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Monday, December 31, 2007

Thank you Year 2007

It's time to say thank you and good bye to 2007. A year that has been a year of learning. A year during which I have realized many of my goals while being a mixed bag in terms of achievements and failures. A year that made me realize that certain things won't change. A year that showed why achieving ideal state is so difficult and why the difficulty in itself is important. But 2007 will remain permanent in my memories.

I have met so many people during this year, some of them became my friends and some remained acquaintances. I have read 10 times more than what I would read in a typical year.

I Wish you all A Very Happy New Year and Pray to God to make 2008 a more peaceful year than 2007 was. It's time for mankind to forget differences and move forward together.

Deseo un muy feliz año nuevo

Thursday, December 27, 2007

100 days to go - It's all about measurement, my dear B-school buddy

Suddenly my mail box started getting filled up with the mails saying - 99 days to go and then 102 days to go and then finally settling at 100 days to go. That's the number of days left for the current batch to graduate. 4 more days in December, 31 in Jan, 29 in Feb, 31 in March and 5 in April, we are graduating on 5th April.

By the time we finished our core terms, we have become experts in measuring everything a putting a number next to anything and everything based on certain assumptions. I think this is one great change that can be fully attributed to B-school experience. It's all about converting intangibles to tangibles and tangibles to intangibles.

Shocking event - A sad sad day for pakistan and for humanity

Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated. This is one of the the most horrible vents that have ever happened. This is assassination is not just about Ms. Bhutto but it is the assassination of freedom. It is really a sad day.

On one side we are celebrating about the great developments technology and globalization are bringing but on the other hand it appears that nothing is changing the foolishness and madness of human beings.

I really can't say anything more than this except that I really feel sad about this event.

New Products

Two news items attracted my attention today and both of them are close to the kind of work that I did earlier.

First one is the "Food Card" launched by HDFC essentially a pre-paid card to replace food coupons. While I was at Ivy, we mulled over many ideas on how to overcome the issues related to distribution of food coupons. This product seems to be addressing that need precisely. The food coupon business currently is being served by Sodexho and Ticket in India but with this launch, things will change. We'll have to wait and see what is involvement of the current players in the HDFC offering and if they are not involved what their next step would be. The need in discussion aroused mainly due to the personal tax law of India. This product would have a limited market size and if HDFC does some aggressive marketing, it can occupy a dominant position and effectively reduce attractiveness for other players to enter. This is a good example of a product built on taking advantage of the low marginal costs. The current systems (operational and marketing) that are required for servicing the debit and credit cards would have certain buffer capacity to launch more similar products to benefit the customer and the supplier. It benefits all parties involved and I am confident that this product will be a success.

Coming to the second product, rather a brand in examination is Nokia. First I noticed one full page ad by Nokia starring Shahrukh Khan and in the afternoon I saw reports about failure of Nokia products in a interior location of Andhra Pradesh. The ad was not about a model or product but was attempting to assure the customers but the news coverage was achieving the exact opposite effect.

This is a classic case of gaps between PR and action. While the corp comm department is spending lakhs of money the service department that is responsible for customer satisfaction is still unable to grapple with the situation. This whole thing might have rose due to the new manufacturing facility set up in India. I hope you can see the connection - manufacturing has quality problems leading to overload on the service network but the firm tries to contain reputation loss through advertisements, an overall reduction in firm value. It would be interesting to see how Nokia India solves this and what approach they would take in long-term.

While these problems and opportunities seems simplistic to write and discuss about, the scene would be so different on the ground. Information and communication wouldn't follow thoughts and people involved wouldn't see the logic as straight as you can. That's when, I think all the theories, past experience and soft-skills come in to the picture - to convert ideas into action, to move people from talk to walk.

All this prep is to get myself ready for the ground reality, I suppose, which is awaiting me in no more than 4-6 months.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wonderful Memory

I have celebrated my 32nd Birthday recently and this birthday would remain in my memory for a long time. Some nice pics that show what happens at ISB on a birthday:


Guess why I was screaming


That's another buddy who shares my birthday


My group mate who stood by me in tough times :)


Precursor to the next step


Now you know why cafeteria's pastries are always sold out

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

It's that time of the year again.
When we expect Santa to drop in mysterious gifts, young and old alike
time to revisit the goals
reset the failure counter
renew hopes
refresh the dreams
trying to overcome the frustrations
attempting to forget the disasters
gathering courage to review weaknesses
attempting to restart the journey once again
growing big to excuse all the enemies
laugh away the foolish behaviors

It's time for everyone to take some time out for personal review.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Solstice 2007

Campus is full with alums. You can see groups of people from different batches catching up together. I could see people trying to go back to their lanes of memory and relive the moments they have spent earlier.

It also appears to me that Solstice will mark the beginning of parties at ISB as one alum put it. Till now we have been climbing the academic hill but now we are going to ride on the placement road, which will present sharp turns, unexpected twists but for all there is light at the end of tunnel and I'm sure this batch will break all the records set till now.

But I could finally realize one thing - Alums who join the consulting firms are the ones who keep visiting the campus and capture the mind space of the batch. This is a very powerful strategy and almost everyone considers consulting as an option. How many get selected is a different thing but there will be lots of attempts, at least. The amount of focus that these firms maintain on acquiring right talent is amazing.

While I am writing this post from inside ISB, there would so many outside ISB trying to gauge the placements season at ISB - some bullish and some bearish. But the most interested I think would be those who got through in round one. My advise is - don't worry, if you're good enough to get in, you'll be good enough to get out, you have to continue the hard work though. Numbers don't mean anything, so don't take them seriously.

It was in December 2002 when I first visited the ISB campus for conducting an outbound program for the alums as a part of Middle Earth team and it is 5 years since and many things have changed since then. I met one alum from Co 02 who participated in the outbound activities.

The concert by Indian Ocean was fabulous. They managed to do the whole thing their way without budging to any of the requests. The kind of songs they chose are also very unique and were in sync with the band identity/character they were projecting. It was really good.

Another thing that came to discussion was about the artificial behavior of few people and how they seem to be managing to act emotions too and get away with all the rewards. My response is that time is the biggest tester, teacher and equalizer. These people value certain thing so much that they are able to overcome the internal voice and act in the way that appeals to people. But people are not emotionally blind, they realize what is genuine or not, somewhere deep in their soul, whether they admit it or not is a different question.

Its sports time and I need to get going. C u shortly with more and more exciting stories.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Movie abhi bakhi hai

This is one of the dialogues I liked the most in recent times. Shahrukh Khan uses it to a great effect in Om Shanti Om.

It is motivating, it gives some dramatic relief and brings back hope. I knew that this was coming but despite that I allowed it to happen. Its time for me to make the difficult choices. One year back taking a decision was very easy for me but this time it is becoming really difficult. For the first time I have reached a stage where I am finding it difficult to chose the path and get starting in the bold way that I always did.

But considering my past experiences, where everytime I felt one door was closing on me, a much better door was opened in a completely different direction. I am anticipating such thing happening again and I am confident that Mr. Venkat and Mr. Satya would do all their best to help me and guide me this time around too.

Its time to shake it out and stepping up and standing for what one thinks is important. All that ends well is good and till that time "picture/movie abhi baakhi hai," chale nahi jaana, dekhte rehna.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Good things, bad things and crazy things

Crazy things first: We had a crazy guest speaker yesterday from planman. Though one of my group member notified the professor about the reputation and controversies around IIPM and Planman, he didn't have enough time to do anything I suppose. So we landed at the lecture hall sharp at 7:15 to find this crazy guy.

A self-proclaimed professor (I always thought there is long process to become a professor)- he denies he is a professor but uses the title on all his slides and charged with all the criticism he must have been receiving, Mr. Sandeep got started totally in a defensive mode.

He was shouting at the top of his voice, arguing all of us to believe in his survey without even telling us what the survey is all about. It was seriously hilarious and after a longtime I had some heavy laughter moments.

Bad things:Insensitive self-immersed people forgetting that they are in public domain and that they are in common space doing things that are only valuable to them, such as, typing a report in class that disturbs others (sleeping in class is fine, it is non-intrusive), people taking a ride on you, excessive drinking, jumping to conclusions, no learning focus but full CP focus (common guys, get sensible at least now), not doing the pre-reads, assaulting mails from different people(you have put down us by not attending this session or that session and all other one-sided nonsense), flaming spams, people thinking branding as fashion or the reverse, over-expecting self-immersed professors, and so-on and so-forth

I saved the best for the last: CFPD course, Prof. Rabikar's wisdom and genuineness about student learning, guest lectures,going to Darden sponsored by ISB, winning in BP competition and getting some money (finally), new groups, new ideas, new partnerships, clarity of thought,Hyderabad weather, good old friends, discussions about idealistic scenarios, dreams, future etc, etc.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Telugu News Channels and their silly commentary

I have been observing this from sometime and what I saw and heard just now on TV9 made me write this post.

There appears to be a dearth for quality news despite their continuous sting operations and crime stories. Let me come to the news item that acted as the tipping point for this post.

Newsreader "Today people found a python in a residential area. People who sighted the python claimed that it must have come from the nearby hills. People shivered with fear and it was a tense situation. Let's have a look at what happened."

Video: There is a big python motionless (initially I feared that people killed it but thank god they were sensible) and people are poking it at all places but it is lying still and moving its head once in a while. People are having fun and discussing who saw it first and how he called others to come have a look at it.

Now the question is - where were the people who are supposed to be shivering with fear, may be mistakenly they said people and it was the snake that was shivering with fear. The whole was so silly but the news reader presented it as if it was a bomb threat.

TV9 in particularly believes so much in sensationalism. I remember when the Punjagutta flyover accident happened, they were the first to announce (other channels are no less) that more than 20 people died and at the end there were only two casualties. These news channels, particularly the local ones are believing in hype and loud noise.

Each of these channels have launched a helpline to report corruption and use clippings from popular movies to convey this message. It appears that corruption is the only reason we are facing all the problems and if we can eliminate corruption all problems can be eradicated. I hope they do some learning and try and see the big picture and broader issues and act as a catalyst for change instead trying to make noise all the time.

While the "Live" part has been highly beneficial, overkill can take away all the viewer interest.

TV9, Etv2, TV5 and whoever else, are you guys listening? While I am writing this post, I catch another story on CNN-IBN about the Citizen Journalist. I think the telugu media can learn a lot from this initiative.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Welcome to Co 09

Congratulations to all the Round 1 admits

I was seeing the euphoria going on in the isb-pgp yahoo group. Last year around the same time we were still waiting for the results. Our results were out on 15th December.

From the time results were out, we initiated admit meets. We used to meet regularly at the Banjara Hills Barista though the first meet was at Secunderabad Cafe Coffe Day. We even invited a then current batch student to develop some understanding.

My message to all those got admits:
1. Celebrate - when you achieve something, it's time to give yourself some reward
2. Have as much fun as you can in the next three - you'll not find much time after this
3. Develop reading habit - you'll have tons to read
4. Keep meeting other admits. If possible network with the current batch
5. Start preparing for an exciting one-year roller coaster ride
6. Strengthen your networks - Build bridges, don't burn them. People would be more friendly with you now and more people will recognize you and smile at you. Use this opportunity to know as many people as possible
7. Start thinking and looking at things differently - I mean from a big picture perspective.

See you all, may be during the orientation week.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Demographic dividend - ground view

Last week,I attended a session on cross-cultural sensitivity conducted by TEA at ISB. The speaker was a swiss guy working with a MNC in Hyderabad. His complete ppt was based on his personal experience of handling Indian, Swiss and American teams. He tried to highlight the differences between the different teams and how Indians fared when compared to others.

He talked about 7 points, which are:
1. Expectation of promotion, experience and willingness to take responsibility
2. Expectation of awards and appreciation
3. Loyalty to power
4. Asking questions
5. Knowledge sharing and intentional losses
6. Valuing certificates and
7. Customer service

And to my surprise, he rated Indians low on all the points and most of my Indian colleagues agreed to his observation. This observation raised a question which I posed immediately to him,"If Indians fare poorly on so many things while expecting so much, why then his firm chose India for it's IT R&D Center." Essentially the question in simple words is "Why India?" and for the first time I heard an expatriate saying that it is the demography that is in favor of India and more and more firms and countries are realizing that they have to work with India and China to meet their human resource needs and that Indians may not be superior in other areas as is generally perceived by Indians.

This observations raises an important question. While we can keep tapping ourselves and be happy that so much % is young and that we will more young people even after 10 years, every lost day represents lost potential. There is so much fuss going around about the low employability of Indian Engineers while not much is happening. The lost man days represent a great national loss and the more delay we make the more we are going to loose. While some of the Indians can capture higher than average compensation, as a whole India is losing out.

The loss of inaction in this case is very high and I hope to see some action both from the government and corporate sector shortly. I have been hearing this from last three years now but I am yet to see some concrete large scale action. Last week we had a panel discussion on Talent as a strategic differentiator as a part of the ISB Leadership Summit. One of the speakers, Mr. Nitin Seth, Head & Director, McKinsey & Company’s Knowledge Centre, India, talked about creating a shared service kind of facility that can improve employability skills and reduce the supply demand gap and reduce the loss of mandays due to non-availability of people.

I think it is a fantastic idea and someone takes it up seriously. It is a good paev idea but we need some serious partner. I don't know if NIIT or Team lease would be interested in such venture. I believe that corporates would be willing to buy shares initially in the project and later get candidates at a lower sourcing cost.

We had ISB day celebrations today and more about that in the next post

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ladder of Support

Time for a micro view on how to create a peaceful and happy world:

While the economists, politicians, academicians and all the other intellectuals keep arguing about which policy is the best for the world, I believe that micro action can lead to macro change, particularly in areas such as this.

While the trickle down theory is very difficult to work from a top down macro approach, it may work very well at individual level. Many other issues could be dealt well if the approach tries to address not only institutions but also individuals.

But there is a caveat. This kind of change has previously been achieved very few times and as far as I remember it happened only through religion. A completely new institution was built that began from a single individual.

May be its time for a new religion, a religion that asks one to work and serve others to pray god.

While I got into religion midway unnecessarily, think in a more simplistic way. Imagine each one of us helping 5 to 10 people who are few steps below us economically and help them gain education, skills and the understanding about how to lead a good life. This is not so easy to implement owing to low trust levels therefore the first thing to do is to establish trust amongst each other.

Apart from this another factor that could've a great impact is awareness. Whether it is environment pollution or poverty or drought, only if people are aware they can factor it into their day to day life. Whether it is financial markets, consumer markets or earth as a whole - information is one factor that can impact behavior and actions. Making correct information available to people could be the next step.

Government plays a pivotal role. It is central to the social and political will of the people and can play the role of a facilitator. It can act as the integrator for different kinds of efforts and can report the outcomes

Finally each individual has to take on the responsibility as if he is driving it. This kind of initiative and action has the power to change the world.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Time for a peaceful and happy world

Couple of days back I was discussing the amount of change that happened in the last 10 years with my groupmate. I feel that the last 10 years the change has been tremendous owing to amny factors but my friend said that all these don't matter, what matters to history is some big event.

I started wondering what that big event could be that could be based on the change that has happened or may be drive by the change that has happened. Among all the new developments, one change/development stands out and it is increased awareness. If one measures how many of us (world population) think about the world atleast once a day and compare this with what it could've been five years earlier, then the difference would be significant.

Increasingly all our individuals worlds (Illusions - Richard Bach)/Planets (The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint Exupery) are become more and more common/overlapped. We have started living on the same planet or rather we started who else is living on our planet.

On this development, if there is one thing that could happen then that should be "A peaceful and happy world." A world in which no one is starving, no one is left behind in the dark, life in all forms is cared and respected, built on trust, without national boundaries. I don't how to articulate it further but you knwo what I am talking about.

Finally I think it's time for us to committ ourselves to this One World and see how each one of us can contribute to it

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Downhill blues

After Term 5, I've started realizing that we're now on a downhill path but with a twist.

Till term-4 there was constant struggle to learn and to do well in courses. Now the bigger challenge is about which course to select and what criteria to use while the other challenge is which job to apply and what extra preparation to do.

On one side the administration must have started preparing for on next batch, we haven't realized that we are the outgoing batch already. Finally I got my full-time college fun (only question is what kind of fun it is). But it has been a great ride till now.

Some suggestions for me and my future employer (one of us has to take a greater role to implement these):
1. Have deadlines for everything
2. Always work in diverse teams. You have something to learn and something to contribute
3. Keep changing the assignments
4. Constant review and rating - Check what is being done
5. Regular parties
6. Dunking
7. Rec center with squash and badminton courts
8. Lots of books and chance to recommend for new books
9. Unlimited internet bandwidth

It is very difficult to manage the downhill path though you can just stop worrying about and enjoy the ride.

I hope to have more solutions than questions in future and if not at least a way to think and arrive at a solution.

December has always been a month of change for me and I hope to make some fresh beginnings once again in 2008.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A new approach to prioritization

In my last role, I always faced the challenge of prioritization. There used to be so many different activities that demanded my attention and I used to be happy to be busy but when I was free I used to get bored. My manufacturing experience taught me the importance of relationships with people across levels and departments and I used to use this free time for networking opportunities.

The main challenge was that I was required to prioritize on the go. After going through two courses on corporate finance, I have realized that I can apply some of the learnings to my day-to-day managerial life. The whole method sounds little complex but I think it would be of great value once implemented carefully. This method also fits in to the 20-80 rule (rather the 80-20 rule). Let me explain what I plan to do once I am back to a corporate career.

First step is to identify what is it that I want to achieve and what is the value I place against each other. It is important to include personal goals into this list.

Next step is to break down all these items into smaller activities that will lead to the goal achievement. Identify how much effort goes into each of these activities and by when you can achieve these goals.

Third step is to value each of these goals. Organize them according to the value you place to each of these goals. While I cannot go in to the goal setting process, I urge not to forget the personal goals. Valuation of each of these goals is very critical and one may need to take inputs from his council of trusted advisers.

Once the valuations are in place, place a value for each of the different activities identified to achieve the goal. Essentially identify which activity takes you more closer to the goal and assign more points to the same. Points can be allocated also depending on the time and effort required.

At the center of this activity is calculating discounted utility on a daily basis. The faster you achieve a certain goal the more it is valuable to you. Based on how many goals you have achieved and identified, you an value your own self.

On a daily basis at beginning of the day revisit all the current goals (projects) and what is it that you can do today to make progress. You can look at the time available and the activities and try to maximize the value of a given day. While weekly and monthly planning are the basis for this daily review, considering the pace with which we are moving, a daily review becomes critical.

Another point that many of us keep forgetting is that there are two parts for body to take care - the physical and the mental (includes brain, heart, spirit etc).

It is important to take care of both the parts. Without physical fitness it is very difficult to be mentally fit and vice-versa. Both are important.

To sum it up, follow any of the popular goal setting process, but assign values to each goal and see how you can maximize your achievement everyday. Don't mistake me by thinking achievement means money and material, it can be as simple as reading a book or writing a blog post.

Good luck.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Innovation Challenge Day 2

Term 6 has taken the most of the last week and finally I could sit down to write about the day 2.

The official program ended at about 5:00PM but by that time we have realized that we needed to lot more on our presentation for Day 2. We went back to the room and decided to quickly assemble back by 5:30. This time I took the lead and the team felt that I can present it better as I sounded more convincing. I agreed to it with a certain level of hesitation in my mind.

I know that there are lot of people around, who are brilliant but lack confidence at the right moment. I was exactly in that state at that moment. I have been interacting with many foreigners in my career but somehow I was never sure how an Indian would be perceived by them. But then my passion took over and my day one experience encouraged me a lot. After all they were all people like me sitting there and trying to make sense out of what the speaker was saying. Suddenly my fear about my language, accent and Indianness were gone. I was ready for the presentation. We worked till 8:00pm and went for the official dinner. We returned back quickly and continued working on the presentation. If there was anything that we were happy about, it was our commitment. In life, you succeed and fail but what makes an experience invaluable is the kind of effort that you put in. Even when you are successful, if you haven't given your best, I doubt if anyone would be fully happy. May be you would celebrate from outside but you would enjoy it fully from inside. But when you give your best, when you know that you are fully exhausted and that you have been stretched beyond your previous best, that's when I think one would get that satisfaction, that happiness, equivalent to conquering the summit. I felt the same when we finished our presentation

Day 2 started exactly in the reverse of day 1. The team that presented last on day 1 went first on day 2. And we got our chance as the penultimate team. We missed the presentation of IIM-Indore as we were pulled into a photoshoot. By 4:30 we dragged our luggage into the Siena and started back to the airport. We were really on the top of the world as we felt that our presentation was the best on Day 2. I think al our team members contributed a lot including Ankush who had to drop out due to some special reasons.

Our flight was at 10:10PM and the results were to be out by 9:30pm. One of our team member and two from the other team were there at Darden and were to start the next day. At 9:50 the other team guys managed to reach their team members and we heard that ISB came second. Initially we thought that our team made it but then realized quickly that it was not our team but the other team that made it to the second. For few minutes we were in kind of a shock and only a little later we could congratulate the other team. The disappointment was huge but for the first time in my life I could take a failure and not react wildly to it. Somehow the experience and the personal learning was so strong that I couldn't react negatively. This was the true emotion at that point. I slept off well that night and the next I continuously watched 4 movies to get back to normalcy. On one side there was a great disappointment but on the other side I was happy that I gave my best and didn't want to bother justifying the failure. There could be hundred and one reasons - it doesn't matter. In fact I was shocked to see that Rashid Ahmed's team didn't make it to the top three and the other team from Kenan Flagler made it to the top. That team was led by a guy who participated last year too when that team stood second. May be he understood the formula better than anyone else. Nevertheless, Co 08 made history - for all the future batches the bar has been raised. All the previous achievements were shadowed and the Innova team from ISB made it to the top three.

We did some quick shopping in the US on our way from Charlottesville to Dulles and then at the duty free mall at Doha.

We landed at Hyderabad on 19th morning and thus ended my trip to the Darden. Coincidentally, when I was doing my PGDITM, I participated in a competition and traveled outside Andhra Pradesh (can you believe it) for the first time. For the regional round I went to Coimbatore and later I traveled to Delhi for the finals. In my next job I was continuously traveling all around India. This time at ISB, I got an opportunity to go out of India and I am looking forward to a job that will allow me to travel around the world and interact with people from different nationalities.

Some pics that I wanted to share:


"Team Innova presenting their winning Idea"


"That's me at the Darden Library"


That's Anand, me and Rao

Is winning everything, I don't know. If we had made it to the top three, may be I would've been boasting about all the things that we did and how it contributed to our success but now I can only talk about the experience that I allowed myself to go through. Let me keep going, there is little time and lot more to catch up. BTW it is ILS at ISB tomorrow and I would be sitting through the summit for the full day.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Innovation Challenge Finals - continued


We got seated in the conference hall. It resembled the lecture theaters at ISB but slightly bigger, even bigger than the max lt. The program was initiated by Mr. Philip Sommer, Director of Entrepreneurship Programs, Darden School of Business.

After this there was a brief presentation on OPEN. To decide which team will go first, chits with the names of the teams were kept in a Santa cap and judges were asked to pull out one. The first opportunity went to one of the teams from University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler). They made a good start but I felt that the team that went first has some disadvantage, everyone including the judges were warming up but Kami and Nicole made a very good start. We were the fourth team to present, just before lunch. Rao did the presentation and he did a great job. We felt that we did a good job, our idea was the best among the presentations made till then.

The best presentation on Day 1 was done by University of California at Berkeley (Haas) team. Rashid Ahmed and Alexandra Levich did the presentation and they did an awesome job. Rashid was particularly impressive and he handled the questions really well. I thought that they were the best that day. LBS team did a innovative presentation though their idea was not that impressive. The team from University of Denver consisted of all experienced people and they too did a very good presentation. I met Rachel Kuhn from Kenan Flagler and learnt that she is going to be at ISB on exchange in Jan. She is already placed with Bain and Company and she exudes lot of confidence and is already looking like a consultant. The other team from ISB presented a totally different idea.

At the end of the day, we felt that we were in the top three but only the judges knew who was meeting their criteria. More about the day 2 and what actually happened in the next post

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Innovation Challenge Finals Experience

Having finished two exams, I am taking time to write this detailed post about my experience at Darden.

The whole thing started on 25th October when we got a mail from Innovation Challenge event manager.

I had a class at 8:00 am and I woke up at 7:30 and found this mail that arrived about 10 min back. The mail said that our team has been selected for the finals and that we have to confirm our participation within 24 hrs. For the next one hour or so, I didn't believe in it fully and went to the class. I checked with others who participated in the competition to verify if they have got a similar mail. Initially I was under the impression that it was some kind of spam but the mail id appeared authentic. By the time the class got over, all our team members checked their mails and they started sending congratulatory mails and it was time for me t believe that it was true. One of the reasons it took me so much time is that this was the only competition I took part till then.

Our team captain, Jaspreet, proceeded with sending the confirmation mail. Initially there were rumors that four teams made it to the finals but by evening it became clear that only two teams made it to the final.

The next 12 days or so we were stuck in the administrative problems including that of getting visa to US. Our tickets were booked only one week in advance. We did loose lot of time juggling between subjects, admin follow and we could take only a little time to work on the final problems.

Two of my team members were also in study group for two different subjects. All the study group members supported me a lot and for the first time my involvement was very less in the assignments for one subject. That team had two young bright ladies and the other guys didn't bother me much. For the first time I did some free-riding. I really thank that study group for all the help and support.

Finally after we decided how we are going to deal with the exams and the classes and then got started working on the problem. We have spent about 50 - 60 hrs in the week before we flew. Our flight was on 15th morning at 5:00am and we working till 11:00pm on 14th night. One of our team member dropped out as he wanted to attend an interview and I am sure that affected us a bit.

We landed at Dulles at about 7pm and by the time we came out it was 8:30pm. We booked a Siena from Avis and Rao drew the car and I played the navigator holding the map. Everything was well organized. We booked the car online and we were given a booking number and as soon as we came out we found that there are shuttles to the rental car office. We took a bus and we realized that one of our team member, Nandu, was missing. Me and Jassi started looking and found him on the other side.

By the time we reached Darden Exec residence, it was 11:00 pm. We met Anil Rathi right at the entrance and he helped us with our luggage. He is a very nice guy. We reached our rooms and wow what a nice room it was. Outside the temperature was aroung 5 or 6 deg C and inside it was warm and nice. Each of us were given a separate room and we got connected to the Lan immediately without any hassle. That was indeed amazing. I have added the video below - don't pay too much attention to my commentary though.

video

The session was to start at 9:00 am and we planned to get up by 5:00am and do a practice round. We met up in the group room and worked till 7:30am and by 8:15am we reached Abbott hall for breakfast. After breakfast we reached room no:50 and that's where the competition was being held.

I will take a break now and will continue in the next post.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Achieving goals @ ISB

I started my journey at ISB with four goals:
1. Loose weight
2. Be in the top certain percentile in terms of academics
3. Get some international exposure and lastly
4. Get placed in one of the firms that I shortlisted

I think I have achieved three of the above. One of them is static, so I can strike it off, one of them needs to be sustained for another 4 months or so, another one is a continuous effort and the last one again is a milestone and I will have to wait for another 3 months to come face to face with the situation.

It has been a great ride till now with its own highs and lows. I met lot of new people, some became friends while some drifted away from me and there are still some strangers. But last one week changed my perspectives a bit and I think it is time for me to revisit my long-terms goals. I have been postponing this for quite some time and I think this is a good time to do that.

Two exams await to take me on tomorrow, so goodbye for tonight. I'll be back with a detailed post about the Innovation Challenge experience.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Amazing experience

Today is the second and last day of the Innovation Challenge being held at Darden School of Management, University of Virginia. Only one word can capture the whole experience - Amazing.

I am writing this post so that the result doesn't have any impact on my thought process. The experience is excellent and it helped me to bust many personal opinions and assumptions. Lots of learning and I personally see this experience as career transforming event. It's not just the final even but the whole process - Team dynamics, brainstorming, validation, research, building up the idea and communicating the same, understanding different concerns / viewpoints of the people involved - Event Manager, Sponsors, Judges, Host and Participants. Some aspects that bought in the differences include culture, background, experience, past education, self-employed or working for a firm, placement status - final year already placed with a big firm or just started and in term 1 and so on.

For the first time I am seeing an event that is win-win for every one
involved. Anil Rathi, Idea Crossing, great job dude, it's a great niche you have thought about.

It is time for lunch, more details later

Monday, November 12, 2007

The most difficult thing to do

I have just changed the template. I myself got bored of the look.

Coming to the point, while there are many qualities, characteristics, capabilities or competences, whatever you want to call them, that are necessary for success, I tried to reason what is the most difficult one and the most value adding one. This is no relative grading, rather if I have to pick one, I would pick this one and that is the ability to "focus."

Like a stream that is born somewhere in a mountain, we start with lot of fresh energy and enthusiasm. By virtue of location, surroundings and other incidental factors, we gain momentum, character etc early in life. But after a certain point you hit the ground - reality. From this point you face so many challenges, changing times, situations that you can influence and situations that influence you and so on. While "you" matter, the focus in you and your ability to sustain it through changing times and situations determine whether you achieve you goal en route your life path.

At the each, every river goes and merges into the ocean similar to how every human being goes and merges into the world through death but the path, the route that you take and what you do en-route is what that matters. And to make a difference , to listen to inner call, to do things that normal economics cannot explain, you need focus.

So much potential gets wasted and ends up like dry sand beds of misery and justification. It becomes so difficult to listen to your own self because there are so many paths calling you into theirs. One ends up in getting distracted into all these and finally is left high and dry. Once this happens the dead life begins - life without flow, life without mazaa, life without exhilaration, life waiting for time to finish, sand to flow from top chamber to the bottom and then to go through the final experience - real death. May be the real death is more exciting than the dead life, I don't know.

I am surprised to see how many times I used the word death in this post and I would like to assert that it is not my fear for death but my love for life that made me write this post.

Let me end by saying to all my friends - preserve and protect not your fears but your dreams, your focus, your purpose and your connection with your inner voice and live life fully

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hope







Hope is one of the most important things in life.

If there is any emotion that is as powerful as life, that is hope

There is no death for hope, no one can kill it permanently

One can try to suppress it but it will find ways to express itself

Hope is a great equaliser. It doesn't different anyone.

Young - old, man-woman, adult-kid, rich-poor, smart-fool, dumb-dumber,

everyone has hope

It is there in every situation

somewhere deep in the heart

Wishing for the best

wishing good for everyone around

Keep hoping, never lose hope, even if it is unrealistic, hope keeps you alive.

Finally, let Diwali light up your hopes.

Wish you all a Very Happy Deepavali.

Tamasoma Jyotigamaya






Thursday, November 1, 2007

Random thoughts

In the last 6 months we have done more than 100 cases, most of them published by Harvard or written by the teachning Professor (Prof. Ziv Katalan, Prof. Rama Velamuri and Prof. Charles Dhanraj).

While case method is an excellent method, it does bring in certain issues to the class. The case writer and teacher knows the solution and the students generally don't. Also as the case cannot be too long, certain information is omitted and this brings in a lot of information asymmetry.

A good way of facilitation is to allow the students to bring out the different ways of thinking and then critically evaluate them. The evaluation criteria can either be based on different academic theories or on findings from empirical studies. But if the evaluation is done based on hindsight, keeping in mind the result of the action taken then the whole process will go into a biased mode. While the case writer is free to have his admiration of the actual events that happened after the case situation, that shouldn't bias the learning dimension.

We have seen in the past and we will witness in the future, the gap between what we know and what we don't. Anyone who is a mere spectator can never accurately guess what's going to happen. If they can guess he would be the next Warren Buffet. But alas, we have only a handful of people on the whole earth who can predict the future based on their assessment of present situation.

Many times we get to see that same decision taken in similar situation can lead to completely different outcomes. Sometimes it is external environment that aids or works against and sometimes it is the way the execution is carried out and the people involved would turn the way things happen.

While trying to learn from cases, it is important to explore both sides and make an estimated guess about what would happen if a different course of action is taken. It would then be useful to evaluate the decision that was taken, the outcome and the factors that led to the outcome. Here the outcome is not important but the factors are more important. As an individual we have control only on certain factors and our ability to judge the situation and then manage the controllable factors is what that matters.

People who are in positions that have a very large circle of influence have to be very careful about their choices. Owing to their larger circle of influence they loose the freedom to have opinions and express them openly to a certain extent. This is applicable to teachers, political leaders, officers, movie directors, writers etc.

Lastly I am wondering if it is OK to compare the situations in the political and social context with financial markets and whether media (particularly news channels) can create a perfect market kind of situation, where information is known to everyone and even if not one can gain insights just by watching others, to the political and social scenario. I was watching the coverage of auto strike in India and the comments made by the auto drivers and the concerned minister and was wondering how this would impact the public opinion and thereby their reaction?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

10000+

That's the number of hits on this blog till now since Nov 2006. In that my own visits would be around 300-400. But the fact that I could communicate my thoughts and ideas with so many passive and some active readers(those who leave comments)itself is amusing.

I never thought something (a blog) like this would ever come into existence but wished that something like this is available. Though the current level of IT enablement is nowhere near the ideal state (I think it can never be), many interesting trends can be observed. The current set of developments are being driven by non-technical businessmen contrasted to the earlier periods when technical geeks ruled the development space.

We are pretty busy with our preparations for the finals and Term 5 assignments and pre-reads are keeping us busy. I am trying hard to keep abreast with everything but I am definitely falling behind in some areas if not all. I hope I will be able to do the catching up by the end of this term.

Some of us who started liking the campus have realized the fact that we have finished the first half and the path before is downhill and we will go much faster than the previous part. Co 2009 admissions process must be on and all the applicants must be eagerly waiting for the interview calls and isb-pgp group mails.

I wish all the applicants best of luck. Just remember, be yourself, give your best shot and hope for the best.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Great News

It's a great news for me and I hope all the readers would share the joy with me. Our team - Rao Korupolu, Anand Narasimhan, Ankush Wadhera, Jaspreet Sidhu and me have made it to the top ten in Innovation Challenge 2007.



Check out the below link:
Who made it to Innovation Challenge 2007 Finals
We are ISB_E_01.

Apart from us another team made it to the final. We would be traveling to US in November to take part in the Final.

Though I would've liked to post in detail about the whole thing, I am really hard pressed for time. I am currently working in 6 different groups on different projects and my calendar is already over pouring.

Whoever is reading this post, wish our team good luck.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Busyness ever after

Now that the core terms are over and the electives have started, most of us at ISB were expecting that life to be like "they lived happily ever after" but soon we realized that life at ISB is busyness (or busi-ness) ever after.

One thing has now been established for me now. Expectations, everyone has high expectations from everyone and there is no exception.

I am now juggling with 5 different groups and that itself is a big assignment everyweek. Among the current set of professors, Prof. Charles Dhanraj is the most enthusiastic and he experiments a lot with the methodology. He plays music in the class while people are discussing case questions. He is a highly involved person with the subject

There are lots of things happening now and there is little time for anything else, including posting blogs. Before closing, let me wish Eveyone a Very Happy VijayaDasami. Cheers

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blog Action Day

If there is one thing that can change the world for better, it is education and awareness. The major difference that I see between today and five years back is that the ability to communicate and express yourself is far more easy while having a greater reach.

I had been involved in many cost reduction projects while I was working at Bakelite Hylam. During that time I evaluated lots of options to reduce cost by saving energy, particularly electrical energy. Considering the fact there are distribution losses, a unit saved is more than a unit produced.

It is surprising to see that even today we have incandescent lamps still available in the market and people are still buying. In view usage of incandescent lamps for lighting purposes must banned immediately and should be allowed to be used only for special purposes only. CFL or normal TL usage must be encouraged and government must provide incentives for the producers to reduce price and disincentives for consumers who don't use them.



I remember that in 1997 we saved around Rs. 5000 (approx $100) every month just by replacing all the incandescent lamps that were used as light in front of puja locations across the plant. My salary at that point was the same as the amount we saved and I felt so thrilled. This was one project that had an ROI of one month and the results were right in front of us. After that I even contemplated with coming out with a retail offer for electricity consumers to replace incandescent lamps with TL's with monthly payment as a part of electricity bill depending on the savings achieved.

There are many things that we are taking for granted today such as water, air, natural resources but we are paying indirect price for it and the future generations will pay a much larger price for what we are doing ignorantly. It is time for us to examine how we can reduce or eliminate the negative impacts being created by us and I am sure the individual effort will get build up in to significant result.

Just do your part and don't measure macro results, just keep focusing on your efforts on the specific results.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Not much has changed

The last post was titled "Changing times" and I never imagined that I will be writing the next post titled "Not much has changed."

The above expression came from after watching the movie "To Kill a Mocking Bird." The struggle that was portrayed in that movie and the struggle that is currently going on under the broad theme of inclusive growth broadly remains the same - Choice, Respect, Justice and Fairness.

Yesterday I was coming from JNTU and I was behind a auto trolley. It was carrying cartons of bottled water. For a moment I wondered how would it appear for someone watching from the sky and wonder about the things human beings keep doing. We keep inventing new technologies, new menthods to make our life easier. While it appears that we have been successful to store, save and transfer most, if not all, of the technical knowledge, it seems we are failing every time in successfully transferring the wisdom that is gained. People have written loads of books in an attempt to transfer the wisdom since ages. Lot of people also seem to be reading these books and attempting to gain wisdom but the success rate is very very small.

The two contradicting posts emanate from the above issue. We, human beings, have been pretty successful in transfering technical knowledge but have been only minutely successful in transfering wisdom.

Even today, the chance of becoming a sensible mature individual depends a lot on the individual despite all the institutions developed by the society. It is much better than having nothing but a lot needs to be done.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Changing Times

Below is a graph indicating average tenure in different countries from Economist:
Go to Economist for full details

Though figures for India are not given, it would be somewhere in the middle. In the 80's, trend was one-job-for-life, in 90's it changed to two or three changes in career and now it seems to be not-more-than-one-job-a-year.

Though I'm not an advocate of frequent changes, I feel that the current situation is very good for people in the job market. It's not even from the compensation stand point but it is more from the point of having choices. Earlier people had very few choices and had to hang on with the same job whether they like it or not. But now one can try different things and find out what exactly he would like to do.

Many times people advice that you should find your passion and work in that area to be happy. But in reality it is so difficult to find where one's passion is. Everything other than what you are doing will appear great except for few. You compromise either for money, convenience, fear or even lack of awareness. You feel stuck and your enthusiasm takes a beating. It is therefore very important to have lots of options at the beginning so that you can experiment a bit and then choose where you want to make a difference.

But while you experiment don't forget to give your best at every job and think of change only when you have done really well or really bad. Don't think of changing when you are doing average, it means you haven't applied yourself fully or you didn't get into a situation that needed your best. It is best to review when you are doing very well or very bad and take a call

Another aspect that is unfulfilling in almost all the jobs is the dimension of social service. It definitely gives a lot of satisfaction to help others who are in need but many times it needs lot of focused effort, which many find next to impossible. This point has been noted by many corporations already and they are incorporating this dimension as a part of corporation's activities. This is one area I would like to follow and contribute in future.

Term break is half-over and right now it is kind of silence before the storm. Till now it has been the grades and competitions but from now on it will be electives and placements.

Changing times are ahead.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Time for a break

It had been a roller coaster ride since the day I landed at ISB. Thank god it had not been anything like what I imagined it to be. I had been stretched in all possible directions.

I never thought I would stay awake beyond 12 midnight but 2AM became the norm now. But for the support system of ISB, it would've been impossible to survive the rigor.

As the core terms end and the electives start there is yet another cycle of unsettling and settling. New section mates, new group mates, and new profs. Placement fever is about to begin and I think things are going to speed up from now on.

There is an attempt to launch an official ISB blog and something may happen on that front shortly. Of all the four terms, this term end exams were the most strenuous in terms of preparation but when it came to the exam hall, two of the exams got finished in less than an hour.

As per my original plan I should've been flying to China today. But thanks to the miscommunication from CEIBS, I'm happily sitting in Hyderabad. I don't what I would've been feeling if I was actually going but in hindsight I am more happy to be at ISB. I would be able to take more courses and focus on my goals.

Two/three days back suddenly I felt that I should write short stories. I also quickly came up with a storyline too. It is about a love story at a call center. A young graduate joins the call centre and his team leader happens to be a girl. Though she is elder to him, he gets attracted to her. He likes her confidence, the way she handles tough situations and tough people. She also moves freely with him but by the time the guy develops confidence to tell her, she gets engaged to someone else.

He goes ahead and expresses his love to her but she brushes him off saying that it was just friendship and she can't imaging marrying and living with him. She gets married a month later and leaves the job to join her husband in another city. The guy goes and meets her and for a brief moment she gets a feeling that may be she was little to quick to deny the young guy but then brushes it aside and bis adieu to the guy.

Guy goes back to his job, feels a little sad for few days and then a young girl joins his team and he starts feeling that may be he has not really lost his love. He can divert it somewhere else and the story starts again. Inspiration for this story comes from a one liner that my old friend, Partha Saradhi, told me long back. It goes like this - When young, even a donkey looks beautiful and lovable. Though the story doesn't completely relate to what he said, I feel it does.

Hope you liked the story (in the most driest possible expression). I would appreciate encouragement from the readers.

Laziness in me is waking and before it takes over let me click the publish button. Good bye for now

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Crazy Day - Sec E's last day

Yesterday was section E's last day and it was a crazy day. First it was our group's turn to do the GSBC presentation. Our topic was on child labor and we had enough mix ups since friday. Everyone in the group became lazy but for few of us it was important and we pushed it till the end. We managed to get hold of a nice video clip from ILO's site and played it. The video was apt in the sense that it projected the problem but also gave a hint of positive results, which is slightly away from the doomed feeling I got from all other statistics and presentations.

Next it was Prof. Ramana Sonti's class. I really feel that we should've had another two sessions with him. He is highly passionate about the subject and I really enjoyed the INVA course. He suddenly realized that all those in the class were wearing the same T-shirt. I was given the opportunity to ask the last question for the term and for the core terms though I am not the question master.

Once the class was over it was a mad rush for photographs. We must have clicked more than 200 snaps yesterday and we took pictures at all possible locations in the main building. The photo session went on for more than 2 hours. Though we just half way through, the emotions yesterday were like that of the last day. We all know that it would be difficult to catch up with all the section mates together again except may be in the parties.



Once the class was over it was a mad rush for photographs. We must have clicked more than 200 snaps yesterday and we took pictures at all possible locations in the main building. The photo session went on for more than 2 hours. Though we just half way through, the emotions yesterday were like that of the last day. We all know that it would be difficult to catch up with all the section mates together again except may be in the parties.


In hindsight, it is amazing to see how the first half has zipped past of us.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's all about Art

Today we had an Arts club event that had Kalpana Lajmi, Soni Razdaan and Julius Macwan. Kalpana Lajmi gave a brief chronological description on how Hindi movie business evolved since 1896.

After that the artist-in-residence at ISB, Mr. Julius Macwan presented his latest creation. Take a look at the pic below:


Some of the titles suggested by the audience included Death of MBA and Crucifixion of Freedom by business.
BTW the lady in the picture is my own section-mate. Overall the event was stimulating and interesting.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Women's rights

Yesterday's session on Population policy was a great eye opener for me and many others. I used to blame democracy and weak leadership whenever I felt that things were not happening in the way they ought to happen. Recently, in an earlier session, similar argument was made by a section mate, a former IAS officer and at that point I fully agreed with him.

But then the point that women have to right to make a choice about pregnancy, abortion and contraception made me take a step back and think. Till that point I was thinking that the couple should take a combined decision and that both have an equal say but when the argument raised the point of who is going to get affected the most I couldn't say the couple will get equally affected by the decision.

At that point I could relate Stephen R Covey's point about choice. He says that the key difference between human being and any other species is the ability to make choice. Though the context in which he raises that point is different, I could relate it to the issue of rights. The current argument is that any form of coercion is denying the right of making choice and the only thing that you can do is to educate people.

This means that all the arguments of powerful leader making the difference so weak and stale. The collective wisdom of all the members in the society is far more important and all the leader should do is educate and control externalities that harm others.

Another classmate of mine raised the point that creating awareness on key areas is far more important than elementary education. I tend to agree with her considering the reach electronic media today has and the educational power it has. Imagine TV soaps bringing out awareness about the different rights and how they are violated in different situations and how a person can protect his rights. I believe it would be powerful and will have a greater impact within a very short time.

I believe that it is in the benefit of man to respect and protect women's rights

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Between Application and Interview

This post is for those who have submitted their applications in R1 and waiting for the interview call.

One of the common challenges is about the time, date and location. Though one indicates a certain location as preferred, it is possible that the candidate may have to go somewhere on an official visit and therefore we may not be available on the date that adcom schedules the interview. The question is how flexible is ISB adcom?

As far as I had seen last year and after my interaction with them, I think they are very flexible for reasonable and genuine reasons. The key objective of an interview is to meet the person and verify if he/she is the same compared to the impression that the application gave and to evaluate what more does the person bring to the table apart from the standard set of things. Therefore it is more in the interest of the candidate to make oneself available at a location that he/she is comfortable and give it a best shot. But if it is not possible, feel free to call/write and request for a change.

Second challenge I faced is the stress due to uncertainty. I know that I had a good chance but you never know. A lot depends on the pool of applications and everything gets relative. My only suggestion is, believe in yourself. If you have made all the effort in writing GMAT, essays and getting recommendations, I'm sure you are serious about it and that you have put in enough effort and if you have given your best shot in preparing your application, there is nothing more you can do but wait. Just keep tracking what is happening and where are the interviews happening. The isb-pgp yahoo group is a very good resource and I used to spend at least an hour reading the messages everyday. Urge all the candidates who got shortlists to post their interview experience, it kind of gives you some feel.

Another thing that you can do to reduce your stress is - read books. Read books that are not related to your work, read on topics that you like, read fiction, read current affairs and read blogs.

Last thing that you can do to reduce stress is to create a support group. Last year we have created a Hyderabad applicants yahoo group and started meeting around this time. We used to discuss our profiles, our aspirations and even did a essay review after the applications are submitted. As a group we asked questions based on the application and essays and more than anything else had lot of fun. It is very important to have fun as you will have to learn taking rejection and failure in life and this would help you once you are in ISB as there are more chances that you will not be faring as well as you would want yourself to.

Finally the last challenge is focusing on work. When such life changing event is going to happen in life it is very difficult to focus on routine work. But keep in mind that your current job is very important and that your commitment must first be to your current engagements. Try and work a little more hard, train others who are around, network with HR and Fin guys (it would help in all situations). You can even think about what changes would you do if you join back the company in a senior role.

What I did last year was to start this blog. I started posting all my thoughts and helped me to release stress and channelize the energy. But don't explode on to everyone around as it may damage your post-ISB admission scenario.

I didn't get specifically in to the area of interview preparation as it will vary from person to person and I am sure that most of you must have already gone through many interviews earlier. If you feel that my view would be useful, drop a comment.

Good luck to everyone - Buenos dias

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Government, Society and Business

This post is specifically to record what I used to feel before undertaking this course and how I feel now after I have gone through this course (course mentioned in the subject).

At the beginning periods of my career whenever I tried to evaluate behavior of mine and others in specific situations and always drew to the conclusion that rules, legal and societal, influenced the way people behave. After spending few years in the manufacturing firm and having gone through mutiple business cycles I modified my inference that incentives are what that matter. But after coming to ISB and when I look at things in retrospective I realized that apart from rules and incentives, private valuation and utility also matter and that there is a strong interaction between all the four aspects.

People who can influence these aspects rather than getting influenced are the ones who drive change and the ones who create opportunities and turn situations favorable. This is a very interesting realization for me because I can to certain extent now explain the "luck factor."

Also as I started working in 1994, I happened to see the drastic changes that the industry and job market went through.

Let me focus on the job market. When I started the struggle was to get a good job and then to hang on there and if necessary make one or two hops in entire career span. There were very few who changed industry verticals and even fewer who made functional role changes. Coming to the current situation,getting the first job is difficult even today. If you are fortunate enough you get placed directly in campus, otherwise you have to go through a lot of struggle to get the first break. But the similarity in situation changes immediately after that. The moment you get a good break the search for another job intensifies. This is partly fuelled by booming opportunities, to certain extent by organizational practices and to a great deal by the confusion in the candidate.

I forgot about another striking similarity and that is the dearth of good candidates. As I was part of HR department, I could closely see that even today there is a shortage of good talent and then there is a lot competition to hire the best talent. May be this is one factor that drove up the pay packages for campus offers. Organizations have a big challenge to choose between fresh talent and experienced hires. Both these pools create different set of challenges and HR departments are struggling to take a call. While you can hire a decent candidate from the open market who might be desparately seeking a job and is better prepared to do whatever the job demands, the challenge is that you have to sift through a great amount of applications. On the other hand you can easily hire a bunch of young telented guys directly from the campus but the chances of them joining you and later sticking with you is a big challenge. But most of the companies that I had an opportunity to observe, both as an insider and an outsider, follow the market trend and are in a mad rush to hire. There is increasing demand from the business and HR has to deliver. No one has time to measure which method is effective and which one is not. Everyone is trying to follow the best practices of the market and only few know what the real best practices are.

Coming back to the course, I feel that this is a very important course and is exposing everyone to the real issues that mankind is facing as a race. There inter and intra species related issues and it is very important to understand them and then to see how one can influence them in a positive way. I was very happy to hear from Prof. Shiva Kumar that experts whould interact with the political leaders and influence them to take right kind of decisions. Prof. Shiva Kumar is a Member of India's National Advisory Council and it is great to hear from him about how things are shaping up.

Finally, it's time for me to get back to Term 4 and start working on the take home exam and the MGTO assignment. For now it's Adios.

Kuch Kariye, Kuch Kariye

Finally India did it. They beaten the champions to enter the Finals of the Twenty-Twenty world cup. Does this victory has anything to do with Chak De? Though it may not have had any direct bearing on the cricket team, the team did exactly what the Coach Shahrukh tells the hockey team. This cricket team started exactly with one goal - Win the world cup. It had all the politics and problems that the hockey team in the movie had. One senior player unhappy that he is not made the captain, the captain unsure how and what he can demand from the team, youngsters who don't care anything about this but just want to go there and prove themselves and finally the blue billion, which relentlessly hopes to see their Men in Blue to make it happen. Only missing character is the Hero/Coach. May be RaviShastri played the Devil's Advocate by saying that Aussies are the favorites and Dhoni with his team decided to prove him wrong. Whatever was happening in the minds of these players, it produced a fantastic display of sporting talent.

The Indian players celebrate after completing a 15-run win, Australia v India, 2nd semi-final, ICC World Twenty20, Durban, September 22, 2007 © AFP

Dhoni definitely displayed excellent leadership qualities of handling the team. He gave the last over to Sanjay Sharma and I think he made a great decision. The new player responded to the challenge by holding his nerve. And I think Dhoni managed the politically charged Indian camp very well.

While this series was going on we were going through some very related topics in MGTO. We were discussing the four frame leadership model and we got to see many of the dimensions in action.

Prof. Anand Narasimhan is really good. He makes the class so interesting and his comments are the best. He is very well-read and has the ability to link things so well. He is witty, uses humor and doesn't take any BS CP. In one of my earlier posts I wrote about Networking and the last session was on Networking. He got across the message that Networking is important and how it makes a difference when one is in Leadership position. I observed that people don't put effort into Networking because either they are lazy, or they fear about other's perceptions or lastly not skilled enough.

Finally as a cricket fan, I have completely forgotten about the Legends and I think all the other fans too didn't miss then much. It's time for them to retire and help the younger team to take over. As shown in the new Airtel Google search commercial, it is time for the heroes to retire and for kids to take over.

Have loads to catch up but I am looking forward for tomorrow evening when India meets Pakistan in the Finals. See you in the next post

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mr. Chandrababu Naidu on ISB Campus

I met Mr.Naidu once again but this time on-campus. He was here at ISB for a Book Launch.

There was a decent turn out for the event and I think Naidu's instrumental role in establishing ISB at Hyderabad was the reason behind the pull. Naidu talked about inclusive growth apart from everything else. Inclusive growth seems to be topic of the year and I hope that the increased attention from all parts of the society, government and business would aid in realizing that goal. It is in the interest of all these parties to see that there is inclusive growth. I would like to examine how I contribute from my side to this goal.



The MGTO second part is being taught by Prof. Anand Narasimhan. He has done his MBA from XLRI and is totally different from Prof. Louis Martin, the professor who taught the first part. While Prof. Martin skimmed through the topics and never went in to the depths. But Prof. Anand Narasimhan started off in a totally different way and he never tried to hide his reactions though expressed in a humorous and subtle way.

Last saturday we had Mckinsey and Company's preplacement presentation. I think that they wanted to occupy the students mind before the international recruiters catch the fancy of the students.

Our ELP is making progress and interestingly this year for whatever reasons there have been a lot of interesting ELP offerings. At the end there were no takers from some projects, a nice problem to have. Seems like the efforts of Mr. Sarma are paying off.

Coming to Indian cricket, it appears that even the 20-20 format, new format and even the young blood doesn't seem to help. It is absolutely clear that India Cricket Club is unable to manage cricketing talent pool. It is unable to throw away non-performers and is in-capable to separate itself from politics, corruption and divided interests. It would be interesting to see how would a seasoned HR practitioner would handle this kind of situation.

It's time to say good bye for now. Hasta la vista.

Friday, September 14, 2007

PAC Model and Corporate Governance

While we were going through the Corp Fin course, we were taught that diversification activities by big companies need not be in the interest of shareholders and instead may be the result of the top management's fancy and that the market recognizes this aspect quickly and share prices of the companies announcing takeovers or mergers go down.

Today in the GSBC class, the topic was Corporate Governance. Once of the issues raised by the Prof. Mudit Kapoor was about Corporate Social Responsibility. His point was that as a company your core competece is to conduct a certain kind of business and not induging in charity with shareholders money. If you want to take up somekind of CSR initiative you must get the consent from the shareholders.

By raising this topic, he definitely had hit lots of us pretty hard on our heads. People came up all sorts of arguments why the CEO should be free to take up CSR initiatives. All the students who raised concerns were relating themselves as the Managers who might have to go to the shareholders for every decision.

Argument from the Prof was simple and clear, all he was saying was, any free cash flow geenrated by the company belongs to the shareholders, either you reinvest in right kinds of projects if available or distribute the money to shareholders. It is upto the shareholders to do any charity if they want to. As a CEO if you want to do some society building, do it with your personal wealth.

At this point I started relating this whole thing to the PAC model. TThe professor was saying that the Shareholders are adults and as a Manager you have to treat them as adults. It is their money and let them take a call. But almost everyone in the class was unable to digest that. Everyone started acting like a parent and wants to treat them as children. Their argument was - Shareholders don't know anything, as a manager we would do correct things, if we have to go back to the shareholders for every small thing how can we run the company.

This thought process clearly indicates the Parent, Adult and Child states in the realtionship of a Firm, the Manager or the CEO and the Shareholders. As mature people we must act like adults but more often than not we tend to either act as a Parent or as a child and all this happens at such a sub-conscious level that we don't even recognize this.

One important thing that we need to learn before we get started in our careers once again is to learn how to act as Adults and when to switch to a Parent/Chuld mode occassionally. This I think would be the biggest challenge for most of us.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What's happening to Hyderabad

Disasters, mostly man made appears to have clouded Hyderabad since the last few months. I have been living in Hyderabad since 1983, more than 24 years but I have never seen such incidents happening in such a short interval.

Many people comment that these kind of incidents are very rare in TDP regime and more common during congress regime. Most people seem to agree on this part but I don't have any statistics to conduct a t-test and see if this claim is statistically significant or not. On the other hand congress man claim that these things are not related to the regime and no one could have avoided them. Is this claim true? This claim definitely appears not to be true. What happened yesterday could have been easily avoided.

I had worked in a manufacturing form that used lot of flammable raw material. I have even done some work for a gas bottling plant too. At both these places safety is given highest proiority and despite that accidents do happen but the human casualty part is very very low. I had seen few accidents and in all these incidents human casualties are zero when sufficient awareness and supervision was employed to ensure safety was done. But in cases where safety practices were namesake and were done just for compliance there definitely were casualties. This clearly indicates a linkage between the attitude and results.

One thing is very clear, congress party and slack come together. Even during the last regime of congress there were so many unwanted incidents.

Another aspect that needs examination is the unpreparedness of the administrative machinery to address such incidents and their inability to handle media properly. Throughout the night news channels were claiming that there were more than 20 dead but after removing all the collapsed parts it was realized that there were only two who died. Media feeds on sensalisation and tries to push news in a way that allows them to gain maximum mileage. Almost all the channels now claim that they are fighting against corruption and keep uncovering incidents. On one hand this appears to be something good for people but on the other hand there is no attempt from media to do any root cause analysis. Why should they do it? They have no incentive to do that.

It is important that media be held responsible for their less responsible broadcasts and be fined for spreading rumors. There was another incident of firing yesterday. This happened at the residence of a congress leader's son. The person who got shot died at Apollo. Media for the want of sensation interview the deceased spoused and tried to put words in her mouth and then after that started repeatedly broadcasting the exact sentence that they would have wanted her to say.

It is important that media acts responsibly and play a neutral party and shouldn't take sides. In fact the politician is the PCC chief but still media shouldn't try to combine two uncorrelated events and blame one source for it. Any father in that situation would try to defend his son at the first instance and then later as a matured guy would state that law should take its own course. When we watch a movie, we would be more than ready to support a hero who murders the villain and expect that he gets released quickly so that he can get married to the heroine and when the villain is caught we almost always want him to be hanged. But in life one never knows who is the hero and who is the villain and sometimes a onetime hero would turn into a current villain. Move is only for two/three hours but life is forever.

Let me conclude this post by saying that one of the most important steps government must take is regulating who can be appointed as a reporter. Looks or voice should not be the deciding criteria but more important factors like maturity, sensibility, thorough knowledge about the domain and even law should be considered. Some kind of neutral certification is necessary if media has to be managed without clipping their wings or restricting their freedom of expression.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Latest Pics of Sec E

Hi People,

I have uploaded all the pics that I clicked on 5th Sept at
Sec E pictures

Flood of events @ ISB

Though we are only a week into Term 4, the placement fever is slowly catching up. September also appears to be the month of action. Everything seems to be happening in Spetember - ELP meetings, conferences, workshops, some international pre-placement talks, admission guidance requests, resume workshops, Independent studies, B-school competitions and what not.

At ISB the work intensity also goes northward. They prepare you for all this right from the preterms. By now most of the students have figured out if they are a grades person or an extra-curricular person. There are few who already have the requisite spikes and don't bother others.

It is very easy to deal with the grades guy. They approach you either when marks are uploaded on blackborad or when grades are uploaded on atrium. Otherwise they are busy in doing CP or assignments or reading books.

The more difficult to deal with crowd is the extra-curricular type. These guys have so many ideas and have so much of energy except that they have given up on grades. These are the ones who regularly keep saying that grades don't matter. They pursue a wide variety of activities and keep sending you calendar invites.

One thing I can definitely say is that at ISB you will get much more than what you pay for every second you spend here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Term 4 begins

Finally Term 4 begins. For the first time we have a subject on OB and most of the Engineers feel it is faff and keep displaying their disinterest quite openly. Some of them don't realize the importance of this particular area in Business.

But according to me, this is one of the most important subjects. As we move more and more towards a service economy, managing Human Resources becomes more and more important and a good understanding of OB becomes more and more critical for a good manager.

We have another very complex course - Government, Society and Business, which is a combination of Micro and Macro Economics.

ELP, which appeared to be no-so-attractive at the beginning, has caught the fancy of many students and there is sudden spurt of mails seeking team members.

People have started winning B-school competitions. From the mails that I could locate, ISB teams have won the following competitions:

1. IMI HR and Fin paper presentation,
2. XIMB's Ashwamedh paper presentation
3. SPJMR's case analysis

There are multiple teams planning to participate in the Innovation Challenge. I'm sure we will see many more such winning teams from ISB.