30th August 2012 was a historic day in the PGPX-7 time line. It was the end of Term II, finally!! Hail Nelson Mandela, we shared your feelings when you were released from prison. Any mention of the word “book” on 30th August and one ran the danger of being socially ostracised. It was time for the most anticipated activity of the year (ok, ok, correction, the second most anticipated, the first being passing out of IIMA). We would be travelling to the empire, where legend has it that the sun never set. Luckily, it did now, as one made plans for night life, with essentially 3 thoughts in mind, Rasna, Rasna and more Rasna.*
The “Nerds” are going to UK, they said. How dare they? We would “show” the others we were the privileged ones by having more fun, by hook or crook, as we prepared for a virtual war on Facebook with our rivals in Paris and HK. On D day, we had barely arrived at the Sardar Vallabhai International Airport, and the woollens, jackets, head gear were already on display. Some people (not named for reasons of privacy), had even bought expensive suits. The normally vacuous ambience at the airport came alive with the presence of the UK gang. Once on the flight, guys either made up for 6 months of lost sleep or entertainment. One group scrambled for their video screens, browsing through 15-20 movies and ably supported by a never ending supply of stimulants provided by pretty air hostesses, whilst the other group just closed their eyes, only to wake up directly at Warwick.
*Cautionary warning – Drinking excess Rasna can be injurious to health and mind.
WBS was a scene come alive from a postcard. Huge green fields, ubiquitous trees, quaint cottage houses, and well planned campus layout, welcomed our arrival. The campus seemed to be populated with Chinese students and we were beginning to worry if we had to learn Mandarin. Our apartments were located next to a scenic lake and we had geese for company, Of course, there were other students too in our campus, but the geese outnumbered them.
Warwick Business School (WBS)
Warwick faculty had organised a lavish dinner on the occasion of our arrival. After the initial briefing and interactions, we were treated to sumptuous spread of food and drinks. To cut a long dinner short, each of us gained an average of two kilos by the time we hit the bed.
Well, for those impatient to hear about our studies & classes, this paragraph is dedicated to them. Part of the reason of our visit to Warwick, was to gain an UK perspective on the European business practices. This meant that during the daytime, we had to attend classes. Whilst the classroom was designed such that one would find it very difficult to walk out in the middle of the class, it helped that the professors were of very high calibre. We received excellent insights as to ranging from why UK was not part of the EU, critical factors in Mergers & Acquisitions, strategic use of CSR and difference in corporate governance practices in the EU. We also learnt that the French starred in most British jokes other than of course, the British themselves. On our part, we carried forth the tradition of class participation, making the professors sweat and the rest of us too.
By the end of our course, we were thanking our stars for not receiving any ‘stay awake at night assignments’ but we had spoken too soon. Prof Layla gifted to us assignments on the last day which required application of all our learning’s. Needless to say, there were groans and grunts but all of us worked dutifully through the night, using the survival skills gained at IIMA. The hard work paid off, Prof Layla was appreciative of the outputs.
No visit is complete without Industrial visits. We were privileged to visit the legendary Rolls Royce factory and learn about its history. Pride of being associated with Rolls Royce was the common thread connecting its employees. We were also fortunate to visit Prodrive and check the famed Aston Martin cars, modified for racing. Each of these babies cost approx.half a million pounds!! We also visited Birmingham airport and got a preview of its strategy of matching up to Heathrow. The most interesting visit was to DCS Europe where we interacted with a passionate self made entrepreneur. It was interesting to see bachelors in the group take a key interest and have their profile pictures (cough cough) clicked against a backdrop ranging from aircraft engines to racing cars.
A special word of praise for MTR packets which saved the day for the vegetarians. Unconfirmed reports stated that the local prices of MTR products tripled in the week leading up to the IIP visit.
We had earmarked the weekend to catch up on the sights of London and imbue British history, Royalty and culture. The journey commenced by hitching a bus from Warwick to Coventry station. From Coventry, one took the train to London. Travelling on the trains here necessitates familiarisation of using the washroom, which resembles a cockpit. One wrong button and the door would open automatically to full public view whilst one is still seated on the commode. On reaching London station, we were provided London Metro Maps. Like Mumbai local trains, the London Metro is the life line of the city. One of the first pit stops in London was Buckingham palace. We are told that the place has 52 principal bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms ! One wonders if the queen uses Google maps to locate her way to the bedroom. The Palace was a spectacular sight, watched over by the royal guards wearing sophisticated hornets nests, standing upright without a single muscle movement. The only entertainment for these guys was that they could move their eyeballs. God help them if they had a stomach upset or if a fly entered their nose!
One was also fortunate to see the legendary Kohinoor diamond, which was as big as a coconut (ok, maybe a little smaller!), safely ensconced in the Tower of London. We should thank the British government for watching over our treasure for us. Other vaunted places explored by the group were Wimbledon, Oxford University, Lords, Westminster Abbey, London Eye and the London Bridge, a few castles here and there and of course Tesco supermarket. More about these places some other time…Speaking about British culture, any time one seemed lost with my London map, a local would spring to the rescue offering his/ her help. Very particular about rules and dress codes, Britishers are sticklers for time too. One is well advised to observe protocol whilst interacting with Britishers. Having said that, WBS faculty came across as very transparent and friendly.
Home sweet home
Before we realised, the trip had come to an end and it was time to say goodbye to our friends in WBS but our learning from the UK trip was complete after partaking of some lessons in luggage management at Birmingham airport, at a price of course. We headed back to Ahmedabad, ready to face Term IV, but not before tanking up with gallons of Rasna, enroute. And yes, what about the facebook war with our rivals? Well, who cares, we were busy soaking up the fun!!
Note of thanks
We would like to convey a special word of thanks to Sam and Pam from WBS, who went out of their way to make our stay comfortable and productive. We would also like to thank the British weather gods who were very kind to us and spread sunshine wherever we went.
Anirban Das, PGPX -7
More about experiences at Chinese University of Hong Kong(CUHK) and ESCP, Paris to follow