Category Archives: Horizons

Catch all the happenings at Horizons, the annual management conclave of IIM Kozhikode

The Social Touch from Dr. Paramita Banerjee, Associate Director Programs at SAATHI

The last speaker for the Day 2 at Horizons was Dr. Paramita Banerjee.

Dr. Paramita Banerjee is the Associate Director of Programs at SAATHI- an organization working towards providing universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care. She received her PhD in Philosophy from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She has been working on gender and sexuality, HIV/AIDS, adolescent and youth development, and child rights since the late 1980s. Her expertise lies in research, capacity building, participatory evaluation, strategic planning, leadership development, community mobilization and documentation. Before joining SAATHII, Dr. Banerjee worked for Sanjog, where she conducted research on child protection issues, with a focus on gender justice in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Prior to Sanjog, as a MacArthur Fellow for Leadership Development, she implemented an adolescent leadership development program with adolescents living in red light areas.

She started the session with a question: ‘where are the good people’ and what exactly do we mean by the word ‘good’. Two possible meanings on a simple Google search for the term ‘good’ would give ‘competent’ and ‘benevolent’ as answers. Does it mean that benevolent people are not competent and vice-versa. She went further and asked that when a husband helps cook his wife is he being benevolent or is he just fulfilling his responsibility.

Proceeding forward, she took up the issue of public health system in India. The conditions today have worsened to the extent that we only trust private practitioners and no one is willing to go to public hospitals for treatment anymore.

She quoted Rabindranath Tagore saying that if you would force people below your feet, they will pull you under. The day we will stop feeling uncomfortable when a little child comes to us begging for money, the number of such children will increase and they will pull us under. Youth should indeed be uncomfortable about such things and should be sensitized and be motivated enough to rectify the same.

It was a very interactive session wherein she asked the audience about their views on CSR and the relevance and importance of the CSR law. According to her, it becomes essential to impose certain things in order for it become a norm later. She cited the example of Sati which had to be banned and therefore one can no longer even think of performing such a ritual.

Talking about CSR, she said one should think of it in the same way one treats income tax and hence making it compulsory for companies meeting a set of criteria should not be drawing objections from any section of the society. We should always aim for the greater good of the society rather than just thinking about our own good.

She concluded the session by saying that there should be an equitable distribution with respect to CSR activities as in the case of taxation. As people who earn more pay more in taxes, likewise larger firms should do more CSR activities than the relatively smaller firms and thus contributing more to the society.

Subrata Bagchi, Partner, Deloitte Consulting speaks on Risk and Innovation

The evening session of Day 2 of Horizons continued with another guest lecture by Subrata Bagchi. Subrata Bagchi is Partner , Deloitte Consulting, who spoke about Risk and Innovation . He has over twenty-five years of working experience in India and abroad. He has worked on a wide spectrum of risk and controls assignments. He has also set up internal audit functions for a number of entities and performed strategic evaluation of internal audit function for several oil & gas majors. He is an internal audit, GRR and corporate governance subject-matter resource. He currently leads the ERS (internal audit & GRR) practice of Deloitte India in Hyderabad and co-leads ERS Oil & Gas practice in India. He specializes in risk quantification and works closely with the US Houston office. He has authored an innovative paper on game based learning which won the third prize in the Deloitte’ s US firms Innovation Quest competition.

He talked about what Deloitte has done with innovation and how risk and innovation go hand in hand. He shared a short story about a CEO of a consultancy firm, Jeff. Jeff had issues with mid-management people leaving the organization. The root cause of the attrition was that his firm was able to solve other people’s problem but not their own problems. It was like a shoeless shoemaker.

He then threw some light on what it takes for a person to become a professional. He elaborated upon the three pillared philosophy of passion, affiliation and power. At the same time, he said these three can also cause dilemmas and hence a balance between the three is very vital to grow up the ladder.

He then continued with Jeff’s story wherein he was facing the dilemma of what approach to follow so as to mitigate the problem of high attrition in the mid-management role. Typically, a consulting firm has three tiers: Managing director, Mentor and Junior Consultant and it has a flat structure and there is no distinction between the owner and governance per se. Hence, it is structurally different from other corporate firms. He wondered whether to follow a corporate model or stay the way they were. Essentially, he was confused about how do you innovate and at the same time solve the problem by keeping producer – manager structure in place.

Jeff’s solution was to hire a COO. He proposed a model of integrated leadership. He realized that this would help him in doing a clear demarcation of the responsibilities. He, as a CEO, could handle the external commitments while COO would handle the internal functioning of the organization. As a COO, would look into giving recognition of people and giving due credits and feedback to them at the same time.

These are some of the small innovations being done by Deloitte.

Deloitte consists of five member firms. Initially, it was a chaos managing all these entities together but now it has become the world leader. He explained that bringing about change is imperative and one should be communicative and passionate so that the change can be effective.

Deloitte now has an innovation centre where it helps clients to innovate. This committee is aimed at ‘creating’ innovations through game based learning. Every year they conduct various competitions where it is required to be creative in your approach. He said that creativity leads to innovation.

He concluded by saying that one should be passionate about what he/she really wants to do in life and that coupled with innovation and originality can take him/her to places.

The story of Brands from Mr. Subramanyeshwar ,National Planning Director, LoweLintas

Evening session on Day 2 of Horizons 2012 continued with the Story of Brands by S. Subramanyeshwar (National Planning Director, LoweLintas India). S.Subramanyeswar, better known as Subbu, is National Planning Director with Lowe Lintas & Partners. Subbu has spent more than a decade and half in advertising and marketing working at Wipro, Publics, Rediffusion Y&R, Saatchi & Saatchi and Mudra. Some of the brands he anchored include Citibank, Colgate, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Tata Tea, Nestle, Hyundai and Sony Ericsson. While at Saatchi, Subbu was awarded ‘Gold’ for being the best strategic planner in Saatchi Asia-Pacific region in 2006. The passionate academic that he is, Subbu had just written his first book ‘Chattering Classes’ that deals with building brands in a digitally connected conversational world. Subbu is also a corporate trainer and visiting faculty at IIM Bangalore and ISB Hyderabad.

He talked about brands representing a ‘point of view’. India is a country which has a rich mix of ethnicity, race etc. But we all are unified through our beliefs and ideas.

He introduced the problem with the surplus of information at hand. With the advent of e-commerce and e-business we can get everything with a single click but with this new found freedom, we are also being confused with more and more choices. He gave a small example of Colgate which has 52 different variants which is evident of how vital it has become for the brands to keep up. Unfortunately, everything is in surplus today: surplus number of companies employing similar people with similar educational backgrounds creating similar products. Each one of us trapped in the same information forming a “surplus society”. The three major problems brands are facing today are overuse syndrome, rationalization and risk aversion.

In today’s changing environment we are less and less defined by tangibles and more and more by experiences. According to a survey, 62% of people said their hobbies define who they are.

Brands should express and capture the spirit of the society. He elaborated upon how the society has evolved over the decades like “rebellion” was the general mood of the ‘70s (giving example of “angry-young-man” character portrayal by Amitabh Bacchhan), “status” became more important in ‘80s and likewise, “individuality” in 90’s and “collaboration” in 2000’s.

Today, people want to be a part of or be associated with something bigger than themselves. In such a situation, brands can capitalize on it and the ones with a different point of view go up and succeed. Point of view essentially stems from what is true and inherent to the brand. It is brand’s declaration of what it believes in and what it believes it can further do.

He ended the session by sharing a deep insight about a brand’s point of view. According to him, a point of view does not mirror the audience rather it transcends categories rooted in cultures. The expression may be that of time but the truth is timeless.

Lessons on Entrepreneurship by Ajit Balakrishnan, Chairman and CEO of Rediff.com

The afternoon session of Day 2 of Horizons was all about lessons on Entrepreneurship by Ajit Balakrishnan, Chairman and CEO of Rediff.com. Mr. Balakrishnan founded Rediff.com, India’s leading online community portal. He has been a director in the company ever since its inception in 1996. Mr.Balakrishnan ventured into the world of entrepreneurs at the age of 22 when he co-founded Rediffusion, the advertising agency, now known as Rediffusion DY&R (Dentsu Young & Rubicam).After successfully establishing the advertising business, Ajit at the age of 48, founded Rediff.com (1996) and with his clear focus and determination not only survived the dotcom burst but also established Rediff.com and India’s name in the global cyber arena with a NASDAQ listing in 2001). Mr. Balakrishnan is till date wholly involved in all operations of the company.
Mr. Balakrishnan is also the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata. He was also named the Chairman Emeritus of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).As Chairman Emeritus, which incidentally is a life-time appointment, Balakrishnan will be at the helm of affairs of the Council of past Chairpersons, and will give strategic direction to the Association, as well as the internet and mobile content and services industry. Mr. Balakrishnan holds a B.Sc. degree in Physics from Kerala University and a postgraduate in management from the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata.

The theme Mr. Balakrishnan spoke on was “Entrepreneurship- Riding Waves?”. He began by taking the example of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who came to India from Africa in 1917, unknown, but soon transcended to being a national hero in just 7 months. With a few more examples he proceeded to explaining the different technical waves that took place in the world or are expected to take place, right from 1800 to 2025.

Mr. Balakrishnan spoke of the technical progress that has happened so far, citing the example the machine learning process, an algorithm which can detect the thought process behind any decision and showed how this can be used to detect colonial polyps and bring treatment prices down to terms of paise, as compared to the fortune required to train radiologists. A machine learning system by non-experts has detection rates of 96% and reduces false positives by 60%. He took more examples of the linear classifier built using Fine Needle aspiration and using the algorithm to detect insider trading and hence helping justice better.

He also threw light on how there was angst among people during the declining phases. We are currently in the information age and can put in technological and mathematical models to interpret the Tahrir Square revolution. Networks can be created, analyzed and its players recognized. He also opined that one can live through periods without realizing it. For example, the term “Industrial Revolution” was coined a century after, by Toynbee.

Mr. Balakrishnan concluded by giving the audience a preview of his newly published book “The Wave Rider- A Chronicle of the Information Age”.

Horizons 2012- the Annual Management Conclave, IIMK, gets underway

The 13th edition of Horizons– the Annual Management Conclave of IIM Kozhikode kicked off with a rousing fanfare with eminent speakers from diverse backgrounds addressing the audience on the inaugural day to mark the opening of the event. It is organized by the Industry Interaction Cell. With a host of speakers from domains ranging from Banking, Telecom, IT, Consulting, Venture Capital, Media, Advertising, Internet to Education, Healthcare, Non-Profit Organizations, Social Activism, Politics and Policy Making, the conclave promises to bring forth a multi-faceted and a fruitful discussion on the theme of the event- Ideate, Innovate and Integrate.

The earlier editions of Horizons have seen several esteemed speakers gracing the event such as Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Mr. Kiran Karnik, Prof. C. K. Prahalad, Mr. Steffano Pelle, Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai, Mr. Harsh Mariwala, Dr. Chandan Mitra, Mr. Saugata Gupta, Mr. D. Shivakumar and Mr. K. Thiagarajan among others. As a continuing tradition, Horizons 2012 brings to the institute several eminent personalities including Mr. Ajit Balakrishnan – Chairman & CEO, Rediff, Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan – President – Lok Satta Party and Political Reformer, Mr. Mahesh Murthy – Co-Founder & Managing partner, Seedfund among others.

Horizons 2012- the Annual Management Conclave, IIMK, gets underway

The inaugural ceremony of the event was marked by the gracious presence of Mr. Shyam Srinivasan, MD&CEO, Federal Bank, Mr. Jitendra Kalra, CEO, Dr. Reddy’s Foundation, Mr. Chandan Ghosh, Chief, International Wholesale& Carrier Business, Dr.T.H.Chowdary, Founding Chairman and MD – VSNL and Karthick Sridhar, Director, Wockhardt Foundation.

In his inaugural address, Mr. Srinivasan spoke in length about the components of the future landscape of the industry in India- Capital requirements, Regulations, Governance and Risk among others. On the other hand Mr. Jitendra Kalra shared an inspiring story of how his organization has helped train more than 2,70,000 youths to increase their employability through skills training. A meticulous planning and a vibrant operation have systemically targeted underprivileged youths in the urban and peripheral rural areas to make them work ready.

Horizons 2012- the Annual Management Conclave, IIMK, gets underway

Mr. Chandan Ghosh was emphatic in laying out strong emphasis on innovation as a strategy for companies looking to make a quantum leap. Through examples from the Fortune 50 companies and drawing from his experience with eminent companies like Xerox, Bharati Airtel and Aircel amongst others, he recounted how companies that failed to innovate bite the dust.

 Horizons 2012- the Annual Management Conclave, IIMK, gets underway

Opening his speech in the middle of a standing ovation to his exemplary achievements in the field of Telecom, Mr. TH Chowdary touched upon the various dimensions of the Indian Telecom Industry. Stating his objections to the current policy of auctioning of spectrum quite frankly, Mr. Chowdary explained in fine detail how this policy would lead to the high user charges in the industry.

The concluding talk in the session was delivered Mr. Karthick Sridhar who touched upon the issues of access, affordability and availability in the context of Healthcare in India. He also spoke about a Portable Bio-chemistry Lab and Remote Monitoring Integrated Medical Advice which have transformed the reach and cost of healthcare in rural India.

A panel discussion on the topic Diffusion of Technological Innovation in the Media Industry” involving the speakers in the inaugural session was scheduled later for the day.

Horizons 2011: Day 3

In Horizons,  Day three saw Mr.Sivaramakrishnan Ramachandra, Managing Partner, Littler Associates,India and Mr.Ravi Duvvuru, Head of Regulatory Compliance, India & South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank sharing their thoughts on the theme of the event -‘People, Planet, Profit’. Mr. Ramachandra spoke about the success and increased employee engagement of companies that focus on passionate objectives beyond profit. He opined that in reality there need not be a tradeoff between satisfying the various stakeholders of business. He also engaged the audience with stories of his personal experiences and the manner in which they have altered his view of business and the manner in which corporations conduct themselves. Mr. Duvvuru emphasized Standard Chartered’s culture and value systems and its inherent synchronicity with the triple bottom line concept. He elaborated on the numerous corporate social responsibility initiatives taken by his company and the impact they were having. In his talk he also laid stress on the need for banks to engage with the real economy rather than focus on synthetic instruments. Mr. Chandrashekhar Hariharan, Head, Biodiversity Conservation (India) Limited (BCIL) and Mr. Anirban Dhar ‘Onir’, Movie Director of ‘Bas Ek Pal’ and ‘My Brother Nikhil’, were the other speakers expected to deliver their keynotes later in the evening.

Horizons 2011 – Day Two

For Horizons 2011, day one ended on a high note with seasoned journalist Ashutosh Sinha of NDTV Profit and Suman Srivastava sharing their unique insight with the young audience. Speaking on innovative marketing Mr.Suman Srivastava opined that marketing as a subject still clings to outdated frameworks and models found in textbooks, developed for a different period. He insisted on the importance of internet as a powerful tool for the information age which saw an increasing trend towards individual customization. Mr.Ashutosh Sinha focused on the responsibilities of the media crucial and importance of credibility in news delivery. He consistently emphasized the failings of all entities that had chosen to treat people and profit on unequal terms because profit eventually comes from a long term association with people.

Day Two saw invaluable ideas shared by Anand Kurian, Director of Emphasis, Dr.P.Namperumalsamy of Aravind Eye Care and Anshu Gupta, Founder of award winning NGO ‘Goonj’. Mr. Anshu Gupta spoke passionately about clothing as a fundamental human need. In a moving presentation he impressed upon us our extraordinary disconnects with rural and semi-urban India.  He shared his experiences about building the unique organisation that he is a part and elaborated on its mission, purpose and his personal committment to the same. Mr. Anand Kurien, eloquently conveyed to us his conceptions of reality and what we need to learn beyond it. He emphasized the success of companies that chose to focus on the passion of its employees and quality of its product rather than focus on creating profits. Modelling mast of his talk on aspects of successful companies that adopted this strategy he drew connections and inferences from numerous philosophical sources to make his point. Dr.P.Namperumalsamy of Aravind Eye Care centered his talk on Aravind Eye Care’s much lauded sustainable eye care model for the masses. In emphasizing the same, he drew numerous and highly relevant parallels to the flagship theme of People, Planet and Profit. Aravind Eye Care commitment has allowed it to adopt a unique cross subsidy model that even permits access to the poorest and most remote areas of the country through mobile eye care centers. This model has gained such credibility that it has been discussed in the hallowed portals of management such as the Harvard Business School.

Horizons 2011: Day 1

Horizons 2011 aims to bring out the ideas on the ways in which corporations can make a holistic impact on the society – to make decisions, to choose between personal benefit and larger gains. The first speaker of the conclave, Mr. Hasit Joshipura, Vice President of South Asia and Indian Operations of GSK Pharmaceuticals spoke about the unique nature of the pharmaceutical industry in relation to the triple bottom line concept. While emphasizing the need for profits in a going concern he stated that a sustainable model could never be built in the absence of a broader view that included people and the planet. The idea of the triple bottom line has largely remained in the research journals so far and should start becoming standard practice. He referred to companies falling victim to what he called ‘the tyranny of quarters’ and short term benefits. He emphasized that the ‘social contract needs to be fulfilled’ and companies should care for the social stakeholders too.

The second speaker for the day was Suman Srivastava who elaborated on his ideas of innovative marketing and the future of the field as he saw it. He opined that marketing as a subject still clings to outdated frameworks and models found in textbooks and developed for a different period. He spoke about the increasing trend towards individual customization and the need for marketing to be ahead of the trend in order for firms to survive. He also mentioned the great power of the internet in disseminating information and its uses in the exercise.

Mr Srivastava was followed by the well known NDTV Profit journalist Ashutosh Sinha. His talk focused on the responsibilities of the media in ensuring that a broader mandate is carried out by all segments of the industry and government in order to secure the prosperity of people and the future of the planet. He consistently emphasized the failings of all entities that had chosen to treat people and profit on unequal terms because profit eventually comes from a long term association with people. He also spoke about the crucial importance of credibility in news delivery.

Horizons 2010- Day 3

The theme for Day 3 was Reaffirm: The Way Forward. The proceedings were kicked off with Prof KK Ladha sharing his thoughts about how the costs of social and political activism are coming down and the democratic institutions are gaining in power. We see roles changing in modern India where governments are turning to doors of businessmen to generate employment and for technology. A strong positive signal for those seeking to start their own ventures in India. He ended his talk by posing a question for the members of the audience: Are we as a nation likely to find ways to get past our narrow self interests and egos to get things done for a common goal?

The talk started with the members of audience removing their ties. Mr Harish Bijoor, CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults laced his session with humor and anecdotes coupled with real life examples of how marketers are really taking consumers for granted in the present scenario. In the present scenario where the consumer is more discerning than ever before and is sitting on the fence with her money, it is imperative for marketers to know her personally. Organisations are too concerned with their operating procedures that they tend to lose focus on the purpose of designing those procedures: the consumer. Mr Bijoor said that aggregate marketing and categorizing consumers is passé. Marketing is slated to move to a one-to-one paradigm.

He brought to light emerging concepts like TrySumer and ProSumer which aid in demand generation and how organizations need to constantly stay on their toes. The consumer of today is disillusioned of constant bombardment of information and has extreme distrust in conventional advertisement. The key is to keep things simple and help consumer make a decision that suits her best.

The talk concluded with Mr Bijoor introducing the young Indians: I-Gen (below 16 years of age ‘The Impatient Generation’) He mentioned that they are not the future, and in fact the present and the organizations that look to succeed should take this demographic segment seriously

Mr Rajiv Ahuja of Khimji Ramdas, Muscat stressed on going beyond conventional advertisement and the need to engage customers actively in community events that makes them see their own personalities to the brand. How the Brands and Consumers can give each other ‘Free Hugs’ that helps them grow in the long run. Interspersed with the talk were videos taking examples from across the world.

Horizons 2010- Day 2, Session 2

Session Two of day Two of Horizons consisted of a talk and a Panel Discussion on Corporate Governance.

Mr. Pritam Roy, Founder and CEO of Gomolo.in (the largest database of Hindi and Bengali films in India) and an IIM Kozhikode alumnus delivered a talk on ‘opportunities, resources and challenges’ of India in ‘redeem’ing itself. He also shared his experiences in his career during the last decade: the decade of ‘noughties’. Mr. Roy joined Ranbaxy after his post-graduation and he was responsible for Asia-Pacific and Latin American markets. He dwelled on certain phases that India has gone through in its ‘Redeem’ process. In the first phase, he talked about the Pharmaceutical and IT/ITES industries which were export-oriented and which started off the process of India a leading player in the world economy. According to Mr. Roy, the second phase consisted mainly in acquiring assets in the commodities, manufacturing and FMCG industries. Phase three saw India involving in niche industries – in marquee brands and telecom industry. The fourth phase saw more emphasis on natural resources and land as a main driving force of the economic development. He further commented on Barrack Obama’s comment recently that “…India has risen.”India has really come a far way from the ‘India Shining’ ads of last decade. On the ‘opportunities’ front, Mr. Roy dwelled upon the characteristics of employment in India, unprecedented growth, broadened penetration and inclusive growth. The main focus in ‘resources’ aspect of India are an increase in consumption, savings and investment , democracy ,free media, high aspiration levels and increased allocation to social programs. He also mentioned about RTI Act, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), Food Security Bill, and Adhaar as some of the constructive steps taken in India for a better India. Some of the ‘challenges’ facing present India are poor physical , social , technology infrastructure.Moreover,there is a lack of focus on agriculture  and a lack of quality healthcare and education. He also laid stress on the progress of different internet sites in the whole business scenario of India, most notably naukri.com, makemytrip.com, shaadi.com, gomolo.in, amongst others.

Mr. Haragopal Mangipudi, Global Head, Infosys Finnacle, Mr. Prashant Govil, Managing Consultant, Technology Consulting, Accenture and Mr. Pritam Roy , Founder and CEO of Gomolo.in were part of a panel discussion on “Paradigm in vigilant India and world of Corporate Governance”.The panel talk was efficiently moderated by Prof. Rani Ladha of IIM Kozhikode.The crux of the healthy discussion which took place is that transparency is essential for a wholesome corporate governance.Mr. Govil opined that ethics should also be a part and parcel of corporate governance.Strong regulation and government interventions contribute for this cause.Mr. Mangipudi laid emphasis on the agent-principal relationship in corporate governance.He laid stress on the ability to impart change in the system in the case for unavoidable bad performance in corporate governance and question the administration.he concluded by telling that integrity is a cluster concept and consistency of methods,measures , principles is the hallmark of desired corporate governance.Mr. Roy lauded the efforts of Infosys in setting the benchmark of corporate governance in India and the efforts of Mr. Narayana Murthy in this aspect.He highlighted the differences between features of corporate governance of developed countries and that of India.In India, much effort goes into catering to the larger shareholders.Moreover, according to him, different number of laws in the country increase the cost of the company in the effort taken to comply with governance in accordance to them.A variety of quality questions were raised by the students present in the audience and they were answered in a very informative manner by the panel members ,with an excellent degree of moderation by Prof. Rani Ladha.