As a school kid in Allahabad, Arpit Jaiswal had a dream. A dream to pursue higher studies after graduation, become an entrepreneur and give something back to the society. And that is exactly what this 24-year-old IIM-Ahmedabad student is set to do.
In between Allahabad and Ahmedabad, Stanford University, University of California, San Diego and the Texas A&M University beckoned. He had a chance to get admission into any of these three US universities after he scored "a modest 1440" in his Graduate Record Examination, GRE. But this electrical and electronics engineer from Birla Institute of Technology, Pilani, decided to stay back in India.
Arpit believes that to achieve success in life having a managerial certificate could prove decisive rather than just being a techie. And so he appeared for CAT in 2008 and scored a 99.2 percentile that got him calls from all seven IIMs!
This led to a problem of plenty for him but after much deliberation he zeroed in on IIM-A because of its "Harvard Business School-like approach" of teaching management.
Though Arpit is not sure what business he will start after completing his postgraduate diploma from IIM-A, one thing he is sure of is whatever he he does, he will try and change the lives of people around him.
"At a place like IIM-A where the government as well as the institute is spending so much on, you it becomes your duty to return something back to society," says Jaisal. Here are excerpts from an interview with Prasanna D Zore:
About yourself: Basically I am from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. I did my schooling and college there at St Joseph's college. After graduation I joined BITS, Pilani to study electrical and electronics engineering.
Your GRE score: My GRE score was a bit modest at 1440. I applied to five different colleges in the US and got admission in three of them -- Stanford University, University of California, San Diego and Texas A&M University. I could have done my MS from any of these colleges and PhD from Stanford University.
From engineering to management: The main reason was that I wanted to change my stream. Though I was interested in engineering and even worked for a technology firm for about a year, I learnt that you have to be well versed with managerial concepts as well if you want to advance further. This is because the scope in a managerial line is better than in a technical line.
Since I got admission into IIM-A, which helped me satisfy my ambition, it made no sense to go to Stanford and pursue an MS or PhD.
CAT score: I scored 99.2 percentile in CAT 2008. I got calls from all the IIMs, which I converted, into admissions.
CAT strategy and tips: The first thing is that CAT is very unpredictable. However, if you take your mock CATs seriously and score good in them then it becomes a bit easy to approach the main event. You can ebtter your performance by giving as many mock tests as possible. This also helps you improve your weak areas.
First job: I was working with a European company ST Microelectronics where I designed chips. I was a design engineer. It was more of learning than achievement-oriented work. It helped because it is always better to have some work experience before you join a management institute.
From ST Microelectronics to IIM-A: After working for some time I found the work I was doing was very monotonous. I was not able to focus on my work because I always wanted to pursue higher studies. I was not able to deliver 100 percent in my job. I decided to quit after two years.
Why IIM-A? It is always difficult to choose between IIM-A, IIM-B and IIM-C.
The first thing that helped me settle for IIM-A was its brand name. The second reason was IIM-A employs more of case study-based methods. IIM-A follows the approach of Harvard Business School where you have to study on your own and discuss the subject when you go to your classroom.
This approach helps a manager take decisions quickly based on a given number of constraints in front of her/him.
What next? After completing my diploma (the IIMs don't give a degree; they give a post graduate diploma in management) at IIM-A I will go for my own start up along with a few friends. Or I may join a start up business. When you are young you want to achieve something on your own. You also want to bring a change in the lives of many people around you.
At a place like IIM-A where the government as well as the institute is spending so much on you it becomes your duty to return something back to society.