First look at IIM Trichy – in the city of temples, 100 year-old schools and now the IIM

The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Trichy at Thuvakudi, is a good 25 kilometres away from Trichy city, on a non-traffic day. Located on the main Thanjavore road, the only way to get there is by auto and auto drivers love haggling with the price. Only 1000 rupees both ways and no charge for waiting. Illai (no) waiting money, they say in broken English, knowing well that nobody makes a one-way trip to Trichy in the middle of the academic year.

And waiting you have to do at IIM Trichy, whether to just breathe in some fresh air or simply look around. Bang in the centre of the National Institute of Technology (NIT) campus, the IIM structure is enveloped in kilometres of greenery and winding roads that never seem to end. The main structure (which was originally) the NIT’s library is nothing to shout about architecture-wise but it exudes an unexplained warmth.

A lady (who possibly holds an important position in the administration department) is the default receptionist at IIM Trichy, since her cubicle is the closest to the entrance. Yet, she displays utmost patience while answering the proverbial question: I have come to meet ….. Her reply is a courteous: Please be seated. I will call the concerned person. The Placements Office, where I am asked to sit on the ground floor is tastefully furnished, with the AC full blast but there is constant sound of furniture-in-the-making in the rooms next door. On walking in, Dr Godwin Tennyson, Assistant Professor and Chairperson, Placement and External Relations at IIM Trichy explains. We have most of the infrastructure done in the building but we are continuously adding to whatever we have, which means more classrooms, better facilities.

A tour of the classes on the first floor leads to spacious classrooms on one side and yet-to-built classrooms on the other, currently stacked with wooden planks and plastic chairs. The faculty rooms resemble an old-world charm, lined on opposite sides of a small corridor and doors directly facing each other.

Almost done and ready to go

Dr Tennyson informs that IIM Trichy is possibly the only new IIM that had everything done and ready before the course started. Our director was sure that before we started, we had to keep faculty and class rooms ready. Unlike other newer IIMs and many other b-schools, IIM Trichy started with a permanent faculty strength of 10 which will go to 12 next month.

IIM Trichy’s director Dr Prafulla Agnihotri had spoken exclusively to Pagalguy in December 2010 and then assured that he would get at least 10 permanent faculty before he started the campus, a promise he kept.

Prof V Gopal, Dean Academics and Professor, Finance and Accounting, who joined our meeting in the Placement Room, said that a PhD degree from a reputed place is a big must to get in as faculty at IIM Trichy. We did not want to be a school that just picked faculty from different places because we had to start the term. We also did not want visiting faculty to take care of our core work. All members of the faculty at IIM Trichy have worked either in the US and Europe and other IIMs and Indian Institutes of Technology.

Background of students at IIM Trichy

Even infrastructure was ready

Not only the faculty, but IIM Trichy was offered to students with full infrastructure in place. Be it classrooms, the gym, hostels, tennis, badminton and volleyball courts, swimming pool and canteens all of which once belonged exclusively to NIT. Head of NIT, Trichy, Dr N Thamaraiselvan told PaGaLGuY that NIT willingly offered all its services to IIM Trichy. Our resources are shared and students of both the schools happily co-exist here.

In fact it is because the infrastructure was in place and the faculty that IIM Trichy was forced to up its intake from the sanctioned 60 students to 84. It is also believed that a huge group of students who had also applied to other IIMs up north, chose Trichy because of these two factors. Confirmed a student, Shishir Bhat: I think we all got calls from different IIMs but we chose Trichy because we realised everything was done here. To have 10 permanent faculty is something to be proud of.

Divya Manyala, another student, added that the infrastructure also served as a magnet to draw in students. To come into the campus and see that every facility is waiting helps a great deal.

Some more on infrastructure

The hostels were there and up for grabs when the students came in. All students have a room each, though they share the buildings with NIT students. Divya added that for the women, it is a two-bedroom room and nothing short of luxury. Imagine for one person to stay in a two-bedroom apartment. The rooms are huge and it’s a beautiful feeling. The hostels are just behind the main building, so when lectures start at 8.30 am in the morning (generally till 1.30pm), it’s only a hop, skip and a jump to class.

The canteens serve some of the best food, say students. Divya adds that while her canteen serves the best parathas and north-Indian food, the boys say that their cooks cannot be beaten when it come to South Indian fare. Besides, there are plenty other places to snack the whole day.

Arun Raghuraman and Rohan Shinde swear by ‘Snacky’, a cozy fast-food joint in the campus, which is surrounded by trees on all sides. It serves everything from fried rice to Bombay bhel and the portions are quite big too. Mohan Ganesan states that that dhabbas lined outside the campus, which are open till early morning also serve authentic Punjabi food. For IIM Trichy parties, there are restaurants like Banana Leaf and Hotel Breeze in Trichy city, which are patronised.

Work-experience profile of students at IIM Trichy

We are the first

Along with the infrastructure and faculty, the fact that students get to do everything for the first time is a big thrill at IIM Trichy. Says Divya: We are setting up everything for the very first time. We are deciding what clubs need to be started and what activities need to be worked on. Shishir say that it is a matter of prestige that whatever the first batch of IIM Trichy does will be continued for generations together. It gives a good high, he said. Though students are also working on getting their website rolling and exciting, the fact that NIT hosts it, slows them down a bit.

Gearing for placements

IIM Trichy is gearing for its first round of placements. The director who is presently in France, (on an invitation by the French government to seek tie-ups and exchange students) has already began working with his faculty members on placements. Dr Tennyson says that companies have been approached and the season seems well-set. When asked if he expects trouble, given that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently announced that the world may be hit by another recessionary phase, Dr Tennyson says India has a huge buffer and such effects are not felt directly. But then Trichy is not a big city and not superbly connected to the rest of the country will that not act as a deterrent? No said, Prof Gopal. There are two flights to Trichy everyday and it is well-connected by rail. For those who do have a problem getting here, video conferencing is always there.

Just for the record, when this correspondent was in Trichy, some flights to and fro were postponed way beyond 12 hours.

Trichy known for education and religion

Trichy, has been traditionally known as an educational town because many of its schools and colleges are more than a 100 years old. Former Indian president Dr APJ Kalam, and writer Sujatha Rengarajan studied at St. Joseph’s College in Trichy while another former president R. Venkataraman studied at the National College, also in Trichy. The other thing that Trichy is known for is its temples. The famous one being Rock Fort Temple which is located on top of a massive rock and built into the rock. It can be reached by a steep flight of 437 steps cut into the rock. Rock Fort is where IIM Trichy students often go just for a change of pace.

More dreams

There are some more milestones to achieve, says faculty of IIM Trichy till they can say surely that they have a perfect place going. We want to be truly global in our approach so that we attract the best of faculty and students, says Prof Gopal. The Accounting professor shared that while on a recent academic trip abroad, he was made to realise that Indians in general, who know English tend to speak it very fast, at least more fast compared to other Asian countries. I took that as a lesson and now tend to be slower and more clear when I speak, which helps the students.

IIM Trichy also wants to start a Fellowship Programme soon, not to mention a couple of other courses lined up like some short-term and tailor made course addressing the needs of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Tier 2 towns. About 15 multi-national companies and large industrial houses have already come forward to collaborate with IIM Trichy.

And despite having such a perfect start to its year, and being treated graciously by NIT, IIM Trichy has decided to move into its own campus in the near future. Work is expected to start on 172 acres of land between Bharathidasan University and Anna University of Technology, on the Trichy-Pudukottai highway, 17 km south-east of the city centre and 12 km from Tiruchirappalli International Airport. It will be at least 2-3 years before the new campus starts functioning. Which means the first batch of students will probably not be around to experience the new place. But that’s okay, says Shishir. We will always be remembered because we will have set the pace and direction for the future batches. What will change will just be the outer building. The ethos and culture will be ours.

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