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What you REALLY learn at the IIMs

Last updated on: October 1, 2012 09:00 IST

Rohit Salaria is the cheeky fictional protagonist of IIM C alumnus Mayank Jain's Stop Me If You Can who learnt some rare skills during his two years at IIM-C. He offers a tongue-in-cheek account of the prized skills he's earned and those that have stood him in good stead. Read an excerpt from his book here.

I am sharing with you a list of very, very special skills that I acquired at IIM-C. Mind you, you owe it to my generous nature that you are made privy to some super confidential learnings at IIMs. Read on!

Competitive spirit of the extreme kind

Causal: Everything around

The Skill: You have to be the fastest and/or the smartest at all times.

For example, to the average being, the scene of an exam being held at an IIM would be the pinnacle of competition. Really? Not at all. The trained eye will tell you that it is only the final skirmish. The battles had begun long ago.

From the time the professor announced that there would be 65 per cent weightage to group projects -- it boiled down to that very moment when all 100 sets of hands in the room fished for their life-saving gadget -- the mobile -- and without wasting a moment texted the most efficient resource (highly subjective) to be a part of their group.

The most efficient resources, because they are really gifted and because their inboxes are flooded with requests simply accept the offer from the fastest fingers. 65 per cent done. And dusted. Phew.

And then when the stakes are really, really high you have to get down to the basics. Like when your dream firm, Storgan Monley, which promises to open the floodgates of money (not necessarily happiness) in your life, is on campus for recruitments, and you see this super intelligent guy who is all dressed up, and on his way to the interview, you stick your leg out and trip him over. Just do it. Simple. He is shaken and disoriented.

You proceed for your interview with an added air of confidence knowing that the strongest competitor is out of contention, crack the interview left, right and center. And get the job of your dreams. Aha!

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

What you REALLY learn at the IIMs

Image: You learn to speak at the drop of a hat, literally

Impromptu Speaking

Causal: Final Group presentation being evaluated by the professor and external industry interface together – and you have no clue of what the presentation is all about, because you have essentially been a visiting member of your group (remember you cleverly selected the 'most efficient resource' in your group, so you were never really needed). And they suddenly ask you a question. From nowhere.

The Skill: The ability to dole out a set of sentences suffused with MBA-jargons which are good enough to keep the professor/external industry interface at bay, yet make no sense at all.

Example, you have just been asked, "Salaria, what is your take on the project model that your team has proposed?"

You simply reply, "Sir, we're going to collaborate across different levels; most importantly, we're going to have a prosperous time winning with clients and generating prosperous financial performance. Organizational structure that we have proposed will help us leverage a culture of market-altering customer focus. This kind of focus towards delivering excellence was missing in the market."

Mouths will open. Jaws will drop. More importantly, you will be left alone.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

What you REALLY learn at the IIMs

Image: Mental Sleep: Where the brain is in the switched off mode and the face retains the most intrigued expressions

Mental Sleep

Causal: When the professor is showering the class with his pearls of wisdom and you know you are already enlightened and that you need no more jewels in your collection.

The Skill: You learn how to put yourself into a state called mental sleep where the brain is in the switched off mode and the face retains the most intrigued expressions with intermittent contortions of the facial muscles which depict interest/curiosity in the subject being taught. 

When you will be required to be present in a series of lectures every damn day of the week, and every damn week of the month, your body will evolve in line with Darwin's theory of evolution to produce such magnificent results that you will startle yourself. Believe me.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

What you REALLY learn at the IIMs

Image: Inhuman levels of comfort with numbers

Inhuman levels of comfort with numbers

Causal: Thousands of excel rows with numbers and numbers. And irksome National Mathematics Olympiad champions who thrive in such an environment.

The Skill: How to look confident in front of such a deluge of numbers and act as if they were your life-support system (you could appropriately make it look more believable with drool dripping out from the corner of your mouth. Caution: The 'dripping drool' part requires a lot of practice and newbies should not directly attempt it, else they risk looking insanely stupid in front of their peers); while in reality you could be loathing the very thought of anything to do with mathematics; barfing at the thought of numbers.

The peer pressure and the need to justify your presence in the elite group of IIM students will teach you how to do that. Need I say more?

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

These were only a few of my lessons at IIM C. In reality, you learn something everyday. I will be more than happy to share my two cents with you.  You can write back to my friend Mayank –

Tags: IIM , REALLY , Mayank