Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Gopi Ethamukkalam, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Gopi Ethamukkalam      

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

“Taking calculated risks, I embrace curiosity and step beyond my comfort zone for meaningful growth.”

Hometown: Chennai, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: While working as a part-time accountant at an electronics showroom during graduation, I tested my sales skills by stepping in for salespeople on leave. However, I swiftly realized how far my sales career would go and decided to focus on my natural flair – finance and accounting.

Undergraduate School and Major:

UG: Bachelor of Commerce, D G Vaishnav College, University of Madras

Professional qualifications:

* Cost Accountant, Institute of Cost Accountants of India.

* Chartered Global Management Accountant, CIMA, UK.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:

* Job Title: Planning, Appraisal and Reporting Manager

* Most Recent Employer: Shell

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? I believe IIMA represents the pinnacle of management education in India. I held this conviction so firmly that I didn’t consider applying to other schools for the 2023-24 intake. It was either an MBA from IIMA or nothing. The factor that makes IIMA an unquestionable choice encompasses a range of attributes: a rich legacy, robust alum network, diverse cohort, case-based learning, exceptional faculty, focus on peer-to-peer learning, and nurturing of entrepreneurs, and more. The fusion of these facets deeply resonates with individuals like me. If I were to summarize all these aspects into a single factor that drove my decision, I would refer to it as the “IIMA brand.”

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? At IIMA, the “Speaker Series” is well-known for inviting industry leaders to address and engage with the students across programs. I enjoy participating in these sessions for two reasons. One, I get an opportunity to understand what’s happening in industries that I’m not exposed to experiencing. Two, these sessions serve as a workshop that integrates the classroom learnings across different courses and stretches the understanding further. By listening to multiple business leaders, I could discern that they go into painstaking detail to answer the fundamental questions surrounding their business. Such heightened awareness enables them to make choices and craft effective strategies for their business. This aligns seamlessly with what Professor Amit Karna and Professor Sunil Sharma discussed in the strategy course: managing choices and trade-offs is the starting point of defining an organization’s strategy. There were many such profound aha moments wherein I could draw parallels between what we learned from the case-based curriculum and the experience of distinguished speakers. The Speaker Series initiative complements classroom and peer-to-peer learning.

I try not to miss any opportunity to participate in industry conclaves/conferences happening at IIMA, especially if they are related to climate change and public policy themes. I was privileged to participate in the Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) roundtable conference organized by the JSW School of Public Policy, IIMA. The conference brought experts from diverse backgrounds together to discuss the challenges faced by industries in building sustainable business models and brainstorm recommendations that would be submitted to the G20 India leadership team. It was highly encouraging to learn about the innovative solutions adopted by different enterprises to mitigate climate change.

What makes IIM Ahmedabad such a great place to earn an MBA?

Limitless Learning Potential: The saying goes, “At IIMA, every letter stands for academics.” The rigour of the curriculum is nothing but a simulation of what is required to be successful in a real-life undertaking. The concept of study groups at IIMA fosters peer-to-peer learning. The study group members have diverse backgrounds, resulting in each group mimicking the executive committee set up at an organization.

Students curate their courses by choosing relevant electives to achieve their learning objectives. IIMA offers a wide choice of electives during Terms 4 and 5. IIMA also integrates elective courses and allows for cross-pollination of students across programs. This provides an excellent opportunity for students to network and pick up fresh perspectives.

Faculty: The professors at IIMA are some of the best in the world. Their deep industry and research experience add immensely to the richness of learning at IIMA. More importantly, the professors are extremely helpful and are willing to share as much as the students can absorb. I struggled with Statistics during the initial few months of the program. Professor Kartik Sriram personally helped me to cope with the concepts.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I was interviewing for my first job in 2008, the US Fed was announcing a stimulus package to revive the economy post global financial crisis. Interestingly, a large part of my career has been marked by a volatile business environment characterized by economic slowdowns, paradigm shifts in the geopolitical landscape, pandemic, energy transition, and AI/ML revolution. I could get first-hand experience of the impact these events brought to businesses across sectors. Gradually, the finance function’s role went through a phenomenal transformation – from a traditional backward-looking function to an agile, forward-looking, and digitalized function that plays an even more important role in ensuring investor confidence and delivering business outcomes. I could adapt to the demands of the evolving finance function, embracing change as an opportunity.

I envisioned and led digitalization projects without formal training, undertook a challenging international assignment, and led large teams successfully with a broad scope of responsibilities. While there are many such accomplishments throughout my career, I take pride in my capability to construct a career marked by rapid growth in a dynamic business environment, achieved through continuous self-challenge.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: I’m a father of two boys aged 7 and 5 years. My family stays with me on the IIMA campus – managing the rigour of the course while trying to balance my family’s expectations is not easy. I have been able to adjust to the new norm comfortably. I’m a dedicated student – never missed a lecture so far, have participated in student committee elections, case competitions, and sporting events. But on the other hand, I also ensure to devote sufficient time to my family. Playing with my kids is the best way for me to unwind after a hectic day of academic work.

I’m one of the most experienced candidates in the cohort. I have been approached by fellow batchmates seeking advice on topics such as career planning, handling stressful situations, and so on. While I don’t claim to be an expert in these areas, I share my perspectives, which helped fellow batch mates. I was delighted that my experience could be of help to others.

What is your class’s favorite hangout away from school? Why do you gather there? It’s sports, food, movies, and nature!

PGPX is a full-time residential program. Life inside the campus is extremely fast-paced, and students hardly have time to step outside. But the cohort is nimble in grabbing any opportunity to socialize. Cricket, Badminton, Football, Squash, and Volleyball games would be organized every now-and-then, providing a much-needed break from our busy schedules. There are a bunch of movie enthusiasts in the cohort – we flock to the theaters to catch our favourite stars in action. While staying on campus, I have seen a movie on average every month; I must say reasonably good theaters conveniently near the campus are a boon. Outside of sports and movies, food provides another avenue for us to come together. Food streets, fine-dine restaurants, specialty hotels – we are surrounded by multiple options allowing us to choose one that suits the situation and our palate. Finally, Sabarmati Riverfront is one of the best spots for nature lovers like me to relax and reflect during the evenings.

What do you hope to do after graduation? I prefer to stay in the energy sector; I believe this is the best time to be in this industry, given the possibilities and challenges associated with energy transition. Eventually, I aspire to meaningfully contribute to the development of business models that embrace sustainability.

I have been a specialist in finance function throughout my career. I would love to broaden my perspective by pivoting into roles that allow me to deliver holistic responsibilities.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into IIM Ahmedabad? When applying to business schools, it is typical for someone to have apprehensions about their odds of acceptance, which might even prohibit them from getting started with the application process. I, too, had such self-doubts. However, I recommend the aspirants embrace the process and go with the flow. Central to this journey is crafting a compelling “why MBA” narrative.

Applicants should personally internalize the value proposition an MBA from IIMA could offer to their entrepreneurship or career journey. Next, I recommend building a comprehensive and balanced profile. Often, applicants misplace the emphasis on just one or two aspects of the application. While it might sound cliché, it’s worth noting that there’s no singular, ideal profile that the admissions committee seeks. What truly resonates with IIMA is an appreciation of the diversity and dynamism each individual brings to the cohort. To effectively convey this, self-awareness becomes paramount. In essence, the journey is about progressing beyond self-doubt and channeling that energy into portraying a comprehensive, authentic self.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.