Test Testy

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.