Category Archives: Life @ K

All the happenings, all the updates from God’s own Kampus

Tête-à-tête with Mr. Saurabh Mahajan: A PR Cell exclusive

 
IIM Kozhikode had the pleasure of hosting Mr. Saurabh Mahajan , Director of product Management at Ola and an alumnus from the PGP Batch of 2012,who had come down to the campus after almost 5 years to deliver a guest talk on managing IT products and services with a bird’s eye view on the cab aggregation industry.
The Public Relations Cell, IIM Kozhikode, took a trip down memory lane with Mr. Mahajan, in an edifying session to discuss the Indian IT scenario, product management, hands-on demos on interactive platforms, and the ride-sharing revolution, complete with generous sprinklings of the vicissitudes of Kampus Life!
A few excerpts:

PR: Most of our alumni are of the opinion that our campus has changed. Do you concur?

SM: Surprisingly, no! Since my graduation in 2012, I honestly don’t feel coming across any major changes in the campus, except perhaps for the increase in the number of stairways, adding to the ease of access to the academic blocks. What is heartening to note is that the classrooms have been technologically upgraded to qualify as “Smart classrooms”! Speaking of diversity and inclusion, ours was the first batch to record a whopping 33% of women in management without quota which garnered a lot of media attention and it is encouraging to know that the numbers remain similar 5 years down the line as well.

DSC_0160

PR: From having majored in Finance-based courses, you now handle Product management. Has the transition been smooth?

SM: Frankly speaking, Product management is more General management than an IT profile, encompassing courses on Economics, Finance, Marketing et al. Of course, my two years at Zynga as an associate product manager molded me in the intricacies of this role better than any Indian Start-up ,in those times,could ever had. Zynga was essentially data-driven and 6 months into the company, I was already looking after a $50mn business as Revenue PM for Mafia Wars. 16 months and a couple of promotions later, I decided to scout for new avenues and jumped on Adobe’s bandwagon to develop Cloud-based services in India from scratch. Having served as the worldwide PM for the Adobe InDesign application, my work revolved around managing IT products and services. So, in a nutshell, I have been fortunate enough to dabble in myriad courses under the PM umbrella!

PR: With such lucrative options at Adobe, what made you take the plunge for Ola, a domain hitherto unchartered with regards to your profile trajectory?

 SM: Adobe’s stock options, albeit tempting, were nothing more than the proverbial golden handcuffs for me. I was still on the lookout for newer and bolder challenges and Ola made all the right moves. Ride-sharing in the Indian startup universe was an appealing enterprise for me. Ever since then Ola have been investing heavily in marrying technology with customer experience, case in point-Ola Play. My team handles personalization of the application to improve our CVP and increase the customer base. Our modus operandi involves a robust feedback mechanism, where we conduct dip-stick interviews with customers for effective need analysis and partnership with content providers.

PR: We often hear of divides between technical and managerial teams. How should one approach such technical-driven roles with an MBA from a premier B-school?

 SM: Interestingly enough, this is indeed a reality. Most MBAs tend to be left-brained and designers tend to be right-brained! However, these are two a different functions. Once you are through with the campus placements, the results you yield and the ideas you bring to the boardroom matter than the college you come from. The biggest challenge one faces coming from a premier B-school is the propensity of misplaced authority, making one come off as arrogant. What really matters is how you leverage your learnings and keep the team together. Humility is an art that needs to become a habit.

PR: From gaming to designing to car aggregation, this has been quite a diverse trajectory for you. How easy is it to switch profiles?

SM: Situational factors, more often than not, play a major role in job-hops. My decisions were heavily influenced by the circumstances of the times. Having said that, I would still recommend prudence and patience in deciding career shifts, simply because it comes with its own set of challenges of learning and re-learning complex and highly esoteric products and processes. In the end, problem-solving acumen coupled with relationship building and quick thinking abilities are vital skill-sets for almost all profiles, especially PM roles.

 PR: Your take on innovation in India?

SM: For any company to survive in India’s highly competitive markets, they need to constantly innovate. Many companies have tried and failed, yet there are still many, Ola being one amongst them, that are constantly striving to make services affordable and accessible to almost all strata in society. Ola has the potential to turn profitable as we speak, however this would only reduce our consumer base by almost half. Hyperlocal presence increases penetration rates and assists in creating demand. Companies like Swiggy is even experimenting in food aggregation!

PR: With disruptions becoming the order of the day, how do you foresee Ola changing the fate of urban mobility?

 SM: Accessibility and rampant unionization remains an issue. But Ola, as a company, is looking to solve the transportation problem. There has been a noticeable change with drivers shifting from the heavy vehicle to the light vehicle and passenger transportation segments, with better opportunities and standards of living.   If given a chance, we may even venture into boats!

 PR: Any message for the upcoming batches?

SM: I think it’s important to make the most of the two years at IIMK; observe people, learn from them, build a view on things. Keep yourselves updated on what’s hot and happening .In the end, grades and assignments don’t really matter. What truly matters is being a part of cognitive and affective associations, being a better problem solver. There is no secret to doing well in life, but it’s important not to fool oneself, not to have an illusion of learning.

 

—————————————————————————————————————————

 

Konversations with Sandeep Chatterjee

Discussion started where I introduced myself as coordinator from PR Cell and how back in the days of PGP05 there was no other committee except from Student council and Placement Committee. We went on to discuss the range of topics from college campus looked like back in the days of  PGP05 to relevance of IT as domain for MBA students. Find the excerpts below:

PR Cell: At your time this campus barely came into existence so for someone from say PGP05, 02 it would be difficult to connect to IIMK (in terms of what it is now)

Sandeep: Yeah I know, we were here for 3 months so for us it is still relevant, the campus

PR Cell: So for someone like us, do you think something can be done to bring earlier batches PGP01-05 in sync with this campus?

Sandeep: So what happened three four years back PGP03 people came down and that was a good initiative. So if you can catch some of those guys, maybe they can bring in their batch mates. This would be a good way to start. I know they cannot connect but still would love to see the campus. PGP03 managed to get 43 of their batch mates to Nostalgia.The one with Mr Sandeep Chatterjee

PR Cell: This is something we can put across to Alumni Committee and see how it works

Sandeep: Absolutely. Make them feel important can body will come

PR Cell: And for you especially how does it feel to come back?

Sandeep: For me it is really really close, I fell ill and this Institute gave me a chance to complete my studies. So that is why I have very strong feeling about IIMK. Whenever IIMK asks I do come.

PR Cell: I noticed that you are pursuing your PHD, how did this shift to learning happen ?

Sandeep : So what happened is , I do some courses here I take EPGP courses here , Mathew Sir then suggested me why don’t you do a PHD then. It was his push that this will be helpful. What happens is that in industry we tend to loose connect with the academia. Why do I come here? It’s a Darwin’s theory that you guys are better evolved thus the kind of questions you ask, we get ideas from that.

PR Cell: Moving on a different question now, most of us come from IT/tech background and kind of work that you do would require a lot of tech know how. So do you think that MBA prepares you for such roles?

Sandeep: if you go to hard core technical field there are people with strong technical aptitude who will offer resistance. So same thing happened with me. What I did I put extra efforts learning it. It may not be coding that I am expected to do but still I need to have a basic sense of it. Of course in an MBA program we are not looking to make them technocrats, even the courses that we have in here give you a basic idea of it. At least if you get the logic right you can survive.

PR Cell : It is said MBA is going to evolve in next few years, is this technical integration that is being talked about ?

Sandeep : Yes, There is a lot that is coming in technology, Cloud, Machine learning etc . So we need to appreciate technology. You need not write code but you need to know how IOT is going to solve your problem, generate sales for you then you are ok to go. These latest trends should be incorporated in the course curriculum.

PR Cell: How was brand IIM K evolved over the years?

Sandeep : IIMK as a brand has done really well for itself. Only problem is now it has stagnated. Reason could be that we are publicising ourselves in a fashion that we should. We have the business museum. No other B-school has that. We should it our advantage. Now MBA is a foreign concept but globalising Indian Thought. Who would have thought we could bring in Indian perspective to it.

PR Cell: Well Sir it was a great discussion that we had, any message for newer batch that has joined the institute ?

Sandeep : Have high hopes but don’t expect something as high as strategy roles. It takes time for that. Utilise your time well here and make the best of it.

The Public Relations Cell Team with the Alumnis

This interview was part of a series conducted by Public Relations Committee, IIM Kozhikode ( Interviews arranged by Alumni Committee of IIM Kozhikode ) as a part of Alumni Interaction done in the month of July, 2017

 

Konversations with Abha Banerjee

Abhabanerjee As part of the Women’s day celebration at IIM Kozhikode organized by the Gender Sensitization Club of IIM-K, motivational speaker and leadership author, Abha Maryada Banerjee was invited to address the K-community. Besides, Abha  being India’s first woman motivational speaker of international acclaim, she has written two books on Women leadership. The Public Relations Cell got the opportunity to converse with her

 

You are considered to be India’s first woman motivational speaker. What made you choose this seemingly unconventional profession?

I used to be a lawyer. From early on, I was socially inclined and I had a vision to contribute to society. I believed social change was possible. I was in this zone of building people. We need to build people if we want social change. The only thing available, at that point in time was law. I took law presuming that it will get me into the social sphere or places where I could either cause an influence, an impact or in some sort of way get involved in the social system but it was a different ball game altogether and I eventually made up my mind that personal development, motivation etc was an industry in the west, at that point of time. 20, 25 years ago. And when I looked at it, I realized, this is where I need to be, if I really need to follow my vision of building people. I need to understand people first, I need to understand how people can be built, how minds can be built. So I quit law after 10 years of practise and re-educated myself at the age of 34, to do what I am doing today. And I think it was a very wise decision because I am doing a lot better over here. I have helped lakhs of people across the world. It was unconventional, but I did not think it was because I understood it so well, that I thought everybody will pick it up but that wasn’t the case

Did you face any hurdles, along the way?

Too many things happened at that time, but eventually I found it was very important like bathing. Like you bath every day, every day you need motivation. It took me a lot of time to convince people that it works. I had to work for 3-4 years initially for people to be able to see value. Now of course it has mushroomed, everybody is doing it. A lot of people can talk but to have the power to influence and impact people in a positive way is a skill that one should learn. I have taught to many people on how to work on building others. So unconventional as it may be, it is the most important thing, people should be able to learn from. It is like a complimentary education. We get educated in a traditional academic sense but we need to build people. If we don’t do that, the education also sometimes can be wasted.

You have written a book “Nucleus” on women leadership, what do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

Firstly, women are not supposed to be leaders. There is this perception that women live, not only in India but also in societies abroad, where a woman is not deemed to be leadership material. She is not deemed to be strong, she is not deemed to be mentally tough That is one of the key reasons, why we don’t see a lot of women over there. Secondly, women have to bear kids, they have to raise children.

Leadership per say requires a lot of energy and commitment for anybody who takes it up, be it a man or a woman.  Women have to give away a lot of time to things like family, which is equally important. It we choose to do both it can be extremely tiring and exhausting. In the social sphere, in the corporate sphere or in politics, the amount of time it takes for a woman to get there, it is easier to find men who would want to do the same job.  So by the time you can identify a woman who can do it, there would be 20 men standing there, saying they can do it. Plus, on the top there is more men than women so it is easier for them to hire men. Men feel uncomfortable with the stronger leadership women show. They tend to sort of push you back a little bit or cause hurdles on the way. And I don’t think it is with bad intention. We as a society have not evolved enough to see women standing side by side with men or women doing bigger stuff or women doing things that men are doing.  Nowadays things are changing, which is very good. The last hurdle I would say is in women’s minds. Who do not consider themselves leaders because they have always been taught to stay in the background. They have been taught to play from the periphery. To calm down and let things be.

Can you name one individual whom you would call your inspiration?

There are so many people. However, I am a follower of Swami Vivekananda. He is no more but his teachings and who he was as a person is still relevant. I started reading his work at the age of 9, and by 13 I would call myself a full-fledged fan. I would do anything his teachings said. But when I picked it up and I could relate to what it says, it becomes part of your personality. His thoughts are very modern, very cosmopolitan it terms of equality between men and woman, about religion, about society, about the east and the west and about how we build ourselves. He was one of the key influences in my life. He taught that we have to build ourselves as people, if we want to build other

 

You are a mother, entrepreneur and you travel around the world. How do you maintain a work-life balance?

I don’t believe in this word called balance. I use a word called integration. When we talk of balance, we presume that there is lack of it. So it is a matter of prioritizing what is important to you. Keeping in mind, I have to take care of my family, my children, my work, my husband and myself. I have had to prioritize everything in my life. I have very little social life, I do not watch television or movies, I have very few friends, I do not go out, I don’t eat out. So that is the time, I spend with my family and my work. I have always had an office, but I have never worked from an office. I have worked from my home. And I make sure I work from 8 in the morning till 3 in the afternoon, when my children are at school. Now that they have grown up they are not depended on me anymore. Also I systematize everything. I make sure things are in place. I enjoy coming to places like IIMK, this is more useful than me being out elsewhere.

What is your message for IIM K students?

Celebrate your potential. You have huge potential, you have to identify it, you have to work on it and make sure you build yourself to a point that people can see you and be helped. Always be happy with yourself but keep building on everything that you have, whether God has given you gifts of any kind, talents, education, people around you

Interviewed by | John | Rohan | Public Relations Cell – IIM Kozhikode

 

Celebrating Women – IIMK sets a precedent

Abha_Banerjee

International Women’s Day was celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor at IIMK on Saturday. It was a student initiative made possible the by a collaboration of individuals who believed in the cause and came forward and volunteered to make the event a great success. Guests for the event were Chairperson of Student’s Council Professor Om Kumar and Leadership Author and Motivational Leader Abha Banerjee.

The event comprised of speeches by four young women who spoke of their life experiences on a variety of topics ranging from ambition, loss, being strong, leadership and sexual abuse. Abha departed some great tidbits of wisdom on managing life, dreams and getting the best of out of both.

But the part of the event which hit an emotional note with the 100 odd students present was a surprise in the form of video. This video consisted of messages from the parents of certain girl students. Many eyes welled up when fathers and mothers spoke about how proud they were of their daughters, how happy they were that they were blessed with a girl child, and how much they missed them.

It happens very rarely that you get to a part an evening filled with emotions, honest admissions, hope and solidarity. International Women’s Day celebration at IIMK yesterday evening has set a precedence for the many events of such kind to come.

audience_womens_day

 

It was an intense event, a single of its kind, which raised many pertinent questions about the kind of society we are living in. Abha spoke about how times had changed and how women today had a forum to express themselves, how they could step out in the public and speak their minds and about things which went wrong with them. I think, as a society, it is great that we have progressed from equality to equity. But the task is not yet done. It is upon us, the future parents, the future adults to take make this equity a triviality. Our children should say with surprise – really, you were treated differently just because you were a woman?!

By Preeti Bhonsle (PGP 20)
Some of the moments from the event

DSC_0005 DSC_0009 DSC_0012 DSC_0021 DSC_0024 DSC_0064 DSC_0073 DSC_0074

 

 

 

Sangram 2016: Call of Destiny

The clarion call for battle has been sounded and the warriors are sharpening their swords. Sangram, the Annual Inter IIM Sports Meet between IIM Bangalore, IIM Trichy, IIM Vishakhapatnam   and IIM Kozhikode was launched here in IIM K on the night of 2nd November, 2016.

Sangram, which commenced in 2008, when IIM Bangalore and IIM Kozhikode decided to conduct a joint sports meet annually, has subsequently welcomed IIM Trichy and IIM Vizag into the arena, and is currently hosted alternate years by the two founding members. This year’s edition will be held in IIM Bangalore between 18th and 20th November. Over the three days, participants will compete in 20+ events. More than 400 participants and over a thousand spectators will attend the grand event.

Lamp Lighting

Lamp Lighting

The event commenced with the lighting of the lamp to signify a pure beginning to the endeavor.

This was followed by Prof Om Kumar Krishnan, Chairperson, Student Affairs, and Faculty Advisor, Sports Committee, IIM K, addressing the audience. Dressed in sportswear appropriate for the occasion, he inspired in the participants the spirit of dedication and the importance of the pursuit of excellence.

Prof Deepak Dayanithy, ex-Faculty Advisor, Sports Committee, IIM K, next took the dais, and addressed the squad. His speech was full of powerful invocations to motivate the sportsmen and sportswomen.

This was followed by the announcement of teams for the various events of Sangram, 2016. The best sportspersons of the institute were chosen to fight for glory.

Team Announcement

Team Announcement

The next item on the agenda was the unveiling of the official jersey design for the sports contingent. This was followed by the launch of the video teaser for IIM K’s Sangram campaign. The awe inspiring clip pepped up the audience and set the mood for the campaign. Watch the video here.

The last bit of the evening were the team pictures, a reminder of our strength in unity, and of the greatness of the common goal more than that of personal achievement.

With the vote of thanks delivered by Mr Bharath Reddy from PGP19, the evening drew to a close, and the warriors withdrew once again to the field to hone their skills for the upcoming battle.

The Hult Prize @ IIM Kozhikode

IIM Kozhikode is proud to have organized the world’s largest student competition for the social good at the campus level. The Hult Prize Foundation is a start-up accelerator for budding young social entrepreneurs emerging from the world’s universities after challenging them to solve a pressing social issue around topics such as food security, water access, energy, and education. The agenda for this year is reawakening human potential – the refugee problem.

The event differentiated itself from the beginning. There was a grueling interview for the recruitment of the campus director and Rahul Kumar, a PGP 19 student got selected as the campus director. He buckled up for the event by appointing his core team consisting of Nitin Gupta, Isha Walian ad Vaishnavi Adapa.

One of the participants presenting his solution

One of the participants presenting his solution

And finally when the D day arrived for the campus finalists to present their ideas of addressing one of the larges problems of the present day, the teams came up with amazing ideas stunning the judging panel. The panel was wisely chosen by the organizing team to have different perspectives. Ms Shamin Sebastian, the deputy collector of Kozhikode district of Kerala brought with her the expertise in dealing with migrants who come to Kerala from other parts of India. Prof. Priya Nair Rajeev, Assistant professor in OB HR area of IIM Kozhikode gave valuable insights in the human resource management and the problems that would arise in managing the ideas given by the participants. Last but not the least, Mr. Shilen Sagunan, Chief Executive at SS counsultants, Kochi gave the participants his ideas on the feasibility of the business plans and the potential problems in the financial success of the plan and the implementation.

On the D-day i.e., Nov 4th, the organizers got great responses from the particpants when asked about their journey to the campus finals and also the hardwork they have put in. In words of Dharmanshu, a PGP19 student, “ This is a huge problem. I have read about refugees before. But I was not empathizing as much I do now. There are millions of people looking for help and something has to be done”. Another participant Sushmitha from PGP20 told, “Presenting our solution for one of the biggest problems in the world in the biggest competitions gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

The Judges

The Judges

After all presentations and intense rounds of Q&A, the judges announced the team Elements and team Veritas as the campus winners to represent IIM Kozhikode at a national level. In the words of Arunangshu, one of the members of the winning team, “It is different from solving a regular case study because you have to think in more detail about how to solve problems, you haven’t fallen into with little scope for primary research. You want to solve problems for all the refugees but you cannot, as your idea should target a limited set of individuals effectively.”

The IIM K fraternity wishes them all the very best for the further rounds and put faith that IIM K’s teams would reach the finals at Boston and receive the 1 million USD to set up their venture and help the world solve one of the biggest problems today.

Higher Stakes, Greater Rewards: Backwaters Day 2

How often after dinner we are left with the lingering taste of the dessert! Well that was what TVF (The Viral Fever) was to the day two. Anyways let us not jump the queue here.

We started the second day’s proceedings from where we left of, the Model United Nations where delegates further divulged into “combating terrorism and human rights violations” and “non-proliferation of nuclear weapons” in two committees. While policy discussions was left to the delegates to ponder upon we panned our camera to IIMK’s yet another star flagship event “Return of the pride – CSK” . One of the most awaited events at Backwaters, it lived up to its expectations wherein participants presented their ideas on re-launch strategy for Chennai Super Kings. With prizes worth one lac to won, it was one of the hotly contested events. The event was judged by Mr George John, Director CSK, Mr Chockalingam, Creative Director, OPN Advertising, Ms Bala Manian, Director, OPN Advertising; Prof Joffi Thomas, IIM Kozhikode and Prof Deepak Dayanidhi, IIM Kozhikode.

While CSK’s event created a lot of buzz on the campus, proceedings for yet another flagship event were brewing up: Avatar, the ultimate CEO Challenge. A gruelling 10 round event which started with its Round Five, the Sponsors Judgement today. Participants were put to test for their creative and intellect alike. We followed it up with White Knight, a B-Plan Competition of IIM Kozhikode. Which aimed to encourage entrepreneurship by providing the platform for newer ideas. All the flagship events saw the participation of teams from business schools from across the country.

Another of the event that followed up its activities from Day 1 was Shiksha, a student development initiative. It conducted a motivational personality development programme for the undergraduate students. The talks at Shiksha were conducted by Team Synergy and were received by positive feedbacks from the students. What kept the day interesting were on spot events like: Trivia – TV Show and Character based quiz. And a big shout out to the organizers for it was a tough nut to crack. Event saw the participation from scores of students moving around with perplexed looks trying to decode the codified puzzles.

While we ended the business for the day two with Model United Nations drafting its proposals only to make way for the most awaited event/nights of Backwaters.

The Pro-Night and this time it was The Viral Fever in the house.

The Viral Fever has created ripples in the Indian entertainment industry in the recent years with its witty shows, which have won the hearts of the Indian youth. What lies at the heart of their success are their passionate actors and witty script writers, who have been able to create an instant connect with millions. Backwaters 2016, the annual management festival of IIM K was all geared up for hosting the TVF team on its second night and it turned out to be an evening filled with humour and good old laughter. The show began with stand-up comedy star Vipul Goyal (VG) performance, making the crowd go crazy with his doses of laughter. This was followed by Jeetu (Jitendra Kumar) and Aakansha taking the stage. The popular dialogues from The Pitchers and various other TVF Hits were making the audience go berserk. The evening ended with an informal interaction of the TVF team with the ‘Kommunity’. They had to encounter myriad questions, ranging from their parents’ reaction to their videos to what they would have been if they didn’t venture into this sphere. And just the all good things come to an end so did this one came to a close with the TVF team holding an informal selfie session with IIMK students. It was indeed a fun thing to do.

With this we bring down the curtains on yet another enthralling experience that was day two of Backwaters.

We shall be back soon with proceedings from ultimate day of Backwaters.

Till then it’s a good bye from us at Backwaters and PR cell, IIMK

For more info, follow Backwaters’ on FB.

Compiled by Amritansh Ahuja and Parnabho Kundu | Public Relations Cell, IIM Kozhikode

Vertical Summit Interview Series: Mr Sunandan Chaudhury

fin (2)

Someone has very correctly said, economics, linking dynamic human behaviour with the concept of money, is the mother of all social sciences.

And who better to give us insights of this wonderful subject than Mr. Sunandan Chaudhuri, currently Senior Economist at ICICI Bank. An important contributor to financial dailies on issues spanning the Indian economy and macroeconomic policy making, Mr. Chaudhuri is one of the leading economists of the nation. An alumnus of the prestigious Presidency College, Kolkata and the coveted Indian Statistical Institute, Mr. Chaudhuri, before joining ICICI bank, had worked with organizations like SBICAP Securities and Tata Consultancy Services.

The students of IIM Kozhikode got an opportunity to interact and learn from a person of such credentials and expertize of economics during the Vertical Summit 2016 organized by the Industry Interaction Cell, IIM Kozhikode. Here are a few excerpts from his interview-

Your thoughts on the actual working environment in the financial services sector.

In India, the financial services sector is in a growing stage. Owing to the relatively under banked nature of our economy, financial services as a sector has enormous potential to grow as the GDP growth moves towards the 8% mark in the years to come. The ‘JAM’ (Jan Dhan – Aadhar – Mobile) trinity, supported by the Government of India is a huge fillip to financial inclusion in this context and the demand for financial services is poised to increase in the years to come.

What are the challenges and opportunities in the banking sector and how must we as students prepare for it?

 This rapidly evolving and dynamic sector needs people with a certain set of ‘internal’ as well as ‘external’ skills. As a bank is basically in the business of managing risks, it needs people with good analytical skills to perform various risk management and credit disbursement functions. The present day banker needs to be tech savvy as the platform gets increasingly digitized with the introduction on online wallets, payments banks, and potential competition from P2P and crowd funding, which would be driven on a strong IT backbone.

On the ‘product’ front this involves an external set of characteristics, and a banker must be able to adequately communicate the relevant value proposition to all the stakeholders involved. The focus currently is on retail credit growth and, a bank needs people with good interpersonal skills, who are able to connect with its customers.

With the coming up of the digitized platform and ever falling data rates, how do you see the future of the brick and mortar of retail banking outlets?

The brick and mortar model has served India’s banking system for a long time. At this stage, there are strong complementarities between the traditional brick and mortar and digital processes. As we are still a largely under banked system, the scope for traditional banking provides brick and mortar outlets enough space to operate and exist in the near future. Over time digitization will gain prominence, but there would conceivably be more co-operation than competition.

What could be the likely impact of the expected outflow of FCNR deposits on the tune of around USD $20 bn on the Indian economy? Are we adequately prepared for it?

The outgoing RBI Governor Dr. Rajan has time and again assured that the RBI is well positioned both in terms of its ability to supply dollars and also in terms of its ability to maintain adequate rupee liquidity. Currently our reserves are at a historic high .Again, because of superlative growth performance as well as yield seeking behaviour from investors globally,  the large foreign capital inflow of FDI as well as FII enhance the available forex kitty. Thus the RBI is adequately equipped both in terms of rupee liquidity and dollar liquidity to tackle this outflow.

What are the recent traits in the B-school graduates that join banking institutions and any one quality that you would like us to work and improve on?

Over time, students have become more comfortable with a faster pace of outcomes which is not out of place, as with quick turnaround times in business, such dynamic qualities are required. But at times, it helps to take a certain medium to long term view of one’s career, which of course comes with maturity. So balancing the abilities to learn fast with a medium to long term view of one’s career direction is what one would like to see in today’s B-school graduates.

Interviewed by Rahul | Public Relations Cell – IIM Kozhikode

Vertical Summit Interview Series: Mr Khushroo Panthaky

Mr Khushroo Panthaky

 

If your values are intact, you can face anybody and everybody

As part of Industry Interaction Cell’s flagship event Vertical Summit, Mr. Khushroo Panthaky was here at IIM K to give a talk on consulting. Senior partner at Grant Thornton, Mr Panthaky has over 16 years of experience in the banking and financial services domain and 30 plus years of wide ranging experience. A CA by profession, he has delivered many lectures with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.  He is also a visiting faculty at the National Insurance Academy, Pune and reputed management institutes. PR cell had the opportunity to interview him right before his lecture and here are some excerpts from the session-

With the backdrop of high levels of NPAs and with due diligence assuming high significance, according to you, how can banks strengthen their credit appraisal processes, especially for large corporate borrowers?

Well NPA is a problem, as you are aware, for a long time it was only not surfacing. So if you have been following the newspapers, you must have seen that Raghuram Rajan had a diktat that in case the banks are not cleaned up before 31st March 2017, they’re going to face a lot of issue. So banks do have a challenge. I think if you look at the balance sheet and if you look at the recent news reports and all, more than 1000 crores have been written off by the banks in one quarter and another 1000 crores in the next quarter. How do the banks prevent this kind of a thing? By a better credit appraisal process and more importantly by ensuring that they do not get carried away by the requests and the diktats made by their seniors. Let’s say that you are an officer in the bank and you are actually required to do a credit appraisal but the person who’s going to get the money from the bank is a very good friend of mine and I’m the Chairman of the bank. And I tell you that ok, please make sure that you give him the loan. You may not want to give him the loan. So that kind of interferences should not be there. Secondly, strengthening of controls and systems, strengthening of credit appraisal process and keeping in mind how the industry is going to be performing. Now for example, there are industries like steel, aviation, mining, infrastructure, real estate which are in doldrums currently. Do you still want to continue to lend to them? And if at all you do, how do you cover your risk? Do you charge more interest? Do you have a better collateral? Collateral is more important. Securitisation is also important. So these are the steps.

 RBI has taken the lead in bringing in a lot of disruption and innovation in the financial services sector with payments banks, unified payment interface. Do you think the regulatory framework is robust enough to adapt to these innovations?

I think there is a scope for improvement. Current regulatory framework always sort of seems to be adequate. But it’s very difficult to say that because unless and until you would come across the specific difficulties and problems that they are encountering in the future, you would not be able to mould the regulation. So the regulations also need to be evolved keeping in mind the difficulties, the kind of negligence, malpractices that would happen over a period of time. I believe that it’s fine but there’s scope for improvement.

Do you think the current innovations are enough to make a dent on the goal of financial inclusion?

I would say it’s good but it can be still better with more digitalisation coming in, with more analytics coming in. If you read today’s newspaper itself, in the economic times, it talks about financial technology- Fintech, which is sort of the buzzword right now. That will happen only through a better digitalisation process. So things can be much better but of course it’s far better right now, compared to what it was 10 years back. I mean I remember the day when I used to be an auditor and banks did not even have a system, they did not even have a computer. They were all doing the business manually. Now with the volume of transactions and global reach of the bank, you need not only a good system but a digitalised, analytical, high quality, robust framework to manage the risk.

Given your experience as a CA, what would you say is the core difference between a consulting role and a finance role?

A consultant normally would get to do a lot of things but today in the consulting world, there is a lot of specialization, which is happening. It can be within banking itself, there are 3 or 4 departments or specializations. Similarly within insurance, within broker dealing, within capital markets, within asset management. For a consultant, I would say he gets to see the world a lot better. Because he gets to go from one organization to another, can see the pros and cons, can see the evolutions, the dynamics of each organization. As far as the industry is concerned, one can always move from one bank to the other but he gets to do the same thing for 3 or 4 years. I am personally of the belief that somebody in the industry at some point of time gets some kind of complacency in the long term, doing the same thing again and again. Unless he wants to move from one department to another, or from one segment to another, like somebody moving from a banking to insurance or from insurance to asset management. Once you develop your name and reputation in one field and you go to the next one, you will have to start from the scratch. So a consultant’s role is more challenging, because he could be a jack of all and master of none.

You’ve had a vast experience of 30 years in this field. Can you share stories of some difficult clients you’ve had to work with?

Good you asked me this question. Well I’ve come across quite a few, so it’s very difficult to pick one. Yes, we’ve come across difficult situations, without naming a particular client. You know today that values are very important, in every field, in every industry. And when you talk about values, you talk about accountability, you talk about responsibility, ethics. I faced a situation where the financial results were approved before the board meeting and which were reviewed by me as the auditor. As a mandatory requirement, every quarter, the company declares the results and the auditors actually review and audit it. So I came across a situation where I saw the results were very different from what I had approved last evening. This should not be the case, since I should be aware of what those changes are. And when I asked the CFO, he said yes he has done some changes and he forgot to tell me. So I got very upset. I was sitting in front of the board meeting, in front of the board of directors and I have no clue what the nature of those adjustments are. And I had to tell the board very clearly that sorry the numbers have changed from 11 crores of loss to 8 crores of loss. The loss has come down by 3 crores and I do not have any idea and the board said that if you do not know, how can you say that in this meeting? I said of course you ask the financial officer of the company. They asked the financial officer and he said that you were not aware but we made these changes. The board said fine, so what’s wrong if you were not made aware? We are letting you know now. I said I’m sorry and for me the most difficult thing was that I had to walk out because I did not accept that particular 3 crores of change. So on one hand, there was a gun on my head, in terms of you take this number, there’s no alternative. And the other is to lose the client, lose the relationship. I walked out of the room, ultimately they came running after me and they said ok fine, you can sign off on your original number of 11 crores loss.

Advice for future consultants to survive in this challenging and continuously evolving environment?

Keep yourself very abreast of the latest developments. In consulting, you have to be on the top of things. Second, you need to consult your peers and other people, other firms within the industry. Your view in fine but you should also know the views of others. Keep your values very intact, because if your values are very intact, you can face anybody and everybody. And I just gave you an example of value, how you walk the path of righteousness. My advice to the young people is that consultancy is always great to do. I mean in terms of variety, you can be an auditor, you can be a tax consultant, you can be an adviser but whatever you do, you need to do it with a lot of conviction. If your conviction levels are low, you would never be able to reach the goal.

Interviewed by | Priya | Public Relations Cell – IIM Kozhikode

Vertical Summit Interview Series: Mr Prahalad Karman

in

A second wave of IT is going to come from India

At IIM Kozhikode, we keep ourselves abreast of the industry trends and as part of our continuous striving to ensure this, Vertical Summit 2016 was organized by Industry Interaction Cell, wherein we had the privilege of hosting eminent speakers from six verticals: Operations, Information technology, Human Resources, Consulting, Finance and Marketing.

The Public Relations Cell decided to give it a more personal touch and covered the speakers’ thoughts on the verticals they all work in. This one is pertaining to the field of Information Technology, where we sat down with Mr. Prahalad Karman, Consulting Leader Strategy & Operations at IBM. He is someone who comes with 16 + years of experience in Business Transformation, Business Strategy, Operation & SCM, IT Strategy, Business Development and Delivery Management. He currently leads the Consumer Products Industry (Consult to Operate) and the Supply Chain Strategy Offering for IBM Global Business Services at India and advises the IBM Senior Executive team on strategic initiatives. He has also led various business consulting and IT engagements across the Globe specifically at North America, Europe, Middle East & Africa and India South Asia.


He has managed various Service Offerings, Programs, Projects and multi-million-dollar business units and worked across industries in Consumer Products, Manufacturing, Government, Education & Tourism, Technology. He is a visiting faculty at leading B-Schools in India and has been mentoring entrepreneurs for the last 3 years.

So for someone with his experience it had to be a very resourceful discussion. Below are the excerpts from the interview:

How has been your experience so far at IIMK, this is your fourth visit to our campus? Any difference you have noticed over the years?


Firstly, I love coming to IIMK, and over years there has been an improvement in terms of questions, the type of questions students ask. You get to know that they have experience, knowledge and learning. It shows that quality of students has increased over the years. I mean students had an understanding about the basics, some of them already had opinions on issues concerning IT as such. This shows fundamentals are strong. This further stamps that brand of IIM K is improving.

Secondly, When I came the last time I had heard about the entrepreneur cell that operates and a couple of entrepreneurs here. I had expressed my wish to mentor some of them here. I presently mentor many who have ventured into these waters. I have been associated with National Entrepreneurship network, NEN. Let’s see where we get with this in long run.

We talk about cloud & automation being new trends in business, now the Indian IT industry has generated profits on the “Headcount” basis in last 10 years. Won’t the move to newer trends lead to hiring issues and a hit on basic profitability formula for them?


Yeah…Yeah…IT per se is very abnormal in its characteristic, it started in late 1990s and at that time there was a lot of demand and so Indian IT companies served the supply side. Now what happens when you have that high demand and very less supply? You become cash rich but you don’t know what to do with that cash. You simply cater to it in whatever manner it is possible. Indian IT industry didn’t know what to do with this IT other than to serve and follow up what they were told. If client comes up with different versions of the application, they would maintain that. However why client came up with those versions, the business need for it, that understanding was missing, it is still not there. So now with new technologies coming up that have been automating your processes, you are left with no alternative other than to stop your hiring and in worst case fire people.

Yes. Most of them didn’t show any hiring statistics this year…


Exactly, even IBM won’t do that… you see with automation coming in you would not want to come up with hiring stats. What remains … you can stay if you are evolving… but most of them are stuck. Evolution is required both with respects to working culture and business culture. They have been able to change their working culture in most of the cases but business culture has still not changed. It has to change.

Something on a different line, we see the IT revenues primarily exports oriented contributing 70-80% of bills. Do you see a reversing of trends and demand being driven more internally in the future?


Absolutely!! See the first wave of IT happened on the cost basis. When I say ford automated replaced its staff doing mundane jobs with an IT system, it saved money. Looking at our economy now, this is where second wave comes. Most of the developed nations are saturated. Europe, US they are all done with IT now. India is the one that is growing at 7-8 %. Indian economy’s fundamentals are strong with 60% of our population below 35 and also china being in doldrums now. I see huge domestic demand rising here. Next wave should happen in India. In fact, many companies are now focussing on India. Infosys lost a big account with RBS due to Brexit issue but on other hand it won the contract with government for GST Bill implementation. All the Intels of the world, All the Ciscos are coming to India.

Now this is for the students, what is the difference between an engineer joining the IT ecosystem and a management graduate moving to IT? For those who are looking whether IT is a fit for them.


First, they should not look at application management services (AMS) point of work for our managers here. They should look at the kinds of Google, Microsoft and start-ups in that sense. You should focus on where technology is a game changer, where it is changing the business model. Example the OLA, it has changed the taxi ecosystem in India. You should look at jobs that can change that. Why? Because most of you are engineers you know how stuff works. Most of you have done that in past. Where it can make difference. That is what you should look at. Your engineer background aids you in creating something new and your management background helps with where you can make it work. So that holistic perspective is needed. Get into business side of it. Even if it has to be with AMS, then look at how I can market say Infosys over Wipro. Think on these lines. Be more role specific then company specific.

Given the fact you have been visiting Institutes for such talks, How Important do you see such events and role of committees like Industry Interaction Cell (IIC) for the students?


Ok…I get it…you see for IIM Kozhikode it is very important that you have more such interactions. You should build your people from Industry perspective rather generic one. All over the world it is with respect to Industry not strictly finance, marketing or any such water tight specialisation. Adding a flavour of industry would definitely help. Say a consumer product company comes and holds a session on the vertical that it caters to, then in this case it helps a marketing guy when that he goes on work in the similar vertical. You see companies otherwise, in most of cases have to spend a lot of money and time training new recruits on the consumer preferences, Industry scenario they work in, their product supply chain and all those relevant topics. If you as a management graduate already have that knowledge it creates a very positive value and an edge for you and the Institute.

In a nutshell you should have more such sessions and get more Industry oriented. Make it more like a continuum and not a once a year thing.

I am sure it would be taken into account and I must this has been a very insightfully talk, thank you so much for finding time for us at IIMK. I am sure there are going to be much better engagements of IIM Kozhikode and Industry going forward.

Interviewed by | Amritansh | Public Relations Cell – IIM Kozhikode