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.

February 3, 2011

The impatient generation!!

We? Nah. In face we are the transition generation. As teenagers we stood in the queues to pay electricity bill, to get cash from the bank, to get reservation in the train, to buy ticket for movie and what not. By the way in those days not many houses used to have a telephone connection.

At the turn of new century things changed drastically for us. As adults, with the advents of credit cards and internet, we hardly needed to stand in queues for things, especially things mentioned as above. Along with these there have been influx of quite a many private service providers for things affecting our daily lives. You just give a call to customer care and someone comes down to collect cheque for the payment. Businesses now have facility to remind consumer of their due payments or car servicing and things like that. 

So far so good. We are now used to fast and efficient services and rightly so. But looks like things need further improvement if I go by my experience today.

With financial year closing there are quite a few investment policies for which due date is nearing and I thought of paying dues for all of them today. I chose to go offline mode for this.

I started with Bajaj Allianz. To pay the premium all I had to do was to give the cashier my policy no. and then make payment by the credit card. The whole process took not more than 10 min. including waiting time. In fact I always have same good experience with them. 

Next in line was Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual. With places directory app on my android phone I searched for nearest centre of Kotak. Though the listing has a phone no. also , phone was constantly busy. Anyway, based on the addressed I got in the places directory I reached the centre in no time. Shock no. one, they don't issue receipt the same day if the payment is made by cheque or dd (I wonder who makes dd for this purpose) and the bigger shock, they dont accept payment by card. What the hell? A bank as big as Kotak Mahindra does not accept credit card because they don't have the machine. I thought of paying by cash, but there system was down. OMG. #fail. By the way I tried to pay online also, but their system says no due.

Next was ICICI Pru. All these years I have been handing over the cheque for premium to the agent and he has been very good in his services. This year has been different. Again the places directory came handy in finding the office location of ICICI Pru. Once there they asked me to fill a form for making payment by credit card. There way is little different. Even they don't have credit card swiping machine but they can facilitate offline. After taking necessary details they gave me the acknowledgement.

So if big banks like Kotak and icici still don't accept payment by credit card I don't have patience to go and withdraw money from bank and make payment. I am better off using on line mode of payment. I just did for LIC :)

January 28, 2011

Dream dreams, no one else can see !!

Sometimes you wanna run away,
But you never know what might be coming round your way,
'coz on a day like today, the whole world could change....

There are dreams. And then there are childhood (teenage?) dreams. I have been pretty good at studies and like many other capable students in India I wanted to be the part of selected few at Indian Institute of Technology for my graduation. By the time I reached into class 11th, my goals were clear. First, get into IIT and then go for management studies from Indian Institute of Management. In India for an intelligent science student the combination of IIT-IIM education is zenith of academic qualification. And that became my dream.

Slogging 10-12 hours daily during 11th & 12th and then for another year after that, I could not made it to IIT and settled for second best in line for technical education in India, REC. At that point of time there is only so much one can do and instead of further (especially in Bihar and UP guys keep trying to get into IIT for 2-3 years after there intermediate!!) continuing my pursuit for IIT I joined REC. And never regretted that. A significant part of me is ME because of my association with the college.

After I was done with my graduation I started my professional career. The task in front of me was pretty cut out. Work for couple of years, write CAT and get into IIM. I was little cocky of my abilities and used to be damn sure of getting a call for GD-PI post CAT. Nevertheless, I never compromised with my preparation for CAT and once again slogging started. I used to devote 4-5 hours a day, apart from office, for my studies. Being from Hindi medium background (yes, I did my complete schooling in Hindi!) English used to be my Achille's heels. Hence most of my time went into improving my English language skills. I was quite comfortable with my quants. But the result, mere 92 percentile in CAT. I fell flat in my first attempt.

Subsequent attempts resulted 92(again),94 and 96 percentiles. After 4 attempts, sincere attempts I ended with no call and a broken dream. It was not about studying for MBA, it was about studying for MBA at IIMs. By the time  I stopped my attempt for CAT (My work experience was going towards higher side for 2 yr MBA from IIMs), couple of IIMs have started 1 yr MBA for experienced professionals.

I waited for a few years before taking GMAT, first step towards these executive MBA. And another year for having leadership experience. Meanwhile I was married and professionally doing reasonably good. IIM remained my unfulfilled dream, but routine life started taking toll towards that. I wasn't sure if I'd apply for MBA.

But then "When you know what you want the whole world conspires you to achieve it". It was around July last year, by then the application process for admission into IIMs were already started but I was still in two minds. Due to changed circumstances at my present organization I decided to give it a last shot. I had decided if I don't make it to IIM this time then that'd be it.

But that was not to be. I am indeed going to IIM for my MBA this year. I am part of class of 2012 of PGPEX at IIM Calcutta. But surely miles to go before I sleep :)

Somewhere there's a place for you,
I know you believe it too
Sometimes if you wanna get away
all ya gotta know is what we got is here to stay, all the way!!!

Lyrics (c) Bryan Adams.

January 27, 2011

We are like that only!!

February-March is the time when almost all salaried person makes last minute hurry to plan for tax savings. Various investment options are explored and invested in, so one can have tax saving. So far so good.

"Hey, do you know some travel agent? And medical shop?" Another usual conversation around this time. Remember, usually this is the time when you have to claim leave travel allowance and medical allowance. Which is reimbursed on actuals. Well, how many of us need to utilise entire amount of medical allowance and lta? Not many. But hey, both are part of my salary, my hard earned salary. Why should I give tax to govt. on these. So, I'll find a travel agent and medical shop , who can give me bills for the entire amount which I am entitled to in return to a few percentage of the amount. That way I retain the tax money which was in fact suppose to go to the govt. Its my money after all.

But when Mr. A. Raja and Mr. Suresh Kalmadi does the same, then it is corruption !!!

Are we not like that only.

January 20, 2011

Cinderella's Shoes !!

Year was 2001-02 and time was not really good for we guys in the final year of engineering. Recession had hit the usual buoyant mood in the campus. There were few and far between companies coming for the campus recruitment. One such company was X, which came calling for us. They conducted a written test, mostly on business awareness, as part of their recruitment process. Those days I used to regularly follow a business magazine, BW,  and this magazine used to have a regular quiz on business awareness. After the written test of X, I was  totally confident of getting through to next round as this test had almost all the question referred from the magazine BW. But to my utter surprise I was not called for the interview, the next round.

A test which was to test you on business awareness and where you have answered almost all the questions correctly was not enough to get you the interview call. I was shocked. But that was it.

Later I mailed the guy, who came to our college for recruitment on behalf of X, explaining my stand. I wasn't expecting a reply to this mail, sent by a disgruntled student. But a few days later there was a reply from this gentleman. While explaining his company's recruitment policies he asked me to recall the story of Cinderella. He asked me "Amit do you remember Cinderella's shoes? Its about the right fit of the shoes and the feet.And it does not really judges the size of the feet."  Something similar goes on with the selection process, he said closing his mail wishing me luck.

And the lesson stuck with me. I went on to finish my academics and went back home without a job. Around a month later we received a mail from college's TnP about a company, perhaps last visiting our college for our batch, coming for recruitment. I was again back to college. This time I was through to second round after aptitude test. My first round of interview was OK except that I told the interviewer that I wanted to work of couple of years after which I'd like to go for MBA. As opposite to other guys I wasn't called for second round of interview. But to my astonishment I was one of the selected student. 

And thus I started my professional journey 8 years 7 months and 10 days back. After exactly 3 months from now I am going back to academics with the hope of another level of transformation. First level came with the association with REC Warangal. Which taught me to believe in my capabilities; be myself and true to myself; aim high and perseverance and not to miss out Cinderella's shoes :)