Normally when you speak you are addressing an audience and you are speaking about something. There is a message you are giving to somebody. Here when you are speaking on the occasion of a day, you are trying to say what does the institution mean to you. It is something worth thinking about.
I think there is something about the institute that calms you and makes you selfless. There is something about the institute that makes you think more about others.
An alumnus once said it well. He said, you will find many SPJIMR students who have gone to the US and other parts of the world. You will not find a single SPJIMR student with an American accent. There is something about the institute that keeps you grounded and humble.
For me what it has done is that it has changed my concept of leadership. I had come in as an entrepreneur. If I was asked to introduce myself, I would have a three-minute summary of my biodata. I had learnt that you need to put your label upfront. Over a period, I have stopped doing that now. When I introduce myself now, I just say that I am Ranjan and that’s it.
Over a period of time there is a sense of groundedness and humility which is very intrinsic to the institution which we all imbibe over a period of time. There is a sense of service and living for another that is also in the essence of the institute.
Finally, what sets the institute apart? I am going to tell you a small story. Three days back I was in Germany and there was this GMP student from the last batch who came to me saying that we want to meet you. I was waiting for a car to come and I see these students walking up to the hotel. There are five of them and they have all come by train. We are deciding on how we are going to go and what kind of food to eat. They said that they had tentatively decided on an Indian restaurant and I asked them how they are going to get there. They decided to book two cabs. The point is that they had come by train on their own from separate places all the way. They insisted that they would pay. By that time, I had spent four days so I knew a restaurant and I knew a pizzeria. I had also tasted various dimensions of the menu so I took over. We walked to the restaurant. The larger point is that I sat and talked with five students who had passed off the last batch and we talked like friends for two hours. We talked about studies, their careers, music and even their lives. I don’t think this could happen in any other institute where you could sit with students and have a conversation for two hours like friends. In no way does this diminish the faculty-student relationship. The fact is that you can have a personal relationship with students and interact like friends while maintaining a professional relationship. There is something in the way that the student and the faculty connect here.
There is something about the way that the staff and the students connect here that is unique to this institution. I went to the IIM Kolkata alumni meet and we were asked what you remember most about the institute? And believe me a large part of the people said that it was the networks that we built. But here people will talk about their faculty and the experiences.
I think it is the depth of caring that the SPJIMR community has for each other and the time that we willingly chose to spend with each other outside what we are required to do that defines the institute. So, I think connection, a sense of caring is the spirit of the institute. The spirit of the institute has to be something larger. There will come a time that I will not be in this institute. There will come a time when Mr. Iyer will not be there in this institute but the spirit of this institute will endure beyond us. And that I think is the SPJIMR way.