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INNOVATION BOARD CHAIRPERSON ● SANJOY

NARAYAN — Editor-in-Chief, Hindustan Times

MEMBERS ● RAJIV

VERMA Chief Executive Officer ● AMIT CHOPRA Head, Hindustan Business ● AMIT GARG Business Head, Internet ● ANAND RAMABHADRAN — Business Head, Education ● HARSHAD JAIN — Business

Head, Radio and Entertainment GUPTA Chief Financial Officer ● RAJAN BHALLA Business Head Magazines and Marketing Head for New Initiatives ● PIYUSH

● R.

SUKUMAR — Editor, Mint BHANJA — Vice

● SHANTANU

OTHERS

President Marketing, Hindustan Times ● SHASHI SHEKHAR Editor-in -Chief, Hindustan ● SHARAD

SAXENA — Executive Director HR and Operations ● VIVEK KHANNA — Business Head Mint and Head Strategic Partnership

FEATURE

REGULARS

HT members take a view on company's strengths and ordeals

Harshad Jain, radio and entertainment business head talks about his work and leadership style 48

Coffee with Leader Rajiv Verma

LT Interview

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News from HT world

Coffee with Leader Shantanu Bhanja

A talk on his transition from a business organisation to a media house

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Coffee with Leader Rajan Bhalla

TEAM BEHIND Cover Design & Portraits: Malay Karmakar Innovation Co-Ordinator: Sharmila Ghosh, English Editorial: Praneta Jha, Anindita Satpathi & Kanupriya Sharma , Hindi Editorial: Aparajita Srivastava & Team, Design: Sudhir Peter, Rajesh Jaitley, Naveen, HR Co-Ordinator Ankita Singh, Pre-Production: Sudhir Wadhwa & Team, Production: Noida Press

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Take a look on the genesis of Mint and its contribution to company's revenue

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Coffee with Leader Rajeev Beotra

A free discussion on the newspaper's circulation business

Celebrations

Peep into HT's festive and culinary world

Jago Agra

Battigul ke khilaaf Hindustan Ki Muhim

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What was memorable about HT Mumbai’s seventh anniversary? Which edition celebrated its printing launch? Who organised something new and innovative? Check out all this and more 96

Cartoons

Jayanto examines wordly & other -worldly quirks

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CONTESTS Crossword

It’s time to think hard and answer some tricky hints

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YOUR SPACE Family Time

Whose kids scored well? Who tied the knot? Who

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INSIGHT

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SPECIAL ISSUE

INNOVATION Sanjoy Narayan

Innovation is the key to getting younger 04 readers for our newpapers.

Rajiv Verma

Good progress in innovation but the journey has just begun.

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Anand Ramabhadran

The Essentials of the innovation learning ladder.

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Harshad Jain

From just a radio station to a household 12 name - how Fever did it.

Piyush Gupta

A good business plan plus passion — the right equation for innovation.

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Rajan Bhalla

Brunch innovations have completely changed the weekly supplement. had new additions in the family? Snapshots from people's lives

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Candid Camera

HT employees capture the picturesque side of life

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Travel Time

Geneva se Zermatt: Man moh lete hein hariyali aur barfiley pahad. 70

AWARDS & TRAINNING Journalist of the Month

Mint's integrated newsroom is a successful innovation.

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Shashi Shekhar

‘Innovate or perish' is the mantra for a fast-changing world of journalism.

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Vivek Khanna

Simple consumer behavior insights can lead to breakthrough ideas.

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Paul R. Kessler

Awards for commendable work in the months of July and August

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Mint Wall of Fame

Congratulating the young entrepreneurs who were instrumental in generating revenues

Pause to look at the Innovation achievements and plan for the journey ahead. 30

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● How the Lucknow team changed

the process of news gathering.

● Breakthrough in colour printing

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technology has provided exciting options 34 for the client.

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● Fever Event's experiments which

set new standards in entertainment. ● One Big Idea and Two Outstanding Objectives. ● How Mumbai reacted to a No TV life - Inspiring Innovation by Mumbai Marketing. ● New Ideas can be found anywhere, Shruti tells us how.

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Expert Speak

● Pankaj Seith on how consumer

insights help innovation.

Innovation That Worked

Kabiley Tareef

HH Journalist of the Month Awards For the past three months

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R. Sukumar

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● Sundeep Khanna Innovatively presenting

the news to our readers holds the key.

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● Bhaskar Pramanik: Learn about

innovations in technology from our guest writer.

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INNOVATION DISTINGUISHES BETWEEN A LEADER AND A FOLLOWER.

S A N J O Y N A R AYA N Editor-in-Chief, HT & Chairperson, I-Board

A CULTURE OF IDEAS

50% of Indians are under 25. If you want to catch them young, think innovatively.

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nnovation is a leap into the future. Serving the needs of a changing consumer and surviving in a changing market scenario are the challenges looming before the media. New ideas are the need of the hour, and the Innovation Board was set up to fulfil these needs. Chairperson Sanjoy Narayan talks about the importance of doing things differently at HT. What was the vision with which the Innovation Board was formed?

The main idea behind setting up the I-Board was to kickstart a culture across the company of doing things differently and coming up with new ideas that are unlike our conventional lines of business and work. One of the big reasons for media companies to think differently and to think about new ways of doing things is that the conventional media —

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print, television, radio — are facing a new set of challenges. Today’s youth consume media in a very different way from what they were doing five or 10 years back and their habits are changing rapidly. Newspapers are the mainstay of this group but newspaper readership is declining among younger readers. We want younger people, but younger people may not want us. If you look at the population of India, 60% of Indians are under 35 while 50% are under 25. We want to be a brand that attracts them, but are newspapers attracting them as much as they did, say, 10 years back? So what do we do? Unless we think innovatively we’ll be doing the same old thing. So for a media group to usher in a culture of innovation is very important. That is why the I-Board and the Innovation initiative were taken. Actually, the I-Board is just one part of the Innovation initiative. The I-Board was formed because we felt that at least in the beginning for the first two or three years, if senior people from editorial, marketing and the business side get together and form a core team, it could facilitate this cultural change, although it is a bit of a top-down approach. That is what the role of the I-Board was. The vision of the I-Board was to bring in a culture of Innovation within the group. Apart from the I-Board, what were the other components of the Innovation initiative?

The I-Board was set up to think about how we could make the environment conducive for people to think of new ideas. Our people, across centres, across departments and businesses, were encouraged to make suggestions and come up with ideas — to either do things differently or do different things. We set up ‘ideas boxes’ and online intranet systems and used our People Communication network to propagate this drive and the response was very encouraging. New ideas came from not only the bigger centres such as Delhi or Mumbai but also from smaller branches. Many of these were presented to the

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— STEVE JOBS,

APPLE CO - FOUNDER

In the past two years, we have had monthly meetings where we assessed how we were doing. We also initiated a series of workshops on Innovation. Two years back our LT members went for an Innovation Workshop in Shanghai. Last year again, there was another Innovation session where some people went. The learnings from these sessions are disseminated across the company through smaller workshops and sessions on innovations that some of the leaders who attended the two annual offsite sessions conduct. So you had the Mint editor conducting workshops, you had brand head Rajan Bhalla conducting workshops, marketing people in HT conducting workshops as well as editors taking sessions among their teams. Do you think Innovation has been embedded in the HT work culture as it had been envisioned?

This is not a very easy task. It’s not something that happens overnight; that we’ll say, ‘Let us

Innovation does not happen overnight, it is a journey. That’s why we must not take our eyes off the ball. I-Board and some of them were flagged off for implementation. There were ideas from editorial, marketing, supply chain, finance, sales and distribution, as well as from our new areas such as education and online businesses. Some of these were highly visible — such as the HT Mini, a small format newspaper for Delhi’s Metro commuters. Others were not so tangible but had big impact — such as the reverse supply chain programme for recycling waste newsprint. The I-Board became a platform or body that would encourage people to think innovatively and also push those ideas, if they were good, to see that they are implemented.

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become innovative’ and expect everyone to become so. Doesn’t happen like that, it takes time. But there has been a beginning. HT Mini is a recent example. It’s not that this company did not have innovative thinking, Mint was an innovation when it started seven years back. Who would have then thought of a serious paper in a size usually associated with non-serious tabloids? Innovation is a journey that takes a long time. And that is why we should not take our eyes off the ball. Which is why the I-Board will not comprise the same people every year. Every two years or so — we haven’t decided the time period — we will be dissolving the board and forming a new I-Board with new people. We are empowering people at different levels

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and getting them to participate in this initiative, which is expected to spread. So maybe very soon, you will see a new I-Board. As the I-Board chairperson, is there any particular experience that you could relate, something that was path-breaking?

We have seen many interesting ideas come to the group. From Mumbai, we had a very interesting idea to campaign for and observe a ‘No TV Day’. It was great idea that subtly promoted the newspaper without undermining any other media. Most households grapple with the fact that young people watch far too much TV. Here was an appeal to observe a ‘No TV Day’ and do something else of interest — visit a historical site, a library, trek outdoors, whatever… We got an overwhelming response from readers, communities and schools. So much so, that we have now decided to take the campaign to other centres. Another innovation, the idea for which came from the marketing department, was the ‘You Read, They Learn’ initiative. We said instead of just writing about education and the need for putting children in school, 5 paise out of what you are paying for Hindustan Times will be put in a fund that will help send underprivileged children to school. We worked with NGOs and made it happen. As of now, we have enabled more than 4,000 children in the Delhi-NCR area to get enrolled in schools. A third innovation was an idea that came from the supply chain side of the business. We call it the ‘reverse supply chain project’ and it involves recycling newsprint by picking up waste paper from our readers and turning it back into newsprint. We tried a pilot in Lucknow with much success and are now extending the project to the NCR. Besides conserving resources, we have achieved considerable savings too. So it is an innovation with a strong business rationale. What is your message on innovation to the people at HT?

The Hindustan Times Group is in the core

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business of enriching and empowering people’s lives through information and insights on current affairs, culture, entertainment, etc. India’s biggest advantage is the fact that we have millions of people who are very young, millions of people who are everyday joining and going out, looking for jobs and building careers. That is our market. My advice to everyone who works here — whether in editorial, marketing, HR, finance or wherever — is to understand this new consumer, because at the end of the day if we cannot reach these consumers, there will be no business left. Let us try and understand this consumer so that we can think innovatively to serve their needs. That should be our single-minded purpose.

Above Left: Idea Box poster in hindi – title “ Idea Boxes have been placed in every office to facilitate submitting ideas”, Above Right: SN shaking hands with an employee – title “ Idea Contest winners Amit Sodhi and Nupur”, Below: Person with a group – title “ Innovation Workshop in progress in Moradabad”

The I-Board encourages people to think innovatively and pushes the good ideas to be implemented. U S

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INNOVATION IS THE PROCESS OF TURNING IDEAS INTO MANUFACTURA

RAJIV VERMA Chief Executive Officer

INNOVATION JOURNEY

After 2 years of focus on innovation, HT Media has made tremendous progress. But there’s more to do.

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n 2010, we began to focus on innovation. Two years later, some people are asking why innovation is so important. Given all the other things we have to focus on — especially during these difficult economic conditions — is innovation really worth the time and energy? I want to offer some perspective on this question. When the senior team decided to make this a priority, we did not take the decision to commit precious resources — management time, energy, and focus, besides significant financial resources — lightly. We looked at what successful companies did to stimulate growth and create value, and everywhere the answer was clear: relentless innovation! Why is Apple the Number 1 company in market capitalisation? How does Google continue to dominate the digital advertising space? How has Amazon continued to stay ahead in the digital market-

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place? Because they all have an unwavering commitment to constant innovation. In our own country, we have many incredible examples. Narayana Hrudayalaya (which means ‘God’s compassionate home’ in Sanskrit), a healthcare company in Bangalore, has reinvented healthcare for the masses. RedBus has reorganised and revolutionised the bus travel industry. The Tata Nano aspires to become one of the best-selling, yet environmentally friendly, cars in India. Tree House Education has addressed this important social issue by pioneering self-operated preschools and now operates the largest network in the country. How did they all emerge so quickly and so significantly to disrupt their industry? Innovation! So, clearly, growth and value creation are a direct result of innovation. But these are not the only reasons we choose this path. As part of our vision, we said our core purpose is to “improve the quality of people’s lives by empowering them through information, entertainment and education.” Only if we are constantly innovating — creating new products and experiences that are relevant to the India consumer — will we be able to achieve this purpose. To stop innovating is to become irrelevant. While great content is the lifeblood of our company — innovation is the force that will keep us changing as the needs of our consumers change. So after two years, I think we’ve made tremendous progress. We’ve built a strong foundation and many have been exposed to the innovation concepts. I’m grateful for all the efforts that many across the company have put into this endeavour — and, in particular, want to acknowledge the members of the previous I-Board whose commitment made it possible for us to take some initial steps.

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BLE AND MARKE TABLE FORM. — WATTS HUMPHREY,

SOFTWARE INNOVATOR

another way — a better way — to do this?” 2. Become an astute observer of consumer behaviour: Take the time to pay attention to how the consumer uses our products, and in particular, look for where we’re NOT meeting a need, or falling short in some way. These insights are where innovation begins. 3. Educate yourself on what other companies are doing: As a result of our various actions, a lot of resources have been provided to help people better understand innovation. But this is never going to be a substitute for building your own knowledge. We need employees to be curious about what’s happening in the world around them — constantly drawing connections from what others are doing.

Great content is the lifeblood of our company, but innovation is the force that will keep us changing to suit the needs of our consumers.

Of course, much more sill needs to be done. As we start our third year on the innovation journey, I urge everyone in the company to continue keeping this focus. Here are some things you can do better to support innovation at HT Media: 1. Ask questions and challenge the status quo: Don’t accept the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. It’s easy to get comfortable in doing things the same way. Innovation requires that we break these patterns by constantly asking “is there

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It’s up to you to stimulate and feed this curiosity. 4. Get involved: There is a lot of work to do in going forward, and we need people to step up and volunteer their time and efforts. Ask your manager what you can do to support innovation, and of course, keep those ideas coming! I often refer to this as an ‘innovation journey’ — for it needs to continue for as long as we want this company to be successful. If we persevere — and make innovation part of our our DNA — I am confident that we will achieve our vision, and HT Media will continue to be one of the ‘best places to work’ in India. I am counting on all of you to provide your complete support to this very important mission.

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CREATIVITY IS THINKING UP NEW THINGS. INNOVAT ION IS DOING NEW

ANAND RAMABHADRAN Business Head, Education

LEARNING & INNOVATION

The learning ladder is essential to the innovation process in any organisation.

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emember the last time you were driving a car, listening to music in the background and chatting with your wife, all at the same time? Have you wondered why you can’t do more stuff like this… say, analyse a profit and loss statement, build a business model and understand the operational challenges the model will face intuitively? Actually, most of us do all these activities, but at differing levels. For some it is intuitive, for others it is thought out. What differentiates intuitive actions from thought-out sequential responses? The answer to this lies in the intersection of the learning ladder and innovation.

THE LEARNING LADDER All learning occurs in a developmental fashion, called the learning ladder.

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Unconscious incompetence is when we are not aware that we can’t do something, a state of blissful ignorance. Conscious incompetence is when we know that we can’t do something. This is a state where we may not care or it may be a state of envying others the ability or a state of motivation to learn a skill. You are conscious of what it means. Now you start asking how to become more competent. This is a stage where you prototype and experiment. Conscious competence is when we can perform the task but we have to really think about it. This is a state of concentration. You have the tools and you can follow a structure. You know what needs to be done and you are doing it. Unconscious competence is when we no longer have to think about the skill. This is when we can pay attention to other things and new learning while still performing the task. Remember that at each different task, we are at a different level of competence. So how does this relate to innovation? In the learning ladder, there are two areas where the challenges arise. The first problem is what I like to call ‘ABS: the arrogant boss syndrome’. This arises during the stage of unconscious competence. This is when you are so good at doing something that you reach a stage of arrogance in learning and because you occupy a position of power you are blinded by multiple priorities that you fool yourself only you can handle. In reality, the world is passing you by. You may be great in what you do but the fundamental premise has changed and you are not even aware of it. Both individuals and companies will go through this phase at some point. The second challenge is what I call the ‘Unforgiving failure syndrome’. This arises out of shortterm expectations. Most employees are under pressure to deliver in the short term, with organisations rewarding successes and punishing failures. There is no learning from failures, only corporate passing the buck.

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THINGS. — THEODORE LEVITT,

THE SOLUTION So how do you foster an innovation culture while progressing through the cycle of the learning ladder? There are three solutions. The paired position: As an individual, always have at least two different major goals. One goal that enables you to move from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence and another which moves you from conscious incompetence to

EC ONOMIST

conscious competence. Humility in arrogance: Break the myth of unconscious incompetence by being aware of it and challenging it. So what if you can drive very well, the next time you send the car for service, ask questions about what each activity does to the car. The trick is to force yourself to move back to the conscious incompetence level. The companion set: Most of us gravitate to recruiting people/or keeping company with people of similar mindset and similar backgrounds. Appreciate the differences in people. Keep company with a person you can see is trying to learn new skills. Coach him/her if you can. Keep company with a person who is supremely confident in what she/he does and observe what unconscious competencies they display. In an organisation that drives innovation, the composition of the team is most important. The team must have people at different levels in the learning ladder. That’s when you find the team col-

When each person is working to become competent in his/ her chosen sphere, the whole team is more open to learning. laborating, questioning and learning new ways of doing things. If all members of a team are very good at what they do, then it is not an innovation team. It is more likely to be a great knowledge team that will do well functionally. In an innovation team, the most important person is the one who exhibits conscious incompetence. She/he is the person who learns the most and can influence the team the most. The best innovation team is one where each person uses the paired position suggested above. When each person is working to become competent in his/her chosen sphere, the whole team is more open to learning. So what’s your team like? And what level of the learning ladder are you at?

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Anand invites your view on his articles.

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CREATIVITY REQUIRES THE COURAG E TO LE T GO OF CERTAINT IES.

er and the radio station.

HARSHAD JAIN Business Head, Radio & Entertainment

The Fever 104 FM AR Rahman concert Another great property was the ‘Fever 104 FM AR Rahman concert’, which was organised in Delhi. The concert drew an audience of more than 25,000 fans, and the Fever 104 FM Voice Hunt received more than 20,000 entries with the winner getting a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to perform live on stage with AR Rahman!

MORE THAN MUSIC

Innovation is part of the Fever 104 FM gene. That’s how the radio station became a household name.

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adio as a category demands regular innovations. Music is regular to every station — it is the innovation in content and the stickiness it generates that builds listenership. Ever since its launch, Fever 104 FM has had many firsts in the industry, both in the music and non-music genres. Some of the path-breaking initiatives launched by Fever are:

MUSIC INNOVATIONS I Play Fever Fever 104 FM launched India’s first-ever song request module in the country. A path-breaking technological and programming innovation where listeners simply send an SMS and schedule their favourite songs on Fever. This helped establish a strong relationship between the listen-

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Fever Music Mahotsav India’s largest on-air music festival, ‘Music Mahotsav’ has become the largest celebration of music on air till date. A participation list of the biggest names in music, it had tutorials, trivia, listener meet ‘n greets and live unplugged performances that radio had never experienced before. Fever Off The Record Another unique initiative was ‘Fever Off The Record’. Fever 104 FM handpicked Delhi’s most promising talent and offered them an exclusive opportunity to perform and jam with established artists.

BEYOND MUSIC INNOVATIONS Sports innovation Fever 104 FM today is recognised as the Number 1 sports destination on radio, besides being the only station to have a dedicated sports show in the industry. From IPL partnerships (partnered with the leading teams like Delhi Daredevils, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders), F1, T20 World Cup, Airtel Champions League, Asia Cup, FIFA Flagbearers to the Hockey World Cup, Fever has been associated with the best names in the industry. Fever VIP Club Fever launched India’s first-ever radio loyalty club. Fever VIP Club was a mobile-based loyalty club and offered listeners an opportunity to register as members and earn points and exclusive Fe-

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— ERICH FROMM

won the Gold awards for Best Sound and Best Editing at the coveted New York Fest (NYF). Gandhi continued the legacy by bagging the award for Best Editing at this year’s NYF. Reality on Radio Fever introduced ‘reality lead programming’ on air. There were never-done-before programming campaigns such as Sachin Ki Sadak, where the Delhi station did a full campaign to name a road after master blaster Sachin Tendulkar. Similarly, there were other breakthrough innovations like Sharad Ki Madad, where a commoner was nominated for India’s presidential elections, and Anurag Pandey’s Ashtavinayak Yatra.

MEGA PROMOTIONS I Love Fever contest With the launch of the ‘I Love Fever contest’, Fever 104 FM gave out R1.04 lakh to every winner. A first of its kind, this innovation had the station calling

Fever has had many firsts in the Indian radio industry — both in the music and the non-music genres. ver merchandise for the time they spent listening to Fever 104 FM. Radio Dramas Fever pioneered the concept of radio dramas in the Indian radio industry. From Ramayana, Gandhi, Bose to Bal Gopal, Fever 104 FM repackaged these epics for the youth. With celebrated artists (Naseeruddin Shah, Farooq Sheikh, Om Puri, Javed Jafri, Anupam Kher, Smriti Irani), cutting-edge sound and expert production techniques, these radio dramas have been hugely successful. These innovations have been rewarded both nationally and internationally. Last year, Ramayana

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its listeners. All that the registered caller had to do was pick up the phone and say ‘I love Fever’, and win the money! This promotion made Fever a household name. Bingo Tick Tock Boing The risk-return dilemma was brought to radio in an extremely entertaining format. Bingo Tick Tock Boing had a money counter ticking. Listeners heard a voice announcing the cash winnings in an ascending order. The value increased by hundreds, thousands, sometimes millions of rupees! The participant had to shout ‘Bingo’ before the time ticker expired. It had everyone on the edge of the seat.

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WHEN ALL THINK ALIKE , THEN NO ONE IS THINKING. — WALTER LIPP

P I Y U S H G U P TA Chief Financial Officer

MATHS OF INNOVATION

As CFO, what do you look for in an idea before you agree to invest in it ?

The success of an idea depends on the passion of the person behind it.

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‘good’ idea is not enough. It must fit the organisation’s vision and be commercially viable, says Piyush Gupta. What in your view is a ‘good idea’?

An idea has to be practical, feasible and implementable. Doable ideas within the constraints of the organisation are the best ideas. I am not too much for disruptive ideas, because the probability of their success is low, they take too much effort to implement and ‘good, disruptive ideas’ are rare. What is the scope of a good idea ?

An idea has to be in sync with the organisation’s vision and its core competencies. To make an idea work, we need to put the organisation resources and commitment behind it, so the idea should fit the company’s long-term vision.

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The first and the most important aspect of an idea, according to me, is the passion of the person giving the idea. The person should have great drive and involvement with the idea, have the commitment to follow it through and passionately believe in its outcome. The second thing I look for in an idea is its commercial implications. Commercial aspects are certain business parameters within a finite time period. I would like to stress here on the finite time period since in implementing an idea, we are dealing with stakeholders’ money and the payback should have visibility and predictability. The innovation journey can be very frustrating and there could be multiple failures. The person’s passion for the success of his or her idea will ensure the relentless pursuit required for innovation. One has to have a Phoenix-like approach. Why an idea is presented to you for approval, what to do you look for?

You know, the Japanese put in 90% of their time in detailing and planning and just 10% on implementation. That is the kind of thoroughness in detailing I would like to see in an idea. And if I scratch a bit, I get all the answers, that will be an ideal innovation proposal for me. The idea should have a high-level roadmap, a healthy commercial projection and scalability potential. Lastly, the person giving the idea should be so involved with the idea that he or she can explain it to me in a 60-second elevator ride.

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MANN,

POLITICAL COMMENTATOR

Innovation works in all times. More so in tough times. Of course, I look for brilliant ideas and have all the money to fund it. Why is scalability so important... Isn’t that something one gets to know after the launch of the idea?

No, scalability should be well-researched at the inception stage of the idea. It is a very important factor so that we don’t get distracted. What counts as distraction in a business?

We are all in a day job with a finite scope in time, manpower and money. When we spend these resources in the incubation of an innovation or idea, we are distracting the resources. Therefore, the return on investment has to be attractive. In these tough times, would you have an appetite for risk in a new Idea?

Innovation works in all times. More so in tough times. Of course, I look for brilliant ideas and have all the money to fund it. But as mentioned, the person giving the idea should put in a lot of work in planning, prototyping and execution details. Finally, the idea should be in sync with the organisation’s vision. What support can an innovator look forward to from you?

I am willing to work in the lab with the person, review, re-review and clear roadblocks, provide resources and challenge the orthodoxies. I am convinced that innovation is the only way forward for sustainable growth and it has my full support.

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BUSINESS HAS ONLY TWO FUNCT IONS — MARKE T ING AND INNOVAT ION.

R SUKUMAR Editor, Mint

OF SMART NEWSROOMS

Mint was visualised as an integrated newsroom, but becoming one was a process of change.

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n integrated newsroom. I’d heard that term hundreds of times through the years — usually uttered by those who understood neither integration nor newsrooms — and each time, I would cringe. I would cringe for two reasons: one, integrated newsroom has become a cliché of sorts in the media business. I’d rank it in the same league of ignominy as the corporate world’s preferred buzzwords “innovation” or “breakthrough.” Two, while Mint was visualised as an integrated newsroom, it was far from being one. The print and web teams still worked in silos; reporters and editors followed processes that would fit right into an early 20th century newsroom; and the website sucked. On paper, we all knew what needed to be done because this derives from how people get to know

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of, engage with, follow, and react to the news. I’d like to think of anyone who reads or sees anything put out by Mint as a smart person for two reasons: one, it is probably true; two, it keeps me sharp. Now, smart people have read something, watched something or surfed something in the morning before they head to work; have news channels running on mute in their offices so they can keep an eye on the ticker; scan their Facebook and Twitter timelines at least once an hour and click on any interesting links; visit news websites every couple of hours; read long-form articles in magazines and newspapers when they get the time; or do a bit of everything. It stands to reason that if a newsroom wants to stay relevant to its readers, then it too should do a bit of everything, or, as I have discovered, a lot of everything. There was a time when newsrooms could do this by simply hiring separate teams to do each of these: one to run the newspaper or magazine; another to produce videos; a third to run the website. That doesn’t make sense now for several reasons, the most important of which is economics. So, smart newsrooms have a few specialists (such as visual editors and graphic artists) doing specialised tasks among a larger population of reporters and editors who work across media. For this to work, a newsroom needs to have the equivalent of an ERP software that can run the entire newsroom and feed into multiple devices, apart from generating files for the printing press. The Mint newsroom lacked this, so we upgraded to software that could do this. But any such software needs to be customised to the newsroom’s own -eng -e ngiiprocesses even as these processes are re-engineered to make them more efficient. he w way ay reportSimultaneously, we worked on the ed my ers and editors work. While reporters (I started

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MINDLESS HABI TUAL BEHAVIOR IS THE ENEMY OF INNOVAT ION.

VIVEK KHANNA Business Head, Mint & Head, Strategic Partnership

KEEPING IT SIMPLE

Simple observations of consumer behaviour can lead to revolutionary innovations.

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onsumer insights are the key to successful innovations, but don’t get caught up in myriad processes, says Vivek Khanna. What are the drivers of innovation?

Ideas can come from anywhere. Some of the best ideas come from simple observations. There are immense benefits of learning by observing... When you watch consumers handling a product, you can gain significant insights into their behaviour. For example, when I was with Hindustan Unilever Limited, we would visit stores to see how people shop and also observe their in-house behaviour. We saw that almost all consumers buying coffee would first open the pack and smell the coffee. It seemed to give the lady the assurance that the if the coffee aroma was intact, it was a

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good product. Based on this observation and more research, we introduced the ‘Aroma Add Back’ coffee pack and ‘Lock In Aroma’ packs which gave the consumer the guarantee of quality, specifically about aroma, in this case. Another successful idea that came about understanding human behaviour was at Aviva Life Insurance. For its launch in India, we had to quickly build the brand awareness. While driving in Delhi, I noticed that people would watch the traffic light timer that worked backwards when they had stopped at the red light. This was for us a strategic position to place the Aviva logo and name to catch maximum eyeballs. We became the first brand to take the traffic timer as an outdoor position Luck also plays its part in success. In the Aviva TV commercial, we could get Amitabh Bachchan to say the Aviva tagline ‘Kal par control’ without any cost by doing a tie-up with his movie Viruddh. He agreed to say the line to promote the film, and we were keen as our TV commercial was on similar lines as the plot of the movie. A good idea can fail if you are not fast enough to roll it. At Hindustan Unilever Limited, I was part of the coffee parlour ideation process and execution plan. It was an idea with huge potential to scale up. The idea had coffee parlours with music, games and books, along with several varieties of coffee. It was an idea with a huge potential to scale up, and India had no parlours at that time. Consumer insights showed that for most people coffee was a social drink. While they would usually have tea at home, when dining out or visiting friends, they would prefer to have coffee. Unfortunately, it got caught in myriad processes and approval and by then other players like Cafe Coffee Day and Barista had made substantial inroads into the coffee parlour market.

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— ROSABETH KANTER,

BUSINESS PROFESSOR, HARVAR D

and also we have the first mover advantage with our readers on this. Why do you think innovation is an important competency for our organisation?

At HT, we do a lot of innovation, even if they are not specifically marked as ‘Innovation’. We have implemented several breakthrough ideas. Any organisation that does not invest in innovation will perish. Therefore, it is very important to have innovation as one of the core competencies in any organisation. Where would one find good ideas in an organisation, especially an organisation as large and diverse as ours?

Good ideas rest with people. And I think all of us are capable of good ideas. The organisation just facilitates the unleashing of the creativity of people, supporting them and helping them in honing an idea into a

Good ideas come from people. The organisation only facilitates unleashing of their creativity and helps them implement the ideas. Hindustan Unilever Limited launched its coffee parlour 12 years after we were ready to roll out. An idea becomes big when you collaborate with others and add their inputs to it. Collaboration helps in nurturing an idea. We have such a vast pool of knowledge and experience that you can easily get inputs for your idea to hone it and make it complete. For example, while discussing with the Hindustan team about personal finance and the growing importance of it in smaller towns, we came up with the idea of Hindustan Money. I am sure you would know that starting Hindustan Money translated into a success

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business case, besides providing direction in its implementation. What are your two favourite innovations and why?

Maggie 2-Minute Noodles and the cell phone. Maggie Noodles has been a revolutionary innovation. It is easy to make, you can have it anytime, all age groups like the taste, and has several combinations that keep it interesting. The cell phone is another great innovation that has changed our world. It has replaced so many gadgets — the camera, pocket diary, etc. These two products fit my definition of innovation — a product that makes life simple for the consumers at reduced costs, besides saving time.

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BY INVITATION

THERE’S A WAY TO DO I T BE TTER — FIND I T.

PA U L K E S S L E R

Managing Director, Altus Group LLC, CT, USA

‘ARE WE THERE YET?’

Acknowledge the progress made so far, but we must demand more if we want to be successful on this journey

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ach summer my family makes an eight-hour drive to visit relatives and invariably three hours into the trip, the mantra begins: “Are we there yet?” We’ve made the journey every year for the past ten years, yet the kids sitting in the back are always surprised with how long it takes to reach our destination. I find this reaction to be the same with organisations that take on the challenge of embracing innovation. Recently, I spoke with several senior leaders about innovation at HT Media. Some pointed out that it was tremendously difficult and would take consid-

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erable time to create a “culture of innovation,” but that progress had been made. Others held the view that after two years on the innovation journey, they would have liked to have seen more headway. Their perspective is that we’re not moving quickly enough and need to work harder to make innovation part of HT Media’s ‘DNA’. So if progress has been made, why are we not seeing more visible results? A recent experience I had might shed some light on this question. On February 21, the formal groundbreaking for the Smithsonian’s newest museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC took place. I was in Washington last week and walked past the building site, which was surrounded by a fence — the kind that prevents one from seeing within. I was curious to see what had been accomplished in the last seven months. I expected to see the early stages of a structure emerging above the fence line, but there was nothing there. It appeared that no progress had been made, which was surprising given all the attention that had been focused on this politically important project. U S

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When I arrived home, I checked out the NMAAHC website. They have a webcam that shows the view from high above the fence. From this vantage point, it’s clear that a staggering amount of progress has been made. In only seven months, a significant portion of the massive foundation that will support the museum for many decades to come has been built. (You can check out the webcam at: (http:// nmaahc.si.edu/Building/Camera). After two years on the innovation journey, it may be difficult to see the tangible ‘above the ground’ results, however, it’s clear that tremendous progress has been made. A lot of time and energy has been focused on building the foundation that will enable HT to build and sustain a culture of innovation over the next several decades. For example: ● Ongoing communication in the form of mailers and ads has sparked interest in and awareness around innovation across the entire company. ● Learning forums — such as Innovation Days and Innovation Speak — have been well attended and have sparked interest in and dialogue around the topic 2 0 1 2


— THOMAS EDISON,

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of innovation. ● Over 500 people have been trained in Innovation Workshops across most businesses and functions. ● An ‘Idea Contest’ was organised that attracted 64 entries, 25 of which were put forward for review, and six were decidedly ‘winning’ ideas. ● The ‘Know Your Customer’ initiative led by Pankaj Seith has helped many across the company gain a deeper understanding of how customers use HT’s products in their daily lives. ● As part of the Corporate Star Awards programme, two types of awards — iStar and iSpot — to encourage innovation have been introduced ● An ‘idea funnel’ and ‘idea boxes’ have been created to pull ideas from all parts of the business and rapidly get these ideas into the innovation review process. ● The I-Board has met monthly and reviewed a large number of ideas, many of which were taken to the next stage of development. The entire senior leadership team spends several days discussing innovation as part of the annual planning process. In addition to all the effort that has been focussed on building the foundation, there have been several ideas that have emerged and created tangible value for HT Media. So in only two years, HT Media has covered a lot of ground on the innovation journey! Yet more is needed to take innovation to the next level. While much of the burden falls on leaders, it’s up to all employees to do their part. Here are some things that everyone should keep in mind: ● Play an active role in fostering an innovation mindset — People are very busy, and it’s easy to let the day-to-day work keep one from focussing on innovation. I challenge each employee to set aside 30-60 minutes each week to come up with ideas to help create a culture of innovation. This could be learning about the customer, reading books and articles about innovation, or brainstorming new ideas with colleagues. The key is to make it a habit, so that over time it becomes a natural part of your work routine. ● Find ways to broaden your perspec-

tive — our perspective is limited by the filters we wear as we view the world around us. Exposing yourself to different people, ideas and experiences can broaden your perspective, and create a new lens to look at the same challenges. This is why finding the time to participate in all the different forums that HT already offers – like Innovation Speak and Innovation Days – is so important. And we can do more. Try new things: read articles you don’t normally read, or participate in events you don’t normally attend — or even taking a different route to work once a week — all of these experiences broaden your perspective. ● Become a champion for the cause — it’s easy to think that others will step up and drive the innovation agenda. And to be honest, many — like those who have served on the I-Board — have put a tremendous amount of time and energy into this. But with any long journey, fatigue can set in and enthusiasm can diminish. We need others across the organisation to take up the cause and help maintain the energy and momentum. Everyone must do his or her part. Only when this is a shared responsibility, will innovation go to the next level. ● Remember that it’s a journey — while tangible results are important, we have to remember that innovation is a journey into the unknown, rawther than a

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destination to be reached. The path is not always clear, and there will be missteps along the way. The keys to success are optimism and perseverance. We have to remain optimistic and encourage optimism in the corporate culture. And, we have to work harder, at times pushing each other to go that extra mile and take a few more steps on the innovation journey. Now to revisit my earlier question on the progress of the innovation journey, some felt we’ve made significant progress, while others felt much more is needed. Both perspectives are valid and both are needed. We have to celebrate and acknowledge all that has been done to create a massive foundation that will support all future efforts. At the same time, we have to demand more from everyone if we’re going to be successful on the journey. As Winston Churchill said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” We are off to a very good start!! Paul Kessler is the managing director of Altus Group, a consultancy focussed on increasing individual and organisational performance. He has been an advisor to the HT Media senior leadership team for the past seven years.

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THE BEST WAY TO HAVE A GOOD IDEA IS TO HAVE A LOT INNOVATIONS THAT WORKED R A J AT K U M A R

Business Head Hindustan, Central and Eastern Uttar Pradesh

A STORY OF SUCCESS

Hindustan team in central and eastern UP brought about innovations in the news-gathering process.

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entral and eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) editions of Hindustan took a leap when we brought about innovations in the newsgathering process. And we remain the torchbearer of this innovation in the Hindi print industry. The experience of remodelling the news-gathering system and installing editorial management software News Wrap at 39 bureau offices of central and eastern UP was fraught with challenges, but rewarding. We took the initiative to install the software not only at district bureau offices but also at tehsil levels. The difficulties were many. To begin with, a desktop/laptop/netbook was required at the chosen place, followed by data/net connectivity at the remotest villages. But the biggest challenge was preparing human resources mentally and physically to take up this innovation. These were people who had hardly used a computer till now! Collaboration and inclusion leads to better ideation The process started with nine bureau offices of Lucknow unit, under the

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leadership of Navin Joshi and Upendra Srivastava. Meetings and tours to districts and tehsils by the leadership team that included various department heads gave a great impetus to the project. The problems cited ranged from low remuneration and lack of awareness to availability of electricity. Experiment, prototype and scale up 1.Wireless data cards were chosen for providing net connectivity in remote areas. 2. When all stringers joined the new system, we didn’t want the burden to increase with extra editing and compilation work. Thus, tehsil headquarters were selected for installing the software. 3. Stringers were provided help in buying netbooks while the company also facilitated wireless internet connectivity for them. 4. People were trained to use netbooks by Upendra and his local information technology (IT) team, while Nasiruddin Haider from Delhi also joined in for various training needs. Stringers were also provided with an IT helpline. U S

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Lucknow team collaborating on the idea We started receiving calls from stringers the very next day. The awareness and curiosity was spreading like wildfire. It was time for testing the software, and on April 19, all stringers were called to Lucknow for training. For long-lasting change, keep an eye on the details The in-charges themselves trained people to work on the netbook. After three hours, the whole group 2 0 1 2


OF IDEAS. — DR LINUS PAULING,

BIOCHEMIST

The automatic billing machine project in Lucknow

How a breakthrough idea changed the vendor management system:

was divided into: 1. Those who were somewhat aware of computers and knew typing. 2. Those who knew how to use computers but didn’t know typing. 3. Those who had never used a computer nor knew typing. In the phase of daily monitoring and mentoring, IT started maintaining a daily excel sheet regarding stringers filing reports. Get people excited for innovation After the successful implementation of this pilot project, teams from Delhi, Bihar, Jharkhand, Agra and Meerut visited Lucknow to see and experience this innovation on the news-gathering process. We connected stringers sitting in remote areas, equipping them with technology. In the process, we empowered them. But success was only possible because everyone cooperated and worked hard. And that’s because we managed to mobilise the human resources to achieve a goal. In fact, stringers in tehsils and villages are now called “Laptop-wale reporter” by the public!

The selling of newspapers at the depot is a retail transaction. This includes the vendor (the buyer), the salesman (the seller), and the centre in-charges who supervise the entire transaction. The vendor buys the product, he also brings the previous day’s unsold newspapers, which are returned to the shopkeeper at its cost price. Also, since each vendor has a long-term relationship with the company, his everyday payments and balances are carried over. At each newspaper selling point, there are about 100 to 200 vendors. This innovation can change the whole picture of the newspaper industry by facilitating real-time data, thus enabling pre-planning and execution excellence. The automated billing machine captures the everyday supply, return, payment and balances of each vendor that can be used by the print media company to improve its performance. 1. The use of the machine has made the operation at all the selling points across the city uniform and standardised. The vendor takes the billing receipt and then collects the newspapers after paying his dues. The centre executive is able to monitor and control the sales process. Since he has to meet his sales targets, he is able to push the sales and also decrease the number of unsold newspapers. 2. It creates complete transparency at the vendor level with a single point of input and output data capturing by all parties involved, thus reducing the multiple efforts being invested by the sales teams. Since the vendors maintain a long-term relationship with the

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company, they would be fully aware of the dues, balances and everyday payments. 3. The machine is very easy to use. Each vendor is registered by a unique vendor code and his supply return and payment made is entered every day. Thus, the data is captured at the final selling point. The centre in-charge’s role is important as he controls the entire operation at the centre. As of now, the vendors are not much aware of the process. But given the good interaction with each vendor and proper supervision at the centre, the implementation would be very easy. In the Agra sales conference, Vijay Singh announced to take this innovation further to other locations as well.

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INNOVATIONS THAT WORKED

INNOVATION IS THE CENTRAL ISSUE IN ECONOMIC

KRISHNENDU BOSE, KAUSHIK GHOSH AND SHAMISH CHANDRA Members of supply chain team

COLOURS GALORE

The supply chain team in Mumbai experimented with colour printing technology and innovated on the format.

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e have seen various magazines and posters printed with special colours over and above the normal four-colour printing. This sort of printing easily attracts the eye. Generally, this type of printing is available with the sheet fed offset process. While in a common discussion with our team members it struck us, ‘how can we create something new?’ Baker Perkins was our first choice, because it has more than four printing units and if those can be utilised, we can offer some thing new to add some value to our current product. We took this idea to our team members, and they were excited to proceed further with the project. We consulted and received major support from our pre-press team, the Huber group (ink manufacturer), regarding the technical feasibility of the printing and their valuable suggestion helped us to get the desired result. We are thankful to our senior managers to allow us to carry out this exercise.

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THE CHALLENGES

Of course, any innovation project has its fair share of challenges, and so did this one. The major challenges were: Synchronisation of the printing towers to get proper registration: Baker Perkins’ eight-unit press is used normally in two sections of four units each. From each section, a maximum of 16 pages can be printed. Each section has a different reel stand, in-feed and web paths, so our first challenge was to synchronise all the eight units to print maximum eight colors. During the initial trials, we found that there was a significant phase difference between the printing sections of the machine. Our production and engineering team spent weeks on brain-storming and trials in different manners. Ultimately, the phase difference was negated and registration of each unit matched so that eight-colour job could be printed on a single web. The cut-off register of the webs was adjusted in such a way that it would enable us to change over to regular printing without any trouble. U S

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Image selection: The next phase was selection of images for special colours because there are no systems available with us to get colour proof of the special colour creative before printing. We got tremendous support from our Mumbai and HT Burda, Delhi Pre-press team in designing the theme. After a while, we could choose pictures with the following credentials:  Resolution of the images  Depths  Colour combinations The cost factor: Special fluorescent and metallic colours have high prices and low mileage, so it costs more than normal production cost. But the incremental cost will be marginal against the 2 0 1 2


PROSPERI T Y. — MICHAEL PORTER,

PROFESSOR, HARVARD

C I R C U L AT I O N S A L E S T E A M Delhi

CIRCULATION & INNOVATION

The subscription booking process has enhanced productivity and readership numbers.

Krishnendu Bose, Kaushik Ghosh and Shamish Chandra members of supply chain team of Mumbai responsible for the innovation. revenue earned by this process.

APPROVAL

We were excited when we presented our idea to the Innovation Board. And when the idea was accepted, we felt very motivated. We conveyed the excitement of our experience to our team members, and they also felt proud to be part of the entire exercise. Since then, we have taken further trials to fine-tune the colour profiles for brand colours and logos. We have sent samples to the marketing team for further action.

The team of circulation sales in Delhi worked on the reader subscription booking process innovation.

for reader address validation and to avoid line copy conversion, thereby reducing overall subscription timelines.

Key business issue: The subscription booking drive in Delhi-NCR started with the objective of gaining readers. The subscription drive became counter-productive and was not delivering increase in circulation or readership by enrolling existing HT readers.

Results: With the new, unique and innovative process being introduced, over 50,000 existing reader bookings have been rejected from April-September 2012 period, thereby bringing in savings of over 6.0 crore in subscription discounts alone. The innovation has also brought about a positive impact on the readership numbers. This has also started putting pressure on the competition circulation numbers in Delhi-NCR after a long time.

How did we go about solving the business issue: An end-to-end process mapping was done to understand possible gaps in the subscription booking process. It helped identify the right target reader and reduced turnaround time in starting the subscription copy. Key innovation idea implemented: For the first time, three rounds of booking verifications were introduced to identify existing HT readers from the competition:  Data de-duping  Tele-verification  Physical verification Single call verification was introduced

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Sarabjit Singh and Jaideep Dahiya led the innovation team of Circulation Sales in Delhi, comprising (from top) Neetu Srivastava, Ravi Kant Singh and Ashish Aggarwal.

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THE ESSENT IAL PART OF CREAT IVI T Y IS NOT BEING

PUJA SHARMA

Business Head, Fever Entertainment

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t was a little over two years ago that we had the Big Idea of extending the experience of Fever 104 FM (It’s all about the music!) to live audiences as well. Thus, foraying into the domain of live concerts with prime artists was thought of, and this was the birth of Fever Entertainment. We saw the advent of Fever on the entertainment scene. Now — after 32 concerts, 180 event days, a Limca Book entry, prizes ranging from cars to flats for our listeners and numerous wows — here we stand at the threshold of newer and bigger avenues. Success requires dedication Innovation tools tap into people’s inherent need to create and produce something unique. Just like one can never forget one’s first love, I can never forget the first event that we did. It was a tribute to Kishore Kumar at Kolkata by prominent singers. A small and coherent team conducted the event with precision and aplomb. The event — complete with dancers, an audiovisual presentation on Kishore Kumar, brilliant singers, magnificent backdrop and the choicest selection of Kishore songs — was a runaway hit. The thunderous response that we got, the delight on the faces of the audience was a big high and now I think I am addicted to it. I want to have more of it every time. We had a dream to create a compelling customer offering. Fever entertainment itself was born out of an innovative idea. So, innovation is in our genes. We understood the difference between performance and experience. We re-modelled and re-programmed the existing properties like DSC and Youth Nexus and turned them around by adding the ‘experience’ factor in them. Our concerts got standing ova-

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BRINGING BIG IDEAS, LIVE!

Fever 104 FM’s foray into the entertainment scene is a story of innovation and success

tions from the audience as well as the artists who praised us for getting the best out of them with the models that we created. Another aspect that needs to be taken care of is the sponsor’s interests. There have been times when the sponsors have asked for event integrations that do not gel with the concept. The team has more often than not come up with ideas keeping both the sponsor interests and the event proposition intact. U S

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Do not give up One success leads to another. But the road in between is tough. You want to give up. The challenge that we set ourselves was to turn every concert into a memory, every experience into ecstasy and every interaction into friendship. And the two attributes that have helped us achieve that are innovation and persistence. Executing an event is like creating a castle of cards, one card misplaced and 2 0 1 2


A FRAID TO FAIL. — EDWIN H LAND,

I N V E N TO R

A variety of events helped Fever 104 FM make a mark on the live entertainment scene. There was something for everyone — from music lovers and fashionistas to children.

the whole castle comes crumbling down. There are so many things that go into creating that experience and so many things that can go wrong. A lot of times you get frustrated — it could be budgetary constraints or permissions from government bodies or sponsor demands or artist tantrums — and you actually start feeling it is not possible, that we won’t be able to do it. The thought of giving up crosses the mind. It is during these times that persistence pays. Every problem has a

solution and we have to find it, there is no other way out! Small efforts every day have helped us solve the biggest of problems. Be it Jagjit Singh being hospitalised on the day of the show or a government body cancelling its NOC one day before the show or executing a 10-day, 10-mall event in Mumbai at a two-day notice — we have faced it and overcome it. If there is a way out, we will definitely find it, otherwise we will create our own. We just need to keep trying. The emotional driver in innovation Dreams create ideas. Ideas create innovation. Dreaming is the emotional drive that leads you to innovation. As I write this piece, the eyes are on the next peak for this division to scale as we have set the benchmarks right up there. This journey — a very successful

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one at that — would not have been possible without the support from people across the organisation who have dreamt with us and partnered with us to make the effort worthwhile, especially my team for spoiling my habits by achieving things that seemed impossible at first. As a business unit, there are a lot of other aspects that need to be taken care of like revenues, market share, growth, projections, etc. But for me, at the core of all this, lies my consumer’s delight and if I am taking care of that, he or she will take care of the rest. As Fever Entertainment continues its march towards becoming one of the key players in the live entertainment space, even our rivals have come to take note of our classy events, out-of-the-box thinking and our daring to dream.

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YOU CANNOT DIS COVER NEW OCEANS UNLESS YOU

The newspaper collection team was an integral part of the Reverse Supply Chain project.

A J AY J A I N

Hindustan, Delhi

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ow did you come up with the idea of Reverse Supply Chain (RSC)?

A large part of newsprint that India consumes is imported and vulnerable to macro-economic variables like oil price, dollar rate, etc. This exposes our financials to the vagaries of macro-environment factors, beyond our direct control. A part of the used imported newsprint is recycled in India and goes as input into the language newspapers, but larger parts go waste. As a responsible company and as large consumers of newsprint, we realise our responsibility towards the environment. A well-implemented RSC would help us manage the variability in prices and availability of newsprint. We needed to create a process wherein the paper consumed every day was provided by us back to the paper mills for recycling, thus creating a backward linkage for our newsprint requirements. The idea for the project came from our senior leadership who pushed the team and supported us.

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NEW IDEAS ON RECYCLING

The environment-friendly Reverse Supply Chain recycles newspapers and helps control newsprint costs. Is this idea first of its kind in India or has it been tested before?

The RSC project is an amalgamation of ideas borrowed from the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry, telecom industry and many in-house processes relevant to the print industry. ITC U S

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started a similar initiative in south India a few years ago. The RSC process is quite prevalent in the West, managed by paper mills and independent agencies. What tools of innovation did you apply to the idea?

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HAVE THE COURAG E TO LOSE SIGHT OF THE SHORE . — ANONYMOUS.

ance against, we were devising our own metrics to judge its success. Many metrics were selected and then chucked out as the project operations became clearer. Execution of an innovation project requires innovations at each step. The unorganised nature of the business didn’t help make this easier. With no structured data available for the market, we had to go by our estimates to build a roadmap for market value and market share extraction. What were your success metrics for the project?

The cross-functional team of Hindustan comprising (from left) Vimal Kishore, Rajat Kumar, Navin Joshi, (below, from left) Ajay Jain, Himanshu and Sandip Shinde made the Reverse Supply Chain project a success.

1. The principle of protyping – Start on a small scale, learn, adapt and keep doing iterations till the desired result is achieved. 2. Defining the financial box – We earmarked a small sum for funding initial stages of the project. The team was focussed on achieving a break-even for the pilot. It is critical to demonstrate the financial viability of project early itself. 3. Need to leverage learnings from various businesses and processes to build an appropriate model. Did you have a prototype and business plan for the idea before going to the I-Board for approval?

We had a couple of test runs followed by

a complete working model setup in Lucknow that proved the efficacy of this idea. The Lucknow operation has been now running successfully for more than one year. The project had touched its operational break-even in the 12th month of its activity itself. What challenges did you face while implementing the innovation?

The biggest hurdle was during the inception stage. Challenges were faced in finding the right function under which the project could be placed. Therefore, we decided to have a separate set-up for this project. With no reference model to measure its perform-

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The success metrics of the project developed over the course of the project and are now clearly defined. There are four important parameters: a. Tonnage of paper collected b. Number of households covered and repeat customers c. The operational costs incurred d. Efficiencies in the sale of paper collected. How did the team facilitate the implementation?

The first model created to implement this project was tying up with people to collect the paper rather than hire our own workforce. Adapted from the FMCG/Telecom distribution model, this vendor-based model helped keep our cost efficiencies in check. Metrics were set up to keep a check on the project penetration. The collection transaction initially devised was completely monetary. This left little space for us to reduce our acquisition cost. However, by adapting the gift model we were able to work on our cost efficiencies in a better way. The gift model also brought in the required excitement for our customers – whose loyalties to the project were purely for it being a green initiative. Did the team have to continue with their primary responsibility while working on the project?

The nature of the project requires dedicated resources. The project was always treated as a prospective business that our organisation would look towards for a healthier bottom line. A dedicated team has been working on the Lucknow operations and every member has been assigned their KRAs strictly restricted to this project. The project has its own P&L and is monitored closely.

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INNOVATIONS THAT WORKED

IF YOU ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU ALWAYS DID, YOU WILL

R A N J A N I K R I S H N A S WA M I Marketing Head, Mumbai

MUMBAI’S YES TO ‘NO TV DAY’

HT’s innovative campaign of No TV Day brought the city to a standstill and made the competition sit up

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ometimes, ideas come along that transform the industry landscape. They resonate emotionally with people and make the competition sit up and take note. Hindustan Times’ ‘No TV Day’ is one such campaign. A concept like No TV Day had not been implemented anywhere before. From ideation to execution, it was a success at all stages of the process. Through the campaign, HT sparked a dialogue in Mumbai about the importance of citizens switching their television sets off for a day and engaging with their city, getting out of their homes and benefitting from what the city had to offer. HT created No TV Day and made the entire city come to a standstill. What started as an HT initiative became a people’s movement in Mumbai. The genesis of the idea came from the urge to create a unique day that Mumbaiites can celebrate, that grows to become an annual calendar event (falls on the last Saturday of January every year- trademarked property of Hindustan Times). No TV Day is not an ‘anti- television’ campaign, but one that celebrates unique Mumbai experi-

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ences. The lack of quality time with loved ones is perceived as a fallout of contemporary life in Mumbai. HT called upon Mumbai to switch off the TV and be open to the immense possibilities that their relationships and the city had to offer. The campaign communication spreads across three phases – concept introduction, followed by pre-buzz for the D-Day and lastly, excitement around the D-Day activities. Multiple media vehicles were used to reach out to a larger audience — print, radio, digital, outdoor (transit and static media) and events. HT organised a plethora of activities, including a school painting competition attended by around 34,000 children with their parents (up from 20,000 in 2011). Parents were invited to participate with their children and bond with them over a palette of colours. Special chartered helicopter rides were organised for Mumbaiites to enjoy an aerial view of their city’s skyline. Exclusive food discount deals at more than 400 outlets in the city, where Mumbaiites could step out and enjoy a good meal with their loved ones. A 2.5-hour laser and fireworks spectacle, enjoyed by more than 5,000 people, added to the 2 0 1 2


ALWAYS G E T WHAT YOU ALWAYS GOT. — ALBERT EINSTEIN, SCIENTIST

The marketing team of HT Mumbai (below) that turned No TV Day into a phenomenon by holding a plethora of outdoor events and activities across the city.

celebrations. Mumbaiites also enjoyed watching many of their wishes come true at the 70-ft high wishing tree event. The event was visited by a prominent Bollywood actor. Communities came alive as housing societies across the city participated in the HT No TV Day Best Society contest. Residents organised various activities like cooking competitions, sports day, etc in their societies. Ten best entries were selected and given cash prizes. A city-specific treasure hunt was organised across three zones in Mumbai (western suburbs, Navi Mumbai and

south Mumbai). While 1,300 participants raced against time to reach the finishing point, three winners were selected in each zone. Mumbaiites also enjoyed heritage rides, dance workshops, museum tours, etc. Various communities like the Bombay cycle club, Running and Living, Hash Harriers, and churches came on board voluntarily and organised activities and workshops. HT merely seeded the ideas, it was Mumbai’s people who created the buzz. There were various partners like Indian Railways, Prince of Wales museum, Maharashtra Tour-

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ism Development Corporation (MTDC) and the Navy who joined the initiative. The ultimate tribute came from the Amul billboards across the city, which covered No TV Day with their own signoff line: Zindagi on. TV Off. Special No TV Day supplements like No TV Day guide, Mumbai Maps and special weekender magazine were sampled. While No TV Day guide decoded Mumbai’s neighbourhoods, city’s nightlife and shopping hot spots, Mumbai Maps encouraged readers to get on their feet, walk down the roads, hop on trains or just follow a trail to explore the city’s lanes. The engagement with Mumbai was sustained in the social media space as well with the HT Mumbai No TV Day Facebook page and a special microsite. In just three weeks in 2012, 1.5 lakh new fans were added to the No TV Day Facebook community, taking the total count to 2.5 lakh fans. The Facebook page also generated 6.5 million unique impressions and was among the top branded Facebook pages in India in terms of engagement. On January 28th, the strong buzz resulted in No TV Day featuring among the top trending topics nationally on Twitter. In 2011, more than 3 lakh Mumbaiites participated in the No TV Day celebrations. In 2012, participation numbers doubled, indicating the campaign’s success. From an advertiser’s perspective, our insight about spending quality time with loved ones provided an engaging, conceptually compatible platform for many brands. Surf, Toyota, Pepsico India, MTDC and Micro Technologies — came on board because the campaign aligned with their brand essence and gave them an opportunity to engage with consumers. Surf partnered with us on the school leg of the activity to promote its brand essence, ‘Dirt is good.’ MTDC came in as an exclusive partner for the weekender tabloid, which showcased some of the greatest family-friendly getaways in the city. The success of No TV Day was a ringing endorsement of teamwork and cross-functional expertise. The task was mammoth, the team (editors, marketers, designers) came together to create something very special.

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YOUNG INNOVATERS

SMALL OPPORTUNI T IES ARE OF TEN THE BEGINNING OF

S H R U T I WA H I

Product Development, Firefly, Gurgaon

A PORTAL OF IDEAS

She conceptualised HT Content Services, a portal for clients needing editorial services to drop in their requests

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hy does innovation interest you?

My never-say-die-attitude and inquisitive nature is behind my quest for innovation.

innovation.

Give a brief description of your

My idea was based on content outsourcing, to build a portal and seek projects of writing editorials, articles, press releases and blogs from newspapers, publishers, website owners, private companies, editors and other clients. How did you get the idea for HT Content Services?

Being part of HT syndication, which is the content creation and aggregation department of HT Media Limited, it came to my mind that HT had a large poolf of talented content editors and writers. Couldn’t we have a portal/platform wherein individuals or companies could drop in their requirement of editorial projects, article writing, press release writing, and feature writing on an exclusive basis? And that’s how the idea of HT Content Services was born.

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What process did you follow to take the idea to the experiment stage?

There is a process that might look like this: Ask and define the question. ● Gather information and resources through observation. ● Form a hypothesis. ● Perform one or more experiments and collect and sort data. ● Analyse the data. ● Interpret the data and make conclusions that point to a hypothesis. ● Formulate a ‘final’ or ‘finished’ hypothesis. Believe me, I didn’t implement any of the points mentioned above. A positive mindframe wins you half the battle. I try to be calm, divide the goal into small steps and then march forward. Also, professional skills, ideas or experiments can be enhanced if you are a keen observer. ●

Did you get enough support from your seniors on finalising the idea and looking at the feasibility?

Yes, they were really encouraging. My seniors have been supportive from the very start and have helped me out in the best way possible. In the beginning, it is just like being an entrepreU S

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neur as you might have to convince and sell your idea before everyone is onboard with full support. What more support or help do you think the organisation should give to young innovators like you?

There should be dedicated mentors to guide the young innovators throughout the process and help them realise their dream. Do you enjoy coming up with new ideas?

Yes. I believe god has given every human being an innate ability to think and that’s how ideas are born. When do you get the time to think of new ideas?

Ideas can come anytime, however, I feel ideas should be acknowledged at the right time. Were you always a creative person?

As a child, I was very naughty, fun-loving and mischievous, which has always provoked me to experiment.

How would you encourage other people to participate in the innovation programme?

Allow expression of ideas and then encourage, appreciate and recognise. I would encourage my colleagues to be updated with the latest innovations concerning our business, so that their thought process about the daily work is refined and better tuned to come up with fresh ideas. Above all, I would want everyone to enjoy their work, as a happy and fun workplace breeds innovation. 2 0 1 2


G REAT ENTERPRISES. — DEMOSTHENES,

GREEK PHILOSOPHER

S A M D A R S H G U P TA Finance, Hindustan, Delhi

IMPLEMENTING INNOVATION

This young finance professional has contributed many innovative ideas to enhance business.

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nnovation to me is an idea producing value that is future-ready and measureable. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 to rescue it from near bankruptcy, he shifted the focus of the entire organisation, giving the ‘i’ in its products its real meaning — for me, it stood for innovation. Focus is the guide to innovation. Knowledge is the key to value-addition. Both attaining and utilising knowledge is essential. Today, access to knowledge and information has become easier than ever before. Cyber space, with which we are connected 24/7, has an overload of information. Getting equipped with the information is only half the work done. One needs to learn how to utilise this knowledge as well. Innovation is not a one-time process. Therefore, we have to be self-inspired to be innovation-ready. Inspiration can be the connection with the organisation, attachment with friends or to be ahead of others. It can even be a quote such as “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change

the world, are the ones who do”. But what matters is that it should add to the broader strategy. Considering the recent turn of events, we — both as an organisation and as an industry — have a tremendous appetite for new ideas. Let us onsider only the top players in our industry. When put together, they have the potential to be India’s largest brand outside our industry, say, in retail with a combined reach of over 15 million households. We have the potential to build a brand like no other. In times of uncertainty, we should invest in innovation. Only innovation can pave the way for sustainable growth. To begin with, we should define the role which innovation should play in the organisation. Innovation cannot simply be an idea, it must be implemented to produce some value to the company. This notion has more to do with the background I hail from. Being a chartered accountant, everything for me must translate into money. My mantra of judging an idea is — “For every I (innovative idea), there

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must be 3 Us (unique, universal and uniform) and something in it for ME2 (money making) When I joined this organisation last year, a part of my job required me to work with HT Seal. I learnt that the business was dependent on telephone numbers, which we called on to book the ads but whose supply was limited. It took us just a couple of days to search the internet and what we found was the whole BSNL telephone directory available for free on the net, which existed earlier but was never brought to use. If we think that a time will come when we will start thinking differently for the work we do or spare some time during the day to ponder upon innovation, such a thing will not happen. Unless the gods are very generous to us, we must try and inculcate such thinking in our day-to-day time. Be the change you want to see in the world. — Mahatma Gandhi

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INNOVATION IS ANY THING, BUT BUSINESS AS USUAL.

EXPERT SPEAK

PA N K A J S E I T H Vice-president, Insights

IMPORTANCE OF INSIGHTS

Understanding what the consumer wants is the key to success for any business

B2C customers (readers) and B2B customers (advertisers). Insights like ‘many small businesses are ambitious but not skilled in advertising’ led to successful media marketing initiatives like PrintWorks. This initiative brought in many nonadvertising small businesses to advertise in our papers. The marketing function in our company does work on customer insights in close partnership with editorial function and the business heads. The research and insights team forms a part of the marketing department itself and delivers findings and insights to support our company’s growth. Focus on customers leads to success Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” After understanding customers, we must deliver better value to them. Innovating on our processes and products is

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so. Mahatma Gandhi In the post-agricultural era, a lot of the change has been driven by successful innovations in the field of technology and business models. Typically, a few companies have driven these changes, but one common trait of all successful companies and institutions has been the importance attached to customers. “I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent,” said scientist and inventor Thomas Edison. A customer insight is a simple statement reflecting our understanding of a customer’s life. It helps us deliver products that meet their needs. It has also been called as a short sentence at the end of a long observation of the customers. Earlier in the decade, the insight that ‘everyone wants to stay connected with others’ led to the telecom revolu-

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tion by making mobiles affordable for every segment of society. Consumer insights in our company At HT Media, we have used customer insights while designing many of our new products like Mint and Anokhi, and new businesses like Shine and StudyMate. We have also used insights like ‘scan and surf reading behaviour’ to re-design HT and used insights like ‘public interest’ to launch initiatives like Jaago Agra. Insights can be used for both our U S

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important. The three important innovation criteria are desirability, feasibility and viability. Desirability means ‘do the customers want this?’, feasibility means ‘can this product be delivered as promised?’, and viability means ‘is this financially viable?’. A strong focus on customers should always remain guiding force for our company. It will help us consistently deliver winning products and services to our customers. 2 0 1 2


- ANONYMOUS

SUNDEEP KHANNA

Innovation Expert, Live Mint, Executive Editor

VIEWS, NOT NEWS ALONE

In a world of television and internet, we must give readers something extra to make their morning paper worthwhile.

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oday’s readers want to be the subject of news as well as its co-creators. What is the future of news? Each day we see the volume of news growing exponentially. And it is being served across a variety of physical and digital platforms. But that’s not a fundamental change: just an incremental one. The real issue is whether there is a simultaneous structural change as well. In the print business, somewhere there is the lurking suspicion that the newspaper may lose its latter half — paper. Recently, American current affairs magazine Newsweek announced that it was shutting down its print edition after 80 years in business. But simultaneously it reiterated its commitment to the news business. As Tina Brown, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast and Newsweek, wrote in a letter to the magazine’s readers, “You have increasingly adopted digital and, in effect, we are following you. Newsweek Global, as the new all-digital publication will be called, will be a single, worldwide edition of Newsweek, produced for a restless, news-hungry, opinion-forming audience that pays keen

attention to world events.” That’s the key to this new media. The readers play a far more active role in the media life cycle than they ever did before. The reader is our customer as before, just far more demanding. But equally he is also a co-creator of content. Twitter disseminates more news than any single newspaper or channel. That’s because Twitter is the amalgam of all the news. There are actually two parallel tracks on which the news business is progressing. The first is an extension of the universal need all of us have to know what we don’t. That’s the core of any newspaper. But it is the second trend which is far more significant. It is the need to inform, talk, opine and in general share our thoughts on the news that we are being offered. Among the young, aspiration has been replaced by restlessness; the desire to read about faraway heroes has been supplanted by the need to have their voice heard far and wide. If the traditional news media will not let them do that, Facebook and Twitter and Blackberry Messenger will do just fine. These were the factors that Mint (www.livemint.com) kept in mind while

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designing its integrated newsroom to offer the reader a seamless news experience across the web, on various handheld devices and in print. We recognised early on that on the web we need to add value to our visitors’ lives. We seek to bring context through analyses, opinions, prognosis, investigation but also through multimedia and interactivity. Our content is customised and contextualised. But above all, it is filtered carefully and edited to our editorial standards. And that’s because the biggest danger that digitally-curated content presents is the lack of quality and veracity standards. So is there a future for print? Absolutely. But it must be focused on what readers still want to know by the time they get to their morning paper in a real-time world of television news and email and texting and twitter. It means that anything beyond one-paragraph summary items on those ubiquitous newsbreaks need to be analytical, interpretive and distinctive. At the very least, they need to be what are referred to as ‘Day 2’ stories, but published on the ‘first’ day. In the future, print newspapers need to think of themselves as ‘second reads’.

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BY INVITATION

THE MOST SU CCESSFUL PEOPLE ARE THOSE WHO ARE

BHASKAR PRAMANIK Chairman, Microsoft India

TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION

Social technologies have transformed businesses by blurring hierarchies and promoting knowledge sharing

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BHASKAR PRAMANIK is responsible

ear HT friends,

What exciting times we live in! Twenty years ago, a telephone was a luxury. Today, India has the world’s secondlargest mobile phone user base, with over 929.37 million users as of May 2012. Our telecom industry has grown over 20 times in just 10 years! Worldwide, over 1 billion smartphones are being bought with India being one of the fastest growing smartphone markets. Facebook today has more than a billion users worldwide and India, with 60 million users, is the 2nd largest subscriber country for Facebook. In fact, 82% of the world’s online population now engages in social networking and 70% of companies worldwide use social technologies. What’s more, 25% of all international minutes happen through Skype and Twitter has more than 350 million tweets per day. These trends represent monumental shifts in the way people interact, socialise, collaborate and ideate with each other. A study by the McKinsey Global Institute on the Social Economy reveals some interesting insights: a. The average knowledge worker

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spends 28 hours per week sending email, searching for information or collaborating internally. Think of how staggering a proportion of our time is spent in these activities and what a dramatic impact we could drive by making improvements in how people collaborate, interact and find faster access to the information they are looking for. b. In a few years, social media has evolved from simply another ‘new media’ platform to an increasingly important business tool with wide-ranging capabilities. c. The McKinsey study estimates that between $900 billion and $1.3 trillion in value can be unlocked through the use of social technologies in the sectors the study examined. (Source: The Social Economy. Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies. McKinsey Global Institute, July 2012) I see similar trends happening in India that can have huge impact on the way businesses function: ● Social technologies have a huge role to play in innovation by blurring organisational boundaries, driving faster and deeper connect with suppliers and customers, speeding up the flow of inU S

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for overseeing Microsoft’s sales, marketing and services subsidiary, providing overall leadership on all Microsoft assets in India and leading the company’s citizenship agenda in close alignment with India’s national priorities. Prior to that, he worked for Sun Microsystems for 13 years as the Managing Director in India and his last assignment was as Global Vice President, Commercial Systems at the US HQ at Sun Microsystems. He was instrumental in building the company’s presence in India and helping the company grow at a pace faster than the industry average. Pramanik has held several senior management positions in companies like Digital Equipment India Ltd, Blue Star Ltd, and NELCO. His last-held position at Digital Equipment was Director, Enterprise Sales, Digital Equipment Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, Singapore. Pramanik is an engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has also attended the Advanced Marketing Management Programme at Stanford.

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G OOD AT PLAN B. — JAM ES YOR KE ,

M AT H E M AT I C I A N

InnovationSpeak has had other prominent speakers like Rajan Anandan of Google (left) and Binny Bansal of Flipkart. You can catch the videos of these sessions on MyHT. formation across companies and allowing anybody across the traditional hierarchy to submit or benefit from innovations. ● Social technologies are blurring the lines of hierarchy between top management and the front-line. ● A consumer goods company can get real-time insights on new promotions or competitor activity from the salespeople in the field. ● Employees are able to quickly share feedback about challenges the company might be facing. ● The vice-president of finance can get ideas on cost-cutting from an entrylevel employee on the shop floor. ● Seniority, as defined by tenure, is getting replaced by seniority as defined by knowledge. Social technologies are thus playing a key role in transforming traditional economies into knowledge economies. ● New employees, especially information workers, joining a company expect to get access to the best technologies — a state-of-the-art laptop, the ability to choose their own mobile device, instant messaging, audio and video conferencing and access to collaborative and social technologies. For the best

talent, absence of these ‘hygiene factors’ can be a blocker in many ways. ● The increasing cost of travel and the time it takes necessitates the need to drive stronger virtual collaboration in companies. At Microsoft, we are saving more than US$ 1 million per year in India by shifting a lot of our internal meetings from physical to the virtual world and leveraging the power of collaboration and social technologies ● Experts — the few employees with deep knowledge in their areas of expertise — are now a lot more accessible to others across the company, thanks to the power of social technologies. Their expertise can now be replicated through virtual trainings, blogs, wikis and contributions through the social enterprise. Social technologies are fast evolving and include a broad range like media and file sharing, shared social workspaces, blogs, wikis, discussion forums, etc. When coupled with collaboration tools such as virtual meetings, instant messaging, audio and video conferencing, these provide a solid foundation for organisations to exploit the capabilities and knowledge of employees, not only within the or-

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ganisation but even across suppliers and channel partners. We are seeing these trends in the media industry too, where blogs, tweets, posts and video uploads are becoming more and more accepted for creating and consuming content. ‘Social’ enterprises — companies that embrace social and collaboration technologies — are already creating fundamental and long-term competitive advantage in their respective domains. Companies successful in adopting the new social world order are also reporting a significant impact of these on their organisational culture. The future is not going to be just about competition of businesses, but the competition of cultures! Social and collaborative technologies can play a pivotal role in creating the right culture within the organisation. Finally, I would like to end by saying that it’s exciting to see HT being an early innovator, as always, and taking the first steps to leverage collaborative and social technologies internally. We at Microsoft wish you all the best and look forward to supporting you in your journey. Let there be no more barriers ‘Between Us’!

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LT INTERVIEW

‘I think HT needs to be far more engaged than it is at the moment’

Harshad Jain, Business Head - Radio and Entertainment, gives a lowdown on how taking chances brought him to HT Media You have been with us for how long? How has the experience been?

I have been with HT since October 2011. My experience so far has been very good and enriching.

How different is working in a media house from an MNC?

I have worked with Pepsi for 14 years. I have primarily been a sales and marketing guy. Culturally, both are exactly the same. In fact, I knew that was the case, that’s why I joined. That’s also why I am very comfortable here. More than media as a whole, I'll speak about radio which I feel is very exciting and is growing.

What’s your leadership style? Harshad Jain with his wife Kamini and sons on their 2012 trip to Australia

I like to work from the front, be fairly aggressive and straightforward.

Is every day a Monday?

Typically speaking, I have 12-13 hour work days. Fever is at a junction where it is on the cusp of becoming huge. For that to happen, a lot of intensity is required at work. So, you have to work hard. There are also some lean days. However, mentally you are always involved in some way or the other.

One person you admire the most in HT?

Anyone and everyone who works passionately towards the business objectives.

How old were you when you started your career?

I started my career with Pepsi after I completed my MBA. I was 23 years old.

Have you found your true calling in your current job?

I think we have a great vision for the future and as long as it’s achieved, I believe I have found my calling, yes.

RAPID FIRE Destiny or hard work? Both are important How many cars you own? I own two cars. Skoda Super and Scorpio. Your favourite gadget? My Blackberry phone The last thing you bought for yourself? A shirt What do you like to read? I like reading management and corporate books. Also, occasionally I like reading Stardust. Are you religious? Yes Favourite dessert? I love rasgullas

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LT INTERVIEW

What do you think needs to be changed about the organisation?

I think we need to be far more engaged than we are at the moment. Companies like Pepsi and Airtel engage their workforce on a great level, there is this feeling of being at home away from home. HT is aggressive which is great, but engagement should be more.

What qualities do you dislike in your colleagues?

Nothing. In fact, HT is a very apolitical place. In fact, one of the key reasons for my joining was because it is an empowered company. There is a lot of freedom. It’s like running your own ship. It’s very entrepreneurial and I really like that.

What are your hobbies?

I love cricket, I am an active sportsperson and I also love gymming. Also, I am a big Bollywood buff.

One incident in your childhood that you can't forget?

I had got through Shaw Wallace & Company and reached Kolkata to start. Before joining, I met a person at the Tolly Club in Kolkata. He worked in Pepsi. I had a chat with him after which I didn’t join Shaw Wallace and ended up join-

Harshad Jain with his wife Kamini and sons Armaan (right) and Arnav (left), while vacationing

ing Pepsi where I worked for 14 years. That very incident perhaps was quite unforgettable.

Kamini’s a homemaker. I have two sons. The elder one is Armaan, he’s 14 years old. The younger one is Arnav. He’s 12.

Tell us about your family?

How many holidays do you take in a year?

I had a love marriage. My wife’s name is Kamini. Our parents knew each other, so there was no drama in our marriage.

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I take one holiday for sure. This year, we went to Sydney and Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

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JOURNALIST OF THE MONTH

And the award goes to...

HT Journalist of the Month Awards were announced for the months July 2012 to August 2012. A look at the employees who made it big

JULY 2012, PUNJAB

JULY 2012, MUMBAI PRIYANKA VORA, Senior Reporter

Priyanka’s sensitive story about Seema and Dutta Palkar, a couple from Karjat, who were struggling for funds and facilities to save their five-day-old son with a rare but life-threatening heart defect, prompted several readers to offer help. The Mumbai Hospital conducted the surgery to correct the defect free of cost and several readers gave cash donations. The overwhelmed parents named their son, Hindustan, stating that his life had been saved by Hindustan Times. Baby Hindustan finally left hospital on July 3.

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ANSHU SETH, Principal Correspondent

JULY 2012, DELHI SUNIL SAXENA, Principal Photographer

Sunil got pictures in difficult-to-operate conditions during the various shoots of Raid-de-Office Series done by the Metro team. He coordinated well with the reporters to ensure telling photos that matched editorial requirement for a story that had a good ‘HT impact’. Sunil’s picture of metro commuters affected by the power grid failure ran to a 8 column spread on page 2 of the Delhi edition and was well appreciated. His day long vigil outside Pranab Mukherjee’s residence on the day Presidential poll results were announced was another example of the hard work he puts into the job when required.

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For her high-impact stories exposing the misuse of authority by the Ludhiana municipal corporation commissioner. Anshu broke the story on how a street vendor earned the high-profile officer’s wrath by asking his wife to pay up for vegetables/fruits. Like an intrepid reporter, she put in tremendous legwork and tapped multiple sources to establish the free-loading acts of the commission, who, infuriated over the vendor’s audacity, unleashed a demolition squad on his vend. The HT report prompted chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to order the officer’s suspension for abuse of power and also an inquiry against him. Anshu displayed enormous courage in the face of all sorts of pressures that the beleaguered commissioner tried to bring on her to stop the story. She tenaciously stayed on the story that lent our newspaper a clear edge over competition.

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JOURNALIST OF THE MONTH

AUGUST 2012, NEW DELHI INDRANEEL DAS, Sports Editor

For anchoring the sports pages during the Olympics 2012. We were ahead of the competition on many counts, from special India-focussed stories to excellent packaging by the desk. Indraneel helped conceptualise and execute crucial details daily for a period of three weeks.

AUGUST 2012, PUNJAB PRIYA KAUR GILL, Assistant Features Editor

For her outstanding execution of the ‘top 30 under 30’ project under the aegis of ‘HT Youth Forum’. Priya led from the front with a hands-on involvement in all aspects of this out-of-the-box editorial initiative that has significantly bolstered our edition’s youth connect. Not only did she and her highly motivated team of HT City reporters pull off five brilliantly-packaged back-toback centre-spreads on the region’s top 30 achievers from diverse fields, under the age of 30, Priya played a stellar role in setting up and moderating a celebrity panel discussion that had some of the nation’s most celebrated youth icons on board. All through the project, from planning to execution, Priya displayed qualities of a meticulous and diligent team leader with boundless energy and enthusiasm.

AUGUST 2012, TEAM AWARD RAHUL KARMAKAR Guwahati, DIGAMABAR PATOWARY Guwahati and NAVEEN AMMEMBALA Bangalore

For covering the Bodo-Muslim clashes in Assam, the exodus of NE residents from Bangalore and the renewed tensions/clashes in Assam. Digambar did a great job in single-handedly keeping HT in the game the first couple of days after the clashes broke out in Assam (as Rahul was on leave). Thereafter, Rahul cut short his PL and returned to take charge of the reportage. Naveen pitched to keep the Bangalore end of the story alive.

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CLICKING ALL THE WAY

HT clickers grabbed eight awards for their rendition of myriad images 1

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DAILY LIFE, VIJAYANAND GUPTA

GENERAL NEWS, ARIJIT SEN

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DAILY LIFE, PRASAD GORI

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CLICKING ALL THE WAY

HONORABLE MENTION

GENERAL NEWS, RAJ K. RAJ

HT photographers won eight awards at the Media Foundation of India photo contest 2012, announced on August 21 this year. The contest received over 6500 photograph submissions, sent by more than 200 photographers for six categories.

HONORABLE MENTION

GENERAL NEWS, AJAY AGGARWAL

HONORABLE MENTION

HONORABLE MENTION

GENERAL NEWS, AJAY AGGARWAL

SPOT NEWS, ANSHUMAN POYREKAR B E T W E E N

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WALL OF FAME

Meet the young, talented ideators who enhanced business

Mint congratulates their enterprising and innovative employees across teams for consistent performance

KASHISH & PRERANA, Mint Product & Design team:

Over the course of the last 6 months, the product & design team significantly enhanced the quality of output across features and advertorials. As the markets started coming under pressure, Mint started deriving an increasingly bigger chunk of business from initiatives. In this context, the team has worked relentlessly across numerous initiatives to deliver quality output. Today, the quality of Mint features ranks amongst the best in the industry, based on the work done on content development as well as designing of all such features.

SHERRY

Sherry’s self-motivation, positive attitude, out-of-the box ideas and solutions to maximise revenues helped in finding new clients and getting more revenue for Mint. She has effectively monetised opportunities like CTD’s, Luxury Summit, Innovations & created effective client solutions so that their is comeback for repeat purchase. While she has her own way to get business, she is also a team player to leverage the team.

SHARATH

Sharath has been consistently generating revenues by providing customised solutions to clients, has single handedly contributed to real estate events. Good revenues have come from initiatives. Sharath has been instrumental in monetising Real Estate Conclave and Auto Guide from SBI.

HUZEFA

Huzefa has been working on categories like Insurance and Mutual Funds, in spite of the expenditure on advertising getting dried up because of market conditions and regulatory issue; Huzefa has been able to garner good revenue by pitching relevant reports and customised initiatives. His ability to get revenue from a non-print advertiser is truly appreciated in these difficult times.

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GIGGLE GAG

Innovating on ‘price’less crackers

Here’s looking forward to a Diwali of pinching costs lit up with the antics of civil society activists. Jayanto delivers the laughs.

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GIGGLE GAG

JAYANTO

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COFFEE WITH THE LEADER

CEO Rajiv Verma along with Sharad Saxena Executive Director—Operations and HR, explains the company’s trials and tribulations at an informal chat session

The man behind HT’s transformation

CEO Rajiv Verma throws light on challenges that HT has been facing and coping with

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n opportunity to get a peek into the mind of the man who has to take decisions is rare. The coffee session with Rajiv Verma became a learning experience for all those present. CEO’S OPENING ADDRESS “These sessions do two things — one, it gives me a view of what is going on in the company through your eyes, which in turn is a reflection of where we are moving as a company. Two, it gives you an opportunity to ask me questions that you

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might have wanted to ask but did not get a chance to. Let’s look at the last one year as to how things have gone on in the company. Overcoming systemic challenges For the entire industry, it’s been a very difficult time given the kind of external environment we were all going through. The challenges we were facing were not unique, they were the challenges being faced by almost all other companies - several other media companies and non-media companies also. There are organisations that did well and there are organisations that did not do well as a result of the external environment and I daresay we are among one of those companies which ended up doing relatively better than several other companies and part of that was because of the kind of strategy we had been pursuing, the way our people come together and try to take on challenges, and also the type of businesses we are under. We happen to be in the businesses that were, in some ways, less impacted. We also happen to be one of those companies where the kind of alignment and hard work that is put in makes it possible for us to overcome the exter-

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COFFEE WITH THE LEADER nal challenges much better. So, net to net in the last six months, while we would have liked to see a much better performance as anybody else would have in their company, we, I must say, were relatively better placed. On the immediate future How are we looking at things from here on? It is very difficult, there is no crystal ball in which we can gaze and say "alright, the future is going to be great", but at least the telltale signs are that we might be turning the corner, the industry might be turning the corner. Given some of the changes the external environment is undergoing, be it in FDI retail, be it in some of the other reforms which are happening, the mood in the external environment is likely to turn somewhat more positive. Also, there comes a time when things bottom out and after that the only way to bring back demand is by creating a positive feeling in the minds of consumers, which can happen through advertising. One of the roles that advertising plays is to create a positive mood is the minds of the customers and consumers so that they go and buy goods and services. I am optimistic that going forward we will see advertising coming back and growth coming back. We are a company which has been growing over the last 5-6 years at roughly a compounded annual growth rate of anything around 14-15%. Our goal was to grow at a rate of 18% but the last 2 years, 18 months, have been virtually flat growth for the company, we did not see any growth. And, as you all would acknowledge, in any business costs rise, whether it is the cost of electricity or the cost of rentals or the cost of acquiring talent or people. As the costs keep going up and your revenues remain flat, your margins come under pressure. Now, if that situation continues for several years, you come to a point where your margins reach a level which makes business unsustainable. So that is the environment we have been going through but the good thing is that people in the company work very hard to control costs and those elements of cost which are controllable, whether it was newsprint or overheads or things like travel or any of the several other elements of cost which contribute to creating the final cost structure of the company, there was a lot of work that happened on controlling our costs. Perhaps more could have been done but the effort is ongoing to make sure our costs remain contained. Hopefully, as the external environment improves and the advertising demand kicks

in we will see ourselves coming back to the rate of growth, of profitability, that makes a company very healthy. HT’s growth plans That's as far as our core businesses are concerned. In the new businesses we are beginning to see a lot of traction. Our online business, after a very long period of very high stress, is beginning to look very good. Today we have become the second largest job portal among all the job portals in India, whether you compare it to naukri.com or monster.com, we are the second largest in terms of the number of consumers we have. The revenues are also going up. Our digital efforts are beginning to look very good, our digital revenues are doubling every year, which is again looking very, very optimistic. And some of the initial moves we have made in the education business are beginning to bear some fruit. We are looking at our education business as a great future potential business - the industry size is very large, the pool of students who will be joining the education stream is very large, our partnerships are looking very good. I am quite hopeful that our education business in times to come will become a very good business for the company. All this has been possible, of course, because of the hard work people display in our company, the kind truism with which we come to work in this company. Another thing which makes me feel particularly proud is that in this company we don't just do good but we also try to do good things. Like, some of the initiatives we have embarked on, for instance You Read, They Learn, which are in the area of corporate social responsibility, and some of the businesses we are trying to get into, for instance education, where we will be helping a multitude of people who may not have access to education in an economical way by bringing them online education. The good thing is that we are not just building a company for the future but we are contributing whatever we can to the betterment of society. The newspaper and media business is the kind of business where it is possible to do a lot of good work while building a profitable company. I must say that when I talk to my editorial colleagues there is a very strong sense of pride in bringing quality news to the reader. This is not a company which compromises on quality of news, unlike several other news organisations that might be there in the industry. This is even truer in the vernacular business relative to a lot of English businesses. It is even more true to busi-

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nesses which are in business journalism. In brands like Mint, Hindustan and eventually Hindustan Times, the quality of journalism which gets done there makes our society a lot richer relative to several of our where the quality of journalism is questionable. So net to net, I would like to say that this is only possible because of the contribution being made by all the 6000 employees who work in this company, the strategy we have devised for ourselves and the way the leadership of our company is trying to lead in living our values and embarking on them. One of the things we all have to do during these difficult times is to stay optimistic, we have to remain positive about the future. Businesses comprise of cycles, every down-cycle is followed by an up-cycle. So make no mistake, this down-cycle will get over and we will get into an up-cycle. As we get into that we should be better positioned than our completion to row harder, especially when the wind is not there, this is the time to row harder and get ahead of others. I am very optimistic that the future is going to be bright for all of you and for the company, and in times to come we will see a much better company emerge as the downturn ends.” The floor was then opened up to questions —

Do we have any plans to launch a TV channel?

This is a thing that keeps coming up from time to time and we keep discussing it quite often. Unfortunately television business is in a phase where the industry has matured a lot and the barriers to entry have become high and very difficult. So, in entertainment, which is where the bulk of the money is, companies like Star, Colors, Sony and Zee have been there for the last 15-20 years and doing a good job. So the barrier to entry and the entry price is very high. If you want to enter that business it will be very expensive and though there are profitable businesses, Star makes a lot of profit, it’s large in size and therefore for a company like ours to get into entertainment, we don’t have competencies to go there and challenge these incumbents who are very large companies with huge international money. Then there comes the area of news in which we may have some right to win where international competition is not there, multinationals are not allowed to compete. The FDI cap itself is about 26%. Now, in news unfortunately there is very little profit. There are lots and lots

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COFFEE WITH THE LEADER of news companies who are playing in it. The number of news channels in India is in excess of 80, so with that oversupply, the profit in that industry is very poor. Television companies do not make any money. Having said that, we keep thinking and looking at whether there are any synergies with our news business where in an innovative way we enter that industry and make it more profitable. Or are there any acquisition targets available that we can acquire and try to make it work. We are not completely closed to that idea but it is not something which is of very high strategic priority for us.

Regarding the innovationspeak programme have any interesting ideas been implemented in the newsroom?

A lot, lets first talk about a lot which failed, failed innovations are as important as the innovations that worked. So, we came up with the innovation where we’ll create a newspaper in Hindi which we will call ‘Hindustan Jobs’ and that was supposed to be a newspaper that would be reaching out to audiences in small towns, telling them about government jobs. Hindustan Jobs was thought to be a great potential model, could scale up to a Rs 100-crore business. Unfortunately, after some time we found the market for that is not very interesting, we don’t have a right to enter it and it didn’t work out. There was an innovation we launched, initially called Connect and after that it was called Shopper, it was a hyper-local newspaper, we ran it for almost 2 ½ - 3 years. It was supposed to be a community newspaper which was targeted at very local communities and unfortunately again, that innovation did not work out or did not scale up. Then there were lots and lots of innovations that we tried where we wanted to try education - to reach out to the small towns using VSAT model, using VSAT, reaching out to students who might be living in small towns and who might not be able to afford good education and putting a television there would be a kind of one-way communication. Again that innovation did not look like it had the potential to scale up and we had to give it up. Those are innovations that didn’t work but there are n number of innovations which are looking very interesting and could possibly scale up. There is an innovation called HT Mini which some of you might have seen which is a metro newspaper. Again, it is looking like a very interesting innovation which might scale up. There is an-

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other innovation going on in the company which is in the area of reverse-supply chain. What we plan to do in that is we plan to buy back old newspapers from the readers once they have read it, collect as much old newspapers as we can in the city of Delhi or Mumbai, send it back to the convertor and get that converted into newsprint. With that we will not have to import newsprint from all over the world, with that our exposure to the $ being denominated, raw materials will go away and a lot of other fringe benefits to the environment in terms of green environment. So that’s an innovation which looks like it is taking some shape. We have recently launched a product called India One where Hindustan Times, Hindustan, The Hindu from South and ABP group have created an advertising product targeted at FMCG packaged goods customers. Again, to take away revenue from television, this product called India One where three companies have come together almost like Star Alliance. It’s the first time three companies have come together and created a product like this, if it works it may have huge potential, again it is an innovation that is being pursued in the company. In the supply chain, I can count atleast 20 innovations which have made it possible for it to come with different colours, newspapers that have got aroma etc. In our company I am extremely encouraged by the fact that almost all the time employees are figuring out new, better ways of doing things and just not doing it the same work they did it yesterday. If we multiply and combine the efforts of all the employees in the company, I think in 3 - 5 years we would be a very different company.

How do we reduce our carbon footprint? Do we have any recycling or waste management or reduction programme? Rajiv: Something in the area of reversesupply chain would be extremely beneficial when it comes to carbon footprint and being environment-friendly. Sharad will be able to tell you more about it. Sharad: In fact, one thing which most of you may not know which we did about four years back in Greater Noida, which is our main, largest producing facility, is we used to have all the electricity taken at night from the generator sets. We are tight on capacity and if breakdowns happen there are stoppages for half an hour, and we can’t afford that. We realised that on generator to produce a unit of electricity, it costs 80% more per unit so this

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was a big challenge. While we have electricity from electricity board, people don’t want to rely just on that because one odd trip leads to a huge production loss. So we set out on a very unique thing which had not been envisaged so far, our machines are very big, can they run on a UPS? If we can develop a UPS we can run on the electricity board and just during the switchover, when the power outage happens, we take it on the UPS for a few seconds. We have a drill where people rush and switch the power to the genset. So the challenge was how can we have a 2000 kva UPS. We use upto 100-150 kva, but how do we get it to 2000 kva? So we scouted across the planet for someone who would develop it for us. The first company to raise its hand saying ‘we can try’ was G. And from there on for the next 8 months we developed the UPS, our machines in Greater Noida run on those UPS and you can imagine 2000 kva generators running for eight hours is gone and switched over to the electricity board. If only at the beginning this was implemented with the intention of reducing carbon footprint then we could have got huge carbon credits for this because there is a process you have to follow to get that. But here the reality is that it started from ‘why should we incur so much more cost’? But, in the process we realised we could create a huge impact on carbon footprint. We are the only company in the world, till date, which has this sort of a UPS. Rajiv: We continuously work to improve the energy efficiency of our factories. We are a company which consumes a lot of electricity by way of our processes. I am privy to a lot of good work that happens in the factories by way of energy conservation. How do we reduce ink consumption, wastage, which all go in the area of making a company inefficient. In fact I daresay we are among the best in India, in terms of wastage of newsprint in out factory. This is by using international benchmarks like IFRA and others, I think we qualify to come among the best in the world. There are factories running at 1.8% waste. It’s as good as it gets.

We are looking at increasing prices of advertisement, our production costs have increased - how do we justify the customer paying high premium for our products, going forward? How are we equipping our teams to go out there and ask for more money?

Sharad: I would think that it is not one function or one part of the organisation which has to do that. The first thing is the philosophy of ‘first deserve then desire’. So the content that we serve to the

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COFFEE WITH THE LEADER readers, first of all, has to demand that sort of a price from a reader or consumer. So we are working very hard in terms of improving our products and giving additional value where a person doesn’t mind. In these times look at anything that a consumer finds value in, e.g. communication, mobiles and every person on the roadside is willing to pay 2, 4, 5 rupees every day on communication because of the value that it creates for him. When it comes to our products, the paradigm traditionally in the country has been that this is a cost minus product. It takes 10 or 12 rupees to produce a newspaper, in Delhi and we used to sell it for 2 rupees. Its unfair and the 2 Rs the consumer gets back by selling the old paper as scrap. Creating products and content, which is more high-end and useful for the consumer, creates a pull. Earlier there was also a bit of complacency because this was a monopolised market with just Times of India and HT and we used to get the rates that we wanted and more often than not, business used to just flow in. In the last three-four years, it's been tough, so we have to change our habits, learn, unlearn the wrong things we may be getting into, such as discounting, giving up negotiations early. We have to hone our skills, re-train ourselves to get the right sort of pricing from people. Every function, whether it be marketing, editorial, supply chain, we have to add value in an innovative manner to this entire supply chain, right from production of the product to the delivery of the product to the consumer. So that he feels he doesn't mind giving more to it. Its not that the consumer can’t give, its just that traditionally he has not given so there is an inertia to change. Rajiv: Brunch, 7 years ago was printed on a poor quality paper, like a newspaper. And if you went through Brunch every week, it was a poor quality experience. Now it is a feel-good magazine. From what it was to what it has come, its been a long journey. It was a bad-looking product, didn’t feel good, there wasn’t much advertising in that. Then we started this newspaper called Mint where we imported some very old second hand machines from UK, assembled it, and started printing Mint on that. Mint, as a result of that on heatset machines felt very good. But in the daytime, the capacity was sitting idle. Then we thought of moving Brunch printing to heatset machines on the old machines from UK and the quality of Brunch suddenly went to a different level. Then, more and more advertisers started to advertise in it. So quality of advertising improved, with Loreal, Avon,

all the fashion brands and lifestyle products started to advertise. Then we went on to another project which was a joint venture with Burda where we brought in old machines from Burda that we assembled in India and we suddenly had a very large Rotogravure printing technology which is a very new age printing technology. Then Sharad came up with an idea that why don’t we move it to Burda and print it on Rotogravure paper. Paper will be thinner, cheaper, quality will improve, with that, quality went another step ahead. As a result of doing all of these things, a lot of innovation was being pursued in the company. An old product which looked like it was of poor quality, today looks much better, feels nice, gets a lot of advertising

coaching to students who are in grade 9, 10, 11, 12 and this particular brand will grow more in providing other forms of supplementary coaching, but currently it is focussing on grade 9, 10, 11,12 and it’s looking pretty good. This was our initial foray into education because we did not know that business. This looked like an easy way to enter and as we have become more confident now, we have a joint venture with the world’s largest education player, coming out of US, its called the University of Phoenix, Apollo Group. There we’ll be setting up education centres which will be setting up all kinds of education, MBA, higher education, post-secondary education and other higher education streams. This will be a blended model where you can get access by visiting these centres or get it online

Employees spanning departments interact with Rajiv Verma at the coffee session

yet is working at much lower cost structure. So a lot can be achieved if you pursue the path of innovation even at the cost of taking some risks and pushing it harder everyday. That to my mind is the key to success for any company, not just our company. That, however requires a certain culture and a certain behaviour from people to come together and if that culture of innovation could be created in our company, I have no doubt ours would be a very successful company.

What is HT’s vision for our new education venture - the India Education services?

In education, there are currently two different streams of business which are being pursued, one stream is the coaching centres under the brand of Studymate. These are coaching centres being set up, currently we have six of them running and that’s for providing supplementary

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because Phoenix has mastered the craft of teaching students online of almost 4,00,000 students who join their universities every year. They have been running this business for over 15 years now. It is very successful, very capable, and therefore HT and Phoenix group coming together or Apollo group coming together will create this business where we will be able to provide higher education in a blended model to students who cannot afford it. It will be a very affordable kind of model, that’s the vision that in next 10 years time, we will be a very large education player and a significant part of our overall business would be in education and not just in media. For the complete session - which includes incisive questions from the audience and many insightful answers from CEO Rajiv Verma - log onto MyHT.in.

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COFFEE WITH THE LEADER

From hardcore sales to managing media

Shantanu Bhanja, VP Marketing says the organisation’s online presence is as important as its print segment given the rapid transformations in forms and mediums of accessing news

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arketing Vice-President, Shantanu Bhanja, began the session with a short introduction and background on his time in HT Media. “I am Shantanu Bhanja. I was completely new to the media industry when I came here. I had worked with Reckitt Benckiser for 16 years prior to that. It markets brands like Dettol and Harpic. Half of that was in India, half in Europe. After about 16 years of working, I decided to go to Oxford for a mid-career advanced management program and somewhere in the middle of that I realised I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life selling soap and aerosol cans. I wanted to do something with my life that I would feel proud of so I decided to get into some sort of charity, some public service work. I was actually even talking to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in London, and strangely, out of nowhere head hunters contacted me and asked if I wanted to come back to India and work in media. Of course, I certainly didn’t think of media as a career option after 15-16 years in an FMCG company. One thing led to another, I and met Rajiv and was completely bowled over. I was very deeply moved by the passion with which he spoke about the power of media to change communities and do real good. It struck me that one can drive big change not just by being in an NGO but potentially by being in the media and working with the people who drive the social voice. That was about four years back and it has been a fantastic four years. In Delhi, Hindustan Times has moved from number two to number one. In Mumbai, it has moved from number three to a very strong number two. The brands have become stronger, fresher, re-

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juvenated and that has been thanks to great work by a set of people who have come together, worked together. The overall organisation has gone through a downturn which was disastrous for many other organisations, but HT Media did extremely well through that. We are in the midst of another one now, so you can see the pressure, the stress and strain, but again, with the great organisation that we have I am sure this is also something we will weather together. Tough times bring out the best in organisations. I feel very proud to be working with a group of outstanding people. I have worked in five countries directly, and in more through organisations and people. I have seldom seen a set of people who are so passionate, so committed and so driven by a common goal. I feel proud to see so many people coming with such determination and a smile on their faces and in turn I come in everyday with a lot of fresh energy and it’s great to be amongst all of you!” The floor was then opened up to questions —

Could you tell me where the HT online team is headed? What are the plans for the future?

That is the most difficult question one can ask! I hope the questions get easier after this. The reason I say it’s the most difficult question is because I think in the online world no one really know what the future is going to be like. No business model is resolved. How people’s consumption pattern online will change is not known. Even the Googles of the world are trying to fathom what the next big wave will be. Now some of them are at the anvil of its evolution, but we will possibly not be at the point where we are driving the changes in the online domain. But if we are going to remain as strong a powerhouse in media tomorrow as we are today, we are going to have to adopt the online world much more than we have adopted it today. For what we today call the print brands, like Hindustan Times, Hindustan and Mint, it is necessary that we take on the online part of our media consumption with a lot more vigour than we have till now. I know that within the business there is a strong understanding

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COFFEE WITH THE LEADER

Vice-President (Marketing) Shantanu Bhanja’s talk saw many participants eager to know about his transition to a media house

that we have to, what exactly needs to be done is still being thought through, but there is a strong commitment that we have to. In Mint we have just committed to the incremental investment for the CMS online, we are similarly going to do that for hindustantimes.com as well and we are committing to a lot more investment in the online space because we know that is where a lot of media consumption will shift. I think it’s good that over the last year we have released some apps which have been very successfully implemented and have been very widely acclaimed and received. We need to get the rest of the organisation to feel the kind of urgency that some of us feel about the adoption of the online world. Most of us consume some form of media online, whether on an ipad or on the phone, and we recognise that and I think we need to accelerate what we are doing. But surely in the future we cannot look at, say, Hindustan Times as a print brand anymore, we have to look at it as a content brand which has credibility, which has trust, but which will be consumed across platforms. Certainly all forms of online media will be very im-

portant for the sustenance of the power of that brand, we recognise that and we are going to have to work on that much faster than we are.

What is the future of print?

I agree that online consumption of media will become much more important but I don’t think in India, print is likely to vanish in a short time. Two reasons for this — one is the rising literacy in India; the number of people who actively read news as opposed to see news on television will keep on increasing with increasing literacy and that will be a reason. The consumption of newspapers in the Tier 1, 2 and 3 cities will keep on increasing as people in these cities want to get a better life. They want to become a part of the India they see on their television sets, hence will want to educate themselves more and want to become more connected to the world. They will be keen to therefore consume more media and reading a newspaper will be a part of the ladder they will use to reach that better life. In these cities there will be an increase in the consumption of print media for as long as literacy con-

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tinues to grow. People from small cities will move to the big cities and they will want to keep improving their English and their familiarity with the city, part of that will continue to drive English literacy as well. Language publications will continue to grow faster than English; online will become more important than it is today; but the power of the printed word is not something that will not vanish. Also, we will stop thinking of ourselves as print publications and will think of ourselves as a media house; we will start thinking of ourselves as a content driving organisation. What we bring is not that we can print a lot of newspapers, what we bring most to the party is that we have outstanding editors, outstanding journalists, who are able to get news the fastest and disseminate it the best. We also bring to the table the credibility of our brands, over the last 80-100 years. These are the things that will continue to be relevant even at a point of time when print in the form that we look at today, will change. I think the importance of print is not likely to vanish overnight. But I think we will also transform as an organisation. We will not be

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COFFEE WITH THE LEADER

Shantanu Bhanja had a lot of questions from the participants regarding the need for maintaining dynamism in media

seeing ourselves just as a print publication house.”

How does Mint, our business paper, stand in front of the competition available?

In the four-and-a-half years that I have been here, I have heard so many good things from people about Mint. It makes me feel really proud. Mint is in every form a success. The net promoters’ score for Mint is among the highest because people who read mint know how wonderful it is. It is great to be a part of an organization which brings out papers which others admire. Mint has been growing really fast. Our market share in important cities is very high. Some statistics I heard was that our readership in top cities is more than 2-and-a-half times of the next larger player. We are admired for what we are and revenues have been coming continuously from Mint.

Who keeps a track of reader feedback on old and new products? What initiatives has HT taken for this?

Every morning in Delhi, Mumbai there are 300 people who get a phone call asking how much they liked their papers that day. We ask this question to readers of different newspapers. We tabulate them, for the products and for each of the initiatives we do. Then there are weekly, monthly, quarterly tabs too. For a new

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product like My Little HT, right now there are some things done to measure its success. The people who are reading the paper are being invited to write back. You must have observed that My Little HT is full of letters that young children have written on how much they liked the product. There are three levels of feedback — one is from readers, mostly through mail. Then, the Circulation Sales Manager meets these readers on a regular basis and takes feedback and we also do a formal research. On My Little HT, a research is being done in which we have selected 500 people randomly for feedback. The fact that many of us are from FMCG, marketing and product companies ensures that we are very focused on staying close to our consumers. We have a team centrally called consumer insights team, part of the larger marketing organization, which gives us those insights and information.

In this age when tablets, phones are available, we are taking steps for launching products like My little HT. What was the thought behind that?

I have a child who is exactly in the age group you are talking about. She is 10 years old. Once I reach home, my ipad leaves my bag and doesn’t come back to me till she goes to sleep. She loves devices. Most of the young generation to-

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day know how to interact well with gadgets. But having said that, my daughter and her friends also love reading books. They consume books as much as they do all these devices. That hasn’t died out. But in our times there was no alternative. Therefore, it also stands to reason that My Little HT and such initiatives cannot be just print offerings. In fact we are thinking of switching things to tablets and mobiles. We have started consumer groups with kids and we sit and observe how they interact with tablets and PCs. We observe how they consume their media because we have to design something for them. We fully understand that there is a change out there. But the fact is that no one has a business model for the online world yet. People pay a lot for advertisements on print but there isn’t that much revenue in the online world. It stills takes outstanding journalism to give them the product that will make them read it. That doesn’t change. So, we have to make sure that as people get more friendly with online, we have to discover new business models for the online world. Our innovation board has taken on several projects in the digital world. So, many innovations will happen but that doesn’t mean that we will not do innovations in print media. Log onto MyHT.in for more of Shantanu’s marketing wisdom

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COFFEE WITH THE LEADER

A hint of talent, a dash of effort took the company to new heights Rajan Bhalla, Head — Corporate Marketing on HT’s slump to its revival and the oomph factor contributed by Mint

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Rajan Bhalla, Head - Corporate Marketing, opens up about his journey through HT

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ajan Bhalla, Head—Corporate Marketing, began the session with the fascinating story of how Mint was born. He also elaborated what it entailed for the culture at HT Media. “I don’t know if you know the joke that’s around in our company, at the senior levels there are either people from Whirlpool or from Levers, so Lever-Pool is the way we put it! The balance keeps shifting, right not it’s more Levers than Whirlpool! In 2006, when Rajiv met me and asked me to join HT, according to me, those were the years where things had already

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started looking better, but the years preceding that — 2004, 2005 — were the years when probably none of the people who are part of the management team thought they would be working for this company. At one point in time HT was a very fuddy-duddy, old company, not really the happening place to be. The entire transformation of this company really started when Rajiv came in 2004. The biggest challenge at that point was that there was no real talent in the company. Times of India was also extremely strong at that point, not that they are not strong today, but they were very strong at that point in time. We also had a lot of issues with respect to the way businesses were, Hindustan Times was of course always strong in Delhi, but that’s about it. Hindustan, I think, in pure ranking terms was at number eight or number nine nationally, so a very weak brand. Really the biggest agenda that Rajiv drove, and it is a significant one that we have learned over the years, was that before embarking on any mission you need to have your team in place and if you get the right set of people, you could probably take on any challenge. It was Rajiv’s key focus and agenda to get all the right people to come into the company. And it wasn’t easy to get somebody to be part of a vision, which seemed very distant. If at that time I had said that HT would be the kind of company it is today, in eight years, people would have laughed at me and said — impossible. Slowly, people started coming in, and while there was some initial criticism that there were people coming in from Whirlpool, I think the reality was that when you have to move uphill you need people who are aligned to that one mission and who you can trust. I don’t see anything wrong in him having picked up people he already knew were excellent professionals. Slowly we started to see a pool of talent flow into the Leadership

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COFFEE WITH THE LEADER Team. It wasn’t easy for me to make that decision either. I used to work at PepsiCo and anybody I spoke to about joining HT told me I was out of my mind! The only equation working in its favor was that the money was a little better than what I was getting at PepsiCo and that was all there was to it. Also, people were telling me stuff like, “you can only cash in your Pepsi card once”. So, I went through a lot of turmoil but finally decided to give it a shot and see what happens. I would be lying if I said that I was excited about taking on the challenge; my stomach was in shambles, and I was constantly worried if I was doing the right thing. When I came here we were given the sixth floor of this office as a place to start. This was in about July 2006 and Rajiv’s view was that the new paper must get launched at the time of Leadership Summit, which was scheduled in November. In a classic FMCG multi-national environment this would have been a two year project, or at least a one-and-a-half year project, and here we said we were going to do it in a condensed time frame. We got together and said we should start moving on it because there was so much to be done. We decided from day one that we were going to create a brand that was going to be relevantly and sustainably differentiated from everything the competition is. We were very clear on that. The good news was that Rajiv, Raju and I were aligned that we didn’t want to create a clone of Economic Times. So we started doing a lot of market work, research and challenging orthodoxies. Challenging orthodoxies means what? We were challenging what the brand name should be, why should the size be the way it is, the color of the paper, the newsroom, we challenged all the paradigms that we could. In hindsight it looks easy, but when you are in the thick of recruiting for an organisation that was almost about 200 people, getting the paper ready, creating the brand, brand positioning decided, editorial in place, in a matter of three months seemed like a herculean task. But we said let’s just keep moving and we’ll see where we get. Interestingly, the first piece that we worked on was to fix the brand’s positioning — what will the brand stand for? Once we do that, everything else should stem out of what the brand stands for. I’m just taking Mint as an example to tell you about the culture of the company that evolved. We started looking at consumer data, a lot of consumer observa-

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Rajan Bhalla makes a point during the coffee session

tions. During research, we were very surprised to find people saying that Economic Times, Business Standard, Hindu Business Line, Financial Express used a lot of jargon, which is not reader friendly. People were not able to understand the context of what is being said. So, we got into the positioning of Refreshing Clarity in Business News — this was more of a tagline or an operating line for the business. The brand will stand for refreshing clarity. If we are going with refreshing clarity then we needed a brand name that stands for it — now a Hindustan Times Business News or a Hindustan Times Financial News didn’t make sense. Second, we felt the proposition of clarity should be reflected in the kind of paper we produced, so the format and the quality of paper started getting ques-

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tioned. Third, the kind of writing that we are going to do — for example, if we are using a simple term like ARPU we will always tell the reader that it stands for Average Revenue Per User and never leave it as an abbreviation, because the user has to get clarity in terms of what is being said in the paper. We sent people out to universities and management institutes just to brainstorm and collect potential brand names. We collected some thousand names but none of them worked for us. At that point, I was pushing the agency to find the shortest word possible which stood both for refreshment as well as money. That’s where the magic word Mint came into being. We now have the benefit of five years and we can say Mint is Mint, but at that time presenting

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COFFEE WITH THE LEADER for six-seven years and created a market for itself.” The floor was then opened up to questions —

Can we explore the possibility of having Nandan in English language since it might get an additional set of readers?

that brand name to the board and saying that we were going to call our business paper Mint, you could literally be thrown out of the room! But we had a lot of support from Rajiv, Raju, Priyavrat and Shamit, so we decided to stick with it. The fundamental thing that struck me then was that this company had a certain culture where innovative thinking and out-of-the-box thinking was encouraged. Not only encouraged, it was supported. That was when this whole culture of innovation started seeping into the organisation, which now is deeply embedded here. Today if you ask me what is the one innovation that truly stands out in our portfolio, I would have to say Mint. The reason I say it is because Mint has been there and sustained itself

I had toyed with the idea of at least launching it in metros and seeing how it does. It may not be a bad idea but it is just because when you are looking at opportunities in tough times, you always prioritise and see it in a simple grid of impact and effort. Will the same effort put in some other project give me much bigger impact? You realise that to put together the same effort, the incremental returns may not be so much but by putting much lesser effort, the incremental results might be much higher in something else. So, at times, projects get a little de-prioritised. It doesn’t mean that any of these are ideas are not worth taking. I would say Nandan in Hindi and getting it right is the first stop which we are trying to put together and soon will. Nandan in English is very much on the cards to be piloted in markets like Delhi and Bombay and once we see some success of that happening, then we’ll probably move it forward. Though we also think Hindi itself has so much of potential, that it is totally underleveraged at the moment. I think it can go much farther. The problem is that we also get very scared about taking small decisions. So one of the things I have been pushing for is increasing the price of the magazine by Rs 5. Someone who reads Nandan will not stop reading the magazine for Rs 5. But there are issues raised like, ‘if we do that the whole system will collapse’. So somewhere you have to take some of these bold steps because unless the business starts generating resources, it is very difficult for you to keep adding resources. So these are the kind of things to do to make sure we start moving on a different trajectory. I am very convinced about Nandan the brand as well as Kadambini though I am not up-to-date with its content.

We are getting a lot of acceptance from advertisers, and agencies now are putting a lot of money into Brunch, do we have any plans to take it on the newsstands separately, at a price?

We do, we are relaunching the Brunch Q, so it will be going on newsstands at the price of Rs 100. It is not a monthly magazine, it’s quarterly; we have considered the idea of making it a monthly

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magazine, though. Yet, our focus again, is on getting the next 10 ads for Brunch weekly. An ad in Brunch Q comes at a fairly good yield, it comes at a price of Rs 1,00,000 but the same ad in Brunch weekly will come at Rs 4,00,000. So again, the relative effort is the same, to go to the advertiser and sell. But the moment I sell one ad, I make four times the money, so where will the effort go of any businessperson? So that’s how, sometimes on relative priorities you have to take a call.

Which decision did you take along the journey which you think made the most difference?

Undoubtedly, personally, it is Mint because the respect that the brand gets today is incredible. I feel terrible that it hasn’t even broken even, though we are at the cusp of it breaking even. In the financials this year, we are supposed to be turning black in Mint. But the respect

THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE ALSO GET VERY SCARED ABOUT TAKING VERY SMALL DECISIONS that it has got the group which was always only been associated with the Hindustan Times, is enormous, especially in the corporate fraternity. Its a very important fraternity for us. So, even though I do not directly handle it now, it is one brand which gives me a lot of pride in saying that it made a dent in everything that we have done. And because we deal with a lot of international partners, and I interact with almost all of them when they come here, Mint is just something they see and say ‘wow’, this is outstanding and they see the difference. So, I would think it’s Mint for me. Also, the creation of something from scratch, it just didn't exist, by the same logic, Fever, is phenomenal because to beat Mirchi in the city of Delhi would not be easy. And if we have our way, which we will, we will be No. 1 in Bombay very soon so if two key markets if your brand can turn into the No. 1 brand, then its definitely something achieved. And I can say the same thing for Studymate, you will see the city of Delhi swarm to its centres which will be at a frequency with which there are McDonalds in every nook and corner. For more on the genesis of Mint andhow the Berliner format was decided upon — as well as many more nuggets of wisdom from Rajan, log onto MyHT.

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Left to Right: Business Head (Circulation and Classifieds) Rajeev Beotra discusses the business aspect of circulation; the participants attending the session

Focussing on the right priorities will take us far

Rajeev Beotra, Business Head (Circulation and Classifieds) talks about the challenges the paper’s distribution faces, on a daily basis

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ajeev Beotra’s candid revelations during the session, were preceded by an introduction to how his carrier took off in HT. “I joined HT in 2005 as the Media Marketing Head — North and East for the first few years and then I moved into circulation sales. For me it’s been a great seven-year stint in HT. We were a relatively small company then, now we are much bigger. I told people who asked me why I was leaving Whirlpool and joining HT, that I wanted the opportunity to be part of an organisation that would become very large and it turned out to be true. I have seen HT Mumbai, Fever and Mint getting launched and growing. In fact, the entire process of identifying the set of values that HT stands for, rolling it out, that’s something I have been part of and enjoyed tremendously”.

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The floor was then opened up to questions —

Could you speak a little about the circulation function? What are the issues related to circulation and what are the challenges being faced by the industry?

Let’s spend a little time on the circulation function itself. The entire industry is dependent on the vendor network for distribution. It’s not an owned channel. For example, Dominos Pizza owns its distribution channel. The other thing about this channel is that this is probably the cheapest distribution channel in the whole world. There are not too many other products that get delivered to people’s doors like this. So, the newspaper distribution channel is very precious. However, it is not being able to attract a lot of talent these days. Wake up at 2:30 am, go the centre, buy the newspapers, distribute them — as the population increases so does newspaper circulation. People are not willing to join this industry. There was a time when a lot of people from UP, Bihar and Jharkhand would come to join the distribution channel, particularly in summers. Now, because of a mushrooming of many other industries, there are many more employment opportunities — Pizza Huts, McDonalds, which need people for behind the counter jobs. So, many of the distribution challenges are also because of the nature of the industry. Also, areas are getting added — earlier it was concentrated in Delhi, now it is Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Greater Noida — transit time, traffic, it is all increasing, and there are fewer people to work, so distribu-

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tion challenges are common across the industry, they are not just focused on one publication. And that’s something the industry is grappling with — people’s habits haven’t changed, they still expect the paper every morning at 6 am, but the number of copies have gone up, the number of houses have increased, distances have become larger and traffic has become very bad. We are constantly trying to make small improvements. We have added GPS to all our delivery trucks so we know how long each one is taking and why there are any delays. Secondly, the world has become very small so news breaks quite late sometimes. A lot of times we have had to incorporate news fairly late at night — tennis or cricket matches go on till late, the IPL matches end at 11:45 pm so printing gets delayed and subsequently, so does circulation.

I had a bad experience with a competition organised by My Little HT. They asked me to sms an answer and I was told I had won something, after which I didn’t receive any communication from then. About a month later they called me back asking for my information again, which I had already sent them in the initial sms. They proceeded to lose my information again and called me back in another month with the same question. Why are the internal processes in our company so weak?

I agree with you and I will share a realisation with you. There has been a significant change in the experience that the consumer undergoes in the last 10 to15 years. I used to work for Whirlpool. When I was in Whirlpool in the late 90s, it didn’t have a professional service centre. In fact, I used to receive similar calls from irate owners of Whirlpool with

service problems. Some of you have probably experienced it — you call someone, they promise to send an engineer but there is no sign of said engineer for days on end; this used to happen a lot. However, over a period of time it has become a very different experience. The other day, I actually called the Whirlpool service center and they were very professional, idea driven. So, the customer experience has definitely changed, therefore all of us have become accustomed to the customer service of Airtels, Vodafones, LGs and Samsungs, all of which have state-of-the-art call centers, they have huge investment in their IT equipment and therefore our experience, as customers, has also improved; whereas, we have failed to keep pace with that. Reason also being, that is their core business. Our core business in the newspaper industry in the past has not been so related to subscription or reader relationship, which is not right; therefore we are now trying to take baby steps towards building it. That’s a discussion we are having internally in the organisation that we need to have a relationship with our readers exactly equal to, or better than, the relationship the Vodafones and Airtels of the world have. One has frustrations with them also, sometimes you call and nothing happens, but there is a complaint number, you won’t have to give your name again and again, and so on and so forth. That’s something we have to build here, largely because this whole business has been built a little differently, the reader relationship has not been at the level it can be at, in the past. Also, our business model is very different. The newspaper industry’s business model is driven by advertising revenues. Whereas, the business model of other industries is driven by consumer revenues. So if you own an appliance, then the company’s revenue comes from you, not an advertiser. In our industry all the focus, all the investment, so far, has been towards the advertiser. This, I must admit, is not right. It is unpardonable. It will require a lot of investment and a lot of IT support, but it is something we should look at as an organisation.

As the distribution network is getting bigger, what are the future plans for circulation in the company?

We have internally had a number of debates and discussions on the distribution channel. But the current distribution channel is the cheapest in the world. Our product is not all that expensive. I’m sure you all know that we incur a loss in the sales of our product; every newspaper is

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sold at a loss. So over a period of time we have to learn to nurture and manage this channel. It is a rare phenomenon that such a cheap distribution channel exists and it is our job to nurture it. Such a channel will not be replicated again, if we don't manage this channel well, newspaper distribution will become very expensive. The newspaper, as is happening in many other countries, will become unaffordable.

The company has never focused on the Appointments segment as such; in fact, the only focus has been that we change the names after every 1.5 years! It was HT Careers, then Power Jobs, it became Shine Weekly and then Shine Jobs. Why is this trend so chronological and why are all these experiments being done on this product?

Jokes apart, it’s not a 1.5 year frequency! I’ll tell you the thought process behind it. Appointments as a category is very large and there are large revenues in it, although of course there are cycles and right now it is going through a recessionary phase. It went through a similar cycle in 2008 — 2009. When I joined it was growing, we used to celebrate milestones, like when we crossed 1 crore revenue in a month, and so on and so forth. But right now it’s going through a bit of a recessionary phase, which happens in every business. So, when a particular business is under pressure, that is when you try to make interventions to make it grow. More often than not, when everything is going hunky dory, one goes along with the tide. When things are not going as well, one is more likely to try new things. In my view, it is criminal to sit back and not try something new to make the business grow. What is happening, particularly in the Appointments category, is firstly, we have realised that the category has been shifting online over the last few years. We also know that it is prone to market cycles, for example we are not hiring at the moment so business must be difficult to get. But that also means that we should introspect and try out new things. More often than not, we will fail but we have had successes also in this category. I was sitting through a presentation a few days ago on the Appointments category, on the Shine portal, and today we are in a very good position in terms of Shine.com, and I am looking at the category as a whole, not just print. I think that is a result of many different things we have tried. Many of the things we have tried will fail as well, not everything we touch will turn to gold.

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For the complete coffee session, please log onto MyHT.in.

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SNAPSHOT

A view through the looking glass

Through snapshots, HT employees share some small, but beautiful gifts of life that are waiting to be discover ed and cherished.

“Breathtaking beauty captured in a moment of Nature’s Perfection”, Picture clicked by Ritu Ghai, Assistant News Editor, Chandigarh

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1 4 1. “Sunset view of Rishikesh”, Picture clicked by Rithik Agarwal, Assistant Manager-Sales, Gurgaon, 2.“Tiranga Ooncha Rahe Hamara”, Picture clicked by Rupesh Kumar Chaturvedi, Sr. Executive, Media Marketing, Bhopal, 3. “Jaye to Jaye Kahan”, Picture clicked by Abhishek, Manager, IT,Bhopal, 4. “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam”, Picture clicked by Rip Kumar Saikia, Special Visualizer, HT Editorial (HT City), New Delhi, 5. “Aasmani Odhani”, Picture clicked by Abhishek, Manager, IT,Bhopal

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FAMILY TIME

Had a baby, got hitched, children won an award? Share the good news with us at betweenus@hindustantimes.com

ter Hari Singh -Executive Prepress, Grea in Noida got married on 14th April 2012 Tehri Gharwal Uttarakhand.

Brijesh Singh, Senior Executive, Printing department HT Burda Greater Noida got married to Pratibha Verma on 27th June 2012

Rahu Bewal, Rahul Executive HRD, Exec Gurgaon Gurg got married tto Sarika Thapa, Thap Executive, Pace on 17th June 2012

Nishkarsh Sharma, Senior Executive, Ad weds Aarti Thakur on 29th June 2012 Operations, Dhanbad

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Avida born to Arvind kumar – Assistant Manager -Operations, Shine.com, Gurgaon on 24th July 2012

Sunil Dutt Tripathi, Designer HT Editorial Lucknow was blessed with a baby girl Preety on 4th July 2012

Advika Jha, born to Siddharth Dev, Deputy Manager Media Marketing Haldwani on 11th June 2012

Sehaj Kalra, born to Vineet Kalra Deputy Manager Operations Gurgaon on 7th July 2012

Haridarshan Rawat, Rawa Ra wat, wa t, Deputy Manager Supply Chain was blessed with a baby girl Tia Rawat on 3rd Sep 2011

Vatsal Bhasin son of Sanjay Bhasin Deputy Manager Ad Ops Chandigarh got 10 CGPA in CBSE Exam

Riddhi, son of Bhupen Mandal, Senior Designer, HH Editorial, Delhi, secured 10 CGPA in CBSE class X Exam

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INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION

HT heralds 65 years of independence HT offices across the board celebrated Independence Day with a range of activities that reinforced the significance of the joyous yet solemn occasion. Employees got a chance to get into the mood of a funfilled workday

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INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION

The painting that won the first prize for its creative Independpendence Day theme at HT House

A participant of the painting competition lets her imagination fly along with the colours

Sunita, HR hosted the singing competition as a part of the Independence day celebration at HT House that revealed a lot of hitherto unknown voices

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1. HT House, Delhi arranged for a health check-up in association with Apollo Hospitals 2. Judges and audience of the singing competition 3. Winners of the best tricolour dressed male and female at HT House

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INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION

1 Employees gathered for a Kodak moment after Independence Day celebrations at Danapur press, Bihar

2 Patna office celebrated Independence day with pomp as employees turned up the patriotic fervour

3 The Mohali office celebrated Independence Day by organising a donation drive for underprivileged children

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HT’s Bhagalpu 5 r of on a lighter, ca fice marked the occasion of refree note with Independence Da along to office employees brin ging their child y ren

-key affair but many Kolkata office was a low Independence day at the , day the spirit of employees tuned in to the

6 into the Employees of HT Gurgaon office get mood of the day

7 The health check-up in HT House, New Delhi, included an eye check-up by opticians; Right: HT Cafe turns into a clinic with the health camp organised for employees

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INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION

(Left) HT employees are all ears while taking down tips during a mocktail-making session, the instructors with the ingredients

HT employees learnt the art of making a splash with tangy mocktails

At the dizzying heights of Fever Lounge, employees learnt to mix mocktails from professionals, who had a few tricks up their sleeve, using the simplest of ingredients and clever time-saving secrets

Eid in all its glory made an appearance at HT House Eid was an occasion to remember with employees pitching in to have fun

(Above) Sewaiya and snacks distribution followed the performances, (Right) The audience comprised of HT employees at the melodious sufi singing session on the occasion of Eid

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HT NEWS

Unlikely pioneer finds his place under sun Banwasi, teacher to his musaher basti, feted

Rajesh Mahapatra, Deputy Executive Editor, displaying the Banwasi Musahar saga, as it appeared in the book ‘India Awakened - Agents of Change’

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is slender frame withered by years of grinding poverty and relentless toil, Banarasi aka Banwasi Musahar makes for an unlikely inspirational figure. Yet, he shines brighter than most. This 58-year-old brick-kiln labourer overcame overwhelming odds to go way beyond anybody else did in his Akorhi Mahadalit basti, about 40 km north of the Kaimur district headquarters town of Bhabua in western Bihar. Years ago, Banwasi became the first child in his settlement of 70-odd poor families to clear class 7. But the untimely death of his father forced him to abandon studies and take up wage labour to support his family. Then, in 1991, he set up a small school in front of his thatched roof hut that changed the destiny of his musahar community that now has to two graduates and several matriculates.

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Musahars, once labeled as thieves, rank at the bottom of the caste hierarchy and referred to as mahadalits. Thanks to the lamp Banwasi lit, about 200 mahadalit children from Akorhi and nearby areas are pursuing education where there were none when he set out to change things, 21 years ago. On October 17, Banwasi, finally, received the long overdue public recognition, when a team from HT travelled to his village to present him with a cheque of Rs 1 lakh as a token of support to his initiative. It was the prize money that the India Awakened team had won earlier this year at the Star Award function. Handing over the cheque to Banwasi at a function in Ramgarh, the member of Parliament from the area Jagdanand Singh said: “Had it not been for HT, the world may have never

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HT NEWS Left: Buxar MP Jagdanand Singh handing over Rs 1 lakh HT cheque to Banwasi Musahar at Ramgarh in Biha, below: HT gift package containing booksbeing handed over to Banwai Musahar (Centre).

known the inspirational story of Banwasi Musahar”. Hindustan Times published Banwasi’s story — authored by Prasun Mishra — as part of a 25-part feature series — “India Awakened: Agents of Change” — that chronicled the journey of ordinary people who have fought against all odds to bring about larger social change. “In a region known for left-wing extremism, Banwasi provides a rare example of how positive thinking can change the lives of people,” Singh said and promised to set aside Rs 5 lakh from his MPLADS fund for construction of a community development hall in Banwasi's village. The function was attended by top officials from the local administration, political leaders and hundreds of Banwasi’s peers. Addressing the gathering, Deputy Executive Editor Rajesh Mahapatra, Hindustan Times said a poor child went to school every time somebody purchased a copy of HT. "Hopefully, our small effort will help light up the lives of poor children and facilitate the emergence of other Banwasis." “It felt really good. It's a small contribution that could make a big difference,” HT’s Brand Solutions Head Neeraj Chaturvedi said of the decision of the India Awakened team to donate the prize money to Banwasi, Kaimur district magistrate Jai Singh said HT had not only given a platform to Banwasi but also set, in him, a role model for the poor mahadalit community. He directed Ramgarh BDO to start the process of constructing a road leading to the Akorhi Musahar Basti. The directors of two CBSE schools EFA Public School, Jangal Chhera (Ramgarh) and Kisan Public School, Dumari (Durgawati), announced they would bear the cost of educating and boarding two Musahar children in their schools. Present on the occasion were Ramgarh MLA Ambika Singh, Kaimur SP Uma Shankar Sudhanshu, HT's senior resident editor Mammen Matthew, Hindustan journalist Shrikant. The HT team later visited the Akorhi Musahar Basti and gave seven boxes of books and other reading material to Musahar children. The items had been contributed by HT employees in Delhi.

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Unit Head, Alok Tewari (5th from left) and Senior Associate Editor, KS Tomar (4th from left) with the jubilant members of the Jaipur team after the launch party

A unique printing launch of HT Rajasthan edition

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Below: Union minister for Road Transport and Highways, Dr CP Joshi lights the lamp while inaugurating the printing of Rajasthan edition from Jaipur while CM Ashok Gehlot looks on and Venky Venkatesh, Business Head - North and East, is on the extreme right, (below right) Jaipur’s prominent personalities enjoy the special moments of the ceremony

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t was a memorable evening thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. The mood was relaxed and the ambience, serene. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was seen in a relaxed as well as leisurely mood as he interacted with guests. The event was the launch of printing of HT Rajasthan edition from Jaipur and the city’s who’s who had gathered at the ITC Rajputana for a simple and elegant function. The Chief Minister, who arrived ahead of schedule sent the organisers into a tizzy. Protocol demanded that Gehlot be seated in a separate room or the front VVIP row while the formal speeches were being delivered. So he was taken to a separate room that was hurriedly opened for him by the hotel staff.

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Even as the officials scurried to complete the security drill, Gehlot waved them away and made himself comfortable making some tea, as onlookers watched in astonishment. The launch of printing was a significant step for HT Rajasthan edition as it would allow the paper to reach readers throughout the state early morning, a long pending demand of everyone. HT has proved itself as a top quality and complete newspaper after its re-launch in 2009 which has been appreciated by readers who have shown tremendous faith in the product. Venky Venkatesh, Business Head North and East, said,“Jaipur city is coming up fast and metro culture will dominate it in future.” He added,”We would like to target youth and new trends of the city. HT Delhi occupies premier position in the capital and Mumbai is at number two which reflects the quality and contents of our paper.” State Unit Head, Alok Tewari welcomed the guests. The formal speech was followed by a music recital by Satvik Bhatt, son of Salil Bhatt. When Gehlot was finally ushered into the hall, he refused to take the front table and asked Union Minister Dr CP Joshi to accompany him to the corner table. Away from the hurly burly of politics, Gehlot mingled and chatted at ease with Joshi,Venky and other ministers and officials. The guests waited patiently as Gehlot enjoyed the music recital and some soup. After enjoying the DJ’s rendition of an old Kishore Kumar song, Gehlot left and the party settled into a leisurely affair as people mingled and relaxed. Urvashi Dev Rawal, Bureau Chief HT (Jaipur)

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T A sweet touch to HT Mumbai’s 7th anniversary

The occasion called for a double celebration as HTML was ranked among the best workplaces in GPW survey 2012

he celebration to mark Hindustan Times Mumbai’s seventh anniversary turned out to be an affair to remember. A celebration calls for cake and this time around, two awards bagged by HT Media Limited in the Great Places to Work survey 2012 served as the icing on the cake. The company was ranked the best media company to work for. It stood at number 16 amongst the top 50 companies to work for. And trust me, it was fun to be a celebratti (being part of the celebration).Well, the huge cake was later cut by Resident Editor Soumya Bhattacharya and Business Head Pankaj Tibrewal, followed by some singing and dancing but I’m sure the sweet taste of being part of HT Mumbai will surely stay on forever with all of us. Shilpi, Assistant Editor, HT (Mumbai)

(Left) Business Head Pankaj Tibrewal with Resident Editor Soumya Bhattacharya, on the occasion of HT Mumbai’s 7th anniversary. Above: The Mumbai office gets into the mood with a colleague’s crooning

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mkar Nath, fondly known as Medicine Baba, crisscrosses Delhi collecting unwanted medicine in two plastic shopping bags, and then donating it to clinics that provide care for the poor. When he was a 12-year-old, his legs were badly injured after he was hit by a car while crossing a road. For two months, he was unable to walk and his bones grew back skewed and awkward. He got the idea of making a collection of medicines after witnessing the aftermath of a construction accident in Delhi in 2008 when a concrete pillar being erected as part of the city’s metro system fell, killing two people and injuring many others. A donation drive was initiated by HT Delhi NCR office to collect the unused and unexpired medicines and was given to him. Boxes were places across offices for employees to donate medicines. Peeyush Gupta, Chief Financial Officer is seen here, handing over the medicines collected across HT offices to Medicine Baba. Ankita Singh,HR Manager HT (New Delhi)

HT lent a helping hand to Medicine Baba in his quest to assist charitable hospitals

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MUMBAI FRIENDSHIP DAY

Friendship Day just got longer and cooler

The week began with employees getting a chocolate and a request to get ready for entering the FRIENDSHIP Zone. On the second day a “HT Wall of TAAREEF” was put on the floor. People got a chance to visibly or anonymously compliment their friends in office; this initiative gathered a lot of response and was followed by a short movie

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HT NEWS

Fire fighting training & safety awareness camp

Staff members, including security guards, were called to the printing plant and provided safety tips on how to prevent a fire

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afety is of utmost importance to any individual’s well being, and keeping in line with the company’s people centric approach, HMVL, Danapur plant, organised a fire fighting training session along with a safety awareness camp for its staff and security personnel. Unlike regular workplace scenario, the knowledge and implementation of safety measures is heightened in a production & manufacturing setup. The use of chemicals, tonnes of newsprint and other highly inflammable raw materials, calls for additional safety measures for their usage and disposal. We had the privilege to have TN Pratap, a well known and renowned fire safety expert as chief guest for the occasion. All the staff, including security guards assembled in the sprawling green campus of our plant. Pratap along with Sohrab Khan, HR head, Bihar and Sujit Sinha, LPM, Bihar addressed the crowd and provided safety tips to prevent the breakout of fire. People were also made aware of the various categories into which fire is classified as well as the type of fire extinguisher to be used in each case. A small fire was created with the help

of old rags and chemicals in the middle of the field and one by one, all the security guards were given practical training on handling the hydrants and fire extinguisher. Also, the way of holding the hydrant nozzle and its significance in creating a water sprinkle to effectively combat fire was emphasised in his training. The importance of blanketing, to cut off the supply of oxygen, to put out fire was also stressed upon. While sharing his years of experience in fire fighting with the audience, Pratap also threw light on new technological advancement in fire fighting systems and suggested economical modifications to better our existing hydrant system. Mentioning a few must haves in our first aid box, the session ended with the Danapur team sharing a light moment over hi-tea. All in all it was an extremely informative session and sensitised each one of us towards safe habits and practices to lead our life in a better way. “Safety should be a way of life”; was the underlying theme of the session. Anshuman Nanday Asst. Manager, Supply Chain (Patna)

Top: firefighters conducted training at Danapur plant to demonstrate the handling of a fire extinguisher; (Above) firefighters show security guards how to operate an unwieldy fire hydrant

Love cures Cancer - 39 employees lived up to the motto of blood donation Noida office conducted a blood donation camp on August 25, 2012 in association with Cankids & AIIMS. The motto of the camp was to donate blood to cancer patients. B E T W E E N

Employees of Noida office stepped forward to do their bit for cancer patients, at the blood donation camp that saw 39 volunteers.

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HT’s Youth Forum: it brimmed with the fire of debate and optimism

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Hindustan Times held its first ever HT Youth Forum, Top 30 Under 30, in Chandigarh

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he HT Youth Forum had the five panelists racking their brains over issues that concern the country’s youngsters. While they were united in their opinion on the urgent need for more young and restless achievers in India to look up to; questions of the essential requisites for an individual to be a youth icon threw up clouds of points to ponder. Amongst the effervescent brainy beauty Gul Panag, the logical Kunal Kapoor, the witty Kanika Dhillon and the clearheaded Vanya Mishra, it was the outspoken Rabbi Shergill who

THERE IS A NEED OF MORE YOUNG AND RESTLESS ACHIEVERS FOR INDIA TO LOOK UP TO AND FOLLOW sought clarifications from Bikramjit Singh Majithia, Minister of Information and Public Relations, Punjab. “I want to know,” he began thoughtfully, “why do politicians need to feed the state’s residents with ‘bhukki’ (poppy), weed and alcohol, to win elections?”. Panag was struck with another thought, “Why is it that a common man who can’t garner as much as Rs 6 crore, can’t even think of fighting the election?” Finally, Dhillon, with vehement prodding by Panag, was curious about the famous ‘dynastic politics’ of the country.

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A seemingly unperturbed Majithia had this to say, “I have never offered drugs or alcohol to potential voters in return for money. I haven’t made the system. But I do believe, that the youth need to come forward and be a part of the system to change it.” He then added a good measure of his ‘political charm’, complimenting Panag on her ‘million-dollar smile’ and dimples that would substitute well for any of these drugs, he said. Despite Shergill not being in a mood to relent, and Majithia hoping that the singer, whose ‘song Bulla Ki Jana, he really loved’, would stop singling him out, things were laid to rest. Interestingly, Deepinder Hooda, member of Parliament, was forthcoming and eager to share his opinions on being born with a famous surname, and his rather ‘easy’ entry in politics. “I don’t hesitate to say that those who are born in families with a political lineage, have it easy. This happens across the world. What is important here is that they (children of famous parents) have to prove their merit. Even if I won my first elections because of my surname by a margin of almost two lakh votes, I asked the people to judge me by my work in the consequent elections. With the reply earning him applause, the debate ended on an optimistic note. Lovedeep Sidhu and Saumya Abral (Copy Editors) HT City (Mohali)

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3 1. Chandigarh HT Resident Editor Ramesh Vinayak with panelist Gul Panag; 2. Author Kanika Dhillon with Deputy Executive Editor Rajesh Mahapatra; 3. The five panelists of HT Youth Forum (l to r) Kanika Dhillon, Kunal Kapoor, Vanya Mishra, Rabbi Shergill and Gul Panag, 4. HT’s coverage of the function in its August 25

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(left to right) Studymate teacher Vinod Sharma giving an award to a Science Class 9-10 topper; Deepak Kapoor, Shashank Mirashi and Faisal Ahmad handing over the award to the Mathematics Class 9-10 topper; VK Soran and Raman Gurucharan giving the award to CBSE second rankholder - Jatin Kishore

Tuitions tuning brilliance: Studymate results show Studymate teachers giving awards to Studymate students at a function held to congratulate the bright youngsters

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Savita Sharma, Khushboo and Vinod Sharma with a Studymate student

he result of students of Studymate came out with flying colours!! Students of Studymate, learning centres for classes IX-XII, achieved outstanding results in 2012. In Class X, 25% of our students scored a perfect 10 CGPA and 51% of our students scored a CGPA of 9 and above. In Class XII, 21% of our students scored 90%and above and 42% of the students scored 80% and above. One of our students, Jatin Kishore, scored an aggregate of 97.8% and stood second in entire Delhi/NCR. Studymate felicitated the success and hard work put by all the top rankers, by holding the AFAE (Award for Academic Excellence) at the India Islamic centre, Lodhi Road on 12th August 2012. The event had a great turn out of students with their parents. The audience witnessed performances by students from all the six centres and cool and awesome performances by the Studymate teachers themselves! It was truly an evening that will be remembered by the Studymate family for a long time!

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(top to bottom) Alok Pariyar and Brijesh Trivedi giving an award to a student; the Studymate group; Debojit Sen hosting the award function

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FUN ZONE SOLUTION

ACROSS 1 Raindrop sound 5 Pencil remnant 9 Take a bite of 14 Wish earnestly 15 Itty-bitty bit 16 Black-and-white cookies 17 Stags' mates 18 Historical times 19 Computer operators 20 Is well-informed 23 Had a snack 24 Soak up some rays 25 Craze 28 As compared to 30 Gulf's smaller cousin 33 Eagerly desire 34 Skewed view 35 Operatic song 36 Went too far 39 Eagle or egret 40 Not moving 41 Is fond of 42 Complete collection 43 Birch or beech 44 Found a sum 45 That woman 46 ''__ whiz!'' 47 Does well 54 Where Austin is capital 55 Sharpen 56 Give for a while 58 Join forces 59 Largest continent 60 Furthermore 61 Vehicles for school kids 62 Adolescent 63 One-pot dinner DOWN 1 Advanced degree: Abbr.

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2 Take a glance 3 Unlock 4 Money in Mexico 5 Mexican snooze 6 Rich cake 7 Great Salt Lake state 8 Home plate, for one 9 Big-billed tropical bird 10 Fiery felony 11 Fortune teller 12 Pulled apart 13 Letter before tee 21 Is patient 22 Secret supply 25 Video store rental 26 Keep from happening 27 Geek 28 Name of a book 29 Abhor 30 Auto pedal 31 Showed on TV 32 Chatters 33 Corn holders 34 Be an omen of 35 Surrounded by 37 Takes on employees 38 Church official 43 Research papers 44 Sea bordering Greece 45 Do figure-eights 46 Mythical wish granter 47 Diner reading 48 What the Earth spins on 49 The one over there 50 Sprinkler attachment 51 ''Too bad!'' 52 Nitwit 53 Make simpler 54 Place for a bath 57 ''Immediately!''

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ACROSS 1 Raindrop sound 5 Pencil remnant 9 Take a bite of 14 Wish earnestly 15 Itty-bitty bit 16 Black-and-white cookies 17 Stags' mates 18 Historical times 19 Computer operators 20 Is well-informed 23 Had a snack 24 Soak up some rays 25 Craze 28 As compared to 30 Gulf's smaller cousin 33 Eagerly desire 34 Skewed view 35 Operatic song 36 Went too far 39 Eagle or egret 40 Not moving 41 Is fond of 42 Complete collection 43 Birch or beech 44 Found a sum 45 That woman 46 ''__ whiz!'' 47 Does well 54 Where Austin is capital 55 Sharpen 56 Give for a while 58 Join forces 59 Largest continent 60 Furthermore 61 Vehicles for school kids 62 Adolescent 63 One-pot dinner DOWN 1 Advanced degree: Abbr.

SOLUTION

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2 Take a glance 3 Unlock 4 Money in Mexico 5 Mexican snooze 6 Rich cake 7 Great Salt Lake state 8 Home plate, for one 9 Big-billed tropical bird 10 Fiery felony 11 Fortune teller 12 Pulled apart 13 Letter before tee 21 Is patient 22 Secret supply 25 Video store rental 26 Keep from happening 27 Geek 28 Name of a book 29 Abhor 30 Auto pedal 31 Showed on TV 32 Chatters 33 Corn holders 34 Be an omen of 35 Surrounded by 37 Takes on employees 38 Church official 43 Research papers 44 Sea bordering Greece 45 Do figure-eights 46 Mythical wish granter 47 Diner reading 48 What the Earth spins on 49 The one over there 50 Sprinkler attachment 51 ''Too bad!'' 52 Nitwit 53 Make simpler 54 Place for a bath 57 ''Immediately!'

Between Us  

Between Us

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