A lot can happen in a year, and ISB PGP is a living breathing example of that. It is one thrilling roller coaster ride involving endless assignments, competitions, speaker sessions, marquee events, alum bonding, sleepless nights, grilling placements season and parties – LOTS OF PARTIES!
Constantly ranked as one of the top business schools in the world by numerous independent rankings, ISB offers the most competitive, rewarding, and sought-after global MBA equivalent program in the form of its Post Graduate Programme (PGP) in Management. Because the ISB PGP is residential in nature, candidates spend the year together at the 2 sprawling ISB campuses – Mohali and Hyderabad, which in all honesty deserve a detailed blog post of their own to cover their many magnificent offerings and 5-star resort feels.
In this article, we aim to break down the year for all prospective ISB candidates and give them a furtive peek into what life at ISB looks like! Read on
Every year in April, approximately 850 brightest minds of the country find themselves flying to Hyderabad or Mohali, excited to kickstart their year of transformation. What awaits them is a high energy induction week called Orientation Week or more commonly referred to as O-Week. O-week lays the perfect foundation to rest of the year for PGP candidates, with a healthy mix of induction sessions, team building & bonding exercises and parties – LOTS OF PARTIES
Before the core courses officially start, students are also introduced to an intensive three-day Leadership Development Program (LEAD), which uses integrated teaching methods to help students introspect and identify their strengths, weaknesses, and leadership style. LEAD further encourages them to chart out a plan and define their goals for the upcoming year to ensure a comprehensive learning experience.
As the temperature rises and the summer sun shines brighter in both Hyderabad and Mohali, ISB candidates spend the rest of April getting used to early morning classes and late nights, adapting to the academic rigour, exploring the hidden hangout spots in the campus and knowing their classmates and cohort better by bonding over shared passions – food, music, poetry, anything and everything!
May starts with PGP candidates having their first case study submission as a study group. The concept of study groups is enforced to encourage amalgamation of perspectives and experiences while creating a safe space for students to bond and learn. They are essentially groups of 4-5 students who undertake projects and class assignments together.
This case study usually comes as part of the Marketing Management class and has emerged as a memorable experience across PGP batches. Most submissions happen in the wee hours of the morning, with study groups pulling gruelling all-nighters trying to arrive at the best recommendation/solution to the case, while also navigating through the challenges of working with new people.
May is an extremely action-packed month at ISB, especially with GSB core elections being scheduled in the first half of it. GSB is a democratically elected team of student representatives who act as a bridge between the student community and school administration. GSB comprises of 7 student councils reporting directly to the GSB President. Candidates battle it out with promising manifestos, moving soapboxes and class-to-class campaigning, till the board is finally constituted. GSB elections are followed by professional and social club elections, which pretty much follow the same process.
Weekends in May are spent studying for Friday quizzes, planning Saturday-night section parties, and turning in challenging end-of-week Sunday submissions. On the professional grooming front, May is also when the first of the series of alum mentoring sessions are organized, called PDP or Personal Development Plan. PDP sessions match each candidate with an alum from the professional area of interest to the PGP candidate to help plan their year better.
PS: Barring the year 2020, May is also the time when India is gripped by IPL fever – ISB students in Mohali and Hyderabad make the best of their proximity to cricket grounds to catch the teams in action…
With June, Case Competition season officially begins! One of the most interesting experiences of B-school life is fighting it out in interschool case competitions and business simulations. ISB students, often with Dare2Compete (D2C) as an intermediary, are exposed to a multitude of opportunities to showcase their talent and edge over other b-schools like IIM – A/B/C, XLRI, NUS & NTU, Singapore among others in the form of these competitions. And ISB students are known to make the best of these opportunities by leveraging the diversity and competence of their student network.
While Hyderabad campus gears up for a delightful Eid celebration, replete with Sufi songs and Nawabi feast (of course, there is lip-smacking Hyderabadi Biryani), Mohali campus undertakes preparations for AIKYA in June. AIKYA is a unique initiative by ISB to connect its students with the leading and influential business families of respective host cities (Hyderabad and Mohali). The host families are welcomed to the campus with splendour and warmth for an evening of bonding and celebration.
Further, since diversity and inclusivity are extremely important cornerstones of the ISB PGP, June holds an even more special place as the International Pride Month. Both campuses take on the colours of the rainbow as the student community comes together to honour and rejoice Pride!
These celebrations are led by the LGBTQ+ clubs in each campus and have students broadening the dialogue with skits, musical performances, pride march and speaker sessions.
Also, both campuses spring to life as monsoon sets in, and zumba sessions, music jams poetry nights under a tree, become a norm despite so much happening in June.
Lush greenery, blooming flowers and picturesque skies become a sight for sore eyes at both ISB campuses as July brings with it the beginning of a very hectic Term 3 at ISB.
Both campuses are bustling with activity throughout the month of July –
⦁ The official bands of both campuses – The Juke Box Project of Hyderabad and Sector 81 of Mohali are constituted and launched
⦁ Students at both Mohali and Hyderabad campus also organize the first of multiple Bandhan weekends in July. Bandhan is an annual flagship initiative undertaken by the Net Impact Club where 500+ students from various low-income neighbourhoods are invited to both the campuses of ISB. The children are then engaged in fun activities through the day by the student body to create a memorable experience while also encouraging them to push through the challenges of their lives
⦁ Hyderabad campus is further seen coming together for its own AIKYA celebrations, the oldest marquee event of ISB
⦁ With 3 months already down, July also becomes the time for the first GSB Open House following the results of a governance survey. Governance Survey, undertaken by the Finance & Governance Council (FGC) is sort of a report card for all clubs, aimed at encouraging constructive feedback and dialogue
The rest of the month is filled with peer-to-peer learning sessions, industry expert speaker sessions and SV (Student Village – ISB’s version of student hostels) sports wars.
Come August, pre-placement frenzy starts gripping the campuses. Early drafts of their resume, speaker sessions and industry deep-dive workshops keep students swamped through the month. These industry deep-dive workshops are organized by SEAL (Student Engagement & Applied Learning), often in partnership with industry experts. This is an extremely important intervention aimed at equipping students with an in-depth working knowledge of various industries
SEAL also releases the second round of ELPs or Experiential Learning Programs, with the first batch having been released in July. One can interpret ELP as a short-term consulting project taken by students in groups of 3-4 to help companies solve pressing problems across functions like customer acquisition, expansion, operations, supply chains amongst others. It is more strategic in nature, with companies executing the plan internally post approvals.
August 2019 saw the successful launch of ISB’s first Product Conclave at the Hyderabad Campus. The conclave was spearheaded by the Business Technology Club (BTC) and was a blast for all tech/product enthusiasts on campus. With an impressive lineup of speakers and enthralling discussion about the challenges in SaaS space amongst other things, the 2019 ISB Product Conclave set the benchmark high for upcoming batches.
August also marks the continuity of a series of case competition wins for ISB students and second Bandhan weekend at both campuses, especially to amplify the spirit of Independence Day on August 15th.
September officially marks the onset of placement season at ISB, and resume reviews by alums and mandatory presence in pre-placement talks mean every calendar is choc-a-bloc with commitments! So much so that the SLC (Student Life Council) planned a dedicated doggo-day when cute, furry friends took over the Hyderabad Campus to help students release the anxiety.
While the preparation for upcoming placement season goes into an overdrive, it does not deter ISB students from participating and thriving in extra-curricular activities.
⦁ Shadow-a-CEO is launched for both campuses: It is a unique initiative organized by ISB as part of Joy of Giving week and provides students of top Indian B-schools an opportunity to spend a day with the biggest CEOs of the country. Students can avail this opportunity via a bidding process, which usually happens in October and all proceeds from the initiative go towards charity
⦁ September brings with it the most-awaited and popular marquee event of the year at both Hyderabad and Mohali – ISB Leadership Summit (ILS). ISB’s annual flagship event, ILS is a 2-day conclave that brings together the brightest business minds from across the country to interact, debate and inspire. Some of the past ILS speakers include Dr. Manmohan Singh, N. Narayan Murthy, Adi Godrej, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shashi Tharoor, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sonali Bendre among others
⦁ ISB Mohali campus opens its doors to nostalgia with Equinox. Equinox is the annual alumni reunion of Mohali Campus, with its Hyderabad counterpart known as Solstice. The enthusiasm and euphoria during the Equinox weekend are unmatched, with party mania taking over the entire campus
⦁ 2019 was a year of many firsts and September 2019 also saw the Marketing Club Hyderabad host ISB’s first-ever marketing conclave called Marketing Gambit. The two-day event saw a notable speaker lineup, exciting workshops, leadership representations from brands like Google, Big Basket, LinkedIn and BigBasket and a whole lot of Marketing gyaan.
Core terms come to an end and Term 5 (an elective term) begins in October. It also paves way for the inter-campus exchange program.
A very popular event of ISB is launched in October – ISB Super League or ISL. ISL is ISB’s take on the extremely popular IPL and sees student-owned franchises battle it out in a series of different sports from December to March. It is unlike anything held in any other b-school across the world, as real money is involved with likeminded current students and alums coming together to first bid on teams, and then later on players for their franchise. The four ISL teams at Hyderabad campus are Hyderabad Hurricanes, Titans, Hyderabad Nizams, and Raging Bulls, the three teams at Mohali campus are Sultans, Mavericks and Hukums.
Sponsors play a big role in the event since the ISL is professionally managed and inclusion of sponsors for teams help them recoup their investment. Team owners are instrumental in team performance as they are effectively co-founders of the business and manage a budget of up to 4-5 lacs. This massive budget clearly indicates the scale and popularity of ISL. The amount of money that is collected at the time of bidding from the four teams is pooled in and redistributed once the final results are declared. The teams are driven by this additional incentive as they stand a chance to win 65% of the total sum collected, ensuring an enviable ROI.
After BTC and Marketing Club, it now becomes the time for Finance Club to hold their annual capital markets conclave called Artha. Artha brings together prestigious names from the banking and finance industry and is the only cross-campus event of the year. Students from Hyderabad and Mohali work in close proximity to pull Artha off. In a first, Artha 2019 was launched by the Lord Mayor of the City of London and further positioned ISB as the leading name in.
With ISB has become a second home and the cohort our newfound family, festivals like Garba and Diwali are celebrated in all their glory and fervour on both campuses in October. Music, fairy lights, board games and scrumptious food livens up the atmosphere, and help students let go of the placement week panic for some time.
October is busy, both academically and socially. In 2019, October ended on the best high with Hyderabad students throwing a crazy Halloween Party that saw them channelling their fun side and turning up in the goriest but interesting costumes.
November makes way for Advaita – ISB’s in-house management festival consisting of a series of inter b-school competitions. Advaita is held at both ISB campuses concurrently. Run by an independent student body constituting the event core team, under the aegis of a Lead Coordinator, Advaita attracts teams of most competitive students from premium global b-schools to battle it out in various industry case competitions and business simulations.
Days seem to get shorter as the placement mania takes over the entire campus. Checking your email every 20 minutes hoping for a company shortlist update, running from one prep group meet to another to perfect your case study preparations, working on the 100th iteration of your resume and reaching out to alums for placement tips and company insights – this is how the first few days of November look like at ISB. Especially so because students get almost a 15-day long study break before the arduous interview week, which is slotted in the second half of the month.
The placement week brings to life the ‘One School, Two Campus’ spirit when Mohali students fly down to the Hyderabad campus for a combined placement process. Also to ensure fairness at all level, the school refrains from revealing the campus of students to recruiters. The student community comes together in the most beautiful ways during the week, constantly working to not just secure offers for themselves but foster a mutually uplifting environment for everybody. By the end of it, the campus is brimming with happy smiles, warm hugs, even stronger friendships, and some goodbyes as Mohali students fly back to their campus, while some students from Hyderabad fly back to their homes.
With placements out of the way, December officially inaugurates party time at both campuses. The campus vibe is much more relaxed and academic commitments become less time-consuming, thus allowing students to let their hair down.
⦁ ISB Super League (ISL) starts with a grand opening and the first of its many sports competitions
⦁ Hyderabad students lay out the literal and figurative red carpet for dear alums with their version of the annual alum meet, called Solstice. A running joke within the ISB circles is that Solstice is just one big 3-day long party! Over 1000 alums fly down every year to spend the weekend at the campus, reliving their own time – some even sharing their old quads with current students and trading memories. The event usually comprises fun activities, performances by the current class and even musical night by celebrity singers. Some of the key names to have performed at Solstice and Equinox in the last few years are Shalmali Kholgade, Armaan Malik and Vishal-Shekhar amongst others.
The campus comes alive during the 3 days and in true ISB style, never sleeps. The SV lawns are littered with alums lounging with buddies and reminiscing old memories or recounting them to the current class. The quads are alive with parties while popular spots like the Atrium and Dam are frequented by both alums and students. One of the traditions of the re-union is for the current Class’ Jukebox (the ISB band) to collaborate with the previous Class’ Jukebox to deliver the most popular musical performance of the year. Similarly, the current class takes on its alumni on the field – at Football, Ultimate Frisbee, and Basketball to claim bragging rights
⦁ ISB is a global business school in every sense and so one just cannot graduate without a Prom Night! The Great Gatsby Ball was Mohali’s take on the popular United States school ritual. Organized on a chilly December evening, the Ball sees MoTowners turn up in their fanciest and best black-tie looks – with boys looking sharp in tuxedos and girls dazzling in cocktail dresses!
⦁ Secret Santa hats are donned with much warmth and zeal within the sections at both campuses as Christmas inches closer, with the Christmas Eve being celebrated with games, wine and a delectable potluck spread
⦁ While some students choose to fly to their families to celebrate New Year’s, a vast majority of students choose to stay back on the campus for what becomes the most epic New Year celebration!
After partying and celebrating New Year’s Eve till wee hours in the morning with people you cannot believe you met less than a year ago, many students in small and large groups fly across the map for a well-deserved vacation. Goa is one of the most popular annual haunts amongst ISB students for a New Year break, with Sri Lanka, Andaman & Nicobar, Bangkok, and Indonesia not far behind – the world truly becomes our oyster!
Lohri, Pongal and Makar Sakranti are celebrated with love and grandeur at both campuses as the penultimate term, Term 7 begins in January! Also as chilly winters grip both campuses, especially Mohali, impromptu weekend trips also become the norm. While Hyderabadis flock to Hampi more than ever, Mohali students are found enjoying the hills in Shimla and Manali
The rest of the January is filled with continued fierce competition amongst different ISL franchises and increased activity by Social Clubs. Theatre Club and Music Club are at the forefront – both putting mesmerizing performances during the weekends.
February brings with it the realization that this crazy, exhilarating and extremely happy ride called ISB might be coming to an end soon. Students look to maximize the time spent with each other before having to step back into the corporate world. Weddings and engagements in the ISB world also go into overdrive now that placement season is long over.
The most awaited ISL events – track and field, along with Football and Cricket – see insane turnout from current students as well as alums.
Stand-up Club (also known as The Support Group) put up their most-awaited, bone-tickling performance on the placement experience, as Theatre Clubs of both campuses put out a grand production in February.
With Mohali students leaving Hyderabad students envious with The Great Gatsby Ball in December, Hyderabad soon catches up with their own Harry Potter inspired black-tie rendition called The Yule Ball. The Yule Ball 2020 was a massive success and had students set the dance floor on fire with Salsa moves that The Dance Club had them perfect in weeks leading up to the ball.
In March, students of both campuses are found eternalizing the memory of every corner of their stunning campus in photographs. It is also when the much-awaited annual Yearbook photoshoots are organized by the Marketing & Communications Council (MCC) of both Hyderabad and Mohali campus.
The last of annual marquee events – ISB Policy Conclave and ISB Impact Forum are also scheduled in March. ISB Policy Conclave is an annual summit that brings together visionaries from the public and private sector to engage in and spark conversations around various policy issues and loopholes in the country. ISB Impact Forum is ISB’s flagship social impact conference and aims to encourage dialogue amongst thought leaders and young business professionals about sustainable change and social impact. An interesting ISB tradition, that of live weekend performances by the official bands of both schools at the most happening clubs like Hard Rock Café and B.Dubs also takes place during the month.
While extracurricular commitments mentioned above keep ISB students on their toes, what really makes March memorable is the ISB Holi Celebration. Holi at ISB is looked forward to even before the year officially begins and believe us when we say students do not shy away from painting the town red – figuratively and literally! We’ll go as far as to say that fun, festive and laughter-filled Holi celebrations at ISB can put even the La Tomatina celebrations shown in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to shame!
End of March and the beginning of April constitute the popular ISB De-Orientation Week, which as the name suggests is a complete contrast with the O-week that marks the beginning of the year for ISB PGP students.
Called D-week in Mohali and Pegasus in Hyderabad, it essentially sees the cohort in both campuses come together post giving the final Term 8 exams to party and celebrate the successful culmination of possibly the greatest year of their lives.
It also helps students realign with the real world and get ready to face real problems and challenges. The weeklong schedule includes events such as ISB Guilt Awards (an award night just like the Oscars wherein students dress like celebrities in their best suits and dresses and walk the red carpet). This event kick starts the D-Week/Pegasus at both the campuses which is then followed by an after-party at either the Legacy Lounge or the 08 Lounge. The entire week includes multiple parties and events (such as section wars wherein sections compete in different sports for bragging rights such as human foosball). These set of events help build deeper bonds in the class during the last few days on campus.
Goodbyes are always hard but the D-week, where days and night seem to merge together, makes them a tad bit less painful.
D-week finally paves way for the celebratory graduation in classic ISB style! Friends and family from across the country fly down to the campuses for the graduation day that starts very early (around 8 am). The students soon find their place in one of the multiple lines so as to form a procession for the graduation walk into the hanger. As the procession progresses into the hanger, it is introduced and applauded with a victory song and a standing ovation from parents and guests in the audience.
The ceremony then witnesses address by the dean, chief guest and deputy dean who also shares an overview report card for the year. Various awards like Dean’s List, Merit List, Torchbearer Award and Young Leader Awards along with graduation certificates are accorded to the students. Towards the end of the ceremony, the class toss their graduation hats as a final ritual and moves out of the hangar for one last photo session and long goodbye hugs.
PS: The calendar above resembles the regular PGP experience at ISB. However, due to COVID and subsequent modification to PGP 2.0 for co 2021, there might be a slight change to the timing of various events, but the broad experiences remain the same.