A pill in Entrepreneurship by Dr. Sunil Handa

If anyone has read the book ‘Stay hungry, Stay foolish’, one would come across a chapter titled ‘The Alchemist’. It is about the success story of Prof. Sunil Handa, an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad.According to the book, “From a hard nosed businessman to an educational entrepreneur, his is a fascinating journey.”

On 9th and 10th of September , 2010 , students of IIM Kozhikode had the unique opportunity to engage in an interaction with Prof. Sunil Handa in his flagship programme ‘Workshop on LEM ( Laboratory in Entrepreneurial Motivation)’.By the way ,the subject  ‘LEM’ is the most sought after elective course in IIM Ahmedabad .With his no-nonsense inspirational take on entrepreneurship , interspersed with witty anecdotes , Prof. Handa has managed to keep the students in the Auditorium engrossed in his words of wisdom .He urged the students to be like a ‘ Shiva linga’ .He told that whatever type of liquid one pours on it , there as no affect on the ‘ Shiva linga’ . It just stands firm. Likewise, during one’s entrepreneurial venture, if anyone is faced with any sort of criticism, one should not be undermined and be firm and should just focus on one’s goals. He went on to dwell on obstacles, stressing the fact that they are like “margasuchak”. They give right direction to oneself and that whenever someone encounters an obstacle then they should thank the obstacle. He quoted an example of him not receiving an offer from a famous FMCG company and that was the reason for him to do bigger things in life. He even went to the temple and thanked God for that incident in his life. He also quoted from Hanuman Chalisa, “Aapan Tej Samharo Aapei, Tanau Lok Hank Te Kanpei” – When you roar all the three worlds tremble and only you can control your might. This means you are the limit of yourself. He asked the students to strip the quote of its religious meaning and apply it to their managerial practices .According to Prof. Handa, “A century ago, being patriotic would have meant ‘Getting freedom from the British’. Today if you want to help your country, start some business and help the economy grow better”.

Prof. Debashis Chatterjee, the Director of IIM Kozhikode, expressed his desire that if at least twenty students out of the batch of first year students could turn up into successful entrepreneurs then the whole purpose of the workshop would be fulfilled. He was curious about the quality of the Business Plans that the students discussed with Prof. Handa and asked about them. Prof. Handa was pleased with the business ideas put forward by the students. The Director informed  Prof. Handa that the curriculum in IIM Kozhikode is under revision and feedback is taken from the students themselves on what they  exactly want .The Director revealed that if the students suggested some courses on Entrepreneurship, then the faculty would try to include more of such courses as they are trying to be very flexible in revising the curriculum.

E-Cell (The Interest Group of IIM Kozhikode which promotes entrepreneurial spirit among the students) enquired Prof. Handa about the activities that  E-Cell should involve in  to foster Entrepreneurship. His suggestion was introduction of a course with focus on one-to-one sessions and industry visits and meeting with top management of the corresponding industries.

During a one-on-one session regarding Business Plans, a student told Prof. Handa that he has 20 acres of land and asked about his desire to start a dairy farm.Prof. Handa replied, “It is a fantastic idea. I always wanted that one of my students have a dairy with 10,000 cows and buffaloes. If you ever plan to implement the idea, contact me, I will help you with the whole thing. We’ll also start a milk processing factory, use cow dung to produce bio-gas and will make organic compost of the final waste.”

Such is the charisma of Prof. Handa that he has turned many students in B – Schools over India into successful entrepreneurs. Undoubtedly, his ‘Workshop in Laboratory in Entrepreneurial Motivation’ has become immensely popular over the years.

Media Cell

IIM Kozhikode

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