Ati Alok Kumar
“A chef in an MBA classroom. Enjoys writing poems and essays. A passionate animal lover.”
Hometown: Samastipur, Bihar
Fun Fact About Yourself: I know the names of every dog and cat on campus earning me the nickname of “Mowgli” by friends!
Undergraduate School and Major: Institute of Hotel Management, Pusa, New Delhi; B.Sc. in Hospitality and Hotel Administration
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Taj Palace, an IHCL Hotel, Chef De Partie
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? Nurturing impactful leaders for the various organisations within the Indian ecosystem is the credo of IIMA. From public servants to CEOs of giant conglomerates, the institution has been a driving force behind developing leaders that not only look at profits on a balance sheet, but also contribute to marginalized sections of the society. Also, this is a community that provides a safe space for respectful dissent no matter who the person is and something that distinguishes IIMA from many other business schools. I have always believed in voicing out my opinions with due consideration and this liberty to express even uncomfortable opinions is what made the institute so important to me.
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? My favourite extracurricular activity at the school is the engagement with Soul Curry Club. It is a student club and fosters dialogues over everything in the universe and beyond our routine lives. As secretary of the club, it brings me immense pleasure to get together my otherwise geeky classmates for philosophical debates. The importance of shutting off screens for an hour every week to nurture the soul with good old human bonding is by far my most important learning at the club.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I was leading a part of the team at Taj Palace that catered to the visiting President of the United States back in February 2020. The pressure to manage even the most minute task to achieve culinary perfection is by far the most outstanding achievement in my career. The expectations were high and the image of both the brand and that of the nation were at stake. To be able to successfully lead the team to deliver upon the same was indeed something I accomplished. The Taj Palace team was applauded by the Office of the President and the Indian Prime Minister for the impeccable experience.
Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: As an MBA student, my influence over peers in the hospitality sector and subsequent realization of new arenas for them is my most notable accomplishment. An otherwise underpaid and overworked workforce, hospitality professionals bring an unparalleled sense of customer centricity to an organization. Since the time people have known about my journey to IIMA, many aspirants have connected with me over various platforms seeking more information regarding career prospects beyond their comfort zones. Being that source of inspiration is a humbling achievement for me as an MBA student.
What is your class’s favorite hangout away from school? Why do you gather there? Away from class, the class hangs out at Campus Café, a food and beverage joint run by a kind gentleman by the name of Bhavesh Bhai. His name has given the food joint a moniker – BB’s. People gather there to get some respite from the sweltering Ahmedabad heat and to gather courage for next day’s readings. The place is surrounded by tall trees and creepers and cute dogs that provide the much-needed dose of serotonin. Bhavesh Bhai is another element that ties people to Campus Café. He’s that (teetotaler) bartender that stressed and anxious adults need after a dire day of webinars, quizzes and study group meets.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? The idea of pursuing an MBA came when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and I was rethinking my career. Hospitality had been hit the worst and I was strategizing as to the way forward to stay relevant not only in hospitality, but in sectors beyond that. Unlearning, upskilling and relearning were the answers that came before me. An MBA provided the most optimal solution to achieve these goals. As far as post-graduation plans are concerned, I am keen on looking at general management and policy-based roles in the public or private sector. However, most importantly I am keeping my options open as coming here has shown me that there is still many worlds waiting to be explored.
What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into IIM Ahmedabad? To potential applicants, I would like to say that due diligence is an underrated skill and that they must do it thoroughly to be absolutely certain that an MBA is what will help them achieve the goals they have set for themselves. It is also imperative that candidates retain their originality and their essence in this entire journey. Every story is unique and the world wants to know it, so just go out there and say it!