Pursuing higher studies in Eklavya style

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Caveat: the post is about gaining knowledge and not adding qualification; if you’re interested in latter, please excuse me.

Many of us in India are acquainted with the legend of Eklavya, the great archer in Mahabharata. That story has fascinated me since childhood. In modern times too, it’s amazing to see so many bright students acing the top competitive exams without getting the privilege of studying in a coveted school. The same students are seen to be far more resilient in their subsequent career & life situations too.

Try as hard as I may, I couldn’t find the answer until I was denied admission to two of the top-notch B-schools in India. Having a good GMAT score (>700) & an overall successful career of 14 years to talk about in my applications & interviews, this was a little disturbing – although it couldn’t be called a surprise given the tough competition from the peers from across the industry.

Then I had two options: one – to give it a try again in following year or choose few more good B-schools as plan B, or two – to just concentrate on my job and stop wondering about getting back to college. Being fond of always adding new knowledge but having advanced through life by two years in the dilemma, neither of above options were suitable. So, I decided to search some equivalent options – but many with whom I spoke said that nothing can replace a full time MBA.

I didn’t debate but kept on my hunt for practically relevant education that I could apply in my supply chain job. That’s when I came across MITOCW (an open courseware by Massachusetts Institute of Technology) – you may have heard about it already if you’re a self-study enthusiast. I got info about first good reference book there – ‘Designing & managing supply chain’ (D.S. Levi); it started like a chain reaction then. I read ‘The Goal’ (Eliyahu Goldratt) next. I found growing interest in augmentation of data analytics with common sense – it led to new addition in my reading list of books such as Eric Siegel’s Predictive analytics & Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking fast and slow. Speaking with one of my friends pursuing MBA, I got a lead to yet another gem of knowledge – Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows. The list goes on…

While discussing about my newfound knowledge with my peers, one of my friends suggested me to read LHTL by Barbara Oakley (I am now ready to explore new books due to a faith I have developed in them as they act as my mentors as well as friends). LHTL literally tells you how one should approach learning itself. The book mentioned of The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg); I devoured that too like a hungry wolf. These are few of the treasures that any lifelong learner must possess in his or her library.

How all this helped me, you may ask with impatience? Reading or listening (I love Audible for this!) so many such fantastic books full of practical insights has helped me in my job directly as well as indirectly. Further, having taken the pains to grasp the content, minus tutoring from any instructor, has helped root the ideas deeper in my mind to find a lateral implementation of a good idea. A tangible benefit is the certification I got as CSCP from APICS (now ASCM). Data says that it is a certification that isn’t easy to avail unless you prepare well, even so when you are a full time working professional. But the self-study habits developed over the period of last few years helped me to achieve what I desired to, at-least for now.

I have an urge to pass on a message that knowledge is easily accessible to all of us today. Technology makes it even more convenient. It’s only about being open to take a little extra effort to absorb it. The pedagogy of top schools / colleges in respective careers may not be imitated by self-study; but basic knowledge can still be gained. Wish you a happy & fulfilling learning!

If you have any query on any of the above topics, please reach out. I’ll be happy to assist.

Sunday Vignettes

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Year 1989: Each Saturday evening, I returned from school, eager to have lots of fun. No school, no classes for one day. Extra-curricular activity was an alien subject then.

So, Sunday mornings would start with watching cartoons, relishing on favorite breakfast, made by Mom especially for Sunday, and playing with friends; afternoons were about taking a power nap listening to classic songs on radio; purpose would be to get refreshed for going out in the evening to play again.

After playing there would be late evening chat sessions, involving horror or adventure stories, etc. In those days, teachers would not bother to give homework to complete over the weekend. Sunday would end with storytelling by Grandma, after a delicious dinner. I used to doze off before Grandma would’ve finished the story.

Year 2004: Each Saturday evening, I returned home, threw myself into couch, eager to relax my mind from workplace stress…

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