Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Sylvester Dias, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Sylvester Dias

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

“Hungry for Learning, Passionate about Music, Love for Running and deep down a Creative Individual.”

Hometown: Mumbai, Maharashtra

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I once jumped out of an airplane, terrified out of my wits, but I lived to tell the tale.

Undergraduate School and Major: BE Electronic and Telecommunication, Mumbai University

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Indian Navy, Electrical Officer

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? Faculty and Academics. The ‘Pursuit of Knowledge’ has been a recurring theme in my life. Although I started learning the piano when I was six, my desire to delve deeper into music led me to pick up the guitar during college and even the bass and the ukulele later in my career. My inquisitiveness led me to pursue a Master’s in Data Science while serving in the Indian Navy. Continuous Learning is, therefore, a motto I live by. The excellent faculty and academic rigor therefore strongly resonate with my desire to keep learning. This one-year MBA is not only a means for me to transition from military to corporate, but also an incubator for widening my horizons, understanding business and testing my strengths. I found myself reveling in the academic rigor that we were exposed to right off the bat in Term 1. The quality of the faculty through the case-based methodology transformed the classroom learning experience to a higher plane. IIMA was therefore a natural choice for me.

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? My favourite course has been Corporate Finance. I just loved how all the concepts we learnt in Financial Reporting, Financial Markets, and Strategy came together in this subject. The way the subject is taught at IIMA is to think beyond number crunching to larger questions of how finance plays a role in decision-making in Organisations.

On the extracurricular front, I enjoy jamming with my talented cohort in the Student Dormitories or the Music Room. Having music lovers around has helped me keep in touch with my hobbies of performing music and even writing songs. The jam sessions are a welcome escape from the routine and rigour of academics and keeps me sane. Additionally, I enjoy interacting with my batchmates during our weekly Soul Curry meet-ups. Soul Curry is a PGPX Student Club where students can interact with each other on a personal level, have philosophical discussions and really connect with each other. The meet-ups are indeed the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’.

What makes IIM Ahmedabad such a great place to earn an MBA? The moment you step on campus, you can smell the aspiration in the air. The sheer energy, the quality of education, the learning opportunities, and the exposure the school affords are unparalleled in India. The no-compromise attitude that gets built over time is what really sets WIMWIans (Well-known Institute of Management in Western India – WIMWI) apart and that’s why IIMA is such a great place to earn an MBA.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: “I define my brand of leadership not by the sword the Navy had bestowed upon me but by the tender glove that holds that sword.”

During my tenure onboard a warship, I was deeply moved by the struggle of a newly-joined sailor and his wife to conceive a baby. Reeling from the trauma of four miscarriages, the couple’s mental health was tenuous. Service onboard a warship that sails extensively would have been untenable for this sailor, who was his wife’s sole caretaker. I resolved to get him transferred ashore where he could care for his wife, get medical help, and hopefully start a family. After concerted efforts convincing multiple agencies, while motivating my team to work with a man short, I pushed through his transfer ashore. Looking at photographs of their healthy baby a few years later, I realise that making a mark by touching people’s lives is the true essence of being a leader. I believe that Empathetic Leadership is the most substantial spike borne out of my military career. I am grateful to the Indian Navy for instilling a people-centric approach in me which will undoubtedly hold me in good stead in my future career.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Overcoming my debilitating knee injury and successfully completing the first term. Two weeks into the program, I ruptured the cruciate ligament of my knee while playing sports. With my mobility severely restricted, I had to make a tough choice of undergoing surgery during the program. I underwent the surgery during the peak of the term and willed myself to keep pace. Being wheelchair-bound for a few weeks, keeping myself motivated while experiencing FOMO was the greatest challenge. The support of my cohort, the faculty and the administration at IIMA was a boost towards my recovery. I literally taught myself how to walk again while learning the building blocks of management. The entire journey bolstered my confidence in my ability to stay positive and tackle any adversity that life throws at me.

What is your class’s favorite hangout away from school? Why do you gather there? The state-of-the-art sports complex at the New Campus, for sure. The gym is very well equipped and the swimming pool and sports facilities give us the opportunity to take care of ourselves as we progress through the course. I am amazed by the talented sporting abilities of my cohort who spend every evening playing sports at the sports complex.

What do you hope to do after graduation? I have a keen interest in Technology, particularly the AI/ML space. I intend to leverage the amazing platform that IIMA has provided to transition to an exciting role in the technology sector. Being a long-distance running enthusiast, I’m cognizant of the value of a green environment with clean air. In the long term, I would like to give back to the environment by employing sustainable business practices to reduce the environmental impact of businesses. Leading organisational efforts in this direction through concerted pollution prevention, Product Stewardship through its life cycle and adoption of Clean Technology are going to be my focus areas. I strongly believe that the future will see a shift towards sustainability driving corporate business strategies and it’s not a question of if but a question of when.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into IIM Ahmedabad? Be honest and true to yourself. When I look around in my cohort, I see oodles of talent, expertise, skill, and knowledge. Each and every person brings a unique perspective to the table and there’s so much to learn. I would advise applicants to have faith in your abilities, be open to learning and be honest and clear about one’s career goals and objectives.


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