Monday, December 17, 2012

Unregulated and Unsustainable City called Gurgaon

It’s almost a year now since I became resident of Gurgaon. I never really ever thought of shifting from Bangalore that too to Delhi NCR but as luck has it, sometimes you get things which you never plan and dream about and given a choice, would easily skirt those as options. Here are few reasons which continue to remind me of sweet memories of Bangalore and never let me adopt the new place.
People: Bangalore has some of the best people you find in a metropolitan city in India. You don’t see poverty on roads like you see in many towns and cities in India. You don’t spot acute class and status culture. People talk about innovation and technology and not about property as they do in Gurgaon. There’s perceptible equality and homogeneity from economic angles in Bangalore while Gurgaon has three classes - Mercedes/Audi Class, Verna/City class, Swift/i20 class, and people without vehicles, who don’t have vehicles by choice or can’t afford to have one don’t qualify for a class. The so called millennium city has people of two kinds - who either come to work from other part of NCR or live to work in the city. The rich, unashamed, rash set of people can be found arguing on roads, driving crazily on city roads, jumping traffic signals (If those operate) and shopping/eating out in malls. While you can’t travel in public transport like a bus in Gurgaon because none exists, Bangalore is full of buses plying on roads and transporting people who are not flamboyant, who come from different social, economic backgrounds but carrying a progressive demeanor of culture and non-brazenness.  Once I met an XLRI graduate who worked as Regional manager in one of the Tata companies in Bangalore, considering his seniority in organization, I was surprised that he was commuting from office to home in a bus.  One can never spot such instances in Gurgaon where public transport barring Delhi Metro doesn’t even exist. It is a city where one has to have a car to go from one point to the other creating chaos and pollution on the roads and a city where your status consciousness and societal non acceptability will force you to commute by a car.
Talking about mannerisms, even bus conductors in Bangalore can speak to you in English or even in Hindi, but here, conductors in Delhi NCR buses will not even come to you to give tickets. You have to manage to get to them in a crowded bus to buy your ticket. If you don’t buy a ticket, he is not even going bother about it. It is your call to buy a ticket and his duty to issue tickets. Once on raising this issue, I was even objected by fellow passengers that as a passenger you have to go to conductor and it is foolish on my part to expect him to come to me. I have never seen ticket conductors in Bangalore occupying a seat in a bus when passengers are standing but here in Delhi NCR, conductors are king, they will not stand up from their seat even when a pregnant woman is standing just beside them.
Once I spotted a traffic police smoking profusely in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in Gurgaon while (mis)managing traffic because traffic lights had stopped working. You can spot people jumping red lights every day, traffic police being non active at their best, most educated and sophisticated gentry of Gurgaon breaking traffic laws, and showing complete contempt to people walking or driving vehicles less expensive than theirs.
Food: Bangalore is full of restaurants and eateries and so is Gurgaon. If you want to eat something cheap, you can only get chole bhature and aloo puri. While you want to eat cheap, you have no option but to eat greasy food in Gurgaon while Bangalore offers you Dosa, Idli and vada which at least in my belief have lesser fatty content than options in Gurgaon
Weather: Gurgaon experiences extreme weather - 6-7 months of heat followed by extreme winters by Indian standards. Can’t even compare it with Bangalore’s salubrious, cool weather, where you don’t need to install ACs, geysers and room heaters. You can’t survive summers of Gurgaon if you don’t have an AC and winters of Gurgaon will kill you if you don’t have room heaters and geysers but you can be rest assured of not getting drenched even if you are in the peak monsoon season just because it hardly rains in Gurgaon.
Wait for mid summers, you will witness dust storms, Dusty winds flowing from Rajasthan will envelope the entire city of 2 million and come winters this will change to envelope of fog and smog. Every year, everybody blames pollution and agriculture fires for fog and smog but no one seems to be doing anything for a permanent solution.
Malls: People brag about malls if those are the best masterpieces of Gurgaon. Apart from the Ambience mall and may be one or two others, Malls on MG Road are just in awful state. Just get down at MG Road Metro station in Gurgaon and you will find malls on both sides of the road. What you despise is the poor state of service roads, People parking randomly on service roads instead of parking in the malls, and sheer filth on roads on the way to these malls. Would these malls not be more appealing to customers had mall owners taken care of aesthetics in front of the malls? Shoppers have to go from one mall to the other crossing service roads, would it not be better had there been easy passage of shoppers from one mall to the other. I think neither mall owners nor city administration take care of such things because customers has no option but to turn up in the malls despite all the ills.
Security: There is big fear about robbery and crimes against women in Gurgaon. Go to Google news and search for Gurgaon, 5 out 10 news articles will about crimes in Gurgaon. Criminals and Nuevo riche shot at Toll booth employee, kill people in the ICU in hospital, rape women in the mall parking and what not. There is not even a single apartment where people don’t fear for robbery. It is so acceptable that people have come to terms with it and that we have to bear it if we have to live in Gurgaon. It is scary to come from Gurgaon railway station at night. Fear is deeply entrenched in the minds of people.
Railway Station – I bet if even 0.5% of Gurgaon’s population ever visited Railway station. Even cities such as Ratlam of 2-3 lakh population boast of better Railway station than that of Gurgaon. It is a shame that old Gurgaon where this Railway station exists is completely ignored of any development. It is appalling to see a city of two metros-Delhi Metro and upcoming Rapid Metro with such a poor and decrepit Railway Station.
Power cut: This city (don’t even feel like calling it a city) experiences load shedding every day. All the glitz and shine is a waste if Gurgaon administrators can’t provide uninterrupted power to companies and residents.  In summers this problem becomes acute with frequent load shedding. Just across the border, Delhi has uninterrupted power and Gurgaon on the other side experience load shedding of shameful magnitude. This is the treatment to city which alone contributes 42% of the Haryana state revenue.
Street lights: Surprisingly streets of Gurgaon are like highways, I am not taking about quality of roads, I talking of streets sans street lights. I can understand when you drive SUVs, you don’t need street lights? Just imagine how hard it is for pedestrians to walk roads at nights in the fear of being crushed by drunk drivers or robbed by uncouth or imagine the plight if people riding bicycles and cycle rickshaws. This city is far from any urban planning and is just a symbol of unregulated Capitalism of worst kind.
Water: There is acute water shortage in the city.  With lack of rain water harvesting in apartments, ground water table has gone to acutely low level. Not all areas of Gurgaon are covered by water pipelines of Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) and hence residents are dependent on Ground water or water tankers. With ground water almost running out and quality of tanker water not being credible, Does without this basic necessity, can Gurgaon even call itself a habitation of future?
Amenities: While you spot ornate Liquor showrooms and shops in the entire Gurgaon, you have to really try hard to find a public library. A city has to have basic amenities along with extra add-ons such art galleries, theaters, playgrounds, parks that cities of Delhi and Mumbai boast of. A city devoid of such basic essentials is like a body without soul.
Rents and Cost of Living: Cost of living is extremely high and if you want to live in a decent place, you have to pay through your nose. With such steep cost of living, can it really attract people of all strata to co-exist?.
I am still searching for answers to some of the obvious and prominent questions
·         Does Gurgaon without Bijli, Paani, Sadak(BSP) has a sustainable future?
·         With its residents devoid of any mannerisms and civility, give any edge to Gurgaon as compared to other metropolis?
·         How long can Gurgaon without any futuristic urban planning hold the tag of millennium city?
·         Can Gurgaon be ever safe and secure for women and children?
·         Will residents start taking ownership of the city actually do something about it?
·         Can we ever see it as a warm and welcoming city for all strata and classes of society?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Indian Immigration forms - Can Hindi make an entry??

Ever wondered, why don't we have bi-lingual immigration forms in India. It is shame for the country which boasts of being multi-lingual status but can't even print Immigration forms in at least one local language say Hindi. Flights have become multilingual with signs on aircraft and entertainment content in many languages including Hindi but sadly not the immigration forms. Hindi is just relegated to celebrating Hindi Divas. It is also sad that country's high, mighty and influential have simply ignored this anomaly and not taken much desired action of printing such forms in Hindi as well as English.  Assuming Hindi is not permitted for filling the form, at least instructions could be printed in Hindi so that it becomes easier especially for elderly who can read instructions in Hindi and write in English.

Men get away with giving flowers to their wives

One of Snapshots that I came across at Chicago International Airport. Kudos to Tourism Ministry as "Incredible India" Ad campaigns have definitely been able to create a positive mind-share among international travelers with trendy and new age campaigns and eye-catching lines as one above.

Chicago's ChinaTown

You can feel like you are in China and not in Chicago if you visit China Town. With plenty of Chinese restaurants, shops selling Chinese medicines and gifts and entire town painted with signs in Mandarin, a must visit if you are visiting Chicago and want to experience a bit of China.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ICICI Bank - The undisputed technology leader from India

How many banks with retail operations in India and around the globe are as innovative as ICICI Bank? - Perhaps none or very few? ICICI Bank has always been at forefront of technology adoption giving customers new choices, new products, a new way of banking while simultaneously reducing the costs of operations and improving business process efficiencies.
There are two latest examples that prove that ICICI is leading the industry and is miles ahead from its competitors with its usage of new technologies and commitment that senior leadership has for usage of new information technologies.
Some time back, ICICI launched ICICI bank application on Facebook. A customer can register with debit card and password and can do few banking transactions in a convenient and secure manner right from Facebook platform. With average user spending more time on Facebook, it is a significant step in direction in extending the reach to customers.

With young population forming majority of its customers, it directly means that ICICI wants to position itself as a young brand catering to needs to millions of youngsters whose working careers are many years ahead. “Catch them young” has always been mantra at ICICI which is clearly orchestrated in its strategies for many years. The second example is this year’s annual report which is creatively designed and clearly shows how ICICI uses technology for competitive advantage, how technology is at the core of its strategy and how senior management including CEO, CIO and CTO are truly focused on leveraging best of technologies for keeping competitors distance apart. There has to be a strong learning lesson for all retail banks in India and around the world

  1. Technology adoption and its creative usage is not just for the biggest banks of US or Europe.  
  2. Many Indian banks that implemented Core Banking solutions in last decade are slowly becoming smug about their achievements but if they don’t act agile, the technology divide created by banks such as ICICI will leave them exactly in same disadvantaged positions as they were few years back. 
  3. Banks need to learn from ICICI and make “Information Technology” - a Board agenda and give senior technology executives a platform to form and shape the corporate strategy of their banks.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Inflight Internet- A step forward in customer service

Accessing Internet onboard flight for first time- courtesy Delta Gogo -Inflight wifi free service makes life so easy. I heard American airlines  also provides the service while United does not. Definitely a strong differentiator among me too airlines. This must a big puller of high paying business travellers -  a must for keepig the airlines profitable.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Does CII truly represent Indian Industry?

Interesting to see that Confederation of Indian Industry ( CII ) membership has fallen for the first time after early years of liberalization. Is it a sign of high membership fee, that in difficult times small companies/firms with less than 10 lakh turnover might have withdrawn? Not sure, as it just costs Rs 5000 to renew the membership annually for such companies. or Was it an exercise  by CII itself to axe more than 600 members? It is also interesting to see the self proclaimed representative of Indian industry has just got close to 8000 members while companies registered with ROC(Registrar of companies) might easily be in excess of 2 million. Does CII need to do more to widen the base to call itself the true representative of Indian Industry?

Saturday, November 05, 2011

An Attempt to optimize Vegetables/Fruits spending

"India’s Food Inflation Quickens to 12.21%, a Nine-Month High", says  Bloomberg report . 

With Mamta ready to withdraw support from UPA govt on Petrol Price hikes and Prime minister Manmohan Singh attributing high inflation in vegetables and fruits prices to growing prosperity, These are difficult times for poor and middle class families in India. I happen to buy vegetables today(5th Nov 2011 from local hypermart in Bangalore and did a quick comparison with prices offered by HOPCOMS(The Horticultural Producer's Cooperative Marketing and Processing Society Limited).  Here is the comparison

It was expected for prices to be higher at Village Hypermart considering the higher profit orientation but price difference was as high as 160% for Green chilli. Except Onion, all vegetables were priced higher than HOPCOMS.
So Key Takeaways in Bangalore
  • Before you buy, Compare veggie and fruit prices  with HOPCOMS prices on their website  or just by sending SMS HOPCOMS VEG OR HOPCOMS FRUIT to 9243355223.
  • Find nearest HOPCOMS stall near your home when you plan to buy

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The world pays tribute to Steve Jobs

The whole world is paying tribute to one the greatest icons of our times.Apple's Home page looks like above with a tribute following on click of image. I wish his creativity and spirit of doing unknown and unthinkable inspires us and many generations to come.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Birthday wishes by Google

Was surprised with Google's attempt to personalize customer experience, when saw the Doodle changed on my birthday(See above). Way to Google.....
Also, gave me a thought how Companies,Organizations,employers can do a similar act and make their customers,employees feel better.

As a learning from this Google experience, all employers can send a Birthday message to employees, also IT Systems  can trigger a reminder to reporting managers for birthdays of their reportees. 
This simple HRMS, CRM functionality can be useful in creating a better company-customer, employer-employee connect.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Can Kingfisher Airlines reduce its in-flight trash?

Can airlines such as Kingfisher reduce the trash generated as a result of their in-flight culinary delights?

Comment if you have ideas, I will send them to Vijay Mallya , Chairman Kingfisher for taking the lead in making Kingfisher not only most loved airline in India but also the most ecofriendly.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cricket Insights and Winning Lessons

It was a jam-packed session at Landmark, Forum mall where Harsha and Anita Bhogle addressed audience and answered their questions with utmost humility and poise making people feel comfortable and entertained with all his intelligent humor.

Harsha Bhogle, You meet him and sure to be enamored by his glib talking and his down to earth attitude. In my personal observation, I have found Marathi people in general to be very humble and simple people without a tinge of flamboyance. Harsha and his wife Anita are two such individuals who fit into this category of “humble, simple and non flamboyant people.

In his book launch in Bangalore, he made a point which reminds of his personality, “Generally, people make mistake of assuming polite people to lack aggression and aggressive people to be impolite. He broke the general misconception, by giving examples of Anil Kumble who is very polite but with full of aggression on field and M S Dhoni considered to be very aggressive player but extremely polite individual. Such presumption of “aggressive” being “non polite” and “polite” being “non-aggressive” is common malady which one should be beware of.

His and Anita’s book “The winning way” is incredible piece of work which is simple and fascinating. It gives lessons on success, failure and leadership in a context which people can relate very well to and this precisely is the “USP of book”. The examples from cricket, football, tennis and other sports make the book easy to read, help in correlating with real life examples and keeps the reader engaged. The parallels from sports and comparisons from Business makes it one of its kinds in the world of books where books on leadership are replete with on boring and unappealing winning themes and leadership messages.

Sometimes, the celebrity status of Harsha places all the focus and accolades on him and Anita sometimes doesn’t get that much credit for her contributions in this creation. It was very evident during book launch where almost all questions where directed to Harsha and rightly so as he this star attraction and I am sure all cricket insights in this book mostly come from his cricket mind.

Overall, full marks for this extremely well written, insightful and reasonably priced literary treasure.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why should you quit an organization?

Some food for thought, why should you quit an organization?

1> Lack of Information, its availability and access

Many companies have stated policies that senior management is very much accountable to junior most staff in organization, still large number of companies suffer from “Ignore Mail policy” where in senior management don’t respond to queries from employees directly or through their Office. New age companies such as Infosys have been known for their accountability and responsiveness shown by senior members of the company. If a company doesn’t evolve a mechanism where voice from ground is heard and responded, then that company is not worth y for your talent and time.

2> No roadmap for career progression

If you don’t see a short term /long term career path and how can you tread that to reach to a goal then leave the company. If you don’t know what you will become 5 yrs /10 yrs/20 yrs down the line in an organization, then those organizations can never give you a career roadmap. It will be all confusion and maze, which will keep you non focused on your dreams and goals.

3>No Variable Pay

As we know, variable pay is added to one’s pay structure to motivate and incentivize individual performance and aligning the individual performance to achieve company’s goals. With variable pay, companies ensure that employees are geared towards profit orientation, more the company grows, more it gets profitable and higher the variable pay to employees. That’s why you find Sales and senior management jobs have bigger variable component in their compensation in order to drive them towards higher Performance. Hence, think twice why should not continue in your organization.

4>No Profit orientation

What is the difference between a mail dispatch department and Product Management department? One is internally focused other looks externally. One is cost center other is geared toward customers orientation and profit generation. If you work in a cost center think twice, there is higher chance that you are rewarded more for your efforts in a profit center than in a cost center

5>Where Bosses don’t create leaders?

An environment which gives birth to natural leadership is essence of long lasting organizational setup. If there is shortage of leaders, where leaders are not created where leaders are not recognized and groomed then perhaps the place will suffer from lack of growth or unmanageable growth.

6>where you can’t inspire and get inspired (lack of mentor)

Mentorship is absolutely essential. It is required not only at junior levels but all levels. Higher you go more is need for a structured and unstructured mentorship. Chanda Kochhar talks but how KV Kamath groomed her to be in his shoes . Mentoring helps eliminate barriers and enables a cultural continuity. Mentoring clear doubts, gives a direction to mentee’s aspirations, and enables mentors to be always in touch with organizational human dynamics. Good mentors are few but organizations should create an environment where mentors are produced and mentors easily seek and find mentees. So if you don’t have mentor, can’t find one, you guessed right, quit the organization.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Convocation on Youtube

Just finished uploading Videos( 8 parts in total) of Convocation on Youtube. It was refreshing going down in memory lane.

Here is the Part where I spoke on my experiences.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Some intelligence in Business Intelligence game

I was recently involved in a Business Intelligence (BI) assignment wherein we were pitching power of BI to a customer. We did couple of weeks of consulting (mostly interviewing customer to understand systems, processes and their pain areas) and built a POC to demo our power of product and implementation cum consulting capabilities. This was first BI assignment for me and felt the need to document few leaning that I have had in last few months.

BI market is highly competitive with plethora of BI tools from MS BI, IBM Cognos to SAP BO and many others. Hence, in a deal on BI is going to be competitive with different product vendors and partners making an aggressive stance to sell product and their implementation capabilities to customer. Hence, never take a BI deal lightly.

Customers are quite aware of BI and mature in terms of their expectations. They don’t talk about basic features anymore. They might be looking for standard Dashboards to start with but go all the way to convince you that they looking for fancy and stuff from in memory analytics to Dashboards working on Android Mobile phones.

Never only build scenarios or dig KPIs from past experience or domain understanding. Always request to play around with various source data (transactional, master etc) to understand the relationship and how scenarios, KPIs etc could be effectively built from it.

Always keep Datawarehosuing expert in your team: He will be key to map relationships, perform very important ETL activity. He will be the one to provide solid foundation for analytics project to follow. Customer feels comfortable if you demonstrate what you can do with BI tool using real data. Always request customer to provide you with real data.

If you are building a Proof of concept (POC) which typically is the case these days, always work in an iterative model. The first output will never be perfect so never try to make it perfect. Share and showcase some of portions of POC as early as possible to ensure that customer appreciates your work and give important insights of its business and make the your output more meaningful.

POCs are typically nobody’s baby. A Customer more often than not doesn’t care whether he pays for the it. Neither do the internal organization where resources are deployed on live, Rupee/dollar generating projects. So it is important that only those resources are carefully put on such short assignments who have capability to deliver fast and who could be effectively channelized to create an impactful showcase.

Convince customers to pay for POC: It is always good to get some money from pocket of customer. This will ensure that customer is keenly involved in responding to presales and POC activities. See a sea change in terms of how a POC develops once customer shells out few bucks.

Never hurry in jumping to create or deliver a BI solution. It is extremely important that important set of KPIs from mountain of not so useful KPIs are selected. Build scenarios carefully of how would you dig into a business problem and find a root cause of it; suggest possible solutions which a decision maker can rely on.

and Finally, Involve the product vendor early on as he would be most eager to sell a product license to your customer. Hence leverage their infrastructure, ideas and resources to build an invincible story which customer can trust and feel confident about.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cricket and Harsha

No one can talk so eloquently with such deep insights on Cricket than Harsha

Monday, December 06, 2010

Story of I & We

Again, it has been a while since a scribbled last time. Lot of thoughts occupy mindscape but somehow could not make an effort. I just wonder how good it would be if a gadget which I could just touch can record the thoughts and ideas and produce a written output. Nevertheless, I will come back from my imaginative world to reality. Last 2-3 months have been very hectic and eventful. I have been keeping busy at work with lot of new and interesting assignments on hand. Somehow this weekend has been totally free after long time, which brought me to the blog again.

This time, I will share an observation from work life. We all work in teams and an effective teamwork is key to success in today’s hectic work environment where you chase one deadline to another and switch from one assignment to other in matter of hours. This is story of “I&We”. I have been appalled and amazed as to how well educated , well experienced industry professionals glibly use “I” in an effort to take credit while giving presentations, updating about the work to senior colleagues and discussing work output with customers without giving any regard to teamwork that behind the output/result. It looks very odd that people at workplace give a damn about the team members who have equally and at times contributed more than them to produce an output. What perturbs me is that people don’t do this because they lack communication skills or have less fluency and control on English because I am referring to MBAs from premier institutes. Such acts are demotivators to contributors and also put them off at work. It creates friction in execution of assignments and more importantly such acts create a negative environment at workplace. But seemingly a small act of weak inter personal skill creates a distress in high performance work environment. But question is why such a thing happens. Here is my take on this:
· There is unending and cutthroat competition among colleagues, there is strong drive among them to be keep stepping up the corporate ladder at any cost.
· Lack of respect and appreciation for peers and their work.
· Schools, Colleges, MBA degrees have failed in some way to teach such people small but very essential etiquettes. These are same guys who are taught to core during their preparations of Group Discussions but they forgot it the days they got admissions.
· B-Schools and corporates have failed in imparting effective soft skill training to their employees.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A tale of a professional company and sleeping shareholders

This time, I got to listen NRN and Infy board members not as an employee but as a shareholder. It was exciting and one of a kind experience to attend an AGM. I recall the visit of CEO Mr. Gopalakrishnan’s in Infosys Bhubaneswar in year 2006. On asking a question on pileup of cash, Mr. Gopalakrishnan replied that such questions are asked in AGMs and not in employee Open Houses.
That day I decided that I would try and attend Infosys AGM one day. So this is how I ended up attending 29th Infosys AGM in Christ University Auditorium in Bangalore.I arrived and queued up for shareholder registration. All the registration counters were nicely put up. Senior citizens, Housewives and some long time shareholders were all exuding the confidence that loyal shareholders do.Opening speech was delivered by Chairman of Board, Mr. Murthy.
CFO Mr Balakrishnan’s presentation was innovatively done and kept the shareholders engaged with usage of imagery, music , Bollywood songs and videos.You can see Mr. Batni in Currency Avatram. CEO, CFO and COO’s promise that ALL is well. Infy’s conservatism and pride that they sit on 4 bn dollar cash during recession times was shown in NRN the king making a statement – “Cash is king” and Ever saw Mr. Pai in Avatar of Greek God.
So here it is presenting Mr Pai with IRFS highlights.
While everything on screen was great, I could make some disturbing observations which goes on to explain poor corporate Governance in India and Lack of Shareholder activism. 1) As soon as announcement was made that there is an arrangement for High Tea, Half the auditorium got empty in no time which just shows how much shareholders care about AGM proceedings. It was an astonishing act.
Do shareholders come for fine dining or assessing performance of the board and keeping them accountable?
2. Shareholders kept either lauding the performance or cursing the board and the company without proper facts. Here are some ludicrous and disappointing instances.
a. You give a mike to a shareholder and rest assured that you can’t complete the meeting in allotted time. Shareholders were reading pages just to ask a single question

b. One shareholder was very upset with recruitment process- He questioned why do Infosys imposes requirement of 65% cutoff in exams. He suggested everyone should get an opportunity like UPSC exam to appear in a written test. He was asking this question during time reserved for accounting related queries.
c )Another Gentleman was speaking in non-stop Kannada. While perturbed, NRN interrupted and requested to put a stop at the lengthy speech instead ask a question but he was in no mood to listen to such trival request by chairman of the Board.
d. Other shareholder complained on why don’t we conduct AGMs in Infosys campus? - Good request but is that question which really disturbs a shareholder?
Does he really have sleepless nights because of the venue and not what’s happening in Outsourcing industry, ROE and NPM margins, performance of independent board members and executives of the company?
e. Other gentleman raised question of mismatch in remuneration and qualifications. How can BSCs and BEs make lakhs and crore in salaries?f. I have not got returns from Income tax department – One shareholder put forward his request. Don’t expect any strategic, deep insightful, analytical, razor sharp question, after all these shareholders are unaware, uninformed ordinary retail shareholders.

g. Axis Bank is not updating my passbook, why? – Why can’t shareholders not ask a question when they don’t know what and what not to ask?
Other disturbing Facts:
1. Minimal presence of young shareholders and Infy employees: I thought many young shareholders would come considering Infosys being a new economy technology company and venue was in young city like Bangalore.
Had Even Infosys employees holding shares come, they would have made an impact by perhaps asking intelligent queries. It’s disturbing to note that even employee shareholders show little interest in health of the company.
2. Non Participation by DII/FII and mutual funds: It didn’t seem that DII or FII (domestic/foreign institutional investors) and mutual funds bother to come to such gathering. Such investors could have made huge difference by keeping the board on their toes but sadly they hardly care to attend and make the difference. They anyways get the feed from company during analyst calls.
3. Any guesses for Family owned companies? If such is the state of investor participation, awareness and vigilance in an investor’s friendly, utterly professional company such as Infosys, It is anybody’s guess what must be state of affairs in family owned companies?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Cloud and Virtualization

Elegant way of explaining benefits of Cloud and Virtualization

Monday, August 09, 2010

Why HUL's illustrious days are over?

Recently, glanced over Hindustan Unilever (HUL’s ) full page chairman’s annual statement; I wondered why HUL and ITC unlike other companies need to publish a full page chairman’s AGM speech/annual statement. This year, HUL’s chairman talked about HUL’s contribution in grooming managers and producing leaders out of them. As a Bschooler, it was enough to attract my attention and write this post which is highly critical perhaps one sided but definitely food for thought.

I somehow think days for HUL as a supreme brand which commands awe in all respects are over. Here is why I think so.

Poor financial performance: HUL’s topline and bottomline are stagnant since last few years. In recent past, There has not been any innovation in an emerging country like India which is full of innovation for masses. There have not been any revolutionary product launches in recent years which would have enhanced lives of consumers.

HUL has become a reactive competitor. Which products/brands have they brought and sustained after the success of Wheel? Does it not seem that they are consciously ignoring bottom of pyramid markets?

Has Power brands strategy worked? HUL management seems to be driven by what bosses say in Unilever. Do HUL board and executive have mind of their own? Why do they follow strategy of premium brand, high margin business in a country which is full of opportunities in low margin, mass market? In fact it seems in implementing this strategy; HUL managers have killed many promising brands.

Shareholder returns: Why HUL doesn’t talk about Shareholder returns? Shareholders have not gained much in terms of stock appreciation. With average financial performance, the stock has languished for past 10-12 years. Why does the board not wake up and think seriously for creating wealth for stockholders as many other companies consciously do?

Poor Top of mind recall- Think of Tea, you think of Tata tea, Think of milk, you think of Amul, Nestle or Britannia, Salt – you think of Tata salt and list goes on. Despite huge spending on advertisements, many brands of HUL don’t even figure in the consideration set of consumers.

Overpaid management: It is said that HLL managers are paid through nose and yet such conventional and poor performance?? Performance to payment ratio seems to be definitely better for companies such as Dabur, Future group, Tata group etc.

CSR: HUL never shies away from bragging about Shakti amma project. But are they really serious? If yes, then why is it restricted primarily in South India? India has 600,000 villages. Why don’t they become aggressive through out India in such well meaning project as they are in fighting Pantene over billboards?

HUL gives impression of an arrogant MNC which has lost its way. Serious rethinking is needed to mend old ways of doing business. HUL is full of excellent professionals who just need to take control of situation and put pressure on their top leadership to act sensibly and do things out of box.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

XLRI GMP 2010 Batch's Placment Summary

Here's XLRI GMP 2010 Batch's Placment Summary as covered in Media

Yahoo News

Financial Express


Thursday, July 08, 2010

Project Managers: Can they live up to the expectation?

With so many young people working in Indian IT industry, there is huge challenge to manage the staff in unique ways so as to keep them motivated and guide them. I have been huge fan of Mr. NRN Murthy, Chief Mentor, Infosys and Mr. Subroto Bagchi, Chief Gardner, Mindtree. These great men spend considerable in mentoring, helping employees become true professionals. Mr. Bagchi mentions need for mentorship in his fabulous book, Go kiss the world. It is a must read for all young professionals.

Sadly, employees don’t realize the value of a guide or a mentor, and even if they do, they don’t find mentors because of their acute shortage. A mentor is one who can bring you out of all disillusions and confusions; He is the one who shapes the young mind to do the best. He understands and helps you with lessons on career and industry; He nurtures your ambitions, aspirations and goals. Most importantly, he is the one whom you look up to and get inspired.
In IT industry, this mentor role can be beautifully played by Project Managers who closely work with team members, especially with those who are new in their careers and can play a vital role in mentoring them. Unfortunately, neither Project managers nor employees seek such a kind of role modeling.

In one his articles in The Economic Times dated 5th July 2010, Mr. R Gopalakrishnan, ED Tata Sons suggests “To be successful it is important that a manager is perceived as authentic and genuine.” It is in this context, I have seen that expectation of mentorship is a far cry if managers don’t even match up to such basic qualities.

But why does it happen?
In IT Industry, Project managers manage projects of team size ranging from 5 to 100. Their primary job is to successfully deliver projects within boundaries of scope, cost and time. Fortunately, projects get delivered without much value-add from Project managers. These managers don’t even focus on upgrading their skills, finding scope of doing things better and most importantly setting the benchmarks for other team members to follow. Many of them can’t imagine the scope and challenges of project management involved in building dams, highways, refineries etc. wherein millions of dollars is at stake, work environment is harsh, where project managers need to deal with an unskilled laborer to a highly skilled engineering staff.
How do they survive then?
Without value addition, they are able to survive because of their low cost in dollar terms. A number of clients don’t bother not to pay for a project manager for even small team sizes because in dollar terms, perhaps they get a project manager for the cost of a software engineer.

But how long these so called not performing project mangers survive? Until the cost arbitrage is reduced or IT budgets are severely cut, the breed of underperforming managers will continue to be on board.

It is not that managers are not capable. Many have illustrious pedigree. Just that over the years, the fire in their belly is doused. They have become complacent and habituated of easy money.
In such a scenario, how will they add value to customers and focus on employees’ careers?
If go you around the campuses of IT companies and interview employees, they would grossly crib about their managers. They perceive them as overhead to a project, who does some talking, prepares some reports in excel or doc. Some won’t even have soft skills to deal with human resources because of their rise from technical roles and lack of exposure to human resource perspectives.

It is not that I have come across only such project managers. I have been fortunate to work with one of the best project managers in the industry and have got mentored by them but this post just happens to be an output of series of observations that had been troubling me for a long time.

Image source

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Linking Penalties to Inflation

Government of India seems to be very active in annulling dead laws and reframing them in order to keep them meaningful. There are hundreds of laws which need much amended and reviewed .Laws need to be modernized and made relevant for time we are living. To give an example, Under the Aircraft Act, 1934, the Government can control "manufacture, possession, use, sale of aircraft". And ‘aircraft’ includes balloons and kites. This is so ludicrous and in a way symbolizes our archaic laws
We all must have read the warning or ignored it after reading. Laws are made as if they are to be broken. Law says that “smoking is punishable”. We can’t even communicate certainty of punishment. It is just another example of how communications are loosely done.
Another thing noticeable is that in most cases, a paltry sum of penalty is imposed. Is it strong enough to detract? Everybody knows it is not then why do we set them so low they become meaningless. How come Lawmakers arrive at such figures defying all the logic? Even if we set them high while framing laws, over the period of time, they are not revised and hence lose their significance.
Rents increase annually, DAs are linked to Inflation, and almost all costs gets a periodic revision but why can’t we link penalties for committed crime to average inflation growth rate so as to keep them stringent and deterrent enough for offenders of law?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Have you tried Slideshare?

Recently I received below comments on the analysis of a case study.
"actually, i want to thank you ,your presentation was extremely mind storming ... you are a great team work ... my professor asked me to make my analysis within more than 2 months but believe me i was surrounded by hundreds of question marks till i found your presentation my papers became in order and actually i believe my analysis will be the best over my colleagues i gonna deliver my presentation next Thursday 'if my god wishes' and i will upload it and i wish to receive comments from you... thanx again. "

I uploaded the presentation to share the learnings to the world. During MBA, I can't remember when did I not use Google for references for various assignments and submissions. Hence, thought of sharing some ppts on slideshare. Slideshare is an incredible tool with plethora of information in a concise format as mostly ppts are uploaded. Hence, getting information in capsule format has been made easy by Slideshare. Ppts,Pdfs are uploaded in no time ,hence as a user you don't waste time in waiting for uploads to complete.

If you have not tried slideshare, give it a try and give back to the world!

Monday, May 17, 2010

XLRI GMP Graduation speech

Finally my tryst with MBA is over. A sense of pride, nostalgia for missing XLRI and wonderful batchmates and anxiety for new life is setting in. Here is the speech that I delivered on behalf of batch in Graduation Ceremony, May 12, 2010 @ XLRI Jamshedpur.

Good after noon Respected Director, Dean, distinguished Guest of ceremony, Faculty, Staff, Families and GMP Class of 2010. I am honored to deliver this graduation speech on behalf of the whole GMP class, A class coming from different parts of India, which has worked around the globe, which comes from diverse sectors from Steel to Education to Hospital, a class consisting of Bankers, doctors, defense personal and technology geeks, a class with work experience ranging from 5 years to 16 years. It has been a wonderful year with memories that we will cherish forever.

Before I speak further, I would like the graduating class to applaud for our families because without their support and sacrifice; we would not have been here.

I remember the day when we 96 of us came to Jamshedpur. Some of us were anxious, some were nervous; after all we were going back to school after so many years of working in the industry. It is said that Gold becomes finest only when it goes through hottest fire. After having gone through 32 courses, numerous mid terms, end terms, quizzes, term papers, assignments, group projects, presentations, we are here in the Graduation ceremony. The XL academic rigor has sharpened and molded us into competent managers.

We are indebted to our esteemed faculty for shaping our minds and guiding us at every juncture of our stint here @ XL. We will remember Fr Jesurajan’s invitation for 7 course meal, Prof Gangopadhyay spine chilling lectures( Like many of you, I remember running without a break from Hostel to class to avoid being late), STP lessons from Marketing gurus, different forms of demand supply curves from Economics Professors, Accounting lesson that Prof Sengupta drilled in us – Profit is different from cash.

How can we forget the strikes and lockout lessons from Prof Sarkar, classes on complex and perplexing organization behavior, the basics of human resource management from our Dean, Mind scratching Anecdotes from Prof TAS Vijayaraghavan, International finance classes from truly Intl professor and realization after every class of Prof Uday Damodaran that how little we know of Fin world. The list goes on….

Inspired by the Jesuit spirit of ‘Magis’, XLRI stands for Excellence and Integrity. It has allowed us to stretch our thinking and imagination. XLRI is known for developing social conscience and beyond doubt; we have not only learnt hardcore management techniques but also have grown emotionally to develop a conscience that extends beyond companies and corporations.

It is not that we just restricted ourselves to academics; we dared to compete in every aspect of B school life. Few of us cleared CFA level 1, A team of three reached the Asia Regional finals of Global Social Venture Competition organized by Haas School of Business, Berkeley University, one of our Sports fanatics reached Badminton Finals in IIM Lucknow’s Annual Sports and cultural competition, Bloggers from the batch emerged XL winners in a Blogging competition organized by Directi and a clear GMP dominance was witnessed in Tata Steel XLRI Peace marathon.

XLRI unlike its peers has always been focused on grass root development. In this context, we were exposed to remotest Naxal inflicted tribal villages in Jharkhand. Harsh realities of tribal villages have had profound influence on our thinking and I am sure we would actively work towards making lives of our people better.

As we move out of XL today, we will miss 2 am Bishuda’s aloo paratha with loads of butter, Chai breaks at Dadus, a sylvan and serene campus, diamond jubilee park that is host to number of gossips as well as serious discussions, our excellent Dining and accommodation facilities and fiercely fought cricket and football matches.

We are thankful to ever cheerful Rani Mam, ever helpful Freddie, Lazarus, Rashmi, Roshan and Sandra Mam, and numerous XL Staff for making our lives easier.

As we graduate today and join companies in middle and senior management positions, our future will be guided by XL’s core values and teachings. This is momentous occasion for all of us as we ready to shape destinies of companies and enterprises. We have task cut out for ourselves as these are most exciting times and we are fortunate to be active participants in this Indian Growth story. In decades to come, we need to evolve as leaders with highest ethical standards, we need to set new benchmarks and beat old records to create organizations which will be world leaders in terms of financial numbers as well sustainable practices.

Thank you

Friday, April 30, 2010

Well Crafted Spam mail

Received this email in my inbox since Gmail's Spam filter could not catch it. Producing the content below:

Gmail is working on total security on all accounts and as a result of this security upgrade we require all Google members to verify their account with Google. To prevent your account from disability you will have to update your informations by clicking the reply button and filling the space below.

Full Name

Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update his or her account within Seven days of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently.
Thank you for using Gmail !

The Gmail Team

Thursday, April 08, 2010

NHAI: Is it IT oriented?

The latest annual report of NHAI on their website is for year 2005-2006. No wonder the progress of GQ and East-West Corridor has slowed down.
Governments, PSUs and Central and state agencies , academic institutions are notorious in providing in old, outdated information to public. Their orientation towards Information technology is only on paper.
Consumers, public at large are also to be blamed for not raising the issues of poor interfaces and lack of availability of proper information.
Mr. Kamal Nath, It is high time, Please take out some time, visit the site and get it updated.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Friday, February 05, 2010

Sunday, December 27, 2009

An ideal Parivaar

As part of Entrepreneurship course, Prof. Munish Thakur invited Mr. Vinayak Lohani,founder of Parivaar.
He is IIT kharagpur, IIM calcutta, Infosys alumni and hails from MP. It was 8:00PM, after 9-10 hours(with breaks) of classes, It was a guest lecture for which our brain could not resist to imbibe more. I had heard of him before that he was the first student in IIMC's history to withdraw from placement process, a full 1 year ahead of placement season. His simplicity and humbleness was visible in his attire. Some times it is hard to imagine a B School alumni in Kurta Pyjama, One of the many stereotypes that we associate with B-Schoolers.
Coming back to the lecture, He told chilling stories of prostitution, migration of workers and malnutrition in WestBengal. He reminisced how he thought of starting some thing of this sort. He enumerated difficulties that he had to face while starting the venture.
It was his motivation and internal capabilities that led to his birth of successful venture for a residential school for poor and orphan children.
Mentioning about conditioning of society, He talked about Singur case and quoted Amartya Sen,that " If Tatas believed in Market forces, why did not they deal with markets (farmers) for acquiring land for Nano project". He was critical of people like us who are getting conditioned to work only in certain kinds of environment.
It was a nice break from daily pressure of cases, readings, resume and placements and hearing a sage like him.