Meet the PGP-BL Class of 2024: Kaustubh Rath, IIM Kozhikode 

Kaustubh Rath

IIM Kozhikode  

“A pragmatic problem-solver and solution seeker, with meticulous attention to detail towards life.”

Hometown: Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am a huge car fanatic and can talk about anything and everything related to the world of cars all day long. I have also given buying advice on cars to many prospective buyers. Over the past few years, I have developed an affinity towards cooking, making and sharing diet plans for folks within my circle (though I am open to the idea of freelancing.

Undergraduate School and Major: VSSUT, Sambalpur, Odisha; B.Tech in Electrical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Hyundai Motor India Limited, Territory Manager

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of IIM Kozhikode’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? One aspect of IIM Kozhikode’s MBA program that led me to choose this business school was its strong focus on experiential and peer-based learning from a cohort of students with close to 5.2 years of work experience. This aspect was essential because it would provide me with valuable practical knowledge and real-world insights that would complement the theoretical concepts taught in the classroom.

IIM Kozhikode’s program offers numerous opportunities to engage with industry professionals, participate in projects, internships, and case competitions, and interact with top leaders through guest lectures and talks from industry leaders. The school’s relations with renowned companies and extensive alum network create meaningful industry connections.

This emphasis on experiential learning attracts me because it aligns with my belief that implementing theory leads to authentic learning. It provides a platform for me to apply the concepts and skills learned in the classroom to real business challenges, enhancing my problem-solving abilities and decision-making skills. Additionally, it enables me to develop a deeper understanding of different industries, business practices, and market dynamics. Another aspect of this learning style relates to whatever I have gained in my prior professional experience.

Overall, the emphasis on experiential learning and industry exposure at IIM Kozhikode was crucial in choosing this business school. It provides a well-rounded education that combines theoretical knowledge with practical experiences, ultimately preparing me to be a successful business professional in the dynamic and competitive corporate world.

What has been your favourite course or extracurricular activity at IIM Kozhikode? What has been the most important lesson that you have learned from it? I have thoroughly rejoiced in studying Organisation and Market Economics by Prof Shubhasis Dey and Managing Performance and People in Organisations by Prof Roopak Gupta. The pedagogy they use, integrating real-life business scenarios and dilemmas into the classroom sessions, imparts indispensable learning. The amalgamation of cases and class discussions helps me arrive at data-driven decisions through the lenses of the businesses in question, seeing beyond the conventional frameworks. Understanding concepts such as economies of scale and team and organisational dynamics is crucial to any professional, and IIMK has numerous such courses to offer in this regard.

I look forward to learning more along these lines in the times to come during my stint here at IIM Kozhikode.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: No matter how hard one tries, one can never do or have everything in life. My journey during this one year is to remember it as one that I would love to share with people in my life. To do that, prioritising holds the top spot. As the course progresses, efficiency, time management, and meeting deadlines will become second nature to each of us studying here. Developing this attitude is of dire need if one has to succeed in their professional life. IIM Kozhikode’s PGPBL program is like a yarn of fabric, and one has to understand, analyse, and then decide on the custom shirt befitting the person.

What has been your most memorable experience at IIM Kozhikode? Why was it so special? The most memorable experience I can immediately recollect is the fortune of becoming a member of the student placement committee at IIM Kozhikode. It was something beyond extraordinary because of the sheer process involved in securing a spot to get an opportunity to serve the cohort. I had no prefixed notion before I walked into IIM Kozhikode. However, there was always a lingering thought about wanting to take up something which would help me grow personally and contribute in some way to the cohort’s success. The process was nothing short of military training for the corporate world. The tasks involved simulating every possible scenario we might encounter during the campus recruitment drive for the batch. Many times, we were given challenges at midnight with a deadline of submission at 8:00 AM the next day. Somehow, this somehow prepared me and brought about a conviction about what the stakes were and what role I was supposed to play to make sure that this season of placements is cherished by our cohort for years to come.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The one closest to my heart was a challenge that tested my mettle to the fullest. My company’s strategy was to move towards the electrification of personal mobility, and the launch of the first electric vehicle triggered this movement. The vision to enhance electric mobility for customers in terms of improving accessibility and confidence in customers’ minds resonated perfectly with my aspirations.

Convincing Dealer partners to invest in electric vehicle chargers that would not immediately reap benefits and coordinating implementation across various geographical locations was a huge challenge. I faced the classic chicken-and-egg situation with this project. On the one hand, few electric vehicles were on the road to warrant such an investment. On the other hand, the lack of a developed charging infrastructure could not warrant new electric vehicle sales. Hence this problem was a mutually reinforcing one. Against all odds, with support from my colleagues and manager, the project spread across all 28 locations within South India, benefiting both the brand and channel partners in terms of market share and after-sales support to customers. This initiative, to some extent, helped ease the apprehensions in the minds of prospective buyers about the range of anxiety issues.

What led you to pursue MBA at this point in your career and what do you hope to do after graduation? In my first job right out of college, after the initial training, I was given the option of selecting between the Manufacturing division or the Sales and Marketing vertical. I consulted the panel, which consisted of senior employees who had conducted my interview during the campus recruitment. They said I displayed qualities ideally suited for sales and marketing. True to their assessment, I started developing an affinity towards marketing, strategy, and operations. I have nearly six years of experience working for a Multinational Automotive Major. I successfully manage operations, sales, marketing, inventory management & customer satisfaction departments of channel partners across diverse geographies, while working with international colleagues in the after-sales vertical. However, after all this time, I wanted to transition into consulting or strategy domains, which became a hurdle due to needing an MBA.

Getting a functional shift into the strategy or consulting domains is one of my short-term goals, which led me to a formal education in business management. In the long run, I wish to find myself in a position where I can get a platform to practice thought leadership and impact my organisation in a way that not only enhances the business but also ensures the sustainability of both the businesses and the people who make these businesses happen.

Why is the BL program important to you? In my previous assignment, the company’s most challenging business problems often resulted in forming taskforce teams with members from different functions to develop unique & novel solutions to business problems. Being a part of many such teams, I have enjoyed the challenge and experience of working with individuals from various functions across the company, which gave me a new perspective on the company’s overall business strategies and management mantras. In addition, these challenges have imparted valuable lessons on using essential sales strategies, persuasion skills, and effective negotiation frameworks. These have equipped me with confidence and conviction. Through the PGP-BL course at IIM Kozhikode, I intend to understand these concepts and become a more effective professional comprehensively.

My diverse experience in sales and marketing operations will help me add value to the peer group discussions. I also look forward to learning from peers of diverse backgrounds and industries. It will go a long way in understanding how different industries and verticals work across other industries. In addition, this experiential learning will enhance my knowledge of various sectors and help me decide which industries best fit my skill sets and expertise.

I chose the BL program over other nationwide programs primarily because of its intimate nature and personalised approach. The program’s relatively small cohort size allows for meaningful interactions and customised touch, fostering fruitful connections and lasting relationships. These unique experiences offered by the BL program were the key factors that influenced my decision, setting it apart from other exemplary programs available.


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