Connect 2016 – Chapter Two was Twice as Grand this Time!

NEW DELHI, 19th SEPTEMBER 2016: The second chapter of Connect 2016, the alumni meet conducted by Sikkim Manipal University Distance Education was organised on September 18, 2016 in New Delhi. The event was all about celebrating the university’s widespread reach and helping its students make the most of the large alumni network.

SMU-DE’s first ever alumni meet was held in Bangalore in July, 2016 and this time the alumni meet was twice as big. The event began with a quick round of registration of about 220 SMU-DE alumni gracing the event with their presence, followed by the lamp lighting ceremony. The chief guests of the event were Dr. Gayatri Devi S, Dean – Training and Research, SMU-DE; Dr. Anuradha Parasar, Deputy Director of SMU-DE; Pratik Pota, Chief Operating Officer, Foods and Beverages Bottling at Pepsi Co. and Calvin Lyngdoh, CHRO Lenskart.

Dr. Anuradha gave a warm welcome to the proud fresh graduates of SMU-DE emphasizing that the idea behind the event was to highlight the strength of the university. She mentioned that, “It is a platform for the alumni of SMU-DE to celebrate each other’s achievements. You should use this opportunity to announce your presence in the family.”

Dr. Anuradha also threw some light on the recent features being offered to the students, which include the availability of the EduNxt app, tab-enabled programs and SMU-DE app as well as portal where students get easy access to summary notes and video notes. Finally, she also reminded them that the alumni meet would take them on a nostalgic memory trip.

The speech was followed by the alumni felicitation session, where all the top performers were rewarded for their hard work and dedication.

Creating a connect – Career building tips
Next came our special guest, Pratik Pota, COO, Pepsi Co., who has been with the company for over 10 years. He spoke about building a career and improving career longevity. He shared his experience, learnings and also gave the audience some wisdom about career building.


Pratik said that “Building your career is like building your own brand”. He emphasized on the two virtues, which are essential for building a long and fruitful career. The first one being hard work. He said, “The more hard work you do, the more you will get noticed; the more you learn, the more impact you will make”.  The second virtue, he said, is curiosity. He explained that, “You should keep asking questions and understand the reason behind simple operations. Understand why things are happening a certain way especially, when you are new at your job because that’s when you have the most scope to learn.”

Next up on the stage was Calvin Lyngdoh, CHRO Lenskart. Calvin spoke about his 15-16 years of hiring experience, wherein he has hired people for several posts starting from management trainees to CXOs and CTOs. Calvin shared his insights about the hiring process helping our alumni understand the process from the perspective of the employer. He advised that, “Do not be too associated with the brand you are working for, because brands come and go.” He cited his association with Nokia as an example, which was a major player in the mobile phone industry back in the day, but not anymore.

Calvin added that, “The whole ecosystem that we belong to is very volatile.” So it is essential to move accordingly. He also added that, “Your peers may have a big influence on you, but you must make decisions based on your own understanding.”

Acing the interview
Further, Calvin disclosed what most employers look for in a candidate – energy/passion, analytical rigour, communication/presentation, team-work, collaboration, hard work and learning agility are some of the traits.  He also shared some interview tips mentioning that it’s okay to make mistakes. He added that candidates should take time out to come up with their answers and that, it is acceptable to admit that you don’t know something. His last piece of advice to the alumni was to, “Research well and be aware of your weaknesses/development areas.”

The event was concluded with a fun-filled, interactive and entertaining drum session by Drum Events India, which filled the auditorium with energy. These talented drummers made sure that everyone left with a smile on their face. It was indeed a day well-spent!

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