February 28, 2012

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics !!

Circa Jan 2011, after I had accepted the offer for admission in PGPEX, in the quest to know more about the program I tried reaching out few alums. Thanks to LinkedIn , I could get in touch with a handful of them. I'll post what they had to say about the program and will add my first-hand experience. 

Learning - Very Good. The cases are selected very meticulously. The books are of international standard. Believe me the kind of effort you need to put over here probably will exceed that of all four years of engineering. But sure enough you'll enjoy the learning and experience. There would many aha moments.

Faculty - Good. Not all but some of the faculty is exceptional. Many are highly dedicated. Some of them mix up very well with PGPEX. They respect our experience. They remain under pressure as PGPEX is usually very demanding. Many faculty admits that they enjoy teaching us more than our PGP folks.

Networking - Good. Depends upon you how you try to make out of this one year. 

Experimenting with career - Good. Try out some B Plans. That’s the best way to pick up things on business management and entrepreneurship. In fact, that’s the only way. Make 2-3 B Plans. Refine them. Learn. Regarding next job, it should be in some way a continuation of what you have done earlier. This is EXTREMELY important. There has to be some link. Total change doesn’t happen through job. 

Infrastructure - Bad. Location is equally pathetic. IIMC Joka is in extreme remote of Kolkata devoid of any fun element. Lakes don’t help much! However, this is the only IIM where entire campus is single and you get to enjoy all of it, whatever it is. Single accommodation is perhaps best among all IIMs, but married accommodation needs serious improvement. There are hostels coming up of pgpex but they will not be ready for occupation until late this year.

Placement Coordination from IIMC - Pathetic. IIMC and all other Indian institutes including IIMA, IIMB, IIML, ISB are still learning how to set up processes for exec-MBA placement. Their frame of reference is PGP which is full of freshers. PGPEX (and all other similar) need special placement process where every resume should be managed separately. It requires much more efforts from the institute. The institutes acknowledge this and are learning but have their own inertia. Maybe with some help from industry, hopefully things would move in the right direction soon. But as of now the internal process needs a complete overhauling. 

Placement - Not bad. Despite not so good placement process, placement happens. There may be tensions, stress etc. Focus on the right job. Going back to earlier organization is an equally good option provided you get some valid change there. Coming on sabbatical is another option. Let's face it, the Indian job market has not grown up to one year MBA for executives. I am not sure about how ISB is placed in this respect but all PGPEX equivalent at all IIMs are still at very nascent stage. Surely an MBA and 10 years of experience is not same as 10 years of experience and then an MBA. Lucky few may see a function/industry shift. But they are very few and far between. In the short term I am not really sure all of you will get benefit of the program. In the long term, anyway we are dead!! 

August 6, 2011

Today was a long day !!

Half awake and sleepily, I look at my mobile, oh boy couple of missed calls and message from my wife. How long did I sleep? What's the time? 8:45 in the night. So I slept only for 45 mins. Time now for quick chat with wifey and then quick dinner.

At 10 pm back at room with couple of articles, one text book chapter to be read before I could try my hands on the case to be read for tomorrow's strategy management class.

Flashback to 7:30 am the same day. Grudgingly I am getting out of my bed. Its time to get ready fast, have a quick bite at the mess and run for the class. Professor is already in the class and next hour and a half is about how to manage a world class operations. After assimilating concepts of operations research in the previous term we are learning operations management this term. Though explained in manufacturing terms, fundas are on managing supply chain. 

Next two class, for full three hours, are on corporate finance management. Again we have had our finance base created with managerial and financial accounting in earlier term. So how would you raise capital for your venture? Shall you go for debt or for raising money through equity? Should you consider approaching a venture capitalist or go for private placement? 

At 1:30 in the afternoon, its time for a quick lunch. And by 2:15 we are back again, just in time, for economics class. So is trade between two countries good? What if one of the country is small in GDP? What is absolute advantage and how it is different vis-a-vis comparative advantage? Why import tariff? Why quota? Ohhh, enough for today man! 

But no. There are another two classes lined up for today. Change is only constant, they said. So there it is, gyan on how to lead and manage change. Using case professor is explaining the nuances of change management. 4 teams have come prepared with their analysis of cases and making presentation. Once teams are done with their presentation professor takes over and summarizes the learning from the case.

7:30 PM - Finally we are through with a long and grinding day. 

Back to current time. It is already 1:00 am and I have just finished two articles  to be read before I start with the case. Thankfully tomorrow ( today?) classes starts at 10 so I can still stretch some more. 2:30 - done with the case. Time to hit the bed !! 

June 20, 2011

It Depends !!

It has been exactly a couple of months since I came to Joka Management, 
as IIM C , situated at Joka in Kolkata, is known among the taxi walas. And it has been nothing less than a roller coaster ride beginning day zero. Sometimes these two months seems like two years and at other not more than two weeks. 

There is no single way of doing things, no right solution. The very first lesson we had on day zero when we were introduced to the nuances of case methodologies. With each passing days there were some aha moments and also challenges to our structured, rational and straight jacketed thought process, mainly shaped by our background in science, technology and engineering. But unlike technology life is not predicable and so does the business, and people who are at either side of the business. As they say at times one has to unlearn to learn. Now I can vouch for it. When at the end of case analysis you find all 44 people have come up with different solution for the business issues presented in the case and prof says that there is no right or wrong solution and all these solutions can be correct then the engineer brain becomes very uncomfortable. Every technical problem has a single solution after all, even though ways to getting to the solution can be different and every way of solving the problem can be logical justified. But business is not technology. In these two months my brain , which tried to rebel initially, has understood and accepted the fact that management is fluid. Technology is not the indicator of life,  business and management surely is.

Among all procedural pre-readings, lectures, quizzes, assignments, exams, projects there have been quite a many aha moments. You start to understand and appreciate the reasons behinds seemingly incongruous things. Like, why cokes and pepsis of the world spend fortune on their advertisement. 

By the way do you have any idea that the cost of your Dell laptop can depend on who uses, workers or managers, the staff canteen at assembly plant at Dell? Things in business are not as straight forward and simple as it is in engineering. For quite a few questions the answer is "It Depends!!". And as you'd realize in business and management things really depends on many factors. 

Even though BCG and HBR attribute Honda's success in US in 1960s to Honda's well crafted strategies when in fact it was by fluke Honda tasted initial success, and answer for quite a few things is "It Depends" I am loving it !! 

March 23, 2011

Que Sera, Sera !!

Life is difficult.
This is a great truth, one of the greatest truth. It is a great truth because once we know that life is difficult - once we truly understand and accept it - then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. -- M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled. 

There are only so much one can influence when it comes to things that affects one's life and its future course of action. Some one rightly said that there is future of desire and then there is future of fate. To some extent life is sum of the choices one makes, but even then not every thing can be planned and turned out to be as much as planned. But one thing among all this, that is very important is ability and strength to accept the current situation.

Sure plan ahead and take steps to make planning a reality but then be aware that things may not turn out the way you have planned. Have strength to accept the outcome. Be happy if it turns out to the way you had planned and if that is not the case, collect the broken pieces and move on. Why me and other such questions can only aggravate the suffering and delay healing. If you can do something to get the favourable outcome , do it or else just accept. 

In the future when you look back at the turns of the events and try to connect dots, every thing will fall into places, everything will make sense. For events which are not making sense, wait some more :). In the end, everything will be fine, if it is not fine, picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!!

Whate will be, will be! 

February 7, 2011

So Why Raavan Was Flop!!

"Amit?" called out professor one, P1. "That's me" I replied. "Lets go".

And I followed P1 to the interview room, where another professor, P2, was going through my profile file. After exchanging pleasantries P1 asked about my job profile and responsibilities. I told them that I take care of all aspect of project management.

P1 - "How would you explain project management to a lay man?"
I started to explain taking example of going to a movie and building a building. While doing so I must have used couple of project management jargon. P2 interrupted and asked if I am a PMP? I answered in affirmative. He went on to ask couple of questions from project management , like that of Gantt chart, PERT etc.. He then asked me to draw a network diagram. I managed to answer them satisfactorily. P2 then said he was done and asked if P1 had any question.

P1 - "In your essays you have mentioned that you read books. Which book have you read recently?"
Me - "Simply Fly".
P1 - "But that's a management book. What other books have you read?"
I mentioned books of other genre which I had read. One of them being Harry Potter.

P1 - "So you follow Harry Potter. What is the name of the sport he plays?"

P1 - "And how it is played?"
I explained based on what ever little I remembered about the sport.

P1 - "You have written that you are a movie buff. Which is the movie you have seen?"
I told him whatever the movie was and went on to explain the storyline of the movie. P2, who was just observing me all this while, asked if I have seen Raavan? I said yes. "So what do you think why was Raavan flop?" his next question. "Ouch, let me think" I thought. Then I went on to explain what I thought could be the reason of that movie being a flop.

After that they said that they were done and asked if I had any question. I asked them something, wondering if that was all. There wasn't any regular interview question like why MBA? why now? short term , long term goal, no quants questions. They didn't even check my certificates as is norm with IIM C. Yeah, they did ask if offered an admission what kind of accommodation I'd prefer, another norm in IIM C interview.

And so I came out of the interview not knowing what to expect. Because of my fickle mindedness by the time I started application for IIM C I had only 3 weeks left before the deadline. I wrote the essays thinking these essays could be used as working draft for other IIMs and ISB application. But even then I wrote with full conviction and being true to myself. 

Only with the final admission offer I understood that it indeed is one's overall profile , consisting academic performance, GMAT score, professional career, leadership potential, essays & recommendations and interview, which gets you in.

Now I am looking forward for one great year ahead.