This is a blog by the students at the S P Jain Center of Management, Dubai, Singapore. The site is designed to play a common ground for the students and alumni of SPJCM to blog about their lives at the campus, industry exposure, events, current happenings, and everything else. The views expressed are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views of S P Jain Center of Management. For more information on S P Jain Center of Management and the courses offered, visit the official SPJCM website

Life @ SPJCM

Friday, October 12, 2007

This is a video capturing some treasured moments of the Singapore stint of the batch of Dec '07.

It was made by Sourabh Agarwal and Jaydeep Hingne of the December '07 batch to welcome the batch of Jun '08 and to give them a flavour of the times to come.

Entrepreneurship at SPJCM

Monday, August 6, 2007

Chandrika Kanwar
GMBA - Dec 06
An exciting part of my first semester was going through the Entrepreneurship course which ran for a whole 3 months as classes for it were scheduled only on Sundays. We had a number of interesting activities that formed a part of it. A versatile and enterprising Mr. Koh Seng Choon, a successful Singaporean entrepreneur took us through it and I must say it was most delightful to interact with him. We not only got a flavour of the Chinese ways but also about their perspective of working with Indians. On the very first day of class, he brought along with him a rattan ball and a marker. He told us that he wanted all of our names to be on the ball by the end of the course. The condition to write on it was to ask him a question in class. He would answer and promptly throw the ball to the person who asked the question. At the end of the course, one lucky person was to get the ball for keeps. This was almost like an election campaign and there was quite a frenzy associated with the event. The one with the maximum number of votes was presented with it by Dr. Vijay Sethi, our Dean. Mr. Seng Choon really put his heart and soul into making the course enjoyable and we all developed a unique bond with him. He also helped some of us get projects with companies for our SGPs. One of the activities that we all did was the “I as the Business” where we each were given a topic and were asked to speak to an audience of investors asking them to invest in our business idea. The focus on brevity was important as he highlighted that in real life, we sometimes get just a minute to convince someone to grant us an appointment.
The next exercise we undertook was called “I as the Investor”. As part of this, we were all given prospectuses of a company. We were to write a one page analysis of whether or not we would invest in it and the reasons for the same. Drafting a covering letter to the management, informing them of our decision, also formed a part of this exercise. We swore not to look up details about the company on the internet or in business papers, so that we would form an independent and unbiased judgement.
The third and most important exercise was to write a business plan – we chose subjects we were passionate about and many of our latent dreams were actually penned down in detail in the form of these business plans. There were restaurants, launderettes, sports parlours and a plethora of interesting business plans. Some of us chose to do it in groups with others having similar interests. I chose to do it alone, and although it was a lot of work to do single-handedly, it was a great learning experience. Again the written plan was accompanied by a 1 min PowerPoint presentation convincing investors to buy our business idea. Mr. Seng Choon went through them in detail and gave us valuable feedback. He liked my concept and I felt satisfied that my hard work had paid off.
As part of the course, we went for two field trips – one to SATS (Singapore Airlines Terminal Services) which is the leading provider of integrated ground handling and in-flight catering services at Singapore Changi Airport and the other to an Indian restaurant in Singapore. Both experiences were enriching.
As I look back now, I realize that the course certainly helped us imbibe an entrepreneurial spirit and mindset. Becoming an entrepreneur involves great discipline and self-belief. One has to be prepared to deal with uncertainty and often, one has to undertake multiple roles.
An MBA isn’t only about getting students ready for the corporate world and to lead in established organizations but also to equip them sufficiently to be able to undertake their own ventures, be effective managers and business persons and to make a success of them.
Surely, some of us from our batch will undertake such challenges in the future and when we do, we’ll reminisce about our SPJCM days.

“The Economies of the Middle East” From boom to bust, and back”

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Joydeb Mukherjee
GMBA - Dec 06
As a part of the ongoing ‘Guest Lecture’ series, wherein some of the most prominent and respected names of the industry encompassing several domains, are invited to the campus to share their valuable experience, knowledge and vision with the students. On 17th of July, SPJCM Dubai was graced with the presence of Dr. Tarik Yousef, a noted economist of the modern times. Our speaker, Dr. Tarik Yousef is currently the Dean of the Dubai School of Government. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University and specializes in development economics and economic history with a particular focus on the Middle East. His research and policy experience includes working as an economist at the Middle East Department of the IMF, Visiting Professor in the Office of the Chief Economist in the Middle East and North Africa Region of the World Bank and Senior Adviser for the Millennium Project at the United Nations.

Dr. Yousef enthralled the audience and captivated the students’ think tank as he took them through the evolution, the stagnation, the development (economic) and finally the growth policy in Arab countries in the last 30 years! He started of by detailing the scenario the Arab world witnessed during the 1950s and era following it, which boasted the transition from the closed protective mindsets of authoritarian government to a more liberal outlook which slowly became instrumental in putting the Middle East economy where it is today.
Post 1950s, the economy saw the emergence of a very specific development marvel, a model centered to redistribution, invention and massive deregulation, which was consolidated over a 30-40 year period. Some reasons for the spread-out growth model may be attributed to the consistent interventions in the form of coups and espionages. Strong dictators and military dictators at that emerged, providing a sense of safety that countered an external threat, which was again over exaggerated. Another factor, more than anything else which affected the ME, Saudi Arabia and the gulf, was OIL. The availability of oil wells in the 50s – 70s catalyzed he massive flow of funds, money that one didn’t have to work for. Hence the single monarchies ran the show and won the support by delivering free healthcare, free food, medical services, infrastructure, education and taking away taxation. As the countries became more prosperous, the political gurus thought the model is delivering and no need to open up a space. On the other hand, in exchange of welfare with the other nations, they had to give up their political rights and the dictators would become more powerful, legitimate in the eyes of the population. No right to vote, no political party but people seemed quite satisfied saying “I have a job, a career, a car, my kids go to school, and I don’t have anything to worry about”.
As goes the age old saying, all good things come to an end and nothing of the bonanza of the 70s n 80s could last. Please welcome ‘1997 – The East Asian Financial Crisis’. The Middle East went from a boom to a bust. They were doing really well till now, but post 1985 till the early 21st century they not only touched the lowest trench of all times in history, they even faired worse than all countries, except from Sub Saharan Africa. Reason – OIL PRICES! Suddenly all the welfare programs become very expensive! What was needed was a recalibration of the development model. The resistance to new liberal policies was coming from the fact that this model created a lot of vested interests associated.

Just like Nehru capitalized on the strength of personality and a wide acceptance of the intellect; he also clearly defined that the country needed ‘States’. The idea came from EU and NA to develop economic prosperity and the Arab world is a by product of this intellectual potential. The 1990s – the era of private sector development, trade liberalization, economic deregulation, this in turn gave way to a new phenomena – Globalization!
But nationals in UAE don’t think of the private sector as their first job. Not because they don’t want to work, not because they’ve been programmed but because they have created societies and education systems that did nothing but employed public sector workers for a very long time! Public sector offers job security, benefits and wage increments more competitive than the private sector for all UAE nationals and complemented to this, the degree they get is a perfect for a public sector job and only that! This isn’t a religion, but the way the societies have been created and engineered if one doesn’t have an open political system and allow people to voice concerns, practice constraints and if one doesn’t have such a political process, the reform process is going to be very difficult. Unfortunately many failed to embark on the reforms as because the existing political system didn’t help any space as they thought they would become illegitimate in the eyes of their population. THIS is the story of Dubai!!

Dr. Yousef also drew upon the shifts in economic thinking right from the neo classical era to Keynesian economics when he recited the famous quote of Keynes “In the long run we are all dead.” From where we have come right from the State Controlled era where even the prices of bread that we bought was determined by the state, to the free market economy where the forces of invisible hands interact to form a price-demand-supply mechanism. Finally Dr. Yousef mentioned that the way for the future would be Knowledge Economies. Knowledge driven societies would emerge as the new parlance and would lead the crowd further into the era of globalization. The move in that direction can be witnessed with Dubai placing a strong emphasis on education, a result of which is the Knowledge Village and the Academic City. Thus we ended with the opening question that was posted to us “Dubai, from boom to bust and back?” still unanswered as only time and the macro forces would be able to tell.

It was actually an honor to be a part of this seminar, especially when an issue of such immense gravity was dealt with an equally lucid clarity and an easy transparency, such that all of us could relate to it effortlessly. Dr. Yousef’s intellect, his vision and his critic captivated the audience for over an hour. Dr. Tarikh addressed the questions and the doubts, which the students came up with at the end of his session. Here are some concluding words from and food for thought, enough to keep us ticking for quite some time now…

“The ultimate lesson form the East Asian crisis is the knowledge that a crisis would happen. The real lesson was the speed with which the countries recovered and the path of sustained prosperity that they took. That is the challenge facing Dubai; in order for Dubai to keep propelling upwards, those with skilled degrees, with high value added talent, more voice and more stakes in the system will have to exist and sustain. The key to moving ahead is through research and development and nurturing advancements and innovations across all domains. The battle for talent in Asia is intense and skilled people are going to be in high demand Not only in this part of Asia, but everywhere. Give it more space.”

Freshers' Party

Avishek Kumar
GMBA - Jun 07
13th July, 2007- The date should go into the history of the SPJCM- Singapore. The day saw an exciting Fresher’s Party for the junior’s given by our revered “So-Called seniors” as they modestly called themselves. The day was anything but cool for both the juniors and the seniors as the classes in the morning were running one after the other with very small intermediate breaks.
There was an “Entrepreneurship” class starting at 11 am for the juniors. Also, a special lecture was going on in some corner of the campus of which few were not even aware!! Then, all of a sudden an announcement was made in the class that a representative of a software firm-3I has come for short listing the students for the SGP. The students were absolutely not sure of what they wanted to attend or not. Also, the seniors had the regular lectures. On top of that even they had some unscheduled lectures and some campus recruitment interviews.
The life of SPJCM never fails to rock inspite of such busy schedules. Rather, the students take them in very high spirits and enjoy every bit of it. I firmly believe in what i just said and so will all the other SPJCM-ites because after all that happened, the most hectic moment was still to come namely- Fresher’s Party.
Some background about the party is required at this point of time. The fresher’s party was initially postponed for some reason (blame the ultra busy schedule here!!). Conventionally, fresher’s party should have been arranged (in a week or so) just after the juniors arrive at the college campus. But, things at SPJCM happen differently. The fresher’s had arrived before the seniors in the college awaiting for the humble and royal seniors to arrive and throw a welcome party. It happened and so the meet; but it was all restricted to “Specialization Group” meets. But Then—some noble soul came up with the brilliant idea of the fresher’s Party. And Man!! What an idea it was!! The time and venue was mailed to all of us as the day finally came.
All decked up in the party wear—some very bold and some casual, but mostly formals. The events were announced. Some had very funny but creative names. They started with an audio/video of the time they had spent in Dubai with the message as in what should be done and what not inside the campus at Dubai-SPJCM. Following which, the juniors were invited on stage for the various regions of India for performing some Skit. The groups were given some items, which they had to use in the skit. The show was absolutely fabulous!! Next came the event of “Mr/Miss SPJCM”! The people in our batch are so shy that the seniors had to pick for themselves. Few were chosen on spot by demand. This event was a very long one as it had a number of stages to go through. Each stage was very meticulously planned. There was screening in every stage and the judgement was fair enough!! In between, few performances were going on simultaneously like mimicry, dancing, singing, etc. Few of the talents were known just that day, who used to be so silent in the class. Hardly people recognised them. Even if they knew them, it was limited to only few of the friend circle. The events were not only absorbing but trying as well. There was so much of energy dissipation in the form of hue and cry. People from the back were commenting constantly on the gals and the guys making a huge effort in the process to form “Genuine Pairs”. The energy was losing fast as ever as people were shouting at the top of their voices. Somebody from the back prayed for the it was gracefully accepted by our seniors. The food was mind-blowing as well!! It simple showed that the seniors had taken a lot of effort to organise the most important need of life and make their juniors feel more energised for the active participation in the events. After, we resumed from the break with our belly satisfied and placid, the results of the short listed candidates were announced. There were few Challenges made to the judges, which was rightly rejected by the Company (remember the Hypothesis sum in QT??) This event went far more serious when the contestants were asked to speak for a minute on very weird topic given to them on the spot. Finally, there was a Q&A round, which would decide for beholder of the prestigious award. The decision was very fair and simple at the end and was unanimously accepted y all of us. The winner deserved that!! After all the events were over, the stage was made open for the DJ dance Party....All the guys and gals were right up there making all sorts of movements(good or bad, i leave it to the dancers), which even the best of the dancers would think of doing it!! One of our batch mates presented an audio/visual clip for our seniors as a tribute to their awesome performance!
Everybody made merry and departed to their rooms full of praise for ours seniors. We all talked about the unity among the batch mates of our seniors, which was vividly evident in the show. Back in their rooms, people discussed and compared with our batch of students. We were all inspired and fired up to do something similar, if not better for our juniors. Once again three cheers for our seniors...HIP HIP, HURRREEEYYYY , HIP HIP, HURRREEEYYYY, HIP HIP, HURRREEEYYYY!!

Sentosa Island – A Sandfilled Treat – Part I

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It was always at the back of my mind to visit Sentosa. But it never happened earlier. Finally I took the courage and the time off my schedule(which was in the week when we did not have any lectures) and headed off to Sentosa. Seeing Sentosa is like seeing gateway of India in Mumbai. Your visit is never complete until you see it, or I thought so. But unlike Sentosa, gateway of India doesn’t offer you a wow effect.

We took the usual Bus No. 93 to Harbour Front and then took the Tour 6 package(the only one available at 04:00pm) which included cable car round trip, underwater world, dolphin show & 4D Magix & of course Café Del Maar(which is implied).

The cable car ride is a thing to experience, for the 1st few seconds you do feel a rush of blood as you are plunged from the insides of the 15th floor of Harbour Tower into the open sky and the initial contact with mother earth gets the blood rushing down your spinal cord (just for the record I am not a person afraid of heights).

Anyways, after 6 ½ minutes we finally arrived at the one and only Sentosa island. The entrance to Sentosa(a brilliant marketing strategy) is through a convenience store that sells almost everything that a person would demand for a day well spent at a beach picnic. So invariably even if you are carrying stuff it is difficult to pass buy without lightening your wallet a bit. There are 3 lines of buses that run (blue, red & green) that take you to and from different places on the island.

Our 1st stopover was the magnificent underwater world. You arrive at a place that makes you feel that it was built to house marine life. The surroundings and the ambience give it a perfect blend to the aquatic life that it captures around. As you enter there is a huge pond which is home to some fresh water fish and gigantic turtles.
At the entrance is the touch area where you can touch fish that are swimming in a small pool of water. I was surprised that amongst many of the fish was the sting ray(the one that killed Steve Irwin – the crocodile hunter) At the beginning of it there are different types of fossils displayed as well as over fifty species of crabs. Some of the prominent ones being the spider crab that stretches to almost 2 feet(end to end). As you keep moving ahead you come to the real underwater world. This is what Sentosa is all about.

It’s an underneath walkway through a huge pool filled with fish and marine life. You stand on the travellator and it ferries you through an 83-meter long tunnel which is made up of bullet & sound proof acrylic in a semi-circular form that keeps away marine animals from the land animals (assuming that man is an animal). There is just one word to describe the experience – “Magnificent” Yes!!! That’s how I felt being there looking around on what was the largest collection of aquatic splendor that I had ever seen. Sentosa lets the ocean come to life in front of your eyes and every moment of it is breath taking. As you move through the oceanic jungle you just can’t help wonder at the sheer magnitude of living organisms that reside beneath us. Finally underwater world which houses over 2500 marine species offers immense fun & educational value.

Across different packages that are available from the reception counter perhaps underwater world is the only one which is common across all six of them and for obvious reasons. It is a place that you can’t and shouldn’t miss and any visit to Sentosa is not complete without a tour of this. All right folks, that’s it as far as the 1st part is concerned. In the 2nd part I will cover the dolphin show, 4D magix, sounds of the sea, night life @ sentosa and yes!!! The much talked about Café Del Maar. So keep reading.

-by Amit S Mehta

Selling the “Salesman”

Monday, May 14, 2007

I have been in sales for more than four years now and have worked in different environments in more than one country. It hasn’t always been an easy ride nor has it been a claim to fame. But so far I have loved the challenge and the thought of being a revenue generator for my organization. The reason I am writing this is just to share a bit of give and take of sales. Be it any company that you are working for and any product that you are selling, provided you are working in a company that works and operates in today’s world of competitiveness, what I have observed is that a Sales Culture would have the most non-humanitarian approach to its employees. I mean the way the managers drive work out of the people is almost unbelievable. Delivery is a must and should happen in all conditions. One eats, drinks and sleeps “dhanda.” Sometimes the pressure is almost suicidal. Sales is by far the most ruthless department to work for, but that is where the risk return tradeoff happens, cause it is also the most rewarding one. In my current organization without naming it an average sales guy takes home almost as much as his manager and the “stars” gets away with the package comparable to a VP(salary+incentives). But all of this certainly doesn’t come for free. First of all it’s a shameless approach. There are early morning hurdles whereby your boss takes you for a ride and by the time you are done you realize you have nothing left. There are comparisons done and if you are on the wrong side of the numbers you feel like a jack ass carrying all the load. It’s a quantitative game and the language is “numbers.” Even if you have done well you really haven’t done well. And for the performers also the euphoria doesn’t seem to last long. One months worth of “khoon” and “pasina” ends up with hearing “you could have done better.” Another feature of sales is that it starts with zero every time so no matter how much you would have cracked, next month you are back to square one. So even if you pulled up a terrific job last month you boss says, “tell me bout today cause last month is history”. The maximum burnout also happens over here. And it also has the highest employee turnover ratio. You get the feeling of being sandwiched, stuck between your boss and the client. In retail business there are daily wars to be won. Each day is a new challenge. Each month is a new puzzle. And when the pressure is on you then a client meeting is like having sex with the orgasm being the client signing “The Dotted Line”. In front of the client a salesman is like a joker who does his tricks to entertain the client. He is like a dog waiting for his cheque(bone). And all this makes sales even more exhilarating. And it uplifts the role and the value of a salesman. Its sales that drives the business. The engine that feeds revenue into the franchise. The department that justifies salaries for all others working in a support function. The Blood-Line of a corporation. So even if you have to face the wrath of your boss, or the “golibazzi” of your client or face signs like “Dogs and salesmen not allowed” you still walk away head high with the feeling of being the “money maker.” So as the new saying would go some 20 years from now “if customers are the Kings salesmen are the Emperors.”
-by Amit Mehta

A balancing act

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Its been nearly four months since our batch arrived in Singapore. Less than two months for this stint to get over and for us to head to Dubai. Time really does fly. These few months have been packed with activity- there are a lot of things one can choose to do apart from class work and making the right choices can be a balancing act.
An MBA experience has a lot to do with one's peers or batchmates. A great amount of learning comes from one's interaction with them. Our batch here is packed with enthusiasm and has spearheaded a number of new initiatives.
One of these is the 'Big Picture Series'. As part of this we meet once a week. A few persons volunteer to make a presentation on some subject or area of importance after which there is a dialogue between them and the audience and an exchange of ideas, opinions and different perspectives. The rationale behind this initiative is to think of the larger picture and to see things in perspective.
Another initiative is the establishment of a Toastmaster's Club within SPJCM. A sizeable number of students have enrolled for this to sharpen their public speaking skills and to get a forum for networking.
A fortnightly newsletter called 'Archaeopteryx- The Missing Link' covering finance, business and technology related articles has been rolled out. The team coordinating it sees it as a vehicle to bridge the gap between what is taught in class and what happens in the real world.
Our seniors left a couple of weeks back. They've been a friendly bunch and were ever willing to share their insights with us. The elections and interviews for the various committees we have in SPJCM were completed by them.
The Entrepreneurship and Networking Club has organized a few networking events already.
The importance of networking has been stated time and again by everyone who has been through the MBA experience.
Apart from the quizzes, classes, project and group work sessions everyday, there really is a lot one can do. It really depends on one's priorities and juggling between them to reach a balance.
Many of us are eagerly waiting to get over with this and begin earning and working again. But the best thing to do would be to savour each moment while we are here. I know our seniors are missing the time they spent here immensely. Nothing we've done in the past and nothing in the future can replicate this experience. So lets live it up!
-Chandrika Kanwar

Redefining Success of MBA

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Recently I finished my MBA. As I landed myself a job during the placement week at my college, I guess I didn’t do badly by the conventional Indian definition of success at B-Schools. But is getting the job at the end of the term the only criteria for success in MBA? My experience says that getting a job is just one of the important parameters, especially in the Indian context. But then, is there more to MBA than getting the job? Yes, there is. MBA as a course is an experience worth going through. A course that teaches you valua ble lessons in teamwork and interpersonal skills – something most of the courses cannot boast of. Having gone through this experience before the multitude of you aspirants of MBA, I technically become your senior. Seniors are like classics – the books that everyone appreciates but no one reads. We seniors are like those priests who preach what they themselves don’t practice. Let me share with you some such gyan atleast some of which I might not have successfully exercised but on the hindsight, I wish I had.

Soft skills courses are important - We need to change our smug ‘know-all’ attitude towards soft-skills courses and those that deal with Human Relations. The problem, according to me, is that we perceive them to be synonymous to Communication Skills. And isn’t our selection into one of the premiere B-Schools of India proof enough of our good communication skills? But it is this very haughty attitude which is our undoing, especially because communication skill is just a part of the whole and not the be-all and end-all of it.

Groups – There are two ways a group can be formed: either college decides your group or students decide their own groups. This second group is more coherent since people generally handpick the ‘apparently’ better students of the lot. But such a selection has two problems the first of which is a proverbial aphorism – “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The second problem is that people tend to choose only those they are comfortable and friendly with. So, the friendly, humourous and fun-to-be-with people get picked up faster while those perceived as nagging, inquisitive or overly-studious recluses are left out. This precept sometimes falls flat on its face because of the second rule, “The most sincere and knowledgeable people are not often the best people to hangout with.” Students realize their fallacy when they find that people who are pompously fun-to-be-with are not the best assets in a team. Flamboyance, in most cases, ends up being antagonistic to sincerity since the people who actually work in a group are rarely high profile. It is here that the group formed from the “left-overs” who were partners more out of compulsion than choice do a better job by working silently and sincerely, as is their wont. You need truckloads of serendipity to end up with a good group where almost everyone contributes. However, it’s only human to have a black-sheep in a group of six. So think twice before forming the group. The reserved, boring, next door nerd, & not the Mr. Flamboyant, might just be the right guy who’ll save your project.

Love blooms – It is only natural that clouds part, flowers blossom, angels sing and bells ring when a guy meets a gal. Please apportion a buffer for such an eventuality. God save the groups whose members fall in love with one of the batch-mates. No amount of coaxing, rebuking or imploring can get them out of their self-imposed honeymoon for they prefer to stay in that self-denial state of romantic hangover. After some initial altercations, you’ll learn to ignore and not expect from them. The faster your accept and adapt to this change, the better for you.

I want to Top – Our Indian education system has so deeply entrenched in us the association of self-worth with the marks and ensuing recognition that we almost forget that MBA is a different ball game altogether. You’ll find people who’re crazy after marks and those who just don’t give a damn. I would say, it is dangerous to stay in either of the camp. Going too much after marks would force you to stop looking for what you like and what would you make a career from. Your view of success would simply be a short-sighted rank. We have in our batch some commendable people who’ve been toppers all through their lives. But they say, they’re here not for rank. They’re here to discover what they want out of MBA. That should be your aim. At the same time, it is dangerous to lurk at the bottom of the pyramid. You need to ensure that you don’t let your ‘lack of concern for marks’ trickle you down to the bottom. Only a fine line separates being not concerned and being careless. Make sure you don’t cross that line. Staying somewhere in the middle should keep you in good stead and help you focus on what you want to do.

Teamwork - The Indian schools and Undergraduate Institutions are partly to be blamed for laying no emphasis on teamwork. We need to inculcate the importance of teamwork in children at an impressionable age. In their quest for ‘individual’ marks and
grades, Indian students have forgotten to work for the holistic good. It is amazing what you can achieve if you don’t care who gets the credit. But in the corporate world, your progress depends on your visibility. So how effectively you balance the two contradictions will decide how far you go. We still need to ensure that we communicate to our teams that while claiming credit for something is welcome, plagiarism is not. Soft-skills, ironically, have a very important role to play here.

Presentations – No matter how tempting it is, don’t get into a quid pro quo arrangement with the class to avoid challenging questions post presentations. It is important to learn to answer critical queries without getting defensive. You should be able to achieve this easily if your focus shifts away from marks.

Zero in - Zero in on what you want to do post MBA. Every subject being taught here is a potential career for you. Find out which subject appeals to you most, irrespective of your specialization. Don’t worry if you don’t know what role to get into post mba. Most people don’t and you’ve a huge company here. But look at every subject with an eye for picking your career out of it. You may choose to focus more on the subject of your interest and delve deeper into it.

Competitions - Without fail, take part in the B-school competitions. They’re not just important for you as a person, student, businessman or a manager but also for your college. These competitions will improve the scope of your thought process if not anything else.

Hope all the future MBAs can learn from my experiences and mistakes. I note this down on this blog so the future batches of MBAs have a different set of mistakes to commit and learn from them rather than reinvent the wheel themselves.

With this article, I hand over the baton to my junior Chandrika Kanwar.

Either You Sell or you Don't !! There are no two ways about it !

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Ah... Another refreshing Marketing experience! Kind of brought back memories from the World MBA tour held last december

The occasion was the Career 2007 expo held annually by the Education Devp Board, Govt of Singapore. Growing rapidly in size and strength every year, the CAREER Expo Series has become the Largest and Longest career and educational event in Singapore and the region. It has maintained an impressive track record over the years with increasing number of quality exhibitors and visitors at each year’s exhibition and as a full time student; yours truly got the opportunity to represent S P Jain at the exhibition.

This year there were 3 different pavilions in the education sector:
Renowned Local & Foreign Institutions and Universities (S P Jain, NUS, NTU, UNSW etc.)
The European Pavilion (Les Roches, IMI, Switzerland etc.) and
Special Interest Pavilion (the most popular being the Casino Training Institute!!:-)

It was a kind of a totally different experience for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, we had never met so many people (more than a thousand) belonging to different races, ethnicity, occupations, countries and backgrounds; all in a span of just 3 days

Second, the event gave us a wonderful opportunity to model and develop our own elevator pitch for S P Jain and I can safely assume that by Day 3 we were able to optimise the pitch to 100% effectiveness.

Third, it taught us how to focus and market to the target audience.

Forth, it taught us much needed endurance in a typical sales role. It was very tiring to stand and interact with the seemingly never ending queue of visitors... (I almost crashed out after Day 3!! :) )

Some funny incidents...

It happened a couple of times that when we tried pitching the S P Jain, 1-year Dual City MBA model to a parent, he heard me out patiently and then said... "Dude, you know what? You have just sold my own MBA degree back to me!" I was flabbergasted! "How on earth can that be!!" I wondered...
“Yeah! I am an MBA from SP Jain, Mumbai - Batch 4, 1985, now working as a MD with a leading financial institution!", came the quick, assertive reply followed by a appreciative grin. :-)

And then there was this cute Chinese girl on day 1 who came to our stall and uttered "Easpee P ee Jaineee?" I took off with my elevator pitch for the next one minute or so, she listened intently and then after I had finished my pitch, she innocently said "no Englisaa... only Chineseee.... la"
"Uh Oh!!" How I wished I vanished somewhere that very moment! "Puff...!!"

And then there were many interesting people I got a chance to work with... Nirmala Ma'm, who has got a helluva lots of enthusiasm that is utterly contagious (wow! she sold helicopters at one point in her career! How cool!!), Neethu, with whom I worked with for the World MBA tour as well, and many other including a 20-strong team of budding MBAs who just joined the S P Jain GMBA program.

I met some very famous people too... the Education Minister of Singapore, head of the EDB, an industrialist from Pune (India), a journalist from India and representatives and academics from leading universities.
We had a really good time I must say! And although our batch of 2007 is at the fag end of our mba life, I'd like to have the opportunity of an encore.

The Spirituality of Business

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

“Never talk to me about profit, Jeh, it is a dirty word,” snapped Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, at JRD Tata, India’s premier business Tycoon of the yesteryears, when the latter tried to explain that Indian public sector needed to make profits.

Business and ‘profit-making’ ideology have been the favourite ‘whipping boys’ of our society since time immemorial. While philanthropy was always admired as an epitome of altruistic virtues, business was relegated as a nadir of selfish vices.

In ‘The Wealth of Nations,’ Adam Smith, regarded as the father of Economics, says something to indirectly corroborate this thought of the society: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

A deeper dissection of any person’s actions would reveal that the final purpose of every human action or inaction is to find happiness for himself or herself. Why does a kind hearted person help others? Why does a selfish man help himself? Why does a crook cheat? Why does a lazy person believe in inaction? Why do people fall in love? Why do people run after money? Why do businessmen hanker for profits? Whatever be the intermediate motive in the above actions or inactions, their final aim is happiness. It is in this final purpose of any action that the difference between philanthropy and business starts to dissolve.

The glaring and obvious difference between business and charity is that the overt beneficiaries of business are the owners while the same for charity is the society at large. But what misses our eyes is that for business the covert beneficiary is our society. Since happiness is the common denominator and the final aim of every action of every human being, a philanthropist becomes as much a covert beneficiary of his own act of charity as community becomes for business. And so - when both are working for their own happiness - why should a businessman be denounced and a philanthropist be eulogized? What society as a whole has failed to realize is that business and charity are not antagonistic but complementary to each other. Whether explicit or implicit, both cater to the betterment of our society in totally ‘antagonistic’ ways. Businesses directly impact the “employable” workforce through which the benefits trickle down to their families. But businesses don’t bother about the downtrodden. Charity and non-profit organizations pick them up and make them employable, from where some businesses absorb them. Consequently, both business and charity are the obverse side of the same coin. They’re like two brothers where one is ruthless in execution while the other is mild hearted and caring. But the contribution of one over the other towards the betterment of society cannot and should not be underplayed. Interesting it is to note that ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) is gradually blurring this difference between business and charity at the intermediate level as well.

Thomas Edison invented the electric bulb. However, had it not been for the business interest of someone, the society would not have found an efficient way of distributing it to the larger mass. History is abound with scientific inventions that changed the face of mankind. But without the able support of businessmen, inventions would never have become commodities we have so gotten used to. Ironic as it may sound, the beauty of business is its ruthlessness. If markets are left by themselves, only the most efficient and the most effective businesses – barring a few exceptions like monopoly or unscrupulous practices where government regulations become antidotes - would survive; and efficiency introduced in business processes leads to a betterment of human society in the longer run. This is where businesses start touching the spiritual chord of philanthropy: “Service to mankind is service to God.”

Philanthropy and spirituality believe in serving people irrespective of their caste, religion, race or any other form of discrimination. Business precept also commands serving the customer by turning a blind eye to any of these discriminatory factors. The essential idea behind Globalization is that businesses don’t recognize the political boundaries and divisions that countries form. A business will go and spread its roots to countries where it sees an opportunity - political rivalries notwithstanding. For example, when Nato was bombing Serbia in 1999 both sides could eat at McDonald’s during the breaks. A business knows no divides.

McKinsey’s Eric Beinhocker in a brilliant, thought-provoking book, ‘The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity and the Radical Remaking of Economics,’ states that “The economy is a marvel of complexity, yet no one designed it and no one runs it.” ‘For any living creature,’ he adds ‘the evolutional game involves obtaining resources to live long enough to procreate and rear its young. Business is humanity’s successful effort at obtaining those resources.’

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs proposed in his 1943 paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’ contends that as humans satisfy basic needs, they seek to satisfy successively higher needs that occupy a set hierarchy depicted here as a pyramid consisting of five levels.
The basic concept is that the higher needs in this hierarchy come into focus once all or most of the lower level needs are satisfied. As mankind satisfies higher needs, it’ll find a need for self-actualization which is the essence of spirituality.

So successful have businesses been that much of humanity no longer has to focus on staying alive. Thanks to business, our basic existential needs are satisfied and we’re moving towards higher needs leading up to self-realization. Business is hence an indispensable cog in the wheel of human ascension up the spiritual journey.

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