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#MyRiseMoment – Avinash Thakur, IMT Ghaziabad


The Mahindra Group had flown us from different parts of the country to be a part of Mahindra Day and had arranged a meet with the senior leadership. But, how did we reach here?


Avinash Thakur

Campus Winner, Mahindra Rise 2019, IMT Ghaziabad

Our flight touched down at Mumbai airport on a Sunday evening. Monsoon had just begun and we found ourselves entering the city immersed in a light drizzle. We were headed towards the Ginger Hotel where we would join more students like us from India’s top B-schools. All of us were thrilled about the next day and were unaware of what was in store for us. The Mahindra Group had flown us from different parts of the country to be a part of Mahindra Day and had arranged a meet with the senior leadership. But, how did we reach here?

7 days ago, here at IMT Ghaziabad, we were gearing up for the first B- school competition to arrive on campus. The Mahindra Rise Challenge was exclusively for 1st-year students of 13 premier B-schools across the country. 1 month into our curriculum, we were excited and confused at the same time. The only information that we had about the event was that it would last for 6 hours, starting at 6 pm in the evening. Since it was the first event of its kind,  our seniors too had no clue about the event.

By 5 PM, most of us here on campus had started scrambling and mentally preparing ourselves for the surprise that was about to embrace us. More than 3500 participants spread across 13 B-schools were gearing up along with us to compete against each other in this challenge.  Given below are the 4 rounds that were to be completed in the stipulated time of 6 hours.  

Round 1: #MyRiseStory – Asked us to dig deeper into our life stories and explore one instance from our lives where we felt we came out successful against all odds.

Round 2: Simulation – The Start-up Challenge – A gamification based round where we stepped into the shoes of an entrepreneur and made crucial decisions in running and eventually selling our companies.

Round 3: World of Tomorrow – Asked us to point out a pressing issue that might serve as an opportunity to be a sustainable business along with the impact it might have on the society.

Round 4: Psychometric Assessment

The above 4 rounds could be attempted in any sequence and we had the freedom to use any medium such as a Word document, PPT, photographs, video and any other creative way to represent our idea.

Over the next 6 hours, we found ourselves engrossed into the 4 rounds, tackling the Business Simulation, reflecting during the Psychometric Assessment, pondering over our own life stories and ideating over a pressing issue that was personal to us. This resulted in an enriching and self-learning experience and I was happy to have been a part of.

3 days later, on 10th July 2019 wrapping up with the last class of the day, I received an email with the subject “Mahindra Rise Challenge||Winners”. Impressed by the promptness shown by the Mahindra team in delivering the results, I opened the email in curiosity to find out the winners from our campus. It took me a while to digest the fact that the email was specifically sent to the 13 Campus Winners. I was shocked! Frozen up! I felt a tingling sensation all over my body along with a racing heart. It took me a while to realize what had just happened. I was the Campus Winner from IMT Ghaziabad. 3 days ago while attempting the challenge, never had a thought crossed my mind on the possibility of me winning the challenge! All this while I had been content about the fact that I had managed to complete the challenge and had given a good shot at it.

A few days later, the campus runner up Shikha and I were emailed our flight tickets. To and fro travel along with hotel stay was arranged for us in Mumbai for the Mahindra Day event on 15th July 2019 at Mahindra headquarters in Worli, Mumbai. We were thrilled about what was about to come!

At 7:30 am on the 15th of July, our cars waited for us to take the “Special 26” winners to the event. Driving through the Bandra-Worli Sea Link on a cloudy morning we were mesmerized by its beauty. We reached Mahindra Headquarters around 9 am and were greeted by the Head of GMC Program & Mahindra War Room, Ms. Anisha Saluja along with the HR team of Ms. Nandini Bhalla and Mr. Bharath Mandhyan who had planned an eventful day for us. Upon entering a studio/event room we found circular tables with name tents and a welcome letter placed on the tables. All of us located our respective name tent and were surprised to find goodies waiting for us. A ‘Mahindra Rise’ branded backpack, pen and water bottle along with a full box of Ferrero Rochers!  

The event started with an ice-breaker. Each one of us introduced ourselves to the rest of the attendees and were asked to talk about a predetermined number of funny/quirky things about ourselves.  Following this, we were embraced with the first session of the day. Mr. Rajeev Dubey, Group President (HR & Corporate Services) & CEO (After-Market Sector) delivered an exhilarating talk on ‘Creating Tomorrow’s company’. He mentioned how this VUCA world now has an added countervailing power, a pushback by all stakeholders to create the new normal. One big takeaway for me was an insight into the ‘3+5’. The 3 pillars of purpose for the Mahindra Group as a federation along with the 5 behaviors that bring the 3 pillars to life.

The 3 pillars:
1.      Accepting No Limits
2.      Alternative Thinking
3.      Driving positive change in everything we do

5 supporting Behaviors:
1.     Whole new mind – Using not just the left brain or the right brain, but a combination of both to drive innovation and exhibit empathy
2.      Multipliers – Listening, respecting the view of other people, focusing on the right question
3.      Managing Fear and Leveraging Fear
4.      Mindfulness
5.      Trust

Following this session, we were embraced by a panel discussion by 4 very eminent leaders of the Mahindra Group. Dr. Prince Augustin (Executive Vice President, Group Human Capital & Leadership Development), Mr. Ramesh Iyer (Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services), Suman Mishra (Senior Vice President, Strategy for the Mahindra Group) and Jagdish Mitra (Chief Strategy Officer and Head of growth at Tech Mahindra).  It was truly eye-opening to know about the day to day challenges they faced and how each one of them overcome these hurdles. They emphasized on the importance of being in touch with the challenges faced by the business world because only by spending more time with businesses and engaging with organizations will we be able to create the maximum learning for ourselves. They didn’t jargonize or preach but just helped us realize the core values without which running any successful business would be impossible. We spoke of how at the center of every organization lies a passion, and only by harnessing that into every task,  can you build an effective and productive team.

At the same time, they were also quick to remind us of the importance of having hobbies and interests outside of our work so as not to burnout in this high-stress environment which has become our new normal.

The next event was on ‘Driving Positive Change’ delivered by Mr. Anirban Ghosh, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Mahindra Group. He gave us an insight into the various social development programs being undertaken and the vision of Mahindra Group to be Carbon Neutral by 2040.

By 1 pm lunch was served. This gave us a chance to interact with the students of other B-Schools. All of us immediately bonded over the fact that this was the first day in an entire month, where we didn’t have to think about the plethora of assignments and project work waiting for us when we got back. While our peers were working on balancing P&L accounts, we were here 1500 km away, learning about the ways of Corporate Life.

Post-Lunch we had a session on ‘The Brand You’ by Mr. Rajesh Jejurikar, President of Farm Equipment Sector and visiting faculty at SPJIMR. This was a power-packed session on creativity, identifying our core strengths and Summer Internships. He also very patiently answered all our queries on the uncertainty that’s about to come in the next 2 years and how best we deal with them.

The last and final event was a ‘Speed Dating Round’ with current and ex-GMCs all the way from 2010 to fresh 2019 graduates. In this session, they addressed each table’s queries for about 10 minutes and then switched over to the next table. This made sure that we had interacted with all of them. All of us asked the most naïve doubts and received amazing advice on the queries we had. It helped us in building a clear line of thought about our approach to B-school and beyond.

The event concluded with a final feedback session and one last interaction with the amazing organizers. Amidst all the hustle to get back on our respective flights back to campus and driving back with that same breath-taking view of Mumbai City, I pondered over the immense knowledge and understanding of the real world that had just been delivered to us. I was humbled to have gotten insights into over 100 years of cumulative experience by very eminent leaders, distilled into one power-packed day.  I discovered a reignited passion and a reaffirmed promise to myself to utilize every moment of the next two years at B-school and focus on learning with my peers and developing our skills together as a team.

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