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

Q1, 20117 Vol. 13

IIM Kolkata

CONTENTS Editorial Message from the President Meet a Thought Leader Meet an Entrepreneur Nik’s Column Chapter Contacts A Glimpse of Events Nuts & Bolts

editorial Hello fellow IIM alumni Greetings and welcome to the thirteenth newsletter of IIM Americas. The objective of this newsletter is to serve as a platform for facilitating interacting among the IIM alumni based in the Americas and also with the larger community.

Sonali Rathi-Pramanik

As part of our Meet a Thought Leader series Preethi Jayaraman, interviewed Prof. Sanjiv Das, William and Janice Terry Professor of Finance and Business Analytics, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business. Our Meet an Entrepreneur series features Sanjay Mohan, Founder and CEO, nestCARE, interviewed by Namrata Poddar.

Namrata Poddar PPP

In Nik’s column Nik Dholakia talks about “Should IIMs become Universities?” We hope that you will enjoy this edition our quarterly newsletter and welcome your feedback and suggestions. And do let us know if there is an IIM alum whom we should interview or a fun company that we should cover, please let us know.. Thanks and happy reading!!!

Preethi Jayaram

IIM Americas Editorial Team

Priyanka Saha

Message from the President Hello fellow alumni, Greetings! On behalf of the Board of IIM Americas, I am delighted to share with you the highlights from Q1 2017 and our upcoming events.

New social media initiatives • In January, 2017, professional What’sApp groups were set up for 8 out of our 13 chapters. The process will continue for the remaining 5 chapters. The response from the alumni has been very positive. • Facebook sub-groups were also set up for certain chapters. • Q1 2017 events • Houston chapter dinner with Counsel General of India – On Friday, January 20, 2017 the Counsel General of India in Houston invited pan IIM alumni for dinner. There was good interaction between him and the IIM alumni. • Upcoming Events • San Francisco-Bay Area chapter annual conference Pinnacle 2017 will be held on Saturday April 29, 2017 @Googleplex in Mountain View, California • Atlanta chapter formal inauguration will take place on May 6, 2017 @Alpharetta Innovation Center, Alpharetta, Georgia. • Dallas chapter networking dinner is scheduled on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 @Taco Diner, Irving, Texas. • Recognition of IIM Americas board member • Dr. Beena George, dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of St. Thomas and IIM Americas board member was named among Houston Woman Magazine’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2016. You can read more about this here. •

Ashima Jain President

Message from the President • IIM Americas board •

Office bearers: • Ashima Jain (President & Director) • Jayant Swamy (Treasurer & Director) • Dr. Beena George ( Secretary & Director)

• Other board members: • Suresh Madan (Chairman & Director) • Hazurasingh Siviya (Webmaster & Director) • Harish Narasimhan (Director) • Sonali Rathi-Pramanik (Director)

• Social presence: •

Our website (

Our LinkedIn group ( my_groups-b-grp-v)

Our Facebook group (

Our Facebook page (

Our YouTube channel ( ts)

Our twitter hashtag@iimamericas

With best wishes On behalf of IIM Americas board Ashima Jain

Ashima Jain President

1) Tell us your career journey - from IIMA to the Corporate and your discovery of love for Academia. Soon after I finished at IIM Ahmedabad, I joined Citibank working in India for 2 to 3 years. Citibank then posted me in Hong Kong to a group building trading technologies and working with dealing rooms all over Asia, Europe and the Middle East. I was one of the few people in the group that had an MBA, but not a PhD in Math or Physics. All my work till then was application oriented. But I soon realized that I wanted to build the models that teams like mine were using. I couldn't do that without higher education beyond Grad school. So I did a PhD at NYU. I thought I'd go back into the industry and do all the ‘building’ under the hood, but then Academia became a lot more interesting. It was more the desire to build a car than to drive it that became my reason to leave the Corporate world and stay in Academia. This desire got me learning the Mathematics that goes into modern finance and embedding models into software. When I finished my PhD, I started my first academic job at Harvard. I was teaching finance in the Business school and doing my research. Along the way, I realized I needed to know Computer Science. The finance PhD wasn't enough for me to work in Computational Finance. On sabbatical from Harvard, I went to Berkeley to do a Masters in CS. Now, that was an absolutely crazy experience because I had no background in CS. I joined school and for the first few months, I had no idea what was going on. But then you slowly pick it up and get moving. My wife was teaching at Berkeley at the time, which made this easier; I came to Berkeley as a visiting professor, teaching and doing my MS there together. My interest in the Computer Science piqued as well and I decided that staying in the Bay area will help my family and allow me to indulge my other research interests. Around then, Santa Clara offered me a position and I’ve been here since.

MEET A Thought Leader

Prof. Sanjiv Das William and Janice Terry Professor of Finance and Business Analytics, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

2) With your experience in the field of market failures and risks, what do you think is the next big problem area? Do you think that the large dependency on the Tech sector now could cause a market crash?

MEET A Thought Leader

Right now, I think one of the biggest dangers is Student loans. That’s one area where we're seeing major risk and defaults occurring. The other big area is labour markets. I think the next political and financial crisis will be people not finding work in many domains. Technology is doing a fair amount of damage. And the impact now is very large. At this point, at any given time, there are about 4 million truck drivers. There are totally about 15 million trucks in the US. So, if we get self-driving cars, we're putting that many people out of work. That’s just an example. With technology, companies will try to move jobs. Government intervention will have only so much of an impact. So, re-positioning the labour market is a massive exercise that has to be handled methodically. The only way to really succeed in that is to improve the education levels in the country. And I don't see that happening in the short-term, especially not with the current Education regime. That's the biggest problem right now. We need to a workforce that's far more skilled than our current generation’s capability. This generation is already too late. But the kids that are in school now, that's the generation that has to be trained better. But that's not going to be easy. 3) Is this not the case with most developed economies? The focus, initially on unskilled labour as long as there are infrastructure building jobs, shifts towards highly skilled jobs, until another high dependency industry is disrupted. In that sense, as a country, if you don't keep moving with time, isn't there bound to be a crash sooner or later?

Prof. Sanjiv Das William and Janice Terry Professor of Finance and Business Analytics, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

That's right. All crises start in some market. The Dotcom crisis in particular was not a systemic crisis. It was much more localized than the Mortgage crisis. The mortgage crisis spilled over into lots of other sectors. Because once the crisis hit the banks and they became relatively weak, they couldn’t lend and the whole money multiplier shut down.

MEET A Thought Leader

But the labour crisis that's coming will be different. In an economic crisis, people get put out of work. And that happens because there's a cycle. When one sector gets hurt and they can't invest, it leaks into other sectors and things go down and that indirectly leads to lower employment. But here, there's a direct mechanism to kill off employment right away. Once people are unemployed, they won't be spending; and once they don't spend, it'll create a slowdown. Usually, a slowdown happens and then people lose their jobs. Here, there'll be a reverse effect in a slightly different direction. 4) With industries changing at such a fast pace, how should we, as skilled workers stay ahead of the curve and build the right skills? It's not always easy to predict what's coming. Even if you could predict, it wouldn’t be easy to transform everybody towards a goal. You just may not have the temperament or the skills that are needed. But I do believe that teaching people how to think will help. The problem should be solved one step back, at the time of education itself. People should be taught how to think about problems. One way to teach people to think is to focus on a very technical education, such as an engineering program. People generally graduate out of engineering programs with a thought process that helps identify different analytical ways of working with a problem.

Prof. Sanjiv Das William and Janice Terry Professor of Finance and Business Analytics, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

Other disciplines that are not too technical have also become much more so along the way and must be taught in the same rigorous fashion. For example, psychology which never used to be a big thing for business is now a huge deal. Every time you design a website or change an offering, a good background in psychology helps you understand which variables to push and what experiments to run with the data. This enables you to generate inferences that change the way your approach to a problem. So I think education should be much more rigorous than it used to be.

MEET A Thought Leader

5) Do you see India become the next technological hub as the US with respect to entrepreneurship? What do you think are the show stoppers for Indians?

Prof. Sanjiv Das I think India is already there in many ways. In the last ten years, the number of people who are setting up companies has exploded and you can see that already with the growing private equity market in India. I can also see it on campuses with the students. This time at ISB, the bulk of finance students wanted to create something new in the FinTech space. They didn't want to go work for companies as much anymore, but instead wanted to build new things. The success of companies, such as PayTm, which became very hot because of demonetization, is a neat example of how quickly a FinTech play can grow in such environments. I think a lot of financial forensic work will take off, especially with the Government’s initiative to crack down in many areas. Though India is getting there, it also needs work. India is good at getting onto a technology driven business paradigm, whether it be trading exchanges or payment systems and it is easier being productive in India thanks to scale efficiencies. But Indian institutes are not doing any fundamental research anymore.

William and Janice Terry Professor of Finance and Business Analytics, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

China is going to eat India's lunch in that game. China is investing hugely in getting researchers back to China. We don't have that culture in India.

MEET A Thought Leader

The only interaction I had on that aspect was with the RBI. When Raghuram Rajan was RBI Governor, he tried to push some of the research culture in. The head of Research at the RBI, N R Prabhala, was also another IIMA alumnus, who was my classmate when I did my PhD at NYU. With him, we were able to do some work. We built the technology to map the entire banking system, an exercise we’re doing in the US. The idea was implemented in India first. That was the first attempt at getting research institutions up and going. We do have some institutes, like the IGIDR in Bombay that do good work. But the work needs to get translated into practice.

There is no shortage of talent in the IITs and other such technical schools. But the real problem is that the faculty does not have the right incentives to keep their research going. So research won't happen at the universities very easily, but we do have the opportunity to create a whole bunch of think-tanks like Bell Labs and Silicon Valley in the old days. Companies have to set that up. And the companies that do that will be better positioned for innovation. For example, McKinsey was thinking about creating a Data Science team in India. Such initiatives need to be started. They need to hire fairly technical people to start collaborating with a bunch of companies and help them use Data science effectively. The whole point is lost when companies don’t ask themselves these important questions. Much lesser that 30% of recorded data gets used effectively by companies. Banks in Asia have still not figured it out. Finance companies are generally slow moving, but at the start up levels companies are getting much

Prof. Sanjiv Das William and Janice Terry Professor of e Finance and Business Analytics, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

better at using personal data, texting information and other such things. Even to the section where nobody would lend to, there are clearly people with good and others with bad credit. Capital One has done it in the US very successfully. They use a lot of personal data to go below all the cut offs that the personal credit card companies don't want to touch.

MEET A Thought Leader

In India, personal data is more freely available than in the US, where there are more restrictions. Profiling activity in India with so many people will be extremely productive. Whoever starts doing that well will be able to support many companies. However, Research driven enterprise in India is not there yet. There's always a bureaucratic person running the shop somewhere, who doesn’t see the value in change. We do have an old historical feeling that we care about learning. We should also want people to do fundamental research and build-up indigenous stuff. But we keep borrowing ideas. China did that for many years - they'd just steal technology and ideas and implement it beautifully. In the last 5 years, China has completely changed. They're building incredible universities with huge amount of funding to kick start their own research. Tons of Chinese people are going back from the US. Andrew Ng at Stanford, who created the Machine Learning course, was working at Google for a while. Now Baidu has hired him as their Chief Scientist, building AI in labs in China. At AI, China will probably be better than everyone else very soon. But India doesn't even have a word anywhere for AI. That's where we’re falling behind and we can't afford to. When we begin to build on new ideas ourselves, rather than others’ technology, we’ll be in the race. (The views expressed herein are those of Prof. Sanjiv Das and do not necessarily reflect the views of IIM Americas or its Board of Directors. IIM Americas, as a matter of policy, disclaims responsibility for any publication or statement herein.)

Prof. Sanjiv Das William and Janice Terry Professor of Finance and Business Analytics, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

MEET AN Entrepreneur I graduated from IIM Bangalore in 1994 after completing my engineering from the Indian Institute of Science with an emphasis on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Power Systems. I have always had an interest in the intersection of technology and business. Since 1994, I have worked with various technology consulting firms like Cap Gemini, Infosys and Pactera on projects for Fortune 500 clients across North America, Europe and the APAC region. My primary emphasis has been using technology for transformation in the insurance industry. nestCARE started because my co-founder (Sig) and I were looking to solve a personal problem. My cofounder is from Norway and I am from India and both have ageing parents and relatives back home. Ageing is a process – there is no medical fix for it – that needs to be managed. Out of the 5000+ waking hours in an year, only 2-3 hours are spent in the physician’s office. However, there are decisions and actions (and inactions) taken on a daily basis that impact health. From adherence to prescription medication to activity regimen, to regular monitoring of vitals and the most important continued social interaction with a geographically dispersed family. Healthcare (for all and especially for the elderly) is very paternalistic and non-participatory. Family and friends are not able to step in to take care of the individual – for different reasons in different markets. We set out to solve this problem when we realized that the capacity constraint in the healthcare systems is begging for a solution that puts health management along with AI based preliminary diagnosis next to the consumer – anytime, anywhere. nestCARE is an AI platform for preliminary diagnosis. There are three fundamental tenets of nestCARE –

Sanjay Mohan Founder, CEO

MEET AN Entrepreneur a) democratization of health data : we believe that health data should not only reside in the health system but should be with the consumer and should be free to “roam” based on consumer preference. b) the role of health care advocates : before the doctor steps in, there are other individuals who have a vested interest in making sure that you are healthy - these are your family and friends. nestCARE tries to bring them together regardless of geographical separation to have a view into your data as well as participate in encouraging and motivating you to stay healthy c) AI for predictive, preliminary diagnosis : nestCARE aims to look at 5000 hours of data outside of the doctor’s office to create a predictive health model. nestCARE provides better health outcomes and peace of mind through a) stronger ownership of health data and bringing family and friends closer and b) providing them with intelligent / predictive health monitoring anytime, anywhere. We have a B2C and a B2B2C distribution strategy. We go live on B2C by 31st March, 2017 with our website and are already working with partners like the American Heart Association. The pricing is structured to eliminate purchase barriers and for $9.99.month, we provide our devices for vitals as well as the app for medication adherence, wellness management and analytics. nestCARE is a pre-revenue startup. While we are headquartered in Wisconsin, the teams are spread across Colorado, Maryland and Texas with suppliers in China and India. We were founded in February 2016 and incorporated as C-Corp in April 2016. Choosing the right business partner was easy – someone I knew for more than a

Sanjay Mohan Founder, CEO

MEET AN Entrepreneur decade and someone who brought with him equal amounts of passion and a good heart to the table. I also founded Startup Grind in Milwaukee, WI in 2016 with the goal of inspiring mid-to-senior level professionals to take the proverbial leap into the startup world. I believe the success rates of startups will be far higher with the injection of experience in the founding team. We have now created a goal to get Milwaukee to the top 10 tech hubs in the country in 10 year – ‘10-in-10’. Heavily influenced by Brad Feld’s book, we are trying to build a more vibrant community in the city. I enjoy the time that I spend with Startup Grind. It’s a break from the roller coaster ride of my own venture and allows me to network with some of the sharpest minds around. It’s a learning opportunity and an opportunity to give back to the my community. I spent 23 odd years working for others and solving one client problem after other. I did some great work and some not so great - like anyone else. Worked with some good firms and some not so good. A lot of good people and some not so good. This experience, however, is very different. What drives you and motivates you is the fact that you are not just solving a problem - you are also creating a culture that will sustain the product for in the long run - and with very limited resources. The learning in the process of creating nestCARE has been far more significant than in the previous 23. Everything - and not just what you may have specialized in or what your favorite subjects were that you learn in business school (and all that you were supposed to and didn’t) comes to application in the startup world. And that’s been phenomenally different from the corporate experience.

Sanjay Mohan Founder, CEO

MEET AN Entrepreneur There have been so many moments which have given us goosebumps. But perhaps the most thrilling and exciting ones have been – a) the first investment check b) the first corporate video and c) the first customer contract. The common thread amongst all of them being “reality”. Each one of these events made nestCARE seem more and more real. While days (and nights) are made of equal parts confidence, hope, anxiety, apprehension, anticipation and gut-wrenching fear, these are the events that made us look forward to the next day and kept us going. The biggest lessons that this journey has taught me have been all about people.  Network like hell. Meet as many people as you can – best way to find angels, evangelists, advisors, co-founders, employees.  Focus on the person and not the transaction with him/her.  Focus on the person and not the transaction with him/her. People are good but, obviously, have differing motivations. Focus on what drives them and you will achieve faster alignment with / participation in your venture.  Find and onboard your advisors early – if done right, they can be a major multiplier in your efforts to get your product out. I am often asked if I have any advice for would-beentrepreneurs. I don’t think I have reached a stage where I can start advising them. There’s still a lot to learn. A couple of things that I suggest are:  Do it only if you really want to and not because you did not have an option or it’s a cool thing to do. And once you decide, commit 100% to it and

Sanjay Mohan Founder, CEO

MEET AN Entrepreneur

strap yourself in for a rollercoaster ride. It’s not going to be easy but don’t give up – you will see it through.  Stick to your guiding principles. Why are you doing this? What will it achieve – as a company and for you? There will be lot of temptations to deviate from your principles but in the end you will be better off if you stick with them.  Don't forget to take a deep breath once in a while. You will need it! Sanjay Mohan is a graduate of IIM Bangalore 199294 and is currently looking for a Chief Marketing Officer with experience in digital and social marketing for his venture - nestCARE (The views expressed herein are those of Sanjay Mohan and do not necessarily reflect the views of IIM Americas or its Board of Directors. IIM Americas, as a matter of policy, disclaims responsibility for any publication or statement herein.)

Sanjay Mohan Founder, CEO

Should IIMs Become Universities? Professor Gerald “Gerry” Zaltman has always been an entrepreneur – first an academic entrepreneur and later the founder of a very innovative consulting firm. I encountered him as a professor during my doctoral days at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School. Like the typical b-school faculty, he of course taught courses and published path breaking books and papers. But he was also an ‘academic entrepreneur’: enormously successful in getting major federal government grants. He could “sense” the way the US federal funding priorities were heading, and came up with winning proposals that brought in lot of money to the school. Partly for this reason, and of course due to his high eminence, Gerry was later hired by the Katz School at the University of Pittsburgh and eventually at Harvard Business School (HBS). Gerry of course did many innovative things at HBS, but one of the most farsighted was linking up with the “Mind Brain Behavior” interfaculty initiative at Harvard University. The powerful interdisciplinary group consisted of neuroscientists, brain-scan doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, linguists and of course bschool professor Gerry Zaltman. Such an interdisciplinary group provided rich fertile ground to test out and deepen the innovative image-metaphor elicitation ideas that Gerry had developed. Olson Zaltman Associates was founded to employ the brain-mind interpretive techniques that Gerry Zaltman had developed, to study the deep motivators that led people to view brands in positive and negative ways, and led them to buy or avoid brands. Major branded firms like Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, General Motors, DuPont, Reebok and AT&T have employed the methods developed by Olson Zaltman associates to develop winning new brands – Fabreze deodorizer from Procter & Gamble is often cited as a


Nik Dholakia

major example – and to reorient existing brands toward market success. What is the relevance of this story to IIMs? Unlike all the leading b-schools of the world (INSEAD being a main exception), IIMs are not part of universities. In the United States, all the top business schools are parts of universities. This exposes the faculty members at these top b-schools, and through them the students, to a very wide range of intellectual influences on the campus. The type of crossfertilization witnessed in the Gerry Zaltman story is quite commonplace in the United States, with benefits flowing to both the b-school side and to the larger campus in which the b-school is located. In China, the main geopolitical and geo-economic competitor to India, the top business schools are also parts of full-fledged universities. The business schools at universities like Fudan, Tsinghua and Renmin are climbing the global ranks rapidly. At least my impression is that there is a lot more academic interchange between the top b-schools in China and their counterparts in the U.S. I would hazard the guess that this is partly due to the location of bschools in universities. The visiting professors and students, in either direction, benefit from being parts of large campuses with multiple departments and disciplines.

Being located in a university of course brings intellectual cross-fertilization. There are opportunities to take classes across the campus, in departments that are not part of the business schools. In a large university, there are also ongoing lectures, seminars and discussions are all kinds – and the b-school faculty and students can benefit from these. Besides the intellectual cross-traffic, there are also other obvious benefits to being a part of a large campus. There are recreational facilities, varied eateries, a large library, student centers with shops


Nik Dholakia

and services, and so forth. The typical large American university campus offers a lifestyle, during the college years, that is unmatched by anything else in later life.


IIMs , being ‘free-standing centers of excellence’, miss out on the diversity of a large campus. Even a large IIM campus, such as that of IIMA, does not quite offer the variety and range of activities and interests that a large university campus offers in the United States.

Nik Dholakia

As the IIMs mature and compete on a global stage, this “not-being-part-of-a-university” is going to hurt them. They would begin to slip intellectually, in relation to not just the b-schools of the United States but also of China. The faculty would be considered relatively insular, by global standards, as would be the students.

IITs, gradually, have diversified somewhat. They have evolved in many cases into quasi-universities, and many would eventually become full universities, like MIT is in the United States. IIMs – at least the three oldest ones in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta; and eventually all of them – need to figure out how to diversify and become universities. There are of course challenges. The autonomy that IIMs enjoy, reporting directly and “relatively lightly” – to the Ministry rather than to the University Grants Commission (UGC) – gives the IIMs a great deal of freedom in how they manage their programs. In the United States, the universities are essentially autonomous – there is no Ministry, no UGC; and the governing board is mostly an advisory body. In India, the bureaucratic burden of UGC oversight would kill the “gold goose” that IIMs represent. Creative solutions should be sought to this problem. IIMs can be given the ability to become universities of the type that exist in USA. Is this feasible? Given the politics that is creeping into all aspects of institutional life in India, there are challenges here. But they are not insurmountable. As universities, IIMs have the ability to stand alongside the best in the world, and I hope this happens soon, for some of them.

______________ Nikhilesh Dholakia (IIMA PGP-1971 alumnus) has taught at IIMA, IIMC, University of Rhode Island, and Kellogg-Northwestern, among other places. He reflects on contemporary economy and culture from the shores of Pettaquamscutt Cove in Rhode Island. (The views expressed herein are those of Nikhilesh Dholakia and do not necessarily reflect the views of IIM Americas or its Board of Directors. IIM Americas, as a matter of policy, disclaims responsibility for any publication or statement herein.)


Nik Dholakia

Chapter contacts





Sudhir Agrawal Ketan Kumar


Ajat Dhawal


Tarun Mehra


Ranganathan Chandrasekaran Akhila Rey


Sonali Rathi-Pramanik


Mohan Natarajan

Los Angeles

Prakash Grama

New York/New Jersey

Harish Narasimhan


Uday Patki

San Francisco/Bay Area

Hari Katla Sudha Ranganathan


Jayant Swamy


Suresh Madan

Washington DC

Tarun Sen Anil Chandramani

If you would like to get involved with the chapters in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out to the chapter contacts.

Nuts & bolts Opportunity for Sponsorships Thank you all for the continued support towards your IIM alma mater and the energized participation in alumni activities and events. As we are all aware, IIM Americas is a non-profit organization, and sponsorship is a key source of sustenance towards meeting our objectives. Obtaining sponsorship for ongoing activities and/or specific events is a continuous journey and your help in every way is much appreciated.

If you have contacts or leads and would like to help in obtaining sponsorship, please reach out to Jayant Swamy, IIM Americas Board Member ( who is championing this effort. Stay tuned to to learn about more events.

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