Meet the EPGP Class of 2023: Lokender Singh Rathore, IIM Bangalore

Lokender Singh Rathore

Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

“Astute observer and a go-getter. People-oriented leader driven by the motto – “We rise by lifting others”.”

Hometown: Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Fun Fact About Yourself: I left management consulting job offer from Deloitte to join Indian Navy. Now, after 10 years, I am doing an MBA. Both the choices are of contrasting substance yet somehow, they are the best decisions of my life.

Undergraduate School and Major: NIT Surat, Electrical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Indian Navy, Lieutenant Commander

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of IIM Bangalore’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? IIM Bangalore is situated in the Silicon Valley of India and has produced most of the unicorn firms in India. 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.

What has been your favorite course or extracurricular activity at IIM Bangalore? What has been the most important lesson that you have learned from it? My favorite course at IIM Bangalore has been Competition and Strategy. Coming from Defence background, I had an exposure to tactical strategy. Little did I know about the conceptual depths where the frameworks of strategy are dealt. From Michael Porter to CK Prahalad and from industry analysis to resource-based analysis of firm, I was delighted to find new ways of using mental fortitude that evaluate top line and bottom line of a company. Professor Rejie George, one of the stalwarts of strategy department at IIM Bangalore, has implanted conceptual frameworks on such a level that the subject knowledge now comes naturally even during random discussions.

Peter Drucker had said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.  After undergoing 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. That has been my most important takeaway.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:  On 26 April 2019, a major fire broke out in machinery compartment onboard the aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya. As per established protocols, the entire ship’s crew was mustered on flight deck barring the men involved in firefighting and ship’s movement. The entire ordeal was being coordinated from Bridge (control center) through ship’s internal communication system, which was under my charge.

As the fire continued to spread, it was naturally expanding towards the main broadcast compartment where internal communication system amplifiers were situated. Scrambling a team of three, I decided to enter the main broadcast compartment and switch off the system to remove the amplifiers and take them to bridge where secondary broadcast system could be rigged. The temperature inside the compartment was nearing 80 degrees and the team was heavily exhausted by the time we reached the compartment. I had full confidence in my team’s capability, but the physical toll of high temperature and difficulty in breathing in fire suit was my concern. Before the amplifiers could be removed, two of the men started facing shortage of breath. I told them to remove the amplifiers and rush back to flight deck leaving behind the amplifiers. They left in a jiffy.

Now I was left back with one of my men to carry back the amplifiers. I could only come up with a one liner motivation to him: “Only we can do this”. We were each other’s strength during those 7-8 minutes of passage back to flight deck. The secondary team took over the amplifiers and rigged them in Bridge to ensure the availability of internal communication. All of this happened in less than 20-25 minutes, but I consider it as one of the biggest accomplishments as even a single mistake would have resulted in loss of life. Unfortunately, on this very day, one of the firefighting officers, Lieutenant Commander DS Chauhan, laid down his life while dousing the fire in machinery compartment.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Regular participation in competitions, which happens during Business events and across colleges, provides an opportunity to upskill and put academic knowledge to practice. During Business Conclave 2022, the flagship event of EPGP batch at IIM Bangalore, I won first prize at “Bharat Quiz” where 300 teams had participated from all over the country. I was also one of the 6 finalists out of 250 participants at IIM Bangalore Sustainability challenge case competition.

What is your class’s favorite hangout away from school? Why do you gather there? One of the frequent hangout places is a Bakery shop outside south gate. We all gather there for Chai break and vent our frustrations over various things that we have encountered recently. The biggest benefit of those breakout sessions is that one gets to know what the important tasks for the day are. It surely gets us all on the same page.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? In addition to the transferrable skills that I have gathered over 10 years of service in Indian Navy, I wanted to be equipped with conceptual knowledge and skills that a corporate senior manager is expected to have. I hope to launch my career through the leadership programs offered by corporates and contribute towards attaining organizational goals. I am also interested in operations and program manager roles that provide challenging opportunities.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into IIM Bangalore? Well, it goes without saying that getting a good GMAT/GRE score is a must. A good GMAT score depends on the average score of a school and candidate profile. The more common a profile is, the higher a score will be warranted.

Second, devote good amount of time for application and SOP. Do not try to imitate what you find relevant in previously selected candidate’s profile. Instead, weave a story of your journey in life, defining your short-term and long-term goals and how MBA from IIM Bangalore will push your motives. As far as interviews are concerned, be original and have faith in your capabilities. Going through mock interviews and mirror practicing helps building confidence. I know a lot is dependent on luck, but then do remember what Benjamin Franklin said – “Diligence is the mother of good luck”.


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