CONNECT 2016, an alumni meet conducted by Sikkim Manipal University Distance Education was organised on September 18, 2016 in Delhi. The event was all about celebrating the university’s widespread reach and helping its students make the most of the large alumni network.
This was the second chapter of the alumni meet, the previous one was held in Bangalore in July, 2016. So this time the alumni meet was twice as big. The event began with a quick round of registration of about 220 SMU-DE alumni gracing the event with their presence. It was followed by the lamp lighting ceremony. The chief guests of the event were Dr. Gayatri Devi S, Dean – Training and Research, SMU-DE, Dr. Anuradha Parasar, Deputy Director of SMU-DE, Pratik Pota, Chief Operating Officer, Foods and Beverages Bottling at Pepsi Co. and Calvin Lyngdoh, CHRO Lenskart.
Dr. Anuradha gave a warm welcome to the proud graduates of SMU-DE emphasizing that the idea behind event was to highlight the strength of university. She mentioned that, “It is a platform for the alumni of SMU-DE to celebrate each other’s achievements. You should use this opportunity to announce your presence in the family.” Dr. Anuradha also threw some light on the recent features being offered to the students. These features include the availability of EduNxt app, tab-enabled programs and SMU-DE app as well as portal where students get easy access to summary notes and video notes. Finally, she also reminded them that the meet would them on a nostalgic memory trip reminding them of their graduation days.
The speech was followed by alumni felicitation, where all the top performers were rewarded for their hard work and dedication.
Next came our special guest, Pratik Pota, COO, Pepsi Co., who has been with the company for 10 plus years. He spoke about building a career and improving career longevity. He shared his experience, learning and also gave the audience some wisdom about career building. Pratik said that “building your career is like building your own brand”. He emphasized on the two virtues, which are essential for building a long and fruitful career building. The first one being hard work. He also said, “The more you will get noticed, the more you will learn, the more impact you will make”. The second virtue is curiosity. He added that, “You should keep asking questions and understand the reason behind simple operations. Understand why things are happening a certain way. Learn, especially, when you are new at the job because that’s when you have the most scope to learn.”
Next up on the stage was Calvin Lyngdoh, CHRO Lenskart. Calvin spoke about his 15-16 years of hiring experience, wherein he has hired people for several posts starting from management trainees to CXOs and CTOs. Calvin shared his insights about the hiring process helping our alumni understand the process from the perspective of the employer. He advised that, “Do not be too associated with the brand you are working for, because brands come and go.”
Calvin then spoke about his association with Nokia, which was a major player back in the day, but not anymore. He also added that, “The whole ecosystem that we belong to is very volatile.” So it is essential to move accordingly. Calvin also added that, “Your peers may a big influence on you, but you must make decisions based on your own understanding.”
Calvin also disclosed what most employers look for in a candidate – energy/passion, analytical rigour, communication/presentation, team-work, collaboration, hard work, high learnability and learning agility are some of the traits. He also shared some interview tips mentioning that it’s okay to make mistakes, but it is essential to stay calm. He added that candidates should take time out to come up with their answers and that, it is acceptable to admit that you don’t know something. His last piece of advice to the alumni was to, “Research well and be aware of your weaknesses/development areas.”
The event was concluded by a fun-filled, interactive and entertaining drums session by Drum Events India. They made sure that everyone left with a smile on their face.