Test Testy

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Silence before the storm

It's eight term and today is day 3 - post sample drop and addition day and no classes. Campus is completely silent, people are going through different sorts of emotions. The goal with which people have come here is more or less achieved. Even someone is not happy with what he/she got nothing can be done for the next 5 months, so it's kind of a vacuum period.

This is an interesting time, some people will enjoy this "no responsibilities or commitments time," some will suddenly feel lost due to "no visible enemy (or goal)," few are excited about "great time that is ahead," some will be wondering how to handle the "change of guard" and so on and so forth.

It'll be interesting to see how far this batch is gonna travel both in terms of geographical and achievements distance. We all came here for a year to learn together and we all will get separated now. While I wouldn't say that I have created strong bonds with many batchmates I can definitely say I have started forming with many.

There must be a lot of people outside wanting to know more about placements but they will have to wait for the official statement that will come sometime in mid-March. But I can say that it has been quite smooth and satisfactory.

We have some very interesting courses and one of those that I have opted for is Microfinance. The learning here has definitely clarified lots of questions and has shown lots of paths to achieve my goals. I can say I am more clear now than a year before about how I would spend the rest of my life. I can safely say that I have finished one-third of my life (optimistic estimated life span of 90 years) and now I am determined to make each day in my life count. I am in the process of identifying key aspects in which I would like to make a difference and will take a count at the end of the day everyday and wouldn't loose track.

You can guess my mood from what I wrote above and I'll take leave till the time there is more to report or a compelling thought pushes me to write.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Excellent ad campaign

GMR - Getting ready for India ad campaign really impresses - it's a well thought and executed ad. After a long time, I saw a nice ad campaign and this campaign will surely improve the brand equity and recall of GMR group, which is generally confused with GVK group.

This is the right time for this campaign considering that the Hyderabad International airport is getting ready and that many people will come across GMR name there, this campaign will leverage that exposure fully. Another thing this campaign will surely do is improve GMR's standing with its future employees. After seeing the ads, I felt that I should approach the company to know who is behind this campaign and was open to explore career opportunities.

Here is one of those ads:

Despite politicians India is increasingly becoming attractive for people from other countries for various reasons, apart from the IT and ITeS outsourcing partnerships, we have Medical Tourism, Diamond exports, large middle class, and even MBA Education (I am expecting that for the batch of 2010 there will be a large number of international applicants to ISB considering the recent FT ranking) and many more. India is definitely an attractive destination despite politics is what I can sum it up. A warning for Indians - The increasing focus from foreigners is going to change the Indian Game for Indians too, so be ready to face it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Change in Direction

Having managed to make a transition once again, I am not sure what I would writing on this blog that would continue to appeal to the readers. But in general I am interested in the following areas:
1. Self-development
2. Systems thinking
3. Environment
4. Social issues
5. Communication
6. New Business models and
7. ISB

I would appreciate if the readers of this blog take a couple of minutes and give me feedback about what they liked in this blog and what areas would interest you. After all this blog is about me, you and we together.

Before closing lemme add that placements are on even today and it seems that Satyam has made some very good offers. Hope that all my classmates are placed well and everyone is out from the placement process.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Day 3

I am officially out of the placement process now. I have taken the offer from Reliance Energy. To sum it up I have been able to achieve both my goals - switch to core business and get a financial breakthrough, and I am quite happy with the outcome.

By tomorrow morning three fourth of the batch would have at least one offer. I urgently need a good night sleep and would be back tomorrow with more details.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Day 2

Finally after all the big fuss, I have got an offer. I have one more important interview tomorrow and I have time till tomorrow evening to take a call on the first one.

I think one third of the students got placed by now and the rest are little concerned by now. But I see no reason they should worry. From tomorrow it will be literally a issue of fit and not much of anything else. Making a choice is the most difficult thing at ISB - More than the assignments and the exams, and that's where the biggest difficulty in life is.

I am kind of cutoff from the main scene as I was busy myself and would remain so tomorrow also; I will get a clear picture only on the day-after. Till then, keep guessing

Bad Ad - Standard Electricals

This is a deviation from ISB placements topic. But I felt that I must express my opinion about the ad of Standard Electricals that is being currently aired.

I have worked in engineering and remember those old days when engineers used to take pride in their professions and say leave it to experts. But slowly their expertise became a commodity and they had to become customer oriented (internal) and work according the requirements of customers. And this was way back in 1995.

Whoever has advised Standard Electricals to use the "Expert ka kaam expert pe chod dena chahiye" is completely wrong and has drowned lot of money down the drain. The ad leaves a negative feeling even to someone who is an engineer because the electrician character speaks all rubbish in the ad. I don't who is the ad maker trying to appeal to, is he appealing to the consumer by insulting him or is he appealing to the electrician, supposedly the expert.

Consumer awareness has gone up significantly and one can find information about everything from google or wikis and can make sense of common appliances and this ad concept is completely flawed. Whoever is behind this ad, are you listening?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Day 1

What a hectic day it was. Not for me but for those who were coordinating ADAG interviews. All those who get an offer from ADAG must treat Vijay and Varun for their effort. ADAG has definitely played a disruptive role today and we will know its effect by eod tomorrow. I don't have the numbers yet but enough people have already got their first offers. How many of them would accept is to be seen.

People were so concerned a week back but I am confident that every one is going to get something good by the end of this week.

That's all for now.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pink slips in India

The recent media coverage about TCS asking 500 employees to leave and Yahoo handing over pink slips to 40 employees has not been positive. I believe that this negative feeling is rooted mainly in the class beliefs and from what we have seen during the last 60 years.

Both companies and media have to be sensitive to the pink slip issue and see that it doesn't create negative coverage. Firms should take care of this issue by having a good outplacement process and media should avoid blowing it out of proportion.

I have been part of a situation where the firm had to lay off more than 600 employees within a very short time. The issue wasn't related to individual so much, but it was a regulatory shock to the business. But the CEO and Head-HR handled it pretty well by going beyond what they needed to do. Apart from negotiating for decent compensation for those who were getting laid off, they also worked closely with other firms that were interested to recruit the employees who were getting laid off. At the end of the whole thing all the employees who got laid off were more happy than those who remained behind.

While it may be difficult for every company to do something like this, they should take enough care that employees who have to be laid off are not emotionally disturbed and protect their brand equity among current and future employees.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Welcome to Class of 2009

Congratulations to everyone who made it to ISB Co 09. For each one selected there must 10 to 15 who must have got disappointed, so take this opportunity seriously and make the most out of it. The next year would be full of surprises, both pleasant and nasty. However much you prepare, the reality would be different and you are in for some shocks. One thing I can surely say is that each year things at ISB would better than previous year as the current batch keeps pushing the system more vigorously and administration keeps adapting and improving; but at the same time competition keeps increasing making it more and more tough each year.

Anyways all the admits have a great year of experience lying ahead and I wish all of you all the good luck. Let me share some tips so that you are better prepared for the roller-coaster ride at ISB:

1. Read books like "Snapshots from Hell", you will go through lot of similar experiences that the author describes in this book
2. Try to become friendly with maths and the greek symbols, particularly all those related to calculus and statistics. I found this amazing site with nice instruction videos that helped me survive - Mathtutor. You cannot master it anyway if you are already not, so just try to become familiar, that's enough.
3. Learn some stress busting mechanism - it could be meditation, yoga or sports. I chose the third one and started playing tennis, badminton and squash and believe me whenever I was playing regularly my grades improved drastically.
4. Manage your expectations, both from yourself and from the school. Don't expect to become someone else by the end of the course. You'll still be the same person, the one year education can only complement "you" - Read this article for a more detailed view.
5. Speak to few people who have done to B-school previously. They have gone through what you gonna go through and can provide a realistic perspective.
6. Be prepared to read. Get in to the habit of reading by taking out atleast an hour everyday.

That's all folks for now. Party hard, this is the time you can do it without having any assignment or project at the back of your mind. Do write to me if you have any specific queries. Good luck

Monday, February 11, 2008

Placements at ISB

Last year I was desperately searching for blog posts on placements at ISB but no one was writing anything about it. I have therefore decided to throw some light on light - don't jump the gun, I'm not going to write any numbers or details here, rather I would like to focus this about the emotions people are going through.

This is without doubt the most difficult part of the one-year-at-ISB. While it may appear that studies are the toughest, they can be handled pretty easily with focus and some hard work. It is more difficult for people to make choices and in particular career choices. ISB placements scene makes it all the more difficult. It is so much resembles the IPO process of Reliance Power.

When the high profile IPO was announced everyone was bullish, people were talking about how many demat accounts were opened and how the IPO broke so many records and so on. Yesterday and the day-before even after the recent turmoil in the markets, everyone was expecting the stock to go up straight and even lift the market as a result of that. But surprisingly the actual investors thought differently and stock ended less than its offer price, may there were too many flippers or may be too many novices, whatever it may be. End of the day stock ended lower than offer price and instead of making 18% return on day one (historical average return of IPO's), investors lost 17.27%.

While the averages always sound great, each individual story would be different. Some will ride the tide only to quickly slide later, some will get what they want, some will compromise, some will be disappointed.

Yesterday, after India won against Australia (I felt so good about India's bowling performance),Dhoni, in his interview made some excellent comments. He said, "it is so easy to plan and say you should do this and that but it is so difficult to implement," which is so true.

Outside world would be eagerly waiting for the averages and they would get what they want. Co 09 admits would want to know how much the average salary has gone and I'm sure they will have a lot to cheer about; no one would think about their case. The school is now raked 20th in the world by FT, Professors are excellent, peer group makes you work hard but at the end of the day, it's you who matters. What you believe and what you do would bring results for you and nothing else. How one takes advantage of the system is important than the system itself. ISB would definitely open so many opportunities that you wouldn't have even thought about earlier when one comes in, but by the end it becomes so difficult to make the choice and maintain focus. There will be so many distractions that it is easy to get lost in the stream.

The main point that I want to communicate through this post is that averages and statistics don't matter so much; what matters is what you do with the opportunity that you have got, what choices do you make, that's all. You are always the largest stakeholder in your life and it is your responsibility to deliver results that matter to you (and your family) the most. Keep wishing me Good luck :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Galli Cricket at ISB

While BCCI and other market makers are busy in creating newer formats and newer teams to rake in more moolah, a small group of us decided to get back to the most played format of cricket in India - Tennis ball galli cricket. There is no moolah involved and the objective is only entertainment.

Rules are simple - if the ball crosses the boundary directly, it's not a six instead the batsmen is out. Similarly there are no runs behind the wicket and players from both sides field all the time. This unconventional format has so many grey areas that would lead to information asymmetry, agency problems and moral hazard in a corporate scenario but we have been able to overcome all those issues by simply eliminating all economics and having only social aspects in the game.

Key players in this format as of now are - Amit Goel, Anshuman Srivatsava, Puneet Sakhuja, Mukund Chari, Rao Korupolu, Nishant Rawat, Pinaki Sarkar, Kairoze Motishah and we are expecting to gather more support in the coming weeks. We have kept this private and wouldn't want to attract too much attention and maintain our monopoly over the ground and the fun. Cheers

Can Government regulation eliminate the plastic bag troubles

There has been a significant increase in the usage of plastic bags over the last 10 to 15 years. While most of us are aware about the future problems associated with usage of plastic bags, we don't care much to do something about it. Couple of days back I found a very interesting news in TOI - Tax deterrent makes Irish spurn plastic bags (NYT article). It talks about the 33 percent tax that customers will have to pay and how this reduced the usage by 94%.

I don't know if I would be correct in saying that while free market is supposed to take everything into consideration, most of us who make up the market don't account long-term effects into our behavior. This could be due to lack of knowledge and information,sometimes due to "out of sight, out of mind" syndrome and mostly beacuse we are not paying full price.

I hope Indian Government also implement such measure to reduce plastic bag usage. It will cause some trouble initially but would definitely benefit everyone in the long run.

A pilot implementation to start with would be a good idea; based on the results a nation-wide launch can be done.

Meanwhile placement week is nearing and there is a definite change in the weather and environment. Application counters are ringing continuously things are getting warmed up. I'm expecting to see a war-like situation but the soldiers would be donning formal clothing instead of steel armor here.

The recent ranking has definitely got lots of attention, particularly from those who are planning to do their MBA in 2009 and I'm sure the competition would be much more this time. Fortunately the batch size for Class of 2009 would be larger and that should take care of any additional competition from foreign students.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Time for the next move

Life so far has been pretty fair to me. It threw many challenges in my way but every time I felt I hit a dead end, it opened many doors from unexpected directions. Just two more months now at ISB and I would be fulfilling one of my cherished dreams - receive graduate degree and throw my cap in the air.

Bonus article: Learn to experience
Sometimes I feel that life is amazingly simple. It just expects some simple things from you and in most cases fulfills one's expectations without much fuss.

But as we go ahead in life, it becomes so difficult to follow the simple basic rules, not that we don't know them but sometimes we don't care about them or sometimes we try to engineer them too much. I think this is the case for everything that is simple. We take for granted that if something is simple it can't be great but if we do a reality check we find that all the amazing things are nothing but simple.

Many times we read a book or listen to someone and expect to learn all the secrets of success. But we forget that one can never fully learn from experience of others. We can internalize something only when we experience it, only when we go through it. I think this is one reason a lot of emphasis was placed on Abhyasa in the traditional Indian learning model of gurukula. You listen to someone but you question it and then practice it to learn it by yourself. Ekalavya - one of the characters in Mahabharata proves that with practice you can master something on your own that others even with spoon feeding can't.

Most of us keep cribbing that we didn't have the opportunity to learn something because of situations but we fail to see the opportunities that lie around us day-in and day-out. I have seen that overcoming the fear of failure and putting oneself in a situation of vulnerability is the only way to experience and learn. Only when you open your mouth would you know how foolish you are; you have to be careful where you are opening your mouth though.

I would suggest a one-week test for those who believe in what I said above and I request you to write back to me about the results. Let me detail the one-week-plan-to-learn-learning from experience-from-day-to-day-activities:

1. First identify what you want to learn/master the most. Most of the times we want to learn things that are very close to what we are doing as we get maximum benefit from that. For example, many of us would want to learn how to interact with new people in a friendly way. Though this is not rocket science, from what I have seen, only one in ten would be able to do this easily, nine others would be trying to engineer this and then fail miserably.

2. Identify opportunities where you can experience this skill/behavior during the day. This opportunity could be at office or at home or anywhere. The setting is not important but understanding where you could get this opportunity is important. For example if you want to master negotiation skills, it is not necessary that you need to have big corporate deal to observe, you can as well get this opportunity on your next shopping trip or when you buy vegetables next time or even when you meet your boss to make some request, you just have to identify a situation in which there are differences in opinion.

3. Develop observational(experiencing) skills. This is one skill I have benefited a lot from. I have read about this technique long time back but can't recall where. What you have to do is while you are sitting or standing on ground, imagine that you are able to leave your body and reach the ceiling of the room you are in and observe yourself and everything around from 5 feet above. You can practice this skill whenever you are alone and this could be your first learning experience. You not only observe but also need to start taking a mental note of things

4. Do some reading about the thing you want to learn. A lot of has been written about anything and everything that man ever needs to know to live happily and with the help of google one can easily find information about anything. Grab some good material and go through it and note down things that you feel are important.

5. Get started. You know what you want to learn, you know when you can get an opportunity to experience it and lastly you know how to experience it and the next step is go for it. Prepare yourself and then go through the situation while observing what is happening and trying to deliberately do things that you want to which you normally would've avoided.

6. Review and reinforce. Once you go through an experience, you have to review and see if you have experienced it and whether you could learn/change something. You need not do it formally with a pen-and-paper; even a 5 minute self-review is good enough. At the end you need to decide how many more times you need to keep doing this consciously before you can become naturally yours at it.

I think it's time for me to stop now and see if some of the blog readers actually try this and give me a feedback. Bye for now and don't forget to wish me good luck.