Meet IIM Lucknow’s IPMX Class Of 2023

Want to grow? Get away and travel. Escape the ordinary and comfortable. See new things in new ways. Create new bonds and stories. Adventure, inspiration, and memories: travel is a series of firsts that make moments all the more precious. In a bigger world – where nothing is taken for granted – travel can open your eyes to who you are and where you belong. And your success can be measured by the friends you make and the notions you shed.

That’s the thinking behind the International Immersion held by IIM Lucknow’s IPMX program. Over three weeks, IIML students travel across Europe to experience a variety of business practices and cultural mores. At the same time, students take four courses at IESEG France: Fintech, Cross Cultural Management, Strategic Innovation and Ai for Business, and International Negotiation. In the process, students learn not only how to operate outside India, but also how to collaborate effectively with people very different from themselves.

A view of IIM Lucknow as they enter its main gate

AN OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME

This year, the Class of 2023 visited Switzerland, France, and Belgium, says Pranav Sharma, who was a chemical engineer and subject matter expert in physics before joining IIM Lucknow. During his 21 days overseas, Sharma says he gained “immense insights” on the “intricate cultural and behavioural differences among the countries.” His classmate, Arpit Upadhyay, was equally enthusiastic about the International Immersion, which is held in early September.

“We [got] a taste of 3 countries and 4 cities of Europe,” he tells P&Q. “This is something very unique here at IIML. So during our international immersion, we got chance to learn Fintech in Swiss Banks, Negotiation with 23 countries at European Union, and Artificial Intelligence and Culture in France (Europe’s cultural capital).”

Of course, the IPMX Class of 2023 didn’t need to hit Europe for a cosmopolitan experience. After all, many of their classes are held in IIM Lucknow’s satellite Noida campus, just 26 kilometers from Delhi. Call it the best of two worlds. In Noida, you’ll find spacious parks and wide roads lined with trees – reliable power and clean surroundings. Within an hour’s travel, there are sizable outposts for 110 Fortune 500 companies. They range from global conglomerates like Microsoft and Samsung to the headquarters of Indian-run companies like NTPC, Bharti Airtel, Punjab National Bank, and the Steel Authority of India. And the Reserve Bank of India makes its home in Delhi too. That’s because Delhi boasts a unique advantage to IIML students: access to decision-makers.

“I was drawn to the course because of its unique location,” writes Dishari Dutt. “Being situated in the political capital of the country, I would have the opportunity to network in real-time with leaders from Global companies.”

The entry into the academic block – and a perfect spot for pictures!

FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GREATNESS

IPMX – which stands for International Programme in Management for Executives – is IIM Lucknow’s one year MBA program, running from April through February. It is geared towards professionals with 5 years of professional experience. One of the oldest IIM programs, IILM is also one of the few to maintain dual campuses: Lucknow and Noida. Even more, IIM Lucknow remains one of the most prestigious IIMs in India. Long known for teaching excellence and marketing expertise, the larger school also boasts an impressive alumni roster. Their graduates include Shreya Sachdev (Head of Marketing and Strategy at Puma), Nitin Seth (Former Flipkart COO and current Incedo CEO), Rajdeep Grewal (Editor-In-Chief of Journal of Marketing Research), and Gayatri Ganjawala (Bollywood Singer). What’s more IIML maintains a state-of-the-art Enterprise Incubation Center in Noida. Here, students can enjoy co-working pace, mentoring and training, technical support, and seed funding to commercialize their big ideas. That made the IPMX program all the more attractive to Manish Joshi, a locomotive designer before joining the Class of 2023.

“[The] Center [is] supported by an AI-Lab with a supercomputer setup,” he writes. “This provides a unique opportunity to get in close touch with the founders, some of whom are working right out of the campus. It also provides an opportunity to see how startups go from ideation to prototyping and funding.”

Who populates the IIML IPMX Class of 2023? Joshi, for one, calls himself a “blockchain enthusiast” who became a “Legendary” member of a forum started by Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto. Dishari Dutt took the road less traveled. She started out as an entrepreneur before joining a Fortune 500 firm. After failing 7th grade Science, Math, and English, Suneet Kumar decided to apply himself. The result? Nine years later, he earned the President’s Gold Medal for Academic and Extra Curricular Excellence – just one of two people to receive the annual award. And then there’s Ankur. He finished 3rd in the world in the 2018 Toastmaster’s National Speech Contest. And if you think Kumar came a long way, just wait until you hear Ankur’s story.

The crazy part is a few years back, out of glossophobia I froze my leg on the stage during a public event, and neither could I move my legs for 30 seconds nor speak. Everyone thought it was part of the act but I was simply extremely nervous.”

MAKING AN IMPACT THAT’S RECOGNIZED

Since then, Ankur has emerged as “CEO Strategist, Public Speaker & Optimist.” And it is certainly an apt description. Over the first eight years of his career, Ankur estimates that he has spent over 10,000 hours working directly for CEOs. Most recently, he worked as the EA to the CEO and Chief of Staff for Welspun Enterprises, a publicly-traded infrastructure development dire that operates in 50 countries.

“As an EA to the CEO, my job was basically to be the eyes-and-ears of the CEO and help him in strategic decision-making,” Ankur adds. “Having worked with 3 CEOs and been part of all the strategic decisions day-in-and-day-out, I had learned the art of business craft at the foot of the master…After my graduation, I would like to implement my learnings by taking P&L responsibility of an SBU and leading Digital & Business Transformation initiatives for the organization.”

Ankur wasn’t alone in high profile roles before joining the IPMX program. Many class members were high level problem-solvers in a wide range of industries. Seven years ago, Rajesh Mohan earned the National Award for Best Energy Auditor, an honor given by the Government of India’s Ministry of Power. Similarly, Subash Reddy Boddu racked up three national awards for a student team project that ultimately produced an Android-controlled spy robot. Suneet Kumar is another inventive member of the Class of 2023. His app, Polaris 2MFG, prepares test-takers for a Merchant Navy Second Mates certification exam and has generated over 100K downloads across 150 countries. At BHEL, Manish Joshi helped design a train that “can regenerate electricity back to the overhead grid.”

“A cross-country team was engaged in the effort,” Joshi adds, “while the final prototyping and testing was done at our facility. We successfully assembled and proved the prototype’s viability. This opens up the opportunity for Indian Railways’ fleet of over 3000 DC based Locomotives to be retro-fitted with such a regenerative system that saves energy and cost.”

IIM Lucknow

FROM CONTENT CREATOR TO CLIENT COURTER

Nalin Sharma’s biggest achievement involved an initiative outside the scope of his project management role. He led the development of 500 e-learning modules for employees, collecting an Award of Appreciation Certificate from the company chairman. Working for Teach for India, Arpit Upadhyay spearheaded a team of 65 fellows and 25 government officials to roll out strategic initiatives for Gujarat schools in response to COVID. During that same period, Abhinav Athavale deftly managed his company’s supply chain to avoid production disruptions during a COVID wave. For Dishari Dutt, her moment of truth came when she moved developing content to serving clients directly.

“I was able to leverage a foundation in content and storytelling to be able to be an effective client partner. I am fortunate to have been a part of some extremely successful projects. I conceptualized the concept for and led the execution of “The Right Click”, India’s foray into Interactive Content in partnership with Hindustan Unilever. This is the first time that a project of this scale was executed in the country. Needless to say, The Right Click went on to do extremely well!”

Over the past six months, the Class of 2023 has stepped back, listening and learning before they return to lead. “One of my primary objectives of joining IPMX was to learn from my batch mates who come from diverse experiences in career and their lives,” Abhinav Athavale notes. “I am particularly proud that I have worked on projects and case competitions with people from experiences as different as Technology, Banking, Oil and Gas, Media and Automobile industry. I learnt their perspective and outlook on any particular problem as well as shared my experience of working in healthcare industry with them. I have gained from the collective wisdom of the cohort which I feel is invaluable.”

The incubator and the faculty in-charge for the Incubator, Prof Anadi Pande

TAKING THOSE HARD EARLY STEPS

Confidence has been the biggest takeaway for Dishari Dutt so far. Before joining the IPMX program, Dutt admittedly “ran away” from math and chose courses where it was kept to a minimum. That quickly changed at IIML. After initially feeling “crippled”, Dutt rose to the challenge – and began embracing math coursework.

“Over time, with the help of professors, I began to take joy in the subject. By the end of second term, I found myself wanting to solve more problems and learn more and do better each time. I even opted for a quant heavy elective to be able to challenge myself further!”

Pranav Sharma experienced a similar transformation, leaving behind a hard sciences training that rarely called upon business concepts. “My two priorities are to get a holistic view of business concepts and develop the confidence to become a future leader. Getting a high GPA in a highly rigorous and competitive environment has been my biggest achievement, which boosted my confidence regarding the application of these concepts in the real world.”

Next Page: An interview with Garima Mittal, Chairperson of the IPMX program.

Page 3: In-depth profiles of 11 IPMX students.

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