Ahmedabad: The play of light and shadow at Ahmedabad’s Indian Institute of Management, designed by well-known architect Loius Kahn, is not the only thing that inspires awe.
Students graduating from this business school are another thing altogether. Armed with a curious mix of market savvy, charm and loads of confidence, they each seem to carry a price tag under their collar. Before on-campus recruitment is over, the graduates in the 2007-batch would have been wooed and feted by top companies in India and abroad with high salaries and diverse work profiles in locations from Hong Kong to Mumbai, New York to London.
During the process, they will sit across the table with CEOs, take emotional intelligence tests and engage in group discussions—sometimes several times in a single day.
“Imagine sitting across from the CEO of a $9 billion company and fielding questions,” says Rahul Gangal, who recruits for Tata Administrative Services (TAS), the strategising arm for all Tata companies. TAS is hiring at IIM-A on Day 0, as the first rounds are known, and will fly in two or three top managers to interview candidates.
The placement process itself is unique. Students vote for companies which are invited to campus to recruit. Indian investment banking firm Edelweiss is one of the handful of domestic recruiters invited for the first day of placements. Swaran Sehgal, vice-president for human resources at the company, said summer interns invited the firm.
Such connections form the infamous IIM-A network that reaches and endures across decades.
The placement process is run on a fuzzy logic basis as interviews can sometimes stretch for up to five hours. Student volunteers work round the clock to oil the giant machine with food, refreshments and sometimes solace for stressed-out peers.
The savoir-faire hides deep bonds shared in dormitories. Graduates from the current batch of IIM-A, even those landing the most sought-after jobs, subdue their enthusiasm till all batch mates have been placed. Bursts of laughter and the sound of music are the only indications that the graduates are letting their hair down after days of organization and preparation.
Academic workloads before placements can be stressful, especially in first year, where students stay up nights to submit assignments and form study groups to help out each other. Tina Sekharan even got special T-shirts made for her group. Sekharan hails from Kerala and will head for an overseas job once placements are over.
Of her IIM-A days, she says, “These bonds are special. They can last a lifetime.”