Many of you would have just completed your B-school programme. A year, or two prior, depending on the programme, you had taken the significant step towards your professional and personal growth and development by joining a B-School. It was the start of a new chapter that will serve you well, as a great platform and launch pad for your dreams, as you embark on the next phase of an exciting journey of your career.

Most of you would have already had work experience of a few years before you joined your B-School. That was ideal. I think the capacity to absorb and contribute to class room learning is so much more after work-ex, especially since most B-Schools use the case method for teaching.

The method had called upon you to put yourself in the shoes of CEOs facing a specific problem. Your professor most often guided and acted as an enabler to the discussion. The outcome, as you would have found when discussing with friends in other sections, could be quite different; varying for example, with the diversity in the specific classroom. This will be true as you face situations in your career as well.

For B-school students being mindful of the following key points, should help them get the best out of their B-School education for future success.

Practical Application

It is appropriate that the pedagogy of most B-Schools — the pioneer being Harvard Business School — focuses on the practical application of course work. It is important for students to consider taking special interest in projects and case studies, that allow them first-hand experience of solving problems.

While course work does form the foundation of one’s academic journey, learning is a continual process, and one’s ability to translate knowledge into sustainable solution-oriented action will set one apart.

Acquiring new skills

Embrace any opportunity to acquire new skills. In doing so, you not only equip yourself for the challenges of today, but also set yourself up for a successful and fulfilling career in the future. The world does reward those who are willing to adapt, evolve, and continually learn.

This allows you to stay relevant in this fast-evolving digital age, unlock new opportunities and more importantly build resilience. One must seize this opportunity to cultivate a mindset of growth and innovation, and that will carve a path to greatness in the business world.

Coincidentally, just a few weeks ago, I was exhorting senior partners, of a major consultancy firm to do exactly the same; reinvent themselves with the big topics of the day — like AI, Digital, Industry 4.0, Metaverse, Sustainability — and how to apply these, to remain relevant. They were in their 40s and 50s!

Diversity in career paths

The business world offers a multitude of career paths, each with its unique set of opportunities. One must embrace the opportunity to explore different industries, roles and functions to gain a broader perspective. Stepping out of the comfort zone, and taking calculated risks will also enhance learning and growth. One must keep an open mind and seize opportunities to learn from diverse experiences.

Remember, your career is a journey, and it may take unexpected turns, so embrace the unknown and be adaptable. Yet try to link it back to your larger goal, the vision, the ‘why’ you are doing what you are doing to find true purpose and happiness in the long run. The ‘how’ and the ‘what’ follows the ‘why’. And all this started at your B-School. Develop this mindset and you stand to conquer come what may.

Ever-evolving landscape

To thrive in today’s business world, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the ever-evolving landscape across different industries. Stay updated with the latest trends, technological advancements, and market dynamics. Develop a global mindset and embrace the interconnectedness of various industries. Industries are morphing into ecosystems. A series of partnerships.

As an example: auto industry to mobility solutions; banking to fintech platforms and production lines to intelligent factories. Innovation causing disruption can come from anywhere. And we have seen it happen again and again. Example: Tesla vs the traditional auto industry, Apple phones vs Nokia etc.

Leadership is is a mindset

Leadership skills are crucial regardless of the path you choose. Effective leadership involves inspiring and influencing others, fostering collaboration and driving positive change. Seek opportunities to develop your leadership abilities, whether through formal roles or informal initiatives.

Remember, leadership is not limited to titles or hierarchies; it is the ability to influence positively through example. It is a mindset and a set of skills that can be developed and honed throughout your career.

As an example, many years ago, a former colleague Adarsh (name changed), inspired not only his fellow workers, but 1,500 of us to understand that zero-defect in Quality was possible in the Indian context.

Adarsh hummed and smiled as he worked. His was the neatest and tidiest workstation. That particular plant, in just a few years, went onto compete with world-class Japanese products in many parts of the world. Adarsh was visually challenged! He became the role model for a changed mindset.

Lastly, as you possibly did in your B-School, remember, a sound body and mind are the foundations of success. Exercise regularly, develop further on your preferred hobby and sport, continue to spend time with friends and family, enjoy what you do to the fullest. And the rest, as is said, will take care of itself.

The writer is former MD & CEO, Ashok Leyland and JCB India