“Pursuing my MBA at Great Lakes was an Inflection point for me.” – Lakshmikant PB, CFO, Caspian Impact Investment

Lakshmikant PB, PGPM Class of 2006

Chief Financial Officer at Caspian Impact Investments Pvt. Ltd.

1. What were you doing before business school and why did you choose to pursue an MBA from Great Lakes?

Prior to pursuing my MBA from Great Lakes in 2005, I worked with Citigroup in Chennai for four years. I was part of Citibank India’s loan operations team which was into booking mortgage loans, SME Loans and personal loans.  I noticed that the people who headed or managed the business segments of the bank possessed educational qualifications in Chartered Accountancy and/or Management or law. It was a little late in the day to pursue a CA or law, so I decided that if I wanted to get better at what I do or look at alternative career options in financial services, a degree in management is a must.

There’s a saying… “when the student is ready, the teacher appears”. I was ready to do a full-time management program but I could not afford to do the 2 year program due to financial and personal commitments. It was at this time that Great Lakes was setup and the College offered a 1 year full-time rigorous management program which was exactly what I wanted. I knew my journey was intertwined with Great Lakes.

2. How did the 1 year at Great Lakes transform you?

Ever since I completed my schooling, I knew I wanted to make a career in business and management and so I spent a lot of time reading business newspapers and management books. While I was “information-heavy”, I was raw and lacked the tools/platform to convert it to a serious career in business/management.

Pursuing my MBA at Great Lakes was an inflection point for me. The faculty, the courses and my peers helped bring a lot of clarity and focus, helped me overcome my inhibitions and showcase my thoughts. Due to the diversity of the class, I got appreciation and criticism for my thoughts and presentations and these helped me in fine tuning my thought process and look at the bigger picture. I continue to interact with faculty and my awesome batchmates on various issues and use their insights to enlighten myself. Great Lakes has provided me the direction to evolve myself.

3. How did your peer group impact your Great Lakes experience?

Having worked in an Operations setup, I was trained to standardize procedure and processes. My batch mates came from diverse backgrounds and it was initially tough for me to appreciate diversity. I had to unlearn a lot and this had a profound impact on me. It dawned upon me that if I wanted to work in a global setup, I had to learn to be tolerant and manage diversity. When I made presentations to the class on projects and assignments, I have had a fair share of appreciations and criticisms and have sometimes been slaughtered for not meeting the expectations. I improved my standards and put my heart into pursuing excellence. I learned a lot from my batch mates and I would say we all learned together. Today, there is a lot of mutual appreciation among us and that has helped me use them as sounding boards for both professional and personal commitments.

4. Please tell us about your journey post MBA and what you are currently doing.

Post my graduation, I joined a consulting firm owned by a classmate but due to professional differences, I left it after a few months and then joined Cognizant Technology Solutions as a Senior Business Analyst. I however found my true calling when in July 2008, I joined Caspian Impact Investment in Hyderabad. Caspian is an impact investment advisory services company managing and advising social impact funds totaling USD 140 Mn. I was able to utilize my prior experience in Citi to setup world class operations sending reports to the limited partners of the various Caspian Funds including conducting the valuation of the investments we made. I loved my role and in October 2011, I was given additional responsibilities to manage the accounting, audit, taxation functions, regulatory and statutory compliance, managing our relationship with bankers and fund administrators. In September 2014, I was made the Chief Financial Officer of Caspian Impact Investments Private Limited, a fund managed by Caspian in addition to my role as Financial Controller of Caspian group. In addition to existing responsibilities, I work with my other senior colleagues in fund raising also. I have extensive interactions with the Board and its Sub-committees in executing the vision and mission of Caspian.

5. Share some of the experiences at Great Lakes that have stayed with you or had a lasting impact.

My role model and inspiration to get into a career in business and management has been Late Prof C.K. Prahalad. While I have had the privilege to interact with him a little closely before Great Lakes, it was during his talk at Great Lakes about frugal and constrained innovation that I came to appreciate the efforts of Dr. Bala (our Dean) and what he was trying to achieve with Great Lakes. Instead of a big bang approach and splashing the cash, it was about having absolute clarity on mission and vision and using out of box thinking to achieve the same and achieve a robust and efficient return on equity.

Since Caspian is a VC/PE company working in the impact investment space, I have been able to see these tools put into action by our portfolio companies with frugal means and constantly innovating in their attempt to create social impact. Sustained profitability and growth leads to wealth creation only when capital and resources are used efficiently. Great Lakes is a wonderful example of this.

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