Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Ketan Pandey, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Ketan Pandey

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

“Tech savvy, problem fixer, team binder, an aspiring societal impact creator.”

Hometown: Jaipur, Rajasthan

Fun Fact About Yourself: As a passionate woodworker, I enjoy creating and crafting aesthetic works with my hands. I am also a skilled parasailer who relishes soaring through the skies.

Undergraduate School and Major: Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Rajasthan

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Indian Army, Officer Commanding Tactical Communications

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? Moving from a military background to the corporate sector was a defining moment in my professional career. My motivation to pursue a business degree from IIM Ahmedabad (IIM-A) stems not only from my desire to improve my knowledge but also to successfully align my management style with the dynamics of the corporate work culture.

IIM-A employs an intensive, case-based teaching method that immerses students in real-world business scenarios to develop essential skills in critical thinking and decision-making. Faculty members use their extensive industry expertise to provide a comprehensive overview of management principles, bridging the gap between theory and practical application. This approach appealed to me when I was researching programs as it empowers students to confidently face real-world challenges in their professional lives.

IIM-A has an impressive legacy of nearly five decades that underscores its commitment to providing world-class education in India. This enduring legacy instills a deep sense of pride and motivation in students and alumni, thus nurturing and empowering the alumni community.

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?  The course I cherish the most at IIM Ahmedabad is the ‘Strategic Management’ course. The course illustrates the intricacies of high-level decision-making and provides insights into the context, process, and content of formulating a corporate strategy. Prof. Amit Karna and Prof. Sunil Sharma, the instructors of the course, stand out as exceptional educators. Their hands-on industry experience and engaging teaching approach enrich the course and enable us to capture the essence of C-suite level thinking, cultivate a holistic perspective on a company’s strategic challenges, and develop critical thinking skills. I value our countless discussions outside of the classroom, which have provided me with valuable insights that will undoubtedly shape my career path in the years to come.

What makes IIM Ahmedabad such a great place to earn an MBA? For any aspirant, IIM Ahmedabad is an exceptional destination for MBA studies as it has many special features overlapping. I would like to mention the three most important ones.

First, the Institute’s long history of producing visionary leaders underscores its outstanding reputation for its commitment to excellence in management education.

Second, the opportunity to learn from world-class professors with solid industry experience is a hallmark of IIM-A’s appeal. Case-based pedagogy, central to the Institute’s effectiveness, provides an excellent opportunity to analyze and discuss complex business cases and to equip students with the skills to navigate the complex corporate world.

Third, the diversity among fellow students is another important factor that enriches the learning experience at IIM-A. The diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives of fellow students foster a 360-degree perspective in addressing complicated business challenges while cultivating students’ adaptability, empathy, and a global mindset.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My role in the Indian Army has enabled me to lead troops in numerous critical frontline operations and reaffirm my commitment to my motherland and her people.

An outstanding achievement during my tenure was the establishment of an advanced fiber optic and satellite-based tactical communications network, which played a critical role in enhancing the intelligence capabilities of our forces on India’s eastern border. Similarly, I am very proud to have led the conceptualization, planning, and execution of some of the Indian Army’s pioneering initiatives in artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

These achievements are particularly gratifying to me as they have enabled me to make a significant contribution to my country’s defense and strategic capabilities.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: My greatest accomplishment to date as an MBA student is successfully transitioning from being an Army officer for 12 years to embracing the challenges and rigors of MBA student life.

This transition required a broad shift in mindset and skill set. My determination and resilience, which I learned in the Army, helped me to tackle the challenges. I am still working to bridge the gap between my management skills in the defense sector and the management skills required in the corporate sector.

But I am also pleased to be able to take time for personal development to build my self-confidence and understand my greater purpose in life. This balance not only enriches my academic experience, but also gives me a holistic perspective for my future path.

What is your class’s favorite hangout away from school? Why do you gather there? Nestled in the heritage campus of IIM Ahmedabad, ‘Tea Post’ is a small makeshift café that serves as a hub for interesting conversations with fellow students. With an atmosphere that invites genuine conversation, it is the perfect place to relax and connect authentically with like-minded people.

More than just a coffee shop, ‘Tea Post” is a place where friendships thrive and memories are made for a lifetime.

What do you hope to do after graduation? Post-MBA, I aspire to leverage my strong background in resource management by working at the cross-section of the supply chain, business strategy, and technology.

I want to work for a tech company like Amazon or Google, where I can coordinate stakeholders on the product launch strategy, manage cross-functional teams on supply chain projects, and closely monitor execution while ensuring operational risks are identified and addressed. Alternatively, I would explore leadership roles in Supply Chain Design or Operations Management to engage in a cross-industry experience with leading companies ideating on their problems in operations, human resources, technology, and strategy of business operations on a global level.

In the long run, I envision founding a Tech Enterprise in India to upskill, orient, and prepare military veterans in India to embark on a successful second innings. After being almost cut off from the civil world for 2-3 decades, besides lacking confidence, these veterans lack an understanding of roles, functioning styles, and domain-specific expertise required in the corporate world. I see immense potential in filling market gaps left by inadequate university programs and army training to help these veterans transition to alternate careers in operations excellence, logistics, and manufacturing. My comprehensive understanding of veterans’ skills, various industries, and suitable roles for these skills will enable me to build a fulfilling company in the talent technology sector.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into IIM-Ahmedabad? To potential applicants aspiring for admission into IIM Ahmedabad, I advise them to prepare meticulously. Develop a well-rounded approach encompassing the emphasis on leadership experiences that showcase their initiative and positive influence, and to craft authentic essays that genuinely reflect their values and alignment with IIM-A’s ethos.

Also, engage with IIM-A’s alumni and current students to grasp the institution’s culture. Clearly articulate your career goals, highlighting how an IIM-A education will catalyze your achievements. Demonstrate effective teamwork and interpersonal abilities, which are vital for a business leader. Above all, be honest throughout the process, presenting your genuine enthusiasm for learning and growth.


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