Students Corner: Interview with Vikram Janikaraman, PGP 1999

  • Could you please provide a brief background and why you had decided to pursue an MBA?

Ans: I was an engineer. I pursued engineering from College of Engineering Pune. Also, I had an year of experience with Tata Motors, where I worked as Graduate Trainee.
Part of the reasons for deciding to do an MBA was mob mentality. But more importantly, while I was working at Tata Motors, I realized that there is more to success than just technical skill and finally it’s down to the people and how you rally people for a certain cause. It was quite clear to me that in order to succeed, you need to have a broader remit of what you understand and what you deal with. These were the major trigger points of pursuing and MBA.

  • Please describe your life while on campus. What all activities and events were you active with?

Ans: It was a blast during the 2-year stint at IIMB. We worked very hard and partied very hard. If I reflect back, the ability to take up the beating, standing up and delivering, working together in teams and surmounting obstacles plays a very vital role in one’s development. I think that fighting spirit and networking is what college gives you. A PGDM programme is quite intense as compared to an undergraduate one. We used to go to the water tank at that time as it was open then. Also, we didn’t have personal laptops at that time. We had computer center then and had to book slots for its use. So, that’s one place where we spent a lot of time discussing and working.

  • How has been your post MBA experience?

Right after graduating from IIM Bangalore, I worked for a year with ICICI, majorly in infrastructure projects. Later, moved on to AT Kearney from 2000 to 2004. Then to Glenmark and latest, I’m working with Boston Consulting Group since 2011. I have seen dot com bust and financial crisis during my career. The dot com bust was not as big an implosion, especially in India. Yes, people were a bit disrupted, but there were also many more jobs at that time. And people didn’t suffer for a long time. The global financial crisis was a bigger challenge because of the number of businesses got affected and hiring slowed down. There was a longer period of struggle in every sector more or less. The growth slowed down for a couple of years as the fall was much more structured.

  • What were the major driving forces for your choices in creating your career path?

It was all very different things at different times. Overall, varied experiences which these jobs have given me has made me far more effective at what I do. When I joined AT Kearney, consulting was very different then. It was not around driving impact. It was more about conventional – smart people coming up with answers. Rarely, someone will hire you for implementation. I joined Glenmark with the intention to grow fast in a company and focus on the execution side after having a stint at consulting. I am pretty satisfied with that experience because of the number of roles I played there at a very young age. It was a very exciting experience, got an opportunity to put systems in place and program management. I learned bottom-up from some of the very good people in the industry. The stint in Glenmark provided me a varied experience with much higher depth in every single area – from running a team, SAP implementation, restructuring the organization to running plants outside India. At BCG, I run the Auto sector and also lead the ops practice, where I serve many industries. I lead a team of partners in the Auto sector who is after Auto and mobility.

  • What advice you would like to provide PGP students for MBA and post-MBA careers?

I believe what students have access to in this campus is just outstanding. And I think the most important thing you would take from here is the opportunity to network with a large batch of 400+ students. And all these people will be successful in their own ways. And this is going to be the biggest asset – you knew a bunch of people really well, worked closely with them, studied with them, played with them, laughed with them for two long years which is a long period of time. So, invest in those relations. Once you get out, it might seem difficult to stay connected with your batchmates but make an effort to stay connected.

Management is multi-disciplinary. People while studying in colleges are forced to think in certain boxes while studying specific subjects. But while you are actually in real life, problems don’t present them unidimensionally. The problems don’t present themselves in ways we see in college and that’s a big challenge to overcome while working after graduation. Spend time discussing in groups – with fellow students, junios, seniors, Alumni regarding how different industries work.

So these are my two cents and invest your time in college.