The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) of Dhaka University (DU) formally started in 1965. Indiana University sent Professor Oris Canin as the first advisor to IBA. He shortlisted, interviewed and selected the first batch of four would-be faculty. They left for the USA in 1966 and returned in 1968 on completion of MBA from Indiana University School of Business in Bloomington. Of them Mawdudur Rahman, Alimullah Miyan and Rahim B Talukder continued with IBA. Of the four who went for MBA to the USA in the second batch, Hafiz G A Siddiqui and Shamsul Haque stayed on.
The first batch of 20 students was admitted in 1966, initiating the course system, the term system and the grade system in Bangladesh. IBA also introduced the 'internship programme' for the first time in the country. Indiana loaned four of its faculty members to IBA; one of them, W George Pinnell went on to become Dean of the business school and later executive vice president of Indiana University. The curriculum of IBA was developed under the leadership of Professor Pinnel. There is a George Pinnel seminar room at IBA in his honour. After his death, Indiana University introduced the annual "W George Pinnel Award" for meritorious service for outstanding faculty members the university. The last advisor from Indiana was Dr. Lee C Nehrt during 1969-71. He left when the Liberation War started.
The initial journey of IBA was not easy. The interest of students in getting an MBA degree was tepid, and there was student agitation against the grade system which was unique in IBA while the rest of the university had the so-called 'class' system. The founding director stood firm and boldly declared before the agitating students that the grading system was there to stay and prophesied that one day IBA's grading system would be universally adopted in Bangladesh.
The founding director ensured that every MBA got a job immediately on passing the final examination and submission of the internship report. Once all MBAs from first and second batches got good paying jobs, there was no looking back.
Today, IBA alumni form the backbone of Bangladesh economy. Bulk of the country's entrepreneurs, bankers, regulators and enterprise leaders are graduates of IBA. They are the ones who are 'lending a hand' to make Bangladesh a middle-income country.
THE REST OF MY STORY: As mentioned earlier, I joined the first evening MBA batch of IBA in 1972 but couldn't continue after the third term as I had to leave for Canada on a fellowship in 1974. When I returned home, I rejoined the programme in 1976, the curriculum and course contents changed. Hence it was difficult to fit into a particular class; so I had to take a few supervised classes including a few which I had completed earlier. Finally, I was tagged to the 11th batch in the evening programme. For some subjects, the day and evening students used to join together. This gave us a unique opportunity to know and befriend with one another. Finally, I graduated from IBA in 1980.
Studying at IBA was a challenge, particularly for evening students who had full-time jobs. Tackling assignments, projects, term papers, group work, etc., wasn't easy. Titas Gas T&D Company Ltd. was yet to recover from the damages sustained during the war. Frequently, I had to leave Dhaka for emergency work in the system. The price I had to pay for remaining absent for five days in a term or two was getting a 'B' instead of an 'A' in as many as five subjects despite superior marks in examinations, presentations, term papers and group work. So, I ended up with a CGPA of 3.75. I was sad in the beginning, but soon cheered up on learning that 3.75 was the highest CGPA for the 11th batch combined. Most probably three of us were in that league. We were even invited to a reception at the Bangabhaban along with other toppers in all disciplines from other universities of the country.
At this point, I decided to leave Titas Gas which was nationalized in the meantime and moved on to become the first Managing Director of Social Marketing Company (SMC), and later the Managing Director of Rhone Poulenc, Fisons and Hoechst which combined to become Aventis (now Sanofi). I also led the initiative, as Founding Chairman, in setting up the Central Depository of Bangladesh Limited (CDBL). I have started E-Zone, a top management consulting firm of the country. I also was unanimously elected District Governor of Rotary International District 3280 Bangladesh during its centennial year 2004-05. I sit in the boards of many well-known companies in the country. I was simultaneously member of the executive committees of Dhaka University Alumni Association (DUAA) and BUET Alumni (BUETA). For all these, I owe a big 'thank you' to IBA.
I congratulate the Dhaka University, the IBA Board of Governors, its faculty, alumni and students on this GOLDEN JUBILEE year of IBA. The institute should take pride in its achievements. Being the pioneer has its accompanying responsibility too and IBA is ably carrying that torch lit by its founder Professor M Safiullah.
Thank you IBA from a proud alumnus!
A K M Shamsuddin is a BUET graduate and MBA of the 11th (evening) batch of IBA, DU. He is now the Chairman & CEO of E-Zone Group, Management Consultants and Outsourcers.