Are B Schools Serious?

Every time I hear someone is doing an MBA, I am just frightened to give any advice. In fact I did dissuade a few people over the past few weeks given that they were in a better position and well just wanted to do an MBA for the heck of it. Same way, I did guide a couple who were fixed on what to do and where to go post MBA, but just needed a jolt of confidence.

I am scared to suggest someone to do an MBA or rather PGPM as some B schools call it just because of two reasons 1) The aspirant is unplanned 2) The schools are just mushrooming everywhere and have everything to offer which might not be trustworthy.

The former case is just out of frustration, people are frustrated with the monotonousness in their current role and want to do something big. They just thing they can do big by doing an MBA. It does take a lot of patience and time to convince them that its no use doing an MBA for the heck of a degree in any Tom Dick and Harry B school. No school can be an IIM, XL or an ISB whatever the founder(s) claim(s)! But well, many fall into the trap and hardly get any improvement over their previous jobs or realize later that they would have grown way higher had they put up or been patient with their current jobs.

The second, except the top B schools, read the IIMs, XL and ISB, I am losing trust in the rest. Neither do they have proper industry backing that they claim nor they stick to their promise (Of course there are a few like one of them in Mysore, which openly quote that we are not a job factory, join for learning). Quote Unquote “I will increase the seats in this school over my dead body!”, said a dean of one of India’s still upcoming B Schools, but of late, I saw the same school increase its intake a couple of batches later and well above all change its offering. The school was known for its one year program, but looked like it decided to ditch its own premier offering for a 2 year program. Do understand this might be considering the market dynamics, but well the way it was branded and communicated, it looked like we are ditching our premier offering, which was a key differentiation. So the initial offering seemed like just a platform to build the brand and then….

The B schools go a long way promising placements, hiding the real facts on placements and falsely boost students’ confidence, but well the truth will be a lot different. In fact I know a dean who has claimed for three consecutive years (I did speak to ppl form three consecutive batches), that Mc Kinsey, BCG, Tata Administrative Services and Meryll Lynch would come to the campus for recruitment, but well except for a guest lecture from one of them, the statement has been a damp squib. In fact when I did my Masters as well, I was promised a certificate which authorizes me to do a 6 month Masters in US in a B school, haven’t seen the certificate till now! Glad that I got my degree certificate :).

My word to those who are aspiring any of the B School set up in the past decade or so – Don’t trust the advise given in Meet The Deans/ Admin Directors or any B School Show offs! Visit the school first and get first hand information. Then speak to the alums – who were there 2-3 years back preferably one from each batch and compare the information you have on hand. If you are studying in India, check the placement stats, very much in person. And yes, please do not take decisions in a haste – Not all B Schools are serious.

PS: Some opinions are personal, some shared within a group, expect the reader to visit the schools and take a call. I am still trying to understand why people want to do a Fast-Track MBA (I did as well) or rather an MBA without plans. The article has been written after my interactions with a few aspirants over the couple of months, who just wanted an MBA and probably will get one too…

Bee School Chronicles… Part 2

[Honest note: Things have changed after writing this article. This must be the third edition after censorship was imposed by quite a few of my friends and exclusive readers of this blog!]

Interestingly, the final version of this article is an outcome of a boring cricket match. I came down to Mysore hoping to see at least one India match on my Panasonic Viera, this world cup and well… ended up watching this till-now boring India-Ireland tie just under a hundred miles away at the Chinnaswamy. In the earlier post BSC1, had mostly covered how I joined Great Lakes and the first few I met over there. Without much fuss in Part II, I would cover the life over the next few terms before we head for a closure of the series sometime in Mid-April. The past two weeks, I have been walking a couple of people around the campus and the sad part, the first question they want to hear about mostly is where will we be placed! Not sure if my batchmates thought so as well. I feel the first question must focus on, I target this, if I need to be there, how will I achieve it. I may not be the right person to comment so given that I am still hunting for the two of my dream profiles, which seem to drift away every time they are near me! In the next few terms at Great Lakes, I saw many such people who did not know where to go, what to do in the long term, will the current profile suit them in the long term, whether, they would suit the organization they join – To me, these mattered more than just a job – My advice to the many who seek (Yeah… sometimes even I give free advice, just like everyone ;)), is that do not focus on a job focus on a career. There is quite a lot of difference between just a job and a career!

Era 2 (IGL – In Great Lakes)

The fun about a one year MBA is that you ‘have no time to think about anything and you have time to think about everything!’. My next ten months at Great Lakes were focused mostly on the lessons from each of the professors who threw light on the various career options subtly in their classes. It was upto us to pick up the cues and some did. Term one ended, Our dean had left and we were receiving his weekly mailers from NorthBrook, which remains a unique characteristic of Great Lakes. He was due to come back and teach us Managerial Accouting. Prof. Surysekar, being the doyen of Financial Accounting, had thwarted away my questions on Budgeting a few days earlier telling that it must be Prof. Bala who will teach you this and I do not want to take away the credits. I was wondering why!

Many took a break after Term 1. A few traveled as far as Mumbai leaving us, who stayed back to complete and submit the assignments on their behalf! Favors were returned back – not to worry! Before we could realize the classes had started. The stories of the terms were spicy, bland, sweet and yeah any other flavor you can think of. Karthik, my dear friend had ensured he will catch a seat for us in every class (more like a bus reservation), depending upon how interesting the class would be. We were assigned desks in some of the classes, but for the rest, we used to ensure that Maama – Krish, would sleep at peace. God knows what he was upto, he even ended up sleeping in the Dean’s class! But the moment he woke up, he would add some value and sleep back again.

Term 2 was lull and boring. Had an array of finance subjects and classes running almost 10-12 hours sometimes. Had the toughest exam of my life in Term 2. For a fact, I did not understand how Faculty Assistants were allocated, we had one of the most incompetent assistant for the most competent faculty (that happens even now!). Some subjects were a cakewalk. There were subjects on IT, Human Resources etc… but to rate the best subject of the Term, it was Macro Economics, taken by Dr. Rakesh Singh. He was dreaded before he landed in Great Lakes and when he left, he was the most adored one. The term also had the announcement of our new Career Services director, who would go on to become one of the most closest to students of Great Lakes in the coming days. He stayed on campus and was easily accessible for any queries 24/7. I think we had our Managerial Accounting classes this term as well and if I am not wrong, they were taken my Krish (whenever he did not sleep), Prannay and Priyanka.

Out of nowhere came Term 3, it was more or less the biggest brush with knowledge. Some subjects were repetitive, Management Information Systems and Statistics. Again, there was a grind of an Empirical Research going on – Just wondered, if I had touched upon so much Statistics even in Engineering! People always have problems and I realized that – Students had a problem with the way everything functioned, and Management had a problem with the way, the students functioned. The sufferers of wrong-regulations always suffered.

Term 3, was one of the most valuable terms in terms of knowledge. I had some fascinating subjects which laid the base for my future. Most people considered Strategy to be a little overboard (Yesterday, Mr. Haider even told me on the Wharf of the Temple Bay, that the way I explained something to him, I must be a Strategy major – Oh Comeon!), but well the basics that subject laid combined with a subject that would come in Term 7 was probably something no corporate should miss! Above all, we were probably being taught by one of the most experienced faculty in the domain. Jack Welch ruled. In fact, I re-started reading Jack – Straight from the Gut, right after my Strategy Classes. Every corporate house from Pepsi to Disney to GE were covered with the BCG’s – McKinseys and Porter’s model not giving a miss in a single class! Then we had Negotiations, by far one of the most practical subjects taught in the most practical way. Ahalya, Amol and Myself were involved in ‘pucca maaru’ types negotiations, sometimes without realizing who was creating value for whom! At end of the course one statement stood out – ‘Hold your bladders!’. The course also had one of the best movies I have seen in Great Lakes screened – The Negotiator. By the end of the course, we had Deepak Chopra’s amazing guide and had negotiated products ranging from a second hand Maruti car to a big Real Estate option.

We had Management Information Systems as well. Though it was a repeated course, for most of us from Technology, the Professor – Sridhar Nerur, added lots of value and gave tons of information on research and how to conduct research and the practicality of the research. We had a repetitive Quantitative Analysis subject and of course not to forget the first Operations Management subject covered by the coveted ‘Showman’ Vaidy Jayaraman. His classes were amusing and informative at the same time. One thing for sure, it was again one of the most enjoyable courses.

The term also introduced us to Market Research, the famous punchline of – ‘Close your Laptops’ was born. As one of my colleagues in one of his earlier mails to the class had mentioned, just to hear Prof. Bhardwaj make this statement, people used to keep the laptops open! It was fun enjoyable and well SPSS (the IBM product, not the nicknames!) was put to the best use in this class. Most of my batchmates ended up doing surveys standing in front of jewellery shops, being chased away by security guards etc… while we chose a path less traveled as usual… pitching in to study the response for the Supreme Court’s law on Article 371!

Last but not the least, we had the most soft spoken and doyen of Organizational Behavior, Prof Irudayaraj from XLRI come down to Great Lakes this term. His OB classes lasted just over an hour or so, but was attended with great respect and patience. He kind of had a fan club of his own, by the time he left the campus. The end of the term was however sad, Prof. Xavier had moved over to IIM Ranchi as its director and had left not only a vacant position in the organization but also in the hearts of many Gladiators. It took some time for the news to sink in.

The Big Bang happened – We moved to Term 4, we had to choose our own electives. My God! Calm down, nothing happened, but I was overawed by the confusion that reigned over choosing the electives! My list was clear, if you wanted to go and do something, you know what to pick – unless that subject was scrapped and you were confused! So big was the confusion that alumni came down to the campus and the Career club had got down people from IIM-C Alumni association to guide us! Cool though, got to interact with quite a few people, though the meets were of little help for me in choosing my electives.

Term 4, by far remains the best in terms of my academic performance as well as interests. The term started off with the much hyped ‘Leadership Influence and Power’ course. The course needs no introduction to Great Lakers and yeah I had written an SOP to get selected to that course. The course lived up to the hype and I will not disclose the course contents abiding by its bylaws. Dr. Venkat ensured that each of us think practically and bring out the best in the class. I am sure that the entire set of 55, who completed the course, did not miss even a single pre-read and are honored to have studied under him. For those who had not picked the course, the fact that we used to stick to our rooms and study was a problem – ‘LIP waalo… Baahar Aaaao Saalo’ had become a synonymous cry everyday in the hostels. We even completed a 35 hour Karma Yoga and authored a whitepaper for this course on our Leadership experiences in a nearby village called Neikuppi – with Mr. Keerthi Ashokkumar, who called himself the Playboy of Great Lakes. Of course, at the fag end, we even got together at the Radissons Temple Bay, for a casual interaction.

The term also had more practical subjects like Brand Management. Even to-date, when I met folks from Vertebrand or did their internships, one of the major savior was Prof. Swami’s Brand Management slides. On the car to Chennai, every time I would have a dose of his slides and how to practically build a brand thoughts run through my mind. Some words like DIODVAC, The four Who, What, What About, What About You and Me???….. questions will probably be etched in the memories of several who picked this course. Coupled with this was the Integrated Marketing Communications program run by Mr. Jayraj Rau and co at Great Lakes. The ex-JWT team descended on our campus and gave us insights on Marketing Communications, PR, Creativity, Media Planning. We too ended up created an advert for a diaper.

Apart from that Iman conferred upon me the award of being the most autocratic person he met :). Thanks for my guidelines for the never ending Project Management assignments. We had done a marriage plan using Microsoft Project Planner (which was supposed to be used for Iman’s marriage) and yes of course had started the steps to prepare for the PMP exam completing the necessary course hours! Supply Chain Modeling and Analysis missed out a major part. Did not like that subject that much!

‘What do you do selling saboon and shampoo????’ – Its a different era and you need to sell different things differently! Understand – ‘Whom to pursue, How to convert’ – Many of the questions raised in between innumerable graphs that were drawn and quadrants that represented so many unknown things! Yeah Distribution and Sales Management had a 100 page book, but the way Prof. V K Murti covered it, it was like expanding the 100 odd pages in Ram Charan’s – What the CEO wants you to know to some 1000 odd! Again, another great subject, professor and read, got over just within 20 hours :(! Meanwhile there were issues here and there, some had issues with food, with scores, with contests and what not, but well with so much knowledge around and a stupid fly that had entered my room, to be driven out, I did not bother!

Aaahh… I had almost forgotten! I must have mentioned that I had picked up Admissions team to serve Great Lakes as a part of my way to give something to the college. We had a photo shoot to shoot the campus from different angles and well, things did not go well with me. At this point, I stepped out of mainstream activities and enjoyed playing the second fiddle by being a campus tour guide ;). Later I realized that not everyone are the same and well, people are thoughtless and never look at the greater good of doing something. No – I am not heading towards altruism.

Meanwhile, Prof. Swami, me and Binoy had picked up a situation with one of a Healthcare major in Chennai and had come up with a case for them to expand into a hub and spoke. More or less, we had covered what they were upto now and what their offerings were leaving the case open at that point.

Term five sunk in. The highlight – T. N. Sheshan, former Chief Election Commissioner India and Shri N Vittal, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner. They taught Ethics at Great Lakes and no two better people to hear about ethics from. Good 20 hours. People like my friend Puneet, used the occasion to increase their political clout. The rest of us listened to the stories doled out by Mr. Sheshan and Mr. Vittal. Had yet another boring subject called Ramayana, Bhagwadgita and Management – Honestly one the courses that I sat through with no use. Talk of to-be-leaders? 🙂 – There are quite a few people who had a mention here, for now, respecting my reviewer’s intent, I leave this space ‘blank’.

Life continued with many subjects – Mergers and Acquisitions, Financial Statements Analysis, Enterprise Resource Planning (I gave a presentation on MS Dynamics ERP here!), New Product Development – which I thought was a perfect example of how to ask people to do a PhD program. No pun intended, but yeah that’s what it was. Pricing Strategies was an enjoyable subject but my dear friend Mr. Binoy ended the course on a high quoting that Toyota Fortuner did not need brakes! Yeah! Our dean took another course in Term 5, called Strategic Cost and Profitability Management.

Below comic (Source: PHD Comics) would add some spice to the New Product’s course I had picked this term!

 

Do You Wanna Do a PhD?

 

The war had begun in Term 5, yeah I had not covered the placement season without which probably the whole of Term 5 would have been boring and without entertainment for me. I was waiting for the right role, location etc…. Okay, Great Lakes had two placement weeks for our batch and the week 1, we had top class firms come in on Day 1 and Day 2. I had applied to only two of them and had ZERO shortlists or in Dr. Bala’s own terms Zilch :). Accenture and Infy were my only targets and the college had rejected my infy application given that I had submitted it Three minutes late (Thats the discipline in Great Lakes and Yes, I RESPECT it). Yeah Three… You always thought Three and its multiples were lucky??? So there I was with zero calls, zero interviews after five days of placements and lifting my hand every time Dr. Bala asked who is yet to be placed in the class! Somehow enjoyed it, though there was a concern in mind, I never had thought the college would need to be a placement agency for me. It is not! Somehow enjoyed this situation.

So Term 5 ended without much ado for me where as celebrations had started and continues for many Gladiators. Vidhya had got through HCL, Karthik, me, Binoy, Iman, were still looking around. Sharath had settled at home ground for Infy. But by far the most deserving candidate was Indraneel. He put in his effort, took the right channels and made it through his dream job at Great Lakes, a well deserved one.

Another placement week came by. Again just one shortlist and well dinged in the interview! Shocked. Had a long chat with my Prof. He too was unable to understand the psychology behind hiring. An excellent interview, a matching profile, still what do the firms want! Binoy got through Accenture this time around

There was also a rumor on campus, if you own a Mac, you do not get a job. Nitin Pahuja, broke the rule last week. Hehe – yeah some soothsayer made this statement and all the MUGs – Mac User Group Members want to prove it wrong.

Term Six went by as well. A highly obnoxious gaseous subject called Technology Management passed by. We presented a notorious presentation on Human Augmentation. Still not able to link this subject to the course! Had e-Marketing. Mr Ratan KK from GutsGo walked us through the Digital Marketing techniques in his 20 hour program which was cool, nice and different. Was probably the only one in the Digital Marketing class who at that point of time, did not have an account on facebook!

Not always will their be a good pair. I did not attend any marriages recently, the comment is unnecessary in that perspective. I always felt that the most inappropriate Teaching Associate is tagged with the Most Appropriate faculty and it happened again. I would not take names here :). Yeah but well since I picked the marriage tag here, I missed quite a few marriages – Thyagi/Rekha, Vignesh, Savitha, Archana, Dhana(?????), Sneha – Sorry folks and yes a few relatives’ as well (this part I am glad to have missed).

I began my journey in Term 3 with Strategy and would probably be ending my journey in Great Lakes studying strategy! We had a great professor teach us the Economics of Strategy. Every concept that Prof. Sriram had touched upon in Term 3, was discussed in much more details with Great cases to follow. Live day to day examples were covered and we enjoyed the classes! Whoever suggested Dr. Suresh Srinivasan, hats off!

‘Ni Hao’, ‘Ni Shenti Hao ma’ – When you probably entered an ancient Gurukul, you would hear Mantras being chanted to appease the gods. Come to Great Lakes, you will hear such un-understandable mantras. Naah.. We are learning Mandarin. And yeah it sounds no less than one of those hymns you would sing. I have given three tests till now in Mandarin and yeah to a large extent have learnt quite a few words to survive in case I land in the Middle Kingdom.

Its hardly over a week to vacate this cozy G3J numbered room of mine. The AC is still running at 19Degrees. But the nostalgia is yet to set in fully. Someone all of  a sudden still sings the old Kishore songs in the midnight while I curse, nudge my Rug back and sleep. My last subject is over as well and it was Damn Damn Damn GOOD and Binoy/ Me/ Indraneel are acting as Tour Guides and answering every minute query that the Spartans who visit the campus have with the former and the latter even extending their presence to the Social Media forums. Puneet sends in the menu for next week and more or less I have decided to eat out unless I have a call scheduled. Have finished my internship as well with Vertebrand and had fun working with them.

As I close these snapshots, I still have a lot to share about the people, the place, the organization and yeah that all will conclude in the last part. There were several events as well at our own Great Lakes, several stalwarts visited us. But if I cover that here, there will be only Spice in the  last version. So Just wait… And Read on… For Now..

Bee School Chronicles…. Part I

Finally I start writing an article that may come in three parts! There are still such other long articles pending in my blog’s private folio – My Bristol Days, My Life at Torry, Year by Year… With all due respect to the mentions in the blog, I would not be publishing them in the near future. But well, they will see light soon sometime by the end of this year – Waiting for some promises made before publishing data! Okay, enough of gas, now to start off on a journey, which started almost 10 months ago and now, is almost coming close to an end in another month or so! Across the post I would quote a few people and I hope they would not mind being quoted. The series of blogs go on from Before Great Lakes to A Little After Great Lakes, In Great Lakes and finally will close with Life in Great Lakes to Beyond Great Lakes, which I think may be sometime by the end of April. Though would be finishing my courses by the end of March, I graduate only in April, hence the delay. Will try to add some photos and videos to the blog as I move along – to ensure its not just plain text and boring!

Era I (BGL to ALBL – Before Great Lakes to A Little After Great Lakes)

It all started on the 3rd of February 2010, I had decided to move on to do my Masters, an offer from GMITE at IIMB, was not enough and I wanted to move on to do my Masters full time with applications going in to NUS, Nanyang, Singapore, ISB and well, with the very average GMAT score I had (honest)… was wondering where else to apply. Had ditched Said and Judge, given that they were financially out of bound short term. Queens was still on the horizon… But was unsure. Then, happened to call Ram HH, a close friend of mine (who passed out of Great Lakes – henceforth GL) and a few other ISB pass outs who asked me to consider Great Lakes, given that it was started by one of the famous gurus of accounting world. And there it was with constant prodding from Dhana, Harsha, Maddy, Ranga and well quite a few people, I decided to apply to Great Lakes. Two of my team members, one of them, the best team mate I had (need permission to quote name – a celebrity you see!) – also applied along with me. Ranga and Dhana offered to recommend me to Great Lakes, Vic had recommended me to ISB! God knows what all they had to write. And yes the application was complete. In spite of writing GMAT, I was dumb enough to even go and write GREAT, the school’s own exam. I don’t really know why I wrote it.

Dickenson Road, proved to be lucky again, I hopped on to the Great Lakes interview on 28th February at Royal Orchid Central, right next to the GMAT center run by Pearson in Bengaluru. Both me and my celebrity teammate had our interviews in the same session. It was a Sunday, empty roads greeted us. Thank god! Had a pleasant interview and well at that point of time, I had no clue who they were, but had ‘seen’ Prof. Veeravalli, Dr. Venkat R Krishnan and Mr. Easwar. Was one of the first few to be picked for the interview and had run into Prof. Veeravalli in the panel. Good show it was, but bad time as the one of previous days turned out to be the budget day and one more reason I got to hate the Congress Government.  A budget on the 26th of February! Come on. A few questions on work, budget, my city, Leadership, my onshore experience, Bristol and well it went on pretty well unlike my colleague who was questioned on 5Ps of marketing (What!!!), Pulse Modulation etc… Some questions were also on pro-kannada organizations and Bangalore turning out to be cosmopolitan and how it affected the life.

Came back home to Basavanagudi and drove to Mysore – bliss. Come 16th of March, I got an offer from Great Lakes. A personalized mailer from Prof. Swami and well I decided to jump on board. Bid goodbye to Torry Harris and as I have quoted earlier ended by longest association with any professional organization (Refer: https://amarharish.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/moving-out/). Quite a moment it was indeed – Nagesh and Ram were good people managers. I still cherish and miss the young and exuberant team that worked with me in Torry all along and Torry had made me meet a few great people along the journey. Headed home to work on some mandatory Finance and Statistics assignments. Had called Sunil Prasad, my ex-BU head. He had passed out of the IIMBs one year program and I wanted to know his take.

In between had a few Great Lakes Bangalore meets. Met Binoy, Indraneel, Sandy, Siva, Nidhi, Bala, Anish and a few more people over there. Turned out to be a cozy pack of people. Locations kept changing, but I was unhappy that most of the times, it was in Koramangala – damn, I had to travel such a long time!

The day arrived on April 26th, I took the morning KF to Chennai and landed up in Great Lakes City office. The experience was probably no less than a wizard riding to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express. Except that I was offered Sandwich on flight instead of the Chocolate tarts. It did take some time for me to realize that this flight was not the real Hogwarts, but just a journey to Kings Cross! Hehe….

At Great Lakes office, we registered ourselves in and piled in our luggage for the luggage truck. Prof. Swami gave the welcome speech, I think I had to hear it thrice – New batches of people coming in and the same instructions to almost every one. There were some anxious parents (I wondered was I joining a kindergarten!), there were a few like us who preferred to stay away from home for a year (well that never happens, food beckons…). Finally came the real journey. We were supposed to travel along the scenic ECR (Eh????!!!), to the Great Lakes campus. Well we were loaded on to buses, not so cozy, but good. So there chugged off our Hug-Warts express. We were given a cozy welcome at Great Lakes, with Nimbu paani and some junk session (I still do not know what it was for! It was definitely not socializing – just a meeting for some ‘I liked beer last year, you like beer too…’ folks!). Attended the convocation of my previous batch, with Mr. Narayana Murthy gracing the occasion (Refer: https://amarharish.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/sleepless-but-enjoying/). Then after 2 days of nothing started the rigorous one-year program.

The start of the program, was with an academy called ELSA. The program resembled the Pegasus program I had been to with Torry Harris, but was in the Great Lakes campus itself. This actually opened up avenues with socialization. Met a few great people like Mr. Hilarious Haider in my so called Red Banded group. Latecomers were made to dance, but if Ravindra is reading this blog, nothing can beat the dance he did for turning up late in Pegasus!!! Had a trek on a nearby hill – blindfolded – Waaahh! At this point of time, still groups were getting formed and well I was wondering where I fit in – I was not a beer drinker! I was not a great dance enthusiast 🙂 Well later I found my own set to hang out with. Not to worry (May be the next part will get this in detail). The ELSA sessions were good, and ended with a mega cultural evening and a Salsa dance session (Thank god! No one has videos of probably me dancing!). At the end of the session a few people like one of my friend Shivesh here had created a niche for themselves for their style and class.

For three days, I did not know who my neighbors were or probably just had met them along and had not even remembered their names. But now, all four of us, in this corner have probably become inseparable parts of our day to day lives! Sharath, a Mangalorean, who studied in Mysore, who brings in cheer whenever around! Imon, a Delhi brought up, Karnataka educated bong and last but not the least Maama a.k.a Krish, well…. I have no words for him, a true Palakkad Iyer who has lost his identity and claims to be from Maharashtra, Kerala, TN and nowadays even AP! He is sometimes a lawyer and sometimes an accountant and respects his grand dad to the core! And of course me – well few feel, I wield a whip to enforce disciple… hehe… More added on as the block opposite to our Block 3A got constructed.

The next day, we had an introduction to faculty with Prof. Swami taking the lead. Prof. Sriram and Prof. Xavier (who has now moved on to IIM Ranchi as its director) had sessions for themselves doling out Dumbledore like instructions. Lake Veeranam and Lake Manasarovar turned out to be the Great Hall of Hogwarts for Great Lakes. Our dean, Dr. Bala addressed us as a class and opened up an array of promises. Meanwhile people started enrolling themselves in various committees, we being a student run organization and I gave my interviews and SOPs for Branding and Public Relations Committee and Admissions Committee for the next batch. For just one reason that Admissions selected me before Branding, I ventured in there and well the whole idea of giving back to the college did not seem to work out for me. The whole campus was abuzz with activities and everyone seemed to be in one or the other committee contributing to college work! Meanwhile one of my friends, Naren, had taken up the task of ensuring all of us subscribe to the dailies and stay abreast with information. I subscribed to The Mint, since I had online accounts of almost every other paper!

Classes started, with Marketing, Prof. Swami delivered his lectures in his own style. He started off with his caricature, explaining his background and probably over the course of the next seven weeks ensured we touched every aspect of marketing, every page of Kotler and some pages of Keller through his own slides and a set of cases to read for every class. As far as I remember, this was one of the subjects where we stayed up late nights in the Amphitheater, Bistro, rooms churning out presentations after presentations and to date what I rate as the best presentation we put forth in Great Lakes, stands to be he Marketing project which we did. All five of us, Binoy, Megha, Krish (mama), Imon and me, put in our heart and soul into the project. Binoy’s wife Midhu, a great friend of all of us, tried helping us ensuring that her husband is awake beyond his working hours which close at 10.

Slowly other subjects started, Mircoeconomics, with Prof. Shanti, Intelligently Interacting with Others, which was dreaded to the core, with Dr. Venkat and Dr. Zubin from TISS – which introduced us to Karma Yoga and Group Processes. I still feel that the small book on Vivekananda’s speeches with the same name was the toughest to read and comprehend! Statistics with Prof. Viswanathan and Business Communication with Prof. Lalitha Maheshwaran added on to the list. One course that just dropped in, went past without much ado, but had the maximum impact was Financial Accounting. So good it was and by far was taught by the best professor in Finance I have met in Great Lakes, Prof. Surysekar from Miami. He made Accounting look as simple as a cakewalk. Plus we had Rajveer, who was one of the most efficient lecturers helping us out in the back end to understand the basics!

As term 1 neared an end, we all had got acclimatized with the environment. Our group of 10, with Me, Binoy, Megha, Iman, Krish, Mani, Gouri, Rishi, Shanup and one of the Lehmann Brother – Sriram, had ventured out on to a village to help them out and empower them. Little did we know we would end up exploring every nook and corner of that village called Nerumbur when eight of us walked out of that place after the next three months! Nerumbur markets resembled the Diagon Alley. Normally people went out to our very own Hogsmead – Anupuram, Mahabalipuram and Kalpakkam as well to have a time out. In all Gladiators, as we were called were having a great time, little aware of the oncoming storm.

Term 1 ended with much ado, people went home – given their home sickness. I am too old to remember whether I did. I think I did not :).

I had befriended quite a few more people, a few who made a lot of difference later on – Karthik, Siva, Rout, Shiva, Indraneel, Sneha, Chadha, Vasajit, Vidhya, Prannay – the kid wizard, Venkat (RV), Keerthi (who gained enlightenment in his second Karmayoga stint with me and Binoy during Leadership Influence and Power course!) just to mention a few and yes the list is endless (will grow in my next blog). Tried to find a few people who could speak my mother tongue so that we could curse with no one understanding what we said – apart from me and Sharath, found Alex, from namma Mysooru, Bhattaru and of course CFA, his holyness Shri Rakesh Mamdapur from Gulbarga. More on the people at Great Lakes in the next part.

Next Version: The stories from Term 2 to Term 6 at Great Lakes. Changing tides. The courses, The curses. The Dean. The Placements. The Careerpath.

H3 GL

Beyond just a ‘Suggested Reading!’

Last week, I was running around the Great Lakes resource center ‘jobless’ – looking for a great read! A month ago, Subroto Bagchi, one of the co-founders of Mind Tree, had visited our campus at Manamai and delivered a guest lecture in an auditorium that was filled to the brim – a rarity nowadays, but the man commanded such respect! And so, it happened that at the same time, I found the book Go, Kiss the World, written by Mr. Bagchi in our Resource Center. For long that book has been on my reading list and has remained there, but now, I decided to pick it up and give it a read!

For a week, the book lay on the table and yesterday on the return journey on Cauvery Express from Mysooru (one of the most boring in the near past!), I completed reading what has been one of my “best reads” over the past one year. My acquaintance with Mind Tree was when Andy moved on from IMR Global (now CGI), to Mind Tree in its Banashankari office. Heard lots of positives from him before he moved on and then heard about how it is now from Harsha who works from its Global Village HQ on Mysore Road.

On the book now, I like the way Mr. Bagchi has put his childhood, his younger days at DCM, his days at Wipro and finally the Mind Tree days into words. Coming from a value-driven family and moving on to establish one of India’s largest VC funded IT firm is a great story to read about. There are some points of the book that I felt were worth mentioning for those of you who haven’t had a chance to read it!

– When most mid-level managers look for a job, they look for jobs in Corporate Strategy, say closer to CEO in a cabin! But nobody asks for the dirty work to interact with the masses and build leadership. No one wants to make a difference in what hurts an organization! – So True

– The first rule to manage is to Listen. – Goes well with what O’Toole says in another good read – Leadership A to Z.

– Perception is the reality in this world – If I can quote myself ‘I perceive therefore I am’

– Have the grace to accept negative public opinion

– There are no A Teams and B Teams, there are only different kinds of leaders who make the teams what they are

– No decision is without risk, take time to think through, then you take very few regrettable decisions

– Fight all battles based on principles

– Once you decide to be unhappy with something, even a small irritation becomes a great annoyance.

– When you make the choice, you also choose the consequence

One thing we as today’s leaders must never forget – Open your heart before you Open your mind, Open your mind before you open your mouth

The book goes on to explain each of these points and the difficulties faced in life and how it was overcome in a clear and a crisp manner and is a clear example of how Life teaches you to be a high performer. Mr. Bagchi winds up the book with useful lessons he learnt in life:

– Its all in the mind, as is your will, so is your act
– The power to receive is far more important than the power to give, to get first you must give
– Life is a constant negotiation
– Marginal person is important
– Passion is what passion does
– The power of resilience
– The key to happiness is not money, look beyond yourself! (Dunno… I have been trying this ;))
– Real men say sorry! and finally
– Self doubt is positive!

He also talks about networking and how important it is for the growth of an individual or an organization.

But what impressed me the most of the lessons was the slipper slope of over-achievement. Mr. Bagchi, in the book argues that over-achievement comes with a price tag, if it is not handled, things may spin out of control. I agree! – Completely. High achievers have a problem of setting standards for themselves and expect everyone to follow them – Legitimate, but unreasonable. This leads to a tendency of high achievers getting frustrated with the system pretty much sooner than the rest. May be its time for every one to realize not everything around you can be changed by you. You can do it only if you can influence others. Just take charge and get things done.

While I leave it here, I think you all, who are reading this blog, must pick a copy of the book as well. Its insightful and interesting and offers lots of lessons to learn for young leaders. Somehow I have had more people now screaming in my ear that Its all Sales that matters. The book does that as well.

The author re-iterates I think in every page – Do what you love to do! Something that takes me to what I am doing now! I want to do what I love to do. I am sure many agree with this.

I am sure that it will remain an inspiration for many to Go, Kiss the World.

Following a Leader

One of the first acts of leadership – even Rod, seconded this (or rather it was the other way round), is that you must first learn to be a follower! Quite a few of my friends disagree on this. But well, I kind of feel the truth is yes. May be you are not following a person, but you are pursuing an institutional cause which both you and the person together ought to pursue. So you follow either the cause or the person.

One of my professors Dr. Venkat, has been teaching us Transformational Leadership and the Power and Influence in organizations. If you do not understand all the three, you make a mockery of yourself. A few of my friends argue on righteousness – Adhering to moral principles! Wow – when you cannot define what morality is how can you define what moral principles are? Too heavy a word to use? Transformational Leadership (I forgot the article which quoted it: my LIP materials are out of reach – So will update the source as soon as I reach them!), is a combination of idealized influence – where managers are role models, inspirational motivation – where leaders motivate the followers, intellectual simulation – where managers encourage innovation, individual consideration – managers act as coaches and advisers to associates. While many of my colleagues here have desired to kind of disagree that such kind of a leadership would work – which many would not accept in the public, some are not willing to realize that it takes time for this work! It definitely cannot happen overnight.

The reason I got this into the picture is, I have read many articles (Thanks to Dr. Venkat), from a leader’s perspective, but from a followers perspective, the leadership completely fails if the follower fails to recognize the presence of either of these factors or fails to acknowledge their presence. This is happening in one of the cases which I am practically observing from the past two days (I would like to maintain the privacy of the individuals involved). If the follower fails to realize the motivation they are getting from their leader or fail to recognize a source of motivation, if the followers fails to see the seed sown for innovation and leader effectiveness in promoting activities and finally, if the follower gives up on the advice and the coaching given by the leader – I doubt if this would work!

What is left open in the end is how and when do followers realize that there is an increased sense of collective identify and common mission and what is the ideal time for them to realize it in a short-duration program?

Moving on, there has also been an occasion of leader-self sacrifice, which has been suggested to be an effective act of leadership that communicates a leaders dedication to the collective good (Van Kippenberg and Van Kippenberg, 2005 – in the Applied Journal of Psychology) – but again how long do you think the leader’s sacrifice will be sustained for the collective good? Would the leader be missed later? – May be yes. A sacrifice of position by a leader, may push him or her out of the horizon, then what is the use of the gained trust if that results in a system going down? – Debatable.

If leaders have the option to choose a follower, then I think the follower must mostly be selected on value congruence – if time is a factor. The value systems going together may probably result in ease in achieving a collective goal.

Where are the Journo’s heading?

If there was something that was little credible in India – it was the media. We common men and women, were exposed to the corrupt policies of the politicians and the immoral practices through the media – which we trusted, followed and revered to a great extent. Much credit should go to the erstwhile Indian Expresses and Deccan Heralds and The Hindu’s for having made us develop this follower-ship. Now, in the days of Page 3 over the rest, media seems to have really lost its credibility. Instances, many! One my most trusted journalists and whom I revered for all that she has covered in her career Barkha Dutt (Twitter handle @bdutt) has literally let her fan following down! The Open Magazine has brought her down and her conversations with Nira Radia, well has really got her to lose her established base and credibility. She has been one of the few who apparently had criticized blogs and online media long ago, looks like that has come back to haunt her! So has been the impact that I am trying to voice down my opinions of getting the live streaming open on campus at Great Lakes!

Now coming to the part of why I am losing trust in the media:

1. Barkha Dutt in case she had got a report or a conversation like her, would have vehemently come down on whoever was being exposed ensuring an end to the spectrum of his public survival! And now, none of the news channels including Times Now or CNN IBN have not even covered the incident. I think, I even saw a tweet from Rajdeep covering it up – something like Barkha’s achievements are much more than this minor hiccup. That probably is Barkha and Vir Sanghvi’s story, yellow journalism to the core and I think that probably even erodes the fan base that NDTV had got a little bit! We the People – yeah, I don’t really know if I will watch the show any more!

2. Next one comes closer home! In Bengaluru, apparently mediapersons have been caught in the muck with allocations of G Category sites. Have they been caught pants down? – May be yes, Churumuri says so – http://churumuri.wordpress.com/2010/11/27/bangalore-journos-named-in-site-allotment-scam/

With such conflicts of interests, I am thinking is it right on one person to achieve a goal by unethical and immoral practices, even if it is for the collective good of the nation. Barkha may have helped in one way to get A Raja installed. Raja also somewhere argued that the prices are low because of the giveaways during the auction! Huh! Yeah I think that is one of the reasons why there may be more mobiles than underwears in India.

I am sitting through Mr. N Vittal, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner’s classes here at Great Lakes. At the right time, when he talks about corruption in businesses and moral and ethical values, the newspapers seem to be flooded with scams after scams after scams! Good time spent in the business ethics class, which I otherwise was feeling was a recap of the newspapers of the 90’s and early oo’s. As I end this post, I still ponder, weather media houses stick to morality and ethics while delivering the news to the viewers and is it a necessity for them to do so? Debatable, isn’t it?

 

Managing the Impressions of a Brand

Half way through my MBA program, I rue that I cannot write much. Not that I have been lazing around, its just that I have not been spending enough time on wordpress, except when I get an IndiRank :). In Sanpshots from Hell, Peter Robinson recollects that he was lost somewhere in the midst of his MBA at Stanford not knowing what to do? Wondering was it because, Stanford is more Stats oriented and just now, I read somewhere that analysis with stats mostly leads to paralysis :). Joking. My stats based subject will start only next term, or wait, even after that, so until Dr. Seenu V Srinivasan from Stanford tries to ignite my mind with his Conjoint Analysis – Some Rest.

Am I contradicting my own statements, yes it looks like that, I started off writing that I had no time and looks like I ended exactly opposite. Huh!. That’s the way it is. Half the way you lose touch with what you speak/ what you write. Is it true??? I do not really know, must be true :). I have had some 18 hour days in the main block itself this term. The term started off with Distribution and Sales management where I was walked through quadrants after quadrants and I was lost for sometime as to which quadrant I am in. But well Prof. Murti rocked.

Have taken up very interesting courses this term, one Leadership, Influence and Power and two, Brand Management in sync with Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). Though I rue that I have not had even one single free day this term, pretty much I have enjoyed it and am continuing to enjoy it. As the term nears its end am wondering if there is a clear share of voice between the two subjects, Brand and Impression Management (some glances in Leadership Influ…). Clearly I feel ‘Yes’. Impression Management is branding yourself and Brand Management is of course Brand Management (hehe yeah it can be a person, place, product or a service). So in turn impression management is a part of Brand Management? You Agree? May be or may not be! IMC was more fun with pros from the industry coming down and sharing their experiences in advertising, Direct Marketing and PR/ Media. These are anyway going to drive the impressions of the brand.

Will not write more on the course/ curriculum, if you want to know about them, come join Great Lakes, the admissions are open for the Batch of 2012 – http://www.greatlakes.edu.in/admissions

As brand Great Lakes reaches new heights, I hope we Gladiators start planning for the Spartans arrival and mentor them from now itself towards becoming future managers with Global Mindset and Indian Roots.