Monday, March 26, 2007

Another reason to do your MBA

He is the role model in B schools across the globe and he stated yesterday that his biggest regret is not having an MBA degree in his career

Read the article here

Another interesting point that he made
""Being Indian is a matter of pride and so I still hold an Indian passport,"


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Business Plan Competition

If you are planning to do your MBA and after that plan to start your new venture, here is a tip for you. Before you start your school, seriously think about what you want do .Once you are sure about this dream of yours and are committed to it, ensure that throughout your MBA program, you get your Business Plan reviewed by the professors.

That is what a few of the folks in our class did. A special mention goes to Sushee who plans to start a chartered air service after his MBA. He was in my team and I have seen how passionate he is about this venture. For the last 10 months, he made it a point to get his plan reviewed by everyone who could help him with it. Queen’s provides access to some wonderful contacts and he made sure that he made some best use of it. For the past 10 months, he incorporated what we learnt at school into his business plan. Be it the management accounting concepts or the marketing strategy, or the technology strategy class or the new ventures fundamentals, he made sure that he worked with the professors on his plan.

The results are showing. His business plan has drawn a lot of interest from angel investors. And the best part is that his plan has entered the finals of the IBK Capital-Ivey case competition. He will be pitching his plan to a panel of judges made up of venture capitalists, successful entrepreneurs, consultants and academics. That for sure is fun.
You could get the contest details here

World Cup: The Dream is Over

"1.1 billion people and India couldn't produce 11 players who could win the cup"
That was what one of my classmates had to say who was watching the Cricket World Cup with us on the big screen. :(

We had perhaps one of the strongest Cricketing teams on paper and yet the Men in Blue couldn't deliver.Itz over.India is out of the Cricket World Cup.

And like billions of Cricket fans in India who treat the Cricketers as God, am disappointed too.The most painful part is that my friends and I would now be watching the Bangladesh Vs Australia and Bangladesh Vs NewZealand match live at Antigua next week.We had never expected this scenario.!

Anyway, the Aussies and the Proteas are excellent teams and it would be great to see them in action.The worst part now is that all those who had booked their tickets expecting a Indo-Pak match will now have to watch the Bangladesh-Ireland match.

Aargh!! What a disappointment!


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Readings, Assignments and Farewells

The last week was very busy. The Advanced Global Strategy elective came to an end. This is a subject that I thoroughly enjoyed. In the previous stages, I loved attending the Business Strategy and the International Business Course. This elective, I felt, integrated the both and moved my learning to a new level.

The world is becoming flat and companies are going global. I chose a Global MBA program such as Queen's coz I felt that I would have the best of both worlds and I felt this course totally reconfirmed my decision. Everyday, we had at least 50 pages of reading to do before the class. The readings were excellent and broadened my thinking. We also had to prepare for a case and on certain days had to write a paper. I learnt a lot about global and transnational companies. I also got some great insights on when to standardize and adapt to suit the local consumer needs when a company goes global. One of the best cases was about a Filipino fast food joint "Jollybee" that has made quite an impact in California, US.

Last week, I also got a chance to have lunch with the director of our MBA Program (along with 3 other students). It was great talking to her. We shared our thoughts about the program, and how we felt about the last 11 months. There are some great profiles in the next year’s batch and with the change in curriculum, am sure the incoming batch is going to have a great time (read lots of work!).

The Graduate Residence folks too organized a farewell last week. In the past few months, it has been great knowing some very talented folks who stay in the residence. They are from different backgrounds (Arts, Law, Medicine, IR, Occupational Therapy, Physics etc) and interacting with them has given me a new perspective. The folks were quite sentimental and some of them even couldn't control their tears :)

Check out the pics.
We also had the “MBA Games Thanksgiving party” on Friday and there is another one planned today as some folks move to Germany on an exchange program next week.


Discovering my Strengths

I have signed up for an initiative by the school that is in alliance with a consulting company that will help me work on the strengths I have.

I took a battery of tests based on which my key strengths were identified.Over the next few weeks, I will work with my coach to see how I can further leverage on these traits of my mine.

The Senior Principal of this Consulting firm was here at Queen's to make a presentation. Some interesting thoughts,points made:

"Do not try to teach a pig to sing- it wastes your time and annoys the pig"

"Each person's greatest room for growth is in the area of his or her greatest strengths"

"Weakness fixing prevents failure.Working on Strengths is the way to road to success"

"Talent reflects who you are, not what you know.
Talent is the capacity for consistent, near perfect performance"

"Strength= Talent + Skills + Knowledge"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Inzi - Farewell to the Gentle Giant

I still remember that day in 1992 when a young Pakistani batsmen hit some brilliant shots to lead Pakistan to the final of the Cricket World Cup.There are some cricketers who are made for game and Inzamam ul Haq from Pakistan is certainly one of them.

The man has had some tough time in the past few days ( as Pakistan made an early exit from the WC) and he announced his retirment. Today was his last one day international and as he walked back to the pavilion, the man was in tears.

End of a glorious career..We will miss you Inzi bhai.
Watch his farewell video here


Can Business Ethics be taught at B schools ? Read this piece

To be or not to be an MBA

“There are three boxes prospective MBA students should tick before embarking on the course: does the MBA fit in to a realistic career plan; am I ready to challenge myself and take risks and does the MBA school open real doors to the world, personally and professionally? If you can’t tick all three of these boxes, then don’t do it.”

Read this.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is one of those topics -- like Manchester United and the New York Yankees -- that raises passions both for and against. To CSR's proponents, encouraging companies to do more than the law demands to create a better workplace and society is a powerful force for good. To its opponents, this is dangerous thinking because it distracts companies from their true role in a market economy maximising profits while staying within the law

Read the complete article here

The Art of Outsourcing

An interesting reading that we had to do for Global Strategy.I also found the article on the internet.

Here are some points that CKP makes

"The outsourcing of lucrative information technology and high-end manufacturing work is not new, at least between U.S. companies. EDS, IBM, CSC and Accenture built their businesses on outsourcing.Kodak outsourced all IT work to IBM in 1989. Xerox outsourced it to EDS in 1994. The government has been outsourcing work to CSC from the early 1980s."

"The current outsourcing phenomenon is the start of a new pattern of innovation in the way we manage."

Some key advantages of Outsourcing:
1. Cost
2. Quality
3. Improvement in Process capabilities
4. Speed of reaction ( working acorss time zones)
5. Access to skilled labour

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Doing Business in India

We were analyzing a case today (Schindler Elevators)where the subject was how a western manager from Switzerland struggled to set up an organiazation in India and kick start his business.

As I read the case, there was a wonderful quote that I liked. Silvio Napoli, the manager said "To succeed in India, you have to be one half monk and one half warrior."

Wow ! Makes a lot of sense if somebody has worked in India!

Books to read or talk about

I have observed that if you are an MBA student (or planning to do one in the near future), there will often be various occasions (such as at cocktail
parties, interviews,class discussions,networking sessions) where one would be involved in converstations that are "intellectual". Basically, here either you would have to form an opinion or provide an insight based on one's experiences.Sometimes, there are discussions about books that folks have read and the key theme is discussed.

Over the past one year, I have often observed that while talking to senior management of a company , or while attending an interview or in a class discussion, there are often references made to certain key books.
So, here is a list of books for you to read if you are heading to a B school now.
Read the following books for a few reasons: You don't want to be left out when a discussion happens.You also want to show that you read books on diverese subjects
and have an opinion.And most importantly you will expand your thinking after reading these books.

1.World is Flat by Milton Friedman: Teacher taught me during my schooling that the earth was round. But the CEO of my company told Tom Friedman that the earth was flat and he wrote a best seller on that.The book has a very interesting perspective.
Pankaj Ghemawat,HBS prof does not agree with him but if you are coming from India and have been in the IT services industry, you would definitely want to read the book and reflect on it.

2.Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner: Economics explained in a very interesting manner.Teaches you to observe things around you and ask questions. Very interesting book! I had to do this as a part of my strategy assignment but I loved reading the book.

3. Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell: I would have also mentioned Blink by the same author. But the Tipping point was the one which I liked more. There is some interesting stuff that you can talk about if you are appearing for a Marketing interview.

4. Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim and Mauborgne : Have not read the book but plan to do so in the near future. People have talked a lot about it and it appears that this is not an "airport book" and has some interesting ideas on "How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant".

5.The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt: If you are talking to a guy who is into operations , this book is a must read. Theory of Constraints,Herbie - terms that you will commonly encounter. The book is an easy read and is a "must read" if you are looking for jobs in operations management.

Are there any other books that you think that one should read to sound intellectual in a cocktail party or in a class discussion that I am missing.? Do post your thoughts in the comments section.!


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pakistan Coach Bob Woolmer dead

"I would like to sleep on my future as a coach" he had said in Saturday's post-match news conference. And he never got up.

This weekend could perhaps be labeled as the worst weekend for Cricket Fans in India and Pakistan.Bob Woolmer, the Pakistan coach died in his hotel room after Pakistan suffered a humiliating defeat against Ireland on St Patricks Day.

In another upset, the Men in Blue (the Indian Boyz) lost to minnows Bangladesh. The Indian middle order collapsed like a pack of cards and the bowlers looked helpless when the Bangladeshi batsmen displayed some terrific shots.I saw the match here on the screen (big one) and was very upset with the performance of our Indian Team.
I am still angry!

Pakistan is out of the Cricket World Cup and India has to win both of its next matches if it wants to keep any hopes of winning the world cup.

The atmosphere in India is full of tension. A billion Indians are upset ( and rightly so).Another loss could just be the end of the cricketing career for many Indian stars. I hope things get better from here.

Bob Woolmer was a great coach who believed in his coaching style and the team. I hope his soul rests in peace and the Paki Boyz do well in the next match. That would be a tribute to the man who did so much for a cricket loving nation.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Itz Possible

He did it..and for the 1000 spectators at the stadium, they witnessed something that is unlikely to be repeated again in the near future ( or will somebody to it again?!)

Gibbs from South Africa smashed six sixes in one over.!!
Man, thatz the best thing for a batsmen and a nightmare for the bowler.

Here is the article with the ball by ball details.

The real winner:Johnnie Walker would donate 1 million dollars to the Habitat for Humanity charity (which campaigns against poverty around the world.).

Sehwag, Sachin, Dhoni ...What surprises would you show in the WC for your fans?

By Invitation Only

Go Queen's !!

"Twelve of the leading business schools from around the world will come to Boston for the Second Annual International Tech Strategy Business Case Competition, March 29 through 31, 2007. Hosted by Boston University School of Management, The Motorola Foundation is sponsoring this event for the second time, with total prizes of $45,000, paid directly to the students on the winning teams. The students will have 24 hours to build a case that addresses particular problems within the general subject of seamless mobility.

The eight U.S. and four non-American business schools competing are Boston University School of Management; Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona; Graduate School of Business, Stanford University; Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta; Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University; Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill; London Business School; McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin; Queen's School of Business (Canada); Seoul National University (Korea); Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania"

Read the complete article here

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Desi Life

If there is a new segment that has a potential to generate a lot of revenue in the future in your market, would you ignore it? Certainly not.!!

That is what one of the national newspapers in Canada -Toronto Star did. It sensed an emerging trend and has started an initiative towards it.The Toronto Star sometime back started a magazine called "Desi Life" to cater to the needs to the South Asian Community in Greater Toronto Area.

Wondering why?Well, here is their reasoning.
"Canada is home to about 1 million South Asians - 600,000 in the GTA alone - and Statistics Canada predicts this ethnic group will be the largest in Canada by 2017. Desi Life will fill a significant gap in the media market with high-quality content and design, and extremely targeted distribution. "
Makes good sense too me.!!

If you are a North American, you would wonder why the name "Desi"?
Here is the explanation.
"The word desi comes from the Sanskrit meaning countrymen and refers to people from the Indian subcontinent - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.". The magazine further goes on to say " Desi also refers to a hip new subculture, which represents a fusion of South Asian and Western, in food, fashion, music art, dance, etc."

Check out the online edition of the magazine here

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Apple Lessons - Creating the Buzz

The Apple iPhone has generated " $400 million in free publicity" as per a Harvard Business School professor David Yoffie.

Check out this interesting article.Here is what companies could learn from the Apple Marketing Manual.(from the article)

•Make innovative products.
•Keep it simple.
•Create truly memorable ads.
•Find an enemy. (Apple has never been shy about blasting the competition, encouraging the world in its advertising to "think different" and use its products.)
•Work the taste-makers. Out of necessity, with a tiny and then declining market share for computers, Apple had to work harder to get its products in front of the public.
•Offer surprises. Apple is well known for efforts to keep launches close to the vest, to the point of suing secret-spilling bloggers.
•Put on a show.
( "Steve works harder than almost any CEO at being the master showman," Yoffie says.)

Earth- Round or Flat?

We have all read/heard about Tom Friedman's philosophy of how the "World is Flat"

In the advanced strategy class, Prof Doug Reid introduced us to another article by Pankaj Ghemawat on Why the earth is Isn't Flat.

There was a very interesting discussion that followed.Hearing the two sides,I could draw my own conclusion.Do give the article a read.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Alma Mater

We had a new addition to our class today.An exchange student from the Indian School of Business joined us. He will be here for about 2 months to experience the Queen's B School life and the Canadian Culture.

In the afternoon, when I was having lunch with him,I got to know that we both share the same alma mater.We both graduated from the same engineering school in India.I graduated from the program in 2000 and he joined the school at that time.!

It is a small world ..isn't it.?I would have never expected something of this kind....Meeting some one from my engg school in my class.!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Conflict Management

This MBA program has really made me come out of my comfort zone and has made me try out things that I would have never ever considered doing. For the Strategic Leadership classes, the teams had to come up with a 20 minutes presentation on a particular topic. Our team gave a presentation on "Conflict Management".

We introduced some tools, tests, and tips on how to manage and, effectively resolve conflicts. For the presentation, we shot some videos of scenarios demonstrating how conflict could arise and even had some pictures taken.I can't upload the videos cause one could see how uncomfortable I am with my acting abilities.

In any case,here is one of the various pictures that we took for the scenarios ! BTW, you can determine your conflict management style by taking a simple test here

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Practical Coach

As a part of the Strategic Leadership course, we were asked to read the book "The Practical Coach: Management Skills for Everyday Life by Paula J. Caproni".

I had thought that this would be just another of those books that would have some cheesy stuff on motivation and crafting life but I was completely wrong. The book is very rich in content. A lot of the stuff is common sense( very uncommon) but has content that makes you stop for a second and reflect on how and where your career is heading.There are a battery of tests that are aimed at self awareness. The book has some solid stuff on managing subordinates, boss and peers.

You don't have to be a MBA student to read this book. If possible,get your hands on the book and give it a shot.Some content from the book that I found useful are posted here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Holi and Snow

It might be freezing cold here in Kingston.But you can't stop the desi boyz from Playing Holi.S was in Toronto this weekend and was kind enough to get some colors from Toronto.So,the cold monday winter morning at Kingston looked colorful when the folks played Holi. Unfortunately, I had a team meeting and couldn't be there to experience the fun.!
Check out the pics.

Indian and French Holi Combo!

The MBA Boyz

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Happy Holi

Herez wishing every one in India and outside India a very Happy Holi.
Holi is the festival of colors and is a lot of fun !!

My BIL sent me this pic where my nephew wishes me a Happy Holi !

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Beaches, Cricket and Us

There are three things that unite the whole of India - Music, Bollywood and Cricket.
With the Cricket world cup starting this month in the West Indies, it was very difficult for us to keep ourselves away from the action.

We choose the electives in stage 04 in such a manner that we could get a few weeks off in April.
We struggled to get the tickets but finally managed it.
We had trouble with Travelocity but finally managed to get the air tickets to visit the islands.
With hotel prices skyrocketing, we struggled to find prices that matched student budgets.
There were some hiccups in getting the Caricom visa but finally things fell in place.
In short,nothing could stop our determination. We finally have everything ready.

It is an expensive trip for us (with no money in our pocket, every dollar counts!!) but we all felt that this was the best time for us to watch the match. Four of the desi boyz from the Queen's MBA program will be there at Antigua during first week of April cheering the Indian cricket team when they play the Kiwis and the Aussies.

With Sachin and Dada in top form,and the Indian team looking strong, would this be a dream World cup both for them and for us.! Kumble ( my college alum) has mentioned that he plans to retire after the world cup. This also might be the last world cup for a lot of other folks .

Watching the ICC World Cup there at Antigua will be a dream come true for us.
Go India Go !!

I also learnt that one of my classmates was part of the sponsor’s team for the world cup that was held in South Africa.Another class mate was part of the architectural team that designed the structure of the Sir Viv Richards stadium at Antigua!! Also, as a part of the project management assignment, two Indians and a Pakistani guy worked together as a team to organize a dummy World Cup Event.We had great fun doing that.

So, is it coincidences or do I see world cup fever everywhere. Anyway, if you haven’t had a chance to see the Nike Cricket commercial,do watch it here. It is simply awesome.

Update:Elusive World Cup remains on Tendulkar's wish-list.Read the article here.

Built at Queen's University

Engineering from Queen's. MBA from Queen's.
This young star of our class was featured in the Queen's Alumni Profile.
Read more about her more here

Oracle buys Hyperion for $3.3-billion

I remember a few years ago when I worked on the Brio tool and Hyperion bought it. We had some Oracle Business Intelligence tools and Hyperion was clearly the choice of the technical team. And now , Oracle buys Hyperion for $3.3-billion

After reading the news,the technical person in me and the MBA guy that I am...I think that this is a good acquisition.! Finally, both agree on something!:)

Six "weapons of influence"

As a part of the Strategic Leadership course, we saw a wonderful video by Robert B. Cialdini. He talks about his 06 weapons of influence.

Did some more resarch over the net and came out with the Wikipedia link and this site. Interesting info. I should read his book.

This is an extremely powerful tactic and can even spur unequal exchanges. In one experiment, for example, half the people attending an art appreciation session were offered a soft drink. Afterwards, all were asked if they would buy 25-cent raffle tickets. Guess what? The people who had been offered the soft drinks purchased twice as many raffle tickets, whether or not they had accepted the drinks!

When you can get someone to commit verbally to an action, the chances go up sharply that they'll actually do it. For example, before starting your next meeting, ask each person to commit to following the posted agenda. Then, if anyone goes off on a tangent, just ask them to explain how it fits the agenda. If they can't, they'll quickly fall back in line.

3. Social Proof
Product endorsements are the most obvious application of the Social Proof. If you want someone to do something for you, be sure to let them see that many other people are already doing it or are willing to do it. Show them that others like them (and the more like them the better) believe in your product or are using it.

People also tend to like and trust anything familiar. The best way to build this familiarity is to have frequent, pleasant contacts. For example, if you spend three hours straight with someone you've never met before, you would get a sense of who they are. But if you divided the same time into 30-minute segments of pleasant interaction over six consecutive weeks, you would each have a much stronger and positive knowledge about the other. You have established a comfort level, familiarity, and a history with them. Their repeated pleasant contacts with your organization's services or products helps builds familiarity and liking.

5. Authority
You can put this general principle to use by citing authoritative sources to support your ideas. Look and act like an authority yourself. Be sure others know that your education and experience supports your ideas. Dress like the people who are already in the positions of authority that you seek.

6 Scarcity
For example, the object you've almost decided to buy is out of stock. The salesperson offers to check their other stores. And guess what? A store across town has one left! Do you buy it? Of course!

Whenever appropriate, you can use the Scarcity Principle.The possibility of losing something is a more powerful motivator than of gaining something. Let others (a customer, your boss, a lover) know what they will be losing if they don't say 'yes' to your offer.