Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Ajay Antony, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Ajay Antony

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Jack of few trades: aerospace, tech, and sports. Master of hard work and resilience.”

Hometown: Kochi, Kerala, India

Fun Fact About Yourself:. I actually did study rocket science and I want to make flying cars a reality.

Undergraduate School and Major: Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Aerospace Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Airbus Helicopters France, Work Package Manager

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of IIM Ahmedabad’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I went into the application process knowing that I was only going to apply to top schools in India. That’s because I believe that the value of an MBA is primarily based on the quality of the institution, professors, and (more importantly) its students. I believe a 1-year MBA made more sense for a professional with over 8 years of international experience such as myself. The opportunity cost of a 2-year MBA also seemed way too high to warrant consideration.

Ultimately, I had to decide between the top 3 business schools in India. It was a good problem to have and I am very grateful to have been in that position. Choosing was difficult though. It really came down to the people and the culture and I went with IIM Ahmedabad because I connected much better with its alumni. All of them stressed on IIMA’s capability to produce talents who change the business world for good – and it strongly resonated with my own purpose. IIM Ahmedabad is one of the most prestigious organizations in India with a long list of alumni who are highly revered across the globe and being counted in this list was in itself a moment of pride.

What has been your favorite course or extracurricular activity at IIM Ahmedabad? What has been the most important lesson that you have learned from it?  As an engineer, I was quite used to having a straight-forward, optimal solution for most problems that I encountered. IIMA’s case-based learnings really pushed me out of my comfort zone and one-dimensional thinking. The method focuses on tackling open ended problems with no clear solution. You have a 10-member diverse team attacking the problem from different angles. Solution identification was done through an iterative process, where we repeatedly came up with multiple solutions and then everyone took turns to poke holes in each of them. At each step, we pushed ourselves to come up with the best version of our solution possible within the constraints. This really stretched my mind and drove home an important lesson: it is not enough to have just a solution, but one should be able to communicate it well and build consensus within the team in order to be an effective leader.

Outside of academics, IIMA offers a variety of sports and cultural activities all around the year. The facilities at IIMA have definitely helped me shed the excess kilos I gained during the lockdowns amid the pandemic. The general knowledge quizzes and cultural events under the starry sky of Ahmedabad have given me fun moments to cherish.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: It would be hard to choose one because I think all past events have been meaningful and acted as a stepping stone for bigger success. When I reflect upon my career. it is very difficult to imagine reaching here were it not for the confidence I gained from past success and the lessons I absorbed from past failures.  That said, I consider myself very privileged to have worked amongst some of the best people and sharpest minds spread across different cultures and continents across the world. The culturally immersive interactions and experiences with them has radically changed my perspectives and redefined my thinking. It is something I treasure the most even though it does not fall under the conventional interpretation of the word accomplishment.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: During the VUCA period of the pandemic, many of my seniors and alums had provided us with some much-needed clarity. It was a privilege that we wanted to extend to future aspirants and, at the same time, give back to societies ravaged by pandemic. I was absolutely amazed at how the students from my cohort, as well as alums, rallied around this cause and established the Pay-It-Forward mentorship. This pro-bono initiative gave admissions and preparatory guidance to MBA aspirants in exchange for a purely voluntary donation to a charity or cause of their choice. Although we did not have any target in mind, our expectations were fairly modest. I beam with pride at having contributed to this cause that helped over 500 MBA aspirants and several non-profits tackle social challenges across the country.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? The pandemic has given each of us plenty of time to reflect, assess ourselves, and identify what is essential to each of us. For me, this period invigorated a renewed sense of purpose. I understood that I would like to be closer to my family in India and that I want to contribute to society meaningfully by increasing my sphere of influence and impact. The trends in technology, the sharing economy, and sustainable behaviours have instilled a new hope in me that a transition to a sustainable future is possible through greener mobility solutions. Given my background, I believe the best utilization of my skills would be to try to bring about this shift at scale in India, notably by accelerating electrification and the adoption of drones. I believe that better integration of this emerging technology into existing broader Indian infrastructure landscape will be vital for developing smart and sustainable mobility systems in the immediate future. I see MBA as the one stop solution In the near term, I would like to work in program management role who spearheads the efforts to build a viable urban air mobility system, for example.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into IIM Ahmedabad? IIMA is the best B-school in the country with an enviable selection rate. There are over thousands of MBA aspirants from India, and you are competing with the best minds to get a spot to spend your time in these hallowed halls of learning. The path to admission is hard. Hence, I cannot insist enough on being mentally prepared for the grueling challenge. Acing the GMAT is an absolute must and I would highly recommend doing as many mock interviews as possible until you feel confident. That way, you are prepared for the extempore, being aware of the current affairs helps. I was regularly reading The Economist and leading dailies and it is a habit I am trying to continue.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.