““Why Great Lakes?”
“Well, because it’s a one year course.”
“Why not ISB?”
“I didn’t have the money. And I didn’t have courage to borrow the money that was required!”
That was then – 8 years ago – when I graduated from Great Lakes. Those were the questions that I was asked every time I talked about my MBA School. In the heart of my heart, I knew I was giving the wrong answers. But they made perfect sense to all of those who asked, so I continued.
I had 9 years of work experience when I joined Great Lakes. I was heading Marketing in a USD4B global conglomerate. I knew Marketing. I had learnt relationship building on the job and I had built multi-sheet financial plans for our 27 global factories. So, what else happened in Great Lakes?
First, no one was impressed even if I were some CEO of a billion dollar company; because the moment you sat on one of those class benches you are no more some ex-Big Boss but a just fellow student who won’t get respect unless she has earned it – right there – at the battlefield – the classrooms!
Second, it doesn’t matter what you had learnt previously if you can’t spread that knowledge among others. MBA school, as I learnt, is all about sharing knowledge and growing wise and smart in the process.
Third, your team building skills with your subordinates and peers only helps so much when you have highly competitive, young, ambitious co-students whose objective is not to please the boss but to grow and prove themselves at all levels. (We had couple of gold medalists and some super brainy babes and dudes and competition was really tough!)
So, there I was, one of the 131 students of the 2006 JP batch and thoroughly loving it.
We had 365 days, some 40 courses, 131 birthdays, 1 Christmas, 1 New Year, 1 Pongal and unlimited numbers of beach trips and road side addas over coffee and vadai (we even had a private beach of our own – but that’s a secret !) – which filled our days at Great Lakes. And in between all these, we studied all night, wrote exams early in the morning, attended classes till 10 at night, participated in several management fests, planned and executed the 1st Latitude, expanded on SWIM and created and celebrated Sangamitra twice. Huh!
Sangamitra! Ah, now that brings me back to another favorite memory of Great Lakes – it brought back dance to my life. How did I ever live without dance for all those years before Great Lakes!
What else did I get from Great Lakes?
The courage and ability to think big. Not just big – but BIG!
And that courage was the only thing (other than a huge loan at the bank) I had when I decided enough is enough, threw my papers on my boss’s face (literally) and started Smart iDeAS exactly two years after I graduated from Great Lakes.
The other day I was sitting with the Training Lead of a very big retail organization from US. He is a good friend and we were generally talking over some nice tea.
“I am going to Chennai on 3rd Jan” I said.
“What’s in Chennai?” he asked.
“Well, it’s my B-school’s 10th Anniversary and there is a Mega Alumni Meet as well”
“Which school is that?”
“You did your MBA from Great Lakes?”
“You did a full time MBA program from Great Lakes !”
All I did was to give him a modest smile.
Susmita Das Gupta
Class of 2006, Junior Pioneers
Founder & Chief Ideator, Smart iDeAS.