Monday 21 June 2010

Manisha Mehta remembers...

Prof. Bhandari did a great deal for me. He not only taught me marketing, he also changed my way of analysing, asking questions, and thinking beyond my limited horizons. His was a substantial contribution to my two years at IIM-A being interesting and challenging. 

In my second year, I took a PhD level course that he was offering to another small group of students. I never had a problem with him being difficult to find outside the classroom – his research assistant, Jayshree Parikh, was able to answer most of my questions, and when she couldn’t, she would pass them onto him and get back to me with his response. 

In 1982, towards the end of our stint at IIM-A, a small group of us students jointly invited Prof Bhandari and his family for dinner to a restaurant. He accepted the invitation; however, at his suggestion we changed the location to the Elisbridge gymkhana club as he said that his son is little and will need some space to run around. We agreed to this change and had a very enjoyable evening; we had many questions to ask and his response was always well thought out and valuable. At the end of the meal, he wouldn’t allow us to pay as we were still students. He said after we started working and earning, we could pay. When a batchmate was less inclined to give up, he quietly let us know that as it was the club, only he could pay with his membership number and the club wouldn’t accept cash from any of us. It made me wonder about his real reason for changing the location to the club; either way, it was a very thoughtful gesture on his part. 

Some years later, I was desperately trying to change my career path and get into the world of market research, after working for nearly four years in a management consultancy. I wrote to Prof. Bhandari, asking if he knew anyone who may have a vacancy for the type of work I was looking for. Consequently, I received a phone call from Marketing and Business Associates; they interviewed me and I got the job. He had helped out without getting in touch with me at all – he didn’t expect a thank you, neither did he need to let me know that he had helped. 

It was ironic that I was in the office of Marketing and Business Associates (MBA) when I learnt that Prof. Bhandari was one of the passengers on that ill fated flight. Shyam Sunder (from MBA) probably met him previous day and broke the news to me. 

There were so many positive qualities to his personality. He genuinely cared for his students and wanted to give us the best learning experience he possible could. It was at times disappointing for him to see how few of us had prepared for the case before turning up to class.

We haven’t forgotten him and were very fortunate to have known him. 

*Manisha Mehta was a student of LRB in the early 1980s.

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