An academic’s journey – 01

My life has been full of unforeseen events and my eventual career choice was no different. When I was very young I wanted to be a pilot. I don’t know why exactly I wanted to be a pilot but I was quite fascinated by the idea of traveling from one country to another as part of my job requirement. In Bangladesh, in the early 80s, flying was a luxury that only few could afford. So anyone related to flying an aircraft was awe inspiring for a small town kid like me.  I had started flying as a passenger at a very early age. The first time I flew a domestic aircraft was in 1986, it was a flight from Saidpur (my hometown) to Dhaka. My first international flying experience came in 1995 when I traveled to London from Dhaka via British Airways. In all my domestic and international flight experiences I realized that the most cherished part for me was the “Landing” phase. I simply could not find it comfortable when I was in the air, thousands of feet above the ground, with nothing but thin air between my aircraft and the land below. So by the time I was in my high school I knew that being a Pilot would never be a good thing for me, and not at all a good thing for the poor passengers who would be boarding an aircraft that I may fly. So my mind wandered towards the more conventional tracks and I decided that I actually wanted to become an engineer.

My father was an engineer himself, a civil engineer. But for some reason he never wanted me to study in his own field. So I thought may be I should become an electrical engineer. I never thought of becoming a doctor as hospitals always scared me, and as a result of that I dropped Biology as a subject during my Notre Dame college days. So there I was, all set to try for various engineering colleges after my 12th grade, especially BUET. The plan was simple. Get into BUET, graduate, sit for GRE, get a good score, go to USA for higher study, and make a great life. I actually did quite well in the subjects that were necessary for applying for BUET and before the day of our Chemistry practical exam there was no other thought in my mind.

So what happened during that exam? Well, a coaching center which went by the name ‘BCA” distributed some leaflets in the exam center that day. So what did the leaflets say? It said that there is this certain degree called ‘BBA’ (I never heard of it before that day) for which they provide coaching and apparently this degree provided good career opportunities. Somehow I felt interested. So I decided to ask people to learn little more about it. I learned that you could complete this degree in four years time (which was a novelty those days as people could never finish a four year degree on time due to session jams that were universal in the tertiary education sector of Bangladesh), and you can end up in a job that may provide a salary of 10,000 Taka per month. The socio economic condition of Bangladesh was not very good during that time and a job that would give 10,000 Taka as a starting salary sounded quite amazing. I thought in addition to doing coaching for BUET why don’t I also enroll here as a back-up option. After all because of my ‘no biology’ background, my options were limited compared to many others. That is how I made my first entrance in the world of business.

I started to do simultaneous coaching classes at Sunrise Coaching Center (At that time it was very well known for BUET coaching) and BCA. To my surprise I found out that I was enjoying the classes at BCA lot more than the classes at Sunrise. Also my performance at Sunrise was at best average whereas in BCA it was excellent. My mother always wanted me to study in BUET so I kept on studying for both. However, the admission test of IBA (the number one institute in the country for studying BBA) took place lot before the BUET admission test. I was fortunate enough to get the admission and started classes there. The admission test at BUET was so late that by the time it appeared we were almost done with our first semester at IBA. I was really enjoying my studies, in fact for the first time in my life I studied because I loved to study what I was studying rather than because I wanted to obtain a good grade. So against the wishes of my parents I decided to skip the admission test at BUET and became a focused business student. I was not alone in this, few other friends of mine also did the same. I remeber my friend Shafiq Sobhan (Who stood 7th from Science group in HSC in Dhaka Board and most likely secured 932 marks. In terms of HSC results, he was top in our class by a distance.)  come to the class and announce that he told his parents that he is going to BUET for appearing in the admission test but he actually decided to come to class instead. On that fateful day, my life took a decisive turn as developing a career in science was finally out of question.

(To be continued)

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