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IIM Americas Newsletter IIM Americas is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization

Q2 2014


Vol. 2



“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”

Editorial Hello fellow IIM Alumni, Greetings and Happy Spring !! It gives us immense pleasure to bring before you the second newsletter of IIM Americas. The objective of the newsletter is to be a platform where everybody gets a chance to interact with the wider IIM alumni based in the Americas region. The theme for this edition is “Entrepreneurship & Innovation”. As part of ‘Meet a Thought Leader’ series we were privileged to interview Ms. Ruby Ashraf. Ruby is an IIMA (PGP ‘83) alum and the founder of Precious Formals. For over two decades,

Sameer Mittal Editorial Team

Precious Formals has been an award winning trend-setter in the prom, pageant, and evening wear markets by combining traditional

designs with imaginative and creative modern appeal. Ruby, the Chief Designer and CEO, consistently introduces fresh new trends to the formal wear industry with elaborate and novelty beadwork, exquisite designs, and on-trend fabrics and silhouettes. We are happy to introduce couple of new sections to the newsletter. First is the Fun Company section to cover interesting business ideas. In the second section we are covering some of the interesting and upcoming business career options.

Deepti Thomas Editorial Team

If you know an IIM alum and feel we should interview him/her for the ‘Meet a thought leader’ section do write to us. The newsletter thrives on contributions from its members and hence we request your active participation in this forum. We hope that you enjoy this edition. Thanks and Happy Reading !! IIM Americas Editorial Team

Contents  Message from the President  Meet a Thought Leader  Careers in Innovation  Fun Company  Photo Gallery  Chapter Contacts  Trivia  Nuts & Bolts  Campus Update

 Life after IIMs

Aiming to build a stronger community network

Hello fellow alumni,

Message from the President

Greetings! We have had a very exciting second quarter and I am delighted to share with you the highlights from the 2nd quarter of 2014 and also our plan of action for the 3rd quarter of 2014. Looking back… • Not for profit status: In June, 2014, the IRS granted IIM Americas tax exempt status under Section 501c(6) of the Internal Revenue Code. Thus, IIM Americas is a not for profit organization and contributions to IIM Americas are tax exempt. Our thanks to The Chugh Firm for helping us in this huge endeavor. • Events organized in Q1 of 2014: We organized several professional events in Q2 of 2014 which saw exciting participation from our alumni: • Pinnacle 2014 - Conference @San Francisco-Bay Area, April 26, 2014 • IIMpact 2014 – Conference @Dallas, May 10, 2014 • Speaker series – an evening with Dr. Rakesh Godhwani over drinks and dinner @San FranciscoBay Area, August 1, 2014 • Personal Growth Lab – 3 day residential workshop @San Francisco-Bay Area, May 31 – June 2, 2014 • IIMages 2014– conference @Toronto, June 28, 2014 • IIM Americas YouTube channel: We started IIM Americas YouTube channel in Q2 of 2014. We will use this channel to record snippets of our events. Click here to check out our YouTube channel. • Keynote speakers: We had wonderful keynote speakers at our events in Q2, 2014 who made the gatherings an engaging experience for all alumni. The keynote speakers in Q2 of 2014 were: • Radha Ramaswami Basu, CEO, iMerit Technologies • Ro Khanna, Teacher, Lawyer, Politician • Prof. Venkatesh Shankar, Professor and Coleman Chair in Marketing and Director of Research, Center for Retailing Studies, Texas A&M University • Prof. Indira J. Parikh, Founder President FLAME, exdean IIMA • Jaspal Bajwa, Management Consultant and Executive Coach

Ashima Jain President

Looking forward…

Message from the President

Q2 of 2014 promises to be yet another exciting quarter for us as you can see from the following: • Events planned for Q2 of 2014: We have planned the following events in Q2 of 2014. • Speaker series - An evening with Prof. Jagdish Sheth over dinner and drinks @San Francisco-Bay Area, August 1, 2014 (you can find more details and can register here) • IIMpressions 2014 – Conference @Washington DC, August 23, 2014 (you can find more details and can register here) • Annual picnic – annual San Francisco-Bay Area picnic, September 13, 2014 (stay tuned for details) • IIM-Connect 2014 - Conference @New York/New Jersey, September 20, 2014 (stay tuned for details) • Social presence: Do take a minute to check out our social presence, sign up and actively participate: • Our website ( • Our LinkedIn group ( • Our Facebook group ( • Our Facebook page ( • Our YouTube channel (

• Our twitter hashtag @iimamericas Stay tuned for announcements and information about our forthcoming initiatives! With best wishes On behalf of IIM Americas board Ashima Jain (President)

Meet a Thought Leader Tell us something about yourself? I feel really privileged and honored that you have selected me for this interview. In my early days after IIM-A, I worked for BHEL. I interviewed with two companies -BHEL and Metalbox. I was offered job by both of them but I chose BHEL because it was in Delhi and I liked the job profile more. The job was fantastic and I learnt a lot. Even though I worked in Human Resources I learnt a lot about computers because I volunteered in Corporate Management Services and Corporate Planning department. I was with BHEL for ~4 years and then got married in 1987 and moved to USA. I was in Galveston, TX and there was no good opportunity for me there. Being ambitious I started doing papers and research for my existing company. Later, I got admission in Rice University to study Organization Behavior but my heart was set on Stanford or Harvard and I was willing to wait. However, an old and enduring love for clothes took me in a different direction and I founded Precious Formals in 1990. What inspired you to start Precious Formals ? I was always interested in designing dresses from the very beginning and was often praised for being well dressed and people would appreciate my sense of fashion. At IIMA, I got the Best Dressed Girl award. I always knew that I would be an entrepreneur but I never thought I will be designing dresses. I guess in my case things happened both out of inspiration and desperation. I happened to attend a Christmas party at my husband, Javed’s university and wore one of my self-designed dresses. The dress got a lot of admiration and people started asking who made it for me. I answered, well I designed it for myself. People felt I really had a lot of talent. People told me that I should be going to Dallas and selling these there. While I was waiting for the right opportunity I thought let’s just do it. But at that point there wasn't much information available on the industry. There were case studies on textiles, consumer products, everything else, but nothing on apparel. So I decided to do my own case study.

Ms. Ruby Ashraf Founder & CEO : Precious Formals

Meet a Thought Leader I travelled across America, at that time there was no CNN which could apprise me of fashion trends. I visited retail stores to understand fashion trends, and found my own niche in designing Prom dresses. I went ahead and launched my company. In fact, I designed my first jacket for Javed’s boss’s wife. The jacket got noticed and landed in Rich and Famous magazine, I made thousands of the same jacket and the rest is history. I launched my fist store in Houston that’s how everything started. I went into different boutiques nationally and later expanded he brand to different countries. I’m still going strong and there is still a lot to do. It’s challenging and that’s my forte. I never feel I’m working and I thrive on challenges. I’m comfortable being uncomfortable. How did you go about marketing Precious Formals ? What was pivotal in making Precious Formals such a big name in the Prom Dresses and Formal Gowns industry? I initially didn’t have enough funds to do big advertisements in magazines. It was only after the initial few years that I could manage to put a one page advertisement in a magazine and it was for $15,000. Fortunately, I was good in Marketing at B- School, so I started very basic and didn’t go with a big budget. I had a small showroom in the beginning and a lot of the publicity was just word of mouth, cold calling and then yes I did start advertising. Later, I tried to get more editorials, got my name out there at

fashion shows and then it just grew from there. I still feel word of mouth and acing small advertisements were the biggest publicity. Now it has come to all the media, magazines, fashion shows, proms and beauty pageants.

How important are customers to the business and how do you go about building that relationship ? For a business Product and Customers are the two most important pillars. Maintaining good relationship with customers is the primary focus at Precious Formals. We regularly host events in which we invite our top clients. Recently, on June 9th, we hosted our top 100 clients for three days at a lavish hotel by the river and had fashion shows where we launched our Spring ‘15 collection. Such events give us an opportunity to interact and spend quality time with our customers. We also organize several seminars and networking events. Our primary customers are businesses and understanding and growing with them is key to our success. Precious Formals cannot survive in vacuum, we get a lot of support from our customers and we provide the same by listening and catering to their needs. It is a very symbiotic relation and it just grows when these top customers go out and say great things about Precious Formals.

Meet a Thought Leader Share the most cherished moment of the entire entrepreneurial journey ? I cannot describe just one moment. One thing which I cherish the most is the relationship that I have built with people. There is nothing superior than this. When I look back, the award I got for ‘Best Prom Dress’ company in Dallas or when I was invited by Sony Pictures to the Red Carpet were exciting moments for me. And the people I have worked with have been the most exciting for me. My customers are just like family to me. Precious Formals still deals with some of the very early customers. These customers started just around the time when Precious Formals was started. We have not lost any customer since we started, we have just grown and added more customers. This is big positive for the business. I try to keep up with all of my customers and specially the ones with whom I started my business. What sacrifices/challenges did you face to be an entrepreneur ? I wouldn’t call it sacrifice. You know everything you do is hard work, you have to work really hard and there are times when you have to forgo personal things to attend to business. I would say that I have been really privileged to build the team at Precious Formals as a family. I have worked really hard but like all big companies I have tried to keep the work environment really flexible. I think it’s just in your DNA. I was focused and determined. I don’t think

I sacrificed anything, instead I got a lot from the business. One thing which I always keep in mind is success is not measured by what you have achieved but how many times have you fallen and gotten up after that. Things keep happening, it’s like a rollercoaster, the key is to never give up. Being a newcomer to the industry it was difficult to establish connections and getting that first opportunity/order. Today, even though the brand is established, we still face challenges. There are always new businesses coming up and we always have new competition to watch out for. Being an entrepreneur is like riding a tiger and it will always be like that. As long as you can control the tiger, everything will be good. With Internet, things have definitely become easier but they are easy for everybody. Being creative and driven has always been the key to overcome these challenges.

Meet a Thought Leader What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them ? Oh yes, I did have my share of those. In the beginning, I spent a lot of money in advertising in two magazines. I also made magazines for the store which we mailed to the customers. It was a great idea. However, the cost of the magazines made them more expensive than the sales. I should have started small rather than mailing million copies in first year. Second, initially I would trust everyone. I would never imagine that trust could be a problem in the corporate world. It was only when I realized that some of the customers were not paying that I got cautious and made the process more streamlined. We always learn, every year we learn how to do, what to do, what not to do.

What would you like to change ? I think I would leave everything as it is. I have had a fantastic journey. In my personal life, I would change a couple of things. I would not do aerobic exercises because I broke both my legs big time due to illness. This left me on wheelchair for a long time. Javed had to quit his job and come work for Precious Formals full time. I will always do Pilates and yoga because this is something that keeps me sane. I would handle stress better. Earlier, I would work 36 hours, travel a lot and would not know how to handle stress. Now, I know how to balance things better and take time out from my schedule to de-stress and not think about business all the time. Discipline is the key to be successful in anything.

Health is really important, it comes first. In business, I had a fantastic ride, this is more beautiful than any dream I would have ever dreamt. I believe in being happy in whatever I do. Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years ? I’m working on new products for Precious Formals. This year we launched fun jewelry for teenagers. It has been received well by the customers. I have always wanted to go into sportswear. As I see myself wearing more fitness clothes, they have become more than just clothes that can be worn at the gym. This is one product I will want Precious Formals to get into in future. Plus I would want to take it public. That’s the Goal !! In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur ? Exciting !! It’s always exciting. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs ? Just go for your dreams. Go for what you want to achieve and what you want to be. Give your 100%, don’t be afraid of failures. They are a part of success. Even if you fall, just get up, dust yourself and keep going. Getting up is the first step towards success. There is no right time to get into entrepreneurship, you learn while doing it. If you know you want to do it, just jump into it. If you think too much you will never do it. Entrepreneurs are risk takers.


Introducing My World – a new series profiling fellow IIM Alumni with jobs that are a little “off-normal” A few years ago, innovation was little more than a buzz word. Leading thinkers and business gurus were speaking of the need for organizations to be more organized and structured in how they approached innovation; and many took this advice to heart setting up innovation committees, teams and task forces. However, though well intentioned, in many cases it was little more than lip service. While they understood the need for innovation, organizations struggled to be purposeful about it – with the result that innovation efforts seemed disconnected from core ‘value-adding’ activities of the business.

It has been relatively slow in coming, but driven by success stories and extensive media attention, the perception towards innovation within organizations seems to have changed. Not only have organizations begun to see its importance in helping them stay competitive – especially when facing off against more nimble, risk-taking competitors – but collective knowledge on how to think about innovation in more structured ways has increased* So what does innovation in a large organization entail? Having been part of this world for several years, I believe it is about discovery, incubation and acceleration**. • Discovery: The process of identifying new opportunities is more than getting people together in a room to brainstorm on the “next big thing”. Being purposeful about discovery entails systematically identifying and tracking trends and new ideas, interpreting what they could mean to the organization, and making judgment calls on whether (and when) they warrant further investigation. While the activity lends itself to a lot of creative thinking, it also requires a deep understanding of the organizations strategy, and being closely connected to customer needs. • Incubation: The nurturing of ideas as they evolve into proofs of concept and prototypes, needs judicious investment in terms of time, money, and access to expertise and clients. The philosophy of “Fail forward fast” needs to be coupled with an awareness of our susceptibility to decision biases that may hinder our decisions (e.g. “irrational escalation” where people justify increased investment in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the decision was probably wrong).

• Acceleration: Translating an idea into a viable, scalable business requires strong entrepreneurial skill sets. It requires the ability to manage complex projects with many moving parts and innovate around many aspects of the business (product systems, profit models, talent models, brands,

customer experience etc.) For those with an interest in business (as one might assume our readers are), career opportunities in innovation range from being part of in house innovation centers to providing innovation consulting as a professional service. I’ve had the opportunity to be on both sides, and find them both to be extremely rewarding experiences – though not without their drawbacks. On the plus side, being in the “innovation” world offers the opportunity to work on new products and services - providing the rush and thrill of being an entrepreneur while retaining the security of a paycheck. However every new idea you follow requires dealing with unchartered territory, with no set path to follow and ever changing ideas of what success could look like. Having worked with some exceptionally talented people in this space, I believe that it is a career suited for those who like variety, possibilities, generating new ideas, are tolerant of ambiguity and yet can be laser focused on goals. Especially when working with (or within) big organizations, a critical skill to have is the ability to bring people along the journey – who may have differing opinions and pride of ownership. If you are interested in innovation, but are unsure of the commitment you can make to it – there are several organizations that are “opening up” innovation, and tapping into crowds and expert networks to supplement their efforts (especially around “discovery”). Two well-known platforms for are Innocentive and Open-IDEO. Get started today! *A few good references to learn more about applying a structured approach to innovation in organizations The Little Black Book of Innovation – Scott D. Anthony

The 10 Types of Innovation – Larry Keeley

**Ref: Create Three Distinct Career Paths for Innovators (HBR, Dec. 2009)

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” - Steve Jobs


‘Fun company’ !!!

The editorial team is always brainstorming and thinking about ways to make our newsletter fun, engaging and informative. What we noticed (and we are sure you did too!) during many of IIM Americas’ formal or informal get-togethers was that we are a curious and inventive bunch of people who like to know and share about interesting new ventures. In that light, we came up with this idea about introducing a ‘Fun Company’ column starting from this issue. Please note that through this column our intent is just to share some fun facts and NOT to endorse these companies in any manner. For this issue … ‘Fun Company’ for this issue is ‘Tea with Strangers’. Started by University of Pennsylvania graduate Ankit Shah who moved to Menlo Park from New York and wondered what might be the best (and fun) way to meet great people in the Bay. And below is what he did on a whim and 200+ people signed up. As you would imagine, the company and the website has evolved a fair bit since then, and the company has got some interesting press coverage. Though the company is still focused on San Francisco at the moment their website talks about expanding to many more cities very soon, including Boston, DC, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Penn, Portland, Palo Alto and Seattle. We didn’t spend any time finding out about other boring stuff such as ‘do they even have a revenue model …’ partly because we are not sure there is any, yet! Oh and by the way, this column is about discussing ‘fun’ things only! So – if you are a tea-drinker and want to make some new friends, you know what to do! Have fun!

Photo Gallery "Finding Your Way" - IIM Americas annual conference in Toronto June 28, ‘14

Personal Growth Lab with Dr. Indira Parikh May 31 - June 2, ‘14

Photo Gallery

IIMpact 2014: Connected World Connected Solutions Dallas – May 10, ‘14

Photo Gallery

Pinnacle 2014 - "Leadership in an Age of Transparency“ – SFO April 26, ‘14

Photo Gallery

Contacts Atlanta Austin


Ketan Kumar


Kulbir Singh


Ajat Dhawal


Budhaditya (Adi) Gupta


Navjeet Singh


Ranganathan Chandrasekaran




Anil Maheshwari



Sanjeev Bode



Mohan Natarajan


Sandeep Walia


Nagam Rao


Amit Kohad


Uday Patki


Peeyush Gupta


Hari Katla

Los Angeles New York / New Jersey Phoenix

San Francisco / Bay Area



Washington DC


Sudha Ranganathan


Prof. Shailendra


Suyash Lad


Deepak Singh


Arpita Agarwal


Vivek Deenadayalu


Tarun Sen


Anil Chandramani

This is the updated list of our various chapters and the respective Chapter Contacts. If you’d like to volunteer or get involved in any way, please feel free to contact the relevant people.



3. Apple acquired this company co-founded by hip hop artist Dr Dre and music executive Jimmy Iovine, 4. _____, the world's largest toy manufacturer, got its start in 1945 the first product it manufactured was Picture Frames 5. Name of the new phone launched by 6. One risk which can't be mitigated by any of the normal portfolio de-risking strategies 10. In late 19th century which popular beverage was advertised as Headache Remedy. You can still find it everywhere around you 11. ‘Definitely Male’ is used by which Indian Bike Company? 12. Famous Indian Business conglomerate Tata reentered the aviation industry by forming a joint venture with this airline. 13. Apple Inc. was started by three people: Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniack and which other individual, provide his first name 15. According to Okun’s Law for every One % increase in the unemployment rate, a country's GDP will be roughly an additional ____ % lower than its potential GDP


1. Who tells us 'Out of The Darkness Comes Light'? 2. C.P. Krishnan Nair - a 2010 recipient of the Padma Bhushan founded which popular chain of hotels in India 4. Ajaypal Singh Banga – an IIMA alumnus is President and CEO of which company 7. Flipkart, India's largest e-tailer, acquired which of the country's biggest fashion portal 8. Popular action camera company that recently went Public 9. French government supported this company’s acquisition after disapproving GE’s previous bid, to completely absorb _____ power and grid businesses 11. The Central banks of the G10 countries (which includes UK and USA among others) formed a committee in 1974 which issues guidelines regarding the conduct of banks. Which European city is the committee 14. The Supreme Court ruled Internet streaming service _______ illegal, handing traditional broadcasters a resounding victory against an upstart that threatened to upend their business model.

Nuts & Bolts

Opportunities for Sponsorships

Block Your Calendar •

Speaker series - An evening with

Thank you all for the continued support

Prof. Jagdish Sheth over dinner and

towards your IIM alma mater and

drinks @San Francisco-Bay Area,

energized participation in alumni

August 1, 2014 (you can find more

activities and events.

details and can register here)

As we are all well aware, IIM Americas

IIMpressions 2014 – Conference

is a non-profit organization, and

@Washington DC, August 23, 2014

sponsorship is a key source of

(you can find more details and can

sustenance towards meeting our

register here)

objectives. Obtaining sponsorship for ongoing activities and/or specific

Francisco-Bay Area picnic,

events is a continuous journey and

September 13, 2014 (stay tuned for

your help in every way is much


appreciated. If you have contacts and/or leads and would like to help with obtaining sponsorship, please reach out to Jayant

Annual picnic – annual San

IIM-Connect 2014 - Conference @New York/New Jersey, September 20, 2014 (stay tuned for details)

Swamy, IIM Americas Board member ( who is championing this effort for 2014.

Stay Tuned to ml to learn about more events.

Campus update Integrated programme in management for Std XII passouts Times of India The hallowed doors of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) were open only to graduates but three years back IIMIndore changed the course of ... IIM-Lucknow to open overseas campus Indian Express Adding another feather to its cap, IIM-L will soon open a campus outside the country. Confirming the ... Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad to offer eleven newmanagement development ... Economic Times IIM-A would be offering eleven new Management Development Programmes .. IIM-B ranks 53 in FT list of top executive education providers Hindu Business Line IIM-B has become the only Indian BSchool to feature in the Financial Times 2014 executive education ... IIM-C ties up with hospitals in US, India for healthcare executive programme Hindu Business Line IIM-C, in association with the US hospital

CHI St. Luke's Health, Houston TX, and Glocal Healthcare, an Indian rural ... 4Ps of marketing helped Modi become Prime Minister: Study Times of India AHMEDABAD: A faculty member of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) is conducting a study on how Prime Minister Narendra ... Govt to offer scholarships for IIM-A's one-year programme Hindu Business Line Indian Institute of Management Ahm edabad's (IIM-A) Post-Graduate Programme in Management for Executives (PGPX) has been empanelled in ... MBA From IIMA Offers More Value Than Harvard, Wharton: Report NDTV IIMA has been ranked the best business school (B-school) in the country year after year for many ... Indian Institute of Management Calcutta announces Executive Programme in Global Economics India Education Diary Report by India Education bureau, IIM- C is offering Executive Programme in Global Economics (EPGE).

Life After IIMS Ishu (Arun Isukapalli) is an IIM - I '07 graduate who infrequently blogs at He is a Business Analysis Manager near Washington, DC.

trivia- solution

Profile for IIM Americas

IIM Americas Newsletter Q2 2014  

Quarterly Newsletter of IIM Americas Alumni

IIM Americas Newsletter Q2 2014  

Quarterly Newsletter of IIM Americas Alumni