Mumbai: This city has many names. Bombay. Mumbai. Financial capital. Corporate hub. Employment mecca.
Ken D’ Souza. First-year student at the National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai. He was impressed with the school’s lush green environs when he first walked in the gates two months ago. What followed was a stimulating journey comprising a campus tour given by seniors, a street marketing extravaganza, initiation into committees, parties, and more...
And, yet, it also houses Asia’s largest slum. It is the most congested city in the world. Here, fresh air is a thing of the past. I am a Mumbaikar myself, so I should know.
But the National Institute of Industrial Engineering, or NITIE, in Mumbai tells a different story. Nestled amid 40 acres of lush green, perched atop a hill and flanked by the Vihar and Powai lakes, NITIE encompasses all that is good about the city. This was my first and lasting impression as soon as I walked through those gates more than two months ago on a Friday—it was 19 June—my first day at management school.
And it was a memorable one, too.
We were first made to go through the formalities of document verification, submitting copies of marksheets and photographs. We were then given sets of stationery and told to report for lectures on Monday.
Next on the list was the allocation of hostel rooms. This was something new to me, as I had never stayed away from home. And I wouldn’t have, had it not been mandatory. The rule seemed absurd at the time, but in the next few days I would know how wrong I was.
I met my roommate—a real decent chap—had a look at my room (my home for the next year, at least), which was Wi-Fi connected; plus, it had a fantastic view. My initial anxiety of moving into a hostel faded away. It would soon be replaced by the enthusiasm and open-mindedness worthy of a regular management student.
The seniors—phenomenal guys that they are—had our weekend schedule down pat. We were just settling down, adjusting to our new environment, when we were summoned “for briefing”. After a quick round of introductions, we were split into teams.
Starting Friday through Sunday, we had several team events lined up, ranging from exciting treasure hunts to interesting quizzes to downright demanding case studies and market analyses (yes, before classes started). Those three action-packed days taught us, among other things, lifelong lessons such as: How to make one day seem like a week. How to sleep at 2am and be up at 7am and still feel like you own the day. How to get to know more people meaningfully in three days than you did in half a year at engineering college.
We also got a leisurely tour of the campus: Professional badminton courts, a club room for indoor games, gymnasium, state-of-the-art auditorium and the library which houses a whopping 140,000-strong collection of books, subscriptions to 14 newspapers and more than 200 magazines and journals.
The highly prized computer centre at NITIE was also on the tour map. Fitted with the latest enterprise resource planning software (which run businesses) as well as SAP, it is one of the most well-equipped centres for supplier chain management information technology.
This experience proved to be the ideal trailer for the blockbuster to arrive. It was an eye-opener for us engineering graduates as to what to expect in the couple of years to come, and possibly in our management careers ahead.
We reported fresh and eager at 9am on Monday for our first management lecture. From the word go, it was one stimulating lecture that set the pace for life at NITIE. Addressed by not one but two professors, we were first introduced to management as a concept.
After a couple of interesting examples, in walked an alumnus—now an entrepreneur—who, after a crisp introduction, briskly explained the need/importance of entrepreneurship, particularly in India.
He, along with the professors, then proposed the idea of setting up a business having students as shareholders. At NITIE, we were told, it was mandatory for each and every student to be part of at least one enterprise. What followed were hands raised, shares quoted and names jotted down. The alumnus then put in an amount equal to the cumulative of our contributions.
Campus diary: Some NITIE students and faculty members. The school offers facilities such as professional badminton courts, a club room for indoor games, a library housing more than 140,000 books and one of the most well-equipped computer centres for supplier chain management IT. Ashesh Shah / Mint
The legal and logistics teams were then formed. Option purchases would be taken up in next class. Ninety minutes had elapsed before we knew it. Practical teaching is definitely the most preferred over here. And this was just one instance.
Another instance was Mandi, a Mumbai-wide street marketing extravaganza, the brainchild of T. Prasad, a professor at NITIE. The programme, now two years old, was held on 1 August this year, and is a one-of-its-kind initiative wherein, through collaboration with a non-profit called Navnirmiti, NITIE students take to the streets selling the toys manufactured by the non-governmental organization (NGO) in the open market. Navnirmiti is devoted to uplifting underprivileged children. The toys it produces are innovatively designed and extensively researched math learning tools that have proven results on children with a learning disability.
At Mandi, I formed a group with three of my friends. We toured areas such as Dadar, Bandra and Juhu. We sold toys in cafés, on the streets, and even on the famous Mumbai local trains.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience, again making plain to us the thin line separating theory and practice.
Committee selections was another major event.
The selection procedure consisted of a written application followed by two rounds of probing interviews. Each committee (there are nine in all) had its own panel, with interviews extending late into the night.
I was selected to the media relations committee (and since you are reading these words, you know I got right to work spreading the NITIE message). We all had our share of fun then, with each committee throwing a party for its new joinees.
So far, it has been a great journey for me and a wonderful learning experience. I know there is more to come...and I am ready for it.