Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Drucker on the privileged access to management

"No greater damage could be done to our economy or to our society than to attempt to "professionalise" management by "licensing" managers, for instance, or by limiting access to management to people with a special academic degree (empahsis mine)"
                      -Peter F Drucker in the "The Practice of Management" first published in 1955.

Monday, April 9, 2012


I was busy in office preparing a spreadsheet about a pilot I was running to gain customer insights. My mobile buzzed and I saw an email on IRMA's alumni page. It was about an alumnus named Manoharan who passed away due to cancer. He had passed out from IRMA in the late 80s and was working in tribal areas of Tamil Nadu.It was indeed a sad moment as one always find some attachment towards fellow IRMANs no matter which batch they belong to.
After a few days, I stumbled onto Manoharan's blog. He also had a photo stream on Flickr. Reading his blog and looking at his photos left an impact. His blog postings and photos reveal a man with extraordinary strength. He took the illness in his stride and appeared to be absolutely unaffected by it. He seemed like a gentleman with extraordinary willpower.
As mails from alumni poured in, one came to know so much more about Manoharan. Son of a top Agriculture Government Employee he rejected IIMB and came to IRMA. He topped his batch and went on to work at the grassroots. When he was working in AP, he was abducted by Naxals. But as an alumnus who recounted the episode put it "Naxalites kidnapped him suspecting him to be working for the government against them,interrogated him,got charmed by him and left him"

It is disappointing and sad when such beautiful people suddenly leave us. In the late 90s it was Sanjoy Ghosh who left us abruptly and now Manoharan. Beautiful people in the true sense of the word.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Rajan Memorial Lecture by Prof Prabhat Pattnaik

Last year, Prof  M S Sriram had delivered the Rajan Memorial Lecture. I had written about it in my blog. This year, Prof. Prabhat Pattnaik of JNU delivered the lecture. Prof. Pattnaik is one of India's leading economists and political commentator. Though I would have loved to be in IRMA to hear him speak live, the video of the talk is on youtube.

Friday, March 16, 2012

IRMA in the news

It is close to one year since I passed out of  IRMA and in the last few weeks, I have received some good news about IRMA and IRMAns.

  1. PranbDa making a grant of Rs 25 crore to IRMAin the Annual Budget. In true IRMA style, a lot of IRMA alumni have questioned what it means for the autonomy of the insititute.
  2. Two of my immediate seniors have been admitted to the John F Kennedy's Public Policy Programme at Harvard.
  3. Mamta Murthy an alumna of IRMA won a National Film Award for her documentary.
It is always a proud moment when the Institute and its brands (the students) achieve any important milestones.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On the consuming class and the destitutes

I make my way through the security and the large crowd gathered to watch a movie shooting. I pass by (now) familiar names-KFC, Taco Bell, Casio, Pizza Hut, Samsung, etc. I go to the box office and take out my Phone and check the booking number of the movie that I have booked online. I enter it into a touch enabled monitor. It throws out the ticket and I enter the  movie hall. There are a couple of foreigners sipping on Minute Maid. I look around and I see people busy on their Blackberries and Iphones.
 So I am at a multiplex in a mall situated in a very middle class locality in Bangalore. I am there to watch "The Descendants". The tickets are obscenely expensive. The minimum is Rs 260 and the maximum is Rs 350. The last row has these leather couches which turn into 180 degree recliners. All those recliners are taken. As the movie begins, I realise that the car Clooney drives, the phone he uses,etc are all available in India. And used by the so called "middle class".
So whats the point? The point is that the consuming middle class has increasingly become global. In 2005, Mckinsey had divided the Indian market into the "global indians" and the "aspiring class" and some more segments. In less than six years, my guess is that a large part the "aspiring class" is now part of the" global Indian" segment. This is co inciding with the recession in the developed countries.
 One part on why businesses are restless with  Indian policy makers is largely because of fewer opportunities available elsewhere in the globe. In an age when companies are filing for bankruptcy over a weekend, businesses are getting very impatient with Indian policymakers.

So while  the middle class educated Indians are enjoying the fruits of their labour, it is a disturbing trend about the" have nots". In developed countries, the have-nots have started believing that they will now become "have never". In India that pessimism is not there as yet. But it will only be a matter of time before the middle class will be accused of being parasitic.Of not having done enough to ensure that income disparity is reduced.

In that regard, opportunities for the less fortunate should be made available. In my own case, I have been extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity and choice by a "welfare" state. The whole of my education was subsidised by the government. So it is surprising that many of us are for privatising large part of the education system. Perhaps we are more proud of IIPMs than IIMs!

We need to understand that most of us today who are working in top notch companies, having globe trotting careers are a product of a welfare state and maybe brought up by a generation of parents who believed education was the best investment! And that education was available to all who were willing to work hard.

While we can be extremely proud that most of us are living a life comparable to those of the developed world, we need to be on a constant vigil to avoid the mess that they find themselves in today!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


If you keep hearing this word too often at your workplace or on a project you are spearheading, be sure that  tough times lie ahead. "Nitin, we need to align XYZ...." or "Going ahead, ABC Dept would need to be aligned". You can bet on it that pace of work will significantly reduce once you start aligning people.

Does that mean aligning people should not be done? Isnt it prudent to involve people so that everyone is aware of  what you are upto? Certainly. But not when its related to innovation or a shift from the "normal". Aligning people should be limited to "FYI". Sad but true,  top managers who have a bias for action will not waste their energy in aligning people which includes "buy-ins".

In fact one has to realise that most meetings which are held in organisations to discuss proposals are merely an attempt to give autocracy a facade of democracy. And in an increasingly fast environment, aligning people may be a waste of time and resources. More importantly, it can paralyse an organisation on a certain project leading to low motivation, lack of focus and procrastination.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Week 2 of '12

As I sit in my small room in Bangalore to write about the past one week, I realise that the road to achieve excellence is a tough one. If the first week ended with a presentation to the Marketing Director, this week had me present the findings of my research to the Managing Director. Honestly, I did not expect to be in front of Rajeev Bakshi (our MD) within seven months in the job. But that is a perk one gets when one works with the Strategy Head.

He was satisfied with our work. But then, as my boss told me later, managers have a bias for action. So as per Rajeev's advice,  we got into the execution mode and made a prototype of the project which will go live next week.

This meant that another weekend was spent in the office. The extremely asocial life that I lead now affords me the luxury of spending most of my waking hours in office. But I am not sure how long will this work life be sustainable. As long as I am enjoying what I am doing, it pretty much does not matter.

This week, I started getting "pings" and calls from my juniors from IRMA. Even those who never spoke to me! I realised that they now enter that phase where certain tough calls have to be made. In other words, its placement season. The question they asked me was largely revolving around " How should I prepare for METRO?". Surprising since the two years in IRMA should have prepared you for all the jobs in the market. But then we dont live in an ideal world. Rather than matching the job to our skills, we tend to match our skills for the jobs. This of course leads to job discontent in the long run.

However, I refrain from giving such advice personally. I realise that its a tough period for them. And I also realise that post placement, they will realise that even this event like the one getting into IRMA are small and even negligible to the larger role that so many other things will come to play in our lives!

Hopefully, the next sunday I blog, I will have executed a pretty good pilot with some good results! Amen to that!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The week that was....

It has been a long time since I blogged. Perhaps my life is not as exciting as it was in IRMA. Or maybe I have fewer issues to write about. But the time is right to start off blogging again. Perhaps 2012 will be laden with events, experiences that will push me to note them down here.

I was in Mumbai for the New Year. No particular reason to be there except to be with the family. Also, I realised I had not taken any leave and most of it would lapse. Hence I took a couple of days off and went home. The break was much needed as the first week of the new year was going to be very hectic.

Currently, I am working with the Strategy Head on a business plan. The market analysis was to be presented to the Marketing Director. Hence most of my waking hours were spent in the office. The presentation went off smoothly. If the week was hectic, the weekend was as lazy as it could get.

Hopefully, the the remaining 51 weeks would be as productive as this week was. With some books lined up for reading, I think it is time to read, and apply it to my life;professional and personal as well.