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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Shantanu Prakash

Shantanu Prakash, Chairman and Managing Director, Educomp Solutions Limited

Shantanu Prakash has an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad 1988 and is a 2012 Advanced Leadership fellow of Harvard University. He founded Educomp Solutions Limited in 1994, a few years after acquiring an MBA degree. His vision has been to transform the teaching-learning process through the use of technology and best practices. The company employs over 14,000 people across 27 offices worldwide. Educomp is the leader in education content, professional development, online learning and the first company to set up high quality schools across the country Under Shantanu’s leadership, many awards and accolades have come Educomp’s way. Educomp was ranked number one in Education & Training in the study, “India’s Best Companies to Work for-2009”. Educomp is a publicly traded company on National Stock Exchange (NSE) in India.
Mr. Prakash is also the founder and Managing Trustee of the Learning Leadership Foundation (LLF), an organization dedicated to bringing best practices in education to under-resourced schools. He is also on the board trustees of over 30 educational institutions including, Modern School Delhi, Sri Sri University and the Great Lakes Institute of Management. He is on the international advisory board of Fundacao Dom Cabral, Brazil. As an investor, Mr. Prakash has made several investments in innovative early stage and mid-stage companies focusing on the internet, education, media, gaming, finance and infrastructure. He is a charter member of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) an organization that connects entrepreneurs. He is a frequent speaker in education and business conferences worldwide.

Reflecting on your decision on plunging into entrepreneurship right after business school, what exactly was your thought process?

Well, actually the decision was pretty easy. I had already made up my mind even before I got into IIMA that I wanted to be an entrepreneur! When I graduated in 1994, India was at this very unique standpoint in its history of economic liberalization. The environment all around me was undergoing major changes. There were large opportunities to be tapped. And that’s when I thought of taking advantage of the opportunity at hand.

I grew up in a middle class family and did not have deep pockets backing me. I was therefore interested in starting something that involved a lot of intellectual capital rather than financial capital. Looking back, I did not compare entrepreneurship with job options in MNCs, banks and consulting firms since I never saw myself in those roles. There was therefore no comparison from that quarter. And that’s when I took the plunge! So far it has been a very interesting and satisfying journey. And given the dynamics in the education space in India, I feel like the more you go into it, the more problems you solve around! Education is always an unfinished agenda in India!

What made you choose the education space?

For me it was a blank slate – I did not have any family business or any professional to define my industry! I could have chosen to do virtually anything under the sun! However, education was an industry in which I had the first hand experience of the challenges involved as well as some ideas on how to address them. I started, like most entrepreneurs do, with a vision but not a large expectation of the financial returns. So there was a little bit of both the opportunities that arose as well as some level of intelligence that led to my decision of entering the education space.
We started our journey – the very first business by setting up computer labs in business schools. That’s when we realized that the opportunity was somewhere else. We observed that the parents had very high expectations of their kids schooling while the schools just did not have the ability to fulfill these expectations and the existence of private tutors was a testimony of that observation. We then took to creating content for school education. Initially, while the content was under development we faced several challenges but after 3-4 years when it was fully ready, it caught the eye of everyone in the industry and that’s when we became an industry wide success. We then diversified into teacher and vocational training and today we are present in pretty much every aspect of the education value chain!

What are the key trends or themes you observe, particularly when it comes to the use of technology in education?

India is a grossly underserved market when it comes to education. Our gross enrollment figures are the lowest in the ASEAN region. The numbers have to move to a more respectable state for it to sustain the growing economy and general economic development. There has to be a lot more primary education along with the training of teachers and the first step has to be to create high quality delivery mechanisms to achieve these. I see technology as the game changer that can allow India to accomplish these objectives. However, in addition to technology, the key is for all the players to come together- the government, the private sector as well as the non-profit sector to work together towards these goals.

What are the new opportunities that the Indian education industry provides today?

There are several opportunities today for entrepreneurs to tap into – including teacher training for the over half a million teachers as well as the whole area of vocational training in which 400,000 skilled people need to be trained to work. Then there are areas such as career counseling, teacher and student interaction as well as tuition (E.g. WizIQ) etc.

What would be your advice for students and alumni here at Kellogg who are thinking of returning back to India?

You have gone and had the best education in the world, now you should come back to utilize it in one of the best markets in the world today – India!

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CRTI Social Innovation Fellowship Program

Six Kellogg students spend experience the Indian Summer working with NGOs and Social Enterprises in India.

 

Kellogg’s Center for Research in Technology and Innovation (CRTI) offers a unique opportunity for MBA students to bring not only their academic expertise but also their sense of social responsibility to India’s underserved sectors. CRTI awards $150,000 in funding for innovation fellowships that help students engage with start-ups and socially-minded organizations in developing nations and that have a positive social impact. In 2011, for example, six Kellogg fellows spent ten weeks in India working with non-governmental organizations and social enterprises that use technology in creative and innovative ways to improve education, health, and livelihood.  Prior to 2011, in the midst of the economic downturn, CRTI provided $250,000 in funding to 35 Kellogg MBA students for innovation internships. The Center was founded in 2001 by Professor Mohan Sawhney, McCormick Tribune Professor of Technology at the Kellogg School of Management.

 

At the heart of CRTI’s mission and goals lie three pillars that define the Center’s work – advance the knowledge in technology and innovation through independent research, collaborate with corporations, and engage in productive dialogue with subject-matter experts, share the knowledge through global innovation and technology networks and partnerships with innovation-driven organizations, and transform the knowledge into intellectual capital and business value for all through books, articles, and case studies. The CRTI fellowships in social innovation are one vehicle through which CRTI seeks to fulfill this mission. These fellowships build individual competencies for Kellogg students that wish to take on the challenge of working in a largely unknown, diverse and global setting.

 

CRTI’s implementation partner for the Social Innovation Fellowships in India is SevaYatra, a social business with a US-India presence that focuses on developing custom “voluntourism” and volunteerism programs for universities and companies.  “The CRTI Social Innovation Fellowships offer a unique opportunity to MBA students to gain experience by working in a global setting, interacting with culturally and economically diverse population, while utilizing their business skills in a productive manner that benefits the social enterprises they work with,” says Sejal Desai, Founder and CEO of SevaYatra. “This 10-week experience is not only a once in a life time opportunity for many but also prepares them well for what is today a very different and very global work environment.”

 

The fellowship program focuses on the application of technology to catalyze change rather the development of the technology itself. The fellowship comprises both an academic as well as an experiential component. The academic component is marked by seminars with leaders in the technology and development sectors in India while the experiential part comprises internships with NGOs and other social institutions that work to improve governance (increasing citizen interaction with government), health care (telemedicine and access to treatment via mobile phones) and promote education (such as distance learning) for vast numbers of India’s marginalized citizenry. Kellogg Fellows are based in New Delhi and address the defined needs of the host organizations. This year, eight students will travel to India as CRTI fellows and attempt to bring new ideas and solutions to various organizations that serve to make a difference for people at the bottom of the social spectrum.

 

A unique feature of the program is the opportunity for Kellogg fellows to partner and interact with students from a local business school, the Institute of Management Technology (IMT) in Ghaziabad, situated a few miles from New Delhi. IMT selects an equal number of its students to serve as “buddies” that are matched with Kellogg fellows and largely serve as field guides while playing a valuable supporting role in providing local and cultural context for Kellogg fellows.

For the 2012 summer program, the fellowship seeks to better involve Kellogg alumni by using them as mentors for the fellows. Fellows will have opportunities for interactions with the Kellogg alumni network through formal and informal networking events. Alumni will serve not only as unofficial advisors but also as valuable connectors to industry experts, academics, and stalwarts in technology and innovation.

 

CRTI has established academic requirements for fellowship recipients. Fellows must prepare a comprehensive case study or write a white paper detailing the project they worked on, its objectives, the steps they took to accomplish the objectives, the impact of their work on the company and lessons learned during their summer experience. Last year, each of the 2011 fellows presented their papers at a retreat in the Kellogg School of Management in September.

 

India’s growing numbers of social enterprises often seek top-tier scholars who can inject fresh ideas and bring new solutions and perspectives on the work these enterprises do. In the past, Kellogg fellows have worked with organizations such as Drishtee, I-Farms, America India Foundation, and D-Light to name a few. These organizations articulate a specific project that the fellow can apply his unique set of skills to and assign a supervisor to guide the fellow during his or her ten-week tenure. In addition to seminars and discussions with corporate and government leaders, the project typically involves various field trips to rural areas for research-related work.

 

Many Kellogg students agree that they come to Kellogg with high expectations of a career-changing, if not life-changing, MBA experience. CRTI’s India fellowship offers such an experience for students interested in gaining a first-hand understanding and real world experience of the issues and challenges that plague India’s development. The opportunity for Kellogg fellows is to bring their business acumen to solving some of the business problems faced by their host organizations and offering innovative solutions that allow them to leave at the end of their tenure with a positive social impact. Fellows will come away with a clearer understanding of how organizations are using new business models to effect change and improve lives, and thus making a difference in the realms of economic development and poverty elevation.

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Authored by Faculty Advisor: Kara Palamountain 

For the first time, the GIM Global Health Initiative (GHI) class traveled to India in March. For those of you who don’t know, GHI’s mission is to develop and commercialize diagnostic devices for bottom-of-the-pyramid populations living in resource-limited settings. By partnering with industry, academia, and nonprofit organizations, GHI has been able to develop an early infant diagnostic for HIV as well as a molecular diagnostic for HIV and Tuberculosis (TB). In this context, the class has traditionally focused on African countries. However, India has the world’s second largest population suffering from HIV/AIDS and the largest TB burden in the world, so our class of 30 (plus a 9-month old adorable baby girl) headed to the land of biryani and cricket.

The main purpose of our trip was to identify the key steps and organizations involved in launching a diagnostic device in India. We also wanted to get feedback on the two products from the end-users. Where would it make most sense to place these products in the complex network of healthcare facilities? What could be changed to make these devices more successful in India? Ultimately, the answers to these questions would help us formulate a strategy for GHI involvement in India in the future.

We started the trip in New Delhi, spent the weekend in Kerala, traveled to Hyderabad for four days, and ended up back in New Delhi before heading back to E-town and Chicago.

New Delhi

Organizations We Met With: Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NACO (National AIDS Control Organization), RNTCP (Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme), Apollo Hospitals, Becton Dickinson

Highlights: Bike riding through Old Delhi, Conjoint Analysis session with RNTCP, lots of pashmina scarf shopping at Dilli Haat, breakfast at the Shangri-La with Lucky the Bread Man at your service, visiting some of the largest TB clinics and hospitals in the country, Ben S. dislocating his shoulder on the dance floor after the Kellogg Alumni Mixer and really delicious dinners at the ITC Maurya and Park Balluchi.

Crazy Story: The first night in Delhi, a local merchant forcibly applied henna to Jesse’s right hand by India Gate (allegedly). Jesse is now very aware that henna is mostly for women, especially after trying to hide his hand in meetings all week.

Kerala

Organizations We Met With: None – this was our weekend off!

Highlights: Cooling off in the amazing resort pool with giant water-spewing elephants, houseboat tour of Kerala, Lindsey F’s morning yoga sessions in paradise, the most relaxing spa treatments ever and Whit’s “Dawson’s Creek” theme party efforts in the middle of the backwaters

Crazy Story: Rebecca R. and Louise A. are terrified by an intruder in their bungalow. After alerting all the hotel staff, it’s actually probably just a bird. They both still don’t sleep all night.

Hyderabad

Organizations We Met With: TB Alert India, APSACS (Andra Pradesh State AIDS Control Society), the State TB Controller’s office, Vimta Labs, PHMI (Public Health Management Institute), a DAPCU (District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit) in Hyderabad

Highlights: Charminar and the Spice markets, lakefront dinners, rural clinic visits and state-government meetings, home-cooked Hyderabadi meal, seeing/understanding/utilizing the ubiquitous head-nod motion that we’d heard so much about

Crazy Story: Hitting up Bottles and Chimney’s (not Chutes and Ladders) and depleting their entire beer supply in amazing beer towers.


Agra and the Taj Mahal

Highlights: Seeing the Taj Mahal and taking multiple jumping pictures, eating a delicious lunch at a 5 star resort and enjoying refreshments on the 6 hour bus ride back to Delhi. It may have been the longest day of all of our lives, but it was also one of the best.

In summary, GIM GHI had a really productive class and trip. We worked hard, we played hard and we came back with some really valuable insights we are looking forward to sharing with academia, industry, and the rest of the GHI team this May.

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For the first time at Kellogg, more than a dozen Kellogg professors across departments, had a chance to go on the Global Immersion in Management (GIM) trip that is normally only conducted for students. In December 2012, Kellogg Faculty travelled to India and spent 10 days visiting businesses across the cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

 India@Kellogg spoke to Professor Sunil Chopra who co-led the trip with Professor Jan Van Mieghem about his impressions following the trip. Sunil Chopra is the IBM Distinguished Professor of Operations Management. He was also Interim Dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University from 2009-2010. From 2006 – 2009, he served as Senior Associate Dean: Curriculum and Teaching. He became a faculty member of the school in 1989. Previously he was an Assistant Professor at the Stern School of Business Administration at New York University. He has a PhD in Operations Research from SUNY Stony Brook.

 Could you start by telling us about the trip – it seems like it shared many characteristics with the student GIM trips? What was it like being a student again?

The trip was modeled on student GIM trips with classroom teaching and field trips. The idea for the faculty trip originated from a colleague of mine, Jan Van Mieghem. A lot of the growth that we will see in the future will be from emerging economies, including India. Jan, who had not yet been to India, approached me with the idea of designing a trip for Kellogg Faculty as it was a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about a country that will significantly impact growth in the world economy. I was particularly excited with the thought of getting colleagues who have not had direct exposure to India, go on this trip.

I have arranged GIM trips in the past and have found that they work best when clear objectives are set at the outset and delivered upon the completion of the trip. In the fall term before the trip, we had 6 weeks of classes to prepare for the trip. The first 3 weeks featured a mix of internal and external speakers, while the last 3 weeks was spent with the faculty making in-depth presentations on companies. These preparatory classed helped us start at a high level of abstraction, so that when we arrived at the companies in India we didn’t have to start from scratch.

What was your personal highlight of the trip?

 One of my favorite events was organized at the startup, Mast Kalandar, in Bangalore and was organized by Kellogg alum Neill Brownstein, who co-founded Footprint Ventures. At an event called, “Dancing with the Entrepreneurs”, three startups presented their business ideas to a panel featuring some of the Kellogg faculty members. Through this visit, I felt that the faculty really got a sense of the fundamental differences between doing business in India and in the US. One example is the retail industry – while smaller business ventures may not stand high chances of succeeding within a US context due to cost disadvantages, the same cannot quite be said for India. The question is whether India should bypass big box stores given that major US chains, such as Blockbuster and Best Buy, are struggling. In India, one can ask whether the Internet can be used in conjunction with the smaller retail stores to create a different business model that works within the local context.

 What do you think were among the major “aha-moments” for the professors on the trip?

One such aha-moment occurred during our visit to Abbott India. For instance in one area of their business, Abbott was facing 300 competitors. With such intense competition, companies really need to constantly focus on how best to compete and stay profitable.

Another great opportunity of the trip was the exposure that faculty got to top Indian management. It helped us get a sense of how Indian executives operate and lead and the tools they make use of in order to be successful. For instance, we observed how Rajiv Verma, CEO of HT Media, made use of many of the academic concepts that we know from Kellogg, yet applied them in a way that was very specific to the India environment

It was also interesting to contrast the road to success of Pepsi and Godrej. While Pepsi took 15 years to become successful, Godrej became successful almost immediately. Because of this rapid growth in the Indian market, Godrej often faces questions when expanding abroad – simply because the international growth rates are unable to match the domestic growth. The Godrej CEO described how the company’s decision to go multinational was driven by one of their core competencies: The ability to tackle complexity in a highly non-structural environment. Hence, Godrej plans to enter market such as Sub-Saharan Africa, where they have a competitive advantage given their ability to deal with complexity.

Finally, it was interesting to see an example of a very process-oriented Indian business such as Infosys in Bangalore. Until 20 years ago, where one could argues that Indian business was very relationship-based, it is clear that managing internal business processes has become key.

 Any plans to have a faculty trip to other countries?

 Yes, absolutely – China and Brazil, and other BRIC countries are obvious places for us to plan the next faculty GIM trip.

Kellogg has great emphasis on preparing students to be global business leaders. What was the personal learning for you from the GIM trip?

 From one perspective, our faculty is already very global and through their backgrounds they are able to bring in international perspectives into classroom teaching. Until this trip, I have not had many chances to interact deeply with colleagues from other academic departments at Kellogg. During our company visits, it was interesting to see how cross-functional the questions were. It really allowed me to understand the issues these companies were facing from different angels and gave me a new perspective on Indian business.

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Reflections from Dean Jain

Namrta Raghavendra, KSM 2012, sat down with Dipak Jain on a rainy winter day for a personal conversation about his memories from his childhood in India, experiences at Kellogg and the new professional chapter ahead.  Dr Jain served as Dean of the Kellogg School of Management from 2001-2009. He joined the Kellogg School of Management faculty in 1986 as an associate professor and became an associate dean in 1996. 

I was cold and drenched on my way to Dean Jain’s home, but the smile that he greeted me with suddenly made me feel very warm and comfortable. He helped me with my jacket and guided me to his make-shift office at home.

While I settled behind an ebony desk with a pile of freshly arrived letters, mostly invitations, and an impressive collection of books, Dean Jain himself returned with a cup of tea and cookies. I surely couldn’t have asked for more from a person of his stature and was struck by his modesty.

His office was tastefully done in beige tapestry and decorated with souvenirs gifted to him from across the world, including an honorary doctorate degree awarded by the Princess of Thailand, his erstwhile student. Amongst the others pictures, I couldn’t help but notice a very old photograph of a much younger him. “This picture was taken by a peer at UT Dallas after I had just arrived in the US”, explained Dean Jain. “I had seldom worn a tie in India, and I bought this one (pointing at the picture) for 50 cents from a garage sale in Dallas”, he chuckled with genuine humility.

The beginning

Dean Jain has very vivid memories of his youth and deep down, he still is the same person he was back then. He was brought-up in Tezpur in Assam, a disconnected Indian state with a “chicken neck connection”, as described by him, with the Indian mainland since it is squeezed between Bangladesh and Bhutan. He studied at a government school in Tezpur with Hindi as the medium of instruction, and chose mathematics as his major primarily because mathematics required only paper and pencil rather than fancy laboratories. He secured highest marks in the state for his undergrad and graduation, and was therefore appointed as a professor at Guwahati University in Assam on the condition that he completes his PhD within 5 years. In the meantime, he wrote a letter to a professor at Berkley for procuring the professor’s research paper, but through a series of events his letter landed-up with another professor at UT Dallas. Impressed with his academic credentials, he was offered a full funding to pursue his PhD at UT Dallas and thus he came to the US in 1983.

The Kellogg Story

Reflecting on his almost 25 years with Kellogg, he attributed his success to those who he worked with – his colleagues, students, staff, and most importantly, Dean Jacobs. “The school was like my home, and the affection of those around me made me look forward to each day I have spent here”.

He recounted the milestones in his career as the most memorable moments. In the winter quarter in1990, he was the first professor ever at Kellogg to receive a TCE of 6.8 (on a scale of 7) in the Marketing Research course and from then on, he was nominated for the Best Professor Award for five consecutive years. However, he could never win it because unlike other professors, he was never teaching the same sections and therefore, didn’t have a critical mass to vote for him. “I was always the bridesmaid, but never the bride”, he joked. He believes that his record-breaking TCE ratings caught Dean Jacobs’ eye, and eventually helped him become Dean Jacobs’s trusted confidant.

“The five years that I spent with Dean Jacobs in an administrative role were my best time at Kellogg”, he said. This also provided him with the training to carry forward the Dean’s baton. “I never asked what’s in it for me while taking-on any job”, Dean Jain said. He has never negotiated for his compensation or perks, and has considered every task as an opportunity to learn something new. He also believes that its better to be trusted than liked. Perhaps that was the reason, as aptly noticed by Henry Bienen, Northwestern’s President, why Dean Jacobs trusted Dean Jain immensely, and ended the typical two-year rolling term for an Associate Dean to appoint Dean Jain as the permanent Associate Dean and his permanent ally throughout his tenure.

But that wasn’t all. The other important landmarks in his career were – he became the (youngest) Full Professor at Kellogg in 1992, the Associate Dean in 1996 and finally the Dean in 2001.

As a Dean, he had a very disarming personality, and was always available, approachable and accessible for everyone. He neither believed in a ‘close door’ policy nor an ‘open door’ policy, instead he propagated a ‘NO DOOR’ policy and was very transparent in his dealings. At times, he was criticized for not being assertive or aggressive but he has always been a firm believer of “soft gestures create hard impressions”.

Yet he was able to leave an indelible impression on Kellogg! During his eight years in Dean’s office, he immensely enhanced the school’s global presence and reputation. Kellogg partnered with more than 30 premier institutions worldwide and was proclaimed as the best B-school by all notable publications for consecutive years. Dean Jain also strengthened the school’s alumni network by creating a full-fledged database and visiting alumni clubs all over the world. Miami campus is another big feather in his cap.

“My only regret is that I couldn’t complete the new campus”, he paused. “In 2007, I started the capital campaign for $250mn towards the school’s expansion and new building but as luck would have it, we found ourselves in the midst of a financial crisis by 2008”, he sighed with disappointment. To add to this, was his father’s demise and his surgery!

The new inning

I was curious to know how INSEAD happened, and he elaborated, “I visited INSEAD as a speaker in 1989 while I was on my way (to get married) in India”, he smiled. “Recently I felt I wasn’t making the best use of my time here at Kellogg. So when INSEAD contacted me I thought to myself that not everyone gets a chance to do it once, whereas I can now do it all over again. I had also been approached by the Marketing departments of top B-schools off-late but I found this most interesting”, he added.

Elaborating on the support that he received from his family with regard to the acceptance of this offer, he said, “I never like to start a story that I cannot complete, so I consulted my wife even before exploring it further. My wife was extremely supportive. My children are already taking French lessons”, he told.

The man behind the name

Dean Jain has managed to maintain a strictly vegetarian dietary habit, and he doesn’t consume alcohol. Wouldn’t it be tough in France, I enquired? “I believe in my principles, and am always myself. I never pretend, or succumb to the social pressure, as a result the others find it easy to accept me the way I am, and get attuned”, he explained.

He acknowledged that those who have known him since his early days in his home town wonder how all these years of “living abroad” and a successful career have had no impact on his simple ways. With an extraordinary gleam in his eyes, a melodious softness in his voice and a remarkable humbleness in all his ways, he still is an epitome of a young, modest sobriety only with grayer hair.

Equally surprising was the discovery that he doesn’t wear a watch, or own a laptop, and has never learnt to drive a car. Yet he has never missed a single class in his 25 years at Kellogg. He doesn’t even carry any notes, or paper to refer to while teaching a class. “For me teaching is worship, and every student is a manifestation of God”, he spoke from his heart. I asked him if he maintained a diary for his meetings, and he laughed, “I try to remember everything! Day, date, appointments, occasions, everything”. He could tell me about his schedule upto nine months from then as if reading from a mental calendar and could also recall ‘who said what in which class’. I was curious to learn the trick from him, so he confided “Interest and Involvement in my work”. He added, “My father was blind, and he taught me that if you do things in life as if you are completely blind, you can never go wrong.”

From “success” to “significance”

Despite the relocation and other professional commitments, he plans to ensure that his community service initiatives, that he is very passionate about, don’t receive a setback. Currently, he heads a team to build School of Entrepreneurship and Management’ at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh to provide education to women from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Iran, Palestine, among others. “My father was posted in Chittagong in the early 50’s”, he sighed and then continued, “Mothers can influence the child greatly so what better than educating the to-be mothers!” He is also involved with other non-profit organizations in India such as Asha that supports tuberculosis patients, and Pratham that provides education to the underprivileged children.

The last word

I was sure that the readers would like to benefit from Dean Jain’s experience and prudence, so I asked him for his parting advice. He encapsulated his wisdom in a few lines, “There is no substitute to hard-work. You must work selflessly, with passion, and without thinking about the credit. Always remember that the challenge ahead of you is never greater than the force behind you… and Dipak Jain is always behind each of you.”

Finally, I asked him to help me trace the origin of the popular saying that ‘the Kellogg experience is incomplete without Dean Jain’s hug.’ He explained, “It’s a way of expressing my affection, my respect, my gratitude; (pauses and rises-up) and you sure deserve one!” He hugged, and completed my Kellogg experience.

This article was adapted from an interview that originally appeared in The Merger.

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Shukla Bose spoke to the India@Kellogg team, about the driving forces behind her professional career to date. Emerging from a successful career in the corporate world and in the non-profit sector is a central idea of leading with compassion.

Shukla Bose is the Founder-CEO of the Parikrma Humanity Foundation, an NGO that runs four schools and one junior college that provides quality English medium education to 1200 orphaned, abandoned, slum and street children. Parikrma has also partnered with Bangaluru Municaipal Corporation to enhance the quality of education of 18 government schools.

Prior to Parikrma, Shukla gained extensive corporate experience in the hospitality industry.  She joined the Oberoi group and held various positions in Marketing before joining RCI, a multinational world leader in vacations, and was responsible for starting the new concept in the country, as the first MD. She was there for 10 years and was responsible for making it a profitable and a well-known hospitality brand. In 2000 she gave up her high profile corporate position and started the India operations of a multinational NGO working with children. Her experience with slum and street children greatly encouraged her to make the development of under-served children her mission in life and led her to create Parikrma.

Shukla is the recipient of many national and international awards.  She was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1995, the Bharat Gaurav Award in 1996 and the Woman of the Year award in 2000. She has a Bachelors degree in English and Education, an MA in Comparative Literature and an MBA specializing in Marketing.

What were the driving forces behind the development of your corporate career at the Oberoi and RCI?

 I grew up in a middle-class family, not wealthy by most standards, but where I was encouraged and supported to get a good education. I attended good schools and my mother brought me up with the belief that I could do anything. This led me to work hard and perform extremely well academically, which in turn gave me exposure to interact with students from more privileged backgrounds and with different views of the world. The initial academic success I experienced paved the way initially to business school, where I was among very few women at the time, and ultimately to the business world. At this time, being a businesswoman in India was a somewhat novelty, which in part helped drive my career upwards.

At the peak of your career, as one of few female CEOs in the Indian business world and having received broad recognition as business leader, you decided to make a sharp professional turn. What caused this shift that eventually resulted in the creation on Parikrma?

While it may seem as a sudden shift, the decision to start Parikrma was triggered gradually over many years. For instance, when I was younger I volunteered for Mother Teresa over a period of 7 years, so I always had a desire to help others and I was comfortable working under difficult conditions in the Indian slums. Additionally, in 1999 I started doing something unusual – I started reading obituaries and the accounts of their contributions to society. I had already spent a good part of my life growing a career, but it made me ask myself what my contribution was going to be?

My daughter, then an undergraduate student at a US college, aware that, shifting my career to the non-profit sector would require her to support her own education, wholeheartedly supported me, as did my husband. I convinced an American non-profit to make an expansion in India and ran that division of the organization, gaining useful skills in financial planning and distribution for non-profits.

Please tell us about the early years of Parikrma

I felt strongly, that there was a strong need to look at human beings not as numbers or targets but as individuals and this is central to the idea behind Parikrma – we do not want to play a numbers game, but want to consider each child individually.

I then took the decision to start Parikrma while sitting at my kitchen table. I was naturally anxious of whether people would have faith in my aspirations. With my husband, we decided to empty our bank accounts, and take a deep personal risk by investing ourselves wholly in this project. I knew it was vital for us to make Parikrma a success, using our own financial assets, before asking for financial contributions from others.

I gathered a 5-member team in March 2003 and together we started walking through the slums of Bangalore to identify schools. We were ambitious, and insistent of creating English medium schools, based on the demanding ICSE curriculum. Throughout this difficult, early process it was important that we acted with clarity, conviction, commitment, and courage and most importantly with compassion. Our efforts paid off and only 3 months later, we had set up the schools and indentified the teachers and children.

How do the challenges and opportunities you faced in the corporate world relate to those you experienced at Parikrma?

The main challenge and opportunity, whatever your professional standpoint, is the ability to change people’s mindsets and influence outcomes. This is particularly important, when you are selling lifestyle products that are not essential consumption products – as was the case when I was head of RCI (a time share company). It still holds true today as I need to communicate why it is valuable to help educate children in Bangalore.

Parting advice for women in business schools about to embark on another chapter of their professional careers

I would encourage them to be uninhibited by doubts on what they are able to achieve and pursue a definition of success that goes beyond personal gratification. This does not mean that you need to quit business life, but simply that you display compassion towards the world around you and find your own way to make a meaningful contribution.

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Tanveer Kapadia is the CEO of Trivium Education Services, a start up in the field of supplementary education services. The company currently serves the US market. Trivium Education Services started in March 2010 with a seed capital support of USD 1M. As the CEO of a start up, Tanveer is responsible for developing business strategy as well as managing daily operations. Starting with a revenue base of ~USD 250K, the company aims to grow to a turnover of USD 5-10Mn in the next 3-5 years.

Tanveer is an alumnus of Kellogg (Class of 2008).  Prior to co-founding Trivium, Tanveer worked with the Boston Consulting Group, at their Mumbai office. He is experienced in strategy, marketing, supply chain and organization projects.  Prior to Kellogg, Tanveer worked for more than 5 years with Motorola Inc., in several capacities including sales & business development, product and project management and software engineering.

His in-depth experience in operations outsourcing, offshore and captive center development and an education based in the US provides him with the right mix of experience to bring to bear in the growth of Trivium and the EPO industry.

How is this education opportunity helping bridge the gap between India and the US or other western developed countries?

If you follow the news in the education industry in India, you realize that it is going through a slow but sure revolution. India passed its version of no child left behind last year. The emphasis by the Indian government on education has increased significantly. Many private companies are diversifying into education. However providing effective education to over 200 million children, most of whom are in the rural areas is complicated. Upgrading the systems, processes, capabilities will take not only enormous resources but also innovative models for making the transition quickly and inexpensively. This is possible only through mutual learning. As India provides a base for outsourcing, it also learns from the western methodologies. Concepts such as experiential learning, psychometric based assessments, online learning and training are effective tools that India is adopting in order to make its dream of growth a reality.

Can you tell us more about the concept of Education Process Outsourcing (EPO)?

Like all other outsourcing services before it, EPO aims at sourcing talent globally for various services albeit in the education industry. In addition to providing a cost advantage, EPO also helps address any gaps in local supply of talented high quality teachers, assessment specialists and other key staff positions in any education system. It also helps bring to life education models that otherwise would be difficult to implement in a purely local set-up, for example with a global tutor base, students can now learn at any time of the day or night.

What are the key challenges you face as a KPO set-up and how do you tackle it at Trivium?

The biggest challenge is attracting and retaining key talent. It is counter intuitive to believe that would be the reality in a country with so much science and math talent. However to find people who understand not just the subject matter but also how to teach effectively and to train them to do so in a virtual environment takes significant effort and time. In addition the tough working hours (11pm to 11am) for some of the services make retaining staff difficult. We are going through a phase the BPO industry went through a decade ago however the existence of a large unorganized education industry and availability of raw talent provides us with a larger candidate population than they had in the past

Do you think that the Indian KPO segment is saturated? Are there other opportunities waiting to happen?

It is difficult to say if and when outsourcing will become saturated. The growth rates may decrease over time but it is far away from being a mature industry. Besides business process outsourcing, we now have legal process outsourcing which is growing very fast and services in the medical fields such as transcriptions and digital records management are just beginning. In addition, the internal off-shoring and setting up of captives is a phenomenon that would continue to see a lot of momentum. In EPO, our capabilities in western education system are already proving to be a competitive advantage for the India market as more Indian education boards and institutions look at various international systems to bring to India.

Do you think that the KPO industry has taken a hit during the recent recession?

Recession works in both ways and many companies have taken a hit during recession. Lesser dollars are spent on new systems, new content and new projects in general. However many mature organizations use these periods to bring their costs down by rebalancing their outsourcing portfolio. In general if public sentiments and sensitivities towards outsourcing are not an issue, recessions are good for KPO and BPO firms. Education as an industry is also more resilient than other purely discretionary spends based services.  If your service mix and quality is right, recession can be a growth opportunity.

What advice do you have for students considering non conventional career paths in new industries?

I would like to tell a story I was told when as a student I had participated in the Tech Trek. One of the people we met was Alex Vieux who was then the CEO of Red Herring Inc. He went around the room full of Kellogg students unsure about entrepreneurship and most of us wanted to do something slightly different or unconventional. He went around the room and asked us all what would be the worst job we could end up with. A consensus emerged that it would be a job paying $100K in one of the industries and functions of our choice. He then said that any investor would be glad to buy that option. Money is not everything but most Kellogg students have an opportunity to pursue their dreams if not immediately then maybe in 2 years. If you are passionate about something, I strongly recommend you to do it. It won’t be easy but it will definitely be very satisfying.

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