A Surreal Experience That Stirred and Inspired

At the interview for the PGPPro executive education programme at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Abhinav Dewan was told he would undergo an overhaul in the way he spoke and articulated once he completed the eighteen-month course.  That turned out to be quite a prophecy. Abhinav, Business Development Manager, ExxonMobil Lubricants Private Limited, is from the founding batch of ISB PGPPro Delhi cohort Co ‘2018. He is a CPA (CA in the US) by education.

‘The interviewer was right. I have had multiple people tell me how I have grown as an individual,’ acknowledges Anubhav, emphasizing the effect ISB had in transforming him. The experience was stirring and inspiring, he says. He has grown in confidence and has improved in prioritising work, in addition to some other perceptible changes people have begun to commend. ‘I have become a better listener and appreciate the viewpoints of others. I can now clearly articulate my points and many colleagues admire the perspective I bring to discussions.’ He is grateful to the brand ISB for providing high quality academics in rich and stimulating environment that is life altering. Subsequent to ISB, he is getting one special project after another in his current role—the greater responsibilities a clear indication of the impending ascent, he says.

‘The 18 months of the ISB PGPPro programme is like pressing the fast forward button. Despite the daily struggle to balance personal and professional commitments learning never stopped. I was amazed at the extent of my takeaway from the peer and alumni experiences and teachings of the faculty.’ Abhinav contrasts this sense of achievement to the skepticism he had nursed initially during the tough Maths boot camp and an even tougher week that followed, at the Mohali campus. He was not very certain of surviving the ordeal, he confesses. Completing assignments at airports, reading case studies during work-related travel while his colleagues made merry, he believes if one has survived the eighteen-month hardship one can survive anything. ‘My fondest memories are from the international immersion in Singapore wherein the friendship with my cohort got strengthened and new friendships that I made with the Hyderabad cohort.’

Every faculty he came across during the course was world class. All of them were very grounded, he says, shared real-world examples and made the students believe they were second to none and could do it. ‘A great piece of advice I got from a professor was that “You are mid-career professionals and I do not aim to make you an expert in the topic. You only require the basics to get the work done from your teams. If push comes to shove reach out for my notes, refresh your memory and you can do it, or reach out to me or your batchmates who are experts in the particular field to help you out. As long as you can get the job done you will be successful.”’

The pertinence of the course cannot be undermined, Abhinav says. ‘It was very relevant to the daily challenges I faced in my work life. I would learn a concept over the weekend and apply it on Monday. It was as easy as that.’ The midnight oil he burnt along with his batch mates to understand concepts and complete assignments was at the end all worth it.

‘You need to get the work done. You may not know everything but if you are willing to get your hands dirty and reach out to people, you will find a solution.’

The diversity of his class was uplifting. The opportunities to learn and connect with like-minded professionals was galvanising. The learnings were enriched by the experiences of his colleagues from the armed forces, entrepreneurs, doctor, NGOs et al. and ensured disparate viewpoints to interactions. Being a part of the ISB Alumni community is a great privilege for him. ‘You only need to ask and the alumni community is more than willing to answer any questions that you may have.’

Abhinav has maintained his firm connect with the school and provides strong support as any well-meaning alumnus should. He has interviewed PGPpro applicants, attended various info sessions to answer queries to clarify doubts of prospective candidates and has encouraged several people to apply for the programme.

Leadership lessons learnt at ISB to get his teams at work place to be productive, motivated and cohesive comes in handy on a daily basis, he asserts. He terms his ISB experience as surreal and calls himself a dreamer who believes that if someone else can achieve something it so can he.

While he slogged away day after day on the campus, the news of becoming a father of twins, brought unending joy to him. He feels proud and cherishes the memory of his parents, his spouse and his children watching him donning the mortarboard and graduate. 

Abhinav Dewan

Business Development Manager
ExxonMobil Lubricants Pvt Ltd
PGPpro Class of 2018