Sunday, November 27, 2005

The end of project presentations

Last weekend (24th and 25th of Nov) was the project presentations for some of the people from 2003 and earlier batches. I would say it finally went well. Some of us showed up dressed up in ties and all.

Hopefully external examiner and project guide also share my views about the project.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Feb 2004 Photos - Marketing end term I think. Can't be sure though. Would have to look up the test schedule and then look at the photo date to find out. That's too much work! As you can see, some are happy, some are tense, some are laidback, some are hunched-over, some are dozing, while some are staring.

The small size of the uploaded photo will make it difficult to identify individuals, but for those interested, Dinesh and Harish in the far corner are looking at me, bemused. Ramya is plain amused, while Jagan has his hand over his head. Shivam is peering over the case. The case itself was an unpublished case on value based analysis. A couple of quarters later, when some of us took the elective on BMS (Business Market Strategy) by Prof DVR we had the opportunity of dissecting the case in greater detail.

I wanted to caption this as 'Buddha-under-the-tree', but didn't.

This could be the morning of the stats or the SPO end term. Don't know for sure. The photo time-stamp reads Feb 8 2004, 11AM.

As far as the QMM core course went (that would Quantitative Methods for Management, aka Statistics), my knowledge as about as bare as this tree. Well... I was really looking for an excuse to post this photo... Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The last mile

For quite of few of us, this weekend i.e. 25th & 26th of November, 2005, would be the end of a journey that we started almost two and half years ago (some even earlier). Unless we end up flunking our project presentation, we would have completed all the requirements for getting the PGSEM diploma.

I would say, barring the bannerghatta road, it has been a great and fulfilling journey. Met some new people from the same industry and learnt quite a few things. Also figured out what all these IIM's are all about.

Friday, November 18, 2005

A lesson in negotiations from Prof Thiru. Feb 6 2004. Q3 of academic year 2003-04. A two page case in price negotiations between a supplier and a manufacturer. That's prof Thiru with his back to the photo. Phani and Amit are representing the vendor I believe. Wonder how many from section A of the 2003 batch remember this. Or Prof Thiru's anecdotes, especially the one where he went, "kabhi aap puchte hai, kabhi poochtach karte hai". I tried to get him to take an elective on business negotitations for us, but he had gone into semi-retirement... Maybe the next batches will have more success. Posted by Picasa
This is the first set of photos from my PGSM archive. This photo was taken in 2003, Q2. Classroom P11 I think, where we spent the first five quarters, the core courses quarters. The person entering is Prof Shankar, the Software Engineering Management course instructor. We all remember his admonishments to the students to get out of the competing-on-price mentality. And who can forget his wallet! :-)

The IIMB hostel corridor. The other end of this corridor leads to the cafteria. The hostel block is actually on the right as you walk down the aisle.

This is the PGSM block. Towards the far end is the way to the library and the central pergola.

And this is looking towards the PGSM block.

The IIMB library. A huge building that houses tens of thousands of books. Embarassed to admit I didn't make much use of its facilities.

A much better road when compared to Bangalore roads you would admit. This road leads to the PGSM block and the parking lot (if I may call it that).

An inside look at the library. A very spartan look. The book stacks are in the basement. Will post a shot of that sometime.

Ok, so a couple of photos back I had a shot of the examination hall. This photo is post-exam. You have to realize that in the second quarter, we were still fairly new to the course, and it had been several years since we had seen the inside of a school. Discussing tests after an exam was a habit that took a few more quarters to die a natural death. Though it continued to linger with a few batchmates in a very unhealthy manner :-)

Ok, so a couple of photos back I had a shot of the examination hall. This photo is post-exam. You have to realize that in the second quarter, we were still fairly new to the course, and it had been several years since we had seen the inside of a school. Discussing tests after an exam was a habit that took a few more quarters to die a natural death. Though it continued to linger with a few batchmates in a very unhealthy manner :-)

Nice photo. What else can I say. And I got this blue sky without having to use any circular polarizer filter either!

Again, I liked this photo. The building on the right, partly hidden in the shadows, is the examination hall, while the building to the front is the PGSM block. Ok ok, I have to start saying PGSEM, but what the heck! Old habits die hard. Posted by Picasa
Life at PGSEM - photo: studying for a mid-term. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 17, 2005

How useful is the PGSEM

I have been meaning to reply to Yaniv's post (see, but work's been devouring all my time and then some.
But here's a start - a small post admittedly, and I shall add more in the coming weeks. Another thing that I am going to do is to start posting to this blog photos that I have taken at IIMB during my more than two years in the program.

I think the PGSEM is a fantastic program for working professionals in Bangalore, and now Chennai also. I say Bangalore because this is a part-time program with campus requirements two days a week. The program is near-identical to IIMB's full time MBA program (PGP), the name and misconceptions notwithstanding. The faculty that teaches us is the same, which by and large is exceptional.

The program offers ample scope for someone to specialize in an area of their choice. Admittedly the depth of specialization is not as much as one would prefer, but hopefully this is something the current and future batches will work on (more about this in a future post). Consider this, if you wanted to focus on Finance, your choices would have been:
Core courses:
- Management Accounting (Financial and cost accounting)
- Corporate Finance
Electives (starting with the Jun academic quarter 2004-05):
- Banking, Financial Markets, and Systems
- Risk Management for Insurance Professionals
- Computational Finance
- Investments
- International Banking
- Corporate Valuation
- Global Financial Markets
- New Enteprise Financing
- Coporate Tax Management
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- Financial Risk Management
- Financial Statement Analysis
- Fixed Income Securities and Derivatives

I can think of a dozen courses that could have been offered in addition to the ones listed above, like Financial Derivatives, International Finance, Introduction to Capital Market Theory, Fixed Income Securities, Advance Corporate Finance, Indirect Taxation, General Insurance, Insurance and Pension Funds, etc... But one would accept that the above courses offered themselves would allow a student to get a good grasp of the basics (and more) of finance.

Similarly, if you wanted to focus on Marketing and related areas, the PGSEM has a lot to offer:
- Principles of Marketing
- Marketing Research
- Business Marketing Strategy
- Business Data Mining and Decision Models
- Product Management
- Advertising Management
- Sales Force Management
- eBusiness Models and Strategies
- Management of Alliances
- Services Marketing Management
I think that PGSEM is weak when it comes to the breadth and depth in marketing courses. Courses that could have been offered but were not (will discuss this in a later post) include brand management, Consumer Behaviour, Retailing Management, Competitive Marketing Strategy, Sales and Distribution Management, International Business Negotiation Skills.

In my opinion, the value of the PGSEM starts to become apparent in the second year when I (and others) started to see the integrative nature of an MBA. No course really exists in a vacuum: you cannot design a sales force without knowing the kind of market you are working in, or the kind of organizational structure you have or want to put in place, not to mention how you are going to market and advertise your products...

More in the coming weeks...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

How useful is PGSEM

Now that some of us are very close to completion of PGSEM program, I thought it would be great if we could list down some of the things that made this program worth the effort.
  • One of the main value additions that I think I have got from the programs is the fact that it has given me enhanced understanding of some of the support activities (like HR, finance, sales, company law and marketing) so if tomorrow I end up in position where my day to day work is dependent on these functions, I would be able to better understand their input and at the same time figure out when they are just screwing with my head
  • For somebody who has any kind of entprepreneurial ambitions, this program is of extreme value just in terms of the networking that it offers. Also the courses that are offered related to starting and managing an enterprise are good inputs to start the enterprise.
This is what I thought helped/would help me. What say others.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Just how useful is advertising and branding?

This is not to write a thousand word essay on branding, advertising, and the value appropriation opportunities that it allows a company. Instead, here is an example of how branding can build a monetizable differentiator even in a commoditized product line as breakfast cereal:
  • A 250gm box of Kellog's cornflakes costs Rs 75 in a store like FoodWorld or Monday2Sunday. This is Rs 300/kg.
  • A 500gm Mohun Meakins or 'Kwality' box of cornflakes cereal costs Rs 73. That is equal to Rs 146 / kg.
Do the math - by successfully branding itself, Kellog is able to charge a 100+% premium for what is essentially as commoditized and undifferentiated a product as any.

Or take the totally useless snack of potato chips. Lays charges Rs 10 for a 35 gm pack. That is Rs 285/kg. Doesn't even taste that good either. Now take an unbranded pack of 'hot chips' available at a Fabmall or FoodWorld that charges Rs 37 for a 250gm pack - Rs 148/kg (potatoes cost Rs 15/kg in retail stores). Do the math: a 92% premium for potatoes.

Finally, don't even get me started on colas, that actually serve you pesticides (the latest Amir Khan shameless Coca Cola ads notwithstanding).

This insight should make one appreciate the subtelties of value creation and value appropriation that much better :-) All accomplished by the smoke and mirror act of advertising, marketing, positioning, and all the other Ps and Cs and what-have-you.

Update: made some minor edits and corrections

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