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By : PANIIT |September 07, 2015 |Guru Funda

By Arjun Malhotra, IIT Kharagpur

  1. The first thing I learnt at IIT was how to work and survive with people who are smarter than me. I think everyone who comes to IIT suddenly discovers he or she is among a group of people who have topped from their schools around the country. It is a shock and you have to get used to a different level of academic competition. I think surviving and working with some of these brilliant folks was my first and biggest learning at IIT.
  2. Work smart and work hard. I learnt to work hard. Without that I was not going to survive at IIT. But just working hard was never going to be enough. I learnt to work smart. Sometimes to do the minimum that was needed to get through a test or a practical and sometimes learning as much as I could about a subject so that you were a minor “guru” in that.
  3. How to be friends and work together at the same time. Friends at IIT are for life. Even through the competitive environment I was able to make real friends. Friends who are with you for life. Friends for whom I would never change no matter what my or their circumstances. As I say times change friends do not. When you are in IIT you compete with these friends and you stay friends at the same time. That is a lesson I learnt and use every day in my working life. My work colleagues are my friends but we do have a structure and a hierarchy and we are happy to work together. One of the great lessons from my days at IIT Kharagpur.
  4. Look at the big picture. While we all solve problems and equations at IIT ( and any engineering college), I found that talking to friends and especially IITians from other engineering and science disciplines in my hall 9 or outside) you got to see the problem in a more holistic way. Fellow hostelers talked about Theology, about Politics, about psychology, about the environment. They quoted Kant, Freud, Marx, Ayn Rand and more. Suddenly you saw your problem in a more complete way or maybe you saw the whole problem? Whatever you saw it was a bigger picture and that has helped me look at solutions to these problems in a more holistic way.
  5. PJs and humor handle most tough interpersonal situations. At IIT we have a number of occasions where misunderstandings and/or words spoken in anger can create some pretty difficult situations. I learnt there that a little humor often breaks the ice and allows a dialogue that addresses the issues and clears up the misunderstandings. I use that every day in my personal and working life and I cannot tell you how effective it has been in allowing me to minimize the stress of living with interpersonal issues that all of us face every day.


A pioneer of the Indian IT industry, Arjun Malhotra has over 42 years of experience in the Technology and IT space with both Private and Public companies. Arjun was most recently Chairman and CEO of Headstrong where he led the turnaround and rejuvenation of that business. Under Arjun’s leadership, Headstrong became the leader in consulting to the financial markets and was sold in 2011 to Genpact for over $500m.

Before Headstrong, Arjun was a co-Founder and Vice Chairman of the HCL group for 24 years where he looked after their operations and new initiatives. He and the founding team grew this business from a six person “garage operation” to one of India’s largest Information Technology corporations that today has over 90,000 employees and a market cap of over $8b.

Arjun started his career as a Senior Management Trainee at DCM in Delhi, India and was a key member of DCM Data Products that pioneered the digital electronics business in India. He studied at the Doon School, Dehradun, and at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur. He graduated from IIT with a Bachelor of Technology (Honors) in Electronics and Electrical Communication Engineering and received the Dr. B C Roy Gold Medal. IIT Kharagpur conferred on him a Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) in September 2012.

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