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An academic course in management obviously does not offer lessons in managing the affairs of the heart. But the Class of 1977 broke through the academic shackles, with some of its members walking out of the campus with a clear strategy as to who their future soul mate shall be.

The stiff-upper-lip approach

Management education is all about the stiff-upper-lip approach of the mind. Analytical skills rule supreme, leading to rummy situations where analysis often leads to paralysis. Linear programming models get worked upon. Statistical techniques get dished out by stern looking professors who might have been hotter in their jobs more as police officers or as judges.

Hapless students are made to understand exponential smoothening techniques so as to be able to forecast business parameters in an uncertain business environment. Those with an engineering background struggle to match their debits and credits. The lucky ones who have had a background in commerce twiddle their fingers trying to grasp the complexities of quantitative techniques in decision-making.

The neglected need to boost our EQs

The behavioural sciences do provide a little bit of cheer to the tormented souls undergoing a typical MBA course. But to understand the psychology of an individual is no mean task. Mere case studies and management tips for handling an industrial strife do not improve one’s EQ substantially. Handling a tough boss eventually gets learnt only in the corporate world outside. The real world also teaches us to handle errant subordinates whose emotional blackmail upon reporting for work after a spell of French leave needs deft handling. The harsh realities of business world provide a high quality learning which can surely not be replicated within the stifling confines of a classroom.

The dashers and the rabbits

In fact, for some of those who formed the batch of 1977, the beautifully laid out campus outside provided a far better laboratory to test their hypotheses on the softer matters of the heart. These were the chosen ones who were smitten by the tender arrows of a smart Cupid.

The snag in the business of falling in love is much like that of mixed up career choices. Take an introvert and put him in a marketing assignment and the results could be disastrous. Take an extrovert used to making tall claims and put him in charge of manufacturing. The customers could soon melt away, leaving the company grappling with a credibility gap.

Bertie image

Same is the case in matters of love. As per the Bertie Wooster doctrine:

“….parties of the first part so often get mixed up with the wrong parties of the second part, robbed of their cooler judgment by the parties of the second part’s glamour. Put it like this. The male sex is divided into rabbits and non-rabbits and the female sex into dashers and dormice, and the trouble is that the male rabbit has a way of getting attracted by a female dasher (who would be fine for the male non-rabbit) and realizing too late that he ought to have been concentrating on some mild, gentle dormouse with whom he could settle down peacefully and nibble lettuce.”

The USP of the Class of 1977

The batch of 1977 had as many as five members of the tribe of the delicately nurtured. Since the previous one, the Class of 1976, had none, they were the cynosure of all eyes. They were invariably the prime focus of attention for many of us in the batch of 1976. All we seniors required was an inane excuse to pop up and try to grab the attention of at least one out of the five pairs of eyes we could feast on. The faculty members simply loved them – not necessarily for their academic proficiency, but merely for ensuring some discipline amongst the men folk loitering around.

Some of the members of our tribe of the so-called sterner sex were the shy and silent kind. Some were busy chasing their academic pursuits and kept their hormones under check. Others were benignly interested but limited their interactions to admiring gazes alone. Very few were the dashing types who, their puny chests all puffed up, attempted to indicate a more than passing interest in the parties of the other part.

Managed walks down the aisle

Those were traditional times when the distinction between an ‘arranged marriage’, a ‘love marriage’ and a ‘love marriage which had to be managed’ was pretty clear. Live-in relationships were not heard of.

The majority amongst us believed in the straight and narrow path that life offered then – the comfort of an ‘arranged marriage’ where the parents take the flak for subsequent problems, if any, and where love blossomed, albeit hesitatingly in some cases, much after the walk down the aisle took place. The time on the campus was, therefore, used by the members of this tribe merely to exchange furtive glances, suffer the pangs of transient infatuations and a silent admiration for the physical profile of the party of the other part.

pu-student-center

Then there were the dashing types, the risk takers who could use their time on the campus to firm up their affection for each other and concoct some dreamy plans for their future together. To avoid inquisitive and prying eyes, they would often vanish in thin air, possibly to land in such distant locales as the Sukhna Lake or the Rose Garden.

Management knowledge put to loving use

These were indeed the souls which put most of their management knowledge to actual use. No manual has been published till now, but it is clear that strategic decisions were taken by them with due diligence. Flawless planning and execution followed. Regression Analysis was applied to ensure that respective parents fell in line with the wishes of their wards. Soft-nosed commerce was used to draw up joint P&L Accounts and Balance Sheet, so the planned merger would face little financial turbulence. Principals of Materials Management were applied to ensure that the eventual stock transfer of one party to the abode of the party of the other part was carried out in a smooth and cordial fashion. Inspiration was drawn from a random sample of other couples who had successfully handled their affairs in an exemplary fashion.

Managing the Affairs of the Heart

cupidCupid, when it chooses to strike, is pretty democratic in nature. If one of the Class of 1977 decided to hitch her lot with a classmate of hers, yet another signed and sealed a merger deal with a senior of the Class of 1976. Both lived happily thereafter!

Close to forty years down the road, looking at the success of these mergers and alliances, it is highly regrettable that management academics still continue to adopt the stiff-upper-lip approach which focuses on analytical skills alone.

A day should surely dawn when ‘Managing the Affairs of the Heart’ gets introduced as a compulsory full semester subject across all management institutes; a time when doctoral theses on such subjects shall be encouraged.

After all, there are as many management lessons to be drawn from the works of Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, P G Wodehouse, O Henry and Jane Austen as can be gleaned from the tomes dished out by such luminaries as Peter F Drucker, McGregor and Philip Kotler.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/the-class-of-1976-how-it-managed-to-get-suspended-for-a-week

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/the-class-of-1990-how-ubs-prompted-sandeep-mann-to-learn-management-from-movies)

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(This is a dramatized version of the experiences of Prof. Sandeep Mann while he was at UBS. It is built around some facts furnished by him as to his movie marathon experience of those days. Inputs from him are gratefully acknowledged.

The narrative below is penned – or, key-board-ed, if you prefer – on his behalf. For bouquets, if any, please feel free to contact him. As to brickbats, you may risk hurling those at yours truly.)

Much before one of our learned professors started sharing with us, the batch of 1990, the nuances of Decision Making Under Uncertainty (DMUU, in short) and statistical models of exponential smoothening, we had figured out that two of the most high-risk businesses that beckoned us in the post-UBS phase of our lives were Politics and Movies, not necessarily in that order. Both need deep pockets, a very high risk appetite and, of course, the kind of obnoxious approach to human relations which many of us were not quite comfortable with.

Be that as it may, endeavours in both fields need as much support as they can get. The support may be in the form of either adulation or vitamin M.

Learning DMUU from movies

I confess my approach to learning Decision Making Under Uncertainty was by simply trooping in to movie halls and making my humble contribution to keep the hapless producers afloat. As the lights within the hall faded, I could readily identify myself with the kind of uncertainties the hero and the heroine faced in their lives, and how they managed to overcome the same.

poster of chandni

This is precisely the manner in which I focused my energies on supporting Bollywood in my own humble way. Bollywood’s financial stress was pulling at my heart-strings and I did my very best to cheer up our dream merchants in days which were so very obviously distressful for them.

Anyone in my place, exposed to an all-male batch listening to monotonous lectures inside class rooms, would have preferred the company of the likes of Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Kimi Katkar, et al.

khoj-hindi-film

From the 1st of July 1989 till the 30th of September 1989, in 92 days flat, I saw 104 movie shows. Quite a few were repeated several times.

The Just-In-Time approach

Here is the general schedule I used to follow:

11 AM: KC theatre

3 PM: Jagat theatre

6 PM: Neelam theatre

9 PM: Kiran theatre

The Just-In-Time approach always worked. The fact that three of the theatres mentioned were located within a walking distance of each other made the project feasible. The shoeshine boys outside these halls contributed their own bit by providing tickets as and when the same were not available through the official channels. As to meals, these comprised ‘samosas’, ‘bread pakodas’ and sandwiches dished out by the theatre canteens during intervals.

ram-lakhan

The Guinness Award which never came

There were several perks that I enjoyed in the process.

With all the brisk walking and jogging between theatres, a healthier glow suffused the physical frame. My interpersonal relationship skills got honed up, what with the extent of networking with ticket counter clerks I had to indulge in.

Each night, during sleep, dreams came of the motley gang of heroines seen on the screen, somewhat filling the void created by a singular absence of the delicately nurtured in our batch. Some dreams were about terrifying encounters with villains and their henchmen. During day times, I would imagine myself to be one of the dashing heroes, though I never dared to bash up any gang of broad-chested males I encountered on and off the campus.

honey_i_shrunk_the_kids

I am still baffled though as to how I was never contacted by any pretty lass from Guinness, offering me a kiss on a cheek and a nomination for holding the world record in watching so many movies back to back.

The magic of movies

The movies seen then remain a string of blurred imagery in the deep recesses of the little grey matter I can boast of.

when-harry-met-sally

Come September, and the priorities of life changed somewhat. The task of supporting Bollywood was left in the safer hands of the average person on the street, while the budding manager in me strived to catch up with my academic pursuits, so as to not cause a distress to my family.

No frivolous pursuit, this

Mind you, this was no frivolous pursuit. UBS indirectly enabled this with a deeper purpose. Several management lessons were learnt from the movies seen. The value of perseverance and hard work was understood. As the lights dimmed, one learnt the art of suspension of disbelief. Appreciation of arts led to an expansion of the consciousness. This led to some degree of spiritual upliftment.

eeshwar-film

The mind could get back to the all-male boredom of the classroom with some degree of freshness. The tyranny of the classroom became more bearable. The academic content could be absorbed better.

With me being literally off the campus for 92 days, peace prevailed. The delicately nurtured, giggling around at the Student Centre and hassled in general elsewhere, breathed easy.

tridev-film

Reorienting Management Education

People like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, R Balki and Rajkumar Hirani can teach us quite a lot about the techniques of managing uncertainty in our lives. Actors of the stature of our current MP from the City Beautiful, or her famous spouse, Anupam Kher, could also make us understand the nuances of managing careers rather well.

Lessons from literature, fine arts and movies have already become a part of the curricula at the premier institutes of management. I heartily approve. That is indeed the right way to make the young minds to get reconnected to their hearts and blossom even better. Absorbing the academic inputs with a dash of fine arts.

Mandarins who design courses for aspiring managers would do well to take note.

(Have a juicy anecdote to share with the alumni of UBS? Write to yours truly at akb_usha@rediffmail.com)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/the-class-of-1976-how-it-managed-to-get-suspended-for-a-week)

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Besides perfecting the art of getting suspended, organizing musical events and assisting in the successful launch of such cult classic movies like Sholay, the Class of 1976 also indulged in various pseudo-academic pursuits. Panjab_University

These included holding pan-Indian conferences in the pre-Jurassic days when not many money-gobbling dinosaur-like management institutes with a dubious pedeagogy happened to be clogging our streets.

Participation in elocution contests and winning trophies for the Alma Mater was a routine affair. So was attending professional events in New Delhi, holding a bridge championship, organizing a quiz contest and such other endeavours.

Maruti was then being heralded as a fulfilment of the common man’s transport ambitions. A detailed market survey based on ‘product attribute analysis’ was conducted, the results of which were eagerly lapped up by the Automobile Association of India.

Here are some details of the pseudo-academic endeavours of the gang of 1976.

A confluence of management intellectuals

The year 1975-76 saw the gang hosting the first-ever All India Management Convention. Studious beaks drawn from all over the country got together in the sylvan surroundings of the Sector 14 campus. The Chandigarh Meterological Department was none too pleased with the high concentration of Intellectual Sulfide and Managerial Monoxide in the air.

MBA 1976

After a painstaking research to collate information on the Management Institutes in India, one was appalled to discover that the total number of such august bodies was less than forty. With detailed planning and fleet-footed follow-up, around ten odd institutes decided to send their teams to the event. This included XLRI Jamshedpur and FMS Delhi, besides several others from all parts of India.

A cultural evening was held to showcase the soft power of UBS. However, a fashion show planned as a part of the fixture had to be scratched due to two reasons – a stiff-upper-lip attitude of the powers-that-were, and the sheer absence of participation from the tribe of the delicately nurtured.

One often wonders if this initiative of the 1976 batch was ever replicated by any of the subsequent batches over the past four decades, that is from 1976 till 2016. If so, it would be nice for one to stand corrected on the issue.

Bridging the intellectual divide

gandhi_bhawan_at_punjab_university

Incidentally, the gang of 1976 had five/six avid, die-hard bridge enthusiasts who burned many a midnight oil perfecting their skills in this unique game of patience, anticipation, mind-reading and clairvoyance.

A bridge championship open to all departments of Panjab University was duly held and was a resounding success.

Revitalizing the grey cells

Yet another initiative of the gand was a quiz competition open to teams from all departments of Panjab University campus.

This one, too, had several teams participating and created tremendous interest, excitement and buzz. It saw a nail-biting close finish.

Maruti and the Third Law of Academics

Some of you may be aware that, much like Newton’s Third Law of Motion, there exists a Third Law of Academics. It stipulates that ‘For every teacher who is not able to do justice to the subject at hand, there exist students who react by learning the subject with much gusto, entirely of their own initiative’. Their curiosity gets aroused. They try to read as much as they can. The end result is that they end up being passionate about the subject. Some even go on to build their careers around the same.

The Class of 1976 was no exception to this rule. Fundamentals of Market Research were handled in such a manner by the honourable faculty member concerned – may God bless his soul – that some members of the gang became quite passionate about the subject.

Learning from Philip Kotler

The launch of a Maruti car – touted then as a ‘peoples’ car at a price point of Rs 25,000 apiece – was in the offing. One of the groups decided to take up a market survey exercise. Mind you, this was not the kind which was done while sipping coffee with one’s female companion of the times at the Student Centre. This one involved real field work, burning of the proverbial midnight oil and lots of brains and brawn.

maruti_800_first

Principles of marketing laid bare by Philip Kotler were perused with a heightened degree of interest. Based on the sector scheme of the City Beautiful, a stratified random sampling was made. A preliminary survey led to the identification of some twenty five odd passenger car attributes. The master survey then followed, based on a questionnaire which was duly pre-tested. Unsuspecting citizens were pounced at at all hours.

Digestive troubles and Fortran

Those were simpler times, sans mobile phones and internet. Gaining entry into households was not a difficult task, save and except houses where members of the canine species resented the arrival of strangers and were not too amused with the proceedings. In many households, hospitality was awesome. Some of the field workers had a problem with their digestive systems, what with having been forced to gulp tea, butter milk and cold drinks at different houses within a matter of a few hours.

fortran-punched-card

A sub-group of super-intelligent members of the group were tasked with writing a Fortran-based computer program which could analyse data along twenty five different dimensions. Members of the group were afloat with punching cards, used those days for feeding data into the single computer the entire university boasted of.

The inner glow of satisfaction

The end result of a survey of about 125 households was the brand mapping of Ambassador, Fiat and Standard cars in a twenty five dimensional space. The ideal point in this space was identified. Speculation was made as to how close the yet-to-be-launched Maruti would be to this ideal point.

Academic scoring apart, the exercise gave immense inner satisfaction to those involved. The Automobile Association of India, when contacted, was happy to publish the results in its journal.

philip-kotler

The Third Law of Academics was thus validated. One does not know if Philip Kotler ever got to know what he had inspired in us lesser mortals, but the faculty involved with such subjects as Marketing, Market Research and Statistics was apparently happy with the results.

DRISHTIKONE 1987

The germs of conventionitis resurfaced some eleven years later.

During November 1987, in association with friends from other batches, a management convention was organized at the Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi.

This event was also a resounding success. Besides business leaders and management professionals of all hues, it saw an active participation from the UBS faculty as well.

Burnishing Brand UBS

panjab-university-ubs

All such pursuits perhaps helped one to shape one’s intellect even better than the academic course one was mandated to undergo. The art of event management was learnt. The value of networking was appreciated. In the process, Brand UBS got a new sheen.

(Inputs from Lalit Kapur are gratefully acknowledged)

(Related posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/the-class-of-1976-how-it-managed-to-get-suspended-for-a-week

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/10/09/the-class-of-1976-some-encounters-of-a-musical-kind

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/the-class-of-1976-forging-the-lingering-bonds-of-friendship)

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As the 40th anniversary get together of the UBS batch of 1976 winds up at Panjab University located at Chandigarh today, it is time to refresh our umbilical cord with the Alma Mater!

ashokbhatia

       In our child-like innocence, we worshipped in you the light beautiful,

You goaded us, disciplined us, making us learn things awesome and wonderful;

Admiring and amazed, we were like wet clay in the hands of expert potters,

Clinging to you for mind’s nourishment and support, like your very own sons and daughters.

Part of 1969 batch, Central School, Mathura (UP) Part of 1969 batch, Central School, Mathura (UP)

 

In our coming of age phase, you taught us to enjoy our freedom with responsibility,

Made us crunch complicated aphorisms and equations, keeping up our mental agility;

You had a tireless step so difficult to keep up with, our nature weary of concepts too great,

Prisoners of our human limitations, searching for livelihood, theoretical equations we did hate.

1974 batch, Delhi University, Department of Physics 1974 batch, Delhi University, Department of Physics

 

As we blossomed further, we found you to be friends, philosophers and guides,

At times we misbehaved but you continued exhorting us…

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       In our child-like innocence, we worshipped in you the light beautiful,

You goaded us, disciplined us, making us learn things awesome and wonderful;

Admiring and amazed, we were like wet clay in the hands of expert potters,

Clinging to you for mind’s nourishment and support, like your very own sons and daughters.

Part of 1969 batch, Central School, Mathura (UP)

Part of 1969 batch, Central School, Mathura (UP)

 

In our coming of age phase, you taught us to enjoy our freedom with responsibility,

Made us crunch complicated aphorisms and equations, keeping up our mental agility;

You had a tireless step so difficult to keep up with, our nature weary of concepts too great,

Prisoners of our human limitations, searching for livelihood, theoretical equations we did hate.

1974 batch, Delhi University, Department of Physics

1974 batch, Delhi University, Department of Physics

 

As we blossomed further, we found you to be friends, philosophers and guides,

At times we misbehaved but you continued exhorting us to explore unchartered waters and tides;

You were close to our hearts, yet distant, objective and impartial, difficult to comprehend,

Pushing us towards aims we could start understanding only when our association was about to end.

1975 and 1976 batches, UBS, Panjab University, Chandigarh

1975 and 1976 batches, UBS, Panjab University, Chandigarh

 

We explored new frontiers of music, dance, drama and elocution,

Hobnobbing with celebrities, we learnt the art of event execution;

The City Beautiful had seasons in which our romantic thoughts easily led to transient infatuations,  

Acquiring everlasting friendships, we braced to enter the business world to handle real situations.   

A friend, philosopher and guide, circa 1994

A friend, philosopher and guide, circa 1994

 

Some of us chose the challenges of entrepreneurship; some enriched the civil services archives,

Most of us crafted highly successful careers, adding value to our organizations, as also to our lives;

You were the platform from where we, like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, soared in the sky azure,

We continue to hold aloft the ideals and values learnt from you, our love and regards certainly pure. 

 

 

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