“Start with the end in mind.”
This is what Stephen Covey, the educator, author, businessman and keynote speaker, said back in 1990. In today’s world of advancements in management, technology, businesses, this is probably the best advice anyone can give, especially to you who are preparing to enter this world. At this point, you’re most likely expending all your energies in your studies, preparing for the slew of entrance tests you will be taking. You’re brushing up on your concepts, reading newspapers and magazines to stay abreast of the news, some of you may even have started taking mock tests. Good. You’re on the right track. But there’s another thing you have to keep in mind. This is an MBA course you’re attempting to get into, not just any other degree. Here, being a consistently good scholar isn’t all you have to be, there’s much more. For the business schools, it’s all about ﬁnding the right proﬁle of candidates that will suit their exams. What has the applicant done apart from studying? Has he gone beyond the books to help out in his society and surroundings? Does he have an interesting hobby he’s passionate about? Has he taken part in various events, in school, college, at work and outside? Is he really interested in what’s going on in the world, or is it just general knowledge he’s cramming into his head to get the admission? Has he taken any leadership initiative outside of work or college? You see, it’s all about building your proﬁle, and improving it. It’s about understanding that studying all your life and getting exemplary grades only makes you a two dimensional individual, and that the B-schools are looking for more. On another note, if you keep reading our magazine regularly, you will ﬁnd a lot of food for thought. For instance, consider the fact that the new Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry is facing a number of challenges, and one of the things he is doing is putting together a team that’s signiﬁcantly younger than now. Meanwhile, a conversation with Oxford’s Saïd Business School faculty revealed that India will most likely be looking at signiﬁcant investment in infrastructure over the next few years. Don’t you think, therefore, that this would be a great time to think of a career in that sector? You’ve made your start towards the world of management. Now is the time to ﬁgure out where you want to end up.
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Standing out: Improve your PROFILE
Subhashree D.A, IMS student CAT 2012
Of interns, sine curves and chocolate binges
A C.A.T Approach to Cracking the CAT
Dell Stuggling for survival
Akanksha Hazari, Founder and CEO, m.Paani
In conversation with Saïd Business School, University of Oxford
Indian deans at B-schools abroad
Human resources: The people factor
Swati Ketkar, Co-founder and Executive Director, Harbinger Group
Challenges facing Cyrus Mistry of the Tata Group
Bikram Dasgupta, Founder and Executive Chairman, Globsyn Group
India’s energy policy Economic indicators
News in brief
Interesting news snippets
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Standing out: Improve your PROFILE What exactly does a B-school look for in an applicant? What should the candidates have done until their application that might get them the admission? It’s all about having a good, varied profile, one that will show that you’ve done extraordinary things in an ordinary setting. How, you ask? Read on to know more.
The Advanc’edge Team
ccording to a Harvard Business School admissions committee member, a successful business school application takes years to create, not a few months. While it may be true, let’s be honest about the whole thing. Nobody really knows that they will go after an MBA degree when they’re in, for instance, their eight or even 10th standard. One doesn’t attain the maturity to take such a decision that will probably stay with your
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career for the rest of your life until perhaps one is well into one’s teens, perhaps even later. However, the essential basis of the statement is most certainly true – it does indeed take some time to build a profile that will ensure that you have a better chance of getting an admission into your dream B-school. But there’s hardly any need to despair, even if you feel that you have only a few months left. This is the time when you build on your profile, and hone
it properly, and if you do it right, this will see you past the MBA and will turn you into a well-rounded individual.
Some of the specifics of the selection process First, let’s take a brief look at exactly what the B-schools consider for admission. There are some inorganic factors that B-schools like good scores, be it the CAT, CMAT, GMAT, XAT, SNAP, etc. and previous academic record. As far as these
Cover Story factors are concerned, it’s all in the clear, as the lines are clearly drawn about who’s eligible to apply and who isn’t. Then there is the work experience criterion. No B-school in India will turn away freshers, i.e., those who don’t have any work experience before applying for MBA. This is unlike certain B-schools overseas, such as those in the US, which don’t accept freshers at all. In India, work experience in given a certain weightage during the admission process in most of the top institutes. However, after we’re past all of this, we come upon the “profile” criterion. During admission, B-schools tend to gauge the applicant’s profile, which is why it is called a profilebased selection. Unfortunately, this is usually accepted to be the most unclear part of the selection process, as B-schools jealously guard what parameters they use to determine the candidate’s acceptability to their programme. This means that apart from a few generic pointers, such as extra and co-curricular activity, involvement in sports and other events, etc, everything else is subjective. This is why it is imperative that before applying, or even thinking of applying, to a management institute, you take a good, long, hard look at yourself, and try to understand where you stand, and what you think you have to offer to the institute to which you’re applying.
What kind of candidate are you? Largely speaking from the profile point of view, there are three categories of students who apply to a management institute. First are those who are already working in the industry, and want
to further their career through the management route. The second comprises candidates who have received their undergraduate degree, and are concentrating full time on preparing for the entrance exams. Finally, the third are the freshers, who are still studying, and plan to move directly from their undergraduate colleges to the B-school. One can argue that those with work experience have a definite edge over the others. While that might be true, the advantage is quite overrated. The admission selection process takes into consideration
It is imperative that before applying to a business school, you take a good, long, hard look at yourself, and try to understand where you stand. far more. Candidates who have work experience do indeed have a slight edge, but it is only slight, and at times, may even by nullified by other applications. For instance, take the case of Vasumathi S, an IITKharagpur graduate who was applying for an MBA from the top management institutes in India. Vasumathi has regularly taken part in almost every event in her college during her engineering course, from dance, drama and debate through to voluntary field work and giving tuitions to the needy. “I knew that it would be far better to do something than to just sit in my hostel room
and study,” she said. “After all, education is about much more than just learning up theories and sitting for exams.” Now, if you compare Vasumathi’s profile, which contains all of her activities apart from her studies, with an applicant who has only worked in a company for two years and hasn’t done anything much besides, Vasumathi emerges a far clearer choice for admission into a B-school, doesn’t she?
What you can do
There are a whole host of things that B-schools look for in a candidate, and it is impossible to name them all, mostly because these parameters aren’t revealed by the institute. However, there are some factors that will be taken into consideration. And with just a few months left, these are the ones you can focus upon to try and build on your profile. Cultivate a serious hobby This is probably the first thing you can do, and might even sound silly to many, but it isn’t as easy as it might seem at first glance. Almost everyone has some hobby or the other, but a serious one is something that not many cultivate. For instance, “reading” is a hobby that many people list in their application, along with other tired examples such as listening to music, watching movies, et al. However, the admissions committee (AdCom) members who will be evaluating your application are not looking for such worn-outwith-use material. Therefore, if “reading” is a serious hobby, it will mean that it is something that gives you pleasure, and what you do whenever you have some free time. More importantly, just like any other serious hobby, this will
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define the sort of person that you are. According to IMS’s CMAT Product Manager Rashmi Sonthalia, “I didn’t really read much when I was growing up. But lately, I’ve been reading a lot. And it’s about how I’m responding to what I’m reading, and how I find out about the sort of person I am through my reading.” For instance, Rashmi recently read The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, and loved the book. She then started another book by the same author, but realised that according to her, the underlying themes were very similar. She then decided to keep reading works by different authors. She also realised the kind of genres that she loves, the ones she’s okay with, and others she just doesn’t prefer. Her hobby, which was only a pastime earlier, has now turned into a serious hobby. “It’s all about finding order in the chaos. Instead of reading anything and everything, without rhyme or reason, you find a pattern in the randomness
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of your preferences. This will not only give you a very wholesome idea about the things you like, but also about yourself as a whole,” she said. A n o t h e r example – start a blog. And maintain it. It can be about anything – writing what you feel like, a kind of personal diary, a photojournal, what have you. Maintaining that blog constantly will require a lot of discipline and effort, so if it is something you love doing, all the better. If you can ensure that you post something meaningful at least once every week, it will mean that you do have accountability, you understand responsibility, and that you can follow through on your own commitments. These are simply examples. The hobby can be anything else. Think of something that you love doing, but haven’t devoted much time to. Why you haven’t spent a lot of time doing something you loved can be for any number of reasons – you were concentrating on studies, you had too much work on your hands, what have you. But now is the best time to connect with yourself through this, gain a perspective about yourself through what you like. The motivator for this may be that admission process around the corner, but at the end of the day, this is something that will stay with you all your life.
There is another perspective to all of this. Your hobby, and your seriousness in it, tells a lot about yourself. Let us consider some other examples – travelling, solving puzzles like Sudoku, etc. Why do you like to travel? Why do you like solving puzzles? Is it about the people that you meet, the nuances, the general feel of a new place? Is it the thrill of exploring someplace new? Is it about the thrill of satisfaction you get when you complete a particularly difficult puzzle? As you can see, answers to these questions tell a lot about who you are. And that is what the B-schools look for in a hobby – it should tell them about the person that you are. Volunteer There are so many NGOs out there that are working for the betterment of society in whatever way possible. Have you ever thought of lending a hand? Probably not. But this is the sort of community service that B-schools like to see. The AdComs like to see a candidate going out of their routine to do something meaningful, something productive, and something that benefits society as a whole. Unfortunately, this is something that many
Look for an NGO that has a mission you want to be a part of. Find an emotional connection and work on a problem that you have a passionate interest in solving. on the street, volunteer with groups like Save The Children India. If you feel that these children need to be educated, volunteer with a foundation that imparts education free of cost to these children. If you think the most important thing to do is to conserve our environment, sign up with NGOs like Green Future Foundation or Ramakrishna Mission Lokashiksha Parishad. What you must not do is to run to different NGOs in the hope that a lot of community service would mean an advantage for you. Be sincere about it, identify your interest, and then volunteer.
PHOTO: Rohan Surana
candidates misinterpret completely. In this race to build a good profile, many of them simply do some volunteer work for a few months until they get to the selection stage, and afterwards, forget about it. However, whoever they might fool, rest assured that the AdComs won’t be taken in by this. If your volunteering work was done solely so that you can list it among your achievements, they will see through it. Instead, think of something that you want to do for society. Stop a moment in your rushed, hectic, perhaps humdrum life, and put your mind to it – according to you, what do you think your society, especially what you see around you, needs? Look for an organisation that has a mission that you want to be a part of. Find an emotional connection and work on a problem that you have a passionate interest in solving. Once you have an idea, go to the NGO that works in that area. For instance, if you feel that it is imperative that children deserve better than to be made labourers
Volunteer to help educate underprivileged children
The AdComs really want to see that you have engaged with a community that you are passionate about serving and that the volunteer work you have done has importance and meaning to you. Remember, the quality of the experience is more important than quantity when it comes to community service. One significant leadership achievement can outweigh a laundry list of more limited volunteer work. On another note, what many B-schools look for in such examples of volunteer work or community service is whether you’ve achieved something on your own or not. If you’ve been able to make a significant contribution, that would certainly weigh in for you. And think about it, don’t you think that you will be able to make a significant, important contribution only if you know what you’re doing, and love it? Take up a part-time job If you’re not already working somewhere, why not take up a small role in a company somewhere, part time? But before you decide upon this, do your homework, and remember, never assume that the AdCom fellows are stupid. According to a faculty member and an AdCom member in one of the Symbiosis institutes, anything that you’ve done merely to boost your efforts of getting into their institute will be seen through. However, if improving your profile is only one of the reasons, and the others include the fact that you’re actually sincere about it, two thumbs up! “Think about where you want to be after your MBA, which field or industry you want to be in. Then identify a company in that sector, and take up a
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Cover Story part time job,” said the AdCom member, and added, “This will serve several purposes, apart from strengthening your profile. Firstly, you’ll find out yourself about the sector, first hand. There’s absolutely no substitute for this. Wanting to work in an industry and knowing about it theoretically is all well and good, but actually working in it, knowing what it is all about and then making the informed decision to work in that field counts for much more. This will also show the AdCom that you’re serious about working in a sector.” Do something out of the ordinary For those who are working, a lot of free time is a luxury rarely enjoyed. So while they can still do all of the above, it would perhaps be unrealistic to expect the same level of dedication and commitment. Instead, ask yourself this: What kind of career progress have you made? Did you receive an out of turn
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promotion or appreciation? Did your responsibilities increase in your team? Have you acquired new skills? You will be evaluated on all of this. Therefore, volunteer for stretch assignments and unique projects. Showing up for work and doing what you’re told is a good formula for staying where you are, but it won’t get you promoted and it won’t get you into business school. If you want to earn a spot in a top business school, then you have to show initiative and distinguish yourself from your peers. Furthermore, if you’re working in an over-represented field for MBA applicants like finance or consulting, you will have to pursue unique projects that will set you apart, which may mean volunteering for projects that others are unable or unwilling to tackle. For example, one successful applicant from a consulting firm volunteered for an international assignment in the Middle East i n
You have to improve yourself, so that your profile stands up to scrutiny in an interview. You need to know how businesses function. the middle of summer that none of his colleagues were willing to sign-up for. His admit letter was a great reward for the months he spent outrunning sandstorms and baking in the desert sun. Apart from all of this, you have to improve your own self, so that your profile stands up to scrutiny when you’re being interviewed. You need to have an idea about how businesses function. The AdCom doesn’t expect you to be the next Azim Premji or Ratan Tata in the making, although you might well be. What they do look for is basic business sense. For this, the only prescription is to keep reading up financial publications like the Economic Times, Business Standard, Bloomberg Businessweek, etc. Keep talking to people around you. This doesn’t mean gossip, but developing a meaningful conversation. Build on your communication skills. And don’t forget to be creative in what you do. Often, the difference between two candidates’ profiles lies in how they approached a similar situation – in their lives, workplaces, at their hobbies, etc. So remember, it is not too late to build a profile that will give you a good chance to get an admission. Be sincere, be honest with yourself, and be creative. For all the rest, it’s up to you. A
A C.A.T. Approach to Cracking the CAT Just in case you thought that the above conforms to the age old wisdom in the adage - “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, you are definitely right the C.A.T. for the CAT! The Advanc’edge Team
he CAT is a test which sends shivers down the spines of the student community, for the following obvious reasons - the most widely accepted aptitude test for admission to top B-schools in the country, the magnitude of competition, the enormity of the stakes involved and the multiplicity of pressures to handle. All this requires a “well chalked-out and meticulously executed strategy”. In fact, the right approach to prepare is what differentiates a CAT cracker from a CAT defaulter. You need to phase out your preparation, identify the effort required in each phase and
customise your approach accordingly - a process which we will label as “the C.A.T. approach,” wherein the C.A.T. is an acronym for Concepts, Application and Test taking, the three phases of preparation. Concepts - This is the first phase of preparation and is imperative to build basic conceptual knowledge. A sectional view of the CAT reveals three areas of testing - Quantitative, Logic & Data Interpretation and Verbal Ability. Performance in each section is linked to your ability to connect with the fundamentals therein. Not knowing a concept can be a huge deterrent in effectively tackling a question; for
example, it is virtually impossible to solve a question on “cyclic quadrilaterals” without knowing what one is. Further, each section differs in the range of concepts involved - the “Quantitative Section” has a greater diversity of concept areas as compared to th e “Logic & Data Interpretation Section”, the latter being more practice intensive; while the “Verbal Section” has more concepts to be familiar with in the “Usage & Grammar” area as compared to the “Reading Comprehension” area. This difference in the sensitivity of each section to concept-intensiveness determines the time to be devoted to each section during this phase of preparation. It is also recommended that you take a Diagnostic Test at the onset, which will bring forth the difference between the desired and expected levels of preparedness in each section. It has been observed that just thorough awareness of major concepts can take a test taker to a performance level of 75 percentile in the CAT.
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MBA BUZZ Application - This is the next level of preparation and logically follows the “concept building level.” Students should graduate to the “application level” only after a comprehensive knowhow of the key concept areas. It is therefore suggested that a section-wise analysis of concept awareness be conducted and the gaps be plugged in before escalating to this level. The focus here is to develop a section-wise ability to apply concepts and ingrain a problem solving approach, involving skills to identify the sequential steps for effectively handling the questions. Students also need to stress on an integrated approach to solving questions; for example, a question might require an application of multiple concepts and therefore demand the proficiency to apply concepts in an integrated manner previous CAT questions reveal that certain questions on time, speed and distance also entailed an
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It is observed that a strong application orientation can take a test taker to a performance level of 95 percentile in the CAT. application of concepts from geometry, while questions on permutations and combinations required concepts from number theory as well. Taking an optimum number of section wise tests followed by in-depth analysis is the way forward in this level of preparation. It has been observed that a strong application orientation can take a test taker to a performance level of 95 percentile in the CAT. Test Taking - This is the conclusive level of preparation and assumes successful
completion of the first two levels. Test taking, per se, makes no sense if concept awareness is not in place or if the ability to apply concepts is questionable. The way ahead in this level of preparation is taking a range of tests simulating the difficulty level of the CAT and reflecting your performance on a certain scale. It is advisable that you take an adequate mix of paper based and computer based tests; while paper based tests gauge your ability to respond to test questions in a conventional way, computer based tests mirror your adaptation to the new mode of test taking and ensure the desired comfort levels. Further, each test needs to be analysed well - the attempted questions need to be revisited from the perspective of bettering the approach and reducing the time allocated for solving them; the unattempted questions need to be explored from a feasibility perspective, which when attempted could have reduced the opportunity costs and apportioned out more time for other questions. Optimal test taking can ensure competence with respect to significant test taking skills such as time management, strategy formulation, prioritisation, judicious management of diverse sections, and can enable the test taker to graduate to the highest levels of performance, with even 100 percentile being a possibility! In a nutshell, the C.A.T. approach helps you to structure your preparation in distinct phases and identify the challenges in each phase, thereby enabling you to put concerted and focused efforts ensuring more effective and strategic preparation. A
In conversation with
Saïd Business School In this special report, the Advanc’edge Team met up with faculty members of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, and spoke to them about their views on the programmes at the institution, the people there, and business in general. Aditya Prakash Iengar & Puja Shah of leadership, on top of being the usual – the outstanding scholar, having done well in school, good experience in their jobs and with good recommendations. Future leaders, if you will.
You have a very diverse student base. Does that cause issues?
Peter Tufano Peter Moores Dean and Professor of Finance at Saïd Business School and a Professorial Fellow at Balliol College, University of Oxford
rior to joining Oxford, Dr Tufano was a faculty member at the Harvard Business School for 22 years. During this time, he assumed a number of leadership roles, serving as department chair, course head, and senior associate dean.
Apart from the usual list of eligibility criteria, what else does Saïd Business School look for in candidates? In addition to all of the things you’ve seen, you look for maturity, a sense of purpose, a promise
Of course it causes a lot of issues, and all of those issues are fantastic! If you want students to ultimately become managers and business people in a global environment, the best thing to do is to stick them in a global environment. So when you’re in our class, there’s no majority. Twenty per cent come from India, around 20 per cent come from America, students come from Canada, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, China, everywhere. Now every school will say that they have students from X, Y, Z countries. Now, if you look at the facts, Harvard, for instance, 62 per cent of the students are from the US, 38 per cent are from overseas. At Oxford, in my MBA programme, less than 10 per cent of my students come from Britain. Everyone else is from around the world, with no country dominating. That’s global. The idea is that if you want to do business in the world, get used to it, it’s as simple as that.
Why did you come to Oxford after 22 years at Harvard? It was this opportunity! Even though it sounds like all business schools are the same, we’re trying to create a brand new kind of institution. But the truth is that most business schools are either standalones or functional standalones. This is to say that they keep the university at bay, and this is the normal sociology of business schools. It’s a very different
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Special Report model, and a difficult one in many ways. For example, take the question of leadership in ethics. Most business schools will find a set of business leaders and business ethics experts to talk to the students. I find it extremely interesting that we have historians, philosophers, ethicists, moralists, people who study literature – all of them at Oxford. And all of them actually have something to say on this topic. Don’t you think it would be interesting if they spent some time with the business school students and discussed business ethics and leadership, and challenge us about some of these topics? This is the strategy, and ours is one of the, or perhaps the only, business school to pull it off successfully. And that’s why I came to Oxford!
Saïd Business School says it’s a global institution that addresses global challenges. What do you mean by global challenges?
One of the things that we’ve done is to ask a very simple question, and I’ve been doing it since I talked to different CEOs. The question is this: What phenomenon will fundamentally alter businesses in the next 25 years? Now different people give different answers. One of them is demography. If you look at India, you’re enjoying what’s called a demographic dividend. If you look at China, Japan, Western Europe, America, you’re enjoying demographic deficits. Over the next two or three decades, those will play out in very different ways. In India, it will play
out in the need for education, skill building, while theirs will play out in the need for changes in the retirement system, housing, healthcare, etc. So let’s think about those very long horizon issues and about the business implications of today and over the next few years how they’re going to address those issues. For instance, we’re now looking at a phenomenon called Big Data. This is low cost computing power, availability of massive amounts of information, the digitisation of everything – all this is fundamentally altering business. So far, we’ve only seen the front wedge of that; hardly six per cent of firms are doing anything around big data. And in the next 30 or 40 years, you will see a fundamental shift in business as a result of that technology being deployed. Another thing that comes up is natural resources and their scarcity. What implications will this have on business in the next 25 or 30 years? These are big phenomenon, big challenges, and big opportunities. By virtue of being part of a university, we have experts placed around us, not in the business school, but outside and around us in Oxford, and we can draw upon them to get the basic facts and ask the questions and get an answer. That’s the essence of Oxford. We’re not trying to be a business school at a university. We’re embedded in a university. These two things are very different. And when students apply, I tell them that they have to understand that they’re coming to a university, not just another institution.
r Paul Chapman has directed (or been involved in) custom programmes for the Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation of India, Meggitt, Total and HEC’s EMBA in the UK. He also teaches the core operations management course for the School’s EMBA. He also teaches at the Copenhagen Business School, and believes that a discussion on sociology and its perspective prevalent in the major programme is best done over a glass of beer!
Could you tell programme?
Paul Chapman Director of the MSc in Major Programme Management, a Fellow in Operations Management and Executive Director of the BT Centre for Major Programmes Management
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In India, particularly, we have a huge interest in major programmes. A very rough definition of the major programmes would be that they’re very large scale, in the order of a billion US dollars and above. Generally, they’re very complex, so we refer to them as a system of systems. So you can have IT systems and physical infrastructure, but any big project on this scale will also have social systems as well. Often, when people think of a major
Turn to Pg 16
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The idea of the incomplete leader is that you need completeness in the team, but not in every individual.
project, they’ll assume it to be an infrastructure project – concrete and steel. But these comprise around 20 per cent of the projects. A lot of them are soft infrastructure like social programmes, anything to do with welfare, education, and these will be expensive to execute. Then there are projects on Big Science, like CERN in Geneva, the Hubble Space Telescope, et al. And finally there is entrepreneurship; having established a venture, how do you grow it, from being a decent sized small business, around with a $10 million turnover, to a good sized, billion dollar business? So in a country like India, where you have many entrepreneurs, our interest lies in helping someone at the helm of a small business make that transition to a significant organisation.
Speaking of entrepreneurship, India is still a largely risk averse culture. Do you expect any resistance when prescribing as huge a leap as what is entailed in the major programme?
Well, what you say is true, but I do believe that you also have organisations that are coming out of India, and there’s no better example than the Tata Group, who are both historically and currently entrepreneurial, and at scale. Their acquisitions internationally are breathtaking! So there you have an example of people who are prepared to take risks, and not uninformed ones. The Tata Group has been able to do what it does, after having experimented, tried and learned from their failings. So they are risk taking, but I like to see it as both risk taking and opportunity taking. There are many such entrepreneurs who do take such big decisions, who do bet the farm, as the Americans say. Even though addressing this is not the core of our programme, managing risk is part of it, and we do have entrepreneurs who take the programme to understand how to mitigate such “bet the farm” risks. Something that we bring to the discussion table is how they can design an organisation that can handle that risk and is flexible and able to change. One of the core skills taught during the programme is how to constantly redesign the organisation to meet the delivery challenge.
Why is India of particular interest to you as far as the major programme is concerned? My sense is that India needs infrastructure. Part of
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it as simple as that. Some of the challenges in India are global, and I think India answers them quite well. Take the managing of shareholders, for instance. India has a vibrant democracy with lots of stakeholder groups, many of whom have a voice and understand how the stakeholder engagement works. I think in this arena, India has an answer, although I probably couldn’t tell you specifically what that answer might be. Meanwhile, the Indian track record of delivering infrastructure is not good, and we do see better examples elsewhere. Saïd Business School is a world class institution in a world class university — Oxford — addressing global challenge, and this delivery of infrastructure is a global challenge. So we’re here both to help and to learn. Now, infrastructure projects are the biggest in India currently, but it is a worldwide phenomenon that big projects often fail. That is what we try to address. So I would like to see more people from India on our programme, to give these perspectives. A real strength of Oxford is referred to the convening power of Oxford, which basically means that people turn up! If you come to Oxford, you meet interesting people, and that’s why people come here, so it’s sort of a self fulfilling prophecy. And interesting people always have things to offer to others. One of my questions during the admissions interview is ‘What will your classmates say about you?’ ‘What is the contribution you will make to the success of this programme?’ And you know what? There isn’t a right answer, because people are different. The way we teach is that this cohort of different people — 50 of them — interacts with each other along with one person down in the middle, the faculty. So that’s why I ask that question – what’s the cohort you want to be in?
Who is eligible for the programme?
One of the criteria is at least seven years of relevant management experience. What this means is that if one has ten years of work experience, seven of those would have to have been in a managerial role, and by relevant, we mean working on the delivery of projects, although that encompasses a lot. A good first degree or equivalent professional qualifications is also a must. The latter can include membership of a professional body, such as chartered engineers.
Special Report These aren’t many in number, but there are entrants in this category as well. For instance, the student who won the best student award in our first cohort was the only person who didn’t have a good first degree. He was admitted on the basis of his professional qualifications. So there’s hope for everyone! Even you haven’t led any project, you must demonstrate that you have the potential. The admission process includes writing three essays. This is to understand if the candidate will be able to succeed in the programme. The people we get tend to be in the age group of 30 to as old as 55. The average age is around 38. We also subscribe to incomplete leadership. There’s a capability model that underpins our curriculum. And we do have a certain number of parameters that we feel those wanting to take the programme should meet. But we know that nobody can meet all the criteria, and we don’t expect it. But what we need is for the people to be aware of their deficiencies as well as their strengths, just like the leadership of a corporation, which is never one single person. It’s a senior team. So the idea of the incomplete leader is that you need completeness in the team, but not in every individual. We don’t expect anyone to be good at everything, but they should know where their strengths lie and where they will fall short, simply because of who they are.
With an engineering background, you moved into management. How did that come about?
My interest is in manufacturing systems, and I did my undergraduate degree in that. Then I did my doctorate in engineering. My first bit of research was on how to take lean manufacturing techniques from the auto sector to the aerospace sector. So this got me interested in large scale products. And I realised that if I want to make a car or an aeroplane better, the answer lies in design or supply chain, or a bit of both. And when you come to think about it, that’s management!
Given that markets are volatile, and many countries are facing economic crises, is there any room for such major programmes?
It cuts both ways. Sometimes, it’s the affordability of a project. The answer might be a responsible government should not burden future generations, and take only those projects it can afford. However, one of the best ways of stimulating an economy is to invest in infrastructure. And many governments are interested. So before the financial crash, there was loose monetary policy, which meant people were consuming, and often in an economy, that will lead to imports. This means that the money goes out of the economy. But if you invest in infrastructure, that money stays in the economy much longer. So there’s actually a rather sound economic argument that says this is the best time, in this economic crises, to invest in infrastructure, which are major projects, and that’s where the major programme comes in.
Saïd Business School
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Andrew White Associate Dean for Executive Education at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and a Fellow of Green Templeton College
r Andrew White started life as an academic; he did a doctorate in innovation management, which is about looking at new ideas, new products, new business models, et al. He spent six years doing research and teaching, and then moved into executive education, before taking over, two years ago, the running of the executive education part of Saïd Business School.
What drew management?
I’ve always had a fascination with where successful and new things come from. Particularly in today’s world, there’s so much change going on, and a look at the patent curves over the last few years shows us that there’s been a huge amount going on in terms of technological changes. Back when I was doing research, I was using a little tape machine, a dictaphone! But today, you don’t even need two devices, you can record any conversation using your mobile phone, with which, of course, you can do so, so much more. And then, if you add up what’s going on in today’s world, particularly with the rise of India, China and Brazil, the rules of the game are changing. There was the view in parts of the West that capitalism should allow some companies to fail, but one day, we woke up and realised that these companies have become too
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big to fail, and the consequence of failure is far too much. So we’re having to think through what all of this really means. Today, innovation is coming from different parts of the world, instead of being segregated within geographic boundaries. China too has huge amounts of innovation and growth going on there. Once, their products were some of the cheap, so-called second class products, but that’s changing, and the quality and perception about it is also changing. A Chinese company now owns what was IBM’s laptop division, Lenovo. If you look at the way several Indian companies are challenging the dominance of some of the big IT companies of the West, you’ll see that this is no longer about being second tier, they’re catching up. Current ﬁgures show that Tata is now the biggest private sector employer in the UK! Could you have imagined that 20 or even 10 years ago? So the world is an intriguing place now, which makes the study of innovation even more interesting.
Who do you deal with in your work?
In terms of the custom work that we do, our client base includes banks in China, Tata Chemicals and IDFC in India, a couple of government organisations, the Qatar foundation in the Middle East, et al. Then there are organisations like Standard Chartered Bank, SAB Miller, MAN Truck, which faced a lot of challenges when their market crashed and coming back again. We’re doing something really interesting with companies that are asking questions like ‘what are we about, what are we for, who are we serving?’ These questions are rattling around in more and more boardrooms now, as people realise that they can’t keep continuing to pump out the same products over and over again. Companies in the US are now coping with more and more pressure that is coming to them from different parts of the world. My job is to ﬁnd out the common threads and ask how we can go deeper and how we as a business school can serve these organisations in the journey they’re on and enable them to be more successful tomorrow as they were yesterday.
People come from all over the world for the executive education programme at a business school such as yours, and many of them have more than 10 or www.advancedge.com
Special Report 15 years of experience. Doesn’t that create a problem in the delivery of the course content among such diverse students?
With the rise of India, China and Brazil, the rules of the innovation game are changing... Today, innovation is coming from different parts of the world.
If we were using a traditional teaching model, it would indeed create difficulties, and by traditional teaching I mean the conventional “chalk and talk” method. If we were teaching basic business skills, the problem would arise there too. But that is not the case here. In many of our open programmes, we often get 40 individuals from 26 different countries; most of them are from the private sector, many from the government and NGO sectors. So in our highly discussive method of teaching, the teachers do bring their research, but they’re also asking the individuals about what’s going on in their world. And people are learning from each other, particularly because the things they’re working on are neither fully from the private, public or NGO sector. So there’s a huge convergence between those worlds, and lot of learning takes place simply because of the methodology of teaching, which is very much about interaction. Secondly, if you look at what we’re teaching, you’ll find that we draw a lot on resources from the university and not just from the business school. So we’re teaching them about social, political, technological changes, about what’s going on in the worlds that they’re operating in. They need to take all these aspects into account when they allocate resources, strategise, promote and market, in short, everything. So when you’re in that space, all of a sudden, some of the differences between being in the public or private or NGO sectors start to become
less important. People start to realise that they’re actually working with a lot of the similar issues, and the techniques that they use and the challenges that they face are not really that different. In fact, in such scenarios, the differences can actually become an asset, rather than a liability.
Why would someone who has been more or less successful in the industry want to get into management at all?
Well, to be practical, if one believes that one has been successful, that in itself might turn out to be a trap, and he or she might not get that kind of success in the future! So particularly with ambitious people, the more successful you are, often, the more arrogant you might become. We can all find stories of people who have been very successful initially, and for whatever reason, have crashed. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, you see. So when you mix with your peers at a business school, you will find that there are many, many more like you. You automatically find humility, which is very important. Furthermore, when you start off in your career, and you go to a business school and you learn about HR and finance and marketing and strategy and everything else, these things will serve you, but only to a point. But when you’re at or near the top of an organisation, everything becomes incredibly complicated. So how do you make decisions in that environment? So it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when it comes to making the right strategic judgment for your organisation, and coming to a school like SBS gives you a chance to reflect and gives you space. And of course, it is all about what you will learn. We don’t always teach things that one would traditionally associate with a business school, we increasingly draw on the Oxford University. So when you get to a certain level of leadership in an organisation, it’s not just about looking down, how you handle the organisation, it’s also about looking out. That is extremely vital, and it is something you learn and imbibe during a management course at a business school. A
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Human resources: The people factor
As the world grows smaller and smaller, and companies realise the need for a diverse mix of people and cultures at the workplace, the role of the HR manager becomes crucial to the organisation in promoting and maintaining a harmonious whole.
he rapidly transforming business landscape means that there are many confrontments in Human Resource Management which will continue to evolve for the years to come. Due to the fluctuating economy of the country, there are a lot of local and global advancements and changes that are occurring rapidly, all of which is expected to affect Human Resource Management in a wide range of issues. The role of a Human Resource Manager is evolving with the change in the competitive market environment, and the realisation that Human Resource Management must play a more strategic role in the success of any organisation. In the changing business environment, it has now become the responsibility of an HR manager to play the role of a strategic partner and change mentor within the organisation. In order to succeed, Human Resource Management is expected to be a business driven function with a thorough understanding of the organisationâ€™s
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big picture and be able to influence key decisions and policies. Some of the crucial challenges that can be visualised in the area of managing people are Talent Retention,
With a mixture of talents of diverse backgrounds, gender, lifestyle and age, any organisation can respond to business opportunities more rapidly and creatively.
Leadership Development, Succession Planning, Change Management, Organisational Transformation and Learning and Development. Taking these challenges into consideration, it becomes very important for the drivers of Human Resource Management in any organisation to promote and facilitate values, ethics, beliefs and spirituality within their business group, especially in the management of workplace diversity. It’s always important to see how an HR manager can meet the challenges of workplace diversity, how to motivate employees through sharing and executing information system through proper planning, organising, leading and controlling their men. The future success of any business entity will depend on the ability of its Human Resource Team to recruit, manage and retain a diverse pool of talent that can bring diverse perspectives, views and innovative ideas to their workplace. With a mixture of talents of diverse cultural backgrounds, gender, lifestyle and age, any organisation can respond to business opportunities more rapidly and creatively, especially in the global arena. On the contrary, if the work environment in any organisation does not support workplace diversity broadly, one may risk losing talents to one’s competitors. As per the Survey of Global HR Challenges: Yesterday, today and tomorrow, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the World Federation of Personnel Management Association (2006), of the total hours worked by HR professionals, the percentage of the total time that they need to spend in different areas are:
The above data sends a clear message: that almost one quarter (24 per cent) of the total hours
worked by HR professionals should be devoted to being a strategic business partner in the organisation. United States Academic Dr David Ulrich defines strategic business partner as a partner comprising of senior and line managers from the HR department of the organisation who should be responsible for the execution of the strategies framed, thereby helping to move the plans from the conference room to the market place. In the same survey that was carried out across Asia Pacific countries, an issue that is expected to pose a challenge in the next five years is staffing, including international mobility of employees, as it was noted in other regions as well. The concept of workforce diversity also holds true for most of the multinational companies, which have their operations not only in different countries, but also in different continents. These MNCs are the companies that employ people from different countries with different cultural and ethical values. Hence, in such a scenario, the HR manager is expected to be more watchful and employ the ‘Think Global, Act Local’ approach most circumstances. Also, a crucial challenge for the HR professionals is that with the inclusion of foreign talent in the team, the local professionals must be assured that the incoming foreign professionals will not pose a threat to their career advancements.
Role of an HR manager:
In order to effectively bring in the essence of workplace diversity and make it a continuous practice or a habit, HR managers need to be on the front line and drive this phenomenon across organisations, thereby touching each and every element in the organisation. Character of leadership There are many of us who live in dreams, while many others live in reality. But the beauty of human progress lies in the hands of those leaders who think of a dream and strive to make it real. The workplace culture in any organisation is reflected by its leadership. If you look at a few organisations in our country, one of the first names that will strike your mind is that of Ramalingam
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Leadership style can help the organisation develop emerging core competencies and at the same time overcome key strategic challenges.
Raju. A former Indian IT Industrialist who founded Satyam Computers in 1987 and the chairman of the company until January 7, 2009, Raju had to resign because of the loopholes in his leadership. Unfortunately, it was disclosed that this leader had systematically falsified the accounts of the giant outsourcing company. At the other extreme, there have been leaders who have taken their organisation to new heights. Consider this man. A Bharat Ratna who made a conglomerate grow, who took the credit of providing the services and products to the world ranging from salt to software. Under his chairmanship, ‘M’ was replaced by ‘B’ (The Tata Group grew from a 100 million dollar company to a 5 billion dollar company). He started with 14 enterprises under his leadership, and half a century later, on July 26, 1988, when he left, Tata & Sons was a conglomerate of 95 enterprises which they either started or in which they had controlling interest. He was Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata. In both of the examples listed above, if you would have noticed, it was the vision of the leader that made all the difference. Whether it was Raju or Tata, it was their character that spoke about them. The two examples above clearly demonstrate that a leader has the power and the capability to bring about the change which the organisation wishes to experience or see. It’s also the leadership style that can help the organisation to develop on the emerging core competencies and at the same time overcome key strategic challenges.
the employee and the level of his engagement at the workplace increases significantly if they observe and perceive that their organisation genuinely cares for them and is transparent. Flexibility at workplace is one such tool that communicates care and transparency. Until 2011, India’s best score in terms of employee satisfaction in the area of transparency stood at 77 per cent, while this year, the same number broke all records and climbed to 82 per cent. However, this also means that there still is a gap of 18 per cent, which needs to be explored. Hence for creating an atmosphere which actually supports and recognises the efforts of a team comprising people with disability, LGBTs, women talent and people from different generations, it becomes equally important for HR professionals to ensure that the environment at their office or workplace allows these diverse mindsets of people to come together, work together and live together effectively towards the outcome of the business. Strategically handling the talent Companies have now started to realise the importance of a diverse workforce. As companies start expanding their operations globally either physically or virtually, it becomes a strategic need Turn to Pg 26
Creating a flexible Workplace A diverse workplace is still a distant goal for many organisations, and to achieve this goal, the organisations need to take a big step by creating a fair share of flexibility at the workplace. Flexibility at the workplace would allow the diverse workgroups to coexist. Several experts from the industry claim that the dedication and commitment from
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Career Watch for them to hire, recruit and employ people with diverse talents, as it helps the organisations to understand the various fortes of the market they are targeting. In the 1980s, the country with the largest population in the world – China – decided to expand its trade beyond its boundaries and started looking out at the global market. The idea was to export their products globally. To achieve this, the best of the Chinese companies hired a number of Singaporeans (75 per cent of Singaporeans of Chinese descent). This was done because the Chinese realised that the marketing professionals whom Singapore nourished had a basic understanding of the Chinese market. Also, because of Singapore’s open economic policies, these professionals from Singapore also had an attitude towards the western market and the ability to speak the English language. With the evolution of this trend in the market, any HR manager should try to strategically handle the diverse talent. He/ she must agree with the fact that a diverse workforce can urge the organisation to scale new heights, by cracking new potential markets and attaining organisational goals, in order to tie together the full potential of diversity at the workplace.
responses to these concerns. There should be a promise from HR professionals to all the different categories of people in a workplace that the concerns or issues raised by the employees in the field of workforce diversity would be resolved in an ethical, responsible and just manner. An encouragement of this sort would imbibe the feeling inside the employee that he is free to raise the issue, and at the same time, it also sends a signal to the employee that all these concerns will be addressed. This employee would now concentrate and dedicate himself more to his assigned roles and responsibilities. Therefore, the opportunities to grow in this area of HR function and leadership are huge, as a number of sectors remains untouched and needs to be explored. The people from these sectors could be brought into the mainstream to bring in the culture of workforce diversity, wherein these people will actively participate, contribute and deliver. Hence, the study shows that the role of the organisational leader becomes very important to drive workforce diversity in the organisation, and this must run parallel to the constantly changing dynamics in the corporate world. Most of the successful organisations are the ones that are more adaptable, resilient and flexible, and are known to be change makers and customer focussed. And for the organisations to be successful, the entire HR fraternity of the organisation should become skilled in managing, supervising and controlling the human resources via proper planning and strategic decision making. Furthermore, it becomes even more significant for the leaders to have the knowledge and regular updates of the emerging trends to train and develop the employees. A
An HR professional needs to endorse and encourage a diverse workforce by making diversity evident at every hierarchy of the organisation.
Be the leader in talks As an HR manager, the professional needs to ensure that they promote, endorse and encourage a diverse workforce by making diversity evident at each and every hierarchy of the organisation. If this is missing, the employees of the organisation would tend to develop a notion that their career path holds no future in the organisation. This may lead to high attrition. Hence it becomes equally important for HR line managers to respect the issues related to diversity and promote transparent, apparent, clear and positive
Currently serving as Lead Associate – HR in The Tata Power Company Ltd. Varinder Singh opted for the field of HR out of sheer interest after completing his graduation in Mechanical Engineering. He is also a professional anchor who has hosted more than 140 professional shows for national and international companies, and has worked as a soft skills trainer at all the IIMs, XLRI and other top B-school call getters for their Group Discussion and Personal Interview Rounds. He has been a faculty with IMS for the last five years. Varinder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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‘An MBA can give you a jumpstart’
This is what SWATI KETKAR, the co-founder and executive director of Harbinger Group, feels. After founding the company way back in 1990, she didn’t stay confined to a single role, choosing instead to hold various positions in different departments in her company. She talks to Aditya Prakash Iengar about her experience, how Harbinger moved forward and her experience during her MBA. Tell us about your education.
I got my master’s degree in Computer Science from the Pune University. Then, after nearly 18 years of working, I went back to school in 2007 and got an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
Why did you feel that you had to get back to school? Well, as the company kept growing and I kept taking on different roles within the company, I learned a lot on the job. But when we had reached a certain size, and realised that there was a great opportunity for further growth that was coming our way, I thought that it would be useful to go back to school. I would be able to imbibe the concepts from the masters, have the frameworks handy, understand the language that is used formally and communicate in that parlance as we grew. We were also looking into the both organic and inorganic aspects of the growth.
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I believe that the one fact we should accept is that success in one field doesn’t guarantee the same immediately in another.
These were the motivating factors for me. I’ll tell you another, more specific reason I had for joining the Ross School of Business. At the times, two things happened. Firstly, our CEO, Mr Vikas Joshi had conducted a management boot camp for us. During that workshop, as we were going through our strategies and refining them, I realised that “strategy” as a subject interested me a lot. After that, perhaps a few months down the line, I also attended a management development programme designed by Professor C.K. Prahalad, the management guru. Prof. Pralhad himself conducted a large part of the programme. My interaction with him again reinforced the same feeling I had got earlier – that I was extremely interested in strategy. That was when I realised that I wanted to go deeper, find out more. The second reason was my team’s confidence. They assured me that I could easily take some time off from my work and do an executive MBA programme, and that they would take care of the work I was doing and hold the fort while I was away. Since I had worked with the team for a very long time, I had complete confidence in them, which also bolstered my inclination to go back to school, which I did finally in 2009.
Harbinger’s inception was in 1990. Since then, you have worked in almost every department of the organisation. Why was that? Was it a conscious choice? The answer to this comes to me again in two parts. We started the company in 1990, and we have grown organically since then. Now I’ve always felt that it is very important for the senior management of an organisation to get into the roles that are required by the company while it is growing.
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Naturally, there are a lot of factors and aspects that need to be handled, especially for a growing company. This is from the company’s point of view. From a personal perspective, I viewed it as an opportunity for me to get into different kinds of roles. As far as my profile is concerned, I’m from a hard-core computer science background, having done both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science. So for me, if my work were specific to projects, developing products — engineering, basically — I would be in my comfort zone. But then as one gets into different roles, for example, when one has to go and actually sell a product in the market, especially in one such as the Indian market, one finds out about the other side of the coin. That always comes in very handy, primarily when you’re planning and trying to grow your company and strategise. Working in many different kinds of roles means that you’re not looking at the world only from your own standpoint, standing in your own well and looking up at the bit of sky you can see. Only when you climb out of the well do you realise the vastness of the world and the sky beyond your well. So when you work different roles, you learn about various kinds of situations.
Wasn’t it difficult for you to handle these different kinds of roles? For instance, when you say that you had to sell your product in the Indian market, how did you find it, coming from a hardcore computer science background such as yours? It was definitely a challenge, especially for roles like sales, for which I didn’t have any formal education to draw upon. Besides, our products were in the e-learning and multimedia space, which, as everyone knows, was a
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Corporate Interview very new and unexplored field back in 1995-96 in India. Meeting with different companies and people, telling them about our concept and our product and eventually selling was definitely very interesting and a learning experience for me. I believe that the one fact we should accept is that success in one field doesn’t guarantee the same immediately in another. You have to put in the time and make every effort to prepare yourself for the challenge. On top of that, it isn’t a given that one will achieve a huge level of success in every field other than your own. This is something that many people find a tad difficult to accept – to admit that one might not be successful in everything that one does. So the most important thing for anyone who takes on a role which is different from one’s own is to be as open as possible and to keep going up on the learning curve.
Did you always know that you would form a global organisation?
It is very important for the senior management of an organisation to get into the roles that are required by the company while it is growing.
Actually when we founded Harbinger, our initial focus was on the Indian market. We provided good consulting services, we came up with relevant and quality products and decided to look at India as our first market. But as we moved forward, we realised that we could take our offerings internationally as well, to grow the business and turn it from a domestic market focused organisation to a truly global company. We got into the international arena sometime in 1997, and by 2000, we had already established our offices in the US.
When did you first decide that it was time for you to move your company into the international arena from the Indian market? Actually, the advantage that we had was that our products and offerings weren’t specific to a particular market. They could meet Indian needs as well as global ones. Of course, we knew deep down that we had the potential to go global, but as we started growing in the Indian market, our confidence grew hugely. After all, you can design, develop, create innovative and new products, but at the end of the day,
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you have to go out into the market to check how useful the end user finds it. The Indian market really helped us in this regard – many organisations and corporations with their own training institutes accepted this new concept of going online and getting the e-learning content developed for them and using the tools to create that content. So I think that confidence came very handy when we decided to expand into the global market. Another factor was that we were looking at available resources. Naturally, when you plan to grow your business from the domestic market into the international one, you need a lot of resources. We also used digital marketing quite innovatively; at the time, it was just coming up, although today everyone uses it a lot. So sitting in India, we could use digital marketing to reach out to customers across the world, and slowly we established ourselves, primarily in the US.
What kind of differences did you find in the two markets – Indian and the international?
You see, I don’t quite look at it separately – as the Indian market on the one hand and the international one on the other. As far as we were concerned, the biggest challenge we faced at the time for the kind of B2C products we were developing was that we didn’t see our customers every day. We were sitting on our side and imagining their needs and addressing those needs through our products. So understanding these customers, both here and globally, and addressing their needs was the most interesting challenge for us. Actually, in being in any specific geography, I believe that one has both advantages and disadvantages. I don’t think it would be accurate to list the positives of a particular location in comparisons with another – both have their positives and negatives. One of the obvious points, especially in our kind of company, is that if we’re based in one place, we rarely get to actually meet our customers who are scattered across the world. But at the same time, being in India, we had the advantage of having good quality,
brilliant engineers who develop our products.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Wait before jumping into management education, and first work in the field in which you want to be.
We take a lot of pride in the fact that we are a product company based in India – an Indian multinational! At the time we started, back in the early 90s, the trend was skewed towards getting into the services business. We too have our services wing, but we keep applying the experience we had gathered of actually developing a product and taking it to the global market to multiple products. I believe that having started early gives us this leverage, and along with it, we do have a strong reseller network, a brilliant sales team. So we will continue to use this leverage that we have and then come up with more and more innovative products. Along with this, our services businesses are also growing and creating their own identity. Furthermore, so far, we have had only organic growth, but now that we have reached a certain size, we will look at areas of inorganic growth as well.
Any advice for management aspirants?
If you’re seriously considering a management education, my advice would be to wait before jumping into it. Wait a while, and first work in the field in which you want to be. That is my personal opinion; in fact, I encourage anyone who asks me to first get the relevant work experience before
opting for a management course immediately after graduation. If you work in the field of your choice for a couple of years, you will have an idea about it, which means that later, when you get into the management institutes, you can put everything you learn into context, instead of looking at it as simply theory. As far as the University of Michigan is concerned, which is where I did my executive MBA, the methodology focuses a lot on case-based learning. We had to analyse lots of other companies and industries. For instance, one might have a problem, but one might find the solution to that problem from a totally different industry! But a management degree does give you a jumpstart, since it gives you knowledge of everything you will need in an organisation – from finance, marketing to strategy, leadership, et al. If one wants to start a venture on their own, I would ask them, first and foremost, to have a sound and unambiguous idea with which to start a business. Get a strategy fully in place. And then, once you have that, just jump into it wholeheartedly. When you’re beginning your venture, initially it requires a lot of effort, time, creativity and a lot of other things, all to bring the company to a certain level. At times, a lot of short term gains and opportunities will come your way, but you should know your strategy and know if you want to accept them or not. That will ensure your success. A
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“You can never be fully prepared for a PI”
IMS student CAT 2012
SUBHASHREE D.A, like many others, is a fresher who did her B.Com from IGNOU, completed her CA in 2012 and straight away joined coaching classes for entrance exams. What makes her different is that she has scored a 96 plus percentile in CAT and XAT and has got GD-PI calls from some of India’s top B-schools. In an interview with Puja Shah, she talks about why she decided to do an MBA after completing her CA and what her experience was in GD-PI rounds.
Why did you decide to do an MBA once you completed your CA?
There are many subjects which the CA syllabus does not cover in detail. For example, I hardly know anything about the marketing, operations and IT departments of a company. I know what they basically do, since this has been covered in audit, but I have no idea what sort of general processes are followed in these departments. An overview of these is required, which is only possible if I do an MBA. I always wanted to get into management since I didn’t intend to practice accounts. I chose to do a CA instead of doing my BBA because the depth of knowledge in CA is very high.
Which institutes did you get a call from?
I got calls for GD-PI from S.P.Jain, SIBM, XLRI, XIMB, IIM-K and IIT-M. I also got a call from IIM-A for their SPM course which is equivalent to a Ph.D.
What was your experience of the GD-PI rounds? Except for SPJIMR, IIM-K
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and IIM-A, the GD was part of the selection process in all the institutes that I got a call from. My GD experience was pretty good. Actually, a GD is all about knowing the pulse of the group, structuring your arguments and putting your point forward accordingly. It got better and better with training. I felt more and more comfortable in every subsequent GD. You need to decide early on how many arguments or points you have and how you are going to put them across. You must ensure that the panellist notices you, whether it’s for a single argument or many. Most importantly, the panellist needs to remember your part in the discussion. Avoid a negative impression at all costs. The PI was different in each place. For a PI somehow, I feel you can never be fully prepared. Each time you focus on something and go in thinking you are going to be asked about a certain topic, they are likely to ask you something entirely different. The mock PIs are really good for this. You get
Actually, a GD is all about knowing the pulse of the group, structuring your arguments and putting your point forward accordingly. It got better and better with training.
Once you’ve honed your communication skills to an appreciable level, your focus should be on improving knowledge... Also, one must not forget to introspect.
to know what areas you will be tested on and you will realise how to react in various situations and questions. During my SPJIMR group PI, I think I lost out because all the others in my group were engineers. One of them spoke about their project, which was too scientifically technical for me to follow, so I switched off during the PI. The immediately next question was put to me: “Would you finance his project?” I had no idea what to say and that created a bad impression on the interviewers. So the important lesson here was to always pay complete attention. So, each PI was vastly different from the other. Some were casual, some were based on my favourite subjects (like Maths), some interviewers asked questions that tested your character and attitude, while others asked questions that were totally unrelated to my subjects. A question I got asked pretty much everywhere was whether I felt I had wasted my past year preparing for various entrance exams. Another thing I felt was that I lost out on many calls from top institutes because I got my B.Com degree on a correspondence course. I did not get a call from any of the IIMs except Kozhikode, although I cleared the cut-offs for Lucknow and many of the new IIMs.
Do you think you could have done better in the GD-PI rounds? I was satisfied with my performance given the time constraints I had but having said that, in my opinion, there’s always scope for improvement. Once you’ve honed your communication skills to an appreciable level your focus should be on improving knowledge. One can improve this by reading newspapers for current affairs, reading text books to revise subjects you’ve learnt in your previous academic courses and journals or internet to keep up with recent developments in your profession. Also one must not forget to introspect. This is most important because you must be confident while answering personal questions during your interview.
Which calls have you converted?
As of now I have converted XIMB. I am still waiting for IIM-K and IIT Madras. I’m also on the waiting list for both of XLRI’s programmes.
Suppose you get into XLRI and IIM-K, where would you want to go and why?
Between IIM-K and XLRI, anyone would opt for XLRI, but my personal choice would be IIM-K. People usually see a big class strength (which IIM-K has) as a negative thing, but for me it implies a better opportunity to compete, and that too with students who are your equals and maybe better than you. This is something I learned from my CA coaching classes. We had 500 students in one class, which had to be held in an auditorium. The challenge was to be one of the first 10 or 20 to complete the sum. The feeling you get when you accomplish that is simply awesome.
Do you have any specialisation in mind? Both, IIM-K and IIT Madras give you the chance to do a dual specialisation. My choice for specialisation is Finance and HR. This is another reason I would go to IIM-K rather than XLRI, because in XLRI’s HR programme, there are very few electives of finance. Therefore, if I do that course, I will be an 80 per cent HR and 20 per cent finance person. So my first choice will be IIM-K and then IIT Madras, since studying finance is a top priority for me.
What are your future plans? Do you want to get a job or start something of your own?
If you ask me today, I just want to be a manager and then progress further to maybe being the CEO of a company. Being an entrepreneur will depend upon how healthy my bank account is. Maybe once I have earned enough money and have a good understanding about how a business is run will I start something of my own. A
Advanc’edge MBA May 2013
Change lies off the beaten path To solve the global clean water and sanitation crisis in ﬁve years is a tall order for anyone, but young social entrepreneur Akanksha Hazari’s social enterprise ‘m.Paani’ has taken up the challenge to bring about this change.
t is tough to win a global case challenge that asks you to provide a model that solves the world’s water and sanitation crisis in five years, and it’s far, far tougher to take that winning model and implement it. After winning a business school challenge, most people forget about it when they pass out and take up jobs with gigantic pay cheques. But Akanksha Hazari is different. Hazari’s team won the Hult Global Case Challenge in 2011 while studying for an MBA at Judge Business School,
Advanc’edge MBA May 2013
University of Cambridge. The challenge they faced at the competition was to solve the world’s clean water crisis. After passing out from Cambridge, Hazari started her company ‘m.Paani’ in Mumbai in 2012. Her organisation is at the pilot stage right now, and her winning model is dedicated to solving this issue. However, Hazari didn’t stop at just that. Along with solving the clean water crisis, she plans to address other basic social needs like education. While speaking at a recent Hult Business School’s
Corporate Social Responsibility conference in Mumbai, Hazari gave us a brief insight into what her organisation is all about, what made her come up with the model and why she decided to implement it. A simple, soft-spoken woman, Akanksha took the podium and introduced herself simply as the founder of ‘m.Paani’. She described her journey as a social entrepreneur as “exhilarating, intensely rewarding, occasionally terrifying and the most meaningful chapters” in her life. m.Paani has finally
found its pilot community — Sangramnagar — after a search that spanned two continents and over 600 communities.
What m.Paani does
m.Paani works on the skewed fact that 2.5 billion people don’t have access to sanitation and one billion people don’t have access to safe water, but 5.1 billion people have a mobile phone. Clearly, the math shows that this accounts for 68 per cent of mobile phone users in the developing countries! Therefore, the need is to connect the water and sanitation issues with something that is
the lifeline of the masses — the mobile phone. According to Hazari, it was just about connecting the dots and spotting the opportunity. “For the four billion people at the bottom of the pyramid, the mobile phone is their lifeline,” she said. “They spend $51.4 billion every year on their mobile phones. The Indian, Chinese, Kenyan and Nigerian markets will be nearly saturated by 2014, while Brazil will achieve a 140 per cent mobile penetration rate. Mobile revenues have grown three times in India, Brazil and Nigeria in the last five years and therefore, telecom operators are competing to tap into this customer base.” The opportunity for Hazari came in the form of m.Paani – a plan that integrates the proven and profitable loyalty scheme business model to the bottom of the pyramid. Under the plan that Hazari has envisioned, the infrastructure will first be set up where a women’s self help group takes a water and sanitation loan from a microfinance institute. Secondly, a partnership with a local telecom provider to create an incentive programme based on mobile phone usage will be established. When the community tops up their phone, they earn “water points” for their community. These water points equate to money that collects in a community-owned fund, and which is managed by the self help group. The fund is then used to cover philanthropic costs and to subsidise the community water and sanitation loan. The fund will continue to grow even after the water and sanitation loan is repaid. This will be used to help maintain the infrastructure and to make
the community aware about hygiene practices. Additionally, the community will also pay their water usage bill via the mobile phones and receive a marginal discount for staying with the telecom partner. If the model is followed diligently, then, according to Hazari’s workings, each family will have its own toilet within five years. According to Hazari, it was one of her “many stupid decisions” (as most of her family members call them) that led her to becoming a social entrepreneur. She grew up in a humble family in Pune, Maharashtra, where her mother worked multiple jobs while simultaneously raising her kids. She was thus determined from childhood to do something meaningful with her life, something that would help society as a whole. As a school-going girl, she was far more interested in things outside the classroom rather than what was taught inside. And true to this temperament, she read everything other than her textbooks, participated in sports, volunteered at the local hospital, and did, according to her, “basically everything a
2.5 billion people don’t have access to sanitation and one billion people don’t have access to safe water, but 5.1 billion people have a mobile phone. Advanc’edge MBA May 2013
Use of mobile phones will garner ‘water points’ in rural India good Indian student shouldn’t do”! In her career till now, Akanksha Hazari has been described as a social entrepreneur, peace negotiator and a businesswoman, and the peace negotiation is an aspect that always raises questions. After fumbling her way through school, she went to Princeton where she raised her family’s ire by dropping pre-med to study politics and near eastern studies. After graduation, she made another “mistake” by ignoring a lucrative investment banking offer to join a thinktank in Washington for a “bare wages” kind of role, simply because she was passionate about using economics to bring about the Israel-Palestine peace process. She then made what was criticised as one of her most rash and irresponsible decisions to move to Palestine in 2007 at the height of the conflict. She saw, first hand, how conflict affects lives, and it fundamentally changed her as a person and showed her how
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sustainability and stability are just as important as sustenance. “We talk about food and water but security is just as important as these basic needs for survival,” she said. According to Hazari, it was at around this time that she saw how business can be used to bring about stability, and this made her realise where her interest lay. At this point, she quit the “great job” that she had, to come back to India. Here, she lived in villages across India for a year, where she watched as
Telecom companies have managed to reach all corners of India (even the remotest of villages), but education, electricity and water hasn’t.
villagers who had hardly any electricity and water had up to four mobile phones, which they would charge religiously when they had electricity between power cuts. Looking at this, an appalling question arose in her mind, as to how telecom companies have managed to reach all corners of India (even the remotest of villages), but education, electricity and water hasn’t. This question obsessed her until she connected all of these to come up with m.Paani during her MBA at Cambridge, where she took part in the Hult Global Case Challenge. Therefore according to her, “m.Paani was born from all stupid decisions I made in my life.” Hazari is of the opinion that m.Paani is not the only one of its kind; it is one among the many in the growing areas of social enterprises that are passionate about building new models that are sustainable and scalable to make a positive difference in this world. India has a huge opportunity to become the leader in social innovation, of connecting business and social impact, but the corporations in India are still growing accustomed to the relatively new space of social enterprise. “What we need to fundamentally change is the definition of success. The current definition does not include so-called stupid people like me. Had I followed and made the decisions people told me to make, m.Paani wouldn’t exist today. The Hult prize is a testament to the fact that there is an entire generation of young people around the world that are stupid like me, who are not driven by a pay cheque and are passionate about social change,” she says. A
Advancâ€™edge MBA May 2013
IT entrepreneur turns youngsters’ mentor
A globally traveled personality, BIKRAM DASGUPTA, founder and executive chairman of Globsyn Group, has led and participated in many international delegations over the years, across industry bodies, and has been at the forefront of the evolution of IT hardware, software, training, and now, high-skilled career education. He talks to Aditya Prakash Iengar about his current passion and zeal to help and direct youngsters to face modern day challenges by absorbing technology and human values as an embedded solution.
Advanc’edge MBA May 2013
What’s your connection with the IT industry? I’ve been involved in the IT industry since 1980, pretty much right from the inception, and I’ve seen almost everything that has happened over the last 33 years. At that time, there weren’t any computers at all. We left India in 1977, and HCL was formed in 1978. I’ve seen the industry move ahead enormously. In fact, when we started out, when there was almost no awareness about the computer and its benefits, people were worried that the computers would replace human beings! They would worry that computers would deprive people of their jobs! So I belong to that era when people would say, “I can’t buy a computer, because then I won’t need an accountant!” So from that point to now, I have been a
Corporate Interview witness to the journey that India has taken as a nation, and I’ve seen it from both sides of the table. I’ve been an entrepreneur from 1984, which means that it has been close to three decades. Before that, I used to work in HCL, which was also formed by graduates of IIT Kharagpur. In fact, HCL co-founder Arjun Malhotra was my senior in college. A lot of people joined HCL at the time, because it was a computer company, and it was brand new, and I was one of them.
The new electronic manufacturing policy shows that we must have `20,000 crore of investment, or else India will have a serious trouble of imports by 2022.
Tell us about the export contract with Dell Computers. I got a lot of attention sometime around 1992-1993 because of the deal signed with Dell Computers. It was a US$50 million contract for manufacturing motherboards, and till recently it was the largest export order in hardware in India’s history. It was a huge order for the country, and got me an invitation for a cup of tea from Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister! We used to import 85 per cent of materials, which is why such a huge export order is a highly beneficial one to the country. And now, the new electronic manufacturing policy shows us that we’re looking at `20,000 crore of investment, because otherwise India will have a serious trouble of imports by 2022. And this same logic was applicable then, it is only that the numbers were different.
What did you do after HCL?
In 1984, a few friends and I got together and started a company called Pertech Computer Ltd (PCL). Six of us started it, with `6 lakh as equity, with each of us putting in a lakh. I actually sold my wife’s ornaments to get that money! I still remember that I got `32,000 from the provident fund after I left HCL, and the rest was from selling my wife’s ornaments! I was quite sheepish about the whole thing, to be honest, given the usual reaction from society about such things, but we went ahead with it. If you’re passionate about doing something, you have
to pull out all the stops, no matter what anyone says. PCL grew to become the largest PC company in India by 1993-94, which was just around 10 years after it was formed, and in 1994, we took PCL public. We were all partners, and I was the CEO driving the company, and I led the IPO. In those days, there was a policy regarding oversubscription, which meant that the SEBI would allow whatever money one collects over and above the subscribed amount to be kept in the bank for a period of 45 days and then returned. That policy doesn’t exist anymore. This meant that if oversubscription was substantial, and you earned a good amount of money as interest during the 45day period, it could pay for the IPO cost. And this was exactly what happened in our case. We were oversubscribed 26 times! Actually we were coming to an IPO after 10 years of performance, and so everyone knew about PCL and how successful it was. After the IPO, I left PCL. As an entrepreneur, I believe firmly in one aspect of entrepreneurship – that different people grow differently in life. The six of us who had joined hands back in 1984 for PCL had grown differently, our exposures had been different, and each of us was a different person 10 years later in 1994. Now I always believe that a company should be run by one person, and you have examples of this, in Narayan Murthy in Infosys, Shiv Nadar in HCL, Michael Dell in Dell Computers. This factor was quite important to
The Infinity Towers in Kolkata
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Corporate Interview me, and so I took the decision to get out of PCL after the IPO was quoted. And I remember that since I was a sort of poster boy for IT, I was quite a known face around the block, and so when I left, it was all over the news at the time!
What happened after you came to Calcutta?
After moving to Calcutta, which is the city of my mother tongue Bengali, I was generally taking it easy and meeting people and so on. It was around that time, around 1995-96 when I was asked to deliver a talk on the Dell contract at a seminar sponsored by the West Bengal government. After my talk, I was asked if I was interested in starting a venture in Calcutta, having left PCL. I hadn’t made up my mind on anything, and what I was doing at the time was just odds and ends; I was pretty much on sabbatical. People like me don’t really get into anything unless we’re convinced about what we want to do. Now there weren’t many investors in Bengal at the time, and the state wasn’t really a very hot investment destination. But people were slowly moving from the hardware to the software end, which was a really new upcoming trend then. So the government then approached me, saying that they were raising a 22-storey building, and told me that they would give me one floor to start my software company, and that would be their equity in my company. And I wouldn’t have to give them anything at that moment – “payable when able” was what they told me. I told them that they were talking to the wrong person, and that if they gave me the entire building instead of just the one floor, I would be game! I told them that if they gave me the project, I would build it, I would finance it, market and promote it, in short, everything – I would create an IT park, I told them. This was how Infinity came into being, that very night. You see, the majority of entrepreneurs know only how to start, but it is the continuing and sticking on that’s vital. I believe that the journey of an entrepreneur is like sailing on the ocean where you can’t see the shore. You could be anywhere, but you don’t even know if you’re in the middle or close to the shore!
How did you prepare for such a project?
Well, Infinity was going to be an intelligent building, and I had to do my homework, the groundwork that’s required for every entrepreneur. I travelled around the world to understand such intelligent buildings, from Germany to the US. I met a lot of people and tried to understand process control and how using computers, we can control an entire building, in terms of its air conditioning, lifts, everything that’s going on inside the building. I’ll give you an example. In Infinity, in those days, the lifts would be switched off unless there was someone standing in front of the lift. There would be a sensor near the door, which would indicate to the computer that someone wants to use the lift, and only then would the lift be switched on. So you don’t really need the power to the lift when it wasn’t being used, and this was a huge energy saving device.
The journey of an entrepreneur is like sailing on the ocean where you can’t see the shore. You could be anywhere, in the middle or even close to the shore!
Advanc’edge MBA May 2013
What kind of problems did you face?
Actually, I was extremely passionate about Infinity; but it took me four years to build it. I did face some problems, because at the end of the day, I’m not really a real estate fellow. Also, I could realise that there were many who didn’t want me to succeed because I was really hitting their pockets. You see, real estate is still perceived to be a dirty business, and then, amidst all of this, I came along, talking technology and upmarket products, and at the same time, I wasn’t charging much! So I suppose there were some people who felt threatened. But then these things happen. After all, when you do something, you just do it, because you want to do it.
What came after Infinity?
I thought to myself, if this was going to be a building where IT people sat and worked, in Bengal, where would they come from? I realised that we needed an institution to create IT professionals to work in Infinity. And that is how I built what I call the Technocampus, which later became the Globsyn Finishing School, and then came the Business School, and then Globsyn skills. All these are manifestations of the institution building exercise. IT is the fulfilment part, Infinity was the infrastructure
Corporate Interview part, and then the institution part was everything else that we established. And this whole thing was amalgamated as Globsyn. That’s what we do, we have knowledge, skills, technology, what we call innoventures, et al. It is a very horizontal group, not a vertical one. Our reach is worldwide, in fact, our New York office was established 15 years ago, and we have a base in Singapore. But we do deal in five businesses, each of them profitable on its own.
What do you mean by Knowledge Finishing School? What came to my mind when I interviewed a lot of youngsters is what they study in college and what they land up doing at work is hardly connected at all. The undergraduate college in India does not look into your job market. It works on conceptual knowledge building. This is why you see so much of post-graduation in India. MBA has done well precisely because MBA is a finishing school. That is the concept. For instance, if I’m a Statistics graduate, and I want to stay in my line, what is my option? There aren’t many, except do my master’s degree. So what knowledge finishing school means that it picks up your knowledge, and connects you to the industry through a programme. It gives you the domain knowledge and structure necessary for a particular field, and this is done through practical training. I designed with a system or a framework, and it is now trademarked under my name, called Knowledge Finishing School System (KFSS). For instance, in case of the domain of IT, I looked at the domain knowledge that someone has, and then figured out the framework through which the individual into an IT professional. And in this there are four levels — acquisition, application, managing and performing, or the AAMP model. So in any domain of knowledge, through the KFSS, the
individual acquires the knowledge, learns to apply it, then manages a particular project in his domain of knowledge and finally performs in that project.
In this entire ecosystem of businesses, how do you function? Well, my role in all of this is that my life is dedicated to youngsters, to those between 19 and 27 years. I live for them, and anything they need to grow and thrive is what I provide. I call it a business, because it physically needs money to be sustainable, but it’s more what I can do for them. I’ve seen that in this period of life, these youngsters do go through a tough time. In this period of life, you graduate from college and get out of your parents’ stronghold and want to be independent. You either fall in love and meet your girlfriend or boyfriend. You get your first job, and might even get your first promotion or change of job with a higher salary. You might even get married, or even perhaps become a proud parent yourself! So there is such a lot going on in your life at this stage, and all of them are first time experiences for you. You simply don’t know what it means! You’re getting married for the first time, but you don’t know what it means to be a good husband! You don’t know how to excel at your job. In all these things, you’re learning and trying to do the best you can. So in this period, the ideal person you need during this period is a counsellor or a mentor, someone who isn’t your parent or relative or boss and who has no motivational relationship with you. All of us need help at this stage, and that epitomises me, and through my businesses, classes, lectures, blogs, et al, that is what I wish and hope I do for youngsters. A
Advanc’edge MBA May 2013
Of interns, sine curves and chocolate binges Debates, dances, assignments, studies – these are just some of the things one is involved in at a management institute. The ﬁrst year of the MBA course can be quite daunting, but over time, the efforts are richly rewarded.
e were once told by a guest lecturer at our college that an internship is a risk free bet, where one gets to make mistakes and learn from them without the pressure of getting judged and ridiculed. Naturally, I wanted to have that freedom and so did all the denizens of the ﬁrst year batch at IMT Ghaziabad. But before our unbridled enthusiasm could be let loose on the hapless organisations, we were made to sit
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through mock sessions of group discussion and personal interviews. These sessions helped me realise the novelty of a GD at a B-school. So far, I had sat through GDs with candidates aspiring to a B-school ticket; some of these were quite good, some bad, some pathetic and some who really could not care less. Here, however, people cared, and how! During my ﬁrst few forays into the mock sessions, I was given the most critical feedback by my own colleagues. They believed that I was doing nothing but coordinating the discussion, something similar to a trafﬁc constable waving his baton frantically to control the trafﬁc (which is utterly useless on the Ghaziabad roads, but I digress). Perhaps my misplaced sense of leadership was a result of complacency. A few months ago, I could be found conscientiously
combing the various dailies and magazines, trying to understand what the country is up to. (That’s another thing that our national leaders probably don’t know either.) A few months later, all my friends knew exactly where I was —sprawled in my room, snoozing away to glory (clariﬁcation – during weekends.) But at these mock sessions, the scorching feedback bridled me, leaving me bristling at ﬁrst and trying to justify myself. But soon, I found out that shouting, ranting and spitting just leads to loss of precious energy and water. Who wants that during the Delhi summers? So off I went to try and understand what India was up to again. My attempts paid off, and soon I was coordinating and contributing. I was noticed and was held up as a shining beacon of hope for India. Ok, maybe not quite that, but I was appreciated. The mock personal interview had me shooting away questions at the end of the session. Even though I received a bravery award for, well, braving through it, I still had a few doubts. I have often heard www.advancedge.com
how students jack up and pad up their résumés with umpteen awards and achievements. I, on the other hand, was one of those lazy bumpkins who preferred to participate if the event resonated with some inner calling (which, more often than not, prefers to sleep). A gentleman had one thing to say that has stayed with me to this day: “One participates to let go of all the accumulated tension of a B-school life. Ask yourself this before participating in the event, any event – ‘Will I enjoy it?’ If you get a reply in the afﬁrmative, go ahead.” Sounded quite like Gandhiji’s Talisman that I used to read in my NCERT textbooks. Satisﬁed that the meagre events I had taken part in had me enjoying them to the hilt, I exited. Soon, many distinguished organisations started pouring into our campus, and the entire procedure of registering had us in knots. People ordered smartphones especially for those harrowing hours, just to ensure that no mails went unread and unanswered. And then, after a successful registration would start the nail-biting, stomach-roiling and chocolate-bingeing (that last one was me) waiting sessions for the shortlists. I would like to bust a myth here. It is often said that freshers (people fresh out of their colleges) have it easy during internships. Not so. I was one of those freshers who did not get shortlisted for an organisation that selected almost the entire batch for their initial selection rounds. How an organisation shortlists can never be known for sure. It all depends. Yes. It all depends. A classic catchphrase of a B-school student. So, after I was shortlisted (thankfully) by a few organisations, I sat through the processes. There were times when I could cross the
were GD swamp and emerge on the that other side of the moat, only to be thrown out by the King (or Queen. I support equal opportunities) in the interview round. At other times, the GD swamp itself proved too difﬁcult to manoeuvre. Those were also the times when a few choice colleagues had to listen to choice swear words, for they were the loudest and/or brashest and/ or rudest, or just plain “Global Fests”. By the last phrase, I mean what happens when one has no clue about the topic presented but has to speak nevertheless. The pearls of wisdom that then tumble out fall under the phrase Binging on chocolates is a common “Global”. form of dealing with stress After countless sessions like the above, I started experiencing summoning her. It is said that the the “Attitude Sine Curve”. This day one hits the jackpot, is prephenomenon describes the ups destined and no one (not even and downs of one’s attitude. At one that pesky friend who screams and moment I used to feel that even shouts away in a GD) can stop Mount Everest would cower in fear it. After a good interview, I came before me. At other times…well. back to my hostel and rewound the Let’s just say that a lot of chocolate interview in my head. Somehow, wrappers were suspiciously found I knew I was going to intern in lying around my room. Who was that organisation. And my hunch responsible for that remains a proved right. That day, a great mystery. Ahem. and mighty resident (result of the Rumours about how God tonnes of cocoa ingested) of the himself was behind the whole girls’ hostel could be seen sobbing conspiracy started doing the happily away on the phone telling rounds. Though not quite her parents how she had “passed”. superstitious, I started folding my And so. Thereby hangs the tale hands in front of Him every time I of my journey towards that coveted so much as went outside to drink internship offer. What happens in water from the cooler. Persistence that internship is still unknown and pays, or so I thought. uncovered. But whatever happens, Anyway, God, or some higher I know I can handle it. Cadbury has power above, decided to have mercy always been very supportive. A on the poor kid who was waking up every morning and dressing The author is a ﬁrst year student at up fruitlessly for the organisations IMT Ghaziabad
Advanc’edge MBA May 2013
Stuggling for survival At a time when the personal computing market was on the decline, Dell chose to bulldoze through the tough times, without changing its business model. Now, the company is trying to reposition itself as an enterprise service provider. But now, with so many other players in the fray, is it too little too late for Dell? Dr Suresh Srinivasan
ecently, Michael Dell, has been in the news for all sorts of reasons. The promoter of Dell Inc. and a 15 per cent shareholder, together with Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm, has proposed to buy out the outstanding shares in Dell Inc, through a “leveraged buy out” (LBO) transaction. The main reason for this move is to position Dell, which is predominantly an assembler of personal computers today, as an enterprise service provider. In this role, the company will focus on software to power complex websites, network systems, data centres and businesses that provide strategies to clients; this is touted to be the future of the information technology business! Assembling PCs, which accounts for more than 70 per cent of Dell’s business today, is a dying business. Analysts do not expect individuals and corporates to use the PC in its current form, which will show a change over
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the next couple of years. With the emergence of cloud computing, the concept of PCs and its current form is likely to undergo a significant change, thereby altering the entire dynamics of the PC industry. Because of such high uncertainties, sales and profits in the global PC industry is steadily dropping, and it is no longer attractive to remain in this business. Because of Dell’s huge presence in the PC industry, its share price has also steadily dropped over the last few years, and is now close to $11. In order to restructure itself into an enterprise services company, Dell has hired Suresh Vaswani, one of the CEOs of Wipro, to spearhead this Enterprises Services division, giving a whole new thrust to Dell’s future direction.
LBO transactions, which became popular in the United States sometime around the 1980s, are those transactions where investors
acquire all the outstanding equity shares of listed companies that they perceive to be valuable, but which are performing below optimal levels, for reasons like poor management, market conditions, etc. Thus, the LBO investor strongly feels that there is value still left in the company to be “unlocked”; this unlocking might be achieved by changing the business model or bringing in better management depth, etc, which will improve the company’s performance and consequently its valuation. The investor’s next move would be to list the shares back in the stock exchanges, thereby selling the shares at a higher price than what they were bought for. This means that the investors would secure a return on their investments, in terms of money, resources and time, in the company. Through this LBO process, Michael Dell is proposing to convert Dell from being a publicly held company into a private company. This will help Michael www.advancedge.com
Corporate World Dell to strategically restructure the company without pressure from the stock market and institutions.
Dell’s strategic mistake
There is an important point that needs to be appreciated here: the PC market did not suddenly turn unattractive overnight! Its attractiveness, which is the ability of companies to make adequate profits, has been steadily dropping from the early 2000s, so much so that the then giant IBM totally exited the PC business at the time. There were clear signals that the PC business market would not appreciate and become attractive in the future, as competition was steadily building up; players from Taiwan (Acer and Asus), China (Lenovo) were fiercely competing due to their strategic low cost advantage. It was at this point 10 years ago that Dell should have realised this and commenced strategic initiatives to move into enterprise services, but it failed. Dell’s reactive response occurred as late as 2009 when it acquired Perot Systems, a leading software player. Although since then it has acquired more companies that are specialist enterprise services providers, these acquisitions should have undoubtedly come through proactively, and much earlier. By continuing to be in the PC business, Dell also missed out on capitalising on the tablet and smartphone market, which players like Samsung very effectively tapped into. Dell’s venture into smartphones and tablets were clearly half hearted, and they ultimately turned out to be unsuccessful.
Is the strategy in the right direction? Right now, Dell’s challenges are immense. By trying to shift focus
to the services business overnight from the PC business, Dell will signal a number of uncertainties to the market, its customers, employees and investors. In fact, given these uncertainties, customers might even shift away to the competition, creating more damage to Dell’s financials. This spells trouble for the company, as in such a scenario, Dell’s core PC business itself may come under threat! Given such challenges, if Dell would have attempted to change its strategy without going into the LBO mode, the stock markets (because Dell is publicly listed and traded at the stock markets) and investors would have, in all probability, dumped Dell shares, resulting in a further drop in its share price.
hit the fag end of the road. Ideally, it may be a good time for Dell to sell its PC business to HP or Lenovo. This would help Dell to completely focus on the enterprise services business and possibly allow Lenovo or HP to concentrate on the last phase of the PC business by building scale and size. By doing so, Dell’s management could at least focus all its energy and time on the services business. Now, being in both PC as well as in the services businesses, it will be neither here nor there, as its focus in terms of capital, human skills and management depth, will be totally diluted! Michael Dell revolutionalised the PC industry during the eighties by introducing an innovative business model where direct marketing and a seamless supply chain substantially reduced the cost of its products. In fact, incumbent players like IBM and Compaq were unable to compete with Dell in the PC space. Will Dell be able to repeat its success at this critical juncture, when the personal computing industry is declining and Dell is trying to position itself as an enterprise service provider and competing with the likes of IBM? Only time will tell! A
What holds the future for Dell? Personal computers, in its current form, is bound to disappear in the next few years; but players who are strong in the PC market today will, in all probability, shape the emergence of tomorrow’s personal computers. Today, Dell, HP and Lenovo, together with Acer and Asus, still control close to 60 per cent of the PC market, which has virtually
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Challenges facing Cyrus Mistry of the Tata Group There are a number of challenges in front of the new chairman of the Tata Group, including the financial and market status of its companies like Tata Steel and Tata Motors. It falls to Mistry to bring the Group out of a potentially dangerous situation.
Dr Suresh Srinivasan
yrus Mistry has taken over from Ratan Tata as the Chairman of Tata Group. Over the last two decades, Ratan Tata managed to substantially transform the Tatas from being completely India focused to a group of large international companies that boast of ownership, manufacturing and business interest across the globe. A number of global acquisitions were made during the tenure of Ratan Tata, some of which include the likes of Corus and Jaguar Land Rover. More than half of the Tata Groupâ€™s revenue streams are now coming from sources outside India. With such enhanced global
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interests, the Tatas were even seriously contemplating a foreign national as its group head, but finally settled for Mistry, the family representative. The objective behind this move is to preserve the cultural integrity that the Tatas consider the DNA of its group! The question is: How are the major Tata companies faring today? Given the current volatile global scenario, are the acquisitions which Ratan Tata cemented performing as per
expectations? What has Cyrus Mistry contributed in his initial tenure? What are the challenges he needs to overcome and how is he poised?
The first few months
Technically, the first three or four months can be considered as irrelevant, as Mistry is expected to hold tenure for the next 20 plus years. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to acquire a grasp of the issues that are daunting the progress of the
Corporate World group companies. Mistry has also started to put together a team that is significantly younger than the current senior management team. It seems that Mistry is still getting support from his predecessor Ratan Tata, who, in spite of his departure, is reported to have been closely involved in these developments. Case in point: Tata has been instrumental in stitching up the Tata Groups joint venture with AirAsia to set up a domestic Indian airline.
Tata Steel and Tata Motors
Tata Group. As a good start, Mistry has over the past three months addressed a number of staff meetings in various group companies, including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tata Motors and Tata Steel. Furthermore, he has reportedly been part of budget meetings of key group companies in establishing the strategic course for the current year, which is intended to give him reasonable insights into the
The biggest challenge that is currently facing Mistry is to stabilise Tata Steel, which is reeling under very high levels of debt, especially after the takeover of Corus in 2007, which was roughly five times as big as Tata Steel. Although Tataâ€™s acquisition of Corus positioned the company from nowhere to becoming the fifth largest steel producer in the world, it is common knowledge that the acquisition had come at a very high price ($12 billion), much higher than what was originally intended ($8 billion). Moreover, the deal was poorly structured from a financing perspective. with a very high level of debt. Although the Tata management justified the price paid for acquiring Corus based on various synergies, all of which looked very convincing on paper, the subsequent onslaught of recession in 2009 that severely impacted the global steel price also damaged the financials of Tata Steel. Since the global economy is yet to fully recover from the global recession, Tata Steel is also
Ratan Tata under severe financial strain of servicing interest on the high level of accumulated debt. The position of the European economy, the shrunk demand in the West, productivity and staff issues in the UK plants, etc are all seriously impacting the companyâ€™s cash flows. Problems are similar with other far-East subsidiaries of Tata Steel, including plants in Thailand and Singapore, but the saving grace has been the Indian steel operations, which had performed reasonably well until now. However the rating agencies forecast steel demand dropping in India as well for the coming year, which may
Mistry has been part of budget meetings of key group companies. He is also putting together a significantly younger team. Advancâ€™edge MBA May 2013
Corporate World put a serious dent Tata Steel’s financials further. Mistry may possibly require something akin to a magic wand to address Tata Steel’s issues! Will the company go in for further global acquisitions to consolidate and gain scale, or will it lie low, and keep focusing on productivity and cost, while preserving the bottom line? These are some of the issues that are being contemplated. However, one thing is certain — there is no possibility for an overnight solution to boost the financial position of Tata Steel. The second issue to be tackled is the volatility in the earnings of Tata Motors, a number that has been fluctuating, based on the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) sales, quarter over quarter. Although the company had secured two highly valued brands in its 2008 acquisition, the liabilities acquired, future cash flows required to satisfy European Union emission norms and again, the high debt component factored in the acquisition, have severely dented the financials of Tata Motors. However, the saving grace for the company has been the increased demand for JLR products in its neighbour China, which is significantly contributing to the company’s bottom line. But the bigger concern for Tata Motos is the sagging Indian market; quality issues that have been especially plaguing its flagship Indica and the poor launch of the Nano (which can
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be described as one of the best opportunities that was alloweed to pass) have created a serious dent in the brand image of Tata Motors. Due to this, it has now slipped two notches to become only the fourth largest player in the Indian auto industry, behind Maruti, Hyundai and Mahindra. As of now, it seems that a large amount of resources, both financial and human capital, need to be deployed to recover the situation and help stabilise Tata Motors.
A new leadership, in the form of Karl Slym (formerly General Motors) is in place, but the challenge is to gain competitiveness in the Indian market, which is the bigger concern right now.
Other major companies
By far, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is the best performing group company, one that has been turning out significant profits and cash flow. It is also well positioned against its Indian competitors (Infosys and Wipro), both of whom have been performing below potential
in the recent past. However, this can go further. Right now, Mistry has a big opportunity with respect to TCS; it is potentially possible to strike a major global acquisition to position TCS within the ranks of the top five in the world. Ratan Tata may have missed out on the opportunity, but as far as Mistry is concerned, this opportunity is one that he should not let go of! The telecom business of Tatas, including Tata TeleServices and Tata Telecom are unfortunately not in the top five. This can be attributed to the aggressive play by sector competitors Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Reliance (Anil Ambani). Reliance Industries (Mukesh Ambani) has also recently been in the news for planning to join the fray with a very capital intensive entry, combining with 4G broadband. In this scenario, it seems highly unlikely that the Tatas would be in a position to crawl up and gain market leadership, especially since India’s telecom industry is already close to maturity. Mistry should ideally look for divesting the telecom business and secure whatever decent value he is able to generate at this stage, and potentially invest the same back into TCS and Tata Motors. In summary, Mistry has enough on his plate to address many of the issues that have remained unsolved under Ratan Tata’s leadership. He however, has the age, time as well as the support from an energetic team that is emerging, which will help him achieve these objectives, even though they sound challenging right now! A
India’s energy policy
In this time of economic crisis, India is still doing well in terms of its energy consumption. However, given the current usage trends, the demand of energy will increase in the next few decades, and India needs to take measures to manage this. Dr Suresh Srinivasan
number of economic issues are proving to be too daunting to India’s ability to achieve a double digit growth. Be it high fiscal and current account deficit, high inflation, policy paralysis and lack of reforms, or be it the inability to mobilise and invest funds to create state of the art infrastructure, all of these are fundamental requirements for sustained economic growth! But surprisingly, one factor stands tall and has been ignored for a while: the energy policy. A meaningful energy policy can improve self sufficiency of oil and gas resources. This in turn will go on to reduce imports, curtail current account and fiscal deficit, as well as ably support the Indian economy to grow at a much faster pace!
emission potential, but coal will remain a major source well into the 2030s. Today, India imports more than 70 per cent of its crude oil requirement, which means that the country excessively depends on the vagaries of international oil price fluctuations arising out of geopolitical tensions and production shortages. India’s per capita energy consumption is as low as 0.50 tonnes of oil equivalent per annum, as compared to the 4.7 tonnes of oil equivalent in developed economies. This demonstrates that India will need more energy in the future, which again means that at the current rate, more imports are likely to exert pressure on India’s current account and fiscal deficits. Such a situation is undesirable, and India needs to address this issue on a war footing,
so that its dependence on imported crude oil is significantly curtailed!
Opening up the oil and gas sector Although India first discovered oil in 1899, large scale production did not commence until oil was found in Gujarat, Geleki and Bombay High during the mid-sixties to the early seventies. During the eighties, India produced 70 per cent of its oil requirement, and imported just 30 per cent. However, with economic growth increasing and oil exploration not moving in tandem, domestic short supply has necessitated more imports, thereby exerting pressure on precious foreign currency resources. With the Indian economy slated to grow at a double digit rate over the next two to three decades, India’s demand for crude oil is
India’s energy needs are currently powered by petroleum products, followed by coal and then by natural gas. Renewable sources like solar and wind power account for a minuscule portion of the energy basket. This proportion is likely to be similar for the next 20 years, where hydrocarbons will continue to be the major source of energy globally, and in India. Natural gas is likely to move up in importance due to its lower green house gas
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Corporate World expected to grow exponentially as well. This means that more exploration needs to be done within India to strike oil and gas, so that we are able to domestically produce a large part of our requirement. With this objective, over the last decade, India has opened up the oil and gas sector from the clutches of government regulations, through the introduction of New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP), where several oil and gas exploration contracts have been awarded to Indian and foreign companies to explore, develop and produce oil and gas. Vertically integrated players are dominating the Indian oil and gas industry. “Upstream” companies like Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) and Oil India Limited (OIL) are moving “downstream” to add on refining business, while downstream players like Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum are steadily moving upstream into the exploration and production business. Natural gas player Gas Authority of India (GAIL) have also taken a petrochemicals position. Private companies like Reliance, Essar and Cairn are also present across the value chain, both in upstream and downstream areas. Both Reliance and ONGC have been active in securing oil assets outside the country in regions like Africa and Russia. But, in spite of all of this, Indian companies are unable to progress much in enhancing domestic production in a big way. How can the country achieve energy security, ensuring captive supply to meet its growing energy demand, over the medium to long term?
Indian companies are finding it challenging to extract oil from mature wells, for which deployment
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technological advances become critical. A more important barometer for assessing the success of oil companies is their ability to find new reserves, thereby replacing reserves that are being exploited. This also requires significant technologies to be deployed; these include three dimensional seismic data analysis, directional and horizontal drilling, wireless technologies and usage of nano technology in downstream refining. Moreover, these technologies will help in exploration and finding of unconventional oil and gas. A classic case is the poor assessment of gas reserves in the KG basin by Reliance. Also the gas output in the basin has been steadily decreasing over the last few years, severely
Companies are using social media to gain competitive advantage, capture market share, and deliver shareholder expectations. impacting the fertilizer and power generators in the country (for which gas is the main feed stock). In order to overcome these issues and securing access to sophisticated technology, Reliance has brought in British Petroleum (BP) as its partner in the KG basin. The flow of technology will for sure increase the probability of better exploration, development and production.
Partnership with integrated oil majors Today, more than 90 per cent of the global oil and gas reserves are controlled by national governments (Russia, Saudi, Mexico Venezuela,
Norway, Qatar, Iran), and large integrated oil majors (IOC) like BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell control less than 10 per cent. These IOCs are experts in oil and gas exploration, development and production, and they are actively looking to own equity share in oil reserves around the world. They have access to technology, project management capabilities and management depth clubbed with access to international oil supplies companies and contractors. Partnership with the integrated oil majors will in all probability provide substantial technical support to Indian players in finding and developing oil and gas in difficult frontiers and in deep waters. Indian players need to focus on creating such partnerships. More aggressive focus on renewable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal will be important, as these could get critical after 2030. There are a number of lessons India can learn from China in this regard: it is a classic case of substantial investment abroad, especially in Africa, to gain energy security for its future growth. China is already the largest car market in the world. Although it is currently consuming only half the oil that the US is, by 2025 it is expected to overtake the US in energy consumption. These trends show that India needs to aggressively pursue oil assets abroad to satisfy its growing demand. Also, India needs to speed up the time taken for clearing licences so that exploration can happen at a much larger scale. Approvals for entry of foreign companies bringing in technical know how and procedures for joint venture clearances and royalty payments need to be fast-tracked so that exploration and development moves at a much faster pace. A
Economic indicators Global economic update:
International rating agency, Moody’s downgraded China’s outlook, while another agency, Fitch, downgraded China’s long term currency credit rating; both of these are a result of the excessive borrowings and lack of transparency of the Chinese government. However, the rating agencies acknowledged that China’s fundamentals continue to be strong with robust economic growth and very strong external payments position. China’s foreign currency reserves are close to US$1.4 trillion, which is nine to ten times that of India! The sharp decline in gold price during the last 20 days shows the investor’s sensitive perception towards the yellow metal; although there were no major reasons for gold to take such a beating, at the end of the day, it is merely a commodity like steel and cotton which operates on the basis of the demand and supply balance. Some analysts attribute the fall in gold price to the news in the media that Cyprus could offload close to fourteen tonnes of gold to honour its financial commitments to the European and global institutions. Other analysts blamed selective hedgers and futures traders for the crash. However, at the end of the day, central banks around the world alone hold close to 35,000 tonnes of gold, which is around 10 times the annual gold consumption. This means that even if one central bank decides to offload a small percentage of its holdings to monetise, the demand-supply profile would go out of balance, steeply impacting the ‘spot’ gold price. The year over year March 2013 inflation based on WPI has reduced to a three year low of 6 per cent as against the 6.8 per cent in Feb 2013, which when compared with March 2012 was 7.7 per cent. The biggest relief comes from the fact that the fold inflation has come under control, which is positive news. The consumer price index based inflation is still hovering in double digits. With all this, it is a question of whether the Reserve Bank of India will provide rate cuts in its coming monetary policy meeting that is scheduled for the first week of May 2013.
Indian economic update:
India’s current account deficit scaled 6.7 per cent of its GDP in the third quarter; this is likely to lead the overall 2012-13 current account deficit close at around 5 per cent; ideally a comfortable figure is less than 3 per cent. Part of the reason for the high current account deficit is the exceptionally high levels of gold imports. Over the past four years, global gold prices have increased but have sharply crashed in the last one month. The Government of India increased import duty on gold to curb exports, but the current drop in international gold prices has incentivised Indians to import and consume more gold. The government cannot increase duties further. If it does, illegal channels would open up for smuggling gold into the country. With the gold price having declined steeply over the last month (being the worst gold crash in the last 25 years), jewellery and gold sales have increased multifold. In wholesale markets, there was a severe shortage of gold. Some amount of hording is also taking place; traders who have purchased at a much higher price are unwilling to sell, since the price drop has been sharp and that too in a very short span. Import of crude oil is another major component that pushes up the current account deficit; today the country imports more than 75 per cent of its crude oil requirement, hence the pressure. However, in order to gain control on the fiscal deficit, the government is firmly on the road to eliminate subsidies on petroleum products over a period of time; the diesel subsidy is going away on a phased manner (with small price increases every month for the next 18 months). With the elections around the corner, the government has still gone ahead and implemented this subsidy elimination, which is commendable. Power shortage in the country due to non-availability of coal to power plants also is a major concern.
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Key knowledge for
Global Markets, American, European and Japanese Markets:
The US and the Singapore markets appreciated by around one per cent during the review period, while markets like Europe, China and Hong Kong dropped by more than two per cent. Indian markets, more specifically the Sensex, dropped by close to 6 per cent during the review period; this is considered to be a sharp fall. The global markets are thus treading on uncertain turf and volatility is extremely high. The Japanese markets were the saving grace, with more than a 7 per cent increase during the review period; very positive news for Japan is the depreciating Yen. Although there has been no major breakthrough in the European Union crisis, the Cyprus economy touted to be frail, is a concern.
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The Asian markets have been volatile with sharp declines seen in the Indian markets. Recent Indian economic data showed the worsening fiscal and current account deficit, global crash in the gold price has been a concern as import of gold has steeply picked up resulting in undue pressure on the current account deficit. As per the recent estimates, the Indian economy will grow at around 6.4 per cent, which is much higher than the 5 per cent growth achieved during the last year; 2012-13.
There has been liquidity in the global economy where investors want to park their funds; especially with the Indian economy performing satisfactorily with over 6 per cent growth, more investments are likely to be channelled into India, over the medium term. Indian forex reserves have been fluctuating and the Indian rupee weakened by close to 1 per cent. Indiaâ€™s forex reserves increased by $0.3 billion in the review period.
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News in brief Calcutta Angles: An angel fund for startups
Scions of ﬁve very wealthy Marwari business families – the Kanorias, Salarpurias, Dalmias, Patodias and Kayans, have formed an angel investment group, christened Calcutta Angels, to encourage and enable startups to take off. Taking a cue from Mumbai Angels, a ﬁrst-of-its-kind initiative launched in 2006 by Sasha Mirchandani and Prashant Choksey, with which they have a strategic tie-up, the Kolkata group of angels has apparently been enthused by reports from their Mumbai counterparts about a substantial number of “great ideas” being generated in the east quite regularly, but many of these prospective entrepreneurs have been regularly going to Mumbai Angels in the hope of getting some hand holding. By choosing to facilitate start-ups to emerge as future business leaders, the group is seen to be doing a huge service to the state, because if some of their mentored units become really big names some day, they will only showcase Bengal’s stature in the industry.
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 Inc’s proﬁtability may improve in FY14’
Proﬁtability of Indian companies is likely to improve in the next ﬁscal year if banks reduce lending rates, which will lead to a cut in interest costs for corporates, a report by ratings agency Crisil stated. Crisil also expects the GDP to grow at 6.4 per cent. The ratings company said credit quality constraints on Corporate India have bottomed out with the credit ratio — the ratio of upgrades to downgrades — at 0.62 in the second half of FY13, and is likely to improve marginally to touch about 0.7. But rating downgrades may continue to outnumber upgrades over the medium term, given that companies’ stretched working capital cycles are unlikely to improve anytime soon, the report said. While the restructuring pace is likely to slow down, the number of cases slipping into non-performing loans will increase, it said. Companies in sectors such as textiles, power and construction, that have longer working capital cycles and stretched balance sheets, will remain vulnerable, the report said.
Food ﬁrms give up popular price points on rising costs
Packaged food and confectionery makers are increasingly giving up popular price points such as `5 and `20 for more inconvenient prices such as `6 and `22, as they can no longer reduce pack sizes to manage rising input costs. Parle Products has also increased prices of its two top-selling candies, Kismi toffee and orange candies, from 25 paise to 50 paise, and is now planning to launch a two-pack for Melody toffee to move up from the current `1 price and Eclairs from 50 paise to `1. ITC, the country’s fastest growing food company, plans to gradually increase price points across product segments such as Sunfeast biscuits, Bingo wafers and its confectionery range from `5 to `6 to `7 and 50 paise to `1 by launching newer variants. Cola makers, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, have already increased prices of 300-ml returnable glass bottle to an unconventional price point of 13 in some markets.
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Harvard joins rivals, reports record low admission rates
Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia universities reported record-low freshman admission rates for the 2013-2014 academic year, as applications climbed above or held near all-time highs. Harvard offered seats to 2,029 students, or 5.8 per cent of a record 35,023 applicants, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based school said on Thursday in a statement. Yale accepted 6.7 per cent, Princeton offered admission to 7.3 per cent and Columbia accepted 6.89 per cent, the schools said in statements. Top US colleges that offer generous ﬁnancial aid are luring record numbers of applicants even as the cost to attend increases faster than the pace of inﬂation and the number of high school graduates declines. Yale, in New Haven, Connecticut, offered admission to 1,991 students, and expects 1,350 to attend, the college said in a statement. It received 29,610 applications. It admitted 6.8 per cent last year. Princeton accepted 1,931 students from a pool of almost 26,500, and expects about 1,290 to attend, the Princeton, New Jersey-based school said. A year ago, it accepted 7.9 per cent, a record low at the time.
‘Big Sale’ helps SpiceJet ﬂy past AI, grab no. 3 slot in Feb
Even as the market continued to shrink, budget airline SpiceJet has overtaken Air India as the third-largest domestic carrier in February. The airline ﬂew a ﬁfth of the all Indian passengers on the back of its ‘Big Sale’ scheme offering million air tickets at `2,013 apiece, which has helped ensnare a portion of the ﬂier bases of both Jet Airways and Air India. According to latest ﬁgures given by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), SpiceJet ﬂew 20.4 per cent of all domestic passengers in the country in February this year against 18.4 per cent in January. Meanwhile, Air India’s market share dipped from 20.3 per cent to 18.9 per cent in February and so did Jet Airways’ from 20 per cent to 19.1 per cent in the same month. The total number of domestic ﬂiers carried by local airlines dipped to 4.89 million, a reduction of close to 5 per cent compared with 5.13 million passengers ﬂown in January 2013. The aviation regulator’s data also shows that compared with February 2012, domestic air trafﬁc has shrunk close to 4 per cent. However, what SpiceJet’s discounts couldn’t touch was the market leadership of low-cost carrier IndiGo, which maintained its lead at 27.4 per cent market share in February.
Big Money moves from India, BRICs to US & Japan
Money managers pulled out more than $1 billion from India and other BRIC economies in the ﬁrst quarter of 2013, and US and Japanese markets attracted a large amount of money, thanks to central bank pump priming, global fund ﬂow data shows. EPFR, the agency which tracks fund ﬂows into markets worldwide, says that emerging market equity funds pulled out about $951 million from India in the quarter. The outﬂow from all the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) was about $777 million. Global funds have invested nearly $66 billion dollars in developed equity markets, sending the American and Japanese indices to record highs in recent weeks.
Vodafone jumps on AT&T, Verizon interest buzz
Vodafone Group rose as much as 6.1 per cent in London trading after a Financial Times blog reported that AT&T and Verizon Communications may jointly bid for the British mobile company. Verizon, which co-owns Verizon Wireless with Vodafone in the US, and AT&T have been working on putting together a break-up bid for Vodafone. The offer being discussed, should it happen, will be pitched at about 260 pence ($3.95) per share, giving Vodafone an enterprise value of about $245 billion. Vodafone stock rose as much as 6.1 per cent, the biggest intraday gain in a month. Shares of the world’s second-largest wireless service provider behind China Mobile, jumped 6.8 per cent on March 6, the most in four years. www.advancedge.com
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SC dismisses Novartis AG’s plea for Glivec patent
The Supreme Court dismissed Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG’s attempt to win patent protection for its cancer drug Glivec, a blow to Western pharmaceutical ﬁrms targeting India to drive sales and a victory for local makers of cheap generics. The decision sets a benchmark for intellectual property cases in India, where many patented drugs are unaffordable for most of its 1.2 billion people, and does not bode well for foreign ﬁrms engaged in ongoing disputes in India, including Pﬁzer Inc and Roche Holding AG, analysts said. Over 16,000 patients in India use Glivec, the vast majority of who receive it free of charge, Novartis says. By contrast, generic Glivec is used by more than 300,000 patients, according to industry reports. Among the chief beneﬁciaries of the Supreme Court ruling will be India’s Cipla Ltd and Natco Pharma Ltd, which already sell “generic” Glivec in India at around one-tenth of the price of the branded drug. India has refused protection for Glivec on the grounds that it is not a new medicine, but an amended version of a known compound. By contrast, the newer form of Glivec has been patented in nearly 40 countries including the United States, Russia and China. Indian law bans ﬁrms from extending patents on their products by making slight changes to a compound, a practice known as “evergreening”.
Sweetness all around as sugar is finally set free
The government has thrown open the sugar market, removing one of the last vestiges of the control era and continuing the burst of reforms that began last September with a more liberal regime for foreign investment in retail. It has abolished the decades-old practice of regulating how much sugar a mill can sell in the market and the “levy” system in which a company is forced to sell 10 per cent of the output at a loss to sweeten supplies to the public distribution system. This comes into effect for output since September 2012, the start of the sugar year, and will be reviewed after watching its impact on the market and farmers for two years. The planned review has raised some concern, but most industry leaders are upbeat. To continue subsidised supply to the poor, states will now have to buy sugar at market rates and maintain the existing PDS sale price of `13.50 per kg, which has not been revised for a decade and is substantially lower than the current price of `32 per kg in the Mumbai market. The Centre will pay the states for this, and its sugar subsidy burden will rise to `5,300 crore from `2,600 crore a year.
With $1 billion this fiscal, i now stands for India in Apple code
Apple India’s revenues rose three-fold to cross `2,000 crore for the year ended March 2012, and analysts expect surging iPhone sales to propel the company’s top line to over $1 billion (about `5,400 crore) in the current fiscal year. The maker of iPhones and iPads does not disclose financial results for the Indian unit, but according to latest filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC), Apple India’s revenues rose 223 per cent to `2003.9 crore in FY12, up from `620 crore a year ago. During the same period, the Indian unit’s net profit shot up 431 per cent to `311.5 crore from `58.6 crore. These figures predate the aggressive marketing strategies adopted by Apple in the past six months, and experts say it is possible that Apple India’s strong showing in 2011-12 woke the company up to the country’s huge potential. Moreoever, iPhone shipments to India have risen three-fold in the past six months, and according to Singapore-based market researcher Canalys, the robust sales growth will continue this year, enabling Apple to comfortably clock $1 billion in revenues in 2013-14. According to Canalys, Apple would have grossed $500 million from iPhone sales in India alone in 2012-13. A
Advanc’edge MBA May 2013
Evolution and behaviour Some modern anthropologists hold that biological evolution has shaped not only human morphology but also human behaviour. The role those anthropologists ascribe to evolution is not of dictating the details of human behaviour, but one of imposing constraints and ways of feeling, thinking, and acting that “come naturally” in archetypal situations in any culture. Our “frailties” – the emotions and motives such as rage, fear, greed, gluttony, joy, lust, love – may be a very mixed assortment, but they share at least one immediate quality: we are, as we say, “in the grip” of them. And thus they give us our sense of constraints. Unhappily, some of those frailties – and one can be assured that our need for ever-increasing security is among them – are presently maladaptive. Yet, beneath the overlay of cultural detail, they, too, are said to be biological in direction, and therefore as natural to us as are our appendixes. We would need to comprehend thoroughly their adaptive origins in order to understand how badly they guide us now. And we might then begin to resist their pressure.
MAT CH T HE WO R DS W IT H T H E IR M EA NING S 1.
Morphology – (n) (mawr-fol-uh-jee)
Frailties – (n) (freyl-teez)
a. putting (a restriction) in place
Anthropologist – (n) (an-thruh-poluh-jist)
Gluttony – (n) (gluht-n-ee)
b. the condition of being weak and delicate
h. a miscellaneous collection of things or people
10. Assortment – (n) (uh-sawrt-muh nt)
c. very typical of a certain person or thing
11. Assured – (adj) (uh-shurd)
something laid as a covering over something else
one who specialises in the study of the human race, its origins, development, its customs and beliefs.
3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Evolution – (n) (ev-uh-lew-shuh n) Ascribe – (v) (uh-skrahyb) Imposing – (v) (im-poh-zing)
12. Maladaptive – (adj) (mal-uh-dap-tiv)
Constraint – (n) (kuh n-streynt)
13. Overlay – (n) (oh-ver-ley)
Archetypal – (adj) (ahr-ki-tahy-p-uh l)
e. habitual greed or excess in eating f.
not adjusting adequately or appropriately to the environment or situation
g. the process by which different kinds of living organism are believed to have developed from
earlier forms during the history of the earth
k. regard something as being due to (a cause) l.
a limitation or restriction
m. form and structure of animals, plants in science
Advanc’edge MBA May 2013
A quiz to boost your General Knowledge 1.
Who has been named global brand ambassador of Mrs India International? a) Udeeta Tyagi b) Richa Sharma c) Shaveta Jain d) Vidya Balan
The Government of India and the RBI will introduce one billion pieces of `10 notes in polymer/plastic on a ﬁeld trial basis. The ﬁeld trial will be conducted in ﬁve cities. Which of the following is not among them? a) Jaipur b) Mysore c) Mumbai d) Simla
Which multinational two wheeler manufacturing giant recently opened a new research and development facility in Surajpur, UP? Its four other centres operate out of Italy, Taiwan, China and Thailand. a) Honda b) Yamaha c) Mitsubishi d) Suzuki The Government of China recently launched a postage stamp to mark the year 2013. Name the animal depicted on the postage stamp. a) Rabbit b) Horse c) Snake d) Dragon Which Australian legend was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame during the third
Advanc’edge MBA May 2013
Test between Australia and Sri Lanka starting from 4 January 2013 in Sydney? a) Glenn McGrath b) Allan Border c) Brett Lee d) Jason Gillespie 6.
Which state was brought into railway network for the 1st time in India recently? a) Meghalaya b) Arunachal Pradesh c) Pondicherry d) Sikkim
Who has been appointed the President of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), India at the 82nd annual general meeting in March 2013? a) Azim Premji b) Adi Godrej c) Kris Gopalakrishnan d) Rajan Bharti Mittal
Mohamed Morsy recently visited India in 2013. He is the elected president of which country? a) Libya b) Syria c) Egypt d) Jordon SEBI has recently set up a new committee to review insider trading norms. This committee is headed by ____ a) Justice N. K. Sodhi b) Justice J Shome c) Justice S Verma d) Justice Usha Mehra
10. Which auto company launched an electric four-
seater passenger car, e20, in India in March 2013? a) Bajaj Auto b) Tata Motors c) Mahindra&Mahindra d) Maruti Suzuki 11. India’s ﬁnancial capital, Mumbai, slipped to which position in the list of world’s leading ﬁnancial hubs as per Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) published in 2013? a) 34th b) 66th c) 21st d) 46th 12. Which company has bagged the ‘International Reﬁner of the Year’ 2013 award at HART Energy’s 27th World Reﬁning & Fuel Conference at San Antonio, Texas, USA? a) Shell b) BP c) RIL d) Essar Oil 13. Which ﬁlm won the ‘Best Debut Film of a Director’ category in the 60th National Film Awards announced in 2013? a) Chittagong b) Kahaani c) Paan Singh Tomar d) Vicky Donor 14. GDP growth of Brazil, the world’s sixth largest economy stood at _____ in 2012. a) 2.7% b) 0.9% c) 4.6% d) 3% www.advancedge.com
Study Hour 15. Who has been sworn in as the Chief Minister of Nagaland for the third consecutive term in 2013? a) P A Sangma b) Neiphiu Rio c) Mukul Sangma d) None of the above 16. Which Indian IT company has announced its plans to hire 45,000 people and to give a 5-10% hike in wages this year? a) Cognizant b) Wipro c) TCS d) HCL 17. What is India’s rank in the Human Development Report 2013 released by the United Nations? a) 136 b) 100 c) 120 d) 68 18. Air Asia is forming a joint venture with which Indian corporate house to launch its Indian operation? a) Reliance Industries b) Aditya Birla Group c) Essar Group d) Tata Sons 19. Queen Elizabeth is the constitutional monarch of how many sovereign nations in the world? a) 9 b) 16 c) 25 d) 8 20. Which country overtook China to become 3rd largest economy as per the Asian Competitiveness Annual Report 2013? a) UAE b) India
c) Singapore d) Pakistan
21. Which investment banker has been chosen for setting up PSU Exchange Traded Fund in India? a) Credit Suisse b) JPMorgan Chase c) Goldman Sachs Asset Management d) Merrill Lynch 22. Which of these famous financial journals of international repute confers the ‘Financial Minister of the year’ award? a) Dalal Street b) Euromoney c) Money Matters d) Business Standard 23. The recently released report on Indian Services Exports reveals that India’s service exports rose by 9.5 per cent to USD 12.28 billion. The data on India’s services and trade was released by ___ a) Central Statistical Office b) Reserve Bank of India c) Ministry of Commerce and Industry d) Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation 24. Researchers of country have unveiled the screen, a digital screen capable of pinpointed smells? a) USA b) Germany c) South Korea d) Japan
which recently smelling display emitting
25. Which of the following is officially known as the “Republic of China”? a) Taiwan b) China
c) Hong Kong d) Macau
26. Which of the following online giants recently launched the ‘Digital Will’, which will purge a user’s data in the event of their death? a) Yahoo b) Google c) Microsoft d) Apple 27. The current strength of judges in India’s Supreme Court is 30. What is the maximum sanctioned strength of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice of India? a) 31 b) 33 c) 32 d) 30 28. Who among the following is the only person in history to have won both the Booker Prize and an Oscar? a) David Storey b) Iris Murdoch c) Ruth Prawer Jhabavala d) Stanley Middleton 29. The IMF 2013 forecast for global economic growth has been brought down from 4.1 per cent to ___? a) 3.6 per cent b) 2.8 per cent c) 4.0 per cent d) 3.9 per cent 30. To ensure women’s safety, which state government introduced the Women’s Armed Special Protection Squad in April 2013? a) Punjab b) Haryana c) Delhi d) Gujarat
Advanc’edge MBA May 2013
Study Hour 31. Recently, OIL India Ltd. commissioned a 54 MW wind turbine power plant in which state? a) Gujarat b) Karnataka c) Rajasthan d) Punjab
35. “John Bates Clark Medal” was awarded to Raj Chetty in April 2013. This medal is also known as?
a) b) c) d)
Asian Nobel Baby Nobel Booker Prize Queen’s Nobel
32. If there is a steep fall in global gold and oil prices, which of the following should be expected on a macroeconomic level? a) Decrease in current account deficit b) Increase in current account deficit c) Increase in capital account deficit d) Decrease in capital account deficit 33. While promoting India as an investment destination, India’s finance minister said that the “Financial Protectionism” practised by industrial countries is an issue of concern. Which among the following best describes Financial Protectionism? a) Imposing tariffs and other barriers to trade b) Providing direct and indirect subsidies to farmers c) Imposing barriers on inward and outward capital ﬂows d) Manipulating foreign exchange rates 34. Recently Vodafone and which bank have launched “M-Pesa”, a mobile money transfer and payment service in West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand? a) HDFC Bank b) Axis Bank c) ICICI Bank d) State Bank of India
Advanc’edge MBA May 2013
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.
01.(b) 02.(c) 03.(b) 04.(c) 05.(a) 06.(b) 07.(d) 08.(c) 09.(a) 10.(c) 11.(b) 12.(c) 13.(a) 14.(b) 15.(b) 16.(c) 17.(a) 18.(d) 19.(b) 20.(a) 21.(c) 22.(b) 23.(b) 24.(d) 25.(a) 26.(b) 27.(a) 28.(c) 29.(d) 30.(a) 31.(c) 32.(a) 33.(c) 34.(c) 35.(b)
1. m 6. l 11. d
Solution, tips and computer programme at www.sudoku.com
2. j 7. c 12. f
3. g 8. b 13. i
4. k 9. e
5. a 10. h