Follow the leader

Students of Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad got to spend a working day with CEOs of India Inc under the `Shadow a CEO` programme.

Updated: May 21, 2014, 16:50 PM IST

Students of Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad got to spend a working day with CEOs of India Inc under the `Shadow a CEO` programme. Ritesh Chopra and Jeeten Desai, were among the lucky 13 who won online bids to follow their favorite corporate head honcho.

Before I signed up with ISB, earning my MBA degree meant a good job and a salary hike. However, `Shadow A CEO` added a new dimension to my business study experience. Since I plan to be an entrepreneur, I was estatic to have won the bid to follow Deep Kalra, CEO, MakeMyTrip (MMT) and get first hand experience on his journey from a founder to a CEO of his company.
I met Kalra in the morning at his office, and I found him as a very warm and a humble person. He welcomed me and introduced me to his subordinates in the office. In the beginning, I was a bit nervous, especially since I was the only one dressed in a suit, plus I was not sure on how the day would unfold. However, Kalra made me feel comfortable, he started by asking me about what I wanted to take away from the day. We then discussed about my MBA journey so far and my own startup plans. He mentioned that he spends a lot of time mentoring as well, especially on weekends, and would be open to helping me out in how to structure, raise funding and connecting to other people.

The day ahead was studded with back-to-back meetings. The first one was with investment bankers, which was ideally a confidential meeting, but Kalra was gracious enough to let me sit in. Next on the schedule was a work lunch meeting for the planning of TIE – Internet Day (www.iday.in). Later we had meetings with market research firm and an internal meeting for employee initiatives.
In essence, the day was packed with meetings for finance, operations, marketing and human resources and covered all aspects of running an organisation. I was in awe of Kalra on how he managed to stay on top of everything and be patient throughout the day. In the evening, I spent time asking him about his entrepreneurial journey, the challenges of it, how they went about finding their first customers, his journey before MMT etc. Seeing my interest in technology and product management, he also setup meetings for me with his vice president for products and mobile innovation and with other ISB alums at MMT, which were very fruitful as well. Before leaving for the day, he setup a follow-up lunch meeting with me to spend dedicated one-on-one time to answer my questions.

Overall it was a very insightful day and one of the best experiences as a student. Thanks to Kalra and his team, I was inspired to start my own venture and be the commander-in-chief.