aWe do what we wish to and not what atheya want us toa: PaGaLGuY B-school Backpacker goes to KJ Somaiya, Mumbai

It was about half an hour after noon when a short auto ride
from the local train station brought me to the Somaiya Vidyavihar campus which
apart from the KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research houses
eleven other educational institutes. A tall arch at the beginning of a well
maintained road signifies the start of the campus. There is a line of trees
through this road and the sight which greeted me when I reached the campus was
that of many groups of students enjoying a break of sorts with people eating
lunch, chattering gaily or playing sports. I confirmed from a few students while
walking along this road that the business school was straight ahead and reached
the MBA college in about five minutes. A couple of students met me at the
college building and proceeded to show me around the campus.

Presently there is construction work in progress at the
business school with facilities being prepared for new programs which would
focus on supply chain management and human resources. The current first year
students in the Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) course constitute
the first batch of students to enjoy campus residential facilities. The other
sought after management program at KJ Somaiya is Masters in Management Studies
(MMS) and while 95 percent of the students in this course are from Mumbai, MMS
students do not as of now have the option of on-campus residential facilities.
aOnly a handful of MMS students end up interacting with PGDM students.
Residential facilities would definitely help improve interactions. Committees
and events are the main means of interaction with PGDM people for MMS
students,a says Jinesh Vasa, first year student (MMS).

As far as campus life, culture and lingo are concerned,
Nikit Tekriwal a first year PGDM student says simply, aThere is no campus lingo
as such and in that sense we are quite cultured. The camaraderie between
students has become much better because of the new hostel facility. Campus life
is in a sense just about starting over here.a An example of how the new
residential facility is bringing about interactions between students is an
informal group called aCircle of Trusta which has come up in the hostels. The
group so far consists of ten odd people with common interests who meet, devise
strategies to crack exams and brainstorm over how they can best leverage their
core competencies. Members of the group identify others who they believe would
fit in and informal interviews are conducted as part of the screening process.

MMS students are active in another interesting initiative
called aThe parallel MBAa. Students often do not ask questions in an
uninhibited manner in class presentations as they do not wish to adversely
affect the marks that their classmates score. In order to get around this
roadblock and also to better understand issues relating to coursework, students
conduct informal sessions in which they freely discuss presentations made in
class, topics concerning the economy in general and other issues. aThere are
some topics which a few students will inevitably know really well and these
sessions greatly help others to become abreast of things. We have reaped the benefits
of these interactions in case study events and group discussions,a adds Jinesh

Classes at the business school usually commence at nine or
ten in the morning and get over by four in the evening. Assignments, as a PGDM
student puts it, are amanageablea. Another student quips, aMBA studies over
here are definitely less intensive than what we experienced in graduation. In
the free time available, we catch up on movies which we couldnat see during our
undergraduate studiesa. aThe best part about studying here for me is that Saturdays
and Sundays are usually holidays and, for my section, Thursdays and Fridays are days when we
have just the one class. Guest lectures are at times held on Friday and the schedule of course varies from section to sectiona, adds a first year PGDM student. Isnat
it strange for students at a business school to have so much free time? aOver
here we get to do what we wish and not what atheya want us to,a simply says a
first year MMS student. Students also explain that such a schedule also allows
them to participate in events organized at other B-schools.

Discussions about life at KJ Somaiya business school took
place over lunch taken from the college canteen. I was advised to not visit the
hostel mess where Monday lunch would be nothing worth writing home about. Only
vegetarian food is available on campus but as students explained, aThere are
plenty of non-vegetarian food joints located nearby. Also, we do have ways and
means of working around the problem of having only vegetarian food on campus.
Obviously these cannot be mentioned in print!a


There is a giant chess set present just
outside the academic building of the b-school. Students in their free time
often enjoy a game of chess here and savour the experience of playing chess in
this unique way. Two students were engaged in one such chess match when I left
the KJ Somaiya campus at about four in the evening.

So, the B-school Backpacker has made his fourth stop! (His first three stops were GIM, Goa, SJMSoM, IIT Bombay and Symbiosis Infotech Campus, Pune.) If you wish to invite him to your campus please feel free to shoot a mail to editor pagalguy com.