Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reflections on my turning points- Personal, professional, social and philanthropic

“Luck is all about being prepared to grab opportunities”- Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan

It was February 9th 2011; the stage was set for Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan to deliver one of the best lectures MILS has ever hosted. Mr. Gopalakrishnan, an alumnus of IIT Madras, is one of the seven founders of Infosys Ltd. He took over as the CEO and Managing Director of Infosys Ltd. from Nandan Nilekani in 2007 and is now serving as the co-chairman.
Mr. Gopalakrishnan began the talk with the citation of Global Delivery Model (GDM) that was pioneered by Infosys. GDM ensures the effective/ efficient distribution of application and business process lifecycle activities and resources, while ensuring their integration; key drivers of GDM being: processes, quality, tools, knowledge management, program management and risk mitigation. After discussing the key points of GDM, he stated that IT industry has a full range of offerings and it has a long way to go.
Mr. Gopalakrishnan shared some anecdotes from his entrepreneurial journey; how he was able to contribute to the inception of Infosys with the other six founders. After passing out from IIT Madras, he joined Patni Computers. Thereafter, the idea of starting off a venture struck them (all 7 founders), and eventually he took a loan from his family for setting up Infosys in 1981. The founders were denied of loans by banks, which motivated them to become a zero “debt” company. Mr. Gopalakrishnan gave a useful tip for fund-raising when he quoted “The best time to raise funds is when you are doing well”.
He gave some interesting insights into what aspects a firm should concentrate on to be successful. He stressed on the importance of teams; how valuable it is for the team members to have similar values and aspirations. Referring again to Global delivery model, he said “cheaper is temporary, but faster is permanent” to emphasize on the fact that “competitive advantage based on just cost is temporary”. Another interesting thought that he shared was about leadership and its significance. Referring to Infosys, he said final decisions are made by the CEO and success of company is kept above individual success as far as any decision is concerned.
Taking Infosys as an example, he said that it’s imperative for an organization to pace itself and “adapt the model to suit constraints”.  Infosys laid its foundation in the years 1991-1999. It became the first Indian company to get listed on US exchange. 1999-2004 was the “scaling-up” period; during this period they reached the mark of one billion dollars in terms of revenue. 2004-till date is the period of diversification and globalization for Infosys. Infosys is still growing at the rate of 16% which is tremendous as far as current global scenario is concerned.
It was an honor to be a part of the audience to which Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan was addressing. The lecture was intellectually stimulating and “constructive” if I can put it that way, for an MBA student.

Compiled By:
Aditya Ghai
MILS | Batch of 2013

Photo Courtesy:
Mauryanath Das
DoMS Interface
Batch of 2013

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Globalizing the Aravind Way and Aurolab

The MBA Invitation Lecture Series (MILS) was honoured to host Mr. Thulasiraj Ravilla, Director-Operations and Board member, Aravind eye care system for a lecture on “ Globalizing the Aravind way and Aurolab” on 2nd  February 2012. Mr. Ravilla is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta. He also serves as the head of LAICO-Aravind Eye Hospital Care System and the initiative “VISION 2020- The right to Sight-India”.
Aravind’s community activities
Aravind Eye Hospital was established in 1976 by Dr. G. Venkataswamy as an 11- bed clinic, dedicated to provide compassionate services for sight. To realize its mission, it was important for Aravind to understand the bottom of the pyramid. Mr. Ravilla stated that “the poor are a lot more sensitive” than what we presume them to be. The under-privileged have to manage fluctuating incomes and survive under difficult conditions.
As part of its mission, Aravind eye hospital organizes community activities in villages which occur as often as 2000 times a year. Villagers are tested in the camps and then taken to hospitals. These camps were able to reach around 6-7 lakh people per year. This seems to be a humungous figure as far as numbers are concerned, but as Mr. Ravilla said, percentage-wise the reach was just 7%. So, Aravind hospitals changed their approach and started thinking about a cost-effective solution to expand their reach.
The new approach
Mr. Ravilla with Prof. L.Prakash Sai
Aravind eye care along with its community outreach programmes, established permanent facilities in villages, staffed by technicians (as it is tough to get doctors to work in villages). These facilities allowed patients in rural areas to be remotely diagnosed by ophthalmologists at the base hospital. At the hospital, they incorporated plenty of cost-effective measures, one of which was low-cost imaging (reducing the cost from $25000 to $250). The entire consultation fee was just Rs.20. This programme was highly successful and achieved 80% penetration.  
Emphasizing on the hospital’s efficiency, Mr.Ravilla quoted that the key lies in “utilizing the bottleneck resources fully”. In Aravind, around 6-8 surgeries are performed per hour as compared to a normal operating time of 1 hour for any other hospital.
Aravind’s global footprints
From an 11 bed hospital in 1976, Aravind Eye care has grown into a 4000 bed hospital, housing a staff of more than 3000. A day at Aravind involves 1000 surgeries and more than 6000 outpatients which makes it the largest provider of eye care in the world. The hospital has received numerous international awards (including Gates Award) and there are case studies done by B-schools of the stature of Harvard Business School, IIM-A and many more. Mr. Ravilla elicited that their “philosophy is not to strive for dominance, but to create a market”.

Aurolab- manufacturing arm of Aravind Eye hospital
Before citing the achievements of Aurolab, Mr. Ravilla explained how a modern cataract surgery is done. It gives normal vision without glasses by replacing the natural lens with an artificial lens called intraocular lens (IOL). When it was initially introduced, the price was $100 which the poor just could not afford. Aurolab, with its effective procedures, brought down the price to $10(now $2). Aurolab manufactures IOL, sutures, surgical blades and other equipments. Since its inception in 1975 as a non-profit organization, it has been instrumental in manufacturing innovative products like Latanoprost (Refrigeration- free medicine) and Vozole(anti-fungal eye drops). The impact of Aurolabs has been two-fold: increased availability and affordability; reduction in prevalence of cataract and other eye ailments. The high quality and low cost products of Aurolab have also forced the competition to do the same.
In a nutshell, Aravind eye care system is a coherent organization led by a bold leadership. As one of the best case studies, it gives us the lesson of going the extra mile and growing beyond individual self.

Compiled By:
Aditya Ghai
Batch of 2013

Photo courtesy :
Rajan Vishwadeep
Class of 2013

You are visitor number