Of “learning opportunities in life” and “innovative professors at GIM who encourage you to think”
Vice President, HSBC
Class of 1996
The year had just turned 1992. The mercury had dipped to unprecedented lows in Northern India, but down in what was then called Bombay, a new phenomenon was all set to soar. By late in the day on 15th January, Dalal Street was celebrating. For the first time ever, the stock market had crossed the 2,000-mark. Over the next two-and-half months, India witnessed its first ever stock market ‘Bull Run’ with the Sensex going from a 1000+ to an unprecedented 4000+ in March 1992. India grew richer by billions and millionaires sprung out of nowhere, overnight. The phenomenon captured the imagination of an entire generation, and suddenly ‘medical’ and ‘engineering’ seemed to grow out of fashion.
Young Mario Aranha - just out of his teens – was pursuing his B.Sc with Honours, from the pre-eminent St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, when he witnessed this first great rise of the Sensex. Mario began closely monitoring what was happening on Dalal Street, in the process reading exhaustively on economic matters. On completion of his graduation in 1993, Mario had several career options to choose from, and decided to pursue a degree in Business Management.
“When I joined the 2nd batch of GIM in 1994, I had already decided that I would take Finance, and look to a career in Banking /Financial Services,” recalls Mario Aranha, Vice President, HSBC, with startling clarity, as if he’d walked into Goa Institute of Management just yesterday. “I arrived in Goa on a rainy day in July 1994, and headed for an address in Miramar, only to be told that GIM had shifted to a new campus at Ribandar. The people there were kind enough to direct my auto driver to the new address. On reaching the Ribandar campus, I was warmly welcomed by a handful of seniors from the 1st batch of GIM, and allotted a room in the new hostel building. Quite a few of my classmates were from my GD/Interview batch, and we quickly established a rapport. The next day our first class was addressed by Fr. R. D’Souza, and then we started regular lectures almost immediately.”
Over the next couple of years, Mario learnt a lot about management; as much in the classroom as beyond its confines. But what really gave him a first hand feel of the entire gamut of management, was to see his alma mater grow as an institution right in front of him, in real time.
“My batch was only the 2nd batch at GIM, and we did not have a structured program at that point in time, possibly due to lack of staff and facilities. However, I think there was a start, where we were always sensitized to the human aspect of management, rather than focusing on textbook situations and problems. Suma and Uday Damodaran were the 2 faculty members who had a big impact on my approach to learning. Their lectures, assignments and quizzes really helped us to get our concepts right. Even those of us who came from a non-Finance and non-Economics background were able to pick up these concepts. Text book learning was not good enough for them, and they went out of their way to find new methods to drive home concepts. I guess I really liked these professors, because their classes really encouraged you to THINK.”
In 1994 the new Ribandar campus was still being established, and Mario recollects facing some challenges on the water and electricity. But they were a relatively small batch - 42 students, with 10 to 15 locals – with a good mix of people from all over the country from diverse education and work backgrounds.
“We took this in our stride, and scouted around the Ribandar - Merces - Panjim - Miramar belt for food joints,” he continues with a smile. We would normally celebrate birthdays with a midnight session - dousing the person with a bucket of water! - and have parties on-campus for Diwali, New Year etc. We were also fortunate that the Government revived the food festivals while we were at GIM, and as a result we got to savour the best of Goan cuisine, accompanied by music and drama on the sands of Miramar.”
In 1996, Mario was placed as a Trainee Officer in Centurion Bank in Goa, but within 4 months made the big shift to Kotak Mahindra in Mumbai. Over the next 9 years Mario grew steadily, working in different profiles and verticals as the Kotak Mahindra Group grew into a corporate giant we know today.
“There were lucrative opportunities available in the market at that time. However, I was fortunate to be with the group as it expanded into new areas of financial services. This provided me with a number of opportunities to learn about new products and businesses. As long as there was sufficient scope for learning, I decided to stay put. Looking back, I feel that this exposure has benefited me by giving me a more comprehensive understanding of the financial services industry. GIM has always encouraged learning and all round development, and I think this may have contributed in my decision to continue with the Kotak Group.”
It was this exposure that stood Mario in good stead, when he joined HSBC in 2007 as Associate Vice President for Cash Management & Liquidity Solutions for Corporates, a department where he is now a Vice President, working with Corporate customers in Western India.
“I last visited GIM at the Ribandar campus about 10 years ago. There were several changes, - for one the batch sizes were much larger than mine. The facilities for the students and staff were much improved, as was the library. There was also a much more diverse faculty covering a range of subjects.”
Mario Aranha is yet to visit the sprawling Sanquelim campus, functional since 2010, but plans to do so in the near future. His advise for the young guns at GIM is - Never be afraid to dirty your hands, because the best learning is doing a task yourself. And never miss a chance to learn or equip yourself with new skills, as these will hold you in good stead in the long run.