There are those rare moments in life when an email that lands in your mailbox can elicit a flurry of nervousness, excitement and unbridled joy. receiving that letter congratulating you for being amongst the top five at IIMB for the Aditya Birla Group (ABG) Scholarship programme is one such opportunity. ABG is certainly one of the best ways to have a conversation with some of the most interesting people out there (read, Rajat Gupta, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Co.; R.Sukumar, Editor, The Mint; Janmejaya Sinha,Asia-Pacific Chairman, The Boston Consulting Group, to name a few). But, more than that, the scholarship helps remind you constantly that you need to think beyond your personal goals. It urges you to work to make a bigger difference because you are at a position of privilege and have an inherent ability to create that change.
We caught up with two of the recipients of the scholarship on a flight back from the award ceremony that was held at the ITC Grand Central Hotel, Lower Parel between the 23rd and 25th of September, 2016. The four shortlisted candidates representing IIM Bangalore were Abhishek Ghosh, Aman Singhal, Annesha Chaudhuri and Krati Khandelwal.
Annesha Chaudhuri was born in Asansol, aptly nicknamed the ‘coal town’, in West Bengal. Her father is a qualified Chartered Accountant and her mother is a homemaker. She completed her undergraduate degree from NIT, Durgapur and worked in IOCL for 34 months. At IOCL, Annesha says she picked up the ability to work in a challenging environment that was dominated by men and learnt to stand her ground in the face of adamant workers. She felt that her opportunities in the corporate world would improve manifold and that’s when she decided to pursue an MBA.
She was fortunate to figure in the top 4 students who were flown down to Mumbai to spend a lavish 3 nights at the ITC Grand Central in Lower Parel Mumbai. The interview panel consisted of corporate honchos such as Rajat Gupta (MD, McKinsey & Co., India), R. Sukumar (Editor, Mint) and Janmejaya Sinha (MD, India, The Boston Consulting Group), a group that serves to heighten panic levels. Her interview began ahead of schedule as a result of which her nervousness levels hit the roof! Even before she could take her seat, she was asked to list out the three most important things in my life. She ran the panel through her CV and was immediately countered by Janmejaya who said she hadn’t highlighted the main point of her essay, which was to improve the education levels in India
Sukumar: What do you want to do after you graduate? And how would your choice of pursuing consulting help improve the cause promoting quality education for underprivileged children, with a special focus on girls?
Annesha: Consulting would be the biggest exposure to me in the widest range of industries. This is the only job that will help me increase my bandwidth beyond what any other education or job offer could give me. I believe that large corporations behave in ways that are very similar to how society functions. If consulting firms can operate to solve business problems, I’m sure that they can work towards solving bigger problems that plague society. I’m also hopeful of contributing in a way that would help solve at least a portion of the problem if not eradicate it completely.
Janmejaya: How have you contribute to society previously? What was your specific role in those organisations?
Annesha: I have not only been a part of teaching kids, but I’ve also been a part of the team that helps structure the curriculum to ensure that the kids remain engaged till the end. One of the organisations was Ankur Vidyalaya, which was an NIT Durgapur project and the other one was Bihari More Project
Sukumar: Do you read any non-fiction books?
Annesha: For me, books were of an escape that a means to learn something new. *Phew, only 10 minutes?! I hope I didn’t say something wrong!*
Annesha’s takeaway from the experience is that the interviewers were looking for authentic and simple people. The more easily you open up and have a conversation, the better your chances to win!
The recipients of the scholarship are also awarded a PPO from the Aditya Birla Group while the finalists are awarded a PPI. The Scholarship is open to the top 20 students from IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode and Shillong, in the Management stream.