part of the institute, we were continuously a part of multiple events like Ted Talk, Conclaves, Sports meets, Aarunya etc. as both the participants and the organizers. Here at IIM Amritsar, we felt the onus of the responsibility and it was this pressure that turned us into a shiny, lustrous diamond.
We are sure that two years in any premier B school and especially an IIM would be worthwhile in shaping our thinking and making us ready to lead the pack. And that we were able to experience that same transformation has been one of the most pleasant changes in our life.
And in the end, as we stand here with our heads high and souls lifted, we see ourselves richer, smarter and a better individual. For it is the place that made an I, a We.