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– By Isha Antani

MOSAIC week – a celebration of the amazing global diversity both within Kellogg and spanning today’s business culture – culminated in the form of a spectacular song and dance journey to South Asia. Through Bollywood Bash, an annual event put on by the India Business Club, Kellogg was immersed within spices that make South Asians tick. Image

Bollywood Bash 2013 was a special one. Its theme was that of celebration – fêting 100 year of Hindi Cinema. Resplendent with iconic movie posters to dances heralding the best of Bollywood Stars (Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Rekha), this year’s Bollywood Bash added an extra oomph and pomp to an already widely successful Kellogg Event.

Spotlight on some Choreographers:

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The planning for Bollywood Bash 2013 began as early as Fall Quarter. As soon as Spring Quarter started – 10-hour rehearsal weeks, prop and costume procurement, and event planning began in full swing. The snowball of enthusiasm kept amassing as the date approached and in the days leading up to the event – the atmosphere both at Jacobs and at McManus (the unofficial practicing ground) was infused with vibrant colors, swirling skirts, rhythmic sticks, and reverberating laughter as cross-culture friendships and bonds tightened. Kellogg had come to life – and the spirit of global bonding fueled it further. Image

Bollywood Bash opened with a rendition of Hindi classic song by Professor Sergio Rebelo and a welcoming speech by Dean Donald Jacobs. Through Bollywood tunes sung by Chinese classmates, dances spanning different regions of South East Asia and videos covering Kellogg-wide cultures, including dance-off among all the diversity-oriented clubs, the school came to life. The claps reverberated as the dancers and hosts spread cheer and confetti. One of the best highlights was a video by beloved Kellogg professors. Indeed, you had Professor Tim Calkins dancing to Hindi beats, Professor Mohanbir Sawhney dancing the bhangra, and Professor Julie Hennessey swaying to Bollywood tunes. The pre-show dinner with delicious Indian curries and the DJ’s collection of loud, thumping danceable music morphed the cultural show into a fervent party. The amalgamation of Kellogg cultures that came under one roof to celebrate diversity, music, and dance added as a perfect backdrop to the night.

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Dean Donald Jacobs’ Welcoming Statement

It was a heady feeling – spinning around in the heart of the Atrium – and realizing the fusion of cultures that were being celebrated in that one room – that night, that whole week.

Bollywood Bash by Numbers:

  • Number of dancers/ participants: 167 dancers + 5 band members (unique) + 10 MCs + video performers. Overall, more than 190.
  • Number of attendees: 650
  • Number of videos: 14
  • Number of dances: 13

Bollywood Bash 2013 was a beautifully choreographed event – and embedded within it the true spirit of Kellogg.  Kudos to the IBC Team of 2013 for an excellent show.

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Authored by Isha Antani ’13 and Joel Joseph ’13

India at Kellogg had a very special opportunity to spend a few enlightening moments talking with B. Muthuraman – vice chairman of Tata Steel and chairman of Tata International about Tata Steel, Leadership, and Innovation.

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B Muthuraman is a Tata Veteran. He began his career at Tata Steel in 1966 and has held various positions at the company including vice president of marketing and sales and vice president of cold rolling mill projects. He was appointed executive director in 2000, managing director in 2001 and non-executive vice chairman in 2009. 

 

Tata Steel is growing – and it’s growing fast. The strategy now focuses on consolidation and takes a step back from intense M&A activity. Looking at some qualitative highlights from its past year, the capacity in its Jamshedpur office reached 10 million tons. Jameshedpur is now one of the biggest single-site steel plant globally – in the same ranks as the plants located in Moscow and China. Besides the Jameshedpur plant, Tata Steel has also laid the groundwork for an entirely new plant in Orissa – which is expected to be 6 million tons in capacity. Tata Steel also currently has the largest market share in the domestic automotive sector.

 

Analyzing things from a slightly global perspective, Mr. Muthuraman does admit that the European operations for Tata Steel were affected by the regional downturn. However, there is optimism in the air as the focus in Europe for the past year has shifted to significantly improve the internal operations within the plants – rendering these plants in a good position to bounce back up again.

 

We then asked Mr. Muthuraman to comment on the changing economic landscape within India itself and how he foresees domestic changes affecting Tata Steel. The national growth has been slowing down while inflation has been on the rise. The GDP over the immediate past few years has been wavering around 5-6% where previously it was averaging about 8-9%. Mr. Muthuraman highlights two significant trends – 1) Traditionally, India has imported steel at a rate of the 5-7 million tons/year. That import demand rate is falling; 2) There is an increasing push towards cheaper prices. Tata Steel is very well positioned to counter both these trends. In terms of decline in import demand, Tata’s domestic steel availability makes it the optimal solution. Adding to that is that Tata Steel is priced cheaper than the majority of its competitors.

 

So the question becomes, how has Tata Steel (and to a greater extent, Tata Sons), managed to stay so competitively relevant and innovative in such a changing market? It is because the company fosters a culture where innovation lies at its core – encouraging experimentation and curiosity. It holds an annual Tata Innovista award ceremony to celebrate innovative ideas within the company.

 

In this culture of innovation also lies the topic of recruiting top talent that continues to drive towards a successful company. In a widening sea of hundreds of freshly minted college graduates, it is becoming harder to extra quality from the degree-boom that emerging India has experienced. “Institutes need to set aside time for people to reflect – knowledge-based inputs are not enough,” according to Mr. Muthuraman. Too often, it seems, the recruits are brimming with academic knowledge but they lack a distinct hunger – to perform, to motivate others, to jump hoops and drive towards true leadership. This change is needed in order for the younger generation to take control and create a future that is driven by both personal and societal success.

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For a distinguished leader like Mr. Muthuraman, the historic changes that he has seen India undergo – especially in the last 20 years – make him confident that not only is Tata Steel well-poised to continue its successful journey but also that India contains within in the spirit to truly embrace development and continue on its growth trajectory.

 

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IBM Professor of Operations Management and Information Systems

IBM Professor of Operations Management and Information Systems, Kellogg School of Management.

Following our previous post on FDI in India, we are happy to post an interview with Prof. Chopra who is the IBM Professor of Operations and Information Systems at the Kellogg School of Management. This interview will be published in two parts, touching various aspects like impact on the local ‘kirana’ stores and the evolution of the indian shopper’s mindset.

India @ Kellogg: Prof. Chopra, thank you for agreeing to do this interview for the India Business Club’s magazine India@Kellogg.

Prof. Chopra: My Pleasure.

 

India @ Kellogg: We would like to begin with an overview of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Could you tell us about the history of FDI in India and its significance?

Prof. Chopra: FDI in retailing has been allowed for a fair amount of time now. I do not remember the exact year when it was first allowed, but it has been allowed for at least 10+ years for single brand retailers. For example, if Zara wanted to open a retail store in India, they could have opened a retail store, but what was not allowed was Multi Brand Retailing. I think the logic used was that a lot of Indian retailers, depending on how you count the number could range from 10 to 50 million businesses, were very small. So I think the feeling was that we should give an opportunity for Indian brand retailers to establish themselves (before opening up the country to foreign multi-brand retailers).

Initially, multi-brand retail was allowed as cash and carry. The idea there was that the individual retailers might benefit from them. I think that was allowed almost at the same time as FDI was allowed in single-brand retailing. In 2011, the government of India approved Multi Brand Retailing and backed-off, and last year again it was introduced and approved by the Upper House as well. In the past 10 years, many large Indian companies have invested in Multi Brand Retailing with varying degrees of success. This includes Futures Group, a big player, Reliance, Mahindra, and several others.

 

India @ Kellogg: Why now? What makes India positioned to have Multi Brand Retailing in India at this time? Are Reliance and Big Bazar ready to compete against Wal-Mart for example?

Prof. Chopra: I think there is a more fundamental question (at play here): To what extent will Multi Brand Retailing succeed in India and what form will it take? After all, we are actually seeing the decline of big-box and Multi Brand Retailing in the US. Borders is bankrupt and liquidated, Best Buy, arguably in the next 3 years could be bankrupt and liquidated. These were the posted children of Multi Brand Retailing of the traditional sort. Let’s see in the US who is surviving. Costco is doing very well, Wal-Mart is doing very well, Ikea is doing very well, as is Amazon. In India, industry’s investment in Multi Brand Retailing has met with limited success. Some of them have deep enough pockets and they have hung in there but I will give you an example. My family home is in Jaipur where I saw that five grocery stores (supermarket) run by various Indian houses were opened. Over a few years, only one, Reliance, survived. Meanwhile, the small grocery shop near my father’s house has tripled in size. It used to be very disorganized, but now it is very organized and it has got fresh coat of paint! So I’d say the question to ask is what is the form of retailing that is likely to succeed and in particular, what is the role that FDI can play? I think there are certain companies and certain areas where foreign retailers can do very well. Just to give you an example, I think Ikea is one of them. Why? I think it brings products that people are not looking to buy on a weekly basis. It also is going to bring a price point that is going to be significantly lower than the prices currently available in India for that type of product. That sector in India is not very organized yet so I see a store like Ikea being very successful in doing that. On the other hand, when I look at Futures Group, I think some of the challenges they have faced is very high cost of real estate and great difficulty of transportation (for customers). This doesn’t mean people don’t go but the challenges with regard to transportation make it somewhat less likely that people would be travelling long distances for products that they need frequently.

I know the question you asked is why FDI now? I’d say that the experiments have been tried and at this point I am not that concerned about the Indian houses. If they don’t have their acts together they shouldn’t survive. But it seems that the existing small retailers can not only survive but also thrive. I gave you the example of the retailer across the street from my father’s house, and he has started to develop.

 

India @ Kellogg: You mentioned the example of Ikea, I can see them benefiting and being profitable in India but does that lead to a decrease in the creativity that is brought by the local furniture-wallah?

Prof. Chopra: I think not. If you start looking at what Ikea brings to the table, it does not produce furniture that any of us is hoping to pass off to our grand children. Ikea really produces furniture, which is inexpensive and for people in transition. Whereas, there are many talented local furniture makers in different parts of India who produce a very different type of furniture. They produce furniture with a lot of artistry and it is meant to last a long time. What is missing in India, if you ask me, is the options. Who you call the furniture-wallah, cannot compete with Ikea on this side. Similarly, Ikea will find it hard to compete on the other side. Part of my thesis is that when you think of retailing, you have got to think of mass products and specialized products. And they need to be handled differently. And this is one example where I think a foreign retailer like Ikea can handle the mass products better than anything existing in India. But I can also think of other examples where the local kirana (grocery) store can do much better than the organized grocery store to handle the most frequently used items. I’d say the major reason why it works is because that’s not a purchase we do every week. I may be willing to drive outside Delhi, if that’s where Ikea locates, to get the lower price point. On the other hand, to buy my daily groceries such as rice or vegetables, I am not going to drive 4 miles.

You have to look at some parallels here: India bypassed certain aspects of telecom infrastructure. I think in retailing, we should be thinking the same way. We should look at what worked and what did not work. So today, how do we watch movies? Well, three ways – of course there is that Netflix type model which might have me getting the DVD at home or streaming, but there is also Redbox, where I just go to a local vending machine. What is the characteristic of the local vending machine, it is very low cost and it is very close to me. So I want to watch something inexpensively and quickly. What are the types of movies they keep? They really rent you hits, it is the fast moving stuff, the titles that everybody wants. Now, local Indian kirana store is a version of a vending machine. It just happens to have a human instead of a machine, but it does the same thing. If you look at the scale, they are the same. So if you look at here what eliminated blockbuster, it was not just Netflix, it was Netflix and Redbox. So I would ask the question when we think in India in terms of retailing, can a combination of our small local retailers for a lot of very common producers plus something like a Flipkart, a version of Amazon or several versions of Amazon owing to its sheer. But with that combination in place, would you need the best buys of the world? Would you really have to worry about some for foreign player coming in and setting up a big box store, which arguably in my opinion, will always see limited success in India? Of course, for certain product categories (e.g. Ikea) the situation will be different.

 

India @ Kellogg: We were puzzled who Wal-Mart might target – if they stay too close to city, they would have high real estate costs which may offset their profits. But if they go too far out of the city, people may not be willing to travel very frequently.

Prof. Chopra: You know where I see this functioning is parts of urban India. India, if you think about it, is not a tall country, that is from a real estate perspective. So things tend to be more spread out but now there are certain parts of India where things are going vertical. If you ask yourself which are the areas where Big Bazars succeed, I could say that in setting like that I can see a Wal-Mart, or some version of that, being successful because you have a large enough density. Landscape has changed – so you actually don’t have to travel a long distance from where you are – part of Gurgaon looks like that. My guess is that parts of Mumbai may look like that. But this is only a fraction of India but in large parts of India I just don’t see it being very effective. This does not mean that a store like that has not role. Going back to my parent’s home in Jaipur, one of the big boxes has survived, but there was a time when there were four of them. It is a combination one of these plus a whole bunch of smaller retailers that survived.

 

India @ Kellogg: This is very interesting, if what eventually may pan out is that these big box retailers only have a limited presence, what about the Indian government’s hopes of increasing growth and development through FDI? We are reading in the news growth has slowed down, inflation is high and FDI is expected to help?

Prof. Chopra: So in my opinion, which is not the most informed opinion or a deeply researched conclusion, FDI and Wal-Marts of the world can help, you have to think about the fundamental issues and the two parties that would matter in India – one is the small farmer and other is the small retailer. The fundamental problem is that the intermediaries control the supply chain. So for example, if you look at a farmer, he comes and sells to mandis (large open markets) and there are many parts of India where it is a requirement that if you are a retailer, you can only go and buy from the mandi. There’s a logic behind that and it made sense post-independence. There are lots of small farmers and how are they going to figure out what is the best price? So the idea was that if we create a market where buyers and sellers are coming together, price discovery should occur. This worked for some time but it has changed a lot because these mandis are controlled by the intermediaries and cartels have formed of a few intermediaries. So there is no price discovery happening because the intermediaries know everybody has to come to the mandi, so we will buy from the farmer and sell it to the retailer. If there are a few of them then essentially the role play disappears. So big chunks of the profits are kept by the intermediaries. The real issue is to break that down. Large players like Wal-Mart may help in that process. Initiatives like e-chaupal have the potential to offer a better price discovery to the farmer. Plus there is a second part, which I think is not as well developed in India. It is how can we then deliver this efficiently to the small retailer in India. I think arguably it should help the small farmer to the extent that there is direct purchasing.

 

India @ Kellogg: There is the other issue of sovereignty. India is built on self-reliance. How might that change with FDI?

Prof. Chopra: There are pros and cons to being self-sufficient. I’d say Japan is a good example to look at. As a child, I remember growing up reading about how the Japanese stopped consuming some products just because all of it had to be imported. I think there are some clear benefits to self-sufficiency, but there are huge benefits to competition as well. For example, I would be completely honest, may be I am in the minority, but I personally see absolutely no problem if China is willing to produce something much cheaper and ship it to India. However, coming to FDI, with the way the transportation costs are rising, nine out of ten times foreign retailers will be better off sourcing from India. It’s a no-brainer, because you have cheaper labor and there is less to transport. So I am not particularly worried that if Wal-Mart goes to India, there are going to get detergent from the US and sell it in India. There are terrific detergent manufactures in India. So I don’t particularly see it as hurting from a products perspective. I see it as benefiting because these retailers will bring deep knowledge about how to manage supply chain, how to move products efficiently, they bring deep knowledge in that regard, so I see that as benefiting India.

 

India @ Kellogg: We agree, but where we were getting hung up is the whole thing about killing domestic manufacturing.

Prof. Chopra: Let’s look at manufacturing. Let’s take Ikea for an example. Let’s look at where Ikea sources its products from and if it were to come to India, is it possible that it could manufacture those type of products in India. In India, price is always going to matter. I cannot see how simply by importing the product from somewhere else and selling it in India, Ikea is going to be better off then actually sourcing from India as long as that ability exists in India. It could be an in fact an opportunity for Indian manufacturers in a variety of sectors to develop the products that these retailers will need. Can India product low cost good quality products? I am confident that such capability exists. I think buyers (retailers) of that magnitude didn’t exist earlier to make it an attractive business to get into. So I understand your concerns. Personally, however, I am less concerned about manufacturers, I am more concerned about the small retailer. I actually view it an opportunity for the manufacturer. Look at India’s exports; they have grown and India’s manufacturing sector has done quite well. The last five-eight years have actually been good for Indian manufacturing. I am also not concerned about the farmers. I don’t think they will be hurt, how much they benefit remains to be seen. It is the small retailer I am little bit concerned about. If I were the government, what infrastructure need to be put into place, so that they are able to reach their full potential in terms of what they are able to provide? That’s what I would worry about a little bit more.

 

To be continued…

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India@Kellogg had a conversation with Rashmi Bansal, shortly before the 2012 India Business Conference, to hear her candid thoughts on how students can shape their career after completing their MBA.

Rashmi Bansal is a best-selling author – her 3 books on the subject of entrepreneurship in India – ’Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’, ‘Connect the Dots’ and ‘I Have a Dream’ have sold over half a million copies. ‘I Have a Dream’ was the #1 non-fiction title in India in the year 2011 as per A C Nielsen Bookscan. Her fourth book on the spirit of enterprise in Dharavi slums releases in May 2012. Ms. Bansal is also co-founder and editor of JAM, a youth magazine she set up at the age of 24 and successfully ran for 15 years. In addition, Ms. Bansal is a motivational speaker and mentor to students and young entrepreneurs. She writes the popular blog Youthcurry on issues around entrepreneurship and education. She is an economics graduate of Sophia College, Mumbai and an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad.

For several business school students, the post-MBA career choice is one of the hardest decisions to make. From your personal experience and interactions with others, how would you encourage us to think about it?

Take the decision not just with your head, but your heart. What ‘makes sense in the short term, from a return on investment point of view, may not be the path that unlocks your true potential.

Does the world need another hedge fund manager? Probably not.
Is a BMW really going to make you happy? Only for a while.
Search deep within for where your true passion lies and create a career in that direction – no matter how offbeat it may seem. Your decision will pay off, in the long run.

Being an entrepreneur and building a business seems like an attractive option to several business school students. But is it for everyone? What are some of the realistic questions one should ask before deciding to pursue this path?

Potential entrepreneurs need to ask themselves:
• How badly do I want this, and how long am I willing to hold out?
• Can I see it, feel it and believe it – even if nobody else in the world does?
• Am I okay with the idea of failure?

A business plan is just a piece of paper – it is the conviction and can-do spirit of the entrepreneur that makes it a reality.

In your journey towards becoming a bestselling author, what have been some of your most challenging experiences and how did you navigate through them?

To listen to critics and yet not succumb to them, because you just can’t please all the people all the time. To keep pushing my own boundaries and to learn something new from every person I meet. To stay grounded and humble, no matter how many books sell!

In your opinion, how can we use the business school experience effectively to prepare us for entrepreneurial ventures later in life?

I think if you know you want to be an entrepreneur as you come into the program, you can certainly use the two years to prepare and fine-tune your business plan and even launch your company while still a student. That would give you a head start and also resources, which are otherwise hard to access e.g. mentorship of professors.

If you are not that clear about starting right away, you can still use your business school experience effectively by taking a wider range of courses and developing personal rapport with as many professors and batch mates as possible. Relationships are the assets you carry with you when you
graduate and are especially important for a young entrepreneur, when looking for a break.

In your interactions with several of India’s most successful entrepreneurs, what do you think are their most common attributes responsible for their success?

A deep sense of purpose, passion and perseverance is what makes entrepreneurs successful. There are no short cuts to success.

We are tremendously excited to hear about your next book “Poor Little Rich Slum”! Could you briefly tell us what the book is about and what your motivation for writing it was?

My 4th book ‘Poor Little Rich Slum’ co-authored with Deepak Gandhi is on the spirit of enterprise in Dharavi. The people of Dharavi are a shining example of how human beings can make the best of their circumstances, no matter how difficult they are. Despite lack of infrastructure and even basic amenities, Dharavi has created a vibrant economy powered by hundreds of micro entrepreneurs.

The book took us nine months to research and write and was a very enriching and moving experience. At the end of it I can only say that there is much that we – who have everything and more – can learn from these ‘little Indians’.

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Mr. Mihir Mankad is an established television anchor for reputed Indian TV channels such as NDTV, Zee and the national broadcaster Doordarshan (DD). The unique aspect of his television career is that he has been a top anchor in both the business and sports genres, hosting some of the most viewed events in the country such as the Olympics and Cricket World Cup. Prior to television, Mihir’s career spanned both the privMihir Mankadate and nonprofit sectors, as a well-renowned strategy consultant (McKinsey India, Bain US) and as a leader in the development and nonprofit space (Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative for children in India, and The Janet Pomeroy Center for the Disabled in San Francisco). His diverse career is mirrored by the diversity of his interests, which include sport, travel, media, and Latin and Ballroom dance.

Please tell us about your early career and experience in the US.

Following in my family’s footsteps (where 3 generations had represented the country in sports), and inspired by my own mother (the first Indian woman at Wimbledon), I was driven by a desire to make a mark in the tennis world during the first phase of my life. An early dream was fulfilled when I received a scholarship to attend Stanford University, and made the legendary tennis team. Winning the NCAA team Championships my freshman year was a highlight, but being part of the top ranked team, with the nation’s top juniors hand selected by the coach, meant that my playing time and starting position would be limited as a walk-on.  Soon I came to the tough realization that professional tennis may not work out, also due to finances (it actually takes a fortune to transition into a top 200 ranking, where life becomes sustainable). So I decided to focus on a more traditional career upon graduation from college.

Getting into management consulting and living in California (both in LA and San Francisco) was a good transition into the “real” world. My Kellogg experience was significant, rejuvenating, and enabling, and was marked by intellectual growth across disciplines (especially nonprofit management), and extracurricular highlights of leading the Consulting and Ballroom Dance Clubs (called “Movers and Shakers” then). Kellogg also enabled my top job choices, with offers from the San Francisco offices of BCG and Bain.  Post a couple of years at Bain, I did some soul-searching and decided to look for an opportunity in either a social cause or media and entertainment (including sports) – two distinct but consistent passions of mine.

After completing a 10-week strategic planning assignment for the Recreation Center for the Handicapped (RCH) in San Francisco, the board liked the work and created a new position for me. I signed on to a full time leadership position to implement my plan, at a fraction of my previous salary. After 2 exhilarating and challenging years, marked my marketing learned at Kellogg to raise funds, and strategic planning learned in consulting to create real change across functional areas at a 50 year-old nonprofit that had never seen PowerPoint before, my visa status in the US ran out. Given I had to live out of the country for a year to gain another 6 years of work status, I decided to move back to India, where the economy was seeing unprecedented growth and change.

My one-year plan turned into 8, with some tremendous experiences spanning both media and development.

It is very unconventional to see a B-School student in media and entertainment. How did you get into media? Is that something that you were thinking about doing?

It was always at the back of my mind. In that sense, I was quite an untraditional MBA. Moreover, I felt that moving to India would allow me flexibility to explore, as I would not be tied to a visa status from a conventional employer. After working or consulting on the business side of media at McKinsey, Saregama (India’s largest music label) and Rajshri Media (a video content aggregation startup), I received my first break as a sports anchor with Zee Sports, anchoring the daily show Sports Planet (similar to ESPN’s SportsCenter).

It actually took 3 years of waiting and knocking on doors to finally get that first break, after which things took off nicely. My family’s and my own sports background helped, but it was mainly a consistent persistence, including “elevator pitching” that eventually led to this unconventional career change.

Can you share your TV anchoring experience with I@K?

After my initial experience with sports news, I was selected to live anchor for the official broadcast of three of the most viewed television events in Indian history – the 2008 Olympics, the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the 2011 Cricket World Cup, with daily viewership crossing 40 million. Out of these, the 2008 Olympics experience was particularly significant to me.  Just 5 days before the start of this event, I lost my father. But I knew that he would have been proud to see me host this event. Keeping the sadness inside while facing the nation each day for 6-8 hours with a smile, I immersed myself in the 30 sports, 300 events, and 11,000 athletes, and the news, records, facts and trivia around them. This hard work also paid off, as I subsequently got invited to host virtually every major multisport live broadcast since, and also got a job from the CNN of India – NDTV.

Can you share your experience as a Business anchor?

At NDTV, I was actually asked to serve as a prime time business news anchor, and ended up hosting over 300 bulletins and shows. Interestingly, the 10 pm Nasdaq Live show involved interviewing a live guest in New York on US markets each night, typically a renowned CEO, market expert, or economist, and I found myself having to keep updated on both the Indian and US economies. My Kellogg MBA and especially Finance courses came to good use, and I extensively researched and analyzed financial markets, corporate strategies and macroeconomic policies to prepare for my shows. Outside of news, I particularly enjoyed features, including anchoring the well received Boss’ Day Out show, for which I spent a day with some of the nation’s leading CEO’s.

What is your accomplishment on the nonprofit side?

My television career was coming along well when one day I suddenly received a call from a former Bain colleague who had just moved to India and saw me on TV.  He eventually convinced me to change paths again for an incredibly impactful and time-bound opportunity to lead The Clinton Foundation’s Health Access Initiative (CHAI) in India, with a focus on children with HIV/AIDS, during the critical last two years of the program’s funding in India. With the world’s third largest infected population in our country, I was fortunate to become a part of a brilliant global machinery that was literally saving or prolonging the lives of thousands of children, many orphans, via life-saving ART medication and innovative nutrition and psychosocial support programs. The experience was also an outstanding leadership opportunity, as it involved managing a staff of 60, fostering relationships with 200 partner NGOs, and gaining credibility with key government officials. I travelled throughout the country, meeting partners and beneficiaries (children, caretakers, “high-risk groups”) to keenly understand issues and new solutions first-hand. Outside of our specific mandate, I was also able to contribute significantly to the new IEC (Information, Education & Communication) policy of our latest National AIDS Control Plan (NACP-IV), with specific media interventions for increasing awareness and lowering stigma. Given the global financial crises, our overseas funders eventually ended their support for India after the agreed 5-year term, and after successfully transitioning most of our interventions to the government, I returned back to TV anchoring.

What are the current projects you are working on?

I have just received a Presidential scholarship to attend the mid-career Mason Fellows program in Public Administration at Harvard University’s (Kennedy School), and will be leaving shortly for this enabling, one-year program, which starts in the summer.

Over the past few months, in addition to anchoring, I have also served as a guest lecturer at four major universities in Delhi, on an innovative and interactive “practical life skills” module that touches on business essentials, public speaking and elevator pitching, and have found this experience very rewarding.

How did Kellogg help you in the thinking process throughout your career? Is there anything you would have done differently if you got a chance to go back to your Kellogg experience?

Kellogg to me was more about the people experiences than the theory (much of which can be learned on the job).  It instilled a confidence in dealing with diversity. I also felt that it was a “fair” institution, with rewards matching effort. A subtle thing that I may change if I could go back is to find the same hunger and humility in my second year as I had in my first. When things worked out well in my first year, I felt I may have developed a bit of overconfidence, and taken my foot off the pedal at times. I would also recommend more OB/MORS classes, given the people oriented nature of most jobs today and the occasional politics that all of us inevitably run into.

What is your advice for readers reading this article?

That it’s okay to be more of a journeyman than a destination person. New and unconventional opportunities are constantly being created, and are there for the taking. Let your MBA give you options, not limit you. Of course there is value in focus, and our typical Type A personalities will lean this way. But my life has also worked out just fine.

Also, a significant pay cut is often a deal breaker for many MBA’s interested in exploring. But take it, at least once or twice, and see where it leads you.  Yes, things may have been easier for me being single and globally mobile, and managing a family may be more complex and challenging. But find a way. As a friend nicely put it, “If you’re not having fun, it’s probably not worth doing anyways…”

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Prof. Mohanbir Sawhney is a McCormick Tribune Professor of Technology at the Kellogg School of Management. Prof. Sawhney is a globally recognized scholar, teacher, consultant and speaker in strategic marketing, innovation and new media. He has been widely recognized as a thought leader. Business Week named him as one of the 25 most influential people in e-Business. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum.
Prof. Sawhney holds a Ph.D. in marketing from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; a Master’s degree in management from IIM Calcutta; and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from IIT Delhi.

Professor Sawhney, you wrote about the concept of different waves of innovation in your recent article in The Hindu. Could you explain the concept to the audience a little bit?

There are really waves of innovation transfer and globalization. In essence, these waves revolve around the cross geographical propagation of innovation and the challenges and opportunities that arise as a consequence.
If you think about how innovation has globalized over time, the first wave of innovation is the idea that the developed markets are the mecca of innovation. Each country evolved its unique capabilities – the Swiss did precision machinery, the Japanese did automotives and consumer electronics, the Koreans did steel and the US did high technology and software.
The model here was that you built the products in your home country and then sold them around the world. This has changed now, while there is globalization in sales, there is also globalization of production, manufacturing and operating processes.
As you get to the emerging markets you would have to de-feature, de-content and strip down your products because affordability is a constraint. The challenge here is that these products are not really designed with a cost structure or appropriate technology in mind for emerging markets. An interesting example of under-design is when the Japanese came to the Indian markets with LCVs (Light Commercial Vehicles) in the 1980s, they simply broke down on the Indian roads because in India, the trucks are overloaded to twice their capacity and run under tough operating conditions.
So, localization and adaptation are some of the challenges of wave one of innovation. I think the epitome of wave one innovation is “Glocal Operations” where companies have global production along with localization – Nissan and Honda are some examples.
While wave one was from developed markets to emerging markets, wave two is from emerging markets to emerging markets. This is when the emerging markets themselves became important and big enough in their own right for you to innovate from scratch for those markets. A great example is Hindustan Lever which over the past 50 years, has built and designed products that don’t exist anywhere else like Rin and Fair&Lovely. Nokia is another example – they have done a lot of local innovation like putting flashlights and radios on phones, multilingual support and building the ultra low cost phone.

What key themes have you noticed in emerging market innovation and what is it that is now leading to the third wave?

Wave three is the realization that is now dawning on these companies that the very constraints that were imposed upon innovation in the emerging market context are now producing some interesting opportunities.
For example – Godrej in India has created a refrigerator called Chotu Cool – a compact refrigerator that costs about $ 10 and does not use electricity. Now, if you look at the US market, how would you market that same product? As a camping refrigerator!
The common themes that I find in the emerging market innovation are ultra affordability, durability owning to tough operating conditions and ecology and alternate power sources.
But, just like you needed an adaptation and translation in the forward flow, you also need translation and adaptation in the reverse flow. So you need adaption so that the refrigerator that works in the Indian village also works at a camp in the US. Another example is about howthe portable ultrasound machine developed by GE for India and China for rural healthcare could also be used for disaster management in developed countries. And if you were to sell the Tata Nano in Western Europe, you’d have to beef it up with additional safety requirements, higher performance and some luxury features.
The third wave of innovation is this enormous opportunity where Indian, Chinese and Brazilian companies can take the benefits of what they have created for the local markets and globalize it.

Do you think this is a limited opportunity for India and other developing countries? You mentioned that for various countries, the innovation position had been moving across the globe, you think the same could happen to India and China?

Clearly, the world is now one market place determined by the competitiveness of the innovation capacity and the cost factor – which is a function of multiple things including the availability of skilled scientific man power, the environment, infrastructure, government funding as well as the mindset and culture of entrepreneurship.
The real question is to know which countries would be able to create the best ingredients for innovation including people, institutions for financing, government support, tax benefits, regulatory changes etc.
It was therefore disappointing for me to note that in a recent study by the World Economic Forum, where they looked at the ease of starting a business and rated various countries, India was at a 138 amongst 150 countries. It is hence the job of the government to figure out as to how to create high quality man power and to ensure availability of quality infrastructure where currently India lags.

Do you see a sense of urgency for this in India?

There is a sense of urgency because there is a constant erosion of the competitive position of any country as costs keep rising. For example, the salaries in the ITES and BPO industries are going up, the attrition is high and at the same time the clients put pressure on the pricing. So, the only way to break through the commoditization or eroding the competitive advantage trap is to go for innovation.
What we observe is that even though Indian companies are doing well, they tend to not go out of their comfort zone. Infosys, Wipro, TCS etc have multiple billion dollars as revenue and some of the brightest minds but they are still largely into the project mind set or people business and have really not gone into the product business. So, I am waiting for the next Google or Microsoft or Yahoo to emerge out of India.
Our emphasis on building products and brands is still not where it needs to be.

On that note, you spoke about the various waves of innovation that India is going through, which industries do you think are best poised to make use of that?

One industry is what we call high value added manufacturing. For instance, in automotive components where India has built a phenomenal hub around Chennai where more than a dozen of world’s major OEMs have their operations. In fact many companies are actually now standardizing their global small car platforms and making India the global hub given the small car expertise and scale that India has.
Similarly in the Pharmacy industry, globally the cost of doing clinical trials and R&D has really escalated and curtailed innovation. However, India has some stellar set ups like Dr. Reddy’s Labs, Ranbaxy and Cadilla. On the flip side, what India needs to stay away from is industries which are purely scale sensitive like LCD screens, batteries or toys and low value added or commodity industries. Because where there is purely a scale game, we can never beat China.

Some of these industries that you mentioned, given the infrastructural climate we have in India and given the limitations, are there some tips which people have used successfully used in overcoming these challenges?

Evidence suggests the geographical proximity of like-minded people or similar players creates a huge competitive advantage – a good example of this is the car industry in Chennai and the IT industry in Bangalore.
Other success factors are investing in original product development and R&D as opposed to simply being the commercialization arm of a western company or investing in pure services and holding themselves to global, not domestic, standards of quality.

The last question would be – for people who want to move back to India to start a business; do you think this is the right time?

This is a great time! In a market that is growing so rapidly, the opportunities are immense. Despite all the entrepreneurial activities that go on in India, there are still some models that have been tried and tested in the US but have still not found deep penetration in India. For example: Groupon or Amazon.
Flipkart is being called the Amazon for India but they have done some interesting adaptation like home delivery of products and also figured out creative ways for people to pay.
So, one idea would be to take products and ideas that have found success here and do some cultural adaptation and transformation – a combination of the first and second wave of innovation.

The other idea is to build products and services specifically for the Indian market from scratch. Where is Indian McDonalds for example?

So there are a lot of opportunities in India – but you have to walk-in with zero arrogance. You have to accept that you as an entrepreneur don’t have all the answers. The India that you came from even five years ago is very different from India today as it is changing very quickly so you have to stay abreast with the dynamics and learn as you go along.

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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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