A Self-Learner who Designed his Own International Management Program
Ankit Khandelwal
Ankit Khandelwal

Ankit Khandelwal is a young professional who lives in Kota, Rajashtan, India. He has spent the last two years pursuing his own course of study in foreign languages, business, and global market trends. By taking full advantage of MOOCs (massive open online courses) and other free online resources, Ankit aims to become a global business leader as part of his project 'Envisioning 21st century global manager'.

Ankit received a Bachelor in Chemical Engineering from the Vellore Institute of Technology University in Tamilnadu, India; and his Master of Chemical & Biochemical Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) located in Lyngbgy, Denmark in 2011.

After coming back to India, he decided to design his own global management program. He spent the next two years, from May 2012 to June 2014, acquiring business knowledge and tools by taking more than thirty courses in global strategy, operation management, design thinking and finance on open online course platforms such as MIT OpenCourseWare and Coursera. He also studied foreign languages including Danish, German, Spanish and Russian.

MBA Today (MT): What made you decide to pursue your own management program, rather than enrolling in a management program such as an MBA ?

Ankit Khandelwal (A.K.) : Because, what I was aiming for would not be possible with a regular MBA program. My 'Envisioning 21st century global manager' project is much more than a regular MBA, as it involves studying culture, self-learning languages, and mixing management thinking with six or seven different directions to understand the complex and interconnected business world. In many business curriculums, culture is totally overlooked; no one studies political frameworks or the legislative environment; and issues with the neighbour and historical events are not something covered in the syllabus. In today's business world, things are much more rapid and these new directions do have an impact on any strategy, balance sheet or execution plans.

I spent eight weeks in brainstorming in March and April, 2012, before finalizing the entire project. I used employment survey reports from major agencies like Randstad, Manpower, and Adecco; economic survey reports from the International Labor Organization, World Economic Forum and similar; and studies about future work profiles. Using this information and my own imagination of the future, I identified some of the challenges a future global manager has to face. Then I matched them with my existing skills to identify what further skills I needed to develop in myself.

I did not need to learn Business or Management in principle. I had run my family business in earlier days and developed a lot of skills. For the past seven to eight years, I have continued developing skills like quick decision making, public speaking, negotiating, understanding business reports, and inter-cultural team work to name a few. With participation in higher level events such as representing my university at the European Commission, I developed confidence in my ability to understand the complex world of organizations. What I wanted was to gain some knowledge/tool kits to take my learning to a higher level, keeping in my mind my objective of becoming a '21st century global manager' with an interdisciplinary profile.

So it was knowledge I was seeking, to add value to my already existing skills. Having already received education from top universities, I wanted to chart my own course this time. I did not want to study and then wait two years to apply the knowledge, so I made every effort to keep my learning as close to reality as possible.

My biggest motivation for this project was not to take on any more student loans. It was a very risky step, self-teaching, but many of the people I was inspired by (Abraham Lincoln, Leonardo Da Vinci and Newton) were also self-educated at some point in their lives. And in the 21st century, when information is so easily available, I certainly have no intention of falling under the debt trap when I know what I want, where to get it, and how to apply it in real life to build my skill profile.

MT : What are the advantages of such self-learning ? and drawbacks ?

A.K. Well, the answer of this question may vary from person to person. Let me give you my perspective: you can chart your own course and go into as much depth as you want, and create your own projects without worrying about the grades or impressing a teacher to pass out with high marks. And in self-study, you do not have to wait to finish your entire programme before starting to put your learning into practice; you can do it all at the same time, as I did during my project. The business world is very dynamic, inter-related and changing very fast. It always needs new set of skills & knowledge, and sometimes it is not possible to go back to university for every new thing. Using MOOCs, you can learn a new concept in just a few weeks without having to go anywhere.