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It is a safe bet to say that as you read this, many of you will have finished with your final rounds of the selection process, and are on your way to your dream business school. To you, I offer my heartiest congratulations. To those of you who have still a round or two left, I say don’t lose focus, it might take many mistakes to trip up, but you need only one good interview to get that admission you want. Either way, you’re at the threshold of a new career and a new life, and let me assure you, it is definitely going to be an exciting one. As one of our readers has pointed out in this issue, it is easy to lose your long term focus during the two years at business school, owing to the piles of assignments and slew of tests that are a common feature of MBA programmes. Do try to remember this, and maintain those long term goals in your mind as you tackle the short term ones. You might as well start now, before you start your course. Have you decided which sector you want to work in after your MBA? Of course, you have the whole of the first year to decide, but it would help a great deal if you have at least some idea about the major sectors in India that offer healthy careers. We have given you a brief overview of these sectors, as we had done earlier with unconventional fields, and we’ve even added the institutes that are known for their students getting into particular sectors. In this issue, you’ll also find advice from an SIMC alumnus about how to build your networking skills, and how to tap into the alumni network, which is, as you well know, one of the most important assets of business schools. If you liked what we at Advanc’edge MBA have offered you over the last year, and want to continue reading our magazine, do subscribe. Simply drop in a mail to and we shall do the rest. I shall leave with you with the immortal words of Garth Brooks. Too many times we stand aside And let the waters slip away,

Contributors Dr Suresh Srinivasan, Ankita Singh, Mayur Milan

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And say you’re satisfied


Choose to chance the rapids

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Aditya Prakash Iengar Editor Advanc’edge MBA October 2012 3

March 2014 COVER STORY Top sectors for MBA in India


STUDENT ARCHIVES Rahul Jalan IIM Indore, 2007 CAT 100 percentiler


MBA BUZZ How to choose your B-school: Essential parameters


B-SCHOOL VIBE B-school years: The swan song




SUCCESS STREET Networking: The alumni advantage

44 Decoding inflation: The strategies of the RBI

COUNTDOWN Top 10 women in business


SNIPPETS News in brief

CORPORATE WORLD The Microsoft challenge: What will Satya Nadella do?

STUDY HOUR Word Dose The boon of the neurotic



40 Thomas Cook takes over Sterling Holidays

47 Economic Indicators

52 54

56 Globescan 58 SuDoKu

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Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 5


Top sectors for MBA grads in India

With just a couple of more months left to start your MBA course, now is the time to ascertain in which sector you will eventually pursue a career. In this article, we give a lowdown on the four top sectors in India – FMCG, BFSI, IT/ITes and Consulting. }}} Advanc’edge Team FMCG


he fast moving consumer goods, or FMCG, industry primarily deals with the production, distribution and marketing of consumer packaged goods, i.e., those categories of products consumed at regular intervals, such as food and beverage, personal care, pharmaceuticals, plastic goods, paper and stationery and household products, etc. The industry is vast and offers a wide range of job opportunities in various functions. In India, the FMCG market growth over the past five years has been phenomenal, primarily due to consumers’ growing disposable income, which is directly linked to an increased demand for FMCG and services. The sector had a total market size of `1,425 billion in 2010, and is expected to expand to `1,800 billion by 2015.

What students prefer

A study, called Campus Track conducted by consultancy major Nielsen, shows that 36 per cent of management students from the top business schools in the country preferred the FMCG sector the most, followed by consulting (29 6

Advanc’edge MBA March 2014

per cent) and IT/ITes (20 per cent). Dinesh Kapoor, Executive Director of Nielsen confirms, “With the FMCG growth in the country being driven by consumption, the sector continues to find favour with students who see it as a sector with huge growth potential.”

Major FMCG segments in India

Food and beverages: This segment is by far the largest in the sector, comprising the food processing industry, health beverage industry, mineral waters, bread, biscuits, chocolate and confectionary. The major companies are HUL, ITC, Tata Tea, Godrej, Nestle and Amul.

The FMCG sector had a total market size of `1,425 billion back in 2010, and is expected to expand to around `1,800 billion by the year 2015.

Personal care: This segment includes wash products like soaps and shampoos, oral care products like toothpaste and toothbrush, cosmetics, etc. With the swelling disposable incomes and a greater number of products and brands to choose from, the Indian skin care/cosmetics market, although currently at a more nascent stage than others, is valued at $274 million, as of 2011. The primary players in this segment are HUL, Proctor & Gamble, Dabur, and Colgate-Palmolive. Household care: This segment is growing at a rate of around 10 per cent in the last half a decade. Products in this segment include detergents, soaps, cleaners, etc. Major players include HUL, Godrej, Proctor & Gamble, Henkel and others. Another large segment of the FMCG sector is the tobacco industry, where the biggest player in the Indian market is ITC.

The Pros and Cons

Pros:  Huge potential, given the expanding urban boundaries and the as yet largely untapped rural market.

COVER STORY  The upward trending changing lifestyle of today’s consumers and their increase in income levels mean an enormous opportunity for newer and more varied products to succeed.  The government has announced various policy and fiscal measures, including 100 per cent FDI in the food processing segment. This entails a growth of at least 10 per cent by 2015, which is a huge potential.  The retailing sector is also a burgeoning one, and since it is intricately linked to the FMCG sector, it means that the relative growth potential of the latter is also very high.  There are already well known brands in the sector, both international and domestic, which creates competition and increases investment potential. Cons:  The world today largely relies on emerging technology. However, in the FMCG sector, there is less scope of investing in this technology and achieving economies of scale.  The export potential in this sector is not high.  If import restrictions are removed, the domestic brands

may face tough competition from more securely placed international brands.

A career in the FMCG sector

Traditionally, sales and marketing jobs have always been the most preferred roles in the FMCG sector as compared to other sectors. Once you make an entry into the FMCG industry, there are thousands of opportunities to take advantage of, and the pay packages too tend to skyrocket. In a very short period of time, with careful planning, one can easily outmatch the pay in corresponding roles in other sectors. Moving from roles like sales to advertising or the like is quite common in this industry, which helps create a very diverse experience set. With an MBA from a reputed institution, the starting role for a candidate in this sector would be that of an Area Manager or its equivalent. A thorough knowledge of the product and its pricings, related regulations and basic understanding of sales and branding are required. Another starting role would be that of Brand Manager. Here, the focus is more on branding, advertising and marketing, and on creating a blend of marketing initiatives,

branding communication monitoring systems.



Usually, the size of the pay package depends on the business school the candidate has passed out from. According to Blazio Mascarenhas from ACH Consultants, a competent student recruited from any one of the top management institutes in the country can easily expect to draw upwards of `14 lakh per annum. “If the student has had some relevant experience before his degree, it counts for even more. In such a case, he or she can easily secure a `18 lakh plus package,” Mascarenhas said, adding that while a student recruited from a middle tier institute can expect a salary of around `6-8 lakh per annum, after a few years and by making the right choices like shifting to a different role or performing exceedingly well, the salary will shoot up to `15-17 lakh per annum easily.

What you need to succeed

Within the many roles in the FMCG sector, a common factor is the need to be on your toes constantly, since the sector is highly dynamic. Depending on the role, the requirements vary from possessing knowledge of sales, branding, marketing and advertising, to a working knowledge of the information systems involved in these roles. As an entry level manager, the best move would be to embrace more than one role along the above mentioned verticals. FMCG companies are best known for their evolved and exciting marketing careers. In the marketing function, a student can aspire to be in brand management/ product management or sales management. Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 7

COVER STORY On the other spectrum, in a sales function, one can begin as a territory manager and grow up in the sales force managing larger areas or zones or regions. This demands very aggressive travel schedules, and a lot of people and team management,

leadership and social skills. Many FMCG companies expect even a brand manager to have exposure in sales, as only if an executive has worked in the field can he or she have a better understanding in developing national marketing strategies for a brand.

B-schools best known for recruitment from FMCG companies IIM Bangalore, SIBM Pune, SPJIMR Mumbai, NMIMS Mumbai, JBIMS Mumbai



he word recession has been one of the most dreaded words in the economy of any country in the world for some time now. Hardest hit, naturally, is the finance sector. However, it is a fact that the Indian finance sector largely remained resilient in the aftermath of the global financial turmoil. In fact, according to a Central survey, the BFSI sector is currently estimated to employ around 4045 lakh people and is expected to provide job opportunities for 80-90 lakh people by 2022.

What students prefer

Although the IT/ITes turned out to be the most preferred in campus placements in leading Indian B-schools in 2013, students still feel that financial institutions show some of the highest potential for growth. According to a study by consultancy major Nielsen, around 19 per cent of all the students felt the BFSI sector shows a lot of promise. This trend is also evidenced by last year’s recruitment figures at management institutes. CITI Group actually clinched a spot among the top ten most preferred recruiters, with retail banks like ICICI Bank, HSBC Bank and Axis Bank too gaining ground significantly.

most valuable of professional opportunities in the BFSI space. However, according to Professor Rama Seth, a professor of Finance and Control at IIM Calcutta, the general corporate finance taught in business schools in India today basically ignores this intermediation sector. So, it is very important for a student to take some electives, prior to graduating, in financial markets and instruments. “The sector is currently in the throes of change, both abroad and here. After 2007, a lot of people are rethinking what the role of banks should be, how the intermediary sector will evolve in a way that makes the domestic economy resilient and promotes growth, particularly in the SME sector, which doesn’t always have access to other capital markets that the bigger corporations do,” Prof. Seth explains, and adds,

“This evolution is critical to MBA students, and they must expend their intelligence and energies in figuring out how to develop this sector. We definitely need smart people in this sector.”

Why the BFSI sector?

The fundamental reason for choosing a career in this sector remains, as always, the same, Prof. Seth says. “At the end of the day, the banking and financial sector is an important part of development of economy. Moreover, since now the private sector is playing a more and more important role, it makes a career in this industry a very exciting prospect,” Prof Seth says. There is also the knowledge that one gets in the course of the work. For example, one gets to deal with a market that has a wide range of corporates. Hence, while

Banking sector — the ground reality It is a known fact that financial intermediation is probably the 8

Advanc’edge MBA March 2014

COVER STORY dealing with these corporates, one finds out about other sectors as well, and their financial workings. So, a lot of knowledge can be gained about the most important thing of any company, any market, or indeed, any economy — the financial side. As a whole, the BFSI sector has been growing despite the global recession. Furthermore, along with the growth of the Indian economy, the need for more banking services and products will shoot up, necessitating the need for employment and consequently opening up lucrative job opportunities. Also, as the risk factor increases with a growing economy, the insurance sector will see a lot of transactions, increasing business and opportunities. So, the BFSI sector promises a robust growth, which translates into healthy career growths for budding MBA degree holders.

The Pros and the Cons

One of the biggest advantages of the BFSI sector is that it offers a variety of roles and responsibilities. Because of the wide range of products and services, the types of customers vary hugely, which gives an excellent mix of relationship, sales, operations, analysis and product management opportunities. Another advantage in this sector is the kind of pay you can expect. Someone from one of the leading B-schools in the country can easily earn around `20 to 25 lakh per annum in a couple of years.

Furthermore, the BFSI sector has used the advantage of newer and more efficient technologies to the fullest, which means working in top-notch settings with state of the art technology is a safe given. However, one has to be careful not to be unduly optimistic. During economic slowdowns, this sector faces many changes. As with any process of change, there will be some resistance in implementing and maintaining these changes. Hence, bright fresh MBA graduates looking for dynamic developmental roles may have to restructure their outlook to bring about these necessary changes.

The BFSI sector has been growing despite the global recession, offering healthy career opportunities for budding MBA degree holders. What a student must have

According to Prof Seth, students must enrol for some management development programmes, like ifloat and other MDPs, sometimes with a foreign collaborator. For example, IIM-C runs a simulation game for the banking sector, where all the considerations involved are used. Students get to understand

all the various parameters that go into being a bank manager. However, some kind of additional tool kit is definitely needed. Earlier, a job in the BFSI sector meant a lucrative deal. Due to the slowdown across the world, things have changed somewhat. Today, the most important attributes a student should have are to be able work hard and handle a lot of responsibility, apart from the obvious set of analytical skills and risk assessment abilities.


The annual salary for an entrant in the BFSI sector depends on the tier of the management institute from which the candidate is recruited. At the entry level, an MBA graduate from one of the top 10 Indian B-schools can easily command an annual package of over `17-19 lakh per annum. Subsequently, by carefully choosing roles and jobs, the salary can easily cross `25 lakh in a few years. For a candidate from a tier two B-school, an annual figure of around `8-to 10 lakh is quite possible. After a few years, the disparity dissolves, and anyone with relevant experience and an MBA degree can get a salary upwards of `20 lakh in a few years.

B-schools best known for recruitment from BFSI companies

IIM Calcutta, IIM Shillong, XLRI Jamshedpur, NMIMS Mumbai, IIFT Delhi, TAPMI Manipal, LBSIM Delhi.



oday, all companies big and small are driven by technology, so muh so that in a report listing the most valued brands in the world,

eight out of the top 10 companies are from the IT/ITes sector! IT is the study, design, development, implementation, support or management of

computer-based information systems, particularly software applications and computer hardware. On the other hand, ITeS is a form of outsourced service that Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 9

COVER STORY has emerged due to presence of IT in various fields like banking and finance, telecom, insurance, etc. The Indian IT/ITes industry has transformed India’s image on the global platform and fuelled the economic growth of the country, employing almost 10 million Indians. Both Indian and international firms across sectors largely depend on the IT/ITes providers to make their business processes efficient and streamlined. Furthermore, global BFSI clients account for over 40 per cent of Indian IT vendors’ revenues. Exports from the ITITes industry are forecast to grow by 13.8 per cent a year to reach $130 billion by 2016-17 from $68.7 billion in 2011-12.

The students’ point of view

Placement reports of top-ranked management institutes in the country show that the IT/ITes is consistently among the top three sectors that are most preferred by MBA graduates. In fact, in 2013, IT/ITes was actually the sector which, on an average, showed the most preference for students across business schools.

Sector watch – what’s next

Dr. M.P. Sebastian, professor and chair, Information Technology & Systems Area at IIM Kozhikode, feels that as far as an MBA graduate is concerned, the IT sector in India will continue to grow. “The Indian IT industry will have to necessarily move up the value chain. This is where MBAs fit in very well,” Prof. Sebastian says, and adds, “Currently, business agility is the most important criterion. One has to be agile if one’s solutions are to respond to the market situation.” Prof. Sebastian feels that the next big thing is cloud computing. “Nowadays, nobody can survive without IT support and solutions. 10

Advanc’edge MBA March 2014

But while companies used to build, along with all the essentials, the IT infrastructure too, now, they are more reliant on cloud solutions,” he says. Cloud solutions will be most beneficial to the small and medium scale firms, particularly IT start-ups, as the initial investment becomes very small as opposed to having to install a physical setup. “This will help IT start-ups expand on the fly,” says Prof. Sebastian. Naturally, this will mean that the demand for managers in this sector will only keep increasing. With more such product developments in the offing, there will be a lot of opportunism for both core IT people, who will design the products, and for MBA graduates, who will have to take the products to the clients and make sure that they receive the business aligned solutions they were seeking.

Inside view

The IT/ITeS sector is still one of the largest and most profitable sectors in the country, although it has had its share of troubles, like all other sectors, due to the economic downturn. “Opportunities are fewer, as companies are more cautious,” says Anirban Mukherjee, an IT

consultant with one of the world’s top multinational IT companies. “However, if you have what it takes, you will be rewarded.” He adds that as opposed to earlier, when India was the biggest outsourcer of ITes, other countries like Malaysia and the Philippines are coming up in a big way, which actually means that international opportunities are in the offing. However, Mukherjee says, “If you’re armed with an MBA, the possibilities are absolutely endless. However technically sound you may be, in the long run, having an MBA degree from one of the top colleges is the best thing you can do.”

The Pros and Cons

Pros:  Most sought after in the world, as Indians are more comfortable with English than other countries like Japan, China or Germany.  Most opportunities for onsite projects, i.e., more global exposure than any other sector  Mostly young professionals in the industry, meaning a dynamic workforce and creative thinking  Fat, lucrative salaries

COVER STORY Cons:  Personal life shrinks, have to be on call most of the time  Depending on who the client is, timing of the job might not be fixed

What you need to succeed

The first thing that’s needed in a field like the IT/ITeS sector is the ability to handle pressure, given that with the constant advent of technology, the world keeps becoming smaller. But that’s far from being all there is. “One needs to have a connect with the field of IT,” says Prof. Sebastian. “But one also needs to be extremely agile, mentally and creatively, as the IT industry is one of the most dynamic sectors.” He adds, “They must also be very comfortable with changing dynamics, as something new is

being invented almost every day!” A background in IT will also help, but is not necessarily a must for an MBA graduate.

A career in the IT/ITeS sector

The best and most lucrative job one can get is as a business analyst. This is true of almost all organisations. There are also roles like system analyst, technical architect, internet marketing, computer information specialist, information systems manager, etc, and more traditional roles like engagement manager, in presales, etc. There are also profiles that involve client handling, overall management of a project with respect to time, scope and budget.


As with the other sectors, the pay package depends on the B-school

the candidate has passed out from. A competent MBA graduate from any top Indian business school can easily expect to draw upwards of `12 lakh per annum. “If the student has had some relevant experience, he or she can easily secure a `15 lakh plus package,” D’Souza said. A candidate from a middle tier institute can expect a salary of around `6-8 lakh per annum. “After a few years and by making the right choices, the salary will increase up to `15-17 lakh per annum easily,” D’Souza said.

B-schools best known for recruitment from BFSI companies Departments of Management Studies at IIT Bombay, Delhi, Kharagpur, Madras, NITIE Mumbai, SCMHRD Pune, ISB Hyderabad.



usiness consulting mainly deals with helping restructure companies using subjective and objective views of external consultants. Consultants can be engaged for their expertise in a particular industry or a sector, or as temporary staff for a one-time project. Today, consulting services are also increasingly used by the government to improve efficiency. The hiring of MBA graduates is pretty robust in the domain even in an economic slowdown. This is because consultants are more in demand, as companies need advice on how to grow in a recession. Even IT companies like Infosys and Wipro are getting into the field of business consulting.

The lucrative business

Consulting has seen growth rates of over 20 per cent in the last

two decades. Global consultancy firms such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Bain and Co, etc have been consistently recruiting graduates from the top institutes. Another reason for consulting being popular with students is that it allows to work with different organisations across sectors. So, it never gets boring and the candidate is constantly taking on different roles and responsibilities. “There are two main reasons for the popularity. The first is the flexibility it allows in terms of the wide range of business facets a consultant can work on. The second is the glamour associated with the consultant role,” says Prof Sankarshan Basu, Chairperson, Office of Career Development Services, IIM Bangalore.

Types of Business Consulting

Strategy consultants offer strategic

advice to the clients to help them tackle commercial issues they may be facing now or expect to face in the future. They also make recommendations for increasing profits, newer markets, technology upgrades or improving talent pool. Bain & Company, McKinsey & Company are global consulting firms in this sphere. Domain consulting is specific to domains such as telecom, pharmaceutical or manufacturing. This involves bringing in experienced people from the same domain to give recommendations regarding the best practices and their execution. Technology consulting focuses on advising businesses on how best to use information technology to meet their business objectives. This might include customer relationship management, e-procurement, reverse auctions, Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 11

COVER STORY web collaboration tools, knowledge and content management. Firms such as TCS and HCL are experts in technology consulting. Most big consulting firms have a practice dedicated to Corporate Finance, as it is highly profitable for both consultants as well as clients to get the valuation of a deal done inexpensively. The consultants advise on the valuation, types of finance to be raised and to be offered, and the post acquisition strategy as well. Deloitte, PwC, etc offer corporate finance consulting. Accounting consultants offer consultation on data necessary for preparation of financial statements and reports required by different statutory and regulatory authorities as well as internal management. Deliotte & Touche and KPMG are among the players in the sector. Some businesses have inhouse consulting departments. Such divisions help in quick execution of projects, since they are a part of the team and are familiar with the corporate culture. The Tata Strategic Management Group (TSMG) is one such division.

Career growth

Fresh MBA graduates are recruited as analysts. At first they do only research, make presentations and study the market. Later, they are increasingly given more exposure. They carry out assessments to determine the risks involved in a venture and ways to minimise them. Analysts develop strategies and lead small teams to implement those strategies. Experienced MBAs become management consultants; they provide advice and expertise to maximise growth or improve business performance. They are primarily concerned with the strategy, structure, management and operations of an organisation. 12

Advanc’edge MBA March 2014

This role can last up to 3-4 years. A senior consultant becomes a manager, typically after around 5 years of service. This is basically halfway to becoming a partner. A partner is a senior consultant who has been with the company for about a decade, and is given a percentage of profits.

Some Pros and Cons

Pros:  High levels of income and perks  Large scope for development of analytical, organisational, and communication skills  Direct involvement in functioning and future of firms, giving greater job satisfaction  Potential to get a wide network across firms and sectors Cons:  Hours are long  Extensive travelling is required in most cases  Stress levels can be high, since consultants often work on tight deadlines and schedules


If a candidate has an MBA from any of the top B-schools in India, the starting salary could be anywhere from `10 to `14 lakh. An international consultancy could offer even more.

What students need

A career as a management consultant demands a high level of intellect, and offers a lucrative salary, social recognition and prestige. Therefore, certain skills and attributes are necessary for a successful career in this sector. These are: • Ability to identify client problems. • Suggestion and implementation of appropriate solutions. • High-level critical business thinking ability. • Strong skills in spreadsheet and financial modeling. • Ability to understand operations and market dynamics.

B-schools best known for recruitment from Consulting companies IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, XLRI Jamshedpur, ISB Hyderabad, IMI Delhi, IIT Kharagpur.

Apart from these major sectors, there are also other fields in which the demand for quality MBA graduates is going up. These include Infrastructure, Energy, Healthcare, Hospitality, Media, Sports, etc. These have already been covered in previous Advanc’edge issues. A

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‘The B-school years are transformative’ RAHUL JALAN is a 2007 CAT 100 percentiler. He studied at IIM Indore, and afterwards, co-founded an e-learning company called Biziga, which tries to connect the theoretical concepts learned in the classroom to practical aspects of management. In an interview with Puja Shah, he talks about his years at IIM Indore, his summer internship and how his degree has helped him realise his goals.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a co-founder of Biziga, where we develop business simulation software that are used for corporate training and also by business schools to train their students on various management fields like marketing, finance, operations etc. At Biziga, I look after customer acquisition, designing learning tools and facilitating training sessions. Over the last two years, we have trained over 6,000 people across MNCs like JPMC, Petronas, Airtel, Morgan Stanley, etc, and at several B-schools in India. Before Biziga, l was working at Raheja Universal Ltd as an internal strategic consultant. I had joined IIM Indore as a fresher, after getting my engineering degree in Instrumentation from NIT Trichy.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

This is a question one is often asked in admission interviews as well as job interviews later on! Actually, by the time I was in the final months of my undergraduate programme, I was quite clear about my entrepreneurial ambitions. At that time though, I felt handicapped due to my lack of experience as well as business knowledge. Pursuing an MBA degree, therefore, was a natural choice. 14

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Why did you choose to study in IIM Indore? Given the way IIMs are worshipped in India, it should come as no surprise when one chooses IIM Indore over other B-schools, isn’t it? I had an option to choose between Indore and Kozhidode though. After dicussing with seniors and going through the popular forums, there seemed little difference between the two institutes. In the end, it boiled down to the fact that I had lived in south India for a long time, and I thought a change of scene would be nice.

Tell us about your experience of the two years you spent at IIM Indore. If I could choose one word to describe my experience at IIM Indore, I would say that those two years were transformative. We have all heard about business schools being highly rigorous training grounds, but nothing in the world can prepare you for the first three months there. It was especially true for IIM Indore, where the 100 per cent attendance rule was strictly enforced. A typical day would start with waking at 6 am, go for yoga or exercise, get ready, run to class (gulping down some breakfast on the way), attend lectures till lunch, write a surprise test immediately after lunch, complete assignments, dinner, more assignments, prepare


We’ve all heard about B-schools’ highly rigorous training grounds, but nothing in the world can prepare you for the first 3 months there.

for next day’s lectures, and finally, only if possible, sleep for two to four hours! After those initial months, you get used to this routine, and then you start enjoying group discussions with tea and snacks at the late night canteen. Surprisingly, that’s where a lot of the learning and bonding occurs. You meet so many absolutely brillant minds, and there is heaps to learn just by interacting with them. That’s probably the part of your business school life you’d remember the most! As far as academics is concerned, the faculty is extremely approachable. Classes are highly discussion oriented and many of the professors leave you wanting more! You realise that it s more about what you take away from the class than what the professor teaches you directly. So in a sense, the people who are more sincere with their efforts benefit the most. Another new aspect for

me was to find most batchmates becoming extremely competitive when it came to grades. In a way, that’s a good thing, since not only does it push you to perform even better, it prepares you well for the post MBA life as well.

Where did you go for your summer internship? How did you find it?

I did my internship at Cypress Semiconductors, in a marketing strategy role. We had a small team of three people reporting to the global product head in the US. Our task was to identify the key segments and applications that Cypress should target with upcoming products. It was quite challenging, as we had to understand the technological trend and forecast which applications would witness significant growth over the next 10 year timeframe. It involved meticulous research from reports and other secondary data sources.

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STUDENT ARCHIVES That was my first experience in a corporate setting and I absolutely loved the work culture at Cypress. Employees were always up for a game of cricket after work. Lunch time discussions on the future trends in technology and latest gizmos to hit the market were equally fascinating.

Interacting with a great bunch of fellow students was the most enjoyable part of my business school life.

What part of your business school did you enjoy the most? Was there anything that you disliked? In an engineering institute, the diversity among students is low, as many of them have had similar life expereinces. An MBA institute, however, is totally different in this regard, as there are many students with prior work experience, those from a non-engineering background, apart from the engineers. They bring a lot of different perspectives into the discussions, be it in the class or outside. Personally, interacting with a great bunch of fellow students was the most enjoyable part of the B-school life. Dislike is a strong word. I would rather say that I felt it would be easy to get lost in your short term focuses, as you are always thinking about the next assignment, the next test and then the next job interview, and less about long term career planning and what you really want to achieve.

Do you think if given a chance you would do things differently, or better than you did, in your B-school? If I were to say that I lived my life to perfection at IIM Indore, it would be a blatant lie. So yes, there certainly are things I could have done better. In hindsight, there are certain subjects to which

Was the entire B-school experience as you expected it to be? Did it live up to your expectations? And how? It was certainly more academically demanding than I had expected. One key objective for me was to arm myself with the skills required for entrepreneurship, and in that one aspect, I would say the B-school experience was only partially useful.

How have your MBA degree and your MBA network helped you to reach where you are today? In my opinion, there are three important takeaways from the course. First, of course, is the technical aspect, i.e., the subject knowledge. The second is that your overall personality and confidence level receive a tremendous boost. You tend to understand how to go about thinking in various scenarios. That’s a difficult skill to develop elsewhere. The third is the network effect. Your batchmates and other alumni are placed at influential positions in some of the best firms in the country. It certainly opens a few doors when you need it. Even when you approach people directly, an IIM credential does come in handy in securing client meetings.

What advice would you give to students on how to make the most of their two years at a B-school?

Tips for aspirants Pick your battles: Every MBA aspirant should learn to pick one’s own battles. It is often seen that a few people are so enthusiastic that they try to participate in everything and end up not contributing significantly in any! Focus: Once you learn to pick your battles, learn to focus on the things you want to do. Leave out the irrelevant matter, and concentrate on what you’re doing. Network: Develop your network and connections. Talk to more people and understand their perspectives. These relationships won’t just make the B-school journey more memorable, but will last for a lifetime.


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I didn’t pay much attention, although I need that knowledge on a daily basis now. Apart from that, if I get a chance again, I would like to enroll for the student exchange programme, where you can study for one term in a university abroad.

Take your studies seriously, but not too seriously. Participate as much as you can in B-school fests and events. You tend to meet the best minds from other schools at these events, and to able to compete against the best people from the industry is definitely a confidence booster. Also, it is a fact that the competitions make you prepare more thoroughly than you would for a typical assignment. Consquently, more often than not, you learn far more. A


How to choose your B-school:

Essential parameters With GD-PIs around the corner and numerous calls to convert, the whole process of choosing the right business school can get quite exhaustive. Consider these factors before making the final decision.

}}} Advanc’edge Team


iven that the vast majority of business school applicants seek their MBAs to obtain an advanced position and/or higher salary, it is important that you pick the best business school, one that suits your needs perfectly. When you are about to invest several lakhs on furthering your education, you want to be thorough in your research to determine if it is the right path for you, and which programme will reap the greatest rewards. Most of you all will have already chosen your top schools and will be hoping to convert your calls into admissions, but what happens when you have to make a choice between, for instance, two of your top schools? This article will help you decide which B-school would be the right fit for you. You need not consider all parameters; just pick those that are highest on your priority list.


First and most importantly, you need to ask yourself certain pertinent questions – Is the

school you are trying for offering the specialisation you are interested in? Is the institute known for placements in your chosen career field? Interest in a particular field or subject is a vital ingredient in the choice of a B-school, which is why some B-schools have become tantamount to the specialisation they offer. For example, XLRI and TISS are well known for Human Resources, MICA for Advertising, IRMA for Rural Management and NITIE for Industrial Management. Tuhin Verma, founder and brand design consultant, Honeybee Design, said, “I always knew I wanted to be in advertising, so I

It is important to know what field you want to be placed in. Once you know this, choosing an MBA programme becomes much easier.

joined MICA, which is a pioneer in education and training for professionals aspiring to make a mark in the Branding, Media and Communications industry.” But there are other MBA programmes known for general management with a focus on specific fields, or have excellent placements in particular sectors. Nearly all general management MBA programmes offer far more than core management skills. IIM-C, for example, is where you might apply if you want to work in finance. Therefore, it is important to know what field you want to be placed in. Once you know this, choosing an MBA programme becomes much easier. Once you know which skills you want to focus on, you are in a better position to consider which MBA is right for you.

Ranking and reputation

MBA rankings from top publications like Business Today, Economic Times, etc are great tools to compare business schools for placements, alumni satisfaction and value for money. However, don’t base Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 17

MBA BUZZ your decision completely on rankings, as the methodologies used in each ranking might be completely different, and the percentage of responses might also differ. In some surveys, only 60-65 per cent of the alumni might have responded. Therefore, it is incorrect to gauge the quality of an MBA programme by its ranking, but it is a great tool to get an overview of the top MBA programmes. A factor that need not specially be emphasised is the reputation a given management institute commands and its brand image. While it is natural for older established institutes to have a better reputation, this is not always the case. Many students opt for the newer IIMs for their brand name, even though they might not be highly ranked. Ultimately what matters is the impact the institute has over one’s entire life and career, and not just one particular job.

and which Advanc’edge MBA has covered extensively in previous issues, provide placement information about the last batch in a comprehensive manner. You get to know how many students were placed, which companies came to recruit, how many offers were made per student, what was the highest and average salary, etc. Additionally, you will be able to see how many graduates obtain a position in your own field of choice in a given year, and thus can adequately assess if it is the right fit for you. But to get the real

One of the most important factors to consider is the return on your investment. If you graduate from a top B-school, your placement should take care of the loan amount easily. But there are some top schools that do not charge an exorbitant amount of fees. In this case, the loan can be paid in half the time frame that it usually does. If you consider

Checking the school’s career placement statistics is the next step. Placement details, which are generally available on the school’s website,

Overall ranking and reputation Placement record Return on Investment Alumni feedback and class diversity Faculty Infrastructure

Post-MBA Salary and Increase in Salary are two metrics that MBA aspirants should research. Also look into the geographical location of the jobs. The salary pre-MBA and post-MBA should be calculated in one currency, taking into consideration the living expense of the city.

Return on investment

Placement details


picture, it is necessary to check placement reports of at least the last three years. Read the names of the companies that regularly recruit from them to see if any interest you. Another important detail to check is the number of offers per student. This signifies the amount of choice that a student has in terms of companies and the jobs they offer at the top B-schools.

Rank 1

Rank 2

Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta

Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta Department of Management Studies, IIT Roorkee Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

Source: Business Today


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MBA BUZZ value for money, FMS Delhi is ranked first among top 100 B-schools in India; considering this parameter, the top ranked (overall) IIM-A is at number 12. So if you are going to take an education loan, researching on ROI will be helpful. You could also speak to alumni about ROI.

Alumni feedback and class diversity The positions occupied in the corporate world by the alumni give an ample evidence of the standing of the school. This goodwill is often translated into better placements. Generally, the older the school, the more distinguished is its alumni. The information about alumni is readily available on the websites, brochures, or generally in the alumni databases. Class diversity is an important parameter too. It influences the classroom experience and post-MBA employment trends, and diversifies the reach of the business school brand. Look for diversity in experience, more than diversity based on geographical background. Alumni often cite how they have learned more from their classmates than from professors through case discussions and group tasks.

Class diversity influences the classroom experience, post-MBA employment trends, and diversifies the reach of the business school brand. With such interaction, students broaden their horizons and are exposed to a range of cultures, experiences and opinions. If the selection process of the institute is stringent, it ensures that the class is composed of a diverse model. Hence, the experience of a B-school gets richer.


A judicious mix of full-time and visiting faculty is crucial for any good institute. While the fulltime faculty teach students the fundamentals of management and oversee development of their skills, the visiting faculty gives the much-needed industry exposure and valuable insights into the corporate world.

The vision and excellence of the full-time faculty is not just in terms of academic qualification but also in researches carried out, papers published, projects undertaken, and the first hand experience of the practicability of solutions juxtaposed with the visiting faculty’s experience of having done the real thing. The best way to know about an institute’s faculty is to get in touch with students currently studying there.


Adequate and state-of-the-art infrastructure is an important determinant to judge whether the school offers qualitative environment conducive to learning. This comprises a state-of-the-art computer lab, a high-speed Internet connection, a well-stocked library with subscriptions to management literature, and classrooms duly furnished with facilities for teaching with the help of audiovisual aids. A fully residential programme fosters all-round development as peer-group and faculty interaction is not just restricted to the class hours. Therefore, infrastructure plays a crucial part in this learning process. A

Rank 3

Rank 4

Rank 5

Xavier Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi Department of Management Studies, IIT Delhi S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management, IIT Bombay Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta Management Development Institute, Gurgaon Management Development Institute, Gurgaon

Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mum bai Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar International Management Institute, New Delhi Department of Management Studies, ISM, Dhanbad

Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 19


B-school years: The swan song

What happens to MBA students in their second year, when studies and placements take centre stage? It is all about keeping up with what’s happening, no matter how tough the studies are and how nerve-wracking the placements promise to be. With an apparent levity, ANKITA SINGH writes from within the haloed confines of a business school for the last time.


y second innings at IMT Ghaziabad started with the promises of a better performance that my parents extracted from me. Bruised as I was from my summer internship, I gave them that promise as readily as I could. All of that went pretty much out of the window when I realised that I had misread the timings of the train that was supposed to ferry me back. I understood then that no matter what I promise, I am like water which quickly flows back to where it belongs. Even Rajnikanth would be unable to reform me, and that’s saying a lot.

B-school Survival Kit: * Conditions Apply- This is just an indicative list. You can keep all of this or none. Just don’t forget to enjoy and cherish this one-of-a-kind journey. All the best! You will need:

1. One large dose of pragmatism

After I had successfully established my dominion over the quarters that IMT had provided me, I remember thinking that I was going to be the star student that this institute had never seen before. Visions of Prannoy Roy interviewing me and Arnab Goswami treating me with deference flashed before my eyes. Soon, though, the strong headwinds in the form of incomprehensible subjects and even more incomprehensible faculty had me cowering under the very sheets I had promised to wash a few days back. I am often told and advised that when it comes to something beyond our control, one should expect less and just embrace whatever gets thrown our way. I now think that if I had accepted this simple yet effective pill, I would have been a lot less disappointed and disillusioned.

2. Two tablespoons of optimism

The sordid beginning of this soliloquy aside, optimism does help. In situations when one has to deal with myriad egos and concerns while trying to finish a project whose deadline (more often than not) has expired, optimism is the only thing that will keep those hands and mind working.

3. A large dollop of individuality

If there is one thing I realised in the chaos that was the first year, it was that I could never be someone who sits in the library for hours on end.


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B-SCHOOL VIBE Smarting from that ignominious occurrence, I landed in front of the now-familiar black gates and wondered what IMT would have in store for me this time around. I happily settled down in solitary comfort, since being a “senior” provided me the privilege and anonymity of a single room. Hopes somewhat raised, I started looking forward to an eventful year. Little did I know how eventful it was going to be.

The rough stuff

The lectures started and with the Delhi sun beating down on me, I longed for the air conditioned

comfort of our classrooms. But there too I had little respite, as the Sales Management professor had decided to make us all hot around our collars. With his stringent demands that ranged from punctuality (so much so that even a one-minute delay would cost us an attendance) to preparation (which translated to drinking in every word in the references provided) before his lectures, he had us running around like scared puppies. Nothing — and I mean nothing — seemed to satisfy him and we threw parties on days when he deigned to give us the faint hint of a smile. I am

The practical guide* Neither could I be the sports freak who could be located on the field in case a missing person report is registered. I was what they call “the creative type”, the kind who proclaims to have something innovative in their heads which stubbornly refuses to give show during examination time. I am the quintessential dilettante — I sang a little, I danced a bit, I wrote and I spoke. I was never the winner, always the dabbler. I did my fair share of studying during the exams, though, and that enabled me to keep my head afloat. To cut a long story short, be yourself. There are a million others, but just one you.

4. A generous scoop of energy

One needs a lot of this during presentations when the only thing one gets to hear is “SWOT” and precious little of anything else. This also comes in handy when one day before the end semesters, there are a dozen slide decks to memorise and each deck invariably has a half century of slides. It is almost as if the faculty thinks that anything less than the magical 50 is unconscionably under-par. It is also something that one is glad to have when out of a class of 60 odd folks, one gets the highest grade, because the assignment handed in had something different from the run-of-the-mill stuff.

5. Humility

Last on my rather long list is the one thing that will ensure that everything gets mixed just right. Don’t let this fizzle out even if you were among those who got a 99.99 percentile in their respective entrance exams and think that the world has to work according to your wishes. The best of the best are also the most humble, even after having achieved everything that they dreamed of and more.

quite proud to admit that out of the four (or was it five?) occasions I opened my mouth (out of my own volition or because I was forced to), I managed to give one response that met his approval. I think I heard violins playing in the background that blissful day. Everything else too seemed to carry that same flaovur. The rest of the subjects weren’t that demanding, but that didn’t mean that we had it any easy there either. We were asked to write papers with word limits that appeared to be designed to test our patience limits. Brand Management saw this mortal memorising weird pyramids which make no sense to me to this day, but which I whip out every time I am asked about anything that has to do with Branding. The services of Maslow and Keller have been utilised innumerable times and I am still not done with them.

The good stuff

God did have mercy on me, and there were a few good days sprinkled here and there to help me survive. I remember when I was asked to market a health drink and was given the charge to craft a jingle, and I happily dove into it (Is mein hai sehat aapki, is mein hai vishwaas hamaara; is mein hai khushiyaan hamaari, is mein hai zindagi aapki). I was also asked to present on the vexatious topic of Naxalism/ Maoism for an elective for which I was complimented and applauded — another good day. The summer term drew to a close, and gave way to the dreaded term where we were brought face to face with the prospect of placements. I found myself mired in a swamp of subjects — some had me gritting my teeth in frustration, while others grew on me and made me Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 21

B-SCHOOL VIBE want to go back to the concepts once the day’s lectures were done with. Before all hell breaks loose and I am thrown to the dogs because of the latter assertion, let me calm the frayed nerves. Notice the word “want”. Fortunately, that want never changed into desire and consequently into action. And so, the term plodded on.

The placement fever

The month of November, however, brought with it phenomena that were the unmistakeable symptoms of the Placement Fever that bites B-school inmates once a year, every year. I witnessed my batchmates being perfectly friendly to me and then locking themselves up in their rooms and memorising all the Kotlers they could lay their hands on. I was rebuffed by quite a few who would quickly close their laptops the moment they felt my eyes straying to the screens. Quite a lot of them had to get their screens repaired because of my sojourns. You see, I barged in so many times that the screens finally gave way and I would hear (with immense satisfaction, I must add) the chink of cracked glass. The sole library on the campus had students piled up to the rafters and some decided to show their recently gained knowledge in the lectures. I should say that this caused much consternation to those like me who had only just managed to wake up for the lecture and were in no mood to be shown that our brains retained no useful information beyond the Page 3 gossip that The Times of India proudly displays on its home page. Soon enough, December was on us, and I was blissfully overweight and under-concerned. The placements started with me trying to fit into the formals while 22

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praying at the same time that the buttons don’t pop, among other matters. These other matters were the tonnes of preparation that I had to do, courtesy the advice of several well-meaning seniors. I dusted the heavy tomes that lay forgotten and weatherworn, gathered my pens close and sunk into the vast (cess?) pool that I had to somehow swim through just in time for that fated interview call. Suddenly, folder after folder crept up in my laptop’s

The ... professor had decided to make us all hot around our collars, with his stringent demands that ranged from punctuality to preparation. hard drive, and I could see my lazy self tut-tutting and leaving with a sigh.

Placement highs – with a pinch of salt

Equipped as I thought I was with all the ancient Roman armoury at my disposal, I donned the war suit, sunk in my stomach (alright, that was for sartorial comfort), straightened my shoulders and stared at the community washroom mirror, steeling myself for the battle that lay ahead. Proudly click-clacking my heels, I sat for the first company I had been shortlisted for. With all that pride and enthusiasm, it was bound to happen (that’s right, I am indulging in self-praise, as praise is so hard to come by in this world, especially during those placement times) that I

managed to clear the first rounds of quite a few processes I sat for. What hit me like Vidya Balan from The Dirrty Picture were the verdicts that were handed down after the second round. After the ultimate round, my thoughts would invariably be that of rejoicing, and my body language that of nonchalant expectancy of an offer letter on a silver platter. Truth be told, all that came to nought when the platter(s) went to someone else and all I was left staring at was the proverbial backside of the organisation(s). It was almost as if after reaching the final round of the Miss Universe pageant, the rules were changed seconds before one was going to be declared the winner. It happened so many times that I considered getting a plastic surgery done, a la Priyanka Chopra, in the hopes of getting noticed. Fortunately, good sense prevailed (mainly because I have rather shallow pockets) and I thought better of it. So, here I am, unplaced and sharpening my swords. The placement season is not over yet, and I am not done yet. I watched Skyfall recently, and this quote stuck to me and is something that I hope to stand up to in the coming days: “Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” (From Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson) A


‘Food industry will grow tremendously’

…says TARAK BHATTACHARYA, Chief Operating Officer of Mad Over Donuts. He has an MBA degree from WeSchool and has worked in the food and beverages sector since 1996. In an interview with Advanc’edge, he talks about his experiences working with companies such as Barista and M.O.D and the potential growth in this sector.

Tell us about your journey from hotel management to being the COO of Mad Over Donuts. After completing my graduation in B.Sc., I got my diploma in Hotel Management & Catering Technology. After that, I wanted to understand the business management side of the trade, and so I studied Business Management at Welingkar School of Management Development and Research. In 2000, I joined Barista Coffee Company Ltd as a store manager, and in 2003, I was deputed to Dubai as an operations manager to start their international operations in the Middle East. After Dubai, I was heading the operations and franchise business for India and International Business. In 2009, I was appointed the CEO by MGH Restaurants Pvt. Ltd, which operated

Nando’s in Bangladesh and Nepal, and I worked there till 2011, when I took up the position of chief operating officer at Himesh Foods Pvt. Ltd. for their Singaporean based gourmet brand Mad Over Donuts. So, yes it has been a fantastic journey till now working in different companies and countries. God has been kind. What would you say have been the most valuable lessons you’ve learnt on the way? One of the things I can take away from my professional journey is the realisation that the training of the people who work with you is very important. This is extremely essential. Another thing is keep on innovating and experimenting. These two factors are very important in an organisation and helps the brand to grow. Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 23

CORPORATE INTERVIEW You’ve been in the food industry for a while now. How do you think that sector has changed since 1996, when you first started in the food industry? The food and beverage industry has changed a lot. For instance, we see coffee shops at every corner nowadays, but they started coming into the country only around the year 2001. That was the first step, where the difference between the five-star restaurants and the nukkad chaiwala was bridged — with the advent of coffee shops. This subsequently changed the Indian food and beverage market completely. After this many fine-dining options with various cuisines started to come up. Moreover, as going overseas, either for work or travel or to study, became easier, and more and more people started travelling, the exposure to a wide variety of foods at different levels became greater. So these people, when they came back to our country, started looking for such cuisines to be available here. This then created a demand for more options to be developed in the last decade or so. Now, with that same trend continuing and actually increasing, the demand for new and innovative cuisines will keep rising. Indians are becoming more and more westernised in their eating style. What do you think the new trend in food is going to be? I wouldn’t quite say that Indians are becoming westernised. Instead, I’d say that people have largely become comfortable with experimenting with food — be it tea-stall chai or vada pav, or a fine-dining restaurant’s sushi. The fact is that everything is here to stay for at least the next 10 years or so. The food and beverage industry in India is now poised at a level where even if established brands from abroad come in or new Indian

brands are started, they will see healthy growth. Of course, I think local brands will do well too if they experiment. Tell us about Mad Over Donuts. M.O.D started five years ago. The recipes have been developed by food and beverage specialists who have a combined bakery experience of over 150 years. The whole idea of M.O.D, as we tell people, is to create “love at first bite”. This is what an M.O.D experience is all about. In India, we have designed the “unique flavour concept”, where people can actually watch how the dough gets made into the doughnut. This is the USP of our company, along with the variety of flavours we offer. We also keep innovating and experimenting by changing our flavours with the “flavour festival” every fifth week. You worked for Barista for a long time. How did Barista position themselves against other coffee chains such as CCD or Costa Coffee? Actually, for the first four years, Barista had no competition at all. It was only after that that Café Coffee Day and Costa Coffee arrived. Barista has always been positioned as a very niche coffee shop. People at that time thought it was an international brand that had come into India, since selling coffee for anything upwards of `50 was quite unheard of in India, unless it was in a five-star hotel. But now, things have changed, as perspectives have changed, and we’re all the same as a Costa or a CCD. What plans do you have for Mad over Donuts in the immediate future? Well, there are a lot of things happening, but what we strive to do is to provide something new to the customer who comes to your store. Aside from this, I’m looking at M.O.D reaching 400 stores across India in the next few years. What, according to you, are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job? To be blunt, I get an enormous kick out of sitting in this chair and running a 50-plus store organisation. This is a very rewarding experience for me. We started with only around 12 or 13 stores, and crossed 50 in the last 20 months, so it feels good. However, I would say


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CORPORATE INTERVIEW that getting skilled workers and decent real estate is a challenging aspect. We need multi-talented people, which is proving to be difficult.

People have largely become comfortable with experimenting with food — be it tea-stall chai or vada pav, or a fine-dining restaurant’s sushi.

What level of growth do you foresee in the food retail industry in the coming years? I think the growth in the food industry is going to be tremendous, and the potential for the food and beverages sector is humungous. After all, people are never going to stop eating, are they! Of course, the growth potential of the sector might decrease a bit, but it will certainly not die. International chains are entering the market and even local home-grown places are doing well. So, this industry is there to stay for sure, and is certainly a brilliant place to start a career.

Has the recent slowdown in the economy affected the food and beverages sector? It would be wrong to say that the slowdown has not affected us, but it hasn’t reached a point that the overall growth is negative. M.O.D too isn’t growing at the same rate that we were a couple of years ago, but I’ll say that we are quite decently placed, and so are the other brands. To what extent would you ascribe your professional rise and success to a formal management education?

I should think that my management education has helped me a great deal. The skill-sets and basic understanding of management that I have today, and which have brought me to where I am, have come from my management degree. It got me started off on the path I wanted to take. But honestly speaking, after a few years down the line, I would say that learning at the job has also helped. To quantify this, it has been 30 per cent education and 70 per cent of practical learning at the job for me. In your opinion, what are the most critical attributes for effective leadership in the business world? For me, the most critical thing for a leader is to be dependable, aside from being a team player, of course. He should also be a good communicator, especially in today’s world, and should have an open mind. Basically, I think it is very important for a person to go into a new job with a blank slate, so that they can pick up the nuances of the job easily, since every company functions in a different way. Your advice to young MBA aspirants who want to be achievers? To keep it short and sweet — Keep your eyes and mind open to new things, accept things as they come and work hard. A

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Networking: The alumni advantage For all of you who will soon be getting into a business school, do not underestimate the power of your alumni network and building relationships with them. It will help you later on when you’re in a good job and representing your organisation at a meet, or even more if you have an entrepreneurial bent of mind. }}} Mayur Milan


ocial networking may be the buzzword in today’s world, but one on one networking is still an important tool for any professional. In fact, it is even more so for an entrepreneur who is looking to establish his business. Generally, the one on one networking exercise is the key for start ups that do not have large budgets to match well established organisations and their (often) sky high advertising spends.


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Broadly speaking, networking is the good old fashioned word of mouth promotion that you can get. Of course, it helps if you are networking with people you have known earlier, such as friends and peers from the college you graduated from and your business school. In our experience, alumni networking is a critical element in sourcing for a new project. You get the double advantage of having an understanding audience, as well as the fact that the bond of being from the same institute always gets you the emotional edge. One must understand that in India, the entrepreneurial culture where graduates dive into building a start-up immediately after college is still not as prevalent as in the West. So, those among

the alumni — the select few — who had tried to sit out of the

placement process and done something they believed was a story, would certainly go out of their way to propagate not only their companies but also to give a leg-up.

First steps

It must be pointed out that networking needs to be approached in a very professional manner. However comfortable you might be


with the person you’re talking to, a professional approach is important, because you are representing an organisation. Most alumni prefer to be contacted the first time via an email. A brief about your organisation should be attached and a small note on how the concerned alumni can assist your cause should be added. You will also be doing yourself a favour if you do some background research on the alumnus and his business.

Build relationships, business


Another critical element one must understand is that networking is a relationship building exercise, not a business development exercise. We never go looking f o r

business, because we believe that when it comes to alumni networking, the return on relationships is far higher than the return on business. In our experience, a lot of our alumni meetings have led to business growth not in short term planning but over a longer stretch. This makes it very critical to approach alumni networking with an open mind. We may not walk out with a direct business opportunity every time, but over the long run, the meeting will most certainly get you some opportunity. There is a time honoured code of conduct about networking. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you expect your calls to be answered, your mails be replied to and that you be given a chance, do not fail to do so yourself. Always answer the calls of your alumni, and if you can’t, make sure that you leave them a message saying you’ll revert at the earliest, and don’t forget to do so! To successfully network, you must be willing to take up any suggestion that the alumni may give you. You might not implement it, but you should at least give it a valid thought. Another important thing that you need to keep in mind is that if an alumnus has suggested a lead, you must follow up on that.

If you fail to do so, over a period of time, the word will spread that you didn’t follow up, and the alumnus will be pushed into a difficult spot.

Do your homework

Now, time for a little anecdote and its moral. When we were starting our agency, Ourbit Marketing and Communications, we chose one of our city chapters in Mumbai as our launch platform. We made sure to speak to the organising committee and took prior permission to speak about the agency at the alumni meet. We also

made it a point to be prepared with a proper study of every alumnus attending the meeting. It helped us engage in communicating with each alumnus on a personal level. Naturally, this goes a long way in establishing you as someone who is taking effort, and is motivated and genuine. That is a key element of any communication, internal, external or in the alumni network. You need to show up as a genuine organisation, especially when it is to your alumni. These are your professional colleagues and they know you better than anyone else in the industry.

The e-connect

Another important thing to do in networking is to

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SUCCESS STREET connect digitally, and Linkedin is currently the best and biggest avenue. While you may meet and talk for few days in a year, Linkedin has enabled regular connections with people anywhere in the world. We used it too: Once connected, we kept feeding them regular updates about the growth of our agency, and sharing important alumni-led business channels that opened up. This made the

entire network aware of our efforts and that we were thankful to those who had assisted us. Such small steps are important, not because they help grow your business, but much more because they cement relationships. You must understand that when you take your alumni’s time, you must be ready to provide them with some value addition. No one is sitting around just to attend to you. All of them have important engagements and thus when you appear in their inbox, you’d better have something important to offer.

Talent source

Another key benefit of networking through alumni is that you get to know of talent that can work with you. Also, it


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gives you the opportunity to source people who can help you with your business by providing you their service. Both talent acquisition and partner development programme are critical to the growth of an organisation, and who better to work with than those whom you already know? This is something that we, as a group, have been able to implement very effectively. We have been able to convince senior alumni to work with us because they believe in our business model. This has helped us as they bring a great deal of experience and knowledge to the table and have graciously agreed to work with us for a far lower compensation than they would probably receive for the chance to co-create a new model altogether. As any marketing book will tell you, internal audience is the most critical audience you have to communicate with. Treat your alumni network as your internal audience. They can get you to places which another start-up might struggle to be in. You’ll be able to pitch ideas to people who would otherwise never ever know about you at all! And the more you can pitch an idea successfully, the more the confidence the alumni gain in you. In fact, treat an alumnireferred pitch as your Mount Everest. Not only would your own reputation be on the line, but so would that of the alumni and the institute. Another important implementation of alumni networking and relationship building is engagement with journalists from the institute. If you work with a lot of brands for their PR

requirement, journalists would be a key audience for you. It is thus a great banker to know that there are eminent journalists who are your alumni members and you can go back to them if needed. We are extremely lucky that our efforts with our alumni network have helped us take significant steps towards the growth that we have seen. And this is

something you must not ignore. Whether you’re planning an entrepreneurial venture after you graduate from business school, or getting a good role in a reputed company through the placement process, make sure that you don’t ignore your alumni network, and keep building relationships to make a successful future. A

Mayur Milan is the Head Contributor at Ourbit Marketing & Communications. He is an alumnus of Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication.


Top 10 WOMEN in the world of business

Changing attitudes are propelling women into the ranks of business owners and top company leadership positions. More women are prepared to run companies than ever before, since millions of them have progressed through the ranks in fields that were once male dominated. Their economic power is soaring. Globally, women make 80 per cent of all buying decisions. In the US, women control more than 60 per cent of all personal wealth and account for more than 50 per cent of all stock ownership. And this is certainly not a small percentage, not by alongway. A Stanford University economist has predicted that 20 per cent of CEOs in top organisations will be women in 15 to 20 years and according to a study in the latest Harvard Business Review, the face of corporate America is gradually being remade with women entering into the top ranks of the largest corporations. So, corporate wealth is gradually shifting from the hands of men to women. As today’s senior (male) executives retire, 50 per cent of the next group of managers are women. We have watched it happen, with IBM appointing its first female CEO recently and Marissa Mayer jumping from a top Google executive to the CEO seat at Yahoo! a few years ago. With newly-appointed female CEOs and high-ranking female managers who have successfully guided their companies through crises, there are many powerful women in business who deserve recognition for their efforts. Here are the top 10 businesswomen to watch in 2014.

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COO, Facebook




Virginia Rometty heads the biggest company by revenue, bigger even than Google or Yahoo. She is IBM's first female CEO, taking over from Sam Palmisano, who is said to have left a lot of challenges to be overcome.




Facebook’s No 2 Sheryl Sandberg


Chairman & CEO, Pepsico




The superstar Nooyi has been on the Most Powerful Businesswomen list for years now. In 2012, under her command, Pepsico's net revenue grew 14 per cent to US$66 billion. Incidentally, her total compensation dropped 17 per cent after Pepsico phased out option awards for top executives and offered stock awards for long-term performance.


Chairman, President & CEO, IBM











Facebook’s No 2 Sheryl Sandberg manages sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy and communications, and is also the author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, one of the top non-fiction bestsellers. Under her, earned more US mobile revenue than any other publisher in 2012, with an 18.4 per cent share of the entire market.


Under Ellen Kullman, the 211-year old chemical giant DuPont set aggressive goals for improving food security, including a $10-billion investment in R&D for products that help agriculture sustainability and food availability. Her reset of DuPont (selling commodity units, moving into high-margin areas) is paying off, with the stock more than doubling during her tenure.

When Kraft split into its Kraft (grocery) and Mondelez (snacks), Irene Rosenfeld went with the latter, and promised a 5 to 7 per cent revenue increase in the long term. Under her, earnings beat expectations in the most recent quarter. Part of her plan is to quickly grow her cookie, chocolate and gum-and-candy brands in the developing BRIC markets.


Chairman & CEO, Mondelēz International




Chair of the Board & CEO, DuPont





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Chairman & CEO, Xerox



President & CEO, Yahoo!



Within just four years of her efforts to reframe the company as a service business rather than a seller of copiers, Xerox has shaken off its carbon copy reputation. Over half of its revenue now comes from IT services. Ursula Burns has always been with Xerox, right from beginning as an intern in 1980.




HP was not in a good state of affairs when Meg Whitman took over, but she juiced the stock 47 per cent this year while rejiggering the management team. She has spent the last two years trying to reinvent the company.



President & CEO, Hewlett-Packard

Despite recent developments, investors have been happy with Marissa Mayer on the whole. After 13 years at Google, she took over at Yahoo! and overhauled Flickr, followed by redesigns and a host of acquisitions. And although the company's stocks are down, Mayer has expressed confidence in turning around Yahoo!'s fortunes, even though it would take years.









Senior Vice-President, Google

billion (Data for 2012)

Susan Wojcicki leads all of Google's ad products and was responsible for 87 per cent of the company's $50 billion revenue in 2012. As senior vice president, she now oversees not only advertising products, but also the company's commerce unit. In 1998, she rented her garage to Sergey Brin and Larry Page and their nascent search engine, and was Google's 16th hire.





President, Financial Services, Fidelity Investments

Abigail Johnson has a huge job at Fidelity – assets worth US$4.3 trillion is under her administration. She joined the company in 1998 as an analyst after getting her MBA from Harvard, and currently oversees all of Fidelity’s businesses.

been with Xerox, right from beginning as an intern in 1980.


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The Microsoft challenge: What will Satya Nadella do?

Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella takes over the four decade-old company at a critical juncture – although still highly profitable, the company has lost its competitive edge. Can the new man at the top turn around Microsoft’s fortunes?

}}} Dr Suresh Srinivasan


icrosoft recently announced the appointment of Satya Nadella as the chief executive of the company; the Indian born Nadella takes over the reins from Steve Ballmer, who had been holding the position for over 10 years. Nadella is not new to Microsoft — he has been with the company for more than 20 years and was currently heading the cloud and enterprise solutions business of Microsoft. Nadella will be the third person to lead the 40-year-old Microsoft. On the one hand, it is a positive move to appoint an insider who understands the culture of Microsoft very well; this could come handy in taking the company forward in challenging times. However, on the other hand, what Microsoft needed was fresh blood that broke away from the culture that is responsible for its current weaker position vis-àvis its competitors like Google, Amazon, Sony and Samsung. The appointment of Nadella, from this perspective, has been 36

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disappointing. More importantly, it has also been announced that Bill Gates will return as Microsoft’s chairman of the board. This adds fuel to the speculation that Nadella will have to work under the wings of Gates, thereby limiting the out-ofthe-box, innovative initiatives that Microsoft desperately requires today, in order to gain back a competitive position in its various businesses.

concern with respect to Microsoft. Over the last 30 years, Microsoft has more or less enjoyed a monopoly position with respect to its personal computer operating system Windows,

Microsoft’s competitive position over the last ten years

Till date, Microsoft can be considered to be one of the Bill Gates biggest success stories in global corporate history. Still continuing to make huge operating profits of more than US$25 billion on a topline of more than US$70 billion, the company holds close to US$80 billion in cash, indicating a very strong financial position. However, a history of corporate successes does not guarantee identical successes over the future; this is precisely the major Satya Nadella


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CORPORATE WORLD which even today powers around 90 per cent of the PCs and laptops around the world. This is similar to the position of the company’s application software like MS Office, which runs programs like MS Word, Excel and Power Point. Microsoft has been protecting its monopoly on these products for years, and it is alleged that it has been unduly taking advantage of this position by destroying any competing products emerging in this space through the sheer scale and size at which the company operates. In effect, it has been alleged that Microsoft has been exploiting the customer to pay more, killing competition through unfair means of “bundling” its operating system and application software. It must be said, however, that such a strategy has resulted in a strong financial position for Microsoft, but has failed to position the company in a strong competitive position with respect to emerging businesses, where competitors are aggressively pushing the frontiers of technology through innovation and enormous spend on research and development, which Microsoft lacked.

Therefore, although Microsoft seems financially successful today, its ability to continue to remain successful in the future seems to be uncertain. To put it simply, its core business of the Windows OS and application software is highly PC dependent, but unfortunately, PCs are steeply declining and are increasingly being replaced by handheld computing and communication devices like tablets and iPads, an area in which competitors like Google, Apple and Samsung are far more capable than Microsoft. This is the real concern! Furthermore, Microsoft has come under heavy criticism in recent years for betting on the wrong horse. Focusing more on consumer oriented business (Windows and application software, gaming), it has neglected the corporate software (enterprise solutions), which is expected to be the future of technology business. Over the last ten years, Steve Ballmer has been credited for successfully maintaining Microsoft’s monopoly in its core business (consumer oriented) and its ability to generate sumptuous profits and cash, but

The Nokia Lumia, running Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS. 38

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at the same time, he has also been discredited for not being able to provide leadership that could have fostered innovation. This innovation, it has been argued, would have helped Microsoft venture into emerging businesses (corporate and enterprise focused), which will hold the key for success in the medium to long term future. Ballmer’s management style was not conducive for positioning Microsoft strongly as an innovator, as compared to its competitors in such emerging businesses!

Challenges faced in various businesses

In addition to its core Windows OS and application software business, Microsoft is present in various other businesses like search engines (Bing), Gaming (Xbox), tablets and handsets (Nokia’s business which Microsoft has recently acquired), mobile OS (Windows phones) and cloud (Microsoft Azure). Cloud consists of offering software and services from remote data centres and servers, which frees up customer resources and avoids investments in hardware. Cloud’s capability to deal with large data also provides enough scope for data analytics and intelligence. Cloud also significantly reduces clients’ costs. So, what are the challenges Microsoft is facing with respect to each of these businesses and how are its competitors positioned in these spaces? Handheld devices and mobile operating system (Windows phone): Under Ballmer’s leadership Microsoft believed and declared that it was transforming itself from being a “services” company to a “services and hardware (devices)” company.

CORPORATE WORLD This was partly achieved through its acquisition of the Finnish handset manufacturer Nokia, whose market share has dwindled to less than 15 per cent while Samsung controls close to 30 per cent in the handheld arena. Also, Microsoft’s home grown Surface Tablet business was intended to provide an outlet to the Windows mobile phone OS, and Microsoft felt that it would create synergies by acquiring Nokia, the largest user of its Windows OS. Unfortunately, this does not seem to have materialised. From that perspective, Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia is being strongly criticised. On the mobile OS front, Google’s Android is dominating the global market, with more than 80 per cent of handheld devices running this platform, while the Windows system captured not more than 3.5 per cent of the market. With Microsoft’s Windows mobile OS as well as its handset hardware business being uncompetitive against their respective competitors (Google’s Android and Samsung’s handset business respectively), the challenge would be to see how realistically Microsoft can crawl back and catch up with its rivals and gain market share; this is a serious question! In all probability, Microsoft will now need to desperately try to bring about synergies by combining its Office suite (application software) expertise with its tablet devices to offer a uniquely positioned tablet device to the market, which is yet to happen. Gaming: Sony was the “first mover” into this space ten years ago, with its gaming console and allied software. Perceiving Sony’s PlayStation to be a threat for its

personal computing business, Microsoft reacted by positioning a competing product, the Xbox. Customers are steadily expecting the gaming to be effectively available on their mobile handsets as well. This is a fast growing $100 billion potentially profitable business, if the right capabilities are built by the players. Between Sony and Microsoft, the only two large players in this space (Wii’s Nintendo being a distant third), competitive rivalry has been high and market shares are delicately balanced between the two. The market perception for Sony is that it is

Under Ballmer, Microsoft believed it was transforming from a “services” to a “services and hardware (devices)” company. more agile and has a superior product positioning as compared to Microsoft. Both players are spending heavily, but have been unable to demonstrate superior profitability yet. Potentially, Microsoft could leverage gaming into the cloud space to provide access to mobile gamers, which is an opportunity that could give Microsoft a competitive advantage; but this depends highly on how important Nadella feels this business is for Microsoft. If Nadella’s focus turns out to be more on cloud and enterprise, the Xbox may not get a prominent focus, thereby resulting in a much weaker competitive positioning as compared to Sony. This suggests

that Microsoft, sooner or later, may sell off its gaming business. Search engine: In this space, Microsoft Bing is the third largest player, placed substantially behind Google and Yahoo!. A few years ago, Microsoft tried to acquire Yahoo! and gain a competitive position against Google, but failed. This business is a big embracement for Microsoft and there does not seem to be a major scope for Nadella to improve its performance, as Google has built enormous capabilities in this space to be winner, by far! Cloud and enterprise solutions: Enterprise solutions that include providing software and solutions over the cloud, and that can be accessed through mobile computing devices, will be a key area of growth in the future. The question is how Nadella will be able to position Microsoft in building capabilities in this arena, and position the company as a successful player vis-à-vis its competitors. Of late, Microsoft has also started allocating a substantial part of its revenue towards research and development investments, amounting to more than 10 per cent of its “top line”. It is also building an impressive line-up of patents. In the technology space, the number of patents is an important indicator of innovation and future success. It is to be hoped that Microsoft will be able to successfully recoup its lost competitiveness and convert the opportunity in this space to superior shareholder value. Also, with Nadella having been the head of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise business, the company might just have an edge in this regard. A Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 39


Thomas Cook takes over Sterling Holidays

Now that Thomas Cook will be calling the shots for Sterling, it places the former in a good position in the rapidly growing travel and tourism industry. With Sterling’s properties and manpower within its folds, Thomas Cook’s move is being called a well-thought out strategy. }}} Dr Suresh Srinivasan


homas Cook recently announced its intention to acquire the outstanding shares of Sterling Holidays; this will value Sterling Holidays at around `870 crore. Once the acquisition is completed, Thomas Cook intends to merge the company with itself. Sterling’s operations will be amalgamated with that of Thomas Cook while retaining the Sterlin brand; the company, Sterling Holidays, will cease to exist.

Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook is one of the largest private tourism sector companies in India, in existence for more than a hundred years. The company is primarily active in offering travel management services, which include selling of “outbound” holiday packages to Indian tourists travelling abroad and selling of “inbound” packages to foreign nationals travelling to India on holiday. Thomas 40

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Cook also provides various other allied tourism related services, which include trading in foreign currencies, travel insurance, visa and passport related services. It also provides travel and tourism education and learning services. Thomas Cook is a `400 crore turnover company, earning an operating profit of around `100 crore and a net profit of `50 crore.

Holiday package Alternatively



operations”, the holiday package is a term used when a travel management company bundles and sells one or more products (that include train or airline tickets, hotel accommodation and allied services like travel insurance and visa services) for a fixed sum; the customer will be unable to differentiate the cost of individual services as he pays for the package, as a whole. The travel management company, in turn, will buy rail and airline tickets from the railway and airline companies, buy accommodation from the hotels and resorts and other allied services from specialised service providers. The advantage to the travel management company of such “bundling” is that by choosing the right mix of airlines, hotels and other services (after understanding the customer’s specific needs), the company is able to provide superior customer satisfaction, for which it earns a “premium”

CORPORATE WORLD profit. The customer also need not deal will several different agencies, with the company being his single point of contact and making his life easier! The customer is thus happy paying that little bit extra to the travel management company for the convenience, which translates into the premium profits.

Sterling Holidays

Also in the tourism business is Sterling Holidays, but with a different business model. Sterling was the first Indian company that ventured into “time share” holiday resort concept in India. Currently, Sterling has around 19 holiday resorts in all prime tourist locations in India, including beach resorts in Goa and Puri, hill resorts in Manali, Mussoorie, Ooty, Kodai, Munnar and other locations. Time share or vacation share as it is also called, is a unique concept wherein by paying a designated sum to the time share company (Sterling Holidays, in this case), customers can block fixed days, every year, at a particular resort, which they can subsequently use, or rent or sell it out. So if a customer has booked one room for three days from March 1 to 3 at Sterling’s Ooty resort, for all practical purposes, this customer “owns” that room perpetually, for those three days every year. Sterling has close to 70,000 active members who currently fill only around 50 per cent of the room capacity that Sterling has (19 resorts, 1,500 rooms). The remaining rooms are sold to non members as and when requests are received. This means Sterling’s room

occupancy has been poor, which reflects its poor financial position. Although occupancy has lately increased to around 50 per cent, serious marketing is required to aggressively improve capacity utilisation.

Rationale for the merger

The travel and tourism industry has been steadily gaining importance around the world in terms of contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP). Many countries and destinations thrive on tourism as their prominent breadwinning activity; these include Thailand, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, Malaysia and several European countries. Of late, India has also realised the potential for this sector given India’s cultural heritage, religious getaways,

From being a mere tour operator offering packaged tours, Thomas Cook can now be a complete end-to-end travel solution provider.

vast coast line, unexplored forest land, scenic hill stations and large rivers and tributaries. It is estimated that inbound tourism will grow at more than 12 per cent year on year over the next 10 years. Furthermore, the rising income levels of the average Indian and his appetite to visit more domestic and international tourist destinations is also likely to drive a sharp increase in outbound travel as well. Overall, travel, tourism and hospitality are attractive industries in the Indian context. That is why Thomas Cook has rightly decided to invest more in this sector to build capabilities that will help it grow aggressively vis-à-vis its competitors. However, the sector is facing a number of challenges that need to be addressed by players like Thomas Cook, including lack of quality tourism infrastructure, health and safety concern of the tourists and, above all, a big gap in tourism-focused, trained and skilled manpower.

Synergies from the merger

Sterling Holidays can leverage Thomas Cook’s relationship and strengths to improve its poor room occupancy, which has remained a major concern for Sterling. A number of other synergies are expected from Thomas Cook’s association. Competition in the time share space has been steadily increasing. Later and better managed entrants like Club Mahindra are growing very aggressively and have garnered double the market share and size as compared to Sterling. Seeing the profitability in this business, more players are entering this space. Ramada Hotels, Hyatt Vacation Club, Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 41

CORPORATE WORLD Magic and Citrus, along with several global time share chains are all planning to aggressively enter the Indian time share market. Given its poor financial and competitive position, Sterling may not have been able to combat this rivalry, but now, merged with Thomas Cook, it may be able to become a formidable force in this lucrative industry. From Thomas Cook’s perspective, this acquisition is a backward vertical integration strategy, i.e., from being a mere tour operator offering outbound and inbound packaged tours, Thomas Cook can now be seen as a complete end-to-end travel solution provider, across the travel and tourism sector. And now, with Sterling’s 19 resorts that offer more than 1,500 rooms coming into Thomas Cook’s fold, this acquisition opens up a larger landscape for the latter to grow. More importantly, only half of Sterling’s rooms have been till now sold as ‘time share’ and the balance are being rented out to non members. With Thomas Cook now coming into the fray, there is a huge potential to effectively sell the 50 per cent of unsold rooms on the time share basis, and possibly make way for more acquisitions that will strengthen the time share

business segment. Moreover, in recent years there have been a number of online intermediaries that have emerged in the travel business such as makemytrip, Travelyaari, TripAdvisor, etc, and these are now aggressively competing with travel management companies like Thomas Cook. Such competitive rivalry has resulted in reduced profit margins in the industry. In such circumstances, Thomas Cook’s strategy to acquire hard physical assets in the form of Sterling’s 19 resorts is being considered a key milestone in propelling future growth for the company.


One of the biggest issues being faced by Indian corporates across industry segments is the ability to gain access to skillsets and specialised human resources, and the hospitality sector is no exception — senior and middle management staff with hospitality experience is scarce. More importantly, frontline customer interfacing hospitality skills are also scarce, as there are very few tourism focused management programmes in the country. Thomas Cook’s acquisition of Sterling addresses this problem

to a great extent, creating a large pool of specialised travel professionals under one roof. This will not only help the merged entity grow much faster as compared to the competition, but also largely help in client retention and superior service. Thomas Cook is already addressing this issue in a big way: It has been a pioneer in providing effective educational and training programmes tailored for the travel and tourism industry. Its centre of learning has structured programmes that will generate a continuous stream of well trained and highly skilled travel and tourism professionals, ready to be absorbed into the industry. Together with many universities as academic partners, Pondicherry University, for instance, Thomas Cook’s Centre for Learning offers MBA in Tourism through distance learning. It also runs certificate courses in Domestic Tour Management. On balance, it looks to be a timely and strategic investment that Thomas Cook has made in acquiring Sterling Holidays. In order to grow its position in this space, it is very likely that we may see more such acquisitions and investments by Thomas Cook in the near future. A

Sterling resorts


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Decoding inflation:

The strategies of the RBI In the last few years, controlling inflation has become paramount. The RBI has been playing a highly strategic came to tame this wild beast. In this article, we present the reasoning behind the RBI’s moves, why they bore fruit, and what’s still to come. }}} Dr Suresh Srinivasan


he biggest challenge to the Indian economy currently is to maintain price levels and control inflation. This task squarely falls under the purview of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) monetary policy stance. The RBI closely monitors the inflation data in the economy, and on a periodic basis manipulates the interest rates in the economy to manage liquidity and thereby control inflation. If inflation is high (which means more money is chasing less goods and thereby price of goods increase), the RBI reduces the money supply in the economy by increasing interest rates (repo rate, the rate at which the RBI lends to commercial banks). Increasing interest rates reduces liquidity (and thereby reduces the amount of money chasing the goods and thereby price of goods reduce), bringing inflation under control. Although inflation comes under control on increasing interest rates, the economic growth is reduced due to lower liquidity in the economy. The opposite is done when inflation is low. But lowering 44

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interest rates creates a favorable climate for more investments to come in and increase economic growth. So there is a constant trade-off between inflation and economic growth. What is the right level of inflation for a healthy economy? When should the interest rates be increased and by how much? When should they be decreased? These are all vital decisions taken by the RBI based on a number of criteria and well researched economic theoretical concepts. It is often difficult to generalise and predict when the RBI will increase, decrease or hold on to interest rates, as new situations and scenarios may influence the RBI to act differently at various points in time.

inflation into Retail and Wholesale, and further breaking it down into Headline and Core. Headline and core inflation: Headline inflation includes the impact of manufactured goods, like food, fuel and energy costs. This also includes the price of vegetables cereals, grains and other food commodities. However, core inflation captures the impact of only manufactured goods, and clearly excludes the effects of inflation with respect to food fuel and energy items.

Inflation: The lowdown

Understanding some of the RBI’s recent response to inflation data is worth discussing to get a feel on the different facets of inflation and how RBI perceives them to impact the liquidity in the economy. A detailed understanding of inflation is required, breaking down

Raghuram Rajan


Retail and WPI indexed inflation: Retail inflation (generally based on consumer price based index), referred to as Consumer Price Index (CPI), is used in many countries as the central measure of inflation, and measures the price of a basket of goods and services at retail outlets, also taking into account the spending patterns of consumers. This is measured monthly. However, it is contested that this method may be unsuitable for use in India for various reasons, including the supply side constraints and bottleneck that exist in reaching goods to the consumer doorstep. Wholesale Price Index (WPI) based inflation is a weekly measure which takes into account the price of a representative basket of wholesale goods. The RBI uses changes in the WPI to measure its rate of inflation and bases its monetary policy decisions on WPI index based inflation.

How the inflation



It is important to understand the key decisions taken by the RBI over the last three monetary policy

meetings with respect to interest rates. Sometimes, however, the logic behind the RBI’s interest rate response to changing inflation scenarios might not be crystal clear. RBI’s December 18, 2013 Monetary Policy Review: RBI kept key policy rates unchanged despite retail inflation accelerating to 11.24 per cent in November 2013, the highest in the last 18 months. Also the wholesale inflation increased to 7.52 per cent, never seen in the last 15 months. This response was a bit confusing, as the market was certainly expecting the RBI to increase interest rates in response to the high inflation, and to arrest liquidity in order to control inflation. The RBI later explained its stance, stating that it wanted to wait for more data to understand the components of inflation, i.e., Retail and WPI inflation as well as the behaviour of food inflation and core inflation. Ahead of the December 18 policy meeting, the RBI gauged that the core inflation remained stable as compared to the

previous periods and inflation was primarily stemming from food items. However, with respect to the food items, the RBI believed that the food prices would probably come down anyway during the later part of December 2013 and January 2014, due to a good monsoon season in the country and a steady easing of the supply side bottlenecks. Hence, the RBI wanted to wait and watch for a month before adjusting the interest rates; this was a calculated gamble, and with the benefit of hindsight, we can say that it paid off, as food driven inflation has been cooling off over December 2013, January and February 2014; retail inflation declined to 9.87 per cent late in December due to a sharp fall in vegetable prices. WPI also fell sharply from 7.52 per cent to 6.16 per cent (below the comfort factor of 7 per cent). A large drop in the inflation came from a drop in food prices (85 per cent). It must be mentioned here that during the second half of 2013, vegetable prices had increased by close to 80 per cent, year over year. RBI’s January 2014 Monetary Policy Review: Markets expected that, in the quarterly Monetary Policy Review Meeting on January 28, interest rates would most likely be reduced, as headline inflation (including food and fuel inflation) comprising retail inflation had started showing signs of cooling off, having decreased from 11.24 per cent in December 2013 to 9.97 per cent in January 2014. Similarly, WPI inflation also decreased from 7.52 per cent to 6.16 per cent (see Chart-1). However, to the surprise of the markets, the RBI increased the interest rates to 8 per cent (repo rate) from 7.75 per cent, by 0.25 percentage points. On a Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 45

CORPORATE WORLD careful breakdown of the inflation into finer details, the RBI’s logic becomes clearer. Core Inflation (excluding food and fuel inflation) comprising retail inflation had in fact increased from 8 per cent in December 2013 to 8.10 per cent in January 2014. Similarly, WPI inflation also increased from 2.63 per cent to 2.81 per cent (see Chart-2). The RBI opined that such monetary tightening (increasing interest rates) was required in spite of marginal reduction in consumer price indexed inflation, as core inflation needed to be tamed. Analysing the history of RBI interventions in the past, it can be surmised that it believes headline inflation primarily contributed by food and fuel (such as vegetable price hikes) may not be controllable through a monetary policy stance, in which case government intervention would be required to clear the supply side bottlenecks and bring inflation under control. However, the RBI believes that core inflation can be tackled and will respond to the monetary policy stance. Urgit Patel Committee Report: RBI deputy governor Urgit Patel Committee has been advocating that the RBI should base its monetary policy stance (increasing

Chart 1 46

Advanc’edge MBA March 2014

or decreasing interest rates) on the headline retail inflation (CPI based) as the nominal anchor. The committee has also set out a target reduce retail inflation to 8 per cent over the next 12 months and to 6 per cent over the next 24 months. The committee has reiterated that controlling inflation should be the RBI’s highest priority at this point in time, even if it amounts to compromising on the economic growth as a result of a high interest rate regime. However, the finance ministry is of the opinion that growth is more important and the RBI’s role is to facilitate growth by ensuring a conducing liquidity situation in the economy (which means that the RBI should keep interest rates down, which in turn means higher inflation). So, there is a conflict of opinions between the RBI and the finance ministry on how the monetary policy stance should work. Since the RBI is a highly independent and professional body (under the leadership of governor Raghuram Rajan), it is expected that the RBI’s views have been prevailing on its monetary policy strategy and stance. Since Rajan took over as the governor of the RBI, interest rates have been hiked three times to tame inflation, although this has impacted the growth in the economy.

The Urgit Committee recommendations are a substantial departure from the earlier practices (RBI controlling inflation based on WPI as the nominal anchor) and there has been a lot of debate on this course of action. Also, the targets laid down by the Urgit Committee report (controlling inflation at 6 per cent over the next 24 months) is perceived as unrealistic, since India is expected to record a high economic growth. If we go by the Urgit Committee report and recommendations, and assuming that it will be implemented in some form, it is expected that the high interest rate regime will continue throughout 2014 and well into 2015, if CPI inflation needs to be brought down to 6 per cent over the next 24 months. This is definitely bad news for the economic growth outlook over the next two years. Latest inflation data: Headline retail inflation has started to fall and is now at a two year low of around 8.79 per cent in January, mainly due to a drop in food prices. Food and beverage inflation also steeply declined and was lowest in the last 12 months. However, it is still much higher than Urgit Committee’s recommended norms. A

Chart 2


Economic indicators Indian economic update: Interim Budget 2014-15

As is customary in an election year, finance minister P. Chidambaram proposed an interim budget, which will be reviewed by the new government when it comes to power during the later part of 2014. For the year 2013-14, fiscal deficit (at 4.6 per cent) has been contained below target. Current account deficit is estimated to decrease to $45 billion in 2013-14, from around $90 billion in the earlier year. GDP growth for 2013-14 is expected at 4.9 per cent. With regard to 2014-15, no major new sources of revenue and expenditure programme were announced in the interim budget. The finance minister managed to keep both the fiscal deficit and current account deficit below the targeted threshold. For the Budget Year 2014-15, fiscal deficit is budgeted to decline to 4.1 per cent of the GDP. Divestment proceeds are budgeted to be `56,925 crore in 2014-15. No change in the rate of personal and corporate income tax has been proposed. The surcharge on personal income tax and corporation tax will also continue. No major changes were proposed in the duty structure or rate for indirect taxes. A reduction in excise and customs duties across segments has been announced, which is expected to boost domestic manufacturing. Cars are expected to become cheaper, but mobile phones are likely to be more expensive. With regard to policy and reforms, the finance minister has announced a capital infusion of `11,300 crore to public sector banks to strengthen their capital. A proposal to amend the Forward Contracts (Regulation) Act has also been announced. For subsidies, an increase has been announced that will cover subsidies with respect to food, fertilizers and fuel, ending up at around 2 per cent of GDP, marginally lower than the current budget year, in spite of a major increase in food subsidy for the year 2014-15 that covers the “food for all” programme. The finance minster also announced a 10 per cent increase in budget allocation towards defence expenditure. As a major relief to students and youth of the country, he also announced a moratorium on educational loans outstanding as of December 2013. The government will bear the interest burden, for which an allocation of `2,600 crore has been provided. Overall, the reduction in excise and customs duty could spur growth. Excise duty reduction from 12 per cent to 10 per cent in the capital goods sector and in electrical machinery and equipment sector will certainly boost the manufacturing sector. Capital infusions in the banks could strengthen their financial position, especially with an increase in non performing assets, which has been a major concern; such a move is likely to provide a more positive outlook for banks. Allocations of `6,000 crore for rural housing and `2,000 crore for urban housing haev also been proposed.

Global currencies The Euro had a volatile movement, sharply losing value, but quickly recouping to close more or less at the same value, during the review period. It was a relief that the Japanese Yen marginally strengthened from 104.57 yen per US Dollar to 102.47 Yen to a US Dollar by the close of the review period. After four months, the Indian Rupee started showing further signs of weakening; during the review period the Indian Rupee declined from 61.53 to 62.27 (a 1 per cent decline) . India’s forex reserves also declined from US$293 billion to around US$291 billion during the review period.

Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 47


Key knowledge for

Global markets, American, European and Japanese markets The global markets had a volatile run during the review period. The American markets, including NYSE and Dow, steeply lost ground by more than 5 per cent during the early part of the review period, but steadily recouped, minimising the losses to an overall drop of around 1 per cent during the review period. European markets also showed a similar trend, the worst performance over the last year. The major concern was the impact of the US Federal Reserve’s tapering on emerging market finances, the declining value of the emerging market currencies and more than all else, the persistent slow growth in China.


Advanc’edge MBA March 2014


aspiring managers

Asian markets The Chinese, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indian markets lost ground due to the renewed concerns of the US Federal Reserve’s tapering of stimulus, whcih is now taking full effect. The Sensex fell sharply from 21,265 points to 20,193 points towards the close of review period, losing approximately 4 per cent in terms of value. Chinese markets had a lesser impact due to the Chinese New Year season, during which markets remained closed for around 10 days.

Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 49


Advanc’edge MBA March 2014

Chidambaram re fra gold from 6 to 8% ins from raising import tax on to reduce CAD.

The RBI reduces its Economy said to repurchase rate by 25 basis point expand at 5.5%, s. least since 2003 .

Stocks climb to a 19-month high on hopes of an economic-policy overhaul to bolst er investment.

Inflation rate ne ars IMF forecasts slo 8%.Rupee declines after the w growth. CAD is at a high.

India allows ov erse supermarket chai as retailers to own 51% of ns. Sensex rises sharply.

The RBI sells $5 52 rupee slide. Infla mn in the forex market to stem tion rises.

RBI announces measures to bo ost rupee. Ratin agency Fitch cu gs t India’s outlook to negative.


Performance of the

The movement of the Indian Rupee against the US$ shows the steep decline in its value over the last fifteen months. Rupee was valued at around `56 to a US$ in June 2012, but steadily depreciated to around `67 by October 2013 due to concerns on foreign currency outflows likely due to the US Federal Reserve’s


on budget defit co

ncerns. Rupee strengthen s even as RBI in repurchase rate cr to 8% to curb infla eases tion.

Rupee declines

Raghuram Raja n ra 7.75. Rupee falls ises key repurchase rate to .

Raguram Rajan ta ke raised for third tim s charge of RBI. Import duty on go ld e. CAD reduces. Rupee strengthe ns.

Rupee plunges 8.1% in worst pe rformance since Growth falls and 1992. consumer-price inflation is at a hi gh.

Indian rupee, stoc ks and bonds fa ll. Chidambaram lo oks to curtail go ld imports.

Low growth and investment adds pr policy changes. Narrow budget de essure for further ficit a worry.

Rupee surges af ter reduction for fore Chidambaram proposes tax ign investors.


Rupee over 20 months tapering of stimulus, as well as poor exports resulting from low off-take in developed economies. This also steeply impacted the current account and fiscal deficits. However, from October 2013, the value of the Rupee came under control under various measures taken by RBI governor Raghuram Rajan.

Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 51


News in brief First woman chairperson at IIM-B Indian entrepreneur and Biocon Ltd CMD Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has been appointed the chairperson of the board of governors of the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B). She is the first woman to be appointed chairperson of any IIM board. Ms Shaw is also the chairperson of the board of governors at IIT-Hyderabad. She is among the world’s 100 most powerful women as declared by Forbes magazine, and is in the Financial Times’s top 50 women in business. Ms Shaw replaces Reliance Industries CMD Mukesh Ambani, who has been chairman of the board for the last eight years, after he decided to step down.

ome H e re a re s i nt e re st i n g t it bit s f ro m st o ve r t h e l a m o nt h

India’s budget deficit met, but fiscal position still weak: Moody’s Global rating agency Moody’s has said that India’s interim budget is in line with the policy assumptions that underpin the government’s sovereign rating with a stable outlook. However, it has cautioned that India’s fiscal position still remains weak. Global rating agencies like Moody’s, S&P and Fitch have repeatedly threatened to lower India’s credit rating. A downgrade would mean pushing the country’s sovereign rating to junk status, making overseas borrowings by corporates costlier. Although noting that India’s fiscal deficit ratios have declined over the last two years, Moody’s stated that the general (central and state) government fiscal deficits remain higher than those of similarly rated peers.

Tata is India’s most valuable brand According to a report released by Brand Finance on the 500 most valued brands in the world, the Tata Group has topped the list of Indian names, coming in at 34, up from 39 in 2013. Only four other Indian companies featured on the list, all of whose ranks dropped from last year — SBI, Airtel, Reliance Industries and Indian Oil. Tech giant Apple topped the global list, in a ranking where technology or related companies dominated the top ten. Samsung came in second, followed by Google, Microsoft, Verizon, GE, AT&T and Amazon. The other two names in the top ten are Walmart (9) and IBM (10).

Satya Nadella new Microsoft CEO Indian American Satya Nadella took over as the CEO of Microsoft. He has been with Microsoft for 22 years, and is only the third CEO of the tech giant, after Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Nadella previously held various senior positions at Microsoft in server and tools, cloud and enterprise, online services and advertising platform divisions. His elevation to the top spot at Microsoft ends a five-month search for a tech-savvy heavy-hitter to lead the company co-founded by Bill Gates. 52

Advanc’edge MBA March 2014


Bob the Builder creator takes over Reader’s Digest American family magazine Reader’s Digest has been taken over by Mike Luckwell, the 71-year-old entrepreneur whose former TV company created well known children’s cartoon Bob the Builder. The acquisition was for a token price of 1 pound. The fortunes of Reader’s Digest had been drastically falling for some time now, with its circulation being cut in half in short time. Last year, it cut its London print staff by 75 per cent. Now, Mr Luckwell plans to turn the magazine around by focusing on a hitherto untapped reader section – the “frisky over 50s”, and plans to reboot the Reader’s Digest product sales business.

Facebook to acquire Whatsapp for whopping US$19 bn In the largest acquisition by Facebook so far, the social media giant has announced that it will acquire mobile messaging service Whatsapp for US$19 billion. The acquisition price includes US$4 billion in cash, around US$12 billion worth of Facebook shares and US$3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp’s founders and employees that will vest over four years following the closing of the deal. Whatsapp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum will join Facebook’s board of directors. Facebook has assured that Whatsapp’s core messaging product and its own messenger service will continue to operate as standalone applications. Whatsapp is currently one of the world’s biggest mobile messaging service.

Pepper spray in Parliament The Lok Sabha witnessed an ugly scene over the passing of the Telangana bill this February. Chairs and computers were thrown, and a knife brandished inside Parliament as MPs protested noisily and threw all codes of conduct out the window. Congress party lawmaker L Rajagopal even used pepper spray allegedly in protest over passing of the Telangana bill, and attracted widespread condemnation. He has since then resigned his post. The police has now sought the Lok Sabha Secretariat’s permission to register a case against him.

Airtel to buy Loop mobile? Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel has announced its intention to acquire Loop Mobile under a strategic agreement. Although the details of the deal were not disclosed, it has been estimated that it would be around `700 crore. Under the agreement, the approximately 30 lakh customers of Loop Mobile in Mumbai will be migrated to Airtel’s network of over 40 lakh. This will make Airtel the “largest network in Mumbai”, according to Airtel. However, concerns have been raised that Airtel will not be acquiring Loop Mobile’s employees.

Delhi CM resigns The last few weeks in Delhi were highly eventful, with Delhi chief minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal resigning as chief minister of Delhi. After a slew of controversies, Mr Kejriwal decided to step down, leaving a vacuum at the top; the resignation came allegedly in protest over the Jan Lokpal Bill not being passed in the Delhi assembly. He also recommended that fresh elections be held. However, some 60 hours after his resignation, Delhi was placed under the President’s Rule.

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The boon of the neurotic In today’s era of exquisite confusion — political, economic and otherwise — the neurotic would be a welcome guest, nervous company for nervous days, always ready to provide doses of that most potent vaccine against gloominess: wisecracking, urbane gloominess. Some of the reasons that “neurotic” has fallen out of colloquial usage are obvious. Freudian analysis lost its hold on the common consciousness, as well as in psychiatry, and some of Freud’s language lost its power. And scientists working to define mental disorders began to slice neurosis into ever finer pieces, like panic disorder, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder — all evocative terms that percolated into common usage, not to mention into online user groups, rock lyrics and TV shows. In 1994, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, psychiatry’s encyclopaedia of mental disorders, officially dropped the word neurosis from the book. “The DSM is the lingua franca of psychiatry, and given what we know today the term feels old-fashioned and quaint,” said Dr. Michael First, a former editor of the manual. “With the general decline of value of Freud in our society, it is ultimately anachronistic.”

MAT CH T HE WO R D S W IT H T H E IR M EA NING S 1. Era – (eer-uh) (n)

(wahyz-krak-ing) (adj)

13. Slice – (slahys) (v)

2. Exquisite – (ek-skwiz-it) (adj)

8. Urbane – (ur-beyn) (adj)

14. Finer – (fahy-ner) (adj)

3. Neurotic – (nyoo-rot-ik) (n)

9. Colloquial – (kuh-loh-kwee-uh l) (adj)

15. Percolated – (pur-kuh-leyt-ed) (v)

4. Company – (kuhm-puh-nee) (n) 5. Potent – (poht-nt) (adj) 6. Gloominess – (gloo-mee-ness) (n) 7. Wisecracking – a. – the study and treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behaviour b. – an act or manner of grasping something; a grip c. – having the polish and suavity regarded as characteristic of sophisticated social life in major cities d. – a witty remark or joke e. – cut into pieces f. – a language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different. 54

Advanc’edge MBA March 2014

10. Freudian – (froi-dee-uh n) (adj)

16. Lingua franca – (ling-gwuh frang-kuh) (n)

11. Hold – (hohld) (n)

17. Quaint – (kweynt) (adj)

12. Psychiatry – (sahy-kahy-uh-tree) (n)

18. Anachronistic – (uh-nak-ruh-nis-tik) (adj)

g. – intensely felt, intense

n. – a long and distinct period of history

h. – spread gradually through an area or group of people, absorbed i. – a person, people or thing regarded as pleasant (or unpleasant) to be with

o. – used in ordinary or familiar conversation; not formal or literary

k. – sadness, dejection or melancholy

p. – relating to or influenced by Sigmund Freud (Austrian Psychiatrist 1856-1939) and his methods of psychoanalysis, especially with reference to the importance of unconscious desires

l. – attractively unusual or oldfashioned

q. – a person who is abnormally sensitive, obsessive, or anxious

m. – belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned

r. – having great power, influence, or effect

j. – smaller, more delicate


Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 55


A quiz to boost your General Knowledge 1. Afreed Islam, a tenth grade student, launched an ultra-slim virus-protected microchip-run computer system ReVo Book, a move that can transform traditional computing devices. He is from a. Pakistan b. USA c. India d. Sweden 2. January 31 2014 was celebrated across the world by Chinese people as the Lunar New Year. It marked the arrival of the Year of the ___________. a. Horse b. Cat c. Lion d. Bat 3. India’s first monorail was inaugurated recently in which city? a. Bengaluru b. New Delhi c. Ahmedabad d. Mumbai 4. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) of the US recently downgraded the aviation sector’s safety rating of which country, citing a lack of safety oversight? a. Pakistan b. Syria c. India d. Afghanistan 5. Heena Sandhu recently became the first Indian woman to break all previous records, and set a new world record by getting a score of 203.8 in what?


Advanc’edge MBA March 2014

a. Shooting b. Swimming c. Archery d. Javelin throw

6. According to data recently released by the Internet And Mobile Association of India, the Internet user base in India is likely to touch how much in June 2014? a. 15 crore b. 24.3 crore c. 8 crore d. 56.3 crore 7. India recently became the third largest importer of crude oil in the world, overtaking which of the following countries? a. China b. USA c. South Korea d. Japan 8. Zimbabwe announced in January 2014 that four Asian currencies were being added to the basket of currencies to be circulated in the country. These four currencies are the Indian Rupee, Chinese Yuan, Japanese Yen and ___________. a. Bangladeshi Taka b. Australian Dollar c. Malaysian Ringgit d. Singapore Dollar 9. A team of researchers led by Stefan Keller of The Australian National University have discovered the oldest known star in the universe. How old is the star estimated to be? a. 13.7 billion years

b. 8.7 billion years c. 5.7 billion years d. 3.7 billion years

10. A flash of colour in the form of a spot can be seen above the upper rim of the disk of the sun immediately after sunset or immediately before sunrise. This phenomenon is seen for just an instant, and occurs due to refraction of light. What colour is the flash? a. Red b. Pink c. Blue d. Green 11. In 2012, Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner made history by skydiving out of a balloon from the earth’s stratosphere; his drop was 4 minutes and 19 seconds long. How high was the balloon? a. 12 km b. 23 km c. 39 km d. 29 km 12. Who among the following is the only captain to be involved in as many as four tied ODIs? a. Richie Richardson b. Shaun Pollock c. Ricky Ponting d. MS Dhoni 13. A Marathi film bagged the Crystal Bear award at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival in February. It is the first Indian film to ever win the prestigious award. Name the film.


a. Killa b. Harishchandrachi Factory c. Premachi Goshtra d. Time Please

14. Pakistan recently sanctioned `8 crore for the restoration of the ancestral house, school and village of which freedom fighter of undivided India? a. Chandrashekhar Azad b. Bhagat Singh c. Mangal Pandey d. Lala Lajpat Rai 15. Pete Seeger passed away in January 2014. He was a a. Freedom fighter b. Social activist c. Singer-songwriter d. Producer 16. Which of the following countries has announced that it would build the world’s longest underwater tunnel, under the Bohai Sea? a. Japan b. USA c. Singapore d. China 17. Name the first Indian state to legally ban consumption of all forms of smokeless tobacco, including pan masala containing tobacco and nicotine. a. Maharashtra b. Assam c. Orissa d. Tail Nadu 18. Which of the following companies has developed an automatic manual transmission for its hatchback Celerio? a. Mahindra b. Honda c. Maruti Suziki d. Volkswagen 19. 103 persons were killed when a military aircraft C-130 Hercules crashed in the mountains of Algeria this February. What is being

named as the reason for the crash? a. Poor weather conditions b. Faulty equipment c. Pilot’s negligence d. Unknown

20. The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways recently made it mandatory for public transport vehicles running in major cities to install what? a. Seatbelts b. Fog lights c. GPS system d. Airbags 21. Production of which of the following iconic cars has been stopped in January 2014? a. Ambassador b. Maruti 800 c. Fiat Padmini d. Tata Sumo 22. Which country houses the longest-living wild tigress in the world, at 17 years old? a. China b. USA c. Australia d. India 23. Danish amputee Dennis Aabo is the first man in the world to get a bionic limb equipped to sensors connected to his nerves to give the real time sensation of touch. Which part of his body did it replace? a. Foot b. Knee c. Shoulder d. Hand 24. World Cancer observed on a. February 4 b. January 4 c. March 4 d. April 4



25. Which of the following is the first rail system in the world to be awarded the

Gold Standard foundation — a globally accepted certification standard for carbon mitigation projects? a. London Underground b. Tokyo Metro c. Delhi Metro d. Stockholm Tunnelbana

26. Delhi recently became the first state to withdraw approval for Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail. Which state is the second to do so? a. Gujarat b. Rajasthan c. West Bengal d. Uttar Pradesh 27. Which of the following countries will host the 2018 Olympic Games? a. South Korea b. Germany c. Japan d. Singapore 28. Charlie Chaplin wrote just one novel, which is being published for the first time. Name the novel. a. The Kid b. Footlight c. The Comedian d. Modern Times 29. A computer system, artificially intelligent and capable of answering questions asked in normal language, has been named “Watson”. Which company developed Watson? a. Hewlett-Packard b. Lenovo c. IBM d. Google 30. According the recently announced interim budget 2014-15, growth for the whole year is expected to be ______. a. 3.9% b. 5.5% c. 4.0% d. 4.9%

Advanc’edge MBA March 2014 57

STUDY HOUR 31. Which of the following is the first and only state in India to have achieved 100 per cent sanitation? a. Sikkim b. Kerala c. Himachal Pradesh d. Gujarat

the following countries has the largest population of illiterate adults in the world? a. India

b. USA c. China d. Bangladesh

32. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is the research and development wing of India’s ministry of defence. When was it established? a. 1958 b. 1966 c. 1974 d. 1982 33. With which of the following countries has India recently signed an agreement on “green energy corridors”, under which Delhi will receive an almost 9,000 million Euros loan? a. Austria b. France c. Germany d. Sweden 34. Recently, India has decided to provide Visa-on-arrival facility to tourists of all countries except eight nations. Which among the following is not among those eight nations? a. Pakistan b. Sri Lanka c. Afghanistan d. Syria


How to Play Fill in the grid so that every horizontal row, every vertical column and every 3x3 box contains the digits 1-9, without repeating the numbers in the same row, column or box. You can’t change the digits already given in the grid. Every puzzle has one solution. Hint: Don’t fill in numbers at random. While filling a particular square, write numbers 1-9 on a pad and start eliminating those numbers that already appear in the same row, column or 3x3 box.


GLOBESCAN 1.C 2.A 3.D 4.C 5.A 6.B 7.D 8.B 9.A 10.D

35. The Government of India recently launched an initiative called “Meghraj”. What is this initiative? a. Monsoon prediction system b. Cloud computing project c. Rainwater harvesting project d. Classical music revival

11.C 12.D 13.A 14.B 15.C

36. According to a recent report released by the United Nations, which of


Advanc’edge MBA March 2014

16.D 17.B 18.C 19.A 20.C 21.B 22.D 23.D 24.A 25.C 26.B 27.A 28.B 29.C 30.D 31.A 32.A 33.C 34.D 35.B 36.A

Solution, tips and computer programme at

1. n

2. g

3. q

4. i

5. r

6. k

7. d

8. c

9. o

10. p

11. b

12. a

13. e

14. j


16.f 17.l 18.m

Registered with Registrar of Newspapers under RNI No. MAHENG / 03 / 11493 Postal Registration No.: MH / MR / WEST / 14 / 2012-2014, Published on 28th of every previous month Posted at Patrika Channel Sorting office, Mumbai-400 001. Posting date : 1st and 2nd of every month.

Total pages 60

A mba march2014  
A mba march2014