Students Corner: Interview with Mr. Amardeep Malik, PGP Batch of 1999
Amardeep Mallik is from the PGP 1999 batch. He was the Cultural Secretary and one of the founders of Unmaad. He was a former Senior VP in a leading BPO MNC, and currently leading a start up.
1) Why did you decide to do an MBA?
Ans: I was an engineer from NIT Allahabad, and went on to work at Tata Motors. A lot of my colleagues had got through CAT, and went to the IIMs. I thought that an MBA from an IIM would give a good boost to my career. Life in manufacturing is not easy, you have to handle shifts. I felt my quality of life and my access to large MNCs would improve. I was already reasonably well placed, so wanted to do my MBA only from a premier institute. IIM A and B were my top choices. I had no particular sector in mind, was quite open to exploring different sectors – the quality of the job and the company were more important to me.
2) What is your best memory from your time on campus?
Ans: Apart from academics, I was very interested in all round cultural activities, and organizing parties, movie shows and festivals. Once I became the Cultural Secretary, I could do these things officially. We had the LD (laser disc) movie shows at the OAT(Open Air Theater), with huge screens and speakers – it was an experience much better than that at L Square. We would watch 3-4 movies, all in one night under the sky, mostly short English movies.
3) What was the story behind the beginnings of Unmaad?
Ans: We did not have any annual cultural festival back then. We decided to have one, like the way the other IIMs and the IITs had. We wanted to make the cultural life on campus more colourful. We first had to sell the idea to the SAC, the Director and the administration. Then, we had to sell the fest to companies outside for sponsorship. We had no brand equity. We decided to invite all the leading MBA institutes In India and all the leading Bangalore colleges and managed to get some pretty good teams from all across India. We were able to pay for the railway fares for these teams. We got some pretty good sponsorships, giving us a budget of Rs 10 lakhs, which was quite a large sum for 1999.
We managed to get the largest Indian rock brand , Parikrama With now famous music director Vishal Dadlani as lead singer . Their concert was one of the highlights of my life on campus. Unmaad means unbridled passion, and we were indeed extremely passionate about it.
We had faced multiple issues. Winning the internal battle, convincing the Director/PGP Chair and administration. Getting sponsorships for the first time was another challenge. We pitched mainly based on our plans, the IIM brand equity, and the fact that we would have teams from all over the country, meaning a lot of youth and footfall. We put up the sponsors’ names on banners and stalls. There was a lot of planning and execution involved – bringing in participants from all over India, managing them here, having multiple committees for hospitality, shows, events, music, etc. We had to make detailed project plans from scratch – we did not have any learnings from the past to rely on.
During the rock show, the speakers went bust about one hour into the show, a show that was originally scheduled for 2 hours. The artist, Vishal Dadlani, had a flight the same night, so he left early. But apart from the ending of the rock show, most of the other events went smoothly. After the fest, the people were very excited and happy. We had a lot of parties after that!
The Unmaad experience helped me and others much later as well. We learned a lot from executing such a large event – project management, how to create brand equity from scratch, pitching to external firms for sponsorship, getting internal buy in. There was a lot of ‘jugaad’ involved too, we had to be on our feet at all times and think of backups for everything. These are learnings you may get very slowly in the corporate world, so it was good to get a flavour of it beforehand. We had no power and authority over other people, we had to manage through informal networks and relationships. In the corporate world, especially as a project manager – we have to work in cross functional teams as well, where informal communication plays a crucial role.
4) Who would you consider your role model?
Ans: I am a big fan of Warren Buffett. I was a senior leader at EXL Service(Leading BPO and Analytics MNC), but I left in 2016 to launch my own start-up in equity advisory. I have my own blog on equity investment too. Warren Buffett invests in high quality firms for the long term, I would like to do something very similar.
5) What advice would you like to share with current students?
Ans: I would like to say that, while focusing on academics is very important, one should also focus on having a holistic experience at IIM B. It gives you an experience which can’t necessarily be obtained through academics. Working on group projects and assignments and organizing Business/cultural events/festivals is also a very valuable experience. All these things help you have a richer life at IIM B, so have fun while you are here.
My second advice is that campus placements is where your career starts, it does not end there. One of my batchmates started his own venture, which went into bankruptcy soon after demonetization. Even if your job is not that great, you can grow rapidly. Don’t get too obsessed over things, life happens.
Thirdly, be clear in what you would like to do in life, and choose your electives accordingly. Use your internships to help you choose your right company for your finals. It is okay if you don’t have complete clarity now. I had myself worked for nearly 15-16 years in the BPO sector, before deciding to launch a startup on a different area.