Meet the EPGP Class of 2023: Lokender Singh Rathore, IIM Bangalore

“Clever and go-getter observer. People-oriented leader driven by the motto – “We rise by lifting others”.

Hometown: Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Fun fact about yourself: I left the Deloitte management consultant job offer to join the Indian Navy. Now, after 10 years, I am doing an MBA. The two choices are of contrasting substance, but in a way, they were the best decisions of my life.

Undergraduate School and Major: NIT Surat, Electrical Engineering

Most recent employer and job title: Indian Navy, Lieutenant Commander

Apart from your classmates, What was the key element of IIM Bangalore’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? IIM Bangalore is located in Silicon Valley in India and has produced most unicorn businesses in India. NSRCEL, a start-up incubation cell at IIM Bangalore, offers plenty of opportunities to experience the hustle culture and learn from one of the top entrepreneurs in the country. In today’s world of rapidly changing digital infrastructure, it is critically important for all organizations to instill innovation and a start-up mindset to support growth and profitability, which we often called intrapreneurship. Therefore, it is imperative that all MBA graduates learn entrepreneurial skills. And there is no better place than IIM Bangalore for this in India.

What was your favorite class or extracurricular activity at IIM Bangalore? What was the most important lesson you learned from it? My favorite course at IIM Bangalore is Competition and Strategy. Coming from a Defense background, I was exposed to tactical strategy. I didn’t know much about the conceptual depths where strategy frameworks go. From Michael Porter to CK Prahalad and from industry analysis to enterprise resource-based analysis, I’ve been thrilled to find new ways to use mental toughness that gauge the number of business and a company’s bottom line. Professor Rejie George, one of the pillars of the strategy department at IIM Bangalore, has implanted conceptual frameworks to such a level that knowledge of the subject now comes naturally even during random discussions.

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Peter Drucker once said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. After taking the Competition and Strategy course, I learned that a well-formulated strategy is that meal packet without which cultural change will starve. This was my most important conclusion.

Describe your biggest achievement in your career so far: On April 26, 2019, a major fire broke out in the engine room aboard the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. In accordance with established protocols, all of the ship’s crew were assembled on the flight deck, except for those men involved in firefighting and ship movement. The whole event was coordinated from the bridge (control centre) via the ship’s internal communication system, which was under my responsibility.

As the fire continued to spread, it naturally spread to the main broadcast compartment where the internal communications system amplifiers were located. Jamming a team of three, I decided to enter the main broadcast compartment and shut down the system to remove the amplifiers and take them to the bridge where the secondary broadcast system could be rigged. The temperature inside the compartment was approaching 80 degrees and the team was very exhausted when we reached the compartment. I had full confidence in my team’s abilities, but the physical toll of high temperature and difficulty breathing in fire suits was my concern. Before the amplifiers could be removed, two of the men began to run out of breath. I told them to remove the amplifiers and rush to the cockpit leaving the amplifiers behind. They were gone in a jiffy.

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Now I stayed with one of my men to bring back the amplifiers. I could only offer him one line of motivation: “Only we can do it”. We were each other’s strength during those 7-8 minutes back in the cockpit. The secondary team took over the amplifiers and rigged them in Bridge to ensure the availability of internal communication. This all happened in less than 20-25 minutes, but I consider this one of the greatest accomplishments because even a single mistake would have resulted in death. Unfortunately, that day one of the firefighting officers, Lieutenant Commander DS Chauhan, gave his life putting out the fire in the engine room.

Describe your greatest achievement as an MBA student so far: Regular participation in competitions, which takes place at business events and in all colleges, provides the opportunity to improve and practice academic knowledge. During Business Conclave 2022, the flagship event of the EPGP batch at IIM Bangalore, I won the first prize in the “Bharat Quiz” where 300 teams had participated from all over the country. I was also one of the 6 finalists out of 250 entrants in the IIM Bangalore Sustainability Challenge Case Competition.

What is your class’s favorite place outside of school? Why are you meeting there? One of the frequent meeting places is a bakery outside the south gate. We all gather there for the Chai break and vent our frustrations over various things we have come across recently. The biggest benefit of these small group sessions is that you learn what the important tasks of the day are. Surely that puts us all on the same page.

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What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? In addition to the transferable skills I acquired during my 10 years of service in the Indian Navy, I wanted to be equipped with the conceptual knowledge and skills that a senior corporate executive is expected to possess. I hope to launch my career through the leadership programs offered by companies and contribute to the achievement of organizational objectives. I am also interested in Operations and Program Manager roles which offer challenging opportunities.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into IIM Bangalore? Well, it goes without saying that getting a good GMAT/GRE score is a must. A good GMAT score depends on a school’s average score and the candidate’s profile. The more common a profile is, the higher a score will be.

Second, spend a lot of time on the application and SOPs. Do not try to imitate what you find relevant in the profile of the previously selected candidate. Instead, weave a story of your life journey, setting out your short and long-term goals and how IIM Bangalore’s MBA will drive your motivations. When it comes to interviews, be original and confident in your abilities. Going through mock interviews and mirror practice helps build confidence. I know a lot depends on luck, but remember what Benjamin Franklin said – “Diligence is the mother of good luck”.



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