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Let me introduce myself before we take a deep dive into my own experience and perspective for choosing a particular B-School for management studies. I am a traditional Indian IT professional with varied experience in some of the well-known IT companies in India (I hope I am just in assuming that the readers know companies like Infosys, IBM). After spending more than seven years in the industry I gained technical expertise and varied domain knowledge in Telecom, Retail. Many of you will also be interested in knowing my objective for doing MBA at this stage of career, but, I will keep it as a secret which will only to be revealed in front of admission committee. After all, it is a subjective matter and everyone has their own idea behind getting into management studies.

I started to think about doing one year MBA from India a year ago. That does not mean I did not ponder on the idea of reaching to Europe/ US for the most sought qualification. US B-schools were anyway out of the reach of my financial horizon and risk appetite. I applied to few of the B-Schools in UK and eventually got admission offer from one of those; later realized that this was also not my cup of coffee. Looking at the current economic scenario and my own personal constraint; I was not ready to spend some thousand EUROS to learn management practice which anyway I could not have applied to Indian perspective as I need to stay back in UK to recover the fixed and variable costs (a management concept I already know even before starting to study it formally).

So, let us discuss about the B-schools is India offering one-year MBA. As I scored a decent 720 in GMAT, I targeted only some of the top B-Schools which I have listed down below. I would like to take and each institute and provide my opinion about it (of course the opinions presented here are personal and I have tried to make sure that I am not biased toward the one I finally opted).

IIM – Ahmadabad/Bangalore

These B-schools tend to focus on participants who would like to shift career from middle management to senior management. These are the most sought brand names in India in management studies and corporate flock to campus to pick up the best managers. The average experience for admission into IIM-A/B stands at 10-12 years and I believe this is the one of reason I did not get a response back. As every business caters to a unique market segment, their target customers are mid-level executives, the course fee also tend to be on a higher side (2 million INR). It seems to be 30% less than what I could have shell out if I did plan to do MBA from a decent B-Schools in UK.

Indian School of Business, Hyderabad

This is one of the Schools which made me do a lot of cost-benefit analysis even before sending application. A grand salute to their efforts to bring the course at par with some of the most sought courses/B-schools in a short span of time. But what make me wonder are the current trends in admission in-take and the placement opportunities available in market. With a sheer batch size of 800 + participants and operations in two campuses; I will be impressed with institute efficiency to get everyone in the batch placed with a so claimed high post-course average package. Also the high investment makes me doubt about my own capabilities to earn and quickly get back to a financially equilibrium.

I hesitantly applied and to my dismay I got an interview waitlist (this is better way to say someone that you are neither selected for interview nor rejected).

IIM Lucknow, Noida Campus

This was one of the institute I was looking forward to the most due to family reasons and location advantage (I preferred to stay in NCR region). The interview turn-out ratio (10 out of 19 applicant appeared for the interview in my slot and similar figures from other locations) and feedback from various source make it clear that the IIM-L Noida campus is still struggling to pick its own share of cake in the elite class of other IIMs. Placements figures were a bit confidential affair and I struggled to get the exact picture even after trying all the sources I could. The course fee though less as compared to other IIMs was still a costly affair for me.

I appeared for the interview and waited for 2 weeks with finger crossed.

S P Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai

Constantly ranked among the top 10 for last many years and churning out its 8th batch of one year MBA batch;  the B-school was my last target to be in. The total cost of the course is half as compared to other B-Schools I targeted. Placement, as I got to know is decent and is more dependent on participants own efforts (but this is the case with every other 1 year B-School). The participants leverage on the B-school brand and Alumni network along with their own network to get into the role/job they aspire to be in.

 So, what was my decision and where am I today

I landed in S P Jain Mumbai on 8 Jan, 2012 with hope that the year 2012 will be the most exciting year in life.  The first few days in the campus made me realize that I have landed at the right place.

First of all, the feeling of funding my course from my own pocket made me free from lot of worries. I will not be carrying a baggage and will not worry whole year about the placement as it hinders the learning process. After all, the placement and job is not the ultimate objective of getting into management studies, when I already had a well paying job.

Second, now I believe that for a person like me who has been more occupied in the world of programming languages and algorithms, there is a lot of learning and personal development is required. The top class institutes admit people who are already well suited executives and just need a brand name to accelerate the career. I did not find any examples, where they admit an average individual and turn him into an entirely different person.  It is logical for me to rather join a decent B-School which is still aspiring to be in top-notch class and is putting extra emphasis on learning and development rather than emphasizing more on the marketing techniques. After all, we are the one who will ultimately pay for their marketing expenses.

Third, as the course starts three months earlier as compared to other institutes which start the session in April-May, I will be completing the course early and will be back in job to support my family.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

-PGPM 811 Participant.

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Friends, we have been through a wonderful journey and a fantastic experience since we all got together for our 1 year MBA program at SPJIMR. I just felt like summing all of it in a simple way from A – Z. Here we go.

A- ADMAP
B- B-School
C- Committees & Clubs
D- DOCC
E- Economic Times
F- Facebook
G- Gita Shibir
H- Harvard Business Review
I- Industry Integration
J- Juniors
K- Knowledge
L- Leadership
M- MBA
N- Name Plates
O- Online Exams
P- PGPM
Q- Quizzes
R- Rains
S- SP Jain
T- Thank God Its Thursday
U- USP
V- Vrindavan
W- Wednesday Weekend
X- Xerox centre
Y- Yoga
Z- Zoo for pigeons, dogs, fishes…

— Posted by Krishna Kranthi, Class of 2010

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Errors and mistakes take us on the journey from inexperience to wisdom. However, in real business scenarios making mistakes involve very high stakes, it can result in loss of a deal, loss of a customer or even loss of the Job! Industrat, the Strategic Industrial Marketing Simulation was a stepping stone to give us an opportunity to learn from mistakes, to practice the theory we learnt in a virtual scenario!!  Moreover, we simulated 9 long years in a week’s time.

For Industrat simulation, PGPM class was divided into 4 industries such as Trees, Fruits, Flowers and Birds.  And, there were 5 companies within each industry. The companies were allocated specific marketing budget and were responsible for marketing, R&D and HR decisions.  Next year’s marketing budget depended on company’s performance in previous year specifically on market share, stock price and contribution margin.

Initial years were bit confusing and we took some time to understand research reports and customer perception map. As the years passed on, our understanding evolved. Most of us decided our target segments and started placing new products. Environment became competitive yet collaborative, complex yet enjoyable and virtual yet real!  Collaboration between rivals to develop new technologies, enthusiasm to know previous year’s performance and hurry to take right but timely decision made our industrat journey intense and full of excitement.

Talking specifically about our company ‘Rose’, we had some of the best products and we also came up with the new product ‘KISS’ which had a strategic position on perception map. Initially we concentrated on market share in terms of volume and ignored value, did not take into account inflation our margins depleted. In the later session, we had a strategic alliance with other team and launched a new product “LIFE”, well Life did give us life and in the end we were the second best company in our industry.

Over all, the experienced enhanced analytical skills, decision making power and business acumen of the participants. Industrat was followed by Capstone simulation, which seemed a logical extension to our previous learning and broadened the scope to include finance, operations and strategy.

–Posted by Kosha Joshi, Class of 2010

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I was having a small discussion with my HRM professor on different facets of formulating a sustainable HRM strategy which is not a mere lip-service but beyond that. I thought I would share some of those thoughts which were provoked as part of the questions posed and how we can build on the ideas to reach our goal. Some of the questions which came to my mind were very basic but I guess atomic level details are always basic in nature and it is from there you start to build upon the foundation that leads to more concrete ideology.

We talk a lot about the fact that can we work in consulting, or can we go to FMCG sector after doing MBA? Would it be possible to take a lateral shift totally un-related to our previous work-profile…?. I think so it is possible to an extent but it is not something which can be achieved just by your efforts because a business runs on two facets – External positioning and internal strength .The former means to be substantially and differentially present to meet customer’s expectation and build customers’ engagement. The latter means its attitude of its people to improve processes and remain cost competitive. Many a time’s company’s focus on the external positioning rather than on the internal processes and especially in a business upturn situation and in a downturn they turn their attention to internal processes and on people. A Great company would do both simultaneously at all times to improve its internal and also evaluate it external positioning to improve its performance. If an organization is building its attitudes focusing on improvement of processes all the time, the competencies of people also gets enhanced and there is a multiplier effect across the organization Therefore skill and competencies must be there but ultimately the attitude drives commitment and even at times if there is a skill deficiency , or organization can still have a competitive advantage for a sustainable performance as experience of some great organizations have proved irrespective of the industry type.

When we talk about “sustained success”, then what is the measure for it? , we have seen that there are umpteen dimensions which are qualitative and measurement of those may be a big challenge…One of the ways to deal with this is to profess the concept of “triple bottom-line” within the organization. The concept of TBL demands that a company’s responsibility be to stakeholders rather than shareholders. In this case, ‘stakeholders’ refers to anyone who is influenced, either directly or indirectly, by the actions of the firm. According to the stakeholder theory, the business entity should be used as a vehicle for coordinating stakeholder interests, instead of maximizing shareholder (owner) profit. You can see such examples in corporate like ITC, TATA Sons. Also the idea to develop “strategy maps” for the HRM process which can lead to formation “balanced score cards” would be beneficial in assessing intangible measurements as tangible outcomes.

“Motivation” – we have talked a lot about this in parlances of our organizations and dwelt upon it in classrooms but in a highly competitive market , the equation for motivation always has one variable with a positive relationship and that is “money” but as managers we know that we may not always control the pie to the extent we may wish to…so…what is the least that can done to address this challenge…though money is important dimension in the life of an employee there are examples which are counter supported by research worldwide that people are motivated when

  • They are clear about their objective and what is expected of them.
  • When they have a supportive superior
  • When their workplace interface are friendly

As managers our locus of control is to create this and that’s our job all the time every time – albeit a tough job but that is what makes life and management wonderful.

I will keep sharing my small brain-storm sessions with larger audience because I find this as the strongest medium to gain more knowledge.

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Mr.Sanjay Delivering the lecture On Strategic Pre-Sales

Mr.Sanjay Delivering lecture On Strategic Pre-Sales

As part of our Samvaad Series, we had an opportunity to listen to Mr. Sanjay Ray who is Director, Solutions and Pre-sales Engineering at SAP India.

His lecture provided us great insights into strategic pre-sales cycle and how there are different level of pre-sales consultants operating in the market. The most important point which came to forefront was that you should know your customer for sales and business development. It is not about selling product and services but about selling “value” to the customer. This is one aspect which is evidently visible when you take a pass on different type of sales guys present in the industry, namely technical (level-1), capable (level-2), strategic (level-3). As one tries to distinguish between these three types of sales consultant one would see that there intent to sell moves from product & features to the customer and that is where the difference lies.

Some key parameters on which you can classify these consultants are as follows:

Level Outlook Timing Alignment
Level-III Outcomes Proactive Executive
Level-II Process Response Management
Level-I Event Reactive Operations

 A strategic sale is like a game of chess and playing it the grand-master style is what makes you cut the deal. You need to make the customer play to your game-plan to crack a deal. Alignment with the customer is what can lead you to success. The opportunity to align with the customer either lies in the initial phases of the deal or at the end of the deal. In middle phases when technical evaluation is being done, it is not possible to establish relationship with the customer to the extent you would desire. Level-I sales guys operate during the operational phase of the deal which actually tends to make them not think beyond the operational silo where as a level-II or III sales guy would think make interface with the customer at the stages mentioned earlier during the deal roadmap.

 There is another matrix which distinctly explains the different facets of the various levels of sales guys which exist in the industry:

Level Perception Resources Performance
Level-III Business Meeting High On Customer ROI Reliable/Exceeds
Level-II Reasonable sales call Timely / judicious Consistently Achieves
Level-I Technical alternatives Premature / Excess Marginal / inconsistent

Don’t consider technical alternatives for the customer but treat it as a meeting where you can highlight the value proposition to the customer which can come in many ways & most importantly pricing is not a barrier, you would get the right price if customer perceived value is high. Even if the customer does not have the kind of money to buy the solution, you can make him go for it if you are able to identify the impact points for the customer and how it can help turnaround tables in customers favor if he were to buy the solution. It is necessary to understand the buying process and what are the sync points of it with the Customer Engagement Cycle (CEL). For being a successful strategic sales guy you don’t need to “sell” but help the customer “buy”.

The sync points through which helps develop the value proposition consist of:

Value Assumption ↔  Assessment and understanding customer needs

Value Proposition ↔ Identifying solutions to suit the value proposition of the customer

Value Proof ↔ Justification

Value Delivery ↔ Implementation

Customer management would be a continuous process all through the buying process. There was lot to offer from my Mr.Sanjay’s side but we were constrained by time and that was the most unfortunate part. I would leave his trail with this parting point; understand the concept of VIP while dealing with the customer view point.

V ↔ Vision ↔ where do I want to be ↔ customer vision

I ↔ Indicator ↔ How do I know that I have arrived?

P ↔ Pain ↔ what keeps me from getting there?

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After MBA Universe, Coolavenues has covered the admirable feat of PGPM Class of 2008 bagging a 100% placement.

coolavenues

Follow this link to read the story:

http://coolavenues.com/placements/2009/04/27/484/

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Ever got an opportunity to see Chak-De, the famous Hindi movie from a management learning perspective…well we did get to do that last week when a whole afternoon session was dedicated to play the movie and take notes.

We were given a group work assignment to come up with our reflections from the movie and relate it to concepts of transformational & transactional leadership… I wonder if Harvard missed on something like this!!!

It was not a first watch for almost all the participants but only the perspective had changed this time around. We needed to search for instances of group dynamics, leadership, and individual aspirations which culminated in creating shared values aimed at achieving the objective of winning the world cup for women’s hockey.

The movie gives insight into the theoretical underpinnings of Transformational Leadership (as against Transactional Leadership) as a process that involves mutually influencing (psychic) interactions between the leader and the followers in an organizational context, which in this case is a women’s hockey team preparing for the World Cup competition – the campaign.

Different people come with varied objectives. The movie is a brilliant example of the process of ‘Osmosis’ where in we see players with diverse backgrounds and goals come together through Kabir Khan as medium to achieve a common goal target.
 
They all came from different parts of the country and lacked team spirit. Diversity, Individualism, Personal Egos and Power Dynamics created dissonance, conflicts and negative energy from the beginning. All of them had the right skills for the game but lacked common vision. Kabir Khan utilized the diversity and skills of the team members to realize a team goal.
 
The group energy was built up over a period of time although in the beginning, the individuals had distinct identity representative of their states rather than the country. The whole process of convergence of individuals into a high performance team can be expressed with following three pillars:
1. Leadership –

  • Asked the team to shed their focused individual identity(States) and align with a common identity(India)
  • Negative Reinforcement –  Fire and then motivate the team
  • Identify Competencies with the team
  • Identify Competencies of Competitor – Knowing the strengths, weaknesses and strategies of competitors is essential to fully exploit the strength of team and overcome the weakness of one’s own team
  • Made them realize team goal
  • Motivation – Unless pushed to limits, your team will not perform at its best.

2. Changing Group Dynamics

  • Team’s revolt against the coach Kabir khan was the first incidence when all the girls united together
  • Team realizing a sense of belongingness. As can be seen foes becoming friend when the coach Kabir Khan was ruthlessly arrogant to the team players. Balbirs gesture to help Sui-Mui to teach hindi.
  • Making players realize that individual goals and agendas are always counter productive (as proved by the way two forward player to become the highest goal scorer at the cost of team’s fortune)
  • Together Everyone Achieves More – TEAM

3. External Stimuli

  • Mc Donald’s incidence – The incident at the McDonald’s helped in brining together the smaller groups into one large group with shared purpose and goal.
  • Match with Indian Hockey team – Initially the gender based unity did not work for the girls but the humiliation was the agent which motivated them to perform and succeed in the second half of the game.

Don’t build an organization
Build Cross Functional and Mutli-skilled teams to achieve your dream

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