“The School’s efforts in keeping the alumni connected and with the School are commendable.”, says, Shikha Bagai, PGPMAX Co ’11 and Managing Director – India & Mauritius Vistra Group.

The Great Lessons in Exponential Growth

Passionate in garnering knowledge, an optimist to the core, and masterfully balancing traditionalism with the modern Shikha Bagai, PGPMAX Co ’11, is the Country Managing Director at Vistra heading India and Mauritius. Shikha has 21 years of experience in financial services.

With a fourth-grade daughter in tow, managing home, work and doing an MBA alongside required her to summon every ounce of her energy. Her PGPMAX decision was hinged on the need for a format that allowed her to continue with all this and ISB, she says, ensured it was rigorous, replete with learning, and fabulous, all at the same time.

‘When I decided to pursue PGPMAX (Founding Class), I was in a CFO role. I realized the need for a formal format of education to transition from a general management role into  business partnership roles and PGPMAX was the perfect fit.’ ISB emphasizes excellence in all it does.  The faculty had a vast range of knowledge and skills, and the programme presented me with a terrific learning experience in terms of delivery quality and class format.

Having returned to school was an exhilarating experience for her, and her zest for it drew her to the ISB EFPM-programme Founding Class in 2018.

The PGPMAX Advantage

One factor that significantly consolidated the learning was applying it at work while studying. Besides the knowledge and skills acquired, another priceless reward that Shikha treasures are the bond she made with her cohort. ‘We're all connected and ready to help each other out of difficult circumstances at work or in our personal lives. These are the people who walk with you.’

The PGPMAX programme has grown phenomenally in stature over the years and brings enormous value to corporate India. It is the bridge between practitioners and academics. ‘In terms of challenges solved, I learned to distinguish between the job of an academician and that of a practitioner as my leadership journey progressed. The challenges you deal with on a daily basis have previously been answered in the scholarly literature or in other instances. Without the effort of reinventing, all one needs to do is pick up the solution and execute. That was the kind of academic excellence PGPMAX got me back to.’

The ISB Value

‘ISB does everything with a focus on quality. The most important thing I learned was how to create exponential growth by embracing the contribution of others, collaborating with people, and by scaling with people to build a great business. Another lesson learned was that our resources are limited when we perform only on our own, but they have the potential to grow significantly when we recognize, learn, and reach out to others.’ The evidence of exponential growth came about in the businesses created by her class fellows.

ISB keeps pace with the changing academic landscape, Shikha points out. The evolution of the academic curriculum as the business became more and more digital is a case in point. It would be heartening to see a greater connection between practitioners and academicians to strengthen the bridge between them, she suggests. ‘I think ISB has done phenomenally well by building a strong foothold in the government skilling space and the same needs to be strengthened with corporate India as well.’

The Alumni Community Edge

The School’s efforts in keeping the alumni connected with each other and with the School are commendable. The School provides several platforms to the alumni to connect and bond.

‘The School's educational approach lays the groundwork for a strong and lasting bond between alumni. The formal and informal events, the SIG’s, the local Chapters that the School anchors or the one's alumni organise on their own, and other initiatives by the School, such as the guest faculty lectures, keep the alumni fraternity close and engaged.’

Coasting Through the Pandemic

During the ongoing pandemic, both India and Mauritius markets were adversely impacted. Delivery was tough, and handling virtual teams was difficult.

‘The tough challenge was maintaining customer connect. Continuation of delivery and handling the dented employee morale. The situation called for resilience.’ The aftermath for a lot of humans is changed, priorities as new perspectives have emerged. ‘Simpler things have become important, and we have begun to appreciate the existential world much more.’

The pandemic has also opened possibilities of automation and digitization; reaching out to any customer across the globe, closing the deal virtually and servicing virtually has become a possibility.

Being Relevant and Keeping Spirited

Shikha took to Bharatanatyam when she was four years old. After a long hiatus, she picked it up again five years back. ‘What I love the most is that I am able to maintain the traditional format of my life as well as step into the boardrooms and deal with the cutting-edge models of business. My love for classical dance keeps me connected with my Indian roots and at the same time helps me be global in my approach. That's what keeps me going.’

Personal Mantra and Advice

'At heart, I am a fervent optimist. My credo is "live joyfully." To make life more interesting, bring happiness to your workplace, foster a sense of belonging, and reach out to the community at large.'

The current cohort must acknowledge the opportunity that they have got to be in class again, Shikha advises. They must make the best of this prospect, the investment of time, effort and finances and raise themselves to the next level. ‘I have never treated these programmes as a monetary investment, but as long-term assets that have a tremendous potential to transform you in the long run.’