June 30, 2006

The Bald and the beautiful

July 4th, 2006
Due to the possibility of a modelling assignment anytime this or the next month, I will be delaying the bald look till further notice. Hell, I forgot to factor in this ritual that the senior batch of MBA students have to undergo every year. I wouldn't want to look like a don to the recruiters who flock this place. Sorry to disappoint you folks!

I am planning to go bald. My sis has given strict warnings against it. But then what do cute 11 year old girls know about the sex appeal of bald men (read about it somewhere!) ... ;)

Jokes apart, just want to try something different. And since there is no girlfriend, wife, mistress who will threaten to leave me if I do take the step, I've decided why not? Just wait till the current crop of hair has reached its threshold length. I'll post the pics of the bald and the beautiful. ;)

June 29, 2006


No, this is no boyfriend-girlfriend post. I am in the mood for gyaan, especially given the fact that I have some free time today and that I haven't posted regularly for quite some time. So here goes.

Business is driven by relationships. Think about it. Good relationships with customers get you loyal customers. Good relationships with bankers get you better financing options. Good relationships with suppliers eases working capital requirements. Good relationships with employees increases your productivity. You get the drift?

Sadly, almost all B-Schools in India (I dunno about B-Schools abroad) do not have a single input on how to manage relationships. There are tangential courses on Personality Development, and most are electives to the streams of Human Resources or Personnel Management. There is a course on CRM (Customer Relationship Management) but as far as my knowledge, it has been classified as an Information Management elective.

So what does that leave us with? Management graduates who are more attuned to quantitative models and methods rather than relationship builders. It does not help that the large number of MBA's we generate these days are engineers, who love to play around with math. Management unlike math is about ambiguity. As managers you got to make the right decisions from very hazy scenarios. There is no 2+2=4. No exactness. There are many soft issues which need to be taken into account.

But engineers (most of them) hate subjects on the topic of Human Resources or Organisational Behaviour. There are two schools of thought. One, the freshers who cant understand jackshit of how HR / OB concepts are applicable. Two, experienced guys who have cursed their HR Dept. all their working life. At the end of the day, walk into any class on HR / OB and you'll see bored faces. This is compounded by poor faculty in many parts of the country who cannot relate theory to practice.

There is hope though. In my interactions with fellow MBA students over the past one year I have been able to feel a latent opinion that networking is important. How to go about it, and establish strong relationships from nominal contacts is something that has yet to take off. So unless you have it as an internal attribute, you may never develop or hone your relationship management skills in a Bschool. It may take you years of being close to customers, employees, partners before you manage to establish relationships with all of them. And if I can do that over that long a period of time, even after going to a BSchool whats the point in spending time in one.

As I said earlier, think about it.

June 28, 2006

Summer gyaan

And after I'm through with it please do not come searching for me with a sawed off double barrel shotgun. Thats the precise reason why I had 'gyaan' factored in the title of this post.

Well it all started off with me getting my posting at Corporate Strategy. After going throught the strategy course in Term III, I was convinced that this was another faff job. Not to question the professors credentials, but more as an expectation gap. Well thats how I started off, with faff, in the first review due April end. Shockingly, the guide shot it down and thankfully, he dint castrate me. We have been so used to the method of strategising in cases without knowning the context of the situation that we have become champions at rattling arbit fundaes on comparitive advantage, co-operative strategies, Porter's five forces, Red & Blue oceans, BCG matrix, etc. What happenend at ABG was different.

After the April review, I was urged to start reading history. Yes, history. So for a week all I did was read the stories of the industry I was working on. After that I had a fair idea of how the industry had moved over the years. In short, I got into the context of my work. The project suddenly came alive when I understood the background of work and the future implications of my work. History provided the base to understand competitor actions, which in turn helped to understand the motivations behind those actions, which finally led to isolation of their strengths and crytalised into the way they evaluate alternatives (which is what strategy is all about). Then of course you got to validate your hypothesis (as to how a competitor evaluates alternatives) by looking at their annual reports, law cases, analyst reports, etc. (The finance part!)

By May end, I was done. Better still, I was able to strategize for the business unit I was working on. I divided the critical factors for alternative evaluation into three main categories and devised a model. The model was short and to the point. It captured everything I wanted to say, each category described by one word that stood for everything within it. I showed the model (just the model, without the background, context and the research) to a friend, a fellow MBA student, and a pretty decent one at that. Guess what he told me? "What gas man! What the hell does this mean?" I presented the same thing to my Dept. Head. This time after updating them on the background, context, and the research analysis. "Excellent" was the reaction.

The point I want to make is this. In B-Schools we are presented with the tip of the iceberg. This may not neccesarily be the fault of the case writer, professor or the student. Companies are wary of revealing much especially in a market as competitive as today. But we can surely do a little better with some background information; and I'm not talking of the little paragraph before the actual case begins. I'm talking of the stories of the industry. What caused the change, why did the industry move the way it did, how did they evaluate their alternatives, and so on. Without it, strategy is and will always be faff.

June 17, 2006

I'm Back

Im Back! *Saying it with the syle of Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire* ;)

Almost been 3 weeks since I made a post. The last days of the month of May were spent making presentations to the top brass at The Aditya Birla Group. From first impressions they seemed to like my work. And I also like the place. The more I think of it, it seems the only place where I can get a profile of my choice, rather than the analytics / MoFS (Marketing of Financial Services) / etc. types of profiles that are on offer here.

We interns had a great time at Gyanodaya making our presentations to HR, enjoying the good food, the fellowship with other interns and last of all the party at COs at Lower Parel. That was the grand way we brought the summers to an end.

A small vacation to Mangalore recharged my batteries. Especially the travelling. The Matsyagandha express chugs through the picturesque Konkan and the advent of the monsoon the week before made the place look even more beautiful. It had been 3 years since I had been to Mangalore and the place surely has changed. For one, many people understand Hindi which is a HUGE improvement from the days when I visited Mangalore as a kid. Roads have improved in many places. And though I didn't visit the city I'm told that much has changed there too.

Come the 11th and it was rush-back-to-college time. Unfortunately, I fell sick. Not one of the best ways to start the new academic year. Travelled by Kingfisher this time. A relief from the Dhakkan days. No waiting at the airport, no delay in takeoff, no hassles, all the women staff smile in this half flirting way that makes you smile back and keep smiling long after you've they've seen you off. A good flight. My first good flight.

Well thats the story so far. Watch this space for more updates!