The penchant for learning and giving back to the society – SPJ Alumni Spotlight with Yogesh Rao

I was brought up like any other aspiring middle-class boy in the rising city of India with a reasonable standard of living and my fair share of laughter, fun and zeal to do something meaningful in life. 

However, life is all about change, and here’s my journey through this change.

Yogesh Rao - SP Jain GMBA

From Metallurgy to Information Technology

When I was younger, a ‘Nuclear Scientist’ was the top aspiration for most kids around me. But within a few years, we underwent an unforeseen transformation, and the Age of E-Commerce was born. Jumping onto this bandwagon took some smart analytical and logical reasoning skills. Since I had been adequately trained in my preparation for CAT, I quickly got into the IT (Information Technology) industry.  From here, I experienced a steep learning curve from a superlative metallurgical engineering background – I was down to learning the ABCs of programming languages. The silver lining was that I deputed in an assignment with flowery words like data warehouse and MIS reporting. Mundane, right? Those were the buzzwords back then, as much as Decision Data Science, Blockchain, and Metaverse are today.

I began my real career as a meticulous database programmer working across sectors and industries and started to develop hands-on and one-up expertise on assignments. However, IT pushes you out of your comfort zone, and before I realised it, the expectation was built to learn newer technologies and architecture with equal aplomb. 

I realised that mastering all this would be futile by the end. This was when I started foraying into Business Analysis and Project Management. The realisation of understanding the business context well and interpreting it, and explaining it to a larger team helped me notch up organically.

The penchant for higher education

After a few years, I realised that technologies would come and go, but core knowledge, business acumen, stories, area expertise, and embracing changing technologies would be pervasive in a rapidly changing world. At this stage, while in the USA, I got more determined to do my MBA and worked towards earning a respectable GMAT score. Those were not the days of virtual interactions. Hence, I flew down for a weekend from the USA to Mumbai to attend my rounds of group discussions and personal rounds of interviews for a Global MBA at SP Jain.

The risk was high as it was a cutting-edge raw competition devoid of any preparatory launchpad courses for GD/PI. As luck, focus, and hard work would have it, I got through, and the bite of aeroplane tickets was overshadowed by the joy of a new learning world in waiting. This was bundled with the trade-off of leaving family behind in this well-meaning exile.

My SP Jain Global MBA Experience

SP Jain’s MBA was transformative in myriad ways. It helped unlock the true potential that was lying latent all these years and enabled the shy person in me to come out of my shell when it mattered the most. The program provided a platform for intensive and non-stop learning, a brilliant cohort, remarkable professors across disciplines, libraries with unlimited and widespread access to information, handbooks, international newsletters, technology magazines, individual-group assignments, presentations, and oral-written tests. It was well-complimented with very few but precious unwinding times with sports, cultural programs, and bonding. Looking back, this has gone a long way in balancing priorities even now with work, family, social work and bonding with friends. 

“An MBA is a means to an end and not an end in itself.”

I always keep telling the younger generation that comes to me to seek advice that an MBA is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Clichéd yet profound – The moment one starts to feel that it’s the end, that is the point of the beginning of a plateau – across life, profession and society. 

Transformational journey

Over time, shrouded by capitalism, ambitions doubled, and aspirations quadrupled. With the right ingredients, exposure to leading Indian and multi-national companies, constant learning, support of co-workers, superiors, industry leaders, association with education institutes, industry forums, and networks, things got built brick by brick and from strength to strength. The support of my family has been incredible. I furthered my professional qualifications with my area of expertise and started practising and applying the same in my professional sphere. 

I am particularly keen on reading about leaders’ (not necessarily successful people) biographies to understand the life-changing events that got them the world’s respect. I am particularly moved by one such leader, Late Shri Manohar Parrikar (ex-Chief Minister of Goa). I was intrigued by why someone from such a prodigious institute as the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, foregoes all comfort in life and choose to work for India selflessly. 

I connected with this as it blended with my experience and association with educational institutes. This inspired me to contribute directly to the upliftment of bright unprivileged sections of society through education and academic support. This, to me, is the only way to bridge the divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. I feel this will tick the satisfaction check box when I reach the twilight years of my life. I am a small cog in the giant wheel of nation-building through the vehicle of the Madhav Seva Foundation. Also, our educational system needs to underpin the correct values at the elementary level. This will help bring out financially successful students and great leaders.

Fast Forward to today

Today, after 22 years of work experience, I am working with Tata Consultancy Services serving Retail clients across Europe and a few in India in the Digital, Data, Cognitive, AI and Analytics space. Inspired by JRD Tata, supporting social causes and environmental sustainability is intrinsic to the value system of TCS and aligned to the well-round development of the nation. This intuitively fans my belief system as well. Education, after all, should yield wisdom to ask the right question and help navigate the world to the right path of living. 

Lastly, I would like to conclude with a quote by Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, 

“A great man is different from an eminent one in that he is ready to be the servant of the society.”

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