Sunday 21 June 2009

Pranesh Misra remembers...

Professor Labdhi Bhandari is perhaps the reason why I started my career in marketing research and why I continue to be in the Marketing and Brand Consulting business today after 32 years of graduation.

I was a student of his second year MRIS (Market Research & Information System) class in 1978. Listening to him and interacting with him was awesome. Not because he was loud and flamboyant - but quite the opposite. His ability to communicate with quietness that cut through the clutter was his great strength. His teaching style was about asking questions rather than giving answers. He wanted us to think about the solutions - and he would keep challenging and disecting our perspectives until we either gave up, or convinced him.

His classes tended to be case study oriented - rather than theory. One would be a fool to attend his class without reading the case in advance. He would pick students at random and ask for interpretation and point of view. God help you, if you were not prepared.

For most of the term I escaped being on his firing line of questions. But I remember one day when his gaze finally settled on me. Fortunately, I had done my preparation on the case and had a few ideas. So, the session turned out to be a long (at least 20 minutes I guess) dialogue between Professor Bhandari and me; with his challenges and my fight backs. I don't know whether I managed to convince him on my point of view or not, but I was happy when at the end of the term that I had received an "A" for class participation - despite being a quiet and non-participative student throught the term. That one session probably convinced him that I was passionate about the MR and Information Systems area.

Prof Bhandari was an inspiration. Lot of us wanted to be like him, to emulate his supreme sense of confidence coming together with tremendous humility. Indeed he was the reason why I chose to start my career in Brands - and that too in Marketing Research.

*Pranesh Misra was at student of LRB in 1977-79 and then went on to work at Lintas for over 30 years, becoming the President and COO of Lowe India. He now is the CMD of consulting firm Brandscapes.

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