Archive for the ‘Infrastructure’ Category

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.


Read Full Post »

India@Kellogg recently had a chance to speak to Rajesh Radhakrishnan, KSM ’99 about his diverse career that has spanned multiple continents and functional areas. Mr Radhakrishnan currently heads Corporate Strategy at Larsen Toubro and takes us through a candid description of his career while offering his thoughts on how the academic experience and social ties at Kellogg has supported his career growth.

Mr. Radhakrishnan has a B. Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management. He currently resides in Mumbai with his wife, Maria, and their two children.

Your career path has taken you through many different industries and locations – can you talk about how Kellogg impacted those career choices?

I can honestly say that Kellogg changed my life professionally by opening doors that I could not have accessed as easily otherwise.  Kellogg opened the door to a career in strategy consulting with a firm like Deloitte, and exposed me to options in banking, hi-tech, and consumer products; Kellogg opened my eyes & mind in a manner that tangibly changed how I presented myself and was perceived by employers, colleagues and corporations.

Several professors shaped my thinking; as did the network (nay family) of Kellogg classmates, alumni, professors, and administrative staff.  The Kellogg network has been a family to whom I have reached back for counsel and guidance; and to which I have been happily duty-bound to give back in a similar manner.

To provide an example of my lack of exposure pre-Kellogg, I recall listening to Hank Paulson, then CEO of Goldman Sachs, speak during my first month at Kellogg and asking myself – “what/ who is Goldman?”  “what do they do in investment banking”, and asking Mr Paulson a few basic (read dumb!) questions that may have embarrassed some of my more sophisticated classmates.

The Kellogg  network and family of students, professors and alumni has been a source of support and influence on me since the days I joined my first cohort group on orientation in September  of ’97, on a KOA  to Alaska (KOA ~Kellogg Outdoors Adventure, an outwards bound orientation program for the incoming class).  Academically, Professors like Dan Spulber, Dave Besanko, and Dan Diermier shaped my thinking  in economics and strategy those days.  As I reflect on my experiences in the last 5-10 years in senior management,  I think of the classes in OB, Power & Politics with Professors Medvec and Ocasio.

Access and interaction with “the Kellogg family” – Professors Bala, Ocasio, Jain, Besanko, Spulber and Deans Wilson, Brasfield-Langowitsch, and Jacobs and others, for 13 years on a continuing basis is a point of gratitude and satisfaction for me.  Talking about the network from Kellogg, I am grateful for the time I spent hanging around the atrium and at Friday TGs, working with a large cross-section of people through club-GMA and social-sports activities.  This emphasis on “relationships as they happen” is something that shapes significantly my organizational philosophy today on the need for informal relationships.

Last, but hardly the least, how Kellogg influenced me – I met my wife, Maria Welborne (MBA-MEM ’99), in the first month at Kellogg at a BMA barbecue-intro for the incoming class.  We got married a month after graduation.  We now have two daughters, and as all husbands will attest I continue to learn that I need to practice “yes dear, you are right, I will try harder!” – An important lesson for managing upward in all organizations!

You have also worn many hats as far as your functional experience goes – ranging from Supply Chain Management, to Marketing to Corporate Strategy and Business Development. Some choose to be experts in a functional field, while others switch between functions to get a more holistic business training. You seem to have done the latter – was this deliberate / coincidental? Which route do you think best supports career success?

Pursuing diverse experiences and a path towards general managerial skills was fairly consistent with my personality and gifts. Coming out of Kellogg, consulting was a natural choice for me.  Strategy & operations consulting opened doors to diverse functions and diverse organizations.  Some of the doors I went through were chosen in a deliberate manner; and honestly, in some instances, I was simply dealing with life as it unfolded – it is hard to engineer everything in life!  During the 13 years I have been out of business school, there have been two recessions and a few personal-life-factors.  I did not choose to be laid off in the global recession, 6 months after being promoted with fanfare and recognition; or plan to be on the wrong side of the management tracks after a boardroom battle and takeover.  And sometimes the choices in our work are driven by family priorities.  My wife, Maria, made a bold choice to devote seven years to be a mother to our two daughters, stepping off a highly promising career path that would have surely taken her to a VP-GM responsibility for a $500M business at Eaton Corporation.  My own next move may not be about skills development or career progression, but may be driven off the family’s desire to return to the US after living in India close to 3 years.  We make a few planned choices and, sometimes, deal with the cards we are dealt.  Confidence in one’s skills and an enthusiasm for learning and new experiences helped me find balance with the adversity and ambiguity I experienced.

Let me return to the theme in your question about whether one gains from functional diversification vs. staying focused on a function.  I would say YES!  You need both to be a general manager  – one needs depth in one of 3 disciplines:  selling the widget, making the widget, or managing the money; AND one needs to have a collective appreciation for all three areas, what drives the people who work for you, and several other disciplines that streamline the flow of value to the customer and that of money to the company.

At Kellogg, in consulting and in some exceptional organizations where I served, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with and learn from some very bright people.   I see the value of analytics, consulting frameworks, DCF valuations,  and structured power point communications to boards, but also reflect on how important the relationships in the organization are to be effective and how important it is to spend time with customers and to “feel” the pulses of the marketplace directly.  The strategy and BD roles at the side of 3-4 CEOs (Mr. Naik of L&T, Mr. Herrick of Tecumseh, Mr Jayaram of Elgi, and M/s Hogan-Schrock of Pentair) have given me an appreciation for how gray decision zones are and how lonely the role of the ultimate decision-maker can be.

Please tell us about your current role at L&T. L&T is one of the most trusted brands in India and has in recent years received several accolades for being a great place to work. What do you attribute this success to?

I head corporate strategy at L&T.  50-60% of my time goes to strategic planning and coordination across 15 independent businesses spanning nearly 65 different operations (we are going through a mid-term review of the strategic plan in view of the change of economic conditions in India in ’12, vis-à-vis ’10).

This is an interesting time to be in the strategy role because of the visibility across an organization during a time of transformation to meet the needs of global competition in its domestic markets and aspiration to expand outside India.  These are exciting times at the organization because L&T is in a front-&-center role in India being built – whether it be infrastructure, like airports, roads, bridges, ports, metro rail, power plants,  heavy engineering equipment, or defense.  Personally, there is a lot of learning on the do’s and don’ts of management from working with Mr. AM Naik and the senior leadership team around him.

Understanding the challenges in our power and infrastructure businesses has given me a new appreciation for the complexity of doing business in India, and competitive behavior by managing government(s) and the non-market environment.  Observing executives like Mr. Naik cut through the core issues in a business review is a lot like watching Michael Jordan or Roger Federer practicing their craft – the best thing for you to do is appreciate the opportunity and take notes .  L&T has diverse businesses, providing a simultaneous large and small company experience; and diversity in management styles.

In my personal opinion L&T’s success has to do with three things – an overall growth story of India; L&T being good on the fundamentals,  a technically sound company in a technical sector with 50,000 capable people; and a strong, family-style culture with stability in leadership.  In a country where quality standards were not always high, and corners are often cut for a series of expediency-factors whether it be lack of process or corruption, L&T has spent 75 years building a high-quality organization staffed with engineers from the best universities in India and an attention to doing things well and right (may be some credit to the northern European culture that the founders M/s Larsen and Toubro instilled).  Finally, I believe continuity and stability in the senior management has been significant in L&T’s growth from 7000 Cr in 1999 to 60000 Cr ($12B) in 2012.

You are a member of two strong networks – the IIT community as well as the Kellogg community. How do you think the IIT versus the Kellogg experience has contributed to your career growth?

The IIT and Kellogg networks have been invaluable to me at two levels: first, they have contributed to nearly thirty deep and strong friendships that have lasted ten to twenty five years; second, it is (practically) everywhere I wanted to be – like the tagline for Visa.

Like Kellogg – the common factor for me in the networks is great people and the good fortune to have developed a large number of relationships.  Many of us build lasting relationships in our high school and undergrad years.  My days at IIT Bombay were a formative phase in my life and I grew much in confidence, capabilities and exposure.  Some of my closest friends today date back to the days on IITB campus; and I gained several more from the other campuses during a phase in 2002-06 when I served in alumni association responsibilities with the pan-IIT organization.

I attach value to the emotional well being from belonging to a good social and professional family (or network).  It is not about being able to do business deals or gaining something monetary or transactional.  It is like Friday evenings with your extended family or at a club with old friends – some shared experiences, some shared values, a principle of giving and taking, …   (or as the title song in the sitcom Cheers goes – “sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name …” )

Read Full Post »

The Kellogg India Business Conference had the honor of having Mr. Sam Pitroda deliver the morning keynote address.  Mr. Pitroda currently advises the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure (PII) and Innovation.  He is responsible for creating the blueprint of a unified information infrastructure that will radically alter democracy by making information readily available to people throughout India and enhancing the delivery of public services and welfare programs. As head of the National Innovation Council, Mr. Pitroda hopes to create an innovation model that will foster growth and improve lifestyles at the bottom of the pyramid.

Reflecting on the current state of affairs in India, Mr. Pitroda said that India’s information technology program had been tremendously successful in putting India on the global economic map. With India’s software exports expected to reach USD 70 billion in 2011, information technology had clearly brought wealth and recognition to India. Unfortunately, the growth and accompanying prosperity are concentrated in the hands of a few – India’s urban middle class – and in a few cities.  Mr. Pitroda believes that critical to India’s long-term prosperity is inclusive growth, one that reaches the bottom of the pyramid.  This necessitates re-engineering of existing governance systems and processes in a manner that makes it easier to deliver public services and welfare programs to every Indian citizen.

The Public Information Infrastructure project is based on the belief that information will be a key lever of India’s economic and social development in the 21st century. Along with Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, Information will constitute the fourth pillar of democracy in India.  Mr. Pitroda envisions PII to radically alter India’s democracy by empowering local governments with critical and accurate information while facilitating informed participation from citizens at the grass roots level. Essentially, PII aims to use technology to dismantle barriers that have led to information arbitrage and inefficiencies in day-to-day governance. The e-governance systems currently in place have evolved in silos with each state having its own software and information architecture. This makes it hard to seamlessly exchange information across states and administer services swiftly and efficiently. PII will setup a uniform infrastructure that is standardized, vendor independent, cost effective and free of duplicity.

The backbone of PII is an ambitious USD 120 billion National Knowledge Network (NKN) that will  connect 1500 institutions across India using high-speed data networks. NKN will include educational institutions, research labs and about 600 district offices that have already been wired up with optic-fiber cables carrying data at 1 Gbps (gigabits per second). In the last mile, the network plans to connect about 250,000 local governments at the village level (called gram panchayats). In addition, NKN would enable creating and maintaining a national repository of information about people, places and programs.

The infrastructure that Mr. Pitroda has in mind is clearly unprecedented in its scale, but this might well be the solution that a country with a billion dreams needs.  Luckily for Mr. Pitroda, the present UPA government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh supports his vision and has set aside a massive multi-year budget to execute on Mr. Pitroda’s plans.

Moving on to his latest assignment as head of the National Innovation Council, Mr. Pitroda spoke about the need for an “Inclusive Innovation Model” that is suited to India’s needs and challenges. With special emphasis on facilitating innovation by micro, small and medium enterprises, Mr. Pitroda outlined five key focus areas for the National Innovation Council:

  • Think of innovation as a platform.
  • Focus only on the bottom of the pyramid espousing sustainability, affordability and access.
  • Create an eco-system for innovation that includes venture capital, angel investment and intellectual property protection.
  • Define the right drivers for innovation – for example foster durability over disposability.
  • Have discourses on innovation to question the fundamentals of how and why we do things the way we do them.

Mr. Pitroda’s plans involve a USD 1 billion “Inclusive Innovation Fund”, with seed capital provided by the government. The fund plans to raise additional capital from the private sector. Noting that changes at the bottom of the pyramid are often met with strong resistance by stakeholders that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, Mr. Pitroda believes that it will take time for changes to percolate, but it is critical that we setup a process now.

Sam Pitroda is once again at the brink of ushering a revolution in India, this time with implications on  governance and eliminating disparities by improving the quality of life at the bottom of the pyramid. In his previous stint as Technology Advisor to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Mr. Pitroda championed India’s telecommunications revolution and played a seminal role in the evolution of India’s telecommunication policy. India at Kellogg wishes Mr. Pitroda the very best.

Read Full Post »

Adani Group is a diversified conglomerate, with interests in various activities including Power,   Infrastructure, Global Trading, Logistics, Energy, Edible Oil refining and infrastructure projects and services. The business areas under the flagship businesses are Energy (Power Generation,     Power Transmission, Coal Mining & Trading, Power Trading, Oil & Gas Exploration, City Gas         Distribution), Agro (Edible Oil Process & Marketing, Bulk Grains & Pulses, Controlled Atmosphere Storage Units, Grain Silos & logistics) and Infrastructure (Ports, Special Economic Zone, Logistics, Inland Container Depot, Real Estate).   Gautam Adani is a self made entrepreneur and he was kind enough to share his insights on the direction of infrastructure investments in India and his plans for Adani to take advantage of hypergrowth in this sector.

Can you explain the concept of SEZ? Why was Mundra Port converted into an SEZ? How is it different from SEZ’s in countries like China?

SEZ’s are designated areas or conclaves with special economic regulations. They are Conducive to foreign direct investment. Companies like the concept of an SEZ since they receive tax incentives and the opportunity to pay lower tariffs.

Mundra Port has all the ingredients for being a successful SEZ

  • Vast land availability, long waterfront
  • Cluster of Infrastructure: Port for international connectivity, road, rail and pipeline connectivity to domestic markets.
  • Power Potential: 8620 MW power to be generated by Adani Power & Tata Power.
  • Resource rich area.

As far as comparison to China is concerned;  Mundra’s SEZ model seems to be very similar to China, the basic difference being that in China, it is government induced development while in India it is private sector induced development with approvals to be sought from the government. India has sector specific SEZ. SEZ’s can be developed in smaller land volumes. In short, sustainable development of SEZ in India is feasible.

Can you shed some light about Adani Power and why the Adani group entered this space? What is your view on the power sector in India?

Adani power is a multi location power generation & transmission company that is currently engaged in developing coal based power plant aggregating over 13000 MW with a vision to develop 20000 MW power generation capacity by 2020. The firm’s power plants are located at Mundra and Dahej (Gujarat), Tiroda (Maharashtra), Kawai (Rajasthan), Chhindwara (Madhya Pradesh). I would say that we ventured into power generation and power transmission to form a complete value chain. Adani group sees great value proposition in entering this space.

“In China, it is government induced development while in India it is private sector induced development”

Let’s take a look at some macro variables relating to the power sector in India. The nation has suffered from an Avg. Peak Deficit of over 13% for the last 5 Years making it one of the lowest per capita consumers of power. Only 50% target has been met in the last three 5-year plans. This is where the Adani group feels it can make a difference with its logistics and connectivity: Ports, rail and road linkages, SEZ status at Mundra and the fact that it is one of the largest power traders and coal importers in India.

The power sector in India is poised for growth with a number of projects in the pipeline. The Existing scenario in the power sector is such that there is an installed capacity of 148 GW with thermal power grabbing the lion’s share at 64%. (Hydro – 24%, Nuclear  3% and Residual  9% make up the rest). Per capita consumption of power stands at 618 KWH while the nation added 30 GW in the last 7 years. Going forward, India needs to add 78 GW in this 5 year plan and a further 80 GW in the following 5 years to satisfy the needs of the booming economy and population. The planning commission of India has set aside an investment of $166.63 billion for this purpose by 2012.

What are some of the fastest growing industries/sectors in India? What are some of the main challenges in starting a business in India?

The fastest growing sectors in India according to me are Power, Logistics, Education and Health

There are a myriad of challenges to opening a new business in India but some of the more common ones include land acquisition, environmental clearance, intellectual property rights, and achieving economies of scale.

Where does the Adani group see itself in the future? Which sectors do you plan to target?

The Adani group will focus on the Power, Logistics, Mining, and Agro businesses. The current economic climate in India (growth rates of ~ 7.5%) along with a promising future outlook for infrastructure led development (Investments in infrastructure doubled from 4% to 8% of GDP over the past 5 yrs per Planning Commission) makes it conducive to enter these sectors. There has been a huge deficit and demand supply gap in key infrastructure sectors. Adani Group’s proven track record to envisage and implement are the key drivers in us entering these sectors. These new ventures complement our existing group businesses. We feel that by forming vertical and horizontal integration in respective value chains we can not only grow but also diversify our businesses.

Where do you feel the overall Indian economy is headed in the coming years?

The India growth story will continue. India’s GDP is likely to grow at an average 12% in nominal terms and the nation should be a $2-trillion economy by 2014-15 with savings of about $700 billion, leading to a marginal increase of 2% in the Savings to GDP rate, from existing 33%. Growth will be led by the huge consumption demand in sectors like Infrastructure (Power, Ports, Cement, Steel), FMCG, Auto (small car hub), IT/ITeS and Pharma.

Read Full Post »