Meet IIM Bangalore’s EPGP Class Of 2023

It has become a cliché to call Bangalore the “Silicon Valley of India” – or even Asia. Still, it is impossible to deny similarities.

India’s startup and tech hub, Bangalore – or Bengaluru – boasts a $110 billion dollar GDP, matching the economic output of Morocco as a whole. The region gobbled up nearly 60% of India’s startup funding from 2020-2020, with over a third of India’s IT professionals calling it home. From 2019-2021, the city attracted $17 billion in startup funding – and Karnataka raked in $29 billion as a whole. Bangalore has also produced 39 unicorns. That number may be overshadowed by the 220 unicorns grown in the Bay Area-Silicon Valley corridor. However, Bangalore is expected to sprout another 46 unicorns in just the next 2-4 years according to the Hurun Research Institute. That includes Polygon, which had already scarfed up $450 million in funding during the first quarter alone!

Main walkway at IIM Bangalore


Yes, Bangalore is the place to be. Indian Biotech firms?  Bangalore houses half of them. Company headquarters? Try Infosys, Wipro, and Flipkart to start. Country headquarters? Here are just a few firms who operate out of Bangalore: Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Dell, IBM, Goldman Sachs, Accenture, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Oracle, KPMG – well, you get the gist. And that doesn’t count R&D centers for companies like Samsung, Cisco, Boeing, Walmart, Adobe, and General Electric. Thanks to deep investment from investors and government alike, Bangalore is a global force in industries ranging from aerospace and telecom to artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

Sprawling industrial parks and congested traffic, shopping on Brigade Road and dining along St. St. Mark’s Road – a place that’s home to over 100 languages and nearly 13,000 millionaires: That’s Bangalore. And did I mention the free wifi?

Get rich, get ahead, or get experience. Jobs, Expertise, Opportunity, Connections. You can have it all in Bangalore. Despite being the 5th-largest metro in India, Bangalore has nearly 900 higher education institutions – more than any other city. That includes over 100 engineering colleges and nearly 100 institutions offering graduate business education courses. For the latter, the best-known and most-prestigious of the bunch is the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. Ranked as the #2 graduate business program in India by The Financial Times, IIM Bangalore differentiates itself through scale and distinction. That includes a stellar faculty featuring over 150 experts, researchers, and practitioners, not to mention a wealth of electives. Overall, the school counts 1,200 students among its various graduate business programs, enabling MBAs to tap into a wide network of high potentials. When it comes to the one-year EPGP (Executive Post-Graduate Program) program, the return on investment is high. Within three years of graduation, EPGP grads are earning more than American counterparts from Cornell and Duke – with a 67% jump between pre-EPGP and post-graduation pay. All this comes with a deep immersion into inner workings of the larger Bangalore community.

Library Walkway


Lokender Singh Rathore has re-located to Bangalore after 10 years in the Indian Navy, where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Before that, he worked as a management consultant for Deloitte. For him, the school’s resources, coupled with its location, provide the perfect preparation for his long-term plans to move into operations and program management.

“IIM Bangalore is situated in the Silicon Valley of India and has produced most of the unicorn firms in India,” he tells P&Q. “NSRCEL, a start-up incubation cell at IIM Bangalore, provides numerous opportunities to experience the “hustle” culture and learn from one of the best entrepreneurs of the country. In today’s world where digital infrastructure is rapidly evolving, it is extremely important for all organizations to inculcate innovation and start up mentality to sustain growth and profitability, which is often called as intrapreneurship. Hence, it is imperative for all MBA graduates to build entrepreneurship skills. And there is no better place than IIM Bangalore for that in India.”

Taking Rathore’s point a step further, Akriti Ghai boils the IIM Bangalore EPGP difference down to one word: access. “It was the prospect for interactions with industry leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators through IIM B Business Conclave, EPGP Seminar and Alum Series, PGP social clubs, and Vista events,” she notes. “These gave me confidence that IIM Bangalore is the ideal place for a holistic education and industry engagement. This paves a great way to learn and lead by staying abreast of the latest business challenges, corporate opportunities, and networking events, which put together will aid me in developing a business mindset for my future endeavors.”

Classroom Arena alongside the walls


Ghai herself hails from Ernst & Young. And you’ll find plenty of students who’ve worked for top employers in the EPGP Class of 2023. Case in point: Abhishek Pandey. Before business school, he led a product development team responsible for Honda’s first BS6 compliant scooter. He was so respected at Honda that he represented the firm as its youngest technical lead ever at the International Auto Expo in 2016. By the same token, Bibin Kumar trained over 20,000 undergraduates over two years at Infosys – earning the company’s highest feedback scores in the process.

His secret? “I had to wake up every morning, wear the mask of a brave soul, and be there for my students when they needed me,” Kumar explains. “I saw happiness, I laughed with my students. I saw success. I celebrated with my students. I saw failures – failures that led to some students getting expelled from the training program. They would be jobless, and I had been there, so I wept with them, helplessly…But overall, my time as a trainer helped me [to] build empathy and become a better person.”

The EPGP Class of 2023 has distinguished itself in many other ways. A year after joining Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), Sipra Priyadarshinee became the company’s first female employee – and youngest engineer – to complete “a large-scale critical capacity enhance project…incident free.” Vishwa Prakash Shukla found his footing in edtech as a confounder, winning the Maharashtra Government’s ‘Maharashtra Startup Week in 2018.  When Mamta Kumari joined the Steel Authority of India’s Bokaro Steel Plant, she created the Buddy Project to help them move out of administrative roles and onto the shop floor where they had a chance to earn more and climb higher.

“Under this project, each junior was mapped with a senior so that they get their issues addressed,” she tells P&Q. “This also gave the young women confidence and moral boost to not only stay but also thrive in their jobs. Over the years, I saw the women working on shop floor increase in number.”

IIM Bangalore students working on exam prep


Sometimes, their efforts were outright heroic. As an operations officer, Gautam Sharad protected the lives of his shipmates and other vessels when he managed an emergency aboard a tanker. Lokender Singh Rathore did the same by coordinating efforts to keep a fire from spreading aboard an aircraft carrier. Of course, some actions were simply gutsy. Exhibit A: Harshad P. Bhoir. He left it all behind – a strategy leadership role working in the CEO’s office with all the authority and perks surrounding it – to come to business school.

“I call this an accomplishment because it wasn’t easy to leave behind a life, that I had built over 6 years,” Bhoir writes. “The change was drastic, but equally necessary. I went from driving a 3.5V6 to a 1.5V4, from my office cabin to being the classroom desk and from board rooms to break-out room. There have been some serious downshifts. Yet, none of what I have learnt at IIMB in the last 6 months would have been possible unless I had given these things.”

What has Bhoir learned? For one, he was exposed to the intricacies of entrepreneurship. Last spring, he launched a dog food startup leveraging his experience cooking for his pet. Thus far, his subscription service has generated 8 customers – all of whom have continued to use his product. Bhoir isn’t alone in speeding up his career momentum in the IIMB EPGP. Lokender Singh Rathore was part of a team that won first place in the Bharat Quiz – a business-themed quiz show sponsored by IIMB that attracted 300 teams. His classmate, Akriti Ghai, won 1st place team in Business Case Challenge, which was part of IIMB’s fall Business Conclave. On top of that, he has been gaining critical work experience by partnering with the Tata Group on a marketing project.  

“This involves the growth of its novel business unit for Indian wear ‘Taneira’. Project scope mandates developing business strategy for the brand that leverages its complete potential, identifying right target segment and developing right brand positioning statement.”

Sports Complex


Still, some school achievements are difficult to quantify – or even explain. Just ask Janet Mary. Her biggest takeaway from the EPGP program comes down to confidence. “[I’ve been] overcoming my own perception that I am not capable of certain things,” she observes. “This program at IIMB has, more than anything else, instilled deep self-belief and I feel more equipped than ever to deal with any challenge! Being the batch representative of EPGP only further drove this change!”

Then again, with a half year left in the program, Vishwa Prakash Shukla believes his best is yet to come. That said, he has already reaped several benefits from the program. “The MBA program promotes structured thought process. I learned how to prioritize and manage my time. My networking skills have improved, and I am now able to connect with enterprises and startups more frequently on weekends.”

For many, IIM Bangalore’s biggest strength is its faculty’s teaching and research prowess. And you won’t find many class members who dispute this notion. For many students, class sessions rank among the highlights of the program thus far. One of the most popular courses thus far has been Professor Rejie George Pallathitta’s Competition and Strategy course. Notably, Lokender Singh Rathore appreciates how Pallathitta has made the course frameworks so relevant and easy-to-understand. The biggest lesson from the course?

“Peter Drucker had said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”,” Rathore writes. “After undergoing the Competition and Strategy course, I have learnt that a well formulated strategy is that package of a meal without which cultural changes will die out of starvation.”

Next Page: Interview with Dr. Ashok Thampy, the Chairperson of the EPGP program

Page 3: Profiles of 12 EPGP Students

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