Friday, October 08, 2004

The Seven Secrets behind IITians Global Success

The 7 secrets behind IITians' global success

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2004 12:10:08 AM

Rajat Gupta: Former Managing Director of McKinsey & Co
Arun Sarin: Chief Executive of Vodafone Group PLC
Victor Menezes: Senior Vice Chairman of Citigroup Inc.
Kanwal Rekhi: Venture Capitalist and Founder of Excelan Inc.
Rono Dutta: Chief Executive of Air Sahara
Rakesh Gangwal: Former Chief Executive of US Airways
Vinod Khosla: Partner in Kleiner Perkins Caulfield

Guess what do these stalwarts have in common?
They are all products of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology which is gradually becoming a synonym for skill, talent, knowledge and expertise.

IITs are churning out top-notch engineers with a regularity that thrills corporations around the world. These government-sponsored institutes are considered the best in India, and their alumni can be found in the top executive positions in companies across the globe. According to the recent estimates, 25,000 IIT graduates are currently employed in the US, out of which, some of them have also turned entrepreneurs, who have seen their net worth grow almost overnight to mind boggling millions or even billions of dollars.

Such is the success record of the IITians worldwide. Each year the six IITs have more names making to the who's who list in the US business community than any other Indian institution, and most American universities as well. Ashutosh Roy, Gunjan Sinha, Suhas S Patil, Arjun Malhotra, Vinod Gupta are some of the IITians who have hit it big as entrepreneurs abroad.

However, many more can be added to the unending list. Global Acceptance "Brand IIT is, by now, so well established that in the future too, the IIT graduates will continue to be successful," says Nandan Nilekani, CEO,
Infosys , while speaking to The Wall Street Journal. Nilekani graduated from IIT Bombay in 1978. Cisco Systems Inc. , in San Jose, Calif., says it has already hired more than 1,000 IITians over the years and it plans to increase the number as per convenience. According to the director of a major US research firm, the IITs are one of its most important sources of research talent, both in the US and Asia.

What makes them what they are "IITians", the name itself evokes some prototypes. They have the required skill, experience, imagination and enthusiasm to make it to the top. "Being from an IIT background has contributed to a great extent", says Rahul Pandey, an IIT Roorkee product, who is currently employed with HPCL. The training at IIT is very vigorous, and so is the selection process.

"The JEE is the toughest undergraduate entrance exam of its kind in the world, and it acts as a guillotine at the IITs' entrance," says Sandipan Deb, author of "The IITians" while speaking to The Wall Street Journal .

Finally, the experience of staying on campus is also crucial in building interpersonal skills and in providing students with leadership qualities. The missing link Even as IIT and other engineering schools enjoy global attention, students hold a different point of view. Few students prefer to pursue US degree as the course curriculum is wider and not limited to just engineering. Despite this, an IIT degree is a ticket to being a part of the high profile tech brigade which has already made a mark on the world tech map.

R. Gopalakrishnan, executive director of Tata Sons, a diversified group of companies in India, and an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, who has studied the "IIT brand," told the Wall Street Journal that, even engineers from other Indian universities now do their master's degrees at the IITs.

The result: more IIT-trained engineers.