Akshit Agarwal shares his experience of learning at the University of Salford for one semester.

13 April 2016

Students stories 2016

Akshit Agarwal
Civil Engineer
MBA CPM 2014-16
Studied one semester at University of Salford
Placed at Godrej Properties

Tell me about your background, your childhood dreams regarding career choices, your plan for life in some detail.
I come from a very humble family, my father is a retired defence officer therefore I have done my schooling from various places including sringar in J&K. I was always fascinated by planes and I wanted to become a fighter pilot, but that didn’t happen. When I was in 11th, I decided to do engineering (not something out of the box). Civil engineering attracted me the most because I always wanted to know how someone could build something so enormous. I am an alumnus of Sikkim manipal institute of technology, class of 2014.

My life plans are very simple and straight forward; “simple living and high thinking” is what I believe in. Professionally, I want to excel and add a lot of value in the field of construction project management. Continuous learning is one of the crucial tools everyone should have in their kits. 

I like travelling a lot and I plan to travel a lot in the years to come. When the interviewer asked me a similar question I said – before sleeping at night I shouldn’t have any regrets and I should always have a clear conscience. 

What made you go for MBA in CPM at RICS SBE? Why did you not choose M.Tech or generic MBA instead?
The credit goes to my father and one my teachers for educating me about RICS SBE. I had made up mind to study structural engineering and I got selected in VIT. But, I was not 100% convinced whether I should really do M.Tech or not and I wanted to remain in the construction field. On recommendations I started reading about RICS SBE and the faculty. I was very amazed and impressed by their setup and vision. I gave my interview at RICS SBE and the panel advised me to channelize all my talent and effort for two years and I did exactly the same and the outcome has enhanced my intellect and broadened my knowledge horizon. 

How was your experience while learning at RICS SBE?
My experience at RICS SBE is still very eventful. I became the class CR of my section and I had a really great time doing the CR activities. At RICS SBE if you are paying attention you will learn something meaningful and new every day. The class activities in the tutorial classes were very helpful since they taught us the actual meaning of team work and how we can apply our management tools in the most effective and efficient manner. RICS SBE also conducted various site visits which actually gave us an insight of what we are trying to learn. I have made good friends at RICS SBE and got an opportunity to learn and interact with teachers who are renowned in the field of construction.

You got placed in Godrej – congratulations! 
a.    What is your job role? 
Thank you so much. The position offered to me is trainee assistant manager. For one year I will be on probation learning about all the components of real estate and eventually I will be assigned a department.

b.    Why do you think they chose you?
I believe they chose me because of my attitude, discipline and honesty. The company was looking for students who had a positive approach towards life and who is always eager to learn and improve. Reading newspapers everyday also helps a lot. 10 days before the placement session I brushed my by civil engineering knowledge and revised the course material provided by the school. Construction economics and project planning is what I focused on. 

During my stay at RICS SBE, I attended various counselling sessions and mock interviews which helped to self-introspect and prepared me to face tough questions. 
c.    You have worked on NTCC project on Affordable housing. How do you think you will be able to contribute in the fast evolving scenario of India, especially with projects like Housing for All and Smart cities seeing the light of the day?
The real estate sector has been pushing for affordable housing since the economic slump of 2008. It has become very difficult for buyers to buy their own house which is a lifelong dream for some people. During my NTCC project, I and my team members developed a financial model to examine the financial viability of the affordable housing project. Since, more and more people are moving towards the cities in search of a better livelihood, it has become very important to develop places for them to live, so that they can contribute much more to this nation.

During my NTCC project we also carried out the gap analysis between the supply and demand. As per the 2001 census the total urban homeless population was 7, 78,599
People, which would be much more currently given the inadequate availability of
Affordable / low-cost housing. Clearly the demand is very high, our research also highlighted some of the supply constraints which were availability of land for affordable housing project and financial & regulatory support, as commercial banks and traditional means of housing finance typically do not serve the low-income group. 

The success of projects like smart cities and housing for all lies in proper planning and the procurement route of the project. As, a cpm graduate I can contribute in the PPP model of development. Since, the land is expensive and always appreciating plus the construction cost will also add up therefore it is very viable that a developer and the government together enter a JV and construct these housing units.

The central government has also started the Rajiv Awas Yojna scheme for “housing for all”. The Centre, under the Affordable Housing Partnership (AHP) scheme, gave approval to 21 projects over the last three years.

You went for the student exchange program and studied at the University of Salford, UK. Why did you go for this?
a.    What is this exchange program about? 
RICS SBE and University of Salford had signed a MOU in the year 2013, under this scheme a student can go and study his/her 3rd semester at the University of Salford.

b.    How effective was the teaching at the University of Salford, UK? 
The teaching at salford was at par with RICS SBE. The lectures were very interactive and informative since people from different countries gave their point of view, which was very interesting. Procurement games were also played in the class, which made us to choose between ethics and profit.

Case studies used to be discussed and every student had to give his/her opinion and how would they deal with the similar situation. The atmosphere in the classroom was very friendly, humorous and positive. 

c.    What new things did you learn? 
I learned and experienced a lot of new things. I got a chance to live and interact with people from different nations. I also observed how people in UK looked at life.

f.    What support did RICS SBE provide? 
RICS SBE was instrumental in making this exchange program a success for me. I would like to extend my gratitude towards Dr. Anil Sawhney and Professor M Arif for their support and help. RICS SBE made the admission process streamlined and provided me with academic references, which helped me to get an unconditional ofer letter from university of Salford.

g.    Do you think RICS SBE teaches on par with international universities? How?
Yes, some of the teachers at RICS SBE are even more qualified. The teachers at RICS SBE have a lot of practical knowledge because of their industrial background which is not so  common. Some of the teachers are even pioneers in their respective fields. RICS SBE teachers have a practical approach towards their teaching which helps the students to apply their knowledge and skills.

h.    How do you think this will help you in your career or future? 
I have gained a lot of knowledge about their country and the construction sector, if ever get a chance to visit and work in England I will be better prepared and acquaint.  My trip to Salford has made more independent and confident. I would definitely recommend others who are serious and determined. It’s an experience of a lifetime. 

Tell us about your future plans. 
Plan is to work hard and get noticed at Godrej Properties Limited. I want my parents to feel proud and accomplished by my work. I want to lead a happy and a comfortable life and also want to involve myself for a social cause. I want to experience new things and learn from my own mistakes and others as well and I strive to always remain humble and honest.