Today, an MBA degree is a gateway to great opportunities - from a cushy corporate job to interest from venture capitalists in a new venture. It gives you an opportunity to test the waters in areas of your interest, equips you with an understanding of the management nuances required to excel in the corporate environment and even helps while going for a potential career shift. But what often gets discounted is the global microcosm that a B-school network
often becomes. An amalgamation of students from across the years is like a live social network that serves as a melting pot of experiences, ideas and opinions.
When you step into an alumni reunion, you are the closest to shutting out the cutthroat competitive world outside and entering a unique 'brother/sisterhood of superiority' that awards you a shared badge serving as an invisible bond. I had similar feelings when I recently attended Solstice - the annual alumni reunion at ISB and saw students from across a decade come together to celebrate. At a reunion like this, open in front of you is an extensive network of professionals who have gone through the same rigours of an MBA programme
. They shared your journey and your dreams and joined the corporate treadmill before you did. Before you know it, the mere commonality of an alma mater becomes your ticket to a dream job, a chance meeting at a party becomes a mentorship session or your inspirational senior becomes your next boss. It is not just a congregation of students past and present but a unification of dreams and aspirations. You could be sharing a drink with your future boss, shaking a leg with a potential investor or sharing life stories with your future entrepreneurial partner.
You are faced with a complex business problem. You are planning to expand to the United Arab Emirates but are unsure about how much to invest initially. Research and unending email trails give you the data but not the desired conviction. On your computer screen pops up an invite for a B-school
reunion. You decide to go and make this your much needed break. You cannot foresee the impromptu gyaan session that you will receive from a senior with a decade of experience in the same market. You could not have planned for the sense of direction you suddenly get from a fellow alumnus. That's the power of the B-school network.
You have had enough of your private equity job. Your bank balance is high but satisfaction is low. You are slowly making up your mind to jump in with both feet, take up the task of bringing alive your long cherished dream of opening an online content trading platform. But it's a risky proposition. You have the financial acumen and confidence to pull it off but not the creativity to differentiate it. As part of your in-transition break, you plan to catch up with old friends at your MBA school reunion. You meet a former classmate and current advertising veteran who are toying with a similar idea. You go in with a problem and you return with a potential partner. That's the power of a b-school network.
You feel a twinge of nostalgia as you revisit the hallowed environs of your school. Memories come rushing back as you walk in the hallways that were once home to your ups and downs. Isn't this the same canteen where you had promised your group of friends to remain friends forever? Isn't this the same notice board you glanced at - with fear and anticipation - for the list of companies coming for placements? Isn't it the same room where you landed your first job? Years have gone by and you have climbed the corporate ladder steadily. In comes your friend you lost touch with years ago. He is married now and worried about his daughter's internship. As you give him a hug, you tell him, consider the internship done. He is happy and you are young again. That's the power of a B-school network.
(The author is an alumnus of the Indian School of Business, Class of 2004 and currently General Manager - Sales & Customer Development, Hindustan Unilever Ltd.