Branch Manager, ITC Limited
Mr. Manu Gahlowt is an alumnus of the 2013 Batch of MBA and has specialized in the field of Marketing. He is currently a Branch Manager at ITC Limited. Mr. Gahlowt has experience in working in areas such as marketing, category development, operations, trade marketing and sales. He is one of our young and charismatic alumni who has some great insights to share, drawing from his own experiences.

Q1. What is/are the most cherished memory/memories that you can recollect from your times atNMIMS?
The first memory that strikes me is of the times we spent on group assignments and case studies, those endless arguments and counter arguments were extremely interesting. Back then NM had its own unique charm- long queue for lifts, sharp 9am attendance, 2 floor campus, 80% attendance etc. But the campus is more about the people in it. I met some wonderful faculty and colleagues during my time at NMIMS which I cherish the most.

Q2. Can you please share any insights from your academic or professional life that inspired or motivated you?
I think I have been lucky to be surrounded by the right people- good company with diverse ideologies and perspectives. It is important to understand and accept the world with multiple views. There is no one formula to success. You will find people with totally different personalities achieving similar results. Listening to people speaking about their journey passionately keeps me going.

Q3. How did you shape your career from the time you left NMIMS and what lesson does it have for students?
The fact of the matter is that in the first 1-2 years you as an individual hardly contribute much to the organization. Organizations have their own systems and processes which they have built with years of experience and expertise. In the initial years, you typically try to fit in the organization. However, as a young manager who doesn’t carry any baggage of experience, I see a lot of opportunity for young MBAs to get fresh views and perspectives to the table. A lot of times you see obvious limitations in the ground processes and that’s where you should pick them up and try to better it. Don’t worry about the scale of the problem. Pick up a problem and solve it. MBAs are taught to look into the problems with multiple perspectives and you should use it to generate multiple solutions to a problem. Discuss them with the people facing the problem and come up with an agreed solution. If you can solve real problems on the ground, that’s where you get attention of the management and slowly start build up your own reputation. I believe that an MBA student must be reasonably well-versed with all aspects of business- Marketing, Finance, IT, Operations and HR. Mostly the business solution isn’t just a solution of one marketing stream. While it is important for you to specialize in one stream (only from placements perspective) I believe students should not neglect other streams in the second year. Over the years, you will talk to multiple stakeholders for getting a job done. If you understand their language and concerns, stakeholders will value you more and you will be able to manage teams better.

Q4. What are the habits a student must inculcate to gain the most from an MBA course?
As I said earlier, one should be reasonably versed with various management streams. The real breakthrough insights come at the intersection of ideas. No one idea is good enough – it is multiple ideas which makes a great product/ process. Adaptation of ideas to solve newer problems is critical – it’s a skill very few professionals possess. With new business models coming in, I think this skill will become very critical for managers.

Q5. Any advice that you would like to give our budding managers at NMIMS drawing from your own journey?
First advice is get real asap…!!
In most of the case studies taught in B-school, the protagonist is a CXO trying to solve a business problem. All discussions then happen around various strategies which he must consider to turn around his business. These discussions are good to have in a class to build your own thought processes, but as soon as you get a job, you aren’t a CXO, rather you are nowhere close to it. You join at- what I call it- the bottom of the pyramid. Factually you don’t join at the bottom of the pyramid, but you must remember you must get close to your frontline as much as possible in the first 2 years. If you are unable to get that experience and understand their thought processes and inspirations, you will never be able to lead them. Worse, if they don’t connect with you they will leave you. Gone are those days of limited opportunities where people were stuck with the job- your team members now choose to work for you and if they feel you are not connected to them then the good ones will leave first and you will be stuck with the “notso-good” members. Another thing that I have seen fresh MBA graduates do is to change everything very fast. I strongly advice against that. Everything happens for a reason, much of it you will not understand immediately- give yourself 3-6 months before you make any change. And most importantly, life is more than just a job. Personal life is as important as your professional life. Make your choices wisely and accept the consequences. It is more important to be happy than successful.

Q6. Looking back at the past, is there something that you wish you had done differently with respect to your student life?
As you grow in the organization, you realize that you are as good as your team. The only concepts that I have revisited post MBA are those of Organization behaviour. The subject is perhaps one of the most important subjects of MBA course. I wish I could have taken it more seriously back then..