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 clich├ęs. 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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