Friday, September 29, 2006

Marketing ain't easy

We had great fun today. The teams gave their Marketing presentations.Each team was required to produce a marketing plan ,the objective of which was :
(1) the re-launch of previously failed product or service or:
(2) launching a new product/service into the Canadian marketplace.

The teams had put in a lot of effort and the results showed. The quality of presentations was excellent. Here are the products that were launched/ re-launched by the teams:
  • Orbitz – A (soft)drink with balls !!
  • White Coffee from Starbucks – Put your best smile forward
  • COOKvenience – A kitchen where you can go , cook, chat and don’t worry about cleaning dishes or cutting vegetables
  • Powerkidz : Packages Lunch for the school kids – Healthy prepackaged nutritious food for school
  • Water Scooter: Named “Duo”, appeals to all generations, a 4stroke vehicle
  • Cottonelle – A premium toilet paper that you’ll love to use !
  • NFL in Canada – You better support your home team !
  • Emerald : New VW car for the ultra premium segment
  • Bombay Spice : Indian Fast food takeaway at Downtown Toronto.

This was a very exciting class..The professor asked us a lot of questions and the teams answered them confidently.... From Market research data…to using the internet for spreading the buzz through word of approaches on CRM. A lot of takeaways from this 4 hr session.!

At the end of this course today, we had all realized that Marketing is not easy as it appears. It is not about talking and selling ( as most of the world thinks!). It is about research, understanding consumer trends, behaviour and patterns and a lot of finance and numbers. STP is very important.

We have Marketing strategy in the next stage and I look forward to that course.
BTW, I got fantastic marks for the Indione assignment in Marketing. So, if Ratan Tata is looking for a young manager to kickstart Indione in Canada, do let him know.:)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A statement that Prof Dacin made in the Change Management class that made me think hard:
" The last thing a fish recognizes is the water it is swimming in"

Applies to a lot of companies that have a problem within the organization but fail to recognize them.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dressing for Success

The girls in our class definitely know how to dress for success. Check out this article that appeared in a leading newspaper yesterday.Image consultant and national spokesperson at Holt Renfrew, lectured on "Dress For Success", in Toronto for female MBA students from Queen’s University .

This is what the article had to say about the girls in our class

This was the first time the event ran for these MBA students who are in the
fulltime, one-year program at Queen’s. They are part of an elite group of nine
women in a class of 45 men. Larry Rosen, son of the refined clothier Harry
Rosen, had previously addressed the entire class about corporate attire, but
most of the tips were tailored to the male audience.“Even though the women sat
in on that, a lot of it wasn’t geared to us,” says MBA student and business
consultant, Sarah Milton, who initiated the Holt’s event

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Queen’s MBA to offer unmatched customization
Innovations to full-time program allow participants to tailor academic experience

Queen’s School of Business today announced an innovative new approach to its highly acclaimed full-time MBA program. This unique program is the first in Canada to provide participants with an academic experience customized to their personal needs.

“At Queen’s School of Business, we are constantly innovating to ensure we provide the best business education in the world,” said David Saunders, Dean of Queen’s School of Business.

“With Queen’s MBA, we have taken one of the world’s best MBA programs and made it even better.” With an exciting new core curriculum that reflects the latest in business and academic thinking, Queen’s MBA builds exceptional business leaders through a program based on four important pillars — a Personal Learning Pathway™, transformational team-based learning, integrated cross-functional thinking, and international exchange opportunities. The leading-edge Personal Learning Pathway allows participants to customize a program that builds on their personal strengths, needs and aspirations. In addition to a personal development coach who guides them through this process, participants will have their own career coach, team facilitator, personal trainer and an academic advisor to help realize their individual goals. Through its transformational team-based learning approach, Queen’s assigns students to teams that mirror the workplace and allow students to develop and hone their team and leadership skills.

Highly creative applied integration exercises take the program to the next level by emphasizing integrated cross-functional thinking, which enable participants to look at business issues from a comprehensive leadership perspective. And finally, students can participate in a cross-cultural academic experience through an exchange with one of the School’s many international business school partners. To further customize their academic experience, participants will now have the choice of four new elective streams — Consulting & Project Management, Marketing, Finance, and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. “The new program innovations offer a level of customization that is unprecedented in the Canadian MBA market,” said Shannon Goodspeed, Director, Queen’s MBA. Queen’s faculty developed the new curriculum and program structure after consulting with several key stakeholder groups — employers, alumni and prospective students. Applicants will continue to be required to have a minimum of two years work experience. Tuition for the Queen’s MBA is $58,000, which covers the full 12 months of the program, and includes tuition, books and other instructional materials. For more information on the new Queen’s MBA, visit

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Value Based Leadership

A few days earlier, in the Leadership class, the students were asked to participate in the “Alligator River Story”. We were given a short overview of the situation and were asked to form an opinion .We were to individually rate the most offensive and most defensive character in the story.

As I read the story, I got a clear picture of what the situation was .It hardly took any time for me to make a decision. The situation was crystal clear for me. I knew which character was right and who was wrong.

Prof Bill Blake then asked then class for their responses and tabulated them on the white board. To my surprise, the answers for a lot of us varied. There were no correct answers but I was curious to know why individuals chose different answers. My classmates provided their reasoning on how they picked their most defensive and offensive character. I must admit that none of us were wrong.

This activity had learning for me. I realized how a lot of us take decisions in life based our on our experiences, background and education. I could relate to why certain people in the class stuck to certain decision. Their culture, religion clearly was the guiding factor in this decision. The question was the same for everyone. However, the decisions were different. The individuals pictured the story in their own circumstances and beliefs and took a decision and justified it.

The Prof then changed the story – He changed the gender of the characters and asked us to evaluate our decision. The class thought about it for a few seconds but their decision remained unchanged. I found that extremely interesting.

This incident brought in an important realization within me. As I sit and type this piece, I realize that I have my own set of takeaways from the class apart from the values based leadership. I now believe that the decisions we take in our life are based on two factors – one based on our experiences, background and upbringing. Second, based on our core values - that have become an integral part of us.As we grow older and experience different things, the first factor sometimes undergoes a change. But the core values are the one that guides us and helps one make a firm decision.

As leaders of tomorrow, we need to realize something important. We need to keep our core values intact but at the same time be open to new ideas, perspectives and change. When I first took my decision about who was most offensive, I thought I was definitely right. But when my classmates provided their reasoning, I realized that they too had a point. I learnt that I should stop making any decision based on certain assumptions or t listening to the other side of the story. With the world becoming flatter and a greater focus on diversity at work places being made, we are bound to interact with people from different countries, religion and culture. There will often be an internal clash within us on our value system. We need to make a fair decision and not be bound by external appearances, perception. We should evaluate a change and if we feel that it is right, accept it.

I know that this sounds easier than said. But working on this exercise had learning for me. Every time, I take a decision based in a jiffy, I will stop for a second and remember the Alligator story. I will question my assumptions and find out if they are fair and not biased.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Queen's Homecoming - MBA Class of ’81 gifts QSB $500,000

Queen’s School of Business welcomed an enthusiastic crowd at its annual Homecoming Brunch on Saturday, September 16th. The Atrium was buzzing with celebrants from across Canada, the U.S. and overseas who were greeted by a bagpiper as they entered beautiful Goodes Hall on a sunny Saturday morning.

From the largest contingent of BCom’96s to other BCom classes from 1986, 1981, 1976 and 1966, the Commerce program was well represented. The MBA’81s were the largest MBA group, but the MBA’71s, MBA’76s, and EMBA’96s were also out in force. The most senior alum present was Dan Mathieson, BCom’45.

Dean David Saunders addressed the brunch crowd with an update on School news and accepted fundraising gifts from two classes — $500,000 from MBA Class of ’81 and $76,000 from BComm’96. Class fundraising volunteers Andrew Hungerford, BCom’96 and John See, MBA’81, thanked their classmates for their generous contributions.

Wish we had more than 24 hrs

Time Management is the key here!
There are 100 tasks to be completed every day. Team memos, presentations, assignments, journals keep us busy. The case studies have to be read before attending the class.
Now, the info sessions too have started. The BIG consulting and Finance companies are here every other day to talk about how good their work place is and why we should consider joining them. McKinsey, Bain, Cap Gemini were here last week for the consulting aspirants. RBC, CIBC and TD bank came for investment banking positions.

BTW, Shannon Goodspeed, the Program director of the Queen's MBA program will be in India for the MBA tour. If you have any questions about the program or want to impress her to improve your chances, do meet her.

She is a wonderful lady and will patiently answer all your questions !
The dates:

New Delhi - September 25
Bangalore - September 27
Mumbai - September 30

Friday, September 15, 2006

7 Habits of a Highly Effective Consultant

The Consulting Club had a guest speaker today.Consulting Magazine named Mr.Atul Vashistha,CEO neoIT as one of the “Top 6 IT Powerbrokers” (2005) and as one of the “Top 25 Most Influential Consultants” (2006).He addressed the consulting club today through a videoconference.

It was a interactive session. He gave us an overview of what neoIT does and then shared his views on the consulting industry. He also talked about the trends across the world (Globalization).

Some takeaways:
He states that in his organization, he expects the consultants to have certain traits.
He refers to these traits as “hallmarks of a good consultant” and calls it the “7 Habits of Highly Effective Advisors”. They are
• Skills in client acquisition
• Skills in Client retention (Show the value to clients)
• Focus on Client delivery
• Providing New services
• Staff Development (Develop your juniors)
• Developing knowledge (Stay ahead of the curve)
• Managing supplier relationship (Get involved with the Stake holders)

A few more tips for wanna be consultants:

Always be Client Focused
Get used to travel
Get used to challenging some one in a very collaborative environment.
You might not see the execution even if you set the strategy.

A few traits that you should develop
• Multitask oriented
• Very adaptable
• Autonomous
• Thought Leaders

We found the talk extremely interesting. We thank Ashok for organizing the event.

Command and Control

We had a guest speaker for last evening.Colonel Pat Stogran from the Canadian army gave a presentation on military operations management (called command and control) based upon his experiences in Afghanistan.I enjoyed his talk.

3 years ago an incident took place when US planes fired upon and killed 4 Canadian soldiers.Col Stogran was the commanding officer at the time. He gave us rare insights into the effectiveness of directive versus directed command.
Some takeaways from his presentation.

Road Map to Leadership-Enhanced Command
1.Know Yourself

2.Value Others

3.Aim High

4.Celebrate Success,even in failure

5.Be brilliant at the basics


7.Don't run, it will worry the troops

8.Reflect actively

9.Live to learn.

10.Lead in life.

Leadership is an art of command.It involves action,relationship,vision and experimentations.
Management is the science of commandIt involves planning,designing,directing, supervising

He also talked about Situational Leadership

Monday, September 11, 2006

Learn to Fly in Canada

One of my team mates ,Sushee, is some one who can handle many things at the same time. He is on the student council,is a fitness freak and is passionate about flying.

While working at Bell Canada as an Associate Director he got hooked on aviation and flew part-time in a Cessna. He plans to become an entrepreneur on completing his MBA and has a big idea on which he is currently working.

For the time being, he has set up a pilot training center in Canada. In case you are interested, you can check the details here.

He has also added a promotional video,
Do check it out.

If you are in India and want to become a commerical pilot at a short time, Sushee claims that this is the best option.

The Sales Process - 10 important steps

Few golden words from Shannon in the sales class today.
  1. Prospecting ( Funnel approach, quota)
  2. Preapproach ( Making the sales call, sales planning, sales call objective)
  3. Reasons for planning the sales call
  4. Presentation ( Participation,Proof, Visual aids, Persuasive communication,Demonstration)
  5. Trial close
  6. Determine the objections ( Meeting them)
  7. Meet the objections (answer them)
  8. Closing the trial
  9. Closing techniques
  10. Follow up
5 objections that a customer might have
  • Product objection
  • Source objection
  • Money objection
  • Statlling objection
  • Hidden objection

The qualities of a Salesman

Do you enjoy sales ? ..Be honest.

We all know that Sales is a tough job. Some people stay in sales because they think that this is a temporary thing...some get into it as they have no choice.... and some simply like the challenge involved in sales.

Shannon Goodspeed, the program director, is teaching us the Sales portion of the Marketing Fundamentals . An MBA from Queen's University, she has rich experience in sales working for HP and other tech companies.

Here are some useful tips she shared with us in the class:

A succesful salesperson always looks for 3 qualities in his prospective customer:

  • Money to spend
  • Authority to take a decision
  • Need for the product.

Lee Iaococca said his success in sales was based on the CADIF principle

  • Commitment
  • Attention to
  • Detail
  • Immediate
  • Followup

Customer personality styles are of 4 types

  • Analytical
  • Driver
  • Amiable
  • Expressive

You can read more about the customer profile here

Blogger in their midst

Blogging is a double edged sword.Employee blogs can do much to enhance a company's reputation, but they can also cause damage if clear blogging guidelines are not set.
We discussed a HBR case study last week on this.

A blog is inexpensive, has a huge market reach and can be used as a powerful marketing tool. But if unauthorized and confidential information is revealed to the public, serious implications can result to your business.So, realize the potential of a blog.

BTW, the case has been posted on a site. You can read it here

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Value Based Leadership

As a person, what do values mean to me?
As a leader, what values do I believe in?
I often wonder what these meant to me and today things are clearer.

"What do values mean to us? We all talk about honesty, integrity, respect for others etc.
But if you want to know what you value, spend a minute thinking about the things that
you spent your money last year on. You will know what you value most"

"If you want to know the values of an organization forget about their Mission Statements,
vision etc. Look at their budgets. Values are best judged by what you spend your time on
and your money on"

Sometimes you hear someone speak and every word that the person spoke stays in your mind for a long time. Today was one such day. For the leadership class, we had a guest speaker. No, the person who addressed the class was not any business tycoon. It was a lady with a golden heart. Sister Elizabeth Davis was the President and Chief Executive Officer with the Health Care Corporation of St. John’s from 1994 to 2000.As Sister Elizabeth spoke about her experiences and shared her wisdom, a strange feeling built inside me. I am being honest-her thoughts on leadership were very inspiring. During her tenure at the Hospital, Sister Davis helped oversee the hospital a major reorganization in Newfoundland. .During that time with the Hospital a number of services were integrated. She had to take some bold decisions-like closing some hospitals and this was no easy decision for a nun. As she spoke about her experiences, I could feel the pain and a clash in her views.

She made a very interesting point that caught my attention. Toronto is the only city in the world that has the maximum diversity. The city is very diverse (44% non Canadian origin) and has folks from various parts of the world. It is important for us that we just not acknowledge diversity but also appreciate it. True learning comes from there.We must realize that we do not live in a changed world anymore, we instead live in a world that is constantly changing. So, no matter where you work, appreciate diversity and make that your strength. A variety of people get different ideas, fresh perspectives and this will help you solve a problem better. We must hope that moments of incredible change are also moments of incredible opportunity. In the organizations we work in the future, there will be multiple cultures. It takes strong leadership to knit them together and make the best use of them.

. She also talked about the nature of people. She mentioned that humans have a tendency to get discouraged very easily. So, as a leader, it is up to us to make encourage them. I remember reading an article in HBR that said that leaders are often very lonely. So, I asked her if she ever felt discouraged and low at times. Yes, she said. At times, she found it tough to get people to produce their best. She also mentioned that in her leadership role, she had realized that the greatest reward comes from helping people know how good they are.

Towards the end of the speech, she showed us the picture of the Inukshuk. It is an ancient symbol of Inuit culture traditionally used as landmarks and navigation aids. Look at the picture and the granite statue represents a human form with outstretched arms. Each inukshuk tells its own story, perhaps pointing to a good source of fishing or hunting, perhaps showing the path to the next inukshuk. Whatever the message is, one community is sharing the fruits of its learning, sharing its wisdom with another community. For centuries, the Inukshuk is used a guidepost that provided direction to thousands of people. Leadership is something like that. Leaders provide directions and show the path to their people. The Inukshuk is made up on broken stone and like the broken rocks used to create the symbolic inukshuk, sometimes we must break rules , make mistakes, work with our people to provide the right direction. This is one speech that was truly inspiring. The speech received a thunderous applause.In the future, every time I think about my values on leadership, Sister Elizabeth's words would flash into my mind.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Queen’s MBA Walk Across Canada Challenge

The MBA students in the class were given a free pedometer.The pedoneter has great features such as Total Distance counter,Panic Alarm,Calorie Counter,Timer etc apart from the regular features.And the reason for providing us the pedometer was for "Walk Across Canada" challenge.
This is part of the "Fit to Lead" initiative by Queen's and is a new competition among all the Queen's MBA program.

Here are a few more details from the post on the portal:
What is it?
We are challenging each current MBA class to walk across Canada.

Who are we competing against?
The competition
-AMBA, EMBA, MBAST, Queen’s Cornell, Ottawa and QSB Staff
-The equalizer - Top 30 on each team count toward weekly team totals
-The goal is for each team to walk 7,281Km of the Trans-Canada Hwy.
-Prizes for top teams and individuals

How do we compete?
Count your personal steps to help your class walk the Trans-Canada Hwy from Victoria BC to St. John’s NFLRecord your steps and keep track of the progress.

The Standards
5Km =10, 000 steps
30 people at 10,000 steps/day = 48 days to Walk Across Canada

The Heart and Stroke has paired with Queen's for this great Challenge.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Change Management and Madonna

Prof Tina Dacin, one of the “jewels of the Queen’s school of Business” is teaching us Change Management this stage. Prof Dacin was rated by Business Week as one of the Outstanding Faculty at a US Business school. She is also a visiting professor at the Kellog MBA School and ISB.

Prof Dacin’s teaching style is very unique. There are some professors who know the art of teaching and she is one of them. When she teaches , she give examples, present facts, shares experiences and finally weave a story to make you realize a strategy framework for change management.For example, to introduce the concept of change in an organization, the class had to analyze a case on Robin Hood. You can read the case here. We analyzed the problems Robin Hood was facing and had to come up with recommendations. It was fun to hear some of the folks in the class use terms like "niche market", "Value proposition", "competitive advantage", "process reengineering" while describing the solutions for Robin Hood.

To make us understand how companies have been successful over a period of time by adapting to change, she gave us the example of Madonna.

The picture on the left was displayed and we were asked to analyze the reason for Madonna’s success . The sucess reasons can be attributed to the following factors:

I am sure that thre will be plenty of takeaways by the end of this course.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Happy Teachers Day

I slept really late yesterday. I had an assignment to submit this morning. When I was working on the assignment, I happened to meet online a senior from high school. He was from the batch of 1976. He reminded me that Sep 05 was Teachers day in India. He had called up Baljeet Kaur ma'm in the morning to wish her.I think that was indeed a very special act !She must have been touched.

On this special day, I thank all the teachers who have shaped my life.I wouldn't have been where I am today without them. Thanks a ton !

The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires.
--William Arthur Ward

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A few interesting articles that caught my attention
  • Unlike TV or radio, the internet is a relatively new arena for advertisers. With the clever consumer knowing how to block the advertisers' pop-ups, companies are having to find new ways to sell their products onlineon. Read the article here
  • reveals price of Microsoft . How much will you pay for Vista.
  • Browzer-A web browser that leaves no trace of a user's online surfing habits on their computer has been released
  • Sabeer Bhati will help set up a Nanocity in India. Set up at Rs.50 billion ($1.07 billion) Nanocity expects to be better than the Silicon Valley of the US. !

Friday, September 01, 2006


The Queen's School of Business Alumni organized a 3 hr info session called "August Course for Queen's University Investment Banking and Related Industry Education (ACQUIRE)" to provide us an overview of Investment Banking. 18 of the MBA students had signed up for it and we all traveled to Toronto for the event. It was very well organized and the alums talked about the below topics
  • Introduction to Investment Banking
  • Why investment banksing as a Career Path
  • Capital Structuring
  • The M&A advisroy process
  • Trends in the IB industry
  • Introduction to Private Equity
  • Positioning yourself and Interview Tips

Queen's School of Business Alumni - I Bankers from JP Morgan,UBS, CIBC World Market etc

My classmates who have a "strong interest in Finance"

Sound Canadian

Read the complete article here.

Your accent tells people your heritage. Not only is that something to be
proud of, it can indicate you are multilingual and have experience beyond

Language issues can be a huge stumbling block in developing or advancing a
career.That's a truth not only for foreign-born professionals but for many
Canadian-born English speakers, says Bonnie Gross, a speech pathologist and
president of Toronto-based training firm SpeechScience International

"No matter how bright and knowledgeable you are, if you are aiming
for management or leadership, you need the ability to get your message across
and have it understood immediately, or you are going to miss out on

  • Why does it matter that people have different ways of expressing
    "In everyday life it doesn't but, in the business world, where
    you have to convey information precisely, if what you say is confusing or sounds
    too laid back, people will get the impression that you lack expertise and
    enthusiasm," Ms. Gross says
  • Listening to and trying to emulate others who speak English well can help,
    but you must be systematic about it and tune your ear to subtleties of emphasis
    and pitch.
  • It is also difficult for people from India to pronounce words that contain
    the combination "th" or that start with the letter R. Repeating
    a sentence like 'With or without the ruler" about 50 times in a row slowly each
    day for several weeks will help make the pronunciations flow more naturally, Ms.
    Gross says.