Friday, April 23, 2010

Mr. N Ravichandran, CEO, Lucas-TVS addresses students at DoMS, IIT Madras

CEO Connect organized a talk by the Chief Executive Officer of Lucas-TVS, Mr. N Ravichandran on Wednesday, 14th April 2010. The topic for the day was ‘Competitive Manufacturing’.

There is no substitute for experience; and it was a rich treasure trove of industrial wisdom and expertise which Mr. Ravichandran shared with the students. With an illustrious career at Lucas-TVS, having worked his way up to the top through sheer dedication and hard work, he held his audience in a spell with his words.

He walked the students through the different stages of evolution of manufacturing methods, and pointed out key drivers of change in the industry. Giving live examples from the success story that is Lucas-TVS, he explained how learning happens when people are willing to look at themselves from an outside perspective. No talk on manufacturing can omit the immense contribution of the pioneering Japanese concepts. Understanding how these were adapted to the Indian manufacturing culture and the sea-change they brought about was something that helped students go beyond what they learnt in texts.

Mr. Ravichandran also highlighted that the most important resource a manufacturing unit has, is its people. Ultimately they are the ones whose actions determine the future of the organization. To demonstrate the concept of optimizing job sequencing and scheduling, Mr. Ravichandran asked a few volunteers to mimic an assembly line. By assigning them simple tasks and timing them, he showed how even small changes can result in big savings.

It was a really informative and knowledge-filled session. The humour and enthusiasm which Mr. Ravichandran showed won over the students and they are sure to remember this learning experience for a long time.

Contributed by Edwin Antony
MBA 1st year

Movie Screening: The Truth About Tigers

On Tue, 13th April 2010 at 5:00pm, Prakriti, nature club of IIT Madras, screened a movie ‘The Truth About Tigers’ by Mr. Shekar Dattatri followed by an interactive session with him. The event was held at the IC&SR auditorium.

There is great public concern about India's dwindling tiger population. But the constant bombardment with numbers such as 1411 leaves people bewildered and a bit frustrated.  They feel helpless because no one actually tells them what they can do. It is more likely that people will be able to act in a meaningful way if they are empowered with the right information and direction. The Truth About Tigers is an unflinching look at the ground realities that prevail in India's forests.  It is a film that tells it like it is, and is a must see for all those who are interested in helping to save this charismatic predator. An accompanying website, provides additional information on tigers and their conservation.

Shekar Dattatri is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning wildlife and conservation filmmaker, whose films have been aired around the world on channels such as National Geographic and Discovery.  A committed conservationist, his well-researched films combine craftsmanship and artistry with a profound understanding of the nuances of conservation issues.  In 2004 he received a Rolex Award for Enterprise (Associate Laureate) for his conservation filmmaking, and subsequently, the Carl Zeiss Award for conservation, and the Edberg Award from the Rolf Edberg Foundation in Sweden.  He is a member of the National Board for Wildlife, which is chaired by the Prime Minister. More information on his work can be found at

In his dialogue with the audience, Mr. Dattatri said that the least a person can do is convey his concern regarding the issue by visiting the website and making sure that his voice reaches the right echelons of power. So if you’ve read this, and you really believe that tigers need saving, then visit the site and record your opinion. It is a small help to saving the magnificent creature which symbolizes India.

Contributed by
Edwin Antony
MBA 1st year

ROCK IS DEAD? You’ve got Brain Damage baby! : Prof. L S Ganesh rocks at IIT Madras

The age of classic rock still lives within the sacred portals of IIT Madras; and it is people in their golden years, who carry on the flame and are passing it on to the younger generation. Sunday, 11th April 2010 the audience at the Central Lecture Theatre was mesmerized by the performance of an artist who defies the stereotype of his profession, and refuses to act his age. Thank God for that!

Prof. L S Ganesh, age 56, faculty at the Dept. Of Management Studies is a serial offender in terms of belting out the music that gave the genre its name. Rock. Pure and simple.

Starting off proceedings with a rendition of ‘Pinball Wizard’ by The WHO, the audience just sat back and lapped up the fare that followed. Having warmed up with that track, the band ensemble moved on to play Pink Floyd’s ‘Brain Damage’. The heat was on, and if it wasn’t for those cramped auditorium chairs, people would have been on their feet, dancing. Not letting the rhythm drop, the band performed a Steely Dan number, but more was to come.

Deep Purple has a way of catching people’s attention. And in no small way were the crowd shaken up when the familiar strains of ‘Smoke On The Water’ picked up. The race was on to see whether the song or the cheers would fill up the hall first. It was a beautiful performance, one that the junta at IIT had been deprived of, since Prof. Ganesh had not performed in public for the past two years.

Next was a track by Sting, followed up by the chugging ‘Locomotive Breath’ by Jethro Tull. For people who thought that the show would also be approaching a stop, were just blown away when next song performed was none other than the rock anthem ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin. As if that didn’t send people into a frenzy, the double whammy was completed by playing ‘Highway Star’ by Deep Purple again.

By this time the audience was in no mood to let up, and the band complied. With a Van Halen number ‘Jump’ the show rolled on, with people wishing that it could go on till midnight.

Yet all good things must come to an end. The last song for the night turned out to be a peppy number from a long forgotten band called ‘Traffic’, which seemed the perfect way to wind up things.

Thrilled to the bone, would be an apt way to put how everyone in the hall felt. The beats, the rhythm the melody and the punch; the music seemed like an exhilarating joy ride. A music that reaches inside of people and jolts them. Shakes them up. It makes people feel as if they’re dancing inside, swaying to some untold tune, moving away from reality for a little while, and approaching a new one. For late comers, it is called Rock. And it lives.

Cheers to Prof. L S Ganesh and band.


Contributed by 
Edwin Antony, MBA 1st Year

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sourcing from China! by Mr. K. Swaminathan

The dragon nation has always been a mystery. Its stupendous growth in the last three decades has been an envy for both the developed and developing countries across the world.  The success story and the business environment of Asian countries like Japan, South Korea and Middle East nations has been widely discussed and analyzed in a many forums and business magazines. But, we are less exposed to the business environment in China.

So, “Corporate Wisdom” team arranged for an enlightening session on “Sourcing from China”. The speaker for the event was Mr. K. Swaminathan, Head – SCM, L&T – AUDCO India Limited. Mr. Swaminathan has spearheaded the initiative of Strategic Sourcing from China. He gave us a brief talk about L&T – AUDCO’s experience in China.

The lecture started with the introduction to the 5V’s of Sourcing. Then, the reasons for the success of China in manufacturing were widely discussed. China has advantage over India due to cheaper raw material, cheaper electricity, high labour productivity, efficient power transmission, lower cost of capital and better infrastructure.  The comparative study in the above factors, between India and China, clearly the described the advantages China has in manufacturing.

Then, we were briefed about the business environment in China.  The Chinese people are basically non-versatile in nature. So, to have a business relationship with China, we need tough peoples to convince them and also it’s more important for them to adapt with Chinese Culture. Only the “Quanxi” i.e. good relationship we maintain with Chinese businessmen will help during the tougher times, they will never yield to any other tactics.

The other difficulties in Sourcing from China are language, product quality and learning capabilities if Chinese. Only few Chinese people know English. So, for any long term business relationship in China, knowledge of Mandarin language is must.  China is notorious for its poor quality, so quality inspection before shipment is a must. Chinese, unlike Indians, can’t understand complex issues. So, it’s necessary to brief them repeatedly about our requirement, until they understand it.

The manufacturing techniques of Chinese firms are quite unique. Their techniques are simpler and cost effective, which also adds to their existing extraneous advantages.

At the end of the day, the dragon nation's business environment and practices were demystified to a great extent.

Contributed by
Balachandru G,
DoMS IIT Madras, MBA 2011 Batch.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shri D R Dhariwal, President , Birla White addresses DoMSians

On Tue, 6th April 2010, CEO Connect organized a talk by none other than Shri D R Dhariwal, President of Birla White, recently voted the best company of the Aditya Birla Group. The topic for the talk was ‘Challenges in Marketing in Tomorrow’s World’.

Sh. Dhariwal, shared with the audience his immense industry experience and the wisdom gained by years of dedicated hard work. He began by pointing out how much had changed in the world and how differently business decisions are taken in today. Adapting to these changes and responding to them in a pert manner, is the challenge that we face today. How well we face these challenges, decides our future.

The concept of the power of an idea was illustrated by relating the success story of Birla White. A relatively non-hot selling industrial commodity, facing stiff competition from the traditional grey cement, White Cement was a real marketing challenge. Innovation was the key which unlocked the doors to unprecedented growth for the company. Now Birla White has more than two-thirds of the market share and last year was adjudged the best company in the Aditya Birla Group of Companies, by eminent jurists such as Mr. O P Bhatt and Mr. Nandan Nilekani.

The turnaround did not happen by magic. It was a concerted effort, based on the mantra which formed the crux of the message that Shri Dhariwal conveyed. The mantra was ‘see differently, think differently, understand differently and the results will be different.’ It sounds simple enough, but applying it to daily business, was how Birla White showed its true power. Building new products with white cement, finding alternate uses, implementing programs such as ‘wealth from waste’ and getting people at all levels within the company to generate creative ideas – all this was what Birla White did differently.

Shri Dhariwal pointed out that one should have a measure of one’s progress, because what cannot be measured cannot be controlled. He added that one should strive to understand one’s customer. The latent needs should be identified. Moreover, relations should be maintained with sincerity, and not as a formality.  To this end Birla White implements the ‘Voice of Customer’ program to stay connected to their customers.

In closing Shri Dhariwal said that we should spend time on ourselves. It is an investment that will pay rich dividends. He very correctly mentioned that in today’s times we sometimes forget ourselves, where we are headed, what we’re really trying to achieve. He asked the students to spend time on their dreams; to believe in whatever ideas they have, to work on them and see them through to success. One of the most memorable statements made by him during the talk was while replying to a question on recession affecting the performance of the company. His answer? ‘Recession is a state of mind’.  Now that, is a different perspective. A kind of difference this world could do more with.

Contributed by
Edwin Antony, MBA 1st year 

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