Students pay to watch CEOs play

The ‘Joy of Giving Week’ tamasha touched new levels of stupidity. Students of the Indian School of Business (ISB) participated in an online bid for company CEOs. The highest bidders would be allowed to spend a day with the top three selected winners.

Infosys chief mentor N R Narayana Murthy is worth Rs. 1 lakh. Kumaramangalam Birla came next. For some reason the organisers are not willing to reveal the amount he was auctioned for. It must not be close to the Murthy bid. It probably is way less and might seem embarrassing. One thing this proves is that management students know that they cannot follow the path of inherited money and need to know the way someone who started from scratch works.

Will a day be enough? No. Will the ‘Shadow a CEO’ be truly educative or merely an opportunity to bask in the sunshine of a sparkling office and watch Mr. CEO (was there a Ms?) conduct day-to-day routine. It is unlikely he will decide important matters of company policy in the presence of the student.

Management schools do have long sessions on various aspects and it might be an interesting opportunity. But I do not like the idea of this bidding at all, especially if it is being garbed as the Joy of Giving. Who is giving and for what?

The students have paid up and the money will go to a charity of the CEO’s choice. Have these students done it with the intent of giving or receiving? By giving one day in their life to a student, who will most likely be hanging around ‘absorbing’ – yeah, that’s what they’ll say – what are they giving?

Why is it a charity of the CEOs’ choice? It is these three who will get the credit for it. 1,196 students went online and took part in this. A lakh of rupees is a lot of money for them. They would never have thought of spending it on their own for any charity, and it would be perfectly understandable. The CEOs can spend this much money any time.

The real joy of giving would have been if they had just divided the groups of students and distributed them among the 26 business heads who participated. And each would donate an amount they could afford for charities decided by their institute. If the CEOs wished, they could add their own to it, a minimal amount as token.

After their shadowing session, the students could be sent of to those charity organisations where they can imbibe some management skills about how to handle issues of people who have less of everything.

But who gives a damn too, right?


  1. FV,
    Most B schools today think they can recreate the Narayan Murthys of the World by having their guest lectures delievred . I have heard some myself , they are inspiring . The fact is most successful business leaders of this world arent a product of B schools , they are product of Fortitude and Pure Serendipity.....In Punjabi it is called Jigar and Jung ....u got to fight with gut ....teaching leadership through Guest lectures is like coaching orgasm by gifting a book by Masters and Johnson ....

  2. fv would be happy only if premji was tops........

  3. Manish:

    Good analogy! But think about it. For those who don't know anything about the human anatomy Masters & Johnson se hi kaam chal jaata hai...


    You have not read my views on Premji? You got no idea what you missed.


    Wah. How much? So we can start the bidding :)


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