Considered the most sought-after business school of the country, Institute of Business Administration (IBA) of the University of Dhaka has retained its positioning since its inception in 1966. Throughout the years IBA has been producing graduates who have made their presence known in nearly every sector of Bangladesh and beyond. So, what goes into shaping these IBA-ites behind the closed doors of the institution? Since the IBA admission test is near, the writer talked to IBA-ites from three generations to let the enthusiast readers and admission seekers comprehend the 'IBA factor.'
What a managing director says
Md Arfan Ali, the president and managing director of Bank Asia Limited, graduated from the institution as part of the 22nd batch of the MBA programme. More than 40 years after his time at the place, Arfan reminisced about the time at his alma mater.
"The motivation and continuous support from the teachers are worth mentioning. They always expressed a notion that we can do anything," he recalled.
Arfan has claimed that his time at IBA has changed his life for the better. Before starting his MBA, he had plans to sit for the Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) exams and make a career out of that. However, all that changed very soon.
"After my second year, my focus went from BCS to private job sectors. With the learnings I was getting from the teachers, the thought of being a business executive kept brewing," shared Arfan.
Addressing uncertainty and working under pressure are some of the many traits that Arfan has acquired, thanks to the institute. Also, the added can-do environment circulating the campus have certainly played its part for him to kick-off his banking career at AB Bank as a senior officer.
"I would say IBA graduates can think freely and work with tenacity more than most graduates from other universities. But generalisation of this notion will not be accurate," he said. "I have seen a lot of IBA drop-outs doing remarkable works as well."
According to him, the teaching process and the opportunity to learn more makes IBA the place to be in. On a personal note, the managing director is also the father of two IBA-ites denoting his strong faith in the holistic IBA system.
Views of a recent graduate
Saima Khan, a BBA graduate of the 24th batch has shared her story as well. She has previously worked at bKash Limited and is now pursuing master's in Economics at Monash Business School, Australia.
"Students from different backgrounds were in my batch but I always felt a certain warmth and friendliness from all of the people. The omnipresent mutual respect among the students have made my university life comfortable."
Saima feels that IBA focuses on preparing the student for professional life. Given the vicissitudes of the corporate world, the institute emphasises making its students fully equipped to tackle the externalities that they may face.
"From working with a person you don't like to tackling unpredictable deadlines, IBA has taught me to tackle them head-on. I have received my fair share of dividends for gaining such traits on campus," Saima said confidently.
Moreover, the classmates at IBA are just as important as the teachers. The cooperative circle of friendship extends beyond the boundaries of the institute. Even in the professional sector, the seniors try their best to help the juniors to the best of their capabilities.
"During my time at bKash, I felt more comfortable after I got an IBA senior as my line manager. I have felt that the people of IBA really try to lift each other up which is really fascinating," Saima shared.
Business competition is another facet of the IBA culture. The urge to succeed in these competitions is prevalent throughout the campus which later benefits the students professionally as well. However, the key is to find the right balance between academics and the competitions. Saima's opinion is that a CGPA of 3.5 or above is something that can be a reasonable target for the students.
"The notion of IBA graduates being more welcomed in the job sector than others is not entirely inaccurate but being an IBA-ites does not seal the deal," Saima continues, "the alumni network certainly helps in this regard."
IBA provides the crowd that helps each other grow and brings out the tenacity in each other. This cooperation and added peer-pressure makes the IBA atmosphere different from most other universities.
"One thing that a teacher of mine had said is that IBA-ites need to have grit, the grit to push through and do anything. I believe that certainly is a takeaway from my time at IBA. The students have an urgency to be the best."
IBA-ites are mostly known to think quickly on their feet and think entirely outside-the-box. With such an environment dedicated to amplifying the skills of the students, Saima believes she made the right choice to go for IBA.
Words of the present
Moazzem Hossain Khan, sophomore at IBA, does not differ much from his predecessors. He thinks that the cooperative nature of IBA campus has certainly matched his expectations for the place. "One of the best things about IBA is the 'IBA culture,' and for me that is simply the environment here and the ease of access. You can easily reach a senior and get the best help from them anytime, same goes for faculties," Moazzem stated.
The curriculum of IBA requires students to do a lot of presentations helping them beyond the realms of academics, believes Moazzem. The tradition of working under pressure is present at IBA. It has helped him increase his productivity and do better in his academics and part-time jobs. When asked about the 'IBA factor,' Moazzem focuses on commitment and a competitive mentality that have helped him grow.
Over the decades, IBA has stuck to its recipe, not just teaching but guiding the students for the future. IBA has been following its own rules and the torchbearers of three generations are in agreement with that style of mentorship.