Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mr. Srinivasan Suresh, Ex CFO, Emirates Airline, holds forth on the subject of Mergers & Acquisitions at the Department of Management Studies, IIT M

The Corporate Wisdom forum of the Department of Management Studies (DoMS) invited over Mr. Suresh Srinivasan, Ex CFO of Emirates Airline, for a session on the intricacies of Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A).

Mr. Srinivasan began by telling about the journey that Emirates had traversed from its inception to its present when it is the fastest growing airways and the 2nd most profitable airlines company in the world. Emirates actually started off as chain of travel agencies. After working as so for many years, it felt that it needed to enter into other travel-related businesses. So it gradually entered into several businesses over the years, starting from ground handling at its airports, holiday package selling, and catering services, to

cargo logistics business in the UAE and overseas. During the course of this growth, it acquired a stake of 44% in SriLankan Airlines and a ground handling business in Singapore. During each of these acquisitions Emirates asked itself whether the companies being acquired fit into its group and would they make sense over the long-term.

Starting off on the subject of acquisitions, Mr. Srinivasan said that acquisitions can take place in many ways. A public company would charter a different route than a private company. That was because public companies need to take into account the interest of its stakeholders. This is all the more important because as a company grows and goes public it starts diluting its stake and when its managers get ready to plan for an acquisition there is no single entity that guides them to ensure optimal returns for its stakeholders.

The diversification patterns in India are however are more succession-driven rather than expansion-driven as a large chunk of companies are family businesses. But good companies that succeed at integrating acquired companies concentrate on the areas that they need to expand into and then look for players in that industry. A company after acquisitions might still not acquire the critical mass it requires to be a reckoning force. In such circumstances it can go for a Joint Venture (JV).

Describing the process of a typical acquisition, Mr. Srinivasan said that a company interested in acquiring another first gives an intention of target to one it’s interested in. Then a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is signed between the two. After this, an Expression of Interest is given to the target company after which financial advisors for this process are appointed. This part forms an important component as the financial advisors bring in great expertise thorough their experience, knowledge and networking and help in analysis of financial and technical details to ascertain the compatibility of the two companies. They help create an Information Memorandum specifying the details of the possible tie-up. After that the interested company appoints legal advisors.

After these steps are over, the selected suitors are invited by the target company and given a separate room that contains its confidential data, for the process of due diligence. After the creation of the Draft Share Purchase agreement, the valuation of the target starts. This is a very important stage during which the person-in-charge at the target company keeps the entire management and the head of all business units posted about each detail of the process. Similarly, the target company’s accountants need to be in the loop as there are very stringent guidelines for writing off goodwill. After that the interested company meets with the clients of the target company.

Commenting on what could go wrong during M&As, Mr. Srinivasan gave the example of the Tata-Corus deal as a successful deal and said that an acquisition could only succeed if it is proactive and has a strategic focus. That might be the reason why only about 60% of the mergers succeed. To succeed, the acquiring company must work on synergies right from the word go and try to materialize them within

1 year. Many times this requires letting go of restructuring of the new entity, a strategy with Emirates has successfully followed.

Explaining that the process of valuation of a target company is more of an art rather than a science, Mr. Srinivasan said that it is never going to give a correct value. What actually matters is who makes the valuation. He told that the process of valuation of a privately-held company was different from that of a public company.

Mr. Srinivasan then talked about the three most popular routes of valuation: using Net Asset Value (NAV), the Earnings Multiple and Free Cash. He commented that while NAV was the most preferred, the Earnings Multiple path was good for a listed company. He showed graphically that Free Cash method gave the highest range of valuation, and then came in the Earnings Multiple method, and the lowest range was usually given by the NAV method. This was followed by a detailed explanation of the technicalities of each method, where Mr. Srinivasan pitched in with his expertise and related examples on a spreadsheet, elucidating the areas where each method could be applied, the data required and the entire process of calculation.

Also touching upon mergers, Mr. Srinivasan emphasized that it was a way for better and efficient corporations to takeover not-so-well firms. With regards to merger, he spoke about the Event Study methodology and the Postmerger comparison studies.

Mr. Srinivasan said that acquisition could be a regulatory nightmare with so many policies and regulations in place such as the Companies Act, Income Tax act and the MRTP act.

Holding forth on JVs, he said that no premium was attached to them, unlike acquisition. They actually started with mistrust of the partner with the problem being that of who will control the joint entity. As a result, in almost 90% of the JVs one firm buys out the other. He also said that in case of JVs accounting profitability was not an indicator of the success of the JV. For this purpose, Mr. Srinivasan gave the

example of Emirates wherein when it found that ground handling charges in a new location were exorbitant it quickly opted for a JV with a local company and benefited from it as both worked towards supporting each other and realising synergies. JVs follow the route of a Memorandum of Understanding between the interested companies, a business plan, a JV agreement, a shareholders’ agreement and then finally the incorporation of the jointly operated firm. JVs are actually a very easy route to synergize as partners can dissolve them immediately and walk out.

After such a dedicated effort towards explaining M&As and JVs, Mr. Srinivasan fielded questions from students. On being asked the reasons for Emirates venture into airline as well as the hotel businesses, both of which are very capital-intensive, Mr. Srinivasan replied that the strategy succeeded because Emirates had no worthy competitor. Moreover, the hotel business had been outsourced to a highly respected firm in that business, which ensured that it was managed professionally in the best possible manner. He agreed that it might have been difficult in the face of competition.

On being quizzed about his thoughts on the Kingfisher-Air Deccan merger, Mr. Srinivasan asserted that it was a very good idea at least for the present as they could consolidate and work well. They already hold around 39% of the market and the deal seems to be working fine for both. However, no one could say for sure whether the combine will be able to weather the terrain of aviation well in the future.

When questioned how different a hostile takeover was from a friendly one, he said that the only difference was the initial doubts and negativity about a forced takeover by the targeted firm. Giving the example of Arcelor- Mittal, Mr. Srinivasan told that once the stakeholders get convinced it becomes a easier path to tread on.

A question raised about the preference of cash for stocks in order to pay for an acquisition was answered by saying that a seller will obviously force a cash payment as its stake will dilute in the future and it may not be able to dictate terms later. As a result, targeted companies during acquisitions preferred cash to stock payments.

On being asked about the future of the Air India-Indian Airlines merger, Mr. Srinivasan said that individually the companies would have gone down. It was a good decision on the part of the government to merge them. This would help them majorly in the number of aircrafts that the joint entity would have.

However, he wondered how their inefficiencies would be reduced without any job cuts. An answer to that could be to recruit lesser and lesser over the coming years.

Answering the last question of the day, Mr. Srinivasan said that apart from the PE multiples, EBIDTA was also a good parameter of valuation.

At the close of the session, Mr. Srinivasan gave away the award of the best question to R. Balaraman, and the 1st and 2nd prizes for the previously-held quiz on M&A to Vivek Jain and Neha Barnawal, a new practise put into operation by the Corporate Wisdom team. At the end, the Corporate Wisdom team signed off by thanking Mr. Srinivasan for sparing time and giving profound insights and knowledge about M&As.

Kunal Lal

DoMS Interface Team

Class of 2009

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dr. Asha Krishnakumar, Divisional Manager Ashok Leyland, emphasized on CSR at DoMS IIT Madras.

Corporate Wisdom forum of DoMS IIT Madras invited Dr. Asha Krishnakumar, Divisional Manager Ashok Leyland for a talk on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The distinguished guest started with asking the fundamental question of “what is CSR?” She quoted Friedman and said motive of organizations is to make profit for the stakeholders, then why go for CSR? Tracing the history of CSR she said at the end of 19th century many corporations in Europe and US had set up 100s of philanthropic trusts. CSR was seen as capitalism with a heart. During last 2-3 decades, with increasing globalization CSR has gained augmenting popularity. Now many theory exists in favor and against of CSR.

Discussing the global CSR scenario, Dr. Asha said that it all primarily started with bad press. Organizations like Dow Chemicals, Enron and Nike etc. were battered by press for their unethical business practices. Many customers shunned Nike after discovering that it employs child labor in developing countries. So as a part of damage control activity, these companies started focusing on CSR in a big way. They have started cleaning up their supply chain and many big global retailers like Conron, Ikea & Bodyshop who source glassware, brassware etc. from India, are working with NGOs to improve the lives of children. Now “No Child Labor” logo is a coveted one.

Dr. Asha elaborated on types of CSR activities which are- cause promotion, corporate social marketing, community volunteering and socially responsible business practices. She also revealed that now we have many CSR watch dogs & CSR monitoring institutions in form of Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, Social Accountability 8000 (SA 8000) etc. All these factors have led to an increased activity in CSR space across the world. For example Vodafone transferred money through text messages to those without bank account in Kenya; Honda took road safety initiative in China & Japan; HSBC focused on education & financial literacy classes and Sony initiated recycling programs & electronic drop boxes.

Talking about the Indian CSR scenario, Dr. Asha said though India moved slowly towards CSR, now Indian companies have started to wave the CSR flag. Now the mind set is changing from “Why should I do it?” to “How should I do it?” The reason could be that the pressure for CSR is building up now and also companies now think CSR looks great on company mission statement and value codes. The CSR in the country has evolved over a period of time from “adhoc charity” to “allied charity” to “focused charity”. Now strategic philanthropic is also taking shape. For sustainability and good returns on CSR spending, well defined processes need to be put in place. Social objectives need to be clear, measurable and linked to the economic goals of the organization. ITC’s e-chaupal initiative was one highly successful model which linked the CSR to its core business. It has been found that CSR helps organizations in enhancing brand value, credibility, giving competitive advantage, increasing customer loyalty & community trust and motivates employee.

Dr. Asha then expounded on CSR initiative at Ashok Leyland. CSR at Ashok Leyland is very structured and involves socially relevant activities to build trust among employees, community and stakeholders. Many focused groups and initiatives have been taken up to engage employees and their families in form of SHGs (Self Help Groups). Organization has been doing activities like HIV/AIDS awareness, afforestation drive, and relief operation during natural calamity, coaching for poor school students, driver de addiction centers etc. Company has also started a green initiative wherein it implemented a green supply chain management which includes reduction, recycling, reuse & substitution of materials.

In the end Dr. Asha concluded by saying that “CSR is not only about doing good for the society, it makes sound business sense also”.

Vishal Chourasiya

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rajeev Karwal, Ex-President & CEO, Consumer Durables Vertical of Reliance Retail Expounds on the Future of Retail in India at DoMS, IITM

The CEO Connect forum of the Department of Management Studies (DoMS), IIT Madras invited Mr. Rajeev Karwal, Ex-President & CEO, Consumer Durables Vertical of Reliance Retail to share his valuable insights and enlighten students about the present scenario and future prospects of the Retail sector in India.

Starting off a session marked by sharp comment, he candidly talked about his own experience with heavy traffic and jams in metropolitan cities. Mr. Rajeev Karwal emphatically said that organized retail in India has miles to go before it revolutionizes the common man’s life. He backed this argument by saying that today a typical metro was plagued with poor road infrastructure, transport services and scarcity of land. In the face of such challenges you can’t expect a typical family of four which rides a two-wheeler to travel small distances on vehicle-infested and pot-holed roads.

However, according to him, the organized retail revolution has begun to slowly find its feet in India. Big Bazaar, Pantaloons and Reliance Retail have begun in earnest. But they have to invest heavily in areas such as infrastructure, technology, training and in-house advertisements. Such activities typically shave off portions of returns giving back only about 5-6%. Giving them a tough fight are the good old kirana stores, who are well entrenched in the nooks and corners of the country and don’t need the same investments. They are also not bound by any obligations that a company has towards its stakeholders and the stock markets.

Talking about the size of the organized retail market in India, he said that it is just about $238 bn big, which is less than the revenues of $ 351 bn of that of Wal-Mart. So there of course lies immense potential in this sector but the demands that it places on the operant companies are immense. Describing a typical mall, Mr. Rajeev Karwal said that it would need at least one major anchor in the form of brands such as Shopper’s Stop or Big Bazaar, a food court or chains such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut or Haldiram and movie theatres. However there was a shortage of such anchors since many preferred to set up their own shops in the face of high rental prices at malls, resulting in agonizingly long times to reach a semblance of break even.

Mr Rajeev Karwal emphasized that organized retail isn’t about putting together retail in an organized looking place. Just setting up snazzy shops with great looking interiors doesn’t qualify you as an organized retailer. You need to give the customer what he or she demands. Despite so many requirements you need to give low prices at good quality. While many players like Reliance Retail have made decent attempts at extracting the maximum value out of the supply chain, they still fail in providing the personal touch that the Indian consumer demands. He asserted that is where the kirana store owners score. They are ready to drop by to your house to give you a bottle of cold drink every time a guest drops by. They know you favourite brands. They are willing to give you credit. Through relationships built over the years, they provide you peace of mind and product guarantee and replacement. These are the survival tactics of the kirana store owners at work, determined old timers who will leverage upon old practices and still innovate and fight to retain their traditional customers.

Sharing the difficulties that organized retail faced, Mr. Rajeev Karwal said that the back-end supply chain operations were of prime importance. They also require lots of cash as the farmer would need to be paid for 2 seasons of crops before a company could be assured of a steady supply. In contrast, organized retail in developed nations required brand owners and product manufacturers to fund organized players. Such features make the challenges of the Indian market unique, for which retailers must innovate to stay and grow. Mr. Rajeev Karwal said that the cause of organized retail is also not being helped by different and inconsistent policies framed by different governments at different times. In addition, the sector needs foreign investments, an important input that still doesn’t find favour with the powers-that-be.

Confidently claiming the market share of organized retail to be very low, Mr. Rajeev Karwal said that it would be at least 10 years until it would reach 20% of the entire retail pie. That was because product manufacturers would not give up on sales avenues in the form of traditional neighbourhood kirana stores and would woo them more aggressively than the organized players.

However, the scope of growth for organized retail was humongous as there was tremendous confidence and momentum in the market. That is because today the consumer is looking at an entire experience, something that the retailers know about and are working on. Hailing the popularity of mobile phones in India, Mr. Rajeev Karwal stated that their numbers had grown faster than Internet connections and credit cards. Enabling shopping by promotions through such a medium or offering credit or debit through such a route would revolutionize the retail sector in the coming times.

With the stage being opened for questions, students posed their queries. Answering a question about the future of online organized retail, Mr. Rajeev Karwal opined that the average Indian consumer was very value conscious. He or she likes to compare various offerings and touch and feel each of them before making a choice. Online shopping not only blocks the consumer from doing that but also is helpless in the face of limited Internet penetration and the low trust it evinces.

On being queried about the potential of the rural retail sector, he said that there were a thousand unorganized retailers who were supplying goods without being recognized on government papers. This ensures that the rural economy provides cheap goods without worrying about the excise and sales tax and VAT. But still organized retail’s stronghold was the variety it offers to the urban consumer.

When quizzed about the emergence of private labels by organized retailers, Mr. Rajeev Karwal replied that these were the tactics of firms to cut off established brands from the reach of the consumer as they offered low margins. He said that private labels can be created at low costs and thus provide higher margins as well as brand recognition for the retail brand.

At the end of the session, Mr. Rajeev Karwal said that retail giants, though growing, still had miles to go before they can confidently say that they have acquired the faith and trust of the Indian consumer. Till then, the kirana store owner shall rule supreme. Finally, speaking in context of his new venture, Milagrow Business & Knowledge Solutions, he signed off by saying that with strong fundamentals, great ideas and ample opportunities at their disposal he would urge the students of DoMS IIT Madras to become entrepreneurs like him and explore the possibilities that the retail market is offering today.

Kunal Lal

DoMS Interface Team

Class of 2009

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Twenty Fifth Endowment Lecture held at DoMS, IIT Madras

Department Of Management Studies, IIT Madras had the honor of hosting the twenty fifth endowment lecture in association with EFSI (The Employers’ Federation of Southern India). Mr. K Pandia Rajan, Managing Director & CEO Ma Foi, was the chief guest of the evening.

The program started with welcome note by Mr. Shaji Varghese, President EFSI. He briefly touched upon the history of EFSI, which was setup in 1920, immediately after ILO (International Labor Organization) was setup in Geneva. EFSI was the first organization for employees dealing with issues like labor policies and labor management. The Endowment Lecture was started in 1970s, in association with Humanities Department of IIT Madras. This was followed by Presidential Address by Prof. TT Narendran, who in his hallmark style recalled the early years of Endowment Lecture. Prof. Narendran welcomed the Chief Guest and stressed upon the importance of HR in today’s dynamic job environment. He also introduced the topic of the session i.e. ‘Changing Nature of Work & Employment’.

The stage was then handed over to Mr. K. Pandia Rajan, chief guest of the event. Mr. Pandia Rajan has a B.E Honors from Coimbatore and a MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur. He founded Ma Foi, which currently has 1750 professional across 100 locations. Mr. Pandia Rajan started with recalling that this was his third lecture at IIT Madras in last one year and how much he loves coming to the campus again and again. He posed a very thought provocative question of ‘Who am I? An employer, an employee, owner, entrepreneur or something else?’ He explained how he is a bit of all, depending on the situation and in today’s dynamic world the distinction between all these is vanishing. He revealed a deal, he just signed before coming for the event, with Achimasala, a SHG (Self Help Group) of about 700 women with a turnover of Rs 280 Crore. The deal pertains to door to door marketing of Achimasala products and Mr. Pandia Rajan was very excited about how he would be helping many women in upgrading their living standard. He admired the ShaktiAmma initiative of HUL which covers 50000 villages as of now and ITC’s e-Chaupal which covers one seventh of rural areas in the country.

Mr. Pandia Rajan used Wheel of Migration as a framework to explain current dynamic scenario. The four planks of the wheel namely Migration of products and services, Migration of talent, Migration of capital and Migration of business processes precisely explain the various dynamics of today’s enterprise. If US blocks H1B Visa, more and more jobs will be outsourced to India. If UK blocks nurse visas, more and more patients will start coming to India for treatment leading to what is now famously known as health tourism. Hence, this link between migration of talent and business processes is creating many different business models.

Mr. Pandia Rajan also touched upon how attitude and mid-set towards HR as a stream is fast changing. He took example of a famous HR & BPO company named Exult Inc., which in 2000 reached a valuation of $1 million with just one single employee and just one client. Later on it was acquired by Hewitt Associates. VCs (Venture Capitalists) today are lining-up to invest in good ideas unlike old time when many good ideas died for lack of fund. People have now started asking ‘What is your business model?’ instead of simply business which was the case earlier. The entire scenario of entrepreneurship is getting redefined. Mr. Pandia Rajan raised the issue of transience & transition by sighting the decreasing longevity of employment. Nobody today is talking about life long employment. The options available today are plenty and have increased many folds.

Mr. Pandia Rajan shared a very interesting anecdote that, while inaugurating his 100th office at Hong Kong, the room had 112 people of 50 different nationalities. This is the extent to which the world has globalised. He also stressed on the fact that now the perception of India in the world is changing. India is no longer a punishment posting destination instead an Indian stint is now a requirement for the CEO Job. As an individual we are living in a very exciting time. We have an opportunity to be at the very top. He cited one issue that is really holding back our Country is that of labor laws. Country has 176 conflicting labor rules which are proving to be a major roadblock for the country. Interestingly labor ministry has the highest attrition with 9 labor ministers changed in last 10 years. Mr. Pandia Rajan ended the lecture by stressing on need of labor law reforms.


Vishal Chourasiya

DoMS Interface

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian of Daimler AG Addresses Students at the Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras

It was a new quarter at the Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras and it was a new corporate honcho who took out time to address its students and impart wisdom from his enterprising career. So it was Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian, Vice President, Group Research and Advanced Engineering, E/E, IT and Processes of Daimler AG whom the student came in droves to listen, under the auspices of the Corporate Wisdom forum.

Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian started by introducing himself. He is an IIT Bombay alumnus who went to Germany in 1974 after graduation. He joined his present employer in 1977. He said that joining Daimler AG was a conscious decision on his part as he wanted to work in a hard core engineering field rather than go to the US or to the IIMs for further studies, as his batch mates did.

Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian gave a description of various units of Daimler AG as well as Daimler-Benz and various cars, trucks and vehicles that these premium brands make. He spoke of the challenges the company is facing, in the face of other premium brands and worthy competitors such as BMW, Audi and Volkswagen. Daimler AG and Daimler-Benz today are working on delivering better cars that give more value to the customer who chooses to go with their brand. This posed great engineering challenges in areas such as fuel injection systems as well as fuel quality, he emphasized. To counter them, he showed how his company was actively engaged in research and development projects. The Mercedes-Benz brand is a first-rate brand that stands for class, comfort and safety. So today the company was working hard to come up with technologies that gave top notch comfort as well as safety. For this purpose, the company has zealously invested in quality improvement processes.

He said that Daimler-Benz also had a R&D centre in India. He described about the initial challenges of setting up a new division outside of Germany as the company’s employees were wary of the unit taking away jobs from them and how initially the results were not up to the mark. That’s when he decided that the unit needed to fix the problem of kill the unit. Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian then worked hard at convincing the powers that be that if the company let go of this opportunity then someone else might pounce on it. He went for a Board of Directors revamp. Also as it was the Mercedes-Benz brand that was better known and respected in India, the unit was renamed as the Mercedes-Benz Research Center to make its presence felt as well as attract the best talent.

After listening to such an interesting career progression and its accompanying challenges, curious students poured in with their questions. On being asked how he managed the progression from a total R&D professional to a managerial role handling so many units, Dr. Bharat Subramanian said that the transition was an easy one. However, he had his share of challenges. As a part of the senior management he had put forward a thesis that the company change its focus. Initially 90% of the efforts were concentrated on the engineering side and only 10% on management. He suggested that Daimler AG give 40% efforts towards engineering, 30% towards processes and the rest towards management. This was unacceptable to a number of engineers at the company as they were adamant that the present setup was good enough and they were managing very well. After a lot of convincing on the management’s part, the employees were trained over a period of 3 years in management aspects such as sharing one’s vision with one’s team and working with an inter-disciplinary team as well as process aspects such as TQM. This process lasted 3 years at the end of which the management as well as the trained employees appreciated that the training helped them perform their job better.

On being quizzed why Mercedes- Benz didn’t have a great presence in India, Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian accepted that India was a small market for his company. He said that there was a big market for different segments of cars in India and their quality and price aspects were very different from premium brands as that of Mercedes-Benz. So the company would need to differentiate on this respect and come with a different car. In contrast, Europeans expected the same technologies in each car segment and were also very conscious of differentiating between the segments. That’s why Mercedes-Benz had a greater market in Europe than in India, he explained.

Answering question on the split between Daimler and Chrysler, Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian said that the relationship was set up because the company wanted a foothold in the US. However, Daimler AG was a premium brand player while Chrysler was a volumes player. The synergies that the two wanted was not really found as despite the tie-up, both operated as different units and reported profits individually. The combination also had massive cultural issues. Moreover, Chrysler, along with other American automotive giants such as GM and Ford, didn’t really attract the best talent. In contrast, the best engineers in Germany vied to work with each other to work for a company that produced a car such as Mercedes-Benz. So there was also a talent dissonance. To top all these, the brands didn’t match. Mercedes-Benz didn’t want to dilute its brand with the Chrysler association while Chrysler wanted to a brand of the masses; this resulted in a totally ineffective brand strategy. This taught the company a very important lesson – if you want synergies to come from an association you must share the same platform of operation. Even when 2 years ago when it became clear that a split was needed, there was no retrenchment possible in Chrysler as was the norm in the US automotive industry. Finally a majority stake of the holdings was bought by Cerberus Capital Management.

Commenting on the Tata Group’s famed attempts to make the 1 lakh car, Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian said that European car makers wouldn’t make such a car for their customers. He said that in this case Tata’s strategy was to attack the 2 wheeler segment users and give them a safer option than an open vehicle to travel with their entire family. However, such a car wouldn’t pass the crash tests that are a very important regulation to be met by European carmakers. In fact, two wheelers such as motorcycle have their own market in Europe as they command a distinct respect as a stylish way of travelling. Due to such intricacies involved, he surmised that the European customer wouldn’t fall for such a car.

In the end, Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian said that he felt that engineers from institutions such as the IITs were moving more towards sectors such as IT and Software Services rather than hard core engineering. To have a Mercedes-Benz come from India it was important that the best brains flocked to the automotive sector.

Kunal Lal
DoMS Interface Team

Class of 2009

Sunday, October 21, 2007

From the horse's mouth - Gyan from the alumni

When someone, who was there in the place you are currently in, and has reached the places you want to be , talks about things to watch out for, it is the time to listen!!!

As a part of the Alumni Cell initiative, the students of First and Second Year met Mr.Rohin Mahajan, an associate consultant from Mindtree Consulting. Rohin, an alumnus from 2005 batch shared his experiences in DOMS and about the skills needed, once we are out in an organisation.

The one hour session was highly informal and interactive. Rohin talked about what is expected in an organisation. He also spoke about the advantages we, as DOMSians , can exhibit and intiatives we need to take in the organisation.

The session gave students insights on what we need to do in the years in DOMS and outside DOMS to get the extra mileage.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The World Is Flat

Ever since Christopher Columbus’s very famous westward journey busted the notion regarding “World being flat”, very few dared to question its authenticity. But seems like a new breed of proponents of “Flat World” have arrived and Thomas L. Friedman is leading them.

In the book “The World Is Flat”, Friedman’s use of the metaphor of flat world to describe the next phase of globalization is ingenious. His realization started in Banglore after hearing to Nandan Nilekani, who explained him how the economic playing field is being leveled. It is now possible for more people then ever to collaborate and compete in real time with more other people on more different kind of work from more different corners of the world and on a more equal footing than at any previous time in the history of the world – using computers, email, fiber optics, networks, teleconferencing, and dynamic new software.

The Friedman way of writing is very engaging. He takes you with him on travel to all corners of the world, meet his family & friends and conduct interviews with him. The entire book is presented as a memoir with occasional introspection. In his book, Friedman cited 10 forces that really helped in flattening the world. He called them 10 flatteners.

  1. 11/9/89: The New Age of Creativity: When the Walls Came Down (Berlin wall) and the Windows Went Up (MS Windows).
  2. 8/9/95: The New Age of Connectivity: When the Web Went Around and Netscape Went Public.
  3. Work Flow Software
  4. Uploading
  5. Outsourcing
  6. Off-Shoring
  7. Supply-Chaining
  8. In-Sourcing
  9. In-Forming
  10. The Steroids

Not surprisingly, Friedman stresses the crucial role technological forces particularly dot-com bubble played in flattening the world. During fiber-optic bubble, telecommunication companies like baby bells and AT&T were sitting on hefty cash reserves – given to them by naïve investors. Internet boom led everyone believe that the demand for bandwidth to carry internet traffic would double every there month - indefinitely. Hence, they used millions of dollars ($1 trillion) to pursue an incredibly ambitious plan of “wiring the world” through laying fiber-optic cables on land and under the sea, connecting third world countries to the advanced industrial nations. Unfortunately, the telecom companies were not paying close attention to the developing mismatch between demand and supply. When the internet bubble burst, disaster for telecom companies turned out to be a great boon for the consumers and the third world countries like India. The cost of phone calls, internet connections, and data transmission declined dramatically and for Indians, who wanted to get online from Banglore for business, could do so. The next development was stock market crash following dot-com bust, this made companies looking for ways to cut cost and reduce spending – resulting in outsourcing. Companies discovered that Indian Engineers can handle most of the technical jobs they needed done, at a fraction of the cost (Thanks to fiber-optics cable which enabled working from offshore).

Friedman’s honest reaction to this new world is quiet evident from his words “at the gate observing this river of educated young people flowing in and out... They all looked as if they had scored 1600 on their SAT's…. These Indian techies were doing what was their comparative advantage and then turning around and using their income to buy all the products from America that are our comparative advantage. Both our countries would benefit. . . . But my eye kept . . . telling me something else: 'Oh, my God, there are just so many of them and they all look so serious, so eager for work. And they just keep coming, wave after wave. How in the world can it possibly be good for my daughters and millions of other young Americans that these Indians can do the same jobs as they can for a fraction of the wages?”

Friedman refrained from taking an anti or a pro globalization stance; rather he concluded that the biggest challenge for America is whether it is prepared for this flat world. He precisely explained the factors and the possible implications of the globalization. A must read for those who want to gain an insiders view into the globalization.

Reviewed By:--

Vishal Chourasiya

Class of 2009

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chak De - “Jo nahin ho sakta hai, wahi to karna hai...” - A Case Study

Chak De India is the story of a coach's fight of making his team, Team India by overcoming their diverse backgrounds, by learning to use everything that life hurls on them as a secret weapon. It's a story about honesty, sincerity and integrity. A story to remind the nation of its National Sport.

"...The recipe for such a success was most wonderfully conveyed by Shah Rukh Khan and those wonderful women hockey players in the movie. Let me recount them here. We have to identify as Indians first and rise above our affiliations with our states, religions and castes. We must accept meritocracy and enthusiastically play the role we are best suited to."

"We must embrace discipline to strictly follow every step required for success. We have to put the interest of our nation ahead of our personal interests, subordinating our egos and biases. Finally, we have to put in tremendous hard work and make shortterm sacrifices for long-term glory."

"I have immense faith and optimism in the youth of this country. But, will we get our leaders to set examples for hundreds of millions of Indian youth? I wish more and more of our leaders see Chak De and learn these precious lessons."

(This was an extract from an article written by chairman and chief mentor of Infosys Technologies in ET.)

Besides his observations, I would also like to add some more take away points from the movie.

· DIVERSITY - The movie is a reminder to all of us about the diversity of our country. Many States, Many Languages, Many Cultures, One Nation…

· PARENTS CARE - Komal and Balbir come to Delhi with their parent(s). More so, Komal even has laddoos in a tiffin!

· TEAM BUILDING - Team building process in the film is very significant. Sixteen players from different parts of the country with different backgrounds and diversity meet for the first time for a common cause and the process.

· GUESTS AT ONE’S OWN HOME - A comment from the players from North-East India signals that we, who have the privilege of being situated in the central part of the country, treat them as 'guests' in their own country.

· PUNCTUALITY - Preeti Sabharwal, who comes late for the training, is not allowed to be a part of the team despite her stressing the fact that she was the captain of Chandigarh team. SRK admits her only after she completes her round in the field in seven minutes.

· DISCIPLINE - Players who do not stick to the rules of the game are made to sit on the bench. SRK does not allow them to play the game till they apologize.

· WOMAN EMPOWERMENT - Preeti does not yield to her fiancé’s (Indian Cricket Team’s Vice Captain, Abhimanyu Singh) wish of leaving hockey. He repeatedly keeps mocking hockey as a game.

· UNITED WE STAND - When some romeos tease two of the girls at McDonalds, the whole team comes together to fight them. SRK deliberately does not interfere in the fight as he wants the team to be cohesive.

· TEAM VALUE - One of the points that appealed to me the most was when SRK says that the TEAM is FIRST, Team MEMBERS NEXT and if after that something remains, that is for an INDIVIDUAL – very important for getting the maximum out of the team (or members of the team).

· TEMPERAMENT - The girl from (Balbir Kaur) Punjab often lost her temper. She was ousted from a match because of bickering with the referee. Towards the end of the movie, she learns to keep calm.

· TIT FOR TAT - The team from Argentina was “famous” for injuring other teams’ players. When SRK observes that the referee is not penalising them, he asks the Indian team to retaliate so that Argentina may not block their way again. This tit-for-tat thing is nicely carried out by Indian girls.

· INDIAN CULTURE - When Indian players reach the finals, team India is dressed in saris despite some of them being uncomfortable in that. We still take pride in our culture.

· CRICKETOMANIA - SRK says that people would do anything for cricket but not for hockey. It’s true considering the real situation.

· SPONSORSHIP - Politics influences sponsorships. This was clear when the committee refuses to give sponsorship for the women team for going to Australia for world cup.

· LET GO YOUR EGO - When you need the best, by pass all your rules, compromise your ego. This is evident when SRK goes and requests Bindia Naik to play when India has to confront Korea. She was the need of the time.

These are some of the lessons which I could recall (watched it quite sometime back).
And here are some facts-

Fact 1: Chak De has gone to the Oscar Library (Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences) and has been taken up as a case study in a few business schools….

Fact 2: India retained the Asia Cup, thrashing Korea 7-2 in the final of the seventh edition of the tournament at the packed Mayor Radhakrishnan stadium in Chennai. It won all the matches in Asia Cup this year!!!

Rahul Maheshwari
(MBA Batch of 2008)

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Open your eyes
Avoid all disguise.
To win a game,
And for the fame,
Be on the ground,
Never push others around.
Make fun of your face
You better run your own race.

Open the doors
Look for the floors.
Don’t think three or four
Many more are in the tour.
Go with sympathy and grace,
Take all along,
And run your own race.

Push your limits,
Save your valve,
Problems are part but
There is a huge market to solve.
Don’t let your liabilities disgrace
You better run your own race.

Fundamental attribution error,
Can show you the terror,
If you pull the legs,
Change your perception rather,
All are as good as your grandfather.
It is more than a menace,
You better run your own race.

All nights we work like hell,
Not caring about the alarming bell,
Don’t ask and don’t tell,
Sell it, whatever you can sell,
Have some beer,
Ride on the deer,
Play with the monkey,
You are not donkey,
Broaden your horizon,
Yell like “Tarzan”,
Be you and seek your space,
You better run your own race.

Feel good to be a member,
Two years you always remember,
You won’t find this family again,
Be happy for whatever you retain.
Despite the teams and groups,
MBA is the only place,
Where you better run your own race.

Madhur Yadav

Friday, September 7, 2007

My Hero

We want to tell you something.
Kotler and Rubbins are good
but you told us how good is good
OB, I thought we knew since childhood
but it Organized and Behaved our senses.

Paradoxically speaking--"Who" is an answer at DoMS

Many lives,different and questioning,
we got frustrated by our own queries,but you didn't.
Like a candle you burnt and lighted our life.
Our inquiries so stupid
Phones ringing,but you like a rock
steadied and swerved our ships
and knew that we will learn and depart.

As our success brings joy to your soul
and Providence has assigned you the revered role
I don't know the dharma and karma, but bow to you
Praise you sir with the bottom of our heart
and paradoxically our debt has lowered our bottom.

------- From the pen of Abhishek Shankar

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Good to Great" To "Built to Last"

“Good is the enemy of great”, is what the first line of the book states. The book analyses 15 “Good to great companies” which had phenomenal results, some due to shrewd strategies, some due to innovative products and some due to changing consumer needs. There is another set of 15 companies called “comparison companies” which are compared with the “good to great companies” on several parameters.

The beauty lies in the way the author compares the two sets of companies based on different parameters like the average tenure of CEO, the number of mergers and acquisitions done by the company, the kind of industries they were in and the growth rate offered by the industry. Most of the readers might try to search for a common thread between those 15 companies to know what led to the greatness of those firms. But instead of following that route, I feel what Jim Collins have tried to convey is, there are different routes to achieve greatness and a company need not imitate other firms in pursuit of greatness.

The core ideology of the book lies in the flywheel concept illustrated below. The key points that the author discusses are: -
- Level 5 leadership
- First Who Then What
- Confront the brutal facts
- Hedgehog concept
- Culture of discipline
- Technology accelerates

The classic example of Level 5 leadership is of the legendary CEO of Gillette, Colman Mocklar who formulated great strategies for the company and saved it from the corporate raiders like Revlon. The takeover bid initiated by Ronald Perelman, CEO of Revlon itself can become a classic case study for the MBA coursework.

The author also places great emphasis on the right people employed by the company at the right position during the critical juncture of the company’s evolution. He reiterates

the point that it’s not just the people but the right people who make the critical difference to the company.

The evolution of the company happens sequentially as shown in the figure above but the quantum leap for the company comes only after the basics are in place. The analogy of Winston Churchill setting up the statistical department for the British Government during the Second World War fits beautifully for the firms as well. These analogies used by the author makes the concepts self-explanatory.

The most important concept that deserves special mention is the “Hedgehog Concept”. The hedgehog is a genetic mix-up between a porcupine and a small armadillo which can take any of the two shapes and always manages to beat the fox by taking one of the forms. The hedgehog concept emphasizes the important concept and ignores the mundane ones. Freud and the unconscious, Darwin and natural selection, Marx and class struggle, Einstein and relativity, Adam Smith and division of labor are all hedgehogs.

Transition from good to great requires a clear and deep understanding of the three intersecting circles translated into a simple, crystalline concept (the hedgehog concept). The figure below illustrates the three circles of the hedgehog concept.

The book “Good to Great” was published after “Built to Last”, but when you complete reading both the books, you realize that “Built to Last” actually fits to become a sequel of “Good to Great”. Built to last, talks about how companies achieve iconic status after achieving the greatness. There are several examples of those iconic companies (3M, Walt Disney, HP, Sony etc) without which it is difficult to imagine specially an American society. They have altered the way people live, think and feel. How many companies can claim that one out of every 8 American employees have worked in that company? How many companies can assert that they have brought happiness to the lives of maximum number of people in the world? How many companies can master the concept “Small is beautiful”?

And that’s exactly what comprise the spirit of the iconic corporations of all times. They moved beyond the sole motive of profit and altered the lives across generations.

To understand these changes and impact, try reading both the books. Definitely “MUST MUST READ” for all lovers of business……….!!!!

Rajeev Jain
(Batch of 2008)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Business and leadership in the non profit space, Ingrid Srinath, CEO, CRY

On 23rd August, 2007 the Management Insights for Social Transformation (MIST) forum of the Department of Management of Studies of IIT Madras invited another social cause visionary, Ms Ingrid Srinath, the CEO of Child Rights and You (CRY). She spoke on the topic of “Business and leadership in the non profit space”.

Ms. Ingrid Srinath was welcomed by Prof. L.S. Ganesh, the Head of Department of DoMS. To convey her thoughts regarding the subject of her address, she chose to start off by telling the audience the things she wished she would have known when she started her corporate career.
She described that phase as one in which she spoke in jargon, couldn’t relate to things immeasurable, and was chronically risk-averse. From then on she learned a number of lessons that have been important to CRY as would also be to an organization that wants to thrive in the 21st century.

Firstly questioning the very purpose of her existence and giving the example of Google and eBay, Ms Ingrid Srinath said that that money, wealth and power should only be the by-products of a successful life and a mission to change lives of others. However, she did acknowledge its importance and said that CRY has done well on that front where it is expected to raise Rs 50 crore this year. In this regard, giving the achievements and statistics for CRY, she said that in a survey her organization had recorded the highest brand recall and recognition as compared to its peers. Recalling CRY’s purpose of existence as well her own experiences as its executives, she said that today we need to reduce the widening disparity between the have and have-nots, urgently address the state of females in India as well as uplift the marginalised section of India.

Ms Ingrid Srinath emphasized that the most successful individuals and organisations don’t fit roles or markets, they create them. CRY has led in a similar fashion in its sector by urging individuals, organizations and governments to work in tandem.

Talking about leadership she said that a good leader is one who lets his or her team members discover things themselves. Quoting CRY’s mission in this regard, she said that CRY also makes efforts to give each child and opportunity to realise its full potential.

Describing today’s dynamic business environment, Ms Ingrid Srinath said that one could only succeed if one resolutely keeps on trying despite stumbles and failures.

Urging everyone to not shirk from challenges, she stressed the need to balance issues such as growth and profitability, systems and values and the today and the future. She asked everyone to think with their hearts and feel with their minds to come up with equitable solutions to each problem.

Admiring Madonna, Ms Ingrid Srinath dwelled on the need to constantly reinvent oneself by risking one’s clichés. She said that the best way one could contribute to a cause was to do the thing that he or she does the best. Taking this view further, she said that we could all play responsible roles for all social issues, including child upliftment and betterment.

She maintained that a person’s career and life choices must be for a long term, taking into account the betterment of one’s neighbour and community. Ms Ingrid Srinath also underscored the need for an individual to devotedly subscribe to his or her organization’s mission and then build ones career in accordance as well as mould that of others around it. Such is the zeal that Google has been drilling into its employees. The profits have followed. She ended the address by saying that such were her expectations from CRY and that she has been and will be working towards this goal.

Subsequently Ms Ingrid Srinath fielded questions from the audience. She answered questions on how CRY was responding to the challenges of educating children, how CRY motivates its employees, the concept of CSR and corporate philanthropy in India, the reasons behind changing CRY from Child Relief and You to Child Rights and You, and the issue of NGO accountability in the wake of corruptions charges against them.

The session ended with Prof M. Thenmozhi thanking Ms Ingrid Srinath for coming forth and sharing her experiences and insights with the students of DoMS.

The Department of Management Studies (DoMS) is the youngest and one of the most dynamic departments of IIT Madras. It came into existence in 2001 to fulfill the industry's growing demand for high quality management research as well as managers trained in the finer nuances of business and technology by offering an MBA programme comparable to the best BSchools in the country. Currently, the department offers degrees in MBA, MS and PhDs in various functional areas and specialized domains of the industry.

Kunal Lal
Batch of 2009,
DoMS Interface,
DoMS, IIT Madras

Sunday, August 19, 2007

1st Year Freshies Have a Blast at Benz Park

It was another evening of party for the new DoMSians of IIT Madras. The newly arrived 1st year students were invited for the informal freshers' party organized by the 2nd year students at the Benz Park on August 14, 2007.

The first year students arrived at the premises at 8 pm. It was a very warm welcome that the seniors extended, cheering each freshie into the hall. Minutes after the entire batch assembled, Sathya, the emcee for the evening declared the dance floor. For the first few minutes, the dance floor was witness to only a few enthusiastic dancers. However, with the music turned on full blast, every person let his / her hair down. In the face of thumping dance numbers being belted out one after another, each DoMSonian set the dance floor ablaze. The fervent dancers danced with great passion to each song, be it a rocking Bhangra song or an equally groovy Tamil number.

The seniors had insured that no freshie would stop dancing for the want of energy. This was taken care of by the sumptuous dinner served that night. That was topped off with scrumptious ice cream and mouth watering 'Gaajar ka Halwa'.

Unfortunately all good things do come to an end. The closure of dance floor was greeted with great dismay by a crowd that reveled with the wild spirit of dance that night. However, it was the dance that got over, not the party. Sathya called forth talented freshies to come forth and display their talents. Picking up the gauntlet, Ashim Baidya sang a Sonu Nigam number. Then, in tandem with Abhishek Ratna, the duo rendered a song that described their life and times until then at DoMS.

At the closure, it was a very happy DoMSian that went back to his / her hostel with great memories of an evening filled with celebration and revelry.
Kunal Lal
(MBA Batch of 2009)

Between Taramani and GC

Warning: The following story is a fictional piece of writing. It is to be taken in a lighter vein. Any resemblance to any living or dead person, thing or place is purely coincidental (yeah right!)

"Trrrrrrrrriinnnngggg..." The alarm goes off. I reach out in the dark, groping for the clock, trying to shut it off. It won't. I get up groggily. Where had I put it last night? Like everything else in my room, I find the alarm clock at different places every time I look for it. This time, I find it under my bed. I press the snooze button, and get back on the bed.

I open my eyes. I check my mobile. Its 7:30. Shit. There's a class at 8, and the professor is too damn strict about the attendance. I will have to be quick (and that's an understatement) if I want to reach on time. I jump out of bed and rush to the shower. At this point let me tell you that there have been times before when I have had a shower, felt fresh and smug, and then gulped in frustration when I realized that I forgot to bring the towel. That's a long story, and I won't go into it now. This time I have the towel around my shoulders. It flutters like Superman's cape. I rush into the shower and come out before you can say 'Ceteris Paribus.' I rush back to my room, slipping and sliding all the way. Off goes the towel, on come the clothes. I grab the bag, and rush down. I get on my bicycle and pedal as hard as I can, swerving between students and deers. I tell you, you better watch out for the ones with the big horns; the deer, I mean.

Himalaya looms before me. I get off the bike, park it between two other bikes. I hear a crashing sound, someone's bike has toppled and one sees a wonderful domino effect of two wheelers. 'It wasn't me,' I shout and rush. The canteen is serving bread, butter and jam, and Maggi. Now Maggi is one thing I absolutely love to hate. Normally I have no choice but to eat it. Today I have no time. I grab four slices of bread butter, put two of them in my mouth, and the remaining in my bag. I rush down again to my bicycle and start off towards the department. I have to steer the bike through the huge peloton of late-latifs like me and I have to use both my hands. As a result, I look like one of the other famous inhabitants of the hostels, albeit on a bicycle and without a tail.

I fly down the slope towards GC. The wind feels good in my hair. But I realize that a 'W' won't look good in my grade sheet. I pedal harder. As soon as I reach the department, I jump off the bike and run towards the class. I sneak in through the back door of the class and make my way to a dark corner of the lecture hall. I sit down heaving, waiting for my roll call. Thankfully, the professor has just started taking the attendance. I answer the roll call and catch my breath. Phew, all the rush was worth it. "Present sir," says a muffled voice from the back. Definitely a proxy. But thankfully, for the proxifier and the proxyee, the professor doesn't pay much attention.

I shuffle through my bag and find the notes of the previous class. Most probably, the professor will ask for a recap. As soon as I manage to open the book, the professor confirms it. As soon as he asks for it, a general rustling spreads through the classroom. Duck, Hide, Avoid. But the professor knows it all too well. Legend has it that if you want to avoid the professor's eyes, you better sit in the first couple of rows. This story, passed on from seniors to juniors every year, has proved true most of the time. Yes, it is a paradox. But that's what I have to learn to manage.
I feel like trying out a theory. I look up at the professor. Research has proved that looking at the professor decreases the probability of your being called upon to answer. Of course, this theory fails if the professor has already read through this paper. I see the professor looking straight at me.

"Why don't you recap what we learnt last time?" Gulp, gulp, gulp. Now I realize how the coyote in the cartoon feels when he realizes that he has run over the cliff and is standing in mid-air.

"Me?" I ask like an idiot.
"The one with the glasses," the professor points out.

Like a bigger idiot, I actually lift my hand to feel if I wear glasses. Frankly by this time, I'm in so much shock that I can't decide whether I don't wear glasses or I forgot to bring them today. But to my relief, a voice comes from behind. The same question is asked, "Me?"

This time the professor's answer is in the affirmative. Now was my chance to make an impression. I give an outward disappointing look as if I wanted to recap what had happened in the last class. I don't even recall when was the last class. I make sure the professor sees me. Who knows maybe in MBA one gets brownie points for class participation?

I can almost hear the poor dude behind me gulping away his bad luck. He starts to give an answer and manages to finish it. The professor looks doubtfully at him, thinks for a while and then lets it go at that. He proceeds to start the projector, and the junta heaves in unison. No quiz today, no presentation today.

'The captain has turned off the seat-belt indicator. You are free to release your seat belts and move about in the cabin. Please note that smoking is not allowed for the duration of the flight. We hope you enjoy the flight.

'The back-benchers release the clip from the back of their seats and lean back on the chair. The front-benchers have a glazed look in their eyes, sitting upright and nodding their heads as if they actually understand something. Two hours grind by slowly. At times my hand scribbles something involuntarily on the sheets.

Tick tock, tick yawn tock.

"...and we wind up for today." The golden words for everyone. Everyone gets fresh, packs their bags and lean forward to rush out of the classroom before the professor gives any case study or before the CR has any 'small announcement.' If it is a morning class, we normally go back to the hostel directly. After an evening class, we go to Gurunath. Food is eaten, tea and coffee is sipped, supplies are bought. I realize that I myself have to buy toothpaste. I don't remember when it ran out. Ahem, before you accuse me, all I have to say in my defense is that I do have chewing gum before coming to class.

The rest of the day is going to be spent lazing around the room. Maybe a game of table-tennis or for those who are outdoor-inclined, football. Some of the studious dive into their books and for those from planet Orkut, the Internet is the place to be.

Dinner time is another battle. Eating whatever they pass off as food is a challenge in itself. But I can't complain. The idea is to stuff down as much as you can when you find something that's good. There's no knowing when it will be served again.

There is a case study to be discussed in the night. We gather in someone's room and decide to finish analyzing the case study in an hour or so. No one seems to want to open the case study paper, though. One among us informs the group about this interesting action movie he downloaded from DC++. The topic shifts from motivation and reinforcement theories to cars and guns. A couple of hours wasted. Never mind, we decide. We can do it tomorrow. The group disperses and we return to our respective rooms.

Random screams and shouts in strange languages sound through the empty corridors. The voices will continue throughout the night. This is a place that never sleeps. In the intermittent silences, I can hear the washing machines clicking and switching their cycles. Soak to rinse. Rinse to spin. Spin to soak. Another day ends in the the campus. The machines gets booted up. The routers are working overtime. Sounds of guns cocking, bodies flying and cars screeching. I can hear a frustrated scream. Someone has just been fragged. I open up a book and look out the window. I can see the city skyline through the window grill. This is my home for two years. This will be the window of my ... ahem... got a little too philosophical there.

I fire up my laptop, check my scraps. No change. I open a book and out falls a small note. I pick it up and read it. My eyes pop wide on reading it. There's an assignment due tomorrow and I haven't gone through the material yet. I put the laptop aside and pick up the text book. I page through the book and find the chapter I'm looking for. I am supposed to submit a soft copy. Oh great, I think. I'll have to type the whole damn thing. But the software engineer in me saves the day. I fire up the Internet, surf to Wikipedia and the rest is history. I'll have to finish it before 1 am when they switch off the Internet. By the time, I manage to bunch together some material for the assignment my eyes are fighting to get some rest.

I plop down on the bed and soon the sub-conscious mind takes over. I fall into a deep sleep and start to have a pleasant pre-placement dream. I see myself ready for the interview. Confidently I walk towards the interview panel and...

Deja vu.

Kirtan Acharya
MBA, Class of 2009


We arrived with loads of apprehension, confusion, skepticism and dubiety. Many questions regarding people, place, soon-to-be-batchmates etc were occupying our minds. These new places always tend to instill a sense of solicitude and disconnected.

The D-Day arrived and we were told that after registration a 4 days orientation program awaits us. Now this is called mind-reading. Our disorientated minds really needed an orientation program to re-conform and reorganize ourselves.

The orientation started with welcome by Prof. M. Thenmozhi, Faculty Adviser and subsequent address by Prof. L.S. Ganesh, HOD DoMS. This was followed by introduction of faculty members, whose credentials speak volumes about the quality of education here. Then, 1st year MBA students introduced themselves to the department. The following afternoon Mr. S. Krishnamurthy, Director, Alphabetic Inc. conducted a workshop on “Ice breaking & Team work”. The workshop indeed was an Ice-Breaker as it furnished us an opportunity to collaborate and know each other through several strategic games.

Day-2 started with an “Overview of MBA @DoMS – Systems, processes, rules” by Prof. G. Srinivasan. The session was instrumental in familiarizing us with the systems, processes of DoMS and expectations from MBA students. A panel discussion on: “Competencies that Graduating MBA’s must have at career entry” followed, moderated by Ms. Sandhya Sekhar, Former Chief, Gartner (Asia-Pacific) & Research Scholar, IITM. Many eminent personalities like Ms. Gangapiya Chakraverti, Business leader, Mercer Human Resource Consulting, India; Ms. Girija Vaidhyanathan, I.A.S, Secretary, Govt. of TN and Mr. K. Venugopal, Executive Editor, The Hindu took part in the panel discussion. Next, we had interactions with Mr. Harish Chandra, Librarian and Mr. Kasturirangan, Chief Manager, SBI. The day came to an end with a session on “Equilibrium Thinking” by Prateep V. Philip, I.P.S. and Inspector General of Police.

Day-3 began with Mr. R Dhamodaran, Director & Country Executive, IBM India Ltd., addressing students on “Skills MBAs need to develop”. Then, introduction to some of the useful, MBA curriculum relevant databases and software packages followed. Also, convocation was scheduled the same day. Hence, we went on to attend the same in the evening.

Final Day initiated with “Walk-talk, Run-Fun: IIT Darshan plan” with Col. Tensingh at 6:00am. The outbound activity gave us an opportunity to see & acknowledge the beauty of the campus and know what-is-where. Then, we advanced to Tiffanys for breakfast. Later we interacted with DoMS alumni and had lunch with them.

The orientation program proved to be of paramount significance in blending us with DoMS culture. It helped us understand and interact with the faculty, seniors & alumni and vanish our apprehensions and unease. We understand the expectations from us and the responsibilities entrusted on us. We shall try our best to take DoMS to next level of achievements.

Vishal Chourasiya,
MBA, Batch of 2009

Captain Gopinath Addresses Students of the Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras

The CEO Connect forum of the Department of Management Studies (DoMS) IIT Madras added another legend to the growing list of corporate wizards on August 16, 2007.

This time it was none other than Captain G.R. Gopinath, Managing Director, Air Deccan. Endorsed by many as the father of value-for-money airline in India, he founded Air Deccan with a vision to make air travel in India accessible to the middle class. Since then, the domestic aviation industry, hitherto a sluggishly growing sector has been on a roller coaster ride. As the pioneer of value-for-money airline model, Captain Gopinath has completely changed the face of the Indian aviation industry, which is now one of the fastest growing sectors in the country.

Captain Gopinath was welcomed to IIT Madras by the Director, Prof. M.S. Ananth and the Head of Department of Management Studies, Prof. L.S. Ganesh. He started off his address by capturing the current positive vibes running through every Indian’s veins, saying that today if you have energy and passion then the opportunities will open flood gates in India as no other place in the world. Describing his early years of study in a Kannada medium school, his stint with the Indian Army and subsequent struggles to convince anyone and everyone for funds while working as a farmer, he urged everyone to be tenacious and be persistent through testing times. In times when people would use only 1-2 acres of land to sericulture, he dedicated 40 acres of his family-owned land in a remote place for the same.

Continuing with the same spirit of ‘Thinking Big’, Captain Gopinath started the first helicopter charter service of India and then established Air Deccan. Speaking about his brush with bureaucracy and politics while running his entrepreneurial enterprises, he said that we should not complain about the politics and the bureaucratic system. What we need is the right attitude and the willingness to be the change that we want to see around us. He stressed on the need to innovate and be resourceful by giving an instance of Air Deccan’s decision to sell tickets directly via the Internet, post office, petrol pumps, et al, reaching out to the customer directly to lower the operational costs. Captain Gopinath then fielded questions that ranged from the initial business model for Air Deccan to its current sale of stake to Kingfisher. At the close, Prof. L.S. Ganesh thanked him for sharing his enlightening thoughts with the students of IIT Madras and gifted him a momento.

The Department of Management Studies (DoMS) is the youngest and one of the most active departments of IIT Madras. It came into existence in 2001 to fulfill the industry's growing demand for high quality management research as well as managers trained in the finer nuances of business and technology by offering an MBA programme that provides a holistic development for the rigours of corporate life. Currently, the department offers degrees in MBA, MS and PhDs in various functional areas and specialized domains of the industry.

Kunal Lal & Vishal Chourasiya
DoMS Interface, DoMS IIT Madras
Batch of 2009

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Fresher's Party - For Batch of 2009

It's the time of the year again when you realise how far you have come,and yet how much more there is to do...

Last year, approximately this time, I was breathing in the fresh air of DoMS, trying to imagine what the coming years have to bring. There was a hope, enthusiasm, excitement curiosity on my face, in my spirit.

Today after a year, I look around me, on this terrace, lighted up, people bustling around.
And I see my feelings from a year before mirrored into 61 new lives.

Yes, That's how we welcomed the new batch into our lives.
The baton has to pass. And we decided to do it in style.

The formal freshers party was held on 11th of August 2007 at the much loved terrace of DoMS.
We were joined by the faculty and our HOD for extending our best to the new lives at DoMS.
It started with the usual fanfare, and after the freshies were seated, the compeers of the night, Megha and Sathya took over.
The juniors had been asked to find out which nick names belonged to which seniors.
Some of them got it right, the ones who dint, well, they had to be punished.

The punishment came in form of either dancing, acting or singing.
Wasn't much of a punishment, was it?

The batch of 2009 then came up and performed a short play on "Film stars ki MBA"
Boy! It was a laugh riot! Job done well guys!
Of course, then there was the traditional group dance by the freshies, which starts of as a group dance alright, but more often than not ends up like a mob dance. They were joined in by their seniors too, and enjoyed it to the hilt.
The same continued till late in the night in an off and on fashion.

Then came the special title round. The best freshie!
After discovering that there were quite a few poets and writers in the class, the organizers had short listed a few which struck them right.
The participants were subjected to the questioning of GS sir, LSG sir, Sangha Ma'am, GAK sir and Thenmozhi Ma'am. Am sure for the Domsian's reading this, no marks for guessing it would not have been easy!

But well Vinay made it. The runner up was Kunal.
A title well deserved by both of them.

Aw...... food tasted great after all that work!
Well that was the formal part of it, once the profs left (minus LSG sir (the most enthusiastic person as Keerthy puts it)), the crowd pulled out all stops and went into a crazy state of frenzied dancing. A good mix of regional, hindi and english songs helped break the barriers between the two batches.

Finally said the good nights after everyone was more than exhausted, and the DJ (AKG) finally gave up!

It's always nice to welcome the new batch.
Hopefully guys, you understand what it is to entrust the place you call home, to you.
Trust you to do full justice to it.
Have a nice time at DoMS.
It's our world!

(Special thanks to Rajeev a.k.a Doc! for arranging the function, Tanima and Varsha, Megha for helping out, and not to forget our official photographer, Vinayah for the amazing pics!)
Lavanya Ajesh
(MBA Batch of 2008)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Talk on Global Management by Mr. Srini Nageshwar, Director and CEO, DyAnsys Inc

DATE: 15th August, 2007
VENUE: DoMS, Room#101
Mr. Srini Nageshwar
DoMS, IIT Madras first corporate interaction for the academic year of 2007-08 kick started with Corporate Wisdoms hosting Mr. Srini Nageshwar, Director and CEO of DyAnsys Inc, a US based medical instrumentation firm that has been founded with the aim of applying mathematics to Medicine. Mr. Nageshwar was among the first to set off the illustrious tradition of excellence as a student of the first batch of IIT Madras. Presently the President of the IITM Alumni Association, he is also on the board of directors of TVS Electronics. He started his career with Hewlett-Packard, where he worked for 25 years and was instrumental in standardizing the 3.5 inch floppy. As the CEO of Iomega for 8 years, he played a vital role in developing the Ditto, Zap and Jaz businesses.

Discussing the topic of “Global Management”, Mr. Srini Nageshwar harped on the fundamental importance of adapting to global markets and cultures. He started with an example indicating the changing global scenario. He stated that earlier all one required to go global was the knowledge of English, French and German languages but today the combination reads English, Hindi and Chinese.

Outlining the characteristics of a Global Manager, he said a Global Manager is one who can function anywhere in the world, can start off immediately on any assignment, should be able to understand the company very well to achieve objectives and leave the organization better off than when he started with. Stating that a Global Manager should also be able to manage diverse backgrounds, he claimed Indians to be better suited to become Global Managers because of India’s inherent diversity.

Mr. Srini Nageshwar said the prerequisites to becoming a Global Manager are: a sound upbringing, extrovert behavior, openness, flexibility and adaptability and a strong intent of practicing day in and day out. He also held forth the difference between global professionals, in country professionals and employees who carried out the routine tasks of a company.

Speaking in context of practicing Global Management, he said that a company usually starts a subsidiary in a new location through a trustworthy lieutenant, emphasizing the need for someone who knows what the company wants exactly. He likened this to potting a plant in one place in a garden and repotting it in a new location. He told that a Global Manager was parachuted in when a company wants to accomplish change, add skills to the organization or manage outsourcing. He spoke of each of his stints where he had to work as a Global Manager to open a foreign business and manage change to refocus towards growth.

For achieving such goals, Mr. Srini Nageshwar harped on the need to develop a good business strategy, staff the team accordingly and execute the strategy solidly. For a robust top-line, he emphasized the importance of appropriate business and financial models for a firm, a good product strategy, people skills and people management.

He also spoke of differences between a Silicon Valley company and an Indian company. To become a balanced company, he said that one should squeeze all possible sales out of current products and define and execute new product development programs. This requires having a killer marketing and sales group while using current resources extremely effectively.

Regarding entering foreign markets, Mr. Srini Nageshwar recommended to start off at avenues where mistakes made wouldn’t hurt the company much and develop templates for functions such as products, logistics and support. These guidelines to Global Management were peppered with examples from his own professional life, making the discussions more relevant and useful to the audience.

Finally, Mr. Srini Nageshwar answered the audience’s queries, harping on the need to strengthen the Indian infrastructure with respect to support for entrepreneurship as well as the need for building better companies to build a better nation.

Vishal Chourasiya & Kunal Lal
(MBA batch of 2009)

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