From Boots To Suits - The First Step

by Sushant Chhibber

I remember the famous SRK movie ‘Main Hoon Na' where the protagonist Major Ram, played by SRK, goes undercover as a college student after serving many years in the army. It was fun to watch Major Ram, the highly disciplined and ‘man on a mission', having a hard time adjusting. Well, the movie definitely went overboard in portraying the situations to bring in humour and entertainment, but, that is what movies are supposed to do. Isn't it? And yes, the movie did that pretty well.

And here I am, Squadron Leader Sushant Chhibber, back to college, at the most prestigious IIM Ahmedabad, which has produced the likes of Mr Raghuram Rajan, Mr Harsha Bhogle and many other notable personalities in India. Here I am, getting ready to reboot and enter the civil street, more famously known as the ‘corporate world'. I can somewhat relate to only the ‘plot' of the movie. But for me, contrastingly, the real world has been really welcoming as compared to the reel world faced by the ‘poor Major Ram' in the movie.

The first step

I remember my days when I started preparing for the entrance examination for securing my seat for the six months fully residential Certificate Course in Business Management officially known as the Armed Forces Program at IIM Ahmedabad. I felt like going back to the last years of my college while every one of my contemporaries was preparing for the famous CAT examination. I must admit, preparing for the exam and being on job (serving as a soldier) at the same time, was demanding. This phase tested my time management skills. It was me against time, and, in the end ‘I won'.

"Every day for me at IIM Ahmedabad is a journey of self discovery and personal growth."

After serving in the Indian Air Force as a Short Service Commission officer for almost nine and a half years, here I am today (in the last year of my active service) at India's top B school, the prestigious IIM Ahmedabad. Here I am, learning to unlearn and unlearning to learn. Every day for me at IIM Ahmedabad is a journey of self discovery and personal growth.

The pedagogy at IIM A

IIM Ahmedabad is one institute that gives you uncountable number of opportunities to prove and develop your skills. The pedagogy followed at IIMA is the one followed by all top notch B Schools of its type all over the world – ‘The Case Study method of teaching'. And the most dreaded question in any class is ‘Have you read the case?' (For insights on case study method read this article by Commander Rahul Sinha, my fellow at Armed Forces Program class of 2017). The cases (some of which are almost 30 pages long excluding exhibits) have to be studied thoroughly and prepared before you come to the class. A single case preparation takes around one to three hours of preparation. And, if by any chance, you missed reading the case, the class might sound to you like a foreign language class rather than a management class.

"But, honestly, I'm loving it..."

The classes are intriguing and guess what you sometimes become the CEO / COO / CFO of a company. Well that's a part of the case study method called the role playing. But, it really is a fun way of learning. The professors here are world renowned and highly rich in experience. It is really hard to decide who is better. Everyone is the epitome of the art of teaching and a master of his subject/area of expertise.

The Night Life

The IIM A campus, like the Mayanagri Mumbai, never sleeps. Preparing for the cases to be discussed in class tomorrow never lets you sleep. But, honestly, I am loving it... And FYKI, right now its 2 am in my watch. I still have to prepare a case for tomorrow, but before that I will quickly catch a coffee at the Nescafe Point in the campus and network with the wonderful students of the PGP and PGPX batch.

I plan to ‘key down' (now the contemporary synonym of ‘pen down') my thoughts, points for preparation to join AFP for the transitioning soldiers, tips for coming to AFP @IIMA, tips for preparing for ‘From Suits to Boots' and much more. The soldier and the student signs off for now with the little thought below.

"The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war."

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