Returning to the classroom after nearly two decades of work experience is not a cliche. But with the rapid technological development in the 21st century, the need to learn constantly is changing equivalently. Realising the need to upskill himself, Sagar Jain joined SP Jain’s EMBA in finance in 2020. A Mechanical Engineer from NIT Surat, Sagar has 17 years of industry experience where he worked predominantly with FMCG companies like Cargill Foods, Nestle and Dr. Reddy’s. Currently the Sustainability Head (AMEA regions) for Mondelez International, Sagar recently moved from India to Singapore to use his global exposure to the Asia Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East.
Let’s hear from Sagar to know more about his story.
Q. Why did you decide to pursue an EMBA?
For most of my career, I was an individual contributor. But when I got into the leadership role, the spark came that I should start upskilling myself. So, I evaluated many alternatives before realising that pursuing an EMBA would be the right option. One of my colleagues then introduced me to SP Jain, and I got into the details of the course. Knowing that the course gives flexibility and, at the same time, is rigid with the momentum gained, I was keen on pursuing it.
I had two criteria for choosing the ideal EMBA. The first is flexibility and the second is affordability. The flexibility of weekend classes and, if I miss a class, the fact that I could attend it with any other campus students attracted me. I realised that the SPJ EMBA was a great program, and considering even the affordability of the program fee, it became my destination. The span of 18 months was just correct for me as EMBA is an application-based program.
The jewel of SP Jain is the ELO (Engaged Learning Online) feature which is excellent because sitting home, you get an extraordinary classroom experience. I did 90% of my courses through this medium.
Q. Would you say the EMBA program helped you in your personal and professional growth?
The EMBA definitely changed me as a person. The confidence I now have to attend a workshop, session or a meeting with my manager or board of directors is developed from the EMBA. In these meetings, I have to be crisp and specific, which comes with the mindset gained. This is something I feel very confident and have gained through my entire last 2 years of journey.
Q. What is the one great skill you picked up from the EMBA contributing to your career success?
Being an Engineer, I never thought I could make decisions considering business aspects. Through my EMBA, I developed business acumen. Every decision has some financial gains and losses. When you come from an engineering background, you don’t really tend to think about those aspects much. Despite being a supply chain person for the last 17 years, I purposefully took Finance as my major. Now, I feel confident in any decision-making and the finances associated with it.
Q. How did you approach the EMBA specialisations and make your decision?
After completing the first year of EMBA, there was a discussion about specialisations. SP Jain has a very structured approach to helping students decide their specialisation. We had one-on-one interactions with Professors and within the cohort for this. Having got the guidance and from my experience of 17 years in the industry, I thought supply chain might not be the right choice for me. If I really wanted to go deep into the supply chain, I could do one or two certificate courses or additional courses from SP Jain. I realised I should do something I had not done, so EMBA in Finance and Marketing were my options. I ended up having Finance as my specialisation, but I was still compelled to do two extra courses in Marketing. It is not about what you need to do but what you should know, which you don’t.
Q. How easy or difficult is balancing your work, life and EMBA study?
If you want to do an EMBA, remember two things. First, align your family with the fact that you will not have any weekends with them and second, align your boss. When these two entities are aligned, the rest will ultimately start falling in place. During my EMBA, I got promoted into the India leadership team of Mondelez for the Health Safety Environment agenda. Being from an engineering background, and with the onset of COVID-19, what I expected to be a swimming pool turned out to be an ocean altogether. Managing supply chains with COVID-19 protocols was a completely new ballgame. At that time, enrolling in an EMBA was very challenging, but everything worked well as I aligned with my family and boss. The rest is time management and setting expectations for your stakeholders – the EMBA would then proceed smoothly.
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