“SOIL” – The best thing that happened to me in my life

My phone rung quite early in the morning & to my surprise it was my department head in TVS Motors (TVSM) on line. “Congratulations Vijay! We have decided to send you to the School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL) to pursue your Post Graduation in Marketing Leadership”. After a minute long conversation, where I was caught for words, I hung up thanking him & TVSM for the opportunity.

SOIL? I thought. “Have I heard it before? Certainly not

But if TVSM wants me to spend a year there & pursue my post-graduation, then it must be something special. Very soon, I found out why it was. Right from the admission process (Talent Appreciation Process), I found SOIL to be very different from other Schools. With ‘Caliper’, started a very important journey for me. The journey of understanding myself. ‘Caliper’ helped me realize my potential strengths i.e. my gifts & of course my shortfalls. The first assignment in SOIL was to arrive at an ‘Individual Development Plan’ for myself, with the help of my program chair & Industry Mentor. “The perfect start”, I thought to myself.

Prof. Anil Sachdev’s Self- Leadership sessions kick-started the academics in SOIL; Sessions where Anil Sir just asked the right questions & sparked some deep level of self-introspect within you. And with that, started the most intense ‘learning phase’ in my life.

SOIL believes in ‘Learning by Doing’. Unlike the traditional ‘text books & lectures only’ methodology, this was more application oriented & meant that we had to put in a lot of research & work in live projects & simulations. Text Books & Lectures were just facilitators. Further, ‘Projects’ meant that that we work in teams & SOIL took efforts to ensure that we work with different people every time. By the end of the year, thanks to this policy of SOIL, we knew the ingredients & formula for a successful team!

“Learning by Doing = Learning for a lifetime”

I remember writing to my HR head in TVSM once, saying that “we are being kept busy by SOIL 24*7 that sometimes I feel, even Life @ TVSM wasn’t this intense”

To become an ‘Arjuna’ one requires the guidance & mentoring from a ‘Dronacharya’. And SOIL gave us many Dronacharyas to inspire us; Professors Hardayal Singh, Chiranjeev Kohli, VS. Mahesh, Shyam Viswanathan, Lalitha Phadkar, Saji KB Nair, NR Parasuraman & Nithya Shanthi to name a few. And it took care in ensuring that its professors were not only the best in their respective fields, but also truly lived up to its values.

The value proposition of SOIL in itself gave one of my important learning’s:

“Businesses & Organisations needs to be run for a higher ‘Purpose’ than just Profits”

Today’s corporate India has a lot of Business Acumen, but sadly without ethics & integrity. SOIL with its continuous efforts to bridge this gap by imparting its value based education system in young professionals, stands out as the best example for organisations run for a higher ‘Purpose’. We experienced the power of a higher ‘purpose’ through the ‘Social Innovation Program’, where we got an opportunity to work in the social sector one day in a week, for a noble cause.

‘Leadership Series’ came as the power boosters that continually reinforced that passion in us. SOIL identified leaders who have lived its values & invited them to ‘inspire’ us by sharing their journey of life. It had more than an inspiring impact on me though. That feeling of seeing me in that stage, inspiring a whole lot of young professionals 25 years hence, is the driving force behind my actions.

I would attribute the success of SOIL to its unique culture of ‘Appreciation’ & ‘love for people’. Appreciating the goodness in everything & everyone is in its DNA. ‘Morning Circle’ – A unique tradition followed in SOIL, where everybody meet early morning in one large circle, provides itself as a wonderful stage for appreciation & sharing one’s thoughts.

I would like to quote two instances when I felt the power of love & appreciation and the positive energy associated with it:

  • My 25th Birthday which I celebrated in SOIL is so far the best among all my birthdays. Not because of the parties & gifts, but because of the words of appreciation I got from my professors & friends during that day’s Morning Circle. I had never been appreciated like that before & my eyes moistened in their love. I felt loved by everyone & that’s the most wonderful feeling one can ever experience.
  • Jan 22nd, 2013 – SOIL celebrated Parents Day & we showed our gratitude & love towards our parents. It was an occasion I would cherish forever in my life. It was an honour for me to speak about my mother & her invaluable sacrifices in life to make me what I am today. She was a proud woman that day. She recalled those moments when we came back home & was in tears of happiness. She doesn’t know much about SOIL & neither about what I am studying at SOIL. But, after that day she told me that I should consider myself fortunate for having got this opportunity to study at a school like SOIL!

SOIL doesn’t participate in any B-School rankings, but I would say they have already got the first rank in the hearts of their students’ parents!

Amidst the intense journey throughout the year, my mind got its relaxations through the ‘Wellness’ program – deep diving into the depths of yoga & meditation & the ‘Sidhbari – Learning retreat’ at the Chinmaya Ashram premises in the Himalayas.

Through the course of the one year journey, I had already discovered what I loved & enjoyed doing;

“I loved it, when I was able to share my knowledge with my peers & juniors and was able to inspire them, just like the way my teachers & mentors inspired me!”

That resulted in what I consider the biggest outcome of my one year journey in SOIL; Frame a ‘Vision’ for myself in life!

It’s true; SOIL had imparted me with business expertise through its rigorous curriculum & some world-class faculty. But, in the process it had also made me a better human being. Looking back, today I really feel proud to be a SOIL Alumnus!

“SOIL” – The best thing that happened to me in my life so far!

Maybe this is why TVSM felt that I should be sent to SOIL. To experience the best!