Convocation 2023: Speech of Chairman, Mr Ajay Shriram

Indian Institute of Management, Sirmaur

Convocation 2023: Speech of Chairman, Mr Ajay Shriram

Thursday, 20th April, 2023


Convocation 2023: Speech of Chairman, Mr Ajay Shriram

Ms Naina Lal Kidwai was the Chief Guest for the 2023 convocation. Unfortunately she was unable to join us today due to prior travel plans, but we will have the benefit of hearing her address. She also sends her best wishes to the Graduating Batch.

"Members of the Board of Governors of IIM Sirmaur, State Government Officials, Prof Prafulla Agnihotri, Director IIM Sirmaur, Faculty and staff members of IIM Sirmaur, Family members of students, The Graduating Batch, Ladies and gentlemen.

At the outset, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Naina for agreeing to be our chief guest, and send us an inspirational address.

Briefly; Naina Lal Kidwai is Chairman of Rothschild India, senior Advisor Advent Private Equity and a board member of several well established companies. She has been Past President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and retired in December 2015 as Chairman HSBC India. She chairs the Primary Markets Advisory Committee of SEBI. She has been a member of the Prime Minister’s Trade and Industry Council, the Central Government’s Industry Task Force, and has held many more positions. An MBA from Harvard Business School, she is the recipient of several honours including the Padma Shri, for her contribution to Trade and industry.

However, what truly distinguishes her is that, as head of the India Sanitation Coalition (or ISC), Naina is passionate about the cause of sanitation and water. She is spearheading the much-needed collaboration between corporate India and non-governmental organisations, to ensure that India reaches its goal of becoming open defecation free. She has poured a lifetime worth of learning into her book, “Survive or Sink: An Action Agenda for Sanitation, Water, Pollution and Green Finance”. I would urge those who are interested in this subject, and push those not too interested, to read this book. Water is too important a subject to be ignored. Each one of us have a responsibility for conserving this precious resource.

I extend a special welcome to our Board members who have made the effort to join us at Ponta Sahib for the 7th Convocation. We have Ms Archana Garodia Gupta, Mr. Shrikant Kejriwal and Ms Munmun Biswas. I have always believed that IIM Sirmaur is privileged to have Board Members with an outstanding record of achievements, as well a commitment to public service. They have been generous with their time not just for board meetings, but also for project monitoring, recruitment of permanent staff, investment advisory, placements and so on. I earnestly thank my colleagues on the Board, and I look forward to their continued support.

Much has happened in the last year at IIM Sirmaur, and I am delighted to see the positive change all around. The most significant one being the additions to our own faculty. They are now thirty plus in numbers, a big jump since last year, and all of them have done their PhDs from amongst the best schools in India and abroad. Prof Agnihotri and his team need to be complimented on this effort, as permanent faculty is essential for an institution of national importance. This will add depth and stability to our academic standards. On behalf of the Board, and my own behalf, I extend a warm welcome to faculty members who have joined recently. I look forward to the faculty undertaking research work that will bring laurels to them, and the institution.

I am happy to learn that the bar for academic rigor has been raised this year. Steps have been taken to improve classroom experience, so that the students get the best of management education. I am sure many students are experiencing the impact of this change.

There has also been significant strengthening of the administration. More than 15 new non-faculty positions have been filled, to ensure that operations of the Institute run smoothly. There is greater emphasis on following a systems approach, as we are no longer a start-up. Installation of an ERP system in on the anvil, so that all operations are synchronized.

Today is also a day we should look inwards, and give some thought towards our family and friends. Just as we often say, that an Institution like IIM is nothing but what its people represent, and the standards they set. Similarly in a family too, each family member is treasured and has a role to play. As the graduating batch enters the working phase of life, there is a responsibility towards spouses, parents, children, friends and even ones neighbourhood. So compassion, integrity and good values are qualities that I would encourage each of you to inculcate in your daily actions, inside and outside the work place. Each one of us will face difficult moments in our personal life. There will also be times when our integrity will be tested. In today’s world when social media and newspapers are often filled with bad news and fake news, let us in our small way contribute towards the wellbeing of the people associated with us. Compassion and tolerance goes a long way in mitigating sufferings. In fact, never forget that someone in your circle of family and friends have made personal sacrifices, that has made it possible for you to access the education at an IIM.

My own experience tells me, that providing support and showing empathy to people who may be agitated or distressed is a must; they will greatly benefit from it, and respond with gratitude. In fact it works both ways.

As Chairman of a large company, as well in my association with Trade Bodies such as CII, I come across a wide range of issues with conflicting view-points. Instead of giving a diktat, I have found bringing everyone on the same table, and having an honest and open discussion works far better. Pressures and challenges are a fact of life; it all depends on how we deal with them. There could well be situations which are overwhelming. In such a case, do not hesitate to reach for help. There is no harm in seeking assistance. As I often tell our team in the company, no individual has the monopoly of all the knowledge and expertise.

Many of the initial teething troubles at IIM Sirmaur are now behind us. The construction of the new campus has had its share of delays, but I am confident that continued pressure and coordination will result in the next convocation being held in our own campus.

I would like to heartily congratulate the graduating batch, their parents and their families, and wish them all the success in life. Their placement record is both gratifying, and reassuring that we must be doing many things right. I would urge the 7th batch of MBA and the 2nd batch of MBA in Travel and Tourism, to remain in touch with the Institute and give their constructive feedback. Globally, the role of Alumni is well recognized, and IIM Sirmaur should be no exception.

Before I close, I would like to convey my sincere thanks to the local administration at Ponta Sahib and the State Government in Shimla. The District authorities located at Nahan have been of immense help in quick resolution of pending issues. A special thanks to them. Of course the Ministry of Education, Government of India has given us all the support and encouragement that we needed. Our heartfelt thanks to them.

Once again, I wish all of you all the very best for the future, and congratulations once again to the two graduating batches of MBA students.

Thank you very much and God bless!"

20th April 2023.