Thursday, July 19, 2012

2 Day Orientation at the SMS, University of Hyderabad

I really like the kind of work that the School of Management Studies at the University of Hyderabad does to give its students all kinds of exposure. I have been associated with the institution for the past three years and have taught there as a guest lecturer, a course of Enterprise Building and several growth labs or my 'Champion's Mindset' workshops. Most times Prof. Jyothi and Prof. Venakatramana, the Dean, would have me intervene after the students have put in some work in the course already - say by the end of the first or second semester. But this time we tried something different - we had a 2 day orientation on the 17th and the 18th for the freshers - one day old.

I was pretty excited with the opportunity because it gives me fresh minds to work with. Six months down the line they would have formed habits that would have been tough to influence. But at this juncture it was a fine opportunity for me to work with them. It also meant that I needed to rework my workshop and make it simpler and easier and try out a few things for the first time. I was a bit apprehensive as it was the first time I would try this model and more so, because it was so important to get it right for the freshers who would carry these impressions with them as they go forward.

Broadly the workshop went in this fashion. After an introduction about me and my career post my MBA, I asked the youngsters to write down their expectations from the course. It was an interesting response that ranged from 'recognition' to 'social status' to 'good friends' but also several managerial traits such as decision making, leadership, knowledge, better position etc. When I divided the list of 40 attributes and ticked out the ones that they would learn in the classroom and the ones they would learn outside it, turned out that they would learn about 70% of the learning outside the classroom! A comparison with the IIMs was inevitable and I gave them a glimpse into the work that the IIMs put in and how these youngsters could easily put in the same - and some more - and catch up with their illustrious counterparts in those elite colleges in a few years.     

It was important to lay the common starting block for everyone irrespective of caste, creed, language and background - and 'Mindset' by Carol Dweck served me well as I told the students about the Fixed and Growth Mindsets and how they will always do better by adopting a learning and effort based mindset and not the fixed one. The concept of hard work and effort, of setting high standards, was probably best driven by the gist of this wonderful book. Thanks Carol, your book is serving me extremely well!

A small exercise on the attributes they have (they listed out several, and very well too - strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, attitude, interests, capabilities, aims, habits) and we decided that the starting pint was the strengths. We found out a bit about their strengths, some from their friends and some from themselves, and how it was best used. I told them that all champions put 90% effort on their strengths and 10% on their weaknesses (improvement of).

An interesting exercise which I always like is the one where the participants compile their lifestory through their achievements, strengths, qualifications, skills, passions and try to derive opportunities that lay ahead for them. We tried to arrive at a few career options for them based on a couple of their stories. We did the inevitable exercise on their goals - starting from post MBA to 20 years down the line at intervals of 5 years each and that probably provided some with some clarity. Some were quite clear and some did start thinking about how to align their goals and their lives to what they want. We worked on how goals are achieved by design and how they could do the same with their goals too.

The importance of preparation was stressed and how one must use the two main resources that one has - time and energy - well to get the edge in these two years. We constructed the Ideal MBA and his attributes and there were several of course. From among them we picked the absolute basic stuff that the Manager needs to have and how they would do better to have thorough subject knowledge, specialist knowledge, some practical application of it, communication skills, leadership skills, team skills, analytical and decision making skills, people and public speaking skills if they could develop them. Along with them other traits such as being dependable, hard working, having a sense of responsibility and so on were also discussed. Their job now, was to prepare to fill the gap between the ideal MBA and themselves in the next two years!

One last session on how businesses work and how the youngsters would fit in as professionals was rather well received. One does not really know anything about the corporate world until we see it in all clarity and I hope they did understand it in the correct perspective. I urged them to study the 2 year course from the eyes of an entrepreneur - because that would help them understand it and. When you think of everything from the perspective of money and return and efficiency it becomes much easier to understand! I also asked them to apply what they learned in real life by taking up some small enterprise- business or even running a cause - so it would help in honing their skills.

They gave me some feedback - and some glowing compliments - which I will cherish. I did find them smart and clear headed bunch and one that impressed me with their no frills approach. A high percentage were pretty focussed. It was nice to meet my old team mate from MCC, young Nagender, studying MBA in this fine institution and among the participants. I am really keen to see how they perform and hope and pray that they do justice to their potential. I am pretty bullish on them and this experiment by Prof. Jyothi. Good luck young managers and we shall hopefully meet again soon.


Rajendra said...

Good to hear. We tried some new things at both IMT Ghaziabad and
Nagpur this year. In the orientation program, and we see some positive results.

Harimohan said...

Raja, I have a good feeling about this program. A follow up session once every six months or a year could keep them on track. But getting a chance to interact so early was something I wanted to do for a long time. Hoping for some good things to happen in the short and long term.

Achyut Menon said...

Hats off to you Harimohan-and the Professors.It is indeed a marvel of an idea to set expectations-right upfront..on making the most of an MBA!

And coming from you-a true model-of 'following one's heart' -be it as a cricketer, investment banker, author, students couldnt have had a better guide.

I particularly liked your advice/concept of 'thinking as an entrepreneur' and focussing on the ROI-and imbibe most by 'running a business' to get the best feel.

In the knowledge economy that we are presently part of..every one is a CEO of his own career..and that better way of getting one's fundas right!!


sai raghu said...

Thank u sir,
we all will surely try 2 meet ur expectations....

c u soon fr ur reviews on our work...!!!


Heloo Sir,
I am Yogith Anand, one of the guys who witnessed your two days session at SMS-HCU.
I would firstly thank Jyothi madam and our management in installing this session which really was an eye opener to look ourselves deeply into our lives before starting a new life.
I can clearly say that the exercises which you have shown will definitely fill the gaps in the chart of my life.
Thank you Sir.....

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing ur experiences ........sir

Harimohan said...

Thanks Achyut, Your words are always encouraging and assure me that I am on the right path. And coming from someone like you who has been in the HR business for so many years, its a wonderful compliment - one that I will always wear with pride. Thanks for being there.

Harimohan said...

Dear Sai Raghu,
You certainly will meet your expectations. Once you lay them down and are clear about it, you have already committed to it. My best wishes for you and I am sure you will do a great job of whatever you decide to do. Remember, it is all about effort.

Harimohan said...

Thanks Yogith Anand. Be aware of the gaps and fulfill them, step by step, bit by bit, until they are all done by the end of your two years. Use your two resources - time and energy well in these two years.

Harimohan said...

Dear Nagender, Thanks so much my young friend. I would love to see you play for Central University. Cricket will teach you much about management too. I know. Also be clear that you are all on the same starting line - its the effort in the right direction that counts in the end. Keep in touch.