Friday, August 6, 2010

Just Another Explorer: Why I am MBA not an Engineer??

Dear Friends

I am writing this article, not as a boasting that I am a Management Grad, but as a sarcasm and regret, that why I am not an Engineer??

To tell you about myself, I did Engineering and then MBA.

So, as an average Indian student, in 1997, I was focused on the biggest fear or the D-Day, for each and every Indian student, has to slog, mug, burn midnight oil. Yes, that is the Board Examinations of 10th. At this point of time, the only goal in front of my eyes, was to get good percentage, so that I can get admission in better schools (or colleges) for Senior Secondary Education.

So, as per destiny, I happened to score around 80% in 10th Board Examination. Now, the D-Day was over, what next??

Do, we actually plan after D-Day?? I don’t.

Now, had to take a decision that whether to go into Medical , Non Medical, Commerce or Arts.

At that time, commerce and arts were looked down upon, as compared to Medical and Non Medical.

In my case, choice was easier. I can’t see blood. So, it was by default Non-Medical i.e. Physics Chemistry and Maths.

But, is it only because of this reason??

No!! It was something more. I was always fascinated by machines and technology and science behind it. And, now I was on my way to do what I wanted to do.

At this point of time, I wanted to be great scientist, inventor or discoverer. I think, I am not the only one, who thought that way.

So, next two years, were even more gruesome, preparing for Engineering Entrance Examination.

The Next D-Day, was already scheduled.

But, while studying these preparations for Engineering Entrance, I also enjoyed studying those subjects. To better say, exploring those subjects.

As, internet was not that prevalent or I must say, that was not in reach of an average Indian Student, so I resolved to libraries. I used to pick up books like ‘Unified Theory’, ‘Theory of Relativity’, ‘Para Science’, anything whose name was enticing. And, most of the time, I couldn’t make out much sense out of these books, as it was too early. But, still it helped me to keep the notion intact in my mind, or atleast maintained my hope, that I am gonna be what I desire to be. Will take some time, but will reach there.

So, after 2 years of hard work, I was able to crack the Engineering Entrance Exam, and was able to make it to a decent Institute, with the long history. Although, my cherished dream of being an IITian, was blown away, but still I was on my way.

So, everything started rosily. First time, out of your parents control. Complete freedom. In my case, as I studied mostly in boys institutes, so girls were the additional and I must say one of the most enticing factor.

Then, there I saw, such a big workshops, where we used to or I would rather say, forced to do exercises like Carpentry, Smithy, Fitting, Welding, Machining……….

But, then I was confused. Did, I did all the studies, and faced one of the toughest competitions in India, for doing this, to act as a carpenter or smithy guy?

Obviously not. My dream was to do inventions, to take science to next level. Work on uncompleted works of Great Scientists like Einstein………. But, was I alone in this thought process.

At this moment, I came to realize the difference between Science and Technology. Science is the study of the laws of nature that govern the universe. But, that is what I thought I would be doing in Engineering. Now, the term came to be understood as Technology. What is Technology?? Frankly, I was not able to answer this question for many years, I admit I have a dumb mind in that sphere.

But, technology is the application of science, not the science. That is the biggest eyewash, I had during my engineering 1st year. But, I said ok , no probs, atleast as a Mechanical Engineer, I may be able to design the car, or aspired to design the best car. And, I think my friends in other streams like Electronics, Computers etc, had similar notions or fantasies in their field.

But, full first year, I was just drawing nuts and bolts. I couldn’t understand why???

And, then we were forced to do manual drafting or drawings. Again, I couldn’t understand, that when we have softwares on our computers, and it’s much easy on it, why I or anybody should do it by manual methods. Is it just the rotten heritage the Institutes are trying to carry forward? Or I was just not thinking straight??

So, confusion prevailed.

Now, the subjects came Chemistry, Applied Thermodynamics, Solid Mechanics,…………. And endless list. But, again I was not able to make head and tail out of it. I was not able to understand, why I am doing this cramming???

So, slowly the interest started drifting, the very idealistic mind of a fresh Engineering Students started to go for ‘Cut-Copy-Paste’. We had our ways. We used to call it ‘Glasso Toppo’. It was the technique, where you trace the diagrams and drawings, on your sheet, by the help of bulb, bucket and glass. And obviously tracing paper.

So, rat race again started.

But, I was loosing interest, as I was not comfortable cramming. Infact, I felt guilty cramming. And, couldn’t make any sense of the Prof, what he/she is teaching in the class, because it was purely theoretical in most of the cases.

So, what to do?? I stopped attending classes. My routine was that I used to read a novel, in the night. Sleep by 4:00 am in the morning, and then wake up at 12:00 noon for lunch. And, then of course, I couldn’t have missed labs and tutorials. So, I went to attend them.

But, slowly I realized, that after 5:00 pm, when the classes are over, then I become active. Talking to friends. Sitting on lover’s lane, or jealously staring at the couples sitting on the lover’s lane.

Then, I came in touch with lot of seniors, who were poaching us for their respective Clubs like Dramatics, Youth Welfare Club, College Magazines, …………..

And, we went with the flow. At times, I was selected in these clubs and at times I was rejected. But, it was part of the game.

In whole of this process, where is my Engineering???

I seriously don’t know. And after some time, I was not even bothered about it.

The norm was that it doesn’t matter, which branch or specialization are you from, big IT companies like Satyam, Infosys, TCS, Wipro…. Will come and pick us not in numbers, but in truckloads. So, career was set.

But, was it so??

So, continuing these extra curricular activities, I got involved in management stuff. And its obvious extension i.e. politics. And I enjoyed it. It gave me the feeling of power, feeling of belongingness, and a platform to improve my management skills. But, above all it gave me a feeling that I am creating something i.e. systems. I picked up the Club, which were having around 5 active members, and within the span of 1 year, I along with my friends made it 150 members.

So, now my college was secondary, and my extra curricular activities primary.

You, can say, that I started evolving as a Manager and devolving as an Engineer.

Then, as per our curriculum, we have to undergo 6 months industrial training in 6th semester. I was selected with one of the best brand names, and went there with lot of expectations.

But, it was actually a shock. They wanted me as an engineer, not as a manager. They wanted me to install machines. They wanted me to increase the quality level to 6 sigma. They wanted me to develop gauges, and what not.

At this time, I was no more an engineer. So, I was back to square one. I slogged for 6 months. I did lot of work in many engineering fields of mechanical engineering like machining, welding, die casting……………..

Now, I was back at my college for my final year. And, again the same subjects cropped up with new Avtaar like Applied Thermodynamics, Metallurgy, Advanced Solid Mechanics, Theory of Machines,…..

But, I don’t know how, it became more interesting for me. I started enjoying the lectures. And at times, I was more knowledgeable then Profs, because they have studied it, but I have worked on it for 6 months. So, there was a again a drift.

In the final year, I went back to introspection, that why I lost my Engineering. The answer was very simple. Evey Prof, and subject and the course book, told me ‘How?’, but nobody told me ‘Why?’. In other words, nobody made me realize that why these subjects are important from application point of view. Or in other words, they never showed me big or holistic picture, they were just focused on micro elements. I am not sure, whether it comes under Maslow’s Pyramid or Theory X or Theory Y and other such theories of Organisational Behaviour and Psychology, but can one be driven without seeing the big picture? I am really sorry to say, I am not. So, when you don’t understand, ‘Why?’, then how can you feel like or actually master ‘How?’

But, the surgery was done. It was too late. I was now a Manager, not an Engineer.

Then again, I got my first job in an Automotive Industry. I worked mainly on technical areas like Machine Installations, creating systems like Just In Time, and then I was an engineer in the R&D, working on actual R&D, not the false R&D (which is just modifying the drawings and adjusting the designs).

It was the best profile, as a Mechanical Engineer, I could have got. But, Engineer in me was long dead.

And, now ask myself a question; why even in such a technical and creative environment of the Core Engineering, it couldn’t rekindle the dormant fire of Science & Technology in me.

The reason was again clear. In the technical area, one can grow, but not exponentially. There is a glass ceiling, that if you want to grow in the organization, then you should be Masters, and obviously in Management.

So, the choice was crystal clear, draw satisfaction out of Engineering job or make a giant leap both in terms of career and salaries, by doing MBA. So, I went for an MBA.

But, now I ask, if I actually had to do MBA at last, then why did I do Engineering?? Why I didn’t go for Commerce, which was easy, could have saved my one year (as B.Com is of 3 years and Engineering is of 4 years)?

It was too late. Past is the only event, which has probability value of 1. It can’t be changed. So, I lost so many valuable years, when I was at the peak of my youth, doing something, which I don’t want, and not doing something which I want.

So, has happened to ‘many many many’ Indian Students over these years. And, it’s still continuing.

But, recently after doing MBA, I came to realize that my batch mates, who haven’t done MBA, are drawing more packages than myself, even after doing MBA.

I think it was because the fad is getting over. We always, at least in India, give more powers, packages, fame, recognition……… to a guy who is ‘Managing’ the show. We don’t give all these things, to a guy who is actually ‘Giving Reason to Manage The Show’.

Just imagine, what will Management do, if there is no R&D, if there is no Quality Department, if Machines are not properly selected………..

In that case, I won’t call it a company per se, but a trader. It could be a big trader like Walmart.

So, with the fad getting faded, I think it makes more sense to pursue your actual interest, if it was science and technology, rather going for Management.

Sooner of Later, you will grow, where you have to manage. But, in that case, you have completed the journey to the top. And the journey was enjoyable and blissful, because you were doing which you actually wanted to do, in most of the journey.

So, coming back to the main topic. I blame, the whole eco system, which is superset of education system. And, to an extent, I was part of it. So, I am to be equally blamed.

So, at last I will say, that please understand ‘Why?’, and ‘How?’ will automatically come to you.

I am writing this article, so that the students or professionals, who still have time, shouldn’t repeat the same mistake, which I have made along with many others, and still making.

Via this article, even if one person is able to make a better career choice, my purpose of writing this article is more than served.

Well, at last, this was just my opinion or thought process, and I felt like sharing with you. But, the very idea is to stimulate or trigger the thought process, that ‘Am I doing, what I want to do? And why?’

Just Another Explorer

Prabal Aggarwal

PS: I got lot of queries, via forwarded mails that can one forward or use the earlier articles, I have written with the same motive.. The very idea, of this article is to share experience, so that the mistakes I did in my professional life, others shouldn’t do it. Even if one professional or student is benefited by this, my purpose is more than served. So, friends if you like it spread it. That’s the whole idea of sharing.

Friends, as an author of this article, I authorize anybody, can use this article for publishing on any media i.e. print, visual, audio, internet, forwarding emails, intranets, etc. Only request is that, the name of the author, body of the article shouldn’t be changed or altered. Secondly, would request to mention that this article was originally written & posted by Prabal Aggarwal, on Aug 6th 2010 on You can start discussing with me and other readers, by commenting on the blog post. Also, if anybody using this content, feel like that monetary contribution should be made, you can donate on my behalf that sum of money to Project Why (, not for profit organization.

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