On a hot Saturday afternoon of March, it was out of normal for IMT Nagpur to see a burst of activity. It was bracing itself to receive as chief guest, a man for whom no introduction is necessary, Shri Mukesh Ambani, the richest Asian on the occasion of 7th annual convocation of IMT Nagpur. Union Minister for Urban Development Shri Kamal Nath who is also chairman of IMT’s board of administrators was also present at the occasion.
The preparations for this day had started well in advance. The SAC or Student Affairs Council was primarily responsible to handle the volunteer recruiting, assigning them to different work areas and the whole event. The administration took care of getting the dignitaries for the event and other related activities like erecting the pandals and arranging for evening snacks. The Corporate Communication Committee or CCC was responsible for contacting the media, so the event could garner enough media attention on all available platforms.
24 faculty members were in charge of various aspects of the event and were instrumental in directing the 180 volunteers as provided to them by the SAC. Elaborate discussions were held and smallest of the tasks were allocated to the volunteers and made sure they knew it well.
Coming back to 3rd March, the convocation day, both the dignitaries were given a warm welcome as they got down from the helicopters that brought them. They offered their respects to late Shri Mahendra Nath’s statue at the sunshine gate and then proceeded towards LRC (learning resource centre) hall where snacks and refreshments awaited them. There they changed into procession attire and at 2:55 pm, the procession started from the LRC (learning resource centre) to the grounds and into the pandal and towards the stage. The volunteers at the pandal quickly formed a human chain on both sides of the path to let the procession move smoothly between the rows towards the front and towards the stage.
The ceremony began by lighting the ceremonial diyas by the dignitaries and our director, Dr. Rajendra Nargundkar, followed by the Saraswati Vandana sung by first year student manager volunteers. After the diyas were lit, the dignitaries were welcomed with bouquets and then the convocation was thrown open.
There was lots of excitement in the crowds when our director called upon Shri Kamal Nath to speak on the occasion. He started by singing praises of Shri Mukesh Ambani, whom he has a privilege of knowing personally. He said, Mr Ambani is the person who took his company’s turnover from 20 crore to 3.5 lakh crore. He pointed out that change is the only constant and the barriers to business are melting and it has only been accelerated by growth of technology all around the world. He said, the management education is not only about learning the principles of management but also about understanding and appreciating the global economic realities of today and being responsive to them, about having a vision and being able to implement that vision. To the outgoing management professionals, he shared 5 things that he says if followed will help them gain success in their respective careers.
- To have a passion for results.
- Be willing to cross boundaries and hurdles to create value.
- Innovation matters.
- To constantly raise the bar through challenges and motivation.
- Bring about sustainable and environment conscious changes to the organisations they are a part of.
Shri Kamal Nath ended his address with some very relevant thoughts to ponder on, “As you leave the portals of IMT Nagpur as trained managers, never forget you are the citizens of India,” he said. “Because you have received one of the best educations the country has to offer, you are saddled with a greater responsibility – to put education to use in a socially responsible manner. I wish you a great future. You have worked hard towards it. Now go out and grasp it.”
If the excitement before Shri Kamal Nath’s speech was much, now it was palpable. As he went back and Mr Ambani was invited on the dais to speak, students, volunteers and all the people sitting in the pandal, including the media people all had one question, What is he gonna say?
Mr Ambani was very calm, and took his time coming up to the dais. “You have a very beautiful campus” were the first words uttered by the business magnate. He was impressed with the vision of IMT. Infrastructure is the key to provide the best opportunities to develop and he believed it and appreciated this fact about IMT. He praised Mr Nath as a leader we all should look up to.
To the graduating students he said that a graduation ceremony is an unforgettable landmark in any student’s life. But it is also a beginning. The beginning of an exciting journey called life. Acknowledging the excitement brewing within the hearts of the students, Ambani said, “Graduation is not about moving out. It actually means moving up. Up the ladder of excellence, moving up the ladder of aspirations, moving up the steps of responsibility, and doing this with poise and character, enthusiasm and conviction. Graduate yourselves to a higher existence – emotionally and spiritually.”
He went on to remind those waiting for their future to unfold, that they had many people to thank before their journey began – Parents, family and elders. All of them have made huge sacrifices to get the graduates to IMT. He applauses and claps for the faculty for IMT Nagpur too, who have worked tirelessly to groom the students.
He reflects this as an appropriate time to graduate and be a part of the shaping of new and resurgent India as it becomes a prominent economic centre of activity. World’s focus is shifting towards Asia as it becomes its centre of attraction. We have an opportunity and if we seize it effectively we will become an economic superpower. But for this we require leaders in all spheres of life – leaders who are respected and heard. Respect doesn’t come from market capitalisation or financial success, but it comes from helping in social causes and how much difference has been made in someone’s life. Purpose of any business is pursuit of wealth, no doubt, but for the purpose of nation building, by being socially responsible about it.
Pace of change is incredible. Time and distance are collapsing under the impact of technology. What happens in one part affects others in other parts too. He urges them to harness the power of technology, management and innovation to make India one of the best in the world.
He shared his three rules for success. They are
- Dismiss prophets of doom and voices of cynicism
- Always dream big and convert adversity into opportunity.
- Be fearless take bold steps.
Stating that the graduating students should not only be passionate but also compassionate leaders in their field, Mr Ambani in his concluding remark, said, “Never be content with what you have achieved; always strive for more. That’s your differentiator. Let’s build an India that shines in the world. As you step out for an exciting career ahead, an exciting journey full of challenges awaits you. The impact of your ambition will be exponential on society, humanity and economy. It will be crucial to creating better life for all. We need unprecedented determination and steely resolution for it.”
Listening to those two speeches motivated me and I suppose would have done so to countless others present there that day. After the speeches, the degrees were awarded to the students. And after the convocation was declared closed and the dignitaries left the pandal, the graduating students threw their caps in the air, effectively saying goodbye to this chapter in their life and saying hello to the next one. The accompanying picture can only tell the joy, the passing graduates had that day.
The event went smoothly without a glitch. It was a tremendous achievement and goes to show that the B-School not only preaches management, but also practices it.