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Today, we live in a world where man is progressing every single day. Just like every coin has two sides, along with progress on one hand, man has created lot many problems for himself on the other. These problems also include numerous social issues, out of which, one staring us in the face today is of the so-called ‘generation gap’. In view of the same, an initiative was taken up by SIESCOMS, in the form of ‘A face-to-face talk show involving the senior citizens and the youth’. The purpose of this event was to address the various problems caused by generation gap, and to inculcate a sense of social sensitivity in the student community.
The talk show was conducted on Friday, 05th October 2012. The participants belonged to two extreme generations, the ‘sixty-plus’ age group and the ‘barely twenty-five’ age group. The guests of the talk show were eleven members of The Senior Citizens’ Association, CBD Belapur. There were some in their sixties and others in their eighties. Nonetheless, each one of them was enthusiastic and young at heart.
The two hour long session, saw very lively and hearty discussions on the various issues faced by the two generations, and methods to resolve them. The start of the session saw the topic of the relevance of the older generation’s experience in today’s world. The answers from the students portrayed varied points of view. But, the lucid explanation given by one of the senior members as, “By the time a man realises that may be his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he is wrong” proved to be most convincing.
The discussion, then took a turn towards money matters and ‘Whether money is everything in life?’. Varied views were presented regarding the same. Some agreed with the fact that money indeed was the panacea to all difficulties and one should always focus on earning more money. Whereas, some others were of the opinion that, more than money, it is the peaceful sleep at night that matters. It was a nice attempt to make the younger generation realize, when and to what extent, money should be given importance.
The next problem addressed, was that of social and cultural aspects. Here, a few students were of the opinion that, both the generations shared common core values, the difference was only in the way the values were being implemented. Other students begged to differ, by saying that, it is the dynamics of the societal demands that leads to the changes in the value system of each generation. To this, the senior members had one unanimous point to make, that said, in order to progress in the right way, one essentially needs to have a right value system in place.
Next was a problem that hundreds of Indian parents are facing today, that of their children settling abroad, without caring for their old parents who are left behind feeling lonely and impaired. The various problems faced by such parents and also the reasons for the same were discussed. Also, some students opined that settling abroad gave them better opportunities to support their families in India and abroad. A solution to the issue was suggested by one of the senior members, as, “Probably, children should go abroad, as they must not miss out on the promising opportunities. But, they need to set a limit, on fulfilling which, they should fly back home and be there for their parents”. A sensitive issue, as it was, created a very emotional atmosphere.
As the session drew towards closure, it was unanimously agreed upon by both the generations, that with a little effort from either side, the generation gap could be easily bridged. The students were very content for having had the opportunity to interact with the experienced senior section of the society. They looked up to the senior citizens with renewed respect and gratitude. To this, the senior citizens reciprocated with a lot of concern and affection.
It was indeed a holistic learning experience and served as a value addition to the student community. Such sessions, help us become more socially sensitive, and to relate to the various problems faced by the society. The students of SIESCOMS would indeed look forward to more of such interactive sessions.
MMS – A (2012-14)
Dr. Geeta Bharadwaj was the Executive Director, IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality Award (RBNQA) Trust. She is a Senior Economist and an avid researcher. She has played a guiding role in several research projects and was also an Administrator of IMC RBNQA.
Dr. Geeta is now the lead faculty for training programs at IMC RBNQA Trust. She is internationally recognized as the only ‘Indian Woman Quality Professional Leader’. Dr. Geeta is also a winner of MIFLORA MINOZA GATCHALIAN MEDAL 2006 conferred by International Asia Pacific Quality Organization for being a woman quality professional who has distinguished herself as a person with known integrity. She is also well known for her outstanding contributions to the promotion of quality innovation and practice in the Asia Pacific Region.
Q. Dr. Geeta, being an M.A and PhD in Economics, how did working in quality happen to you?
In 1993, Mr. Harsh Goenka – the then President of IMC, set up the Quality Technology Improvement Committee to bring in an award system for Indian organizations. I took charge of that committee. For two years, we studied all the awards all around the world like the Demming Prize, EFQN, Malcomn Baldridge etc. We decided to develop the IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality Award (IMC RBNQA) on the lines of Malcomn Baldridge and that is how the RBNQA happened and this whole journey of Quality and excellence began.
Q. Which are the ideologies of RBNQA that can be inculcated by us?
I don’t know if you can call it ideologies, but one thing which will help you on the road to excellence is ‘Practice’, because they say it takes 10,000 hours for a person to be excellent in anything. Be it violinist or a flutist, you need to practice those many hours. It also takes a lot of innovation and creativity to be excellent, only then others can be inspired by you.
Q. As you know SIES is also certified from RBNQA, what more can we do to excel?
One of the outputs of RBNQA is that it gives a feedback report in accordance to the application submitted by the institution. The institution can go back to the feedback report and find out the gaps in them and understand what needs to be done to improve upon them. It’s been 4-5 years since SIES won the award. Today, they take social media as a criterion, i.e. how well the institution uses social media to understand its customers i.e students, and their problems. Different students have different opinions and problems. So one of the important aspects is how to get this information from the students and then filter the required data.
I’ll give you a small example, ISB, as all of you must be knowing, Indian School of Business, it’s a beautiful place. I have been there, interacted with the students and people, and the system they have there is wonderful. I thought the students wouldn’t be having any problems there. But when I asked a person there, he said students do have issues and that they have a feedback form to know their problems. They have complains like ‘they have a fixed menu’ or even bizarre ones like ‘there isn’t a beauty parlour nearby’. No matter what, people will always have issues. Hence, customer feedback is very essential. It is necessary to see what the customer wants so that you can improve from the feedback you get.
Q. Please tell us about customer focus as an RBNQA criterion?
Customer focus is an important aspect in quality. Long back about 20-25 years ago, when ISO came with a standard for quality measurement, customers were not given much importance. It was more of a process oriented system. But now, if you want to achieve excellence then understanding the customer is a must. You can understand the customers by answering questions like ‘Is he coming back to you again?’, ‘Is he loyal to you?’, ‘Is he trying to see other options?’, ‘How vulnerable is your customer?’ In a rating of 1-5 if he gives you a rating of 1, then he is most vulnerable and he may shift any time, if he gets an option.
Quite often, the customer may not be satisfied and may not even be complaining, then you wouldn’t even know. So, you should be happy that your customers are complaining because it lets you improve and grow. Once you get your customer feedback, you have to improve upon the things that are lacking and give them what they want, so that they continue to be loyal. Customer is the fulcrum of the journey towards excellence; it is a summit where you must strive to reach.
Q. What are the learnings from RBNQA and how can it help us as students and budding managers?
Excellent organizations all over the world function during different times facing different challenges. What they do, what are their best practices, are all taken as criteria for the award. It’s not a prescriptive model but it is model which tells you what you are doing. It identifies the gaps, if any, and enables you to improve your quality in your own way, along with bringing in innovation and creativity.
As a student you will be able to understand how world class organizations function and as a business person you will be able to see and understand the best practices that other companies follow all over the world which you can try to emulate in your own organization.
Malleswari Bhupathi (PGDM 2012 -14)
Ashwin Govindankutty (MMS 2012 – 14)
Look up ‘Entrepreneur’ in the dictionary and you’ll find it says, ‘an enterprising individual who builds capital through risk and/or initiative and in a way creates employment for others’. But easier said than done, it is not just an art but also a science. Being a successful entrepreneur is a fruit of long struggle, hard work and the desire to excel.
Mr. Shounak Deshmukh, CEO of the Talent Networks, an HR consulting company, is one man who gave up his high profile corporate job to live his dream of being an entrepreneur.
“Being an entrepreneur was not easy at all”, shares Mr. Deshmukh. Coming from 18 years of Human Resources background in a corporate job and playing a support function role, he was never really exposed to the reality of chasing revenue targets. “It was very hard for me to give up my lucrative, predictable corporate pay check. All of a sudden, the glamour of working for a large Financial Service Institutions like JPMorgan wasn’t there”, he recollects. He knew right then that the individual credibility that he had built over the years was his only asset. And his professional and personal associations are exactly what gave him his initial business.
A Rough and Tough Beginning
Shaken as he was from his comfort zone during the start of his venture, Mr. Deshmukh considers himself fortunate to have had like-minded, dedicated colleagues to work with him in the new set up. It was with their help and his own resoluteness that Mr. Deshmukh incorporated ‘Talent Networks’ with the sole aim of creating a world class consulting firm that will help organizations manage the ‘people side’ of their enterprise – effectively, efficiently, and innovatively. “We had a small beginning followed with a steadily increasing presence. It has been our continuous endeavour to focus on our vision of providing ‘360 degree solutions, by adding distinct value to our clients, by consistently innovating and delivering on our promise”, he says. Being a consulting and solutions providing firm, the initial investment was not huge and was taken care of through internal funding by means of Director’s unsecured loans.
All in a day’s work
When he is not working closely with his team addressing delivery issues, guiding and coaching them to meet revenue targets, Mr. Deshmukh is interacting with clients – either pitching for more business or servicing assignments. “Initially thoughts of giving up my entrepreneurial dream and to go back to my corporate job touched my mind several times. However, every time that happened I surprised myself. The confidence of my team made me determined to face newer challenges. It compelled me to develop my business skills, sales & marketing skills and understand the financial implications of running a business”, he shares. Over the years of interacting with Senior HR managers and business leaders, he has learnt to continually get a sense of their ever-changing business challenges and track the latest developments in the market so that they are enabled to serve their clients better. He says, “In the process, we have learnt to be more patient, and have developed our coaching and consulting skills to deal with different styles with varying leadership depths. We have also learnt to recognise and gauge the seriousness of our client in order to avoid misuse of our time”.
Customer is King
Having taken off well, it was now important for Talent Networks to have a strong and dependable client base. “You have to constantly keep adding distinct value to your clients to sustain and survive”, Mr. Deshmukh points out. “In the contingent search business, we are paid for our ‘results, and not for our ‘best efforts’, unlike in our corporate role. It taught us about focusing sharply on the end results and successfully closing the search mandate.” Talent Networks consciously realises that repeat business comes only if the
output and the quality of the delivery is good, so every effort is made to provide the customer exactly what he expects, or at least a little more than that!
Mr. Deshmukh suggests two things that are essential for optimum customer focus: One is a ‘good team’ that understands the clients’ language and needs, picks up abstract assignments and converts them into meaningful and valuable outcomes for the client. Secondly, building relationships with clients to create strong ‘Brand Recall’ is what ensures that your business keeps running.
A final word
“We have learnt that what made us successful in the first two years of our business will not necessarily deliver success as we move forward. So, we ensure that we have a dynamic business approach, which is flexible enough to keep pace with the changing economy.” To young and aspiring entrepreneurs, Mr. Deshmukh has just two pieces of advice:
One, Don’t try to be a serial entrepreneur. Have a dream, a vision to create something that you ‘passionately’ want to realise.
And secondly, Think long term. Being an entrepreneur is a ‘way of life’. By not giving yourself enough time to succeed, you are only setting yourself up for failure as an entrepreneur.
So, Chase your Dream and Live it!
Reagan Chettiar MMS (2012-14)
Rahul Girisan MMS (2012-14)
Dr. A.K. Sengupta, currently serving as Mentor at SIESCOMS has vast experience in the field of education. It gives us immense pleasure to share his thoughts with our readers.
Q) After having worked with several reputed colleges, you are now back in SIESCOMS. According to you, how different is SIESCOMS from the other colleges you have worked with?
Dr. A.K.S: Firstly, the SIESCOMS campus harbours a divine ‘serenity’ which is unique in its own way since most of the college campuses seen around are very flashy in nature. This serenity in SIESCOMS is definitely a differentiating factor. Here, majority of the students are from the middle class background and they are well disciplined. Adding to it, a vast majority of our faculty is young and vibrant, which helps them connect with the students effectively. What one can vividly observe is an appropriate ‘channelization’ of energy, thoughts and leadership qualities which has contributed to building a good and strong value system in SIESCOMS.
Q) You have always been passionate about education, and have founded the Higher Education Forum (HEF). What was the inspiration behind forming HEF?
Dr. A.K.S: I always envisioned to initiate an individual driven forum of intellectuals and of people who are involved in managing and administering higher education. HEF is like a strong voluntary force which aims at facilitating a transformation in higher education. It is not politically motivated or supported by any political agenda. I strongly believe that the prime stake holders of every educational institute i.e. the ‘teachers’ are the ones who can be instrumental in bringing about this transformation. In the near future, we expect the HEF youth wing to contribute in a big way towards building a value based, integrated and educated society!
Q) Don’t you think primary education in India also needs a major reform?
Dr. A.K.S: Yes, definitely. In fact, primary education needs immediate and heavy reforms. I think children should be raised in a tension free environment without being taken aback by the social differences. But we, as HEF, are directly connected to and wish to endavour in the realm of higher education and so we are focusing on it.
Q) In schools and colleges, how can teachers help in developing essential skills and competencies in the students?
Dr. A.K.S: I strongly believe that there is a lack of integration and a bitter divorce between the education and skills. Anil Kakodkar’s commission proposes that each student must compulsorily pick a skill of his/her choice and interest and develop it. For instance, out of the total 1000hrs dedicated to an MBA course, the student must devote at least 100 hours on developing that particular skill. Implementation of such programs will immensely improve the current state of education, and integrate skills acquisition as an important part of the system.
Q) Your message to aspiring MBA students and MBA aspirants?
Dr. A.K.S: ‘The future of the country belongs to you. Do well and be good.’
Interview & Compilation : Snehal Deore (PG-Pharma 2011-13)
Jagjit Phull, a computer engineer by education and an entrepreneur by profession tells us what it takes to break the regular mould and go on the path less travelled.
When you are a computer engineer with a job at an illustrious multinational company, you’d be considered crazy if you even mention the idea of starting from scratch. But this is exactly what successful entrepreneurs like Jagjit Phull do. A graduate from Bharathi Vidyapeeth (1992-1996), Mr. Phull worked with D-link (Manufacturing electronic goods) for two years. That was topped by General Electronics (GE) where he learned about the six sigma concept. His next job at IBM, according to him, was by far one of the best learning grounds any engineer could ask for.
So what made him switch to his personal project of Linux Classes? He says, “It was the lack of a challenge”. Both technical as well as financial growth should go hand in hand for complete job satisfaction, but that did not happen. “There came a point when there was financial growth but technically it was not challenging enough and I was not enjoying it”, he recalls. The appraisals for the IT sector were no talking point either. One can soon get complacent and in no time, growth stops and you get the pink slip. “One should keep jumping, and continually find new stimulus. So, I decided to jump to what I liked most – ‘LINUX’.
Every challenge comes with its fair share of difficulties but Mr. Phull seemed confident in his ability to weather any storm. The project started with only a small group of students and involved training them in labs. Being a computer engineer he would connect the routers and switches himself. Marketing and advertising costs were curtailed as he did not believe in wasting resources. “We don’t even pass pamphlets, so we save trees too”, he adds jokingly. Clearly the only thing the project relies on is the robust word of mouth publicity they enjoy.
Although he was lucky enough to float by easily, Mr. Phull is unhappy with the lack of openness of our education system today. “Our current education system doesn’t encourage entrepreneurship. Parents only care about grades and what the society thinks. Students today lack emotional and spiritual intellect”. Mr. Phull believes there are four pillars of education: intellectual, physical, spiritual and emotional. He staunchly advocates that today’s generation should go back to the gurukul way of learning rather than blindly emulating the Harvard way.
Finally, he ends with a Sanskrit shlok ‘sa vidya yeh ya vimukta’ which means ‘education liberates’. “LINUX made a difference to my life and I want to give back to society and contribute to making India better.” I wish more and more truly educated students develop the courage of building their own stepping stones towards entrepreneurial success.
Interview by: Malleswari Bhupathi (PGDM 2012-14)
Edited by: Manjiri Durge (PGDM 2012-14)
Dr. Bakul Mukherjee started his journey as an ENT Specialist; he worked for the Indian Air force before he joined Indigene. Later he shifted to PharmARC Analytic Solutions and after the integration of the companies; he is now the Director of IMS health.
Here Dr. Bakul shares the learning and insights he has gained over the years so that it may serve as a guiding light for all the young guns ready for corporate.
1- Being a doctor, does the way you think about a problem or design a solution in the management realm differ? In which way?
Dr. Bakul – Whenever a patient comes to me I look for the signs and symptoms. If the signs and symptoms are not very clear then usually I ask a few leading questions. The patient’s responses and a little logical thinking solve the problem. This could be applied to a managerial role but, at times doing a project is an entirely different ballgame. When you are a manager or a team leader, the key factors are: what are you delivering, social intelligence, empathy, compensation, thinking and skill sets. From the body language, the manager should be able to understand that the employees are not happy or are expecting something else. At a subconscious level, I can relate to the behavioural cues and understand that there are different ways to lead people. I have picked up some of these skills from my medical profession. So yes, you will always sense a logical and rational thinking in whatever I do.
2- In Pharma consultancy firms, in which areas do you see a scope of improvement ?
Dr. Bakul – The sphere of Pharma consulting includes R & D consulting, regulatory and marketing consulting. It is very structured. The key for success is how effectively you work around different facets of information available. A specific area can’t be pointed out but yes, relating patient information or patient behaviour to different types of information available will open up an entirely new platform for Pharma consulting. It will be an entirely different vertical to work around.
3- What are the essential qualities that you think are necessary in an individual to be EMPLOYABLE?
Dr. Bakul– According to me, along with analytical and logical thinking, communication skill is very important. The behavioural qualities which I look for are confidence, the will to learn plus a good attitude. The candidate must be able to jell well with a variety of people. I would like to highlight that experienced candidates stand a better chance at times but other skill sets are also equally important. A fresher’s thinking is not cluttered, so that helps many a times.
4- It is always said that “Smart work is more important than hard work”. What do you think?
Dr. Bakul – I would say both are equally important. At the start of your career you have to work hard and slog. Smartness in your work counts when you are moving up the ladder. Hard work always pays at a very slow pace, but it definitely does. Also I would like to emphasise that as long as you do your work in the best possible manner, it does not matter at what time you come and leave!
5- People always say “We must keep our professional and personal lives separate.” What is your take on it?
Dr. Bakul – Yes, it is ideally necessary but practically difficult. One has to maintain a perfect balance between work and life. It is not that if I am at home I don’t think of work at all. But whenever I am on vacation I either complete my work before everyone wakes up or at night before I go to sleep so that it is not a hindrance during my family time. Here’s when you have to be ‘smart’.
6- So how will you define corporate life?
Dr. Bakul- “Look busy, take it easy”!
7- What is your message for the students who would be joining the corporate soon?
Dr. Bakul – I would just like to say that be honest, be transparent, and work hard….it will surely be recognised and rewarded.
Interview and compilation by:
Founded by IIT and IIM alumni, Badhai.in is India’s first multi-brand eVoucher gifting service. Chirag Gupta, B.Tech from IIT Kanpur, presently VP at Badhai.in can never stop talking about the belief he has in this offering. “There’s never a planB in the entrepreneur’s mind”, he emphasises. “He begins with the idea – his baby, and is willing to risk it all to achieve what he believes is the idea’s potential. Even an iota of doubt will only prevent the entrepreneur from giving his 100%”, says Chirag. “Badhai.in is here to offer the freedom of choice & convenience when it comes to gifting to your near and dear ones.”
Cut through the chase, this is how Badhai.in works:
Now, this is what a consumer needs to know! But as a business student, think deeper!!!!
The Business model
Badhai.in has partnered with several prominent brands like Big Bazaar, Pantaloons, Flipkart, Inkfruit, Yebhi.com, Hushbabies.com and many more pan-India, giving the consumer a plethora of options to choose from. The recipient can shop for the amount in full or in parts with no additional / hidden charges!! So where does Badhai earn its revenue from? That’s where the crux of the business model lies. The partner brands that are associated with Badhai must pay a commission for every purchase made from their store through the Badhai voucher. After all, they won that particular customer because of Badhai!
“Every entrepreneur has to present a ‘proof of concept’ to convince investors to loosen their purse strings”, says Chirag. Further, he explains that every investor would want to know why he should invest in your idea, the level of success that can be possibly achieved and how long it will take before the business begins to churn out profits. To substantiate one’s idea with credible data points, it becomes imperative to roll out the business on a pilot scale and see how consumers respond to your offering and the scope of the business.
So, where does the funding for the pilot project come from? “Your own pocket!!” exclaims Chirag. For the first five to six months, the business runs on your own savings and from what your friends and relatives have been kind enough to contribute. Chirag says that the first thing an entrepreneur must get accustomed to is living in the absence of a steady source of income.
In the US and other western countries, crowd funding allows several individuals, not necessarily hard-core investors, to come together and collectively fund an idea that appeals to them. Chirag shares that crowd funding is a relatively new concept and is yet to gain ground in India. Also, people in the US don’t mind investing in an idea without proof of concept if they think that the idea is really great. Basically, it’s easier to get seed money in the West compared to India.
The first mover advantage that Badhai.in enjoys in individual and group gifting places it a notch above the rest, namely Sodexo which is a competitor in the corporate gifting realm. Moreso, Sodexo is a paper voucher player. Nowadays, brands/affiliates are shying away from accepting paper vouchers because of the hassles of duplication and the inherent inconvenience associated with it. As an outcome of this, they are willing to experiment with online vouchers. So, the setback for Sodexo is slowly proving to be a blessing in disguise for Badhai. “The Badhai team is also constantly innovating to find ways to ease and improve the entire gifting experience”, says Chirag. As of now, the recipient must first select the brands online from where he/she would like to shop, and then visit the store in person. Badhai intends to achieve a complete and deep technical integration with its partner brands where one can choose stuff while in a retail outlet, just send a message across to Badhai and shop on the go! They are already developing a mobile application that lets the user select the product first. Badhai has also enabled group gifting through a Facebook App.
Reaching the masses
Social media is a saviour of sorts to start-ups like Badhai.in that have the fire but not enough fuel to go big with advertising. However, with the $200,000 funding coming in, Badhai.in has some ambitious plans. Badhai.in will now focus on implementing non-conventional marketing and branding strategies along with strengthening its technical infrastructure. “Badhai aims to be an ‘instant’ choosing and gifting option for people across the country and a complete gifting solution partner for corporate”, says Chirag as he adds, “And like every other entrepreneurial venture, we want to be a billion dollar company!!”.
Badhai.in however, may want to consider that segment of people who consider gifting to be a very pompous and extravagant affair. Also, a few may not want to save the time they spend in thinking of and looking for a gift. For them, ‘that time’ is a sign of their love and commitment to their dear one. However, with the passage of time and the increase in levels of work and stress, this small and already endangered segment of people might soon become extinct, opening up an entirely new market for Badhai.in!!
A piece of advice
In conclusion, Chirag wishes to advise all aspiring entrepreneurs, “Entrepreneurship is a very challenging yet risky thing. It is a path which once taken, changes life completely. Anyone who wants to start something must think about the opportunity cost for doing so and must keep his family commitments and other responsibilities in mind. It should never be a blind jump as this decision not only affects a single person but all the people around him.”
Interview and compilation by:
Sharon Mary John
Batch of 2011-13