Several times in our lives we seem to be driven down a new path with out any fore thought , conscious choice or planning on our part .Almost always for me these moments have been path breaking with far reaching changes in my life. None more so than my entry into IIMB . I was languishing at the Indian Telephone Industries uncertain of the way ahead for me and quite dis-satified with my work situation .The Chief Engineer, R&D and head of the department had taken an almost instant dislike for me (!!!???) and felt I had to be placed under close supervision !!??? He got me to sit just outside his spacious office as I performed my assigned tasks in the Investigation Cell .A small unit that looked into production bottlenecks at pilot production ,caused by design or engineering drawing errors .Our role was to route these issues to the concerned teams within Transmittion R&D get the same resolved so that production could carry on unhindered .It was a postman’s job as they called it and more often than not ,real issues were addressed on a fire fighting mode with out any reference to the Investigation Team .
The Chief Engineer had gone out of station on one of his several tours . I had free time on my hands ,when I saw a circular that the IIMB date for submitting applications had been postponed and those who hadnt applied earlier could still give it a shot .I had not seen the earlier call for applications nor was I very keen on it, but decided to write a 750 word essay on the role of the Public Sector in the Indian Economy ,as required when posting an application. Having thoughtfully finished the same and happy with my effort I went ahead and applied fior the PGDM course .
In course of time I received a notice to participate in the selection process which included written tests including IQ and aptitude tests , Group Discussions and interviews by a panel . I commenced prework and prep and on the day before spent quiet time collecting my thoughts and getting to be in the right frame of mind .But that was not to be as at mid night on the night before , I received a telegram ( some thing we done see in this dy and age ) from my sister , that her husband was reaching B’lore by the 6.00 am bus .I couldnt sleep the rest of the night and early in the morning rushed off to the State Transport Bus terminal to await the bus from Coimbatore .The buses arrived but there was no sign of my brother -in-law .Presuming he was comming by a Private Bus , I rushed to the Private Bus terminal but again could see no sign of him in buses arriving from Coimbatore. In those days we had no mobile phones so instant communication to check back with my sister or brother in law ,was not possible . I returned to my PG accommodation disappointed and then hurriedly got ready to go for the selection programme .This had to be the worst prep for this event and I had to compose myself as best as possible to be in the appropriate frame of mind .
I believe I did the written test reasonably well , managed to hold my own in the group discussions , what could have been my weakest session , and faired reasonably at the interview panel .In retrospect I probably did the best in the written tests and the essay on relevance of the Public Sector to the Indian Economy ,and that may have pushed my case for admission .The days rolled by untill one fateful day a friend who had just been to the IIMB campus told me that the list of those selected had been put up and I had made the grade . It was with a sense of elation that I went to confirm this good news and to see for the first time some of my future course mates .
As I prepared to resign from ITI , I was suprised to note that the honourable Chief Engineer tried his best to scuttle my attempts to leave in time, to join the course at IIM B .He tried to get me to go on an out door mission to do a site survey for a microwave link in Uttar Pradesh .Had I accepted the responsibility I would have been stranded in a remote location in charge of expensive survey equipment and not being permitted to leave . Many people who had my best interests in mind advised me not to accept the assignment and to give a written submittion that if I had to go , I MUST be relieved on the specific day that I stipulated in advance .This did the trick and my resignation was accepted. Even the then Head of the Microwave Lab , a friend , as we where both playing for the ITI Officers Cricket Team, told me he was surprised at the stand taken by the Chief Engineer and that he felt the CE was seriously misleading me.
So it was that I spend two of the most wonderful years of my life at IIM B .Years that would have a very profound impact on my life and career.