Out of the many momentous pillars at IIPM that etch indelible impressions in the minds of students and alumni,Professor A. Sandeep stands apart for the passion and zeal with which he has taught strategic management over the past two decades. He is the Dean, Research and Consulting, at IIPM. He is concurrently the Group Editor at Daily Indian Media. Professor A. Sandeep completed his graduation from IIPM and his post graduation from University of Delhi and IIM Calcutta. Professor Sandeep’s doctoral research from Buckingham University, UK, takes a unique look at Indian mergers and acquisitions. He has also been on the selection panels of both IIPM and the Indian Institute of Management (lIM) Calcutta. Sony, BAT , Electrolux, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Samsung and many more international companies have been his consulting and training clients in the past. Professors from institutions and universities including Wharton, Yale, Kellogg, Stanford, IMD, INSEAD, Chicago University, NYU Stern amongst others have conducted CEO workshops jointly with Professor Sandeep. He is also the author of Power Business Strategies and co-author of the best-seller Cult: Leadership & Business Strategy, Ruthlessly Redefined. Professor Anirudh Sharma met up with the legendary IIPM alumni one afternoon

Q. Please take us through your journey at IIPM. What have some of the important milestones that you have covered along the way?
A. I joined IIPM as an undergraduate student in the year 1989. If milestones had to be chosen, then the decision to join IIPM was literally ‘the’ course-changing milestone of my life, as I never had imagined during my school years that one day, I would be undertaking my graduation in a course that covered national economic planning and entrepreneurship paradigms. Another milestone was going to IIM Calcutta for my post graduate studies in management. The two years at IIM Calcutta allowed me to compare and contrast the IIM-way with the IIPM-way. Coming back to IIPM as a professor right after passing out of IIM Calcutta was the next milestone, as that allowed me to put the lessons learnt into practise and benchmark the best of both worlds – that is, IIPM and IIM – for world-class academic standards at IIPM.

Q. You are amongst the pioneers who have fueled the growth of the institute in the last two decades. Please share your association with Dr. Arindam Chaudhuri during these decades.
A. Not many know that Dr. Arindam Chaudhuri was my batch-mate while I was doing the undergraduate programme at IIPM. During the course, we became the best of friends, and I have to confess that perhaps the sole reason why I came back to IIPM as a professor some years later was because of him. It’s hard to believe but it’s almost a quarter of a century since we got to know each other. Stupendously exciting, is how I’ll describe the years with him as he inarguably is the primary reason for the superlative growth of IIPM in the last two decades, with his never-ceasing passionate, entrepreneurial focus and highly committed visionary approach. To finally get to co-author a book with my best friend (Cult: Leadership & Business Strategy, Ruthlessly Defined) is the latest pinnacle of our association, something that I will deeply cherish for a very long time to come.

Q. How will you sum up the growth of Planman Group since its commencement? How do you see it evolving in the future?
A. Planman Consulting (a portmanteau of ‘Plan’ning and ‘Man’agement) was founded in 1996 with two key objectives. One was to ensure that IIPM’s brightest students join us back. As not every student wishes to be a professor, Planman Consulting was a great way to encourage our most promising students to join us back to handle highly invigorating and intellectual corporate consulting assignments. The second objective was to ensure that global industries recognized the consulting competence of IIPM through Planman Consulting and contracted large scale consulting projects to us. This was important as an institution will predominantly have an academic positioning to the outside world; but a consulting brand like Planman could go beyond that into the professional and commercial arena to lobby for consulting projects from the world’s largest corporations and governments. In both these objectives, Planman has succeeded beyond expectations. Today, Planman is India’s largest multi-interest consulting group, that spans business spaces ranging from global strategy consulting, technology solutions, human resource consulting to market research, marketing communication consulting, and even motion pictures, handling projects from numerous Fortune 500 clients and governments. The way forward for the Planman Group is surely to become a Fortune 500 company itself than just service the world’s largest corporations.

Q. IIPM alumni fondly remember you for the impact you generate through your classes, particularly Business Policy and Strategic Management. You are the top rated professor of the institute who endlessly inspires students to think and achieve more. From where do you find this energy and how do keep yourself charged up all the time.
A. Your words are gracious. Passion drives it all from the top. But if I have to be honest, it was actually not like this during my initial years as a professor. Although I was extremely passionate about teaching and strategy was my favourite area, for many of my initial years as a professor, try as I might, there were many other professors who would always trounce me on the faculty rating lists at the end of the teaching session. I couldn’t initially understand the reasons why. And then I decided to attend the sessions of many of the professors who were ranked above me. That allowed me to understand in real time where I could improve; and the progress thereon was quite encouraging. I also believe that a combination of continuous reading, handling live strategy consulting projects, conducting CEO strategy workshops, and most importantly, editing Daily Indian Media’s various group magazines (Business & Economy, 4Ps Business & Marketing, The Sunday Indian etc) keeps providing me with the knowledge and intellect to competently impart lessons on strategy. But the credit for the fantastic intellectual vibrance within the classroom during my sessions should go as much to IIPM students, who I consider amongst the finest business graduates in the country, if not the world.

Q. From being an inspirational professor to a critically acclaimed management writer, to a journalist and a business leader – which hat do you enjoy wearing the most and why?
A. I suspect that my personality type would not allow me to be satisfied wearing simply one hat. To that effect, I enjoy all the hats that I currently wear. There’s of course the incomparable satisfaction one gets when one teaches students and later sees them become extremely motivated entrepreneurs with unmitigated passion not only for succeeding in their businesses, but to sincerely contribute to the development of the nation’s economy through widespread employment generation. This can’t be said a tad too early that the day is not far when the nation is run significantly by IIPM alumni. That’s the moment of the IIPM movement I await restlessly.

“There’s of course the incomparable satisfaction one gets when one teaches students and later sees them become extremely motivated entrepreneurs”

A career that began with intensive sales and then coursed into academics, Prof. Prasoon Majumdar’s journey has been full of concrete establishments and values. He has been the face of the modern day IIPM academics and he has really been a substantial model of solidarity of the basic structure that has propelled a grandeur growth of sheer brilliance. His views on National Economic Planning has propagated each and every sphere of India. Through his weekly column in The Sunday Indian he brings to light the non-conventional yet omnipresent malaise of the society. He is also the editor of The Great Indian Dream magazine which caters to the most striking stories that effects the economy and civil life of Indians at large. Prof. Anirudh Sharma meets him and finds out more about this remarkable voyager of eminence.

Q. Please take us through your journey at IIPM. What have some of the important milestones that you have covered along the way?
A. Being a student of the 1989/91 batch, I joined the institution on 11th of September 1999, when we were students, our second year classes used to be held at Katwaria Sarai, in a two room accommodation. Often in the evening, post our classes, we used to walk down Qutab institutional area to have a cup of tea at one of those road side dhabas. And I remember the way Dr. Arindam used to look up at one of those buildings and use to say, one day we would have IIPM here.
 So it was during the summers of 99, that I saw an Ad of IIPM in the Times of India wherein a building at C-10, Qutab Institutional Area was featured as the IIPM tower. I instantly recalled our conversation which happened almost eight years back and went to meet Dr. Arindam, to congratulate him in terms of realizing his dream. And as it was expected, he would never leave out on any of his friend and batchmate to join back. The rest is history…

Q. How did the association with the institute begin?
A. I was in sales, selling telecom products, and had been growing within the industry within a span of eight years. So when I met Dr. Arindam, he mooted the idea that I should take classes and that too in economics, considering that I had been one of the better students in that subject for the batch of 91. I still remember telling him that he should give me anything to sell, but not teach as it has been a long while that I have been away from books. But then like always, it was his persistence that won over my resistance. I joined and got back to books and my notes, which I had preserved and prepared myself for over a month, before I stepped into my first class – the UG batch of 1999/2002.

Q. You are amongst the pioneers who have fueled the growth of the institute in the last two decades. Please share your association with Director Sir / Dr. Arindam Sir, other professors / your peers / colleagues / students.
A. My first interaction at IIPM was with Director Sir, and that was when he took my interview at the time of admission. It has been more than two decades and he still remembers my interaction with him. My every meeting with him has been most inspiring as whenever I have met him, it has always been an enriching discussion, wherein all his thoughts/actions has been towards upliftment of the lowest strata of the society and most importantly all his thoughts had been original. Today whatever I am, I owe a lot to him.
 My association with Dr. Arindam begins as a fellow batchmate. He was always very competitive and a voracious reader. His biggest strength is the way he has been maintaining relations with his childhood friends, batchmates and other colleagues. Visionary from the very beginning, he has always been a great inspiration to all of us. And have this amazing determination to chase his passion, with one hundred percent conviction.
 My other teachers like Dr. N R Chatterjee, Prof J K Mitra, Prof M P Gupta, Prof M Adhikary, Prof P K Jain, Prof Amal Sanyal, Prof M C Shukla, Prof Vinesh Chabbra, all of them had indelible mark in shaping up, whatever I am. Our interactions never restricted to classroom but more often than not, off the class. And learning were never ending..

Q. Please share your teaching experiences at IIPM.
A. Whatever I am today, is a reflection of the kind of teachers who taught me at the institution. We were blessed to be taught by an assembly of teachers who were instrumental in shaping our minds. And all thanks to our beloved Director Sir who never compromised when it came to create an academic infrastructure for us. So it came to take classes, it was a matter of great pride to share the podium with same people whom we revered them as God. It was natural for us that we should not their teachings ever go down, at the same time, the unflinching trust that the institution had bestowed on us.
 For me students are the best thing that can happen to any teacher’s life, for they give you back in a huge proportion, what you give them. You love and respect them, they would reciprocate in an overwhelming manner.

Q. From being an inspirational professor to a critically acclaimed management writer, to an editor and a business leader. Which hat do you enjoy wearing the most and why?
A. Both teacher and writer, are two sides of the same coin. I write what I teach and vice versa. My columns are my thoughts and are meant to disseminate to as many people as possible. Writing helps to get to address a larger audience whereas a classroom restricts the same. But then they cannot be substituted. A classroom helps in generating real time discussions with real time questions and feedback, which is not so in case of writing. One has to wait for feedbacks.

Q. When you look back at the days that you spent at IIPM as a student, what is the biggest learning that you gained? Any funny incident or memory that you would like to share with us.
A. The days at IIPM as a student was by far one of my best days, as learning was not just in abundance but was fun. Small batch but hugely competitive that in itself created an enabling environment for learning. I do remember lot of funny incidences, but once where my executive communication faculty targeted me for his own sadistic pleasures was really hilarious.

Q. What are your expectations from the Generation of today. With both opportunities and distractions available in plenty, what word of advice would you like to give them to grow into successful individuals?
A. Success has no formula. The only thing they should learn is to strike the right balance. Once they know how to use the opportunities they have and mould them to their advantage, success is most definite. And as far distractions go, it is good to get distracted at times; otherwise, life can become boring.

Q. What is it that keeps you happy apart from work?
A. My two angels – Roza (daughter) and Riddhi (niece). Cult will relish this exclusive opportunity of featuring such an epic persona from the IIPM fraternity, and truly wishes that Prof. Majumdar continues to drive IIPM towards many more peaks of success.


They are legends!!! Men who have contributed to IIPM’s growth in last two decades