New Manager

Teachers as friends, friends as teachers

| Updated on: Jul 22, 2014
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Excerpts from a commencement speech to students of the 2014-16 batch, the 17th, at IIM Indore by D Shivakumar, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo India

Your generation is very different and very blessed. You will enter the business world and society when India is a force to reckon with. This wasn’t the case two decades ago. India matters today and you will be a global citizen and a global manager. The world is your stage. In a digital world, boundaries are mere lines on a map and you will cross boundaries effortlessly. Prepare yourself for that by being sensitive of other cultures, by maybe learning a foreign language or two.

You have so far seen teachers as people who control you; I submit to you that you should view them as friends. My professors at my business school (IIM Calcutta) were friends and are still my friends. You are a diverse batch; you can learn a lot from each other, and you will benefit a lot if you view your teachers as friends and friends as teachers.

You will spend 24 months here, but IIM Indore will define you for the next three decades. A soldier is always proud of the country he defends, similarly students must be proud of the institute they study in, and you have many reasons to be proud of this great institute. Learn as much as you can — curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular, be an all-rounder, don’t be a uni- dimensional grades person. Be passionate about something that captures your imagination, and be the best at it.

Life is not a smooth journey in today’s context. So, don’t expect a smooth passage. As you go through life, have the humility to succeed and the strength to fail. People want to be around humble people and don’t like arrogant people in any sphere of life. You will fail a few times; failure is not fatal, and it is merely a good learning lab. Failure will test you and will teach you who your real friends are. You will be fine as long as you treat success and failure in a balanced way.

We measure a lot of things in today’s world, in measuring many things, we have lost the meaning of why we are doing so many things and chasing so many measures. Life is not a logical journey; there is adequate space for magic in the journey. Don’t be purely logical, have the heart for relationships, don’t be afraid to love and be loved. Emotions are good as you chase your dream.

You are very good and that’s why you are here. Each and every one of you is good and that will pose a problem in combining as a team. You will do many projects together. Don’t stick with the same project team for the two years; change your team every project, that will give you the benefit of working as one with many different people. That team work is a valuable lesson you will take to the workplace. You will listen, you will fight, you will challenge, you will argue, you will defend, but you will learn a lot as long as you are putting in your best for the team. And, when you do your best for the team, the team will benefit.

Have the courage to be adaptable and change in the two years you spend here. The changes that you will make here will help you succeed in a future world. You are a global citizen; the world is your stage. Think big and dream big. Nothing can stop you as long as you are willing to learn, willing to change and willing to improve your game.

These two years will go by pretty quickly, so make the most of them. Treat your teachers as friends and friends as teachers.

Published on July 22, 2014

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