Thursday, December 27, 2012

Admission Announcement: PGSEM - 2013

IIMB has announced the start of the admission process for the PGSEM 2013 batch. More details can be found here:

In FB, we are here:

Please feel free to reach out to us for any questions.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Attributes governing emergent strategies

Academics and practitioners of strategy distinguish between a firm’s deliberate strategy and its emergent strategy. As the names imply, a deliberate strategy is what top management arrives at based on its understanding of market needs and the firm’s ability to make adequate return on investments while satisfying that need. Creating a deliberate strategy includes asking fundamental questions such as what markets to operate in and how to position a firm. An emergent strategy, on the other hand, is what a firm adopts as strategy based on its interaction with the ecosystem that it builds around itself. This ecosystem includes customers, suppliers, partners, regulators and employees. In a competitive setting where rapid changes in the business landscape are driven both by innovation and a challenging macroeconomic environment, it is fairly straightforward to conclude that successful firms will be ones that have the ability to seize a promising emergent strategy, quickly align operations to that strategy and increase the return on investment via flawless execution of that strategy. But are emergent strategies equally likely in all industries? Are such strategies to be expected with equal probability from all players in a firm’s ecosystem? 

In this thought exercise, I have attempted to list the factors that govern emergent strategies.What follows below is the list and the reasons why each factor plays a role in shaping emergent strategy.

I. Rate of change – Industry wide innovation: The quantum of innovation that drives industry-wide changes in products or services in a specific industry is a reasonably strong indication of the presence or absence of an emergent strategy space. The greater the intellectual activity, the larger the space available. Firms can use metrics such as patents filed per year, new processes for quality improvements, new target segments etc. for this purpose.

II. Rate of change – Creation and termination of firms: In the absence any fundamental structural changes in the industry, the frequency with which new firms come into existence and existing firms fail to survive is an indicator of firm-specific emergent strategies that are either exploited successfully or left unexplored. A firm witnessing the growth of some of its rivals and the demise of others in the same time period can infer that the emergent strategy space has not been fully searched and exploited. Such rapid changes will serve as both signals of hope and despair to the firms operating in that particular industry.

III. Product/Project Life-cycle: Strategies derived from product innovation are one of the most common sources of emergent strategies for a firm. But firms operating in an industry with long product build cycles are far less likely to discover an emergent strategy. The nature of such long-cycle products prevents the rapid creation, experimentation and selection of prototypes. Rapid prototyping capabilities, with the objective of selecting the most viable alternative among competing product innovations are a key determinant of the frequency of emergent strategies.

IV. Partner Ecosystem Complexity: The success of a firm’s emergent strategy will largely depend on how receptive the firm’s partners are. Emergent strategies by their very definition require that a firm make quick unplanned changes to its deliberate strategy in it at least one of its functional areas. If that functional area involves the firm’s partners, then the agility of the partner ecosystem will play a predominant role in the success of the emergent strategy.

V. Employee feedback channels: Employees at all levels have the potential to discover information or create actionable ideas that can influence a firm’s strategy. In such a scenario, firms that operate in rapidly changing environments increase the probability of uncovering new strategies if they setup channels through which employees can communicate new ideas. Most companies have employee feedback channels in place. The companies that are open to radical ideas from employees across different functions, create and respond through channels that are specifically tuned to watch out for ideas and suggestions that can be used to derive an emergent strategy.

VI. Customer feedback channels: Every organization worth its balance sheet collects customer feedback in one or more ways. While the diligent ones among these use the feedback to shape the customer experience, the excellent ones use it to shape the organization itself.

VII. Frequency and strength of feedback: Unlike deliberate strategies, emergent strategies are more likely to lack specific signposts that can vouch for their validity. Deliberate strategies that are in the process of being executed offer the luxury of clear signs of their success or failure. In many cases, past outcomes of deliberate strategies might indicate that a few quarters of losses are worth accommodating to make the strategy a success in the long run. But in the case of a emergent strategy, no such reassuring milestone might be available. So in scenarios involving multiple competing strategies, the one with a higher frequency and strength of feedback about the success of the strategy should receive a higher weighting.

VIII.Organizational agility and the O in VRIO: Assuming all other factors that govern emergent strategies are positively aligned for an organization – through a combination of past decisions and propitious present conditions – the decisive factor that will ensure successful exploitation of an emergent strategy will be the agility with which the firm exploits the opportunity. This agility cannot be acquired in the short term but can only be built into the culture of the firm over a period of time. In the context of agility, a parallel can be drawn with the ‘Organization’ component of the VRIO framework. Just as a firm should organize itself to exploit its VRI resources and capabilities, it should also build capabilities to exploit emergent strategies without letting past ways of thinking and execution scuttle the opportunity.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Managerial attention as a key determinant of effectiveness in public governance systems

Robert Simons in his book "Levers of Control" on management control systems unveils managerial attention as a key determinant of strategy. Before getting into the details of each of the levers that managers can move to control various aspects of the organization to help achieve its goals, Simons asserts that in a world where ideas emerge from all directions, managerial attention is the primary gating factor that goes on to determine which of the emerging ideas will become part of an organization's deliberate strategy. By attention, Simons means "information processing capacity" allocated to a "defined issue or agenda".

My understanding of this assertion is that, in the face of limited managerial bandwidth, the issues that get top management attention shape the future of the organization. What if this theory holds true in government and public institutions? What if, long before processes like budget allocation and implementation plans start, the way government officials choose to pay attention to certain issues in a certain manner go on to shape not only the immediate goals but also the long term trajectory of a nation?

Imagine there are 2 levers as shown below.

Which of the two levers should decision makers in public governance systems move? "Move" in this case means allocating management attention and information processing capacity to these areas. In practical terms, this might translate to decision questions like these: Where should the best administrators in government be deployed? Which type of institutions and research should get funded? Which of the competing alternative solutions to social issues deserve the most attention?

The 2 levers are different in that, the first lever tries to solve social issues and deliver better governance by taking a perceived root cause view of their existence and attempting to address those root causes. The phrase 'perceived root cause' has been used only because in many cases no clear cause has been established about why citizens behave in certain ways in public that are detrimental to themselves and others. In such a situation, when governments try to achieve certain desired social outcomes, which of these 2 courses of action is better?

For example:

Lever I. Spend money on civic sense enhancement via education, celebrity endorsement of specific programs, posters etc. in areas like: courteous driving on roads, queues in bus stops, cleanliness in parks etc


Lever II. Spend on civic infrastructure enhancement for: monitoring drivers on roads, enforcing queues in bus stops and penalizing people littering in parks.

The results of using lever I are indirect and hard to measure. The results delivered by using lever II are comparatively more tangible. The catch would be to think this through without letting monetary requirements and other resource constraints cloud the thought process. In the absence of such constraints in the near term, which of the 2 levers yields long term benefits?

Which of the 2 results listed below shares a stronger link with the 2 options listed above?

Result I. Government spending on educating citizen's about good behavior in public is effective. Through a combination of learning from such efforts and examples set by others, citizens practice good behavior in the public sphere. As a natural progression, children learn from their parents and future generations too behave the same way.

Result II. People get used to being monitored and change their behavior.

In the picture below, which of the two links gets a higher number N or M?

In the example of citizens' behavior in public cited above, even though the end results of moving either lever seem to be the same, the strength of the link as perceived by decision makers matter. This is because, if Link I were stronger, it would mean that after a period of time, resources - including managerial attention itself - can be deployed to solve other pressing problems of that time. If Link II were stronger, governments should plan for expending effort and resources for the same issues on an ongoing basis. The link strength question from the example above can be extended to other examples like poverty alleviation, job creation etc. It is highly likely that, based on a country's history, demographics, culture and number of other factors, the strength of the link would be higher or lower for lever I or II depending on the issue under consideration.

This bisected view of public governance systems is not new. But previous writings on this subject take a implementation and resource constraint view of the systems under study. In this post, I have attempted to shift the same view to the left end of the timeline and placed it in the initial stages when processing available information, creating innovative solutions, prioritizing among viable alternatives and planning for effective and efficient implementation are the main activities. According to Simons, the decision to pay managerial attention to certain things and not pay attention to others is one of the most important decisions that shapes all others. If this were true for corporates, from a managerial perspective, it should be true for governments too. In that case, allocating considerable time to decide which areas and methods governments should pay attention to will have a much larger impact on citizens and nations than it does on corporates and employees.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Beginning of the Odyssey called PGSEM

Quarter 1 ... What? I think it was last year ... It just flew off in a flash ... 
Orientation, the journey began informally here. With a pre-orientation assignment which was required to be completed before we step into the campus. Surely wasn't the gate pass to enter it but was interesting as it had diverse cases to be solved in groups of 5. The first day @campus saw everyone happy & smiling having cracked into the premier institute for management and visualizing themselves 2.5yrs later in the convocation coat & hat and off-course with the degree. That is where the visual was blurred & everyone was woken up :) ... The word orientation actually meant 360deg brain twist which would align it to take the ride called PGSEM. The starter was "Books" which many of us would refer to as "once upon a time i used to study from...". And the binders were also given to us as top-ups which made everyone all the more happier ;-). Those 3 orientation days had seminar's which still rule the minds of many (Peak Oil), deliberate & intentional late night cases by seniors which helped us stay alert and awake all 3 days :P and off-course fun activities which acted as ice breaker for the batch-mates. The orientation ended on lot of gyan & maarg-darshan which formed the grounding base for us. Thanks to senior's for putting their days & nights out from the precious 1 month year break, in organizing the orientation program.

Q1 formally began 20days after the orientation. 3 Subjects in the quarter- Microeconomics which dealt with theory of supply & demand, Accounting to help us improve our knowledge about finance & Strategy Management which would give us insights into firms from various industries and how the CEO's form strategies to solve problems. The batch was high on energy and enthusiastic about learning though everyone took their own time in managing getting up early & staying awake in the lectures. Microeconomics was a web of graphs each one similar to the previous and adding to the confusion with every session. The Accounting Balance sheet & Income statement balanced everything except the confusions. Strategy was more or less a sleepy venture with energy levels on an all-time low. If we plot a graph of energy vs. time we'll get a "Bell curve", rising slowly from sleepy eyes in Microeconomics it peaked highest during Accounting (being a math based subject) & finally diminishing in Strategy. We were asked to form groups of 5 (thankfully) to solve cases which the professors insisted us to read/solve before coming to the lectures for our own good and getting more benefit from the discussions.

The Quarter had hardly begun and we had our first event organizing opportunity with "Pehel", kind of fresher party and a medium to felicitate the senior students who had done well in the program. Managing time for the event along with studies and work got even tougher. The enthu was high being the first event participation for all and the preps though began late were managed somehow. It was lot more interesting finalizing events, participants, practice sessions, teams for handling various sub-events and the volunteers. The program was well perceived by everyone and we pulled it off well.

The joyous mood of the event had not even ended that we realized the midterms sitting on our head. We were still to open our eyes from the sleepy early morning sessions & woke up only to find ourselves sitting after a long time in an "Exam" aka fight for grades. As a discount or thankfully we had midterm for only 2 subjects (Microeconomics & Accounting). The third subject was utilized to create exam strategy by everyone (How to give midterms). The exams format was unknown to all and for this the Profs helped us with some sample papers and hints on the type of questions. The midterms ended in mixed reactions with some calling it a disaster, some others leaving the exam room smiling and even before time (which only added to the tension of those still writing) and others with an average reaction on face and still others with reactions like "hogaye midterms bas...thats an achievement".

The midterms ended only to invite the Final exams which followed in a couple of weeks. All the more tension prevailed with the project submissions and presentation along with them. The projects got more complex every time we asked more details from the Professors. The expectations were high and we were all thinking would we be able to make justice with the projects. Finally we got an extra week after exams for project submissions and that was a huge relief as everyone could concentrate on the finals and mend the destruction done by the midterms. The final exams ended on a high note with people finally able to see the end of Quarter 1, and with only a week more of slogging for the project submissions. The projects were not an easy affair either with lot of thought process involved, gruelling late night discussions, trying to fit in the funda's we had learned in class. Finally the projects finished with people submitting their hard worked reports to the Professors with expectations in return. Expectation of what? That's what we call "GRADES" ... Waiting anxiously...

The 3 subjects not only formed the solid base for future quarters/subjects but also gave us immense learning in a short time span. Microeconomics helped us understand the consumer and the firms using demand and supply curves, Factors affecting these and how firms and consumers react. The Professor made us understand the subject in the most intuitive way i.e. by real economic scenarios. Accounting, more on playing with the numbers helped us understand how to look at a company’s financials (profit loss statements, balance sheet, cash flow statements) how to analyse them quickly and make conclusions. The cases, class discussions and the patience of the professor to handle all queries helped us immensely to grab the essence of the subject. Strategy opened a wide dimension to our knowledge with the sessions involving only real life cases addressing problems faced by the company and then forming strategies for the same. Learning various models (Porters Five forces, RBV analysis etc.) to form a strategy gave us a glimpse of how strategic analysis is done. In short the subjects though 3 gave us insights & knowledge no less than an encyclopaedia.
Managing studies, office projects, activities, family etc. or to say Real-time Multitasking was all the new experience for everyone in the batch. It was uncomfortable as the journey started but I guess everyone has got accustomed to it. Time management was one subject not included in the syllabus but I guess everyone learnt it the hard way (without a professor or a book) or are still trying to master it. The Quarter ended with an unmatched gain for everyone, though everyone took a big breathe of relief having bid Q1 adieu and thought to take a sleep after the gruelling 10 odd weeks but not yet... "picture abhi baaki hai mere dost....." 
Only to realize there's no sleep for another 11 Quarters ... Q2 begins next week and with a bang (Books & Binders already in hand) ... The Journey continues -> Q2

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tête-à-Tête with Sai Sreekanth M

Sai Sreekanth M
Product Manager
Total Years of Experience: 18
Role Before Joining PGSEM:
Engineering Manager
Role After Completing PGSEM:  Product Management

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself. [Family, Education, Hobbies]                         
I am a Telugu speaking person from coastal Andhra but have lived in Bangalore (in fact in a 5 sq. km area) all my life. I speak 5 Indian languages, enjoy reading about India and travelling within India. Think I have a good understanding of what Indians do and think. I listen to Carnatic music a lot, have been learning it for a few years (can’t sing well though). I follow other arts such as theatre, dance, lectures and discourses based on literature, films and documentaries.  
I have an undergraduate degree in Computer science from University Visvesvaraya college of Engineering, Bangalore and have completed the PGSEM programme (first batch) from IIM Bangalore.
I am married to Sheela who is currently teaching and we have a son(6 years old) and a daughter (3 years old).  

Q. Please describe your current job/role that you perform?
I am a Product Manager in the Emerging Markets team at Google. I have worked in Emerging Markets teams at HP and Yahoo for the past 9 years. Over these years and now at Google, I am interesting in conceiving and delivering useful technology applications to emerging market users. Would like to leverage my understanding of emerging market user needs and technology background in rolling out impactful services for users.

Q. What would be the most challenging aspect of your role?
Product management involves orchestrating several teams and stake holders in delivering impactful solutions. Very often, we need to do this without any explicit authority over other teams and this requires a great deal of tact, rigor and understanding of wide range of issues.  

Q. How did PGSEM help transform your career?
PGSEM did transform my career in moving from a software engineering management role to that of product management.
More important than the career shift, was the education that I obtained through the PGSEM programme. I learnt to analyze industries/economies, understand how businesses are managed, learnt about users and people behaviors, got to work really hard on complex problems etc. This knowledge is an asset that I put to use in several contexts and not just in my professional career. 

Q. What are the trends that you see in the business space today in terms of the skill requirements and the supply of the same?
Nothing profound to share here. I do notice that there is a significant increase in the quantity of skilled resources (engineering, management, legal, finance) but do not see a change in the quality.

Q. Describe THE incident which has influenced you the most to be what you are today.
 Can’t think of an incident that has influenced me the most. Have been lucky to come across several skilled, well-meaning people and they have had an indirect impact in developing my own perspective. 

Q. What do you think are the key attributes of a good leader?
* Lead by example
* Honesty of purpose
* Focus, sustenance, perseverance

Q. Whom do you consider as your Role Model and Why?
Again, can’t think of one person. Have been lucky to come across hundreds of good people who are doing great selfless work in serving people and bettering their lives.

Q. What is your take on the importance of a value system in business?
Find it strange that such a question is being asked. A good value system is not a negotiable thing not just for businesses but also for living your life well. Can’t see how businesses derive their value systems independent of its owners/founders/workers.

Q. What is your Mantra for work life balance?
Do what you like to do and are good at and the question of work life balance does not arise.

Q. Your message to students at IIMB-PGSEM today?
Identify an area or two that you are really passionate about and have a good ability in. Work to be the best in that area.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

PGSEM 2013 Admissions - Open House on July 28, 2012

The 2nd open house for clarifying your queries related to PGSEM, admissions for 2013 batch and interaction with students, alumni & faculty will be held on July 28, 2012 at IIM Bangalore Auditorium. If you are interested in the program or planning to apply for the program next year or have queries, please make sure you attend the open house next Saturday. Register for the event here.

As we noted earlier and also clarified in Facebook and IIMB website, the major policy change with respect to admissions next year onwards is that ONLY CAT 2012 and GMAT (taken after Jan 1, 2010) will be considered and there is NO PGSEM Admission test.

This is a good opportunity to spend your Sunday in a green resort-like campus of IIMB :) Also the best opportunity to meet current students of PGSEM, alumni, Professors to clarify all your doubts about PGSEM and IIMB admission philosophy. The agenda for the day is provided below.

10:00 A.M
Participants Assemble @ Auditorium
10:10 - 10:15
Welcome Address by Prof. S Ramesh Kumar, Chairperson, PGSEM
10:15 - 10:20
Address by Prof. Narendra M Agarwal, Chairperson, CSITM
10:20 - 10:25
Mr. Rakesh Godhwani, PGSEM Alumni
10:25 - 10:30
Mr. Rajesh Pandit, CSITM
10:30 – 10:35
Mr. Karthik Srinivasan, PGSEM Alumni
10:35 – 10:40
Ms. Bhavani Koti, PGSEM SAC
10:40 – 10:50
Coffee/Tea Break
10:50 - 12:00
Q & A  with a Panel consisting of :
Ø  Prof. S Ramesh Kumar, Chairperson, PGSEM
Ø  Prof. M Jayadev
Ø  Mr. Akshat Kumar, PGSEM Alumni
Ø  Mr. Kapil Gupta, PGSEM Alumni

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Split Personality Disorder of Engineer-MBAs

Friday Morning:

Operations Management Class:

 The course is taught by a professor who has written a text book on the subject and has consulted for many companies across industries in Banaglore. He talks about streamlining processes, predictability, quality etc. I don't just nod in agreement. I am totally convinced. Words like "process" not only sound reasonable but inevitable.

"Process is paramount. How else can you manage a company with many different products and thousands of employees?" he asks.
"Yes sir" I think as I listen to him.

"Documentation is important"
"Completely agree sir"

"Metrics are critical"
"We would have it no other way sir"

On other Fridays and Saturdays, other professors lecture us about objectives, numbers and hierarchies. It all seems to make sense and most often looks like the only way right way to do things.

It is not as much about agreement as it is about belief. And the concomitant imagination that as a manager I would do the same thing.

And then...

Monday Morning:
I return to office as an engineer. To the world of system engineering built on Unix and C code. A world built by long-haired hackers, programmers who never went to college, start-ups, all-night coding, the thrill of breaking programs by testing...

A world in which "process" is an anathema. Build something you truly care about. Code for fun. Break it for the adrenaline ride. Do it all over again till you get it right.

In this place, words like "hierarchy" and "metrics" have little meaning. In this place, a program doesn't just solve a problem. When written well, it is a elegant piece of craft and is as much about a programmer's passion as it is about his or her technical talent.

I love this world. I would rather live in this place than any place else.

Looks like my beliefs are tuned into one thing while I enjoy doing something else.

And so the story goes. Between management and engineering. Between t-shirts and suits. Between hackers and bureaucrats.

Are these 2 worlds truly dichotomous?

Can companies not innovate and yet be process-driven?

Can they not ensure quality without taking away the creative freedom of their engineers?

Can they grow to 3000 people and yet tolerate the mavericks?

The two of us continue to search for answers...!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tête-à-Tête with Abhinav Agarwal

Abhinav Agarwal
Director of Product Management

Total Years of Experience: 17
Role Before Joining PGSEM: Product Management
Role After Completing PGSEM:  Product Management

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have been living in Bangalore for the last 10 years, am married and have two daughters. I have a BE (Hons) degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Mumbai, and in 2006 graduated from IIMB’s PGSEM program. My hobbies are mostly reading and photography, and I cover both of these on my blog, at  

Q. Please describe your current job/role that you perform?
My role is product management at Oracle, and I am a Director of Product Management and Strategy. In that capacity I am responsible for our company’s Business Intelligence Mobile product, advanced data visualizations, and spatial analytics, all within the Oracle BI EE suite. I also engage with partners, customers, and our marketing and sales organizations to help our customers be successful with our company’s tools and products.

Q. What would be the most challenging aspect of your role?
 Managing the time difference between Bangalore, where I live and work out of,  and Redwood Shores, where the development of the products I am responsible for happens, has been the single most challenging aspect of my role.

Q. How did PGSEM help transform your career?
 PGSEM helped provide a broader perspective to what I do. The disciplines of marketing and strategy mostly so, but also other disciplines like Human Resources and Finance helped me better understand the context and background in which companies operate. Certain theories and constructs like Porter’s Five Forces, Christensen’s Theory of Disruptive Innovations, Moore’s Chasm Theory, and Teece’s complementarity's of assets - have all hugely influenced me. I was fortunate enough to be doing product management when I joined the PGSEM program, so the learning’s from the PGSEM program could be applied directly to my job.

Q. What are the trends that you see in the business space today in terms of the skill requirements and the supply of the same?
The rapidly growing market and the spread of technology is enabling the rise of a new class of techno-entrepreneurs in India today. The scale of the market affords Indians today the opportunity to create new businesses and ventures that can be originated, funded, staffed, launched, and made successful entirely in India. This was not the case even five or ten years ago. The next ten years will see several billion dollar startups emerge from India. While entrepreneurs will be the original product managers of new ventures, what these companies will need and require will be world-class product managers - to articulate and drive strategy and product direction. The companies that can find and retain such product managers are the ones that will stand a greater chance of succeeding in the marketplace.

Q. Describe THE incident which has influenced you the most to be what you are today.
 There has not been any one single incident, but there have been a few incidents that have helped me evolve my philosophy towards my professional and even personal life. The most important I would consider the birth of my daughters to be. That helped me realize and better assess what was more important in life.

Q. What do you think are the key attributes of a good leader?
A good leader must be, fundamentally, a good person. Everything else is secondary. A good person will be able to take the decisions a good leader has to take. A person with a selfish, short-sighted, or individualistic attitude towards life will take decisions that reflect his/her own value system.

Q. Whom do you consider as your Role Model and Why?
At work my role models have been a few over the past several years. Some have been people I directly worked with in my teams, while others have been people I have had the good fortune to observe closely while at work, even though I did not have a direct working relationship with them at the time. From executive management to fellow product managers to my direct managers, learning and role models have been there to help guide me. 

Q. What is your take on the importance of a value system in business?
A value system has to be the articulation and enforcement of a set of guiding principles that are inviolate. Anything else is no more important of relevant than an election slogan or a marketing gimmick. The value system a company and its leaders articulate and follow and hold themselves and others to is what differentiates a successful company from a great company that people want to work at.

Q. What is your Mantra for work life balance?
 If there is a mantra for work-life balance, then surely I am still trying to discover and learn it! A work-life balance is difficult to achieve, and certainly an optimal balance even more so. We each have to evaluate our priorities in life, and the decisions we make based on that assessment are what determine how much balance we actually attain in our professional and personal lives.

Q. Your message to students at IIMB-PGSEM today?

The PGSEM program is an investment in your future. As with investing, remember to invest for the long-term. That is what will result in the largest payout.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Anjan Lahiri, President of IT Services at MindTree inaugurates 15th batch of PGSEM

On May 25, 2012, the fifteenth batch of Post Graduate Programme in Software Enterprise Management (PGSEM) was inaugurated. Mr. Anjan Lahiri, President of IT Services at MindTree was the Chief Guest this year and delivered the keynote address. PGSEM, started in the year 1998 is a general management program offered exclusively to IT professionals. The incoming batch represents participants from 30+ companies and professional experience ranging from 2-15 years. The inauguration was followed by a guest lecture by Mr. Mansoor Khan on his topic Peak Oil and End of Growth – The Third Curve. Watch out for another post on what we heard from him. Orientation for the incoming batch was for three days which included ice breakers, industry talks, faculty sessions, sports and more fun. 

Mr. Anjan discussed the topic - ‘Challenges of managing LOW growth for the Indian software industry’. He shared his views on why Indian software industry may not grow in the pace it had grown and what can mid-level professionals in the industry can do to manage their career in this ‘low’ growth industry. He started off with data which cannot be disputed to show how much Indian Software Industry has achieved. From a modest beginning of $2 bn dollars in the late 90’s; it has now grown into a $70 bn industry. Anjan put some comparisons in place to make us think what each of this ‘billion’ figures mean. He opined that India’s success in IT industry was the major factor in helping out an Indian professional to stand out in the global stage. McKinsey and NASSCOM are expecting the industry to grow to $250 bn by 2020. He didn’t contest these figures and in fact agreed that we can expect such growths going forward. But will this growth rate reflect the same for a mid-career professional in the industry? – His view was NO. He backed his view with solid quantitative analysis comparing the growth of the industry from $2B in 1999 to the present figure of $70B. This had CAGR of 30%. This means we had the opportunity to grow professionals also at a rate of 30% or more of personal growth. But if we consider the growth to $250B in 2020 – it indicates a YoY growth of 15%. Considering that there will be new domains to look for growth, the actual growth rate relevant to the current leadership will be even lesser which could be dismal. 

Now, if that is the case – what can a mid-career IT professional like a PGSEMer do? 

Mr. Anjan had his guidance. In his view, the concept of senior managers and what is expected out of them will change. Due to the accelerated growth the services industry witnessed, the responsibilities of senior managers got limited to serving the needs of employees and team members – forgetting customer. Utilization, attrition and billing captured prominence losing customer from the picture. In the nascent stages of the industry, experience means more capability to solve customer problems. Even the senior most professional was billed and customers were ready to pay for his experience. But this is not the case today. Anjan discussed the contemporary paradigm of ‘The New Normal’. 

“The new normal for managing one’s career is that we should consciously remember that we are in the services industry in which we have to directly deliver value to the customer. Not support someone who delivers value, not manage someone who delivers value, not facilitate, encourage, enable -- but directly deliver value.” 

So how can we keep us relevant? 

A low growth means reduced number of requirements for General Managers. Anjan opined that however good ‘general management’ capabilities are even scarcer. Hence the requirement can come down even more. Mr. Anjan shared four guiding principles to tackle this challenge. 

1. Think externally – Think about the customer and provide direct value to them. 
2. Don't get into the delusion of management – Management, except at the highest level, is a support function in a services company. 
3. New responsibilities will no longer just come to you – With growth opportunities just came to you in the past. Now it will not 
4. Customer must want to pay for your time – If not, you are not relevant to either the customer or to your own people 

Mr. Anjan urged the incoming batch to come out of the ‘senior’ delusion and reflect on "what do we not know?” to stay relevant and proper in this industry. He wished every success to the incoming batch for enrolling in this program to embark on the journey of exploring ‘what you don't know’!! 

It was indeed a privilege and a wonderful opportunity for us to hear and interact with Anjan and on behalf of the PGSEM community; we thank him for taking time from his hectic schedule and addressing PGSEMers.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Leadership: Words Of Wisdom From Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

The follwing interview was conducted as part of course work by Jamshida EM, Sudhindra Kadur Keshava Murthy, Anusha Rajagopal, Remya Roy Zachariah Cherian and Gaurav Rastogi from the PGSEM 2011 batch.

1. What is the one differentiating factor (leadership challenge) critical to a spiritual leader's quest to bring about a social change/impact to the masses?
Sri Sri: The crisis facing the world today is fundamentally one of identification. People identify themselves with limited characteristics such as gender, race, religion and nationality, forgetting their basic identity as part of the universal spirit. These limited identifications lead to conflict both globally and on a personal level.
Every individual is much more than the sum of these limited identifications. The highest identification we can have is that we are part of Divinity. Then comes the identity that we are human beings and members of the human family. In divine creation, the whole of the human race is united. The work of a spiritual master is just this; to give you a larger picture.

2. Many instances of interactions with various classes in the society requires a spiritual guru to take a stand - how important and feasible is it for a guru to take an unbiased, unprejudiced stand? And how is this feasible?
Sri Sri: Spiritual leaders  don’t belong to a particular group. They stand for truth.and they keep forth that which is true and then suggest accordingly. When you are unbiased in your mind, compassion simply flows. When you have belongingness with everyone, irrespective of their class, economic background, intellect, if you can connect, then compassion flows. You could be anybody - Chinese, African - put yourself in different shoes, playing different roles, then suddenly you find that you are stuck as being somebody, and then you will see it is much more universal.

3. Is leadership a science or an art? Is there any facet specific to spiritual leadership?
Sri Sri: It is both! It is science because it requires planning and reasoning. And it is art as leadership is all about heart.A good leader should be 'satya-darshi' (truthful), 'sam-darshi' (equanimous), ‘priya-darshi’(pleasant personality), ‘par-darshi’(transperant) and 'door-darshi' (farsighted). A leader should have a mission and a vision and a spirit of sacrifice, compassion and commitment.

4. Corporate leadership is all about capitalism, what is your message to make the corporate leadership more inclusive?
Sri Sri: Capitalism per se is not a bad word. But it has to be applied with humanism. There is no problem in having an idea/asset and using it commercially for gainful returns. Problem comes when profit and returns become the only motive of capitalism. I would ask the Corporate leadership to take a few deep breaths, assess and analyse, and then move in such a direction where capitalism and humanism move hand in hand. Taking care of genuine needs of the work force, setting aside some part of the profit each year for Corporate Social Responsibility and  using green and non-polluting technologies can be some ways to move ahead. Many of the Capitalists and companies are already doing so and they need to be encouraged.

5. What inspires a spiritual leader and how does he/she convert the inspiring thought to actions?
Sri Sri: The thought of alleviating the sufferings of people inspires a truly spiritual person. The “sankalpa” (intention) manifests itself effortlessly when a person moves ahead with the motive of common good. Nature joins in to support anyone working for common good. Things start happening to support the sankalpa of a spiritual person which is always aimed at larger public interest.

6. How does a spiritual leader set goals, evaluate results?
Sri Sri: A spiritual leader sets goals in terms of how betterment can be brought to society as a whole. Of course there are also measurable goals which are set. The important thing is that although a spiritual leader sets goals, there is no “jwar” (feverishness) in it. The goals are set and surrendered to the Divine and actions are taken according to the goals but without fretting over them constantly. Results are evaluated not only in terms of achievement of those goals but also the empowerment and enrichment attained by those who are involved in the process of achievement of the goals.

For further queries/contacts -

Monday, May 07, 2012

Drishtikon 2012: The CSITM-PGSEM Annual Conference

Last year, stalwarts from industry and academia discussed about 'moving up the value chain' in the one day CSITM-PGSEM annual conference.

This year, Center for Software and Information Technology Management (CSITM) at IIM Bangalore and PGSEM Students presents the second edition of its annual conference - Drishtikon 2012. This year's theme is  

Benefiting the masses profitably – An Opportunity for Indian Technology Industry

This year we have some of the best industrialists who have pioneered this concept in an out in their life taking about their experiences, vision, opportunities and challenges for Indian IT Industry. Stay tuned for more details...

Register for the event here

The day-long conference is being designed to highlight industry and the academician's perspectives on the opportunities that exist in leveraging Technology to benefit the masses and how Indian Technology industry can do so profitably. The conference is intended to enable dialogue between various stakeholders of the Technology industry, academicians and researchers.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Making History! A Conversation With Mr. Sumit Chowdhury

Entrepreneur of 'My Life Chronicles'

PGSEM 2005-08

1)    Why did you decide to start My Life Chronicles

The idea came to my mind while speaking casually to a couple of my PGSEM batch mates at IIMB. It was Dec 2008. My father passed away from cancer in 1998 and I left home right after that. My elder brother had left home earlier. Being a very organized person my father used to write journals regularly and keep all letters and other paper records neatly filed. On my visits to home town years later, I could see that those diaries and folders were gathering dust and even being sold away to the raddiwalla. I could not do much while on a short vacation but wanted to at least scan and digitize the old photos and letters. This desire led me to the idea of preserving individual and family stories and then on to preserving institute and corporate memories. When I googled I found that there is an organization in the USA called APH, Association of Personal Historians who are already doing this for 15 years. That was the time I realized that we Indians are poor preservers of our past and that needed to change and change fast.

2)    Tell a little about yourself - education, work, family - the story so far.
Born and brought up in Steel City of Durgapur, I completed my secondary education from St. Xavier’s, Durgapur and Higher Secondary education from Bidhan Chandra Institution, Durgapur. I went on to complete my BE(Hons) from REC Durgapur and chose to work at SAIL, Durgapur. This was the time my father was suffering from cancer and I cherish the time I stayed close to him. Father passed away in 1998 and I moved to Bangalore a year later in 1999 following my IT dreams. Infosys was about 3500 people and still a close family when I joined the company. I remember sitting close to NRN's cabin in the Heritage Building, Electronics City. Infosys gave me an opportunity to broaden my exposure and knowledge by sending me on various foreign assignments. This happened pretty quickly in my career and the rich interactions with customers helped shape my thought processes. I got married to Tandra in 2000, an alumna from my college. We moved to Banerghatta Road, very close to IIMB. We still stay here. Tandra works in Novellus Systems. We have 2 daughters, Ananya of 8 years and Anwesha 3 of years. 

In 2003, I went through this phase where I had a major urge to do a PhD in Operations Management (Sunil Mehta's book inspired me). I took the GMAT and applied to a few universities in the USA. Georgia Tech found me worthy of a scholarship and invited me over. Reality struck me hard as I realized the full impact of the decision. Leaving my 6 month old daughter and family for a degree which takes 5 years, by a conservative estimate sounded impossible. Taking them along meant sacrificing settled lives and careers. I sent a painful rejection note to Georgia Tech and appeared for the neighborhood IIMB PGSM program interview instead. This was the same time I moved from IT Delivery to Pre-Sales and Marketing at Infosys, hoping to focus on academics for a couple of years. 2004-2007 was a roller coaster ride juggling PGSM assignments, Pre-Sales RFPs and family. However, this is the time that gave me the confidence and courage to attempt something different, to start on an entrepreneurial journey. I felt I was not ready and to get a different perspective I challenged myself to join a completely different work environment. I joined Honeywell, an industrial automation giant working on New Product Development projects. I kept working on my entrepreneurial ideas and goals till the time I left Honeywell to start My Life Chronicles 3+ years later. My Life Chronicles has been a labor of love ever since.

3)    How did you manage the risks, how are you paying the bills
Having a working and supportive spouse helps. It has been more than a year and I continue to depend on her to meet our bills. However, I am planning to start taking a small monthly salary from My Life Chronicles to ease the burden.

4)    Are you happy 
I am having the most enjoyable albeit the most hectic time of my life. I am no more known by Infosys or Honeywell but by My Life Chronicles alone. This is a fundamental shift in thinking and can give entrepreneur nightmares in the initial months and years.

5)    Would you want to go back to Honeywell
No, unless I am compelled to because of financial or other pressures.

6)    What next
My Life Chronicles, I would like to believe, is at an inflexion point. I will be joined by partners in the next few months, partners who see value in what I am doing and who would like to share the risk. While stories of individuals is where my heart lies, corporate chronicles is showing a lot of promise. I am working with CRISIL (A Standard & Poor's co.), a well-known brand with a tremendous reach across India and even globally. In the process, I have been personally interviewing Senior Management and Board members of large corporate and all of them have been very positive about the idea. Making high quality memoirs and chronicles affordable and easy, still remains my dream.

7)    Advise to those who want to take the Plunge
Follow your heart but have a safety net. Prepare for the worst case, take your family into confidence and take the plunge. The 'right time' will never come. The right time is now. You are not going to die if you take the plunge!

8)    What role and importance would you attribute to PGSEM in your journey so far?
Without PGSEM I would not have had the confidence to venture out. Through PGSEM I have come to know a few people who have helped me with their thoughts, suggestions and encouragement.

9)    How did you evaluate the opportunity in terms of the critical elements of success? The competition and the potential market? Did you make a business plan?
This is a new concept in India. There was no data available as such. We did some primary research which didn’t throw up positive results. It was more of gut feel and the passion to do something I enjoy that led me to plunge.

10)  Any specific learning’s you would like to share with the budding entrepreneurs.
Meet as many potential customers you can and listen to what they want. Meet start-up founders and understand/learn from their challenges/mistakes. Moonlight.

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