The first of the CXO Leadership Series for the academic year 2015-16 at TAPMI started off with a bang with a lecture by Mr. Vijay Gopalan, CFO, Air Asia India. One of the most eminent personalities in the finance field, Mr. Gopalan started the series by delivering a highly stimulating and motivational talk. He started the GL by talking about his own personal journey towards reaching where he is today. After working eight years in Ernst & Young, he quit his job to pursue his passion for acting and radio jockeying. He spent the next three years exploring his artistic nature and spoke that they were the most memorable years of his life. He eventually returned to the finance turf and made his way up the corporate ladder. However he atones that though he may not have been successful in acting, he was happy that now he had had no regrets in life and could live free. One very important takeaway that he gave all the students through this story was that in life one must cherish their dreams and pursue them diligently no matter what the risks. He also motivated students to follow their passion in life and emphasized on the importance of ethics in today’s world.
He spoke extensively upon the aviation sector and explained thoroughly the nature of businesses operating in that industry. He explained very simply and eloquently why it is that so many companies struggle to make profits in that sector and why is it that they still continue to stay in business. The government heavily regulates the airline sector. Mr. Gopalan also stressed on the fact that India is the only country in the world where an airline is allowed to operate outside India, only once it has 5 years of operating experience and a fleet of at least 20 aircrafts. This regulation further prevents the companies from earning profits. Lack of transparency followed in fuel price setting cuts down profits that may be attained by a carrier. Archaic tax system followed in India transfers the burden from the airlines to air travelers. This has led to air travel being termed as an elitist mode of transport being out of reach of regular travelers. Students posed questions that broadly revolved around the future of the aviation industry and the financial implications of new firms trying to enter the industry. Mr. Vijay Gopalan patiently addressed the queries put forth by the students with real world examples to drive home the point better. Learning the inner dynamics of this highly controversial industry was indeed enriching and thought provoking for the students of TAPMI.
How do you feel coming back to TAPMI for an Alumni meet?
It has been a very great experience and nostalgic to come back to TAPMI. It’s good to connect with the old friends. TAPMI has played a big role in making us what we are now
You had a part time entrepreneurial stretch in your career, what made you leave that and go for a steady job?
When i was studying abroad during my 12th standard, I had worked in part time jobs to support my tuition fees, that was a turning point and gave me a great feeling of independence, accomplishment and thought me the value of money & hard work. When I was in B.Com., there was a lot of free time and I got into exhibition staffing and event management, It was great at that point in time but it wasn’t something which I felt I could scale up. So I did an MBA and joined HUL as a management trainee. HUL was a great experience as you are given tough jobs and large responsibilities right from an early stage and one moves across various division and roles , whenever I felt ‘I got bored of this job’, a new role with new challenge came up. Even now at Airtel, I run a circle with around Rs. 4500 crores and with approximately 700 employees. It is a far bigger scale than anything I can do on my own, while at the same time it is quite entrepreneurial.
Do you think India is still having a conservative attitude towards entrepreneurs?
I don’t think it is so anymore. More & more people are now willing to take a risk & strike out on their own , right from fresher’s out of college to people in mid management with very stable careers. The entrepreneurial bug is spreading and it’s now very “cool” to be an entrepreneur and PE ecosystem is also supporting them, with hubs like Bangalore being very active. Now even if you drop out of placement and opt for a start-up it builds an entrepreneurial image around you. Even when you work for say five years then resign and go for a start-up and come back to me, I’ll feel, ‘hey this guy got guts to do something on his own’ and you will be seen as a man with hunger, who can take risks & make things happen.
You have worked in various sectors in India and abroad, did you find any differences in competencies when it comes to different countries?
Every industry and every country has its own context. HUL in India is a market leader & one of the most respected companies and in a place like US it does not have the same stature as In India HUL is many times bigger than say P&G but that’s not the case everywhere. Similarly our largest selling cream is ‘Fair & Lovely’. It has a social context but in the western world it’s a different context. Therefore while the competences of hard work, resilience, team management remain the same in every place, you have to understand local culture, local insights and adapt to that. An aggressive pushy style might be a positive in some cultures but seen as a misfit in some other cultures.
Can you share us one challenge you faced in your journey in FMCG sector?
Part of my last role in HUL was business head of the Bakery business. Modern Bread was acquired by HUL from the government & operated as a virtual separate division. It was different from FMCG as it was a perishable product with 4-7 days shelf life & business was organized as an SBU with the factories, R&D , HR included as critical part of my role, in addition to Sales and marketing which was what all my prior roles had been. I would get involved in decision on capacities, capex, manufacturing, remuneration and rewards, which were all first time areas for me. Also Modern had been acquired from the government & had 1500 people, who I had to energize & motivate. The Modern team were the best in the bread business, but did not yet feel part of HUL as they were not integrated. It was a challenging role, but a great learning experience & helped me grow as a people and business leader.
While coming to Airtel, there was news in the recent past about Airtel planning to charge separate for Skype, don’t you think this will hurt Airtel as a brand?
I think essentially what we are saying is that there should be a level playing field. There is a certain cost of creating a telecom infrastructure & getting a license. It’s an ongoing debate, which will be taken up by the industry. But for now differential charging has been reversed.
How do you think TAPMI helped you in building your career?
I think it is 3 parts.
First, it played a big role in developing the conceptual learning, which helps you relate to and assimilate quickly into the real world and organization you join.
Second, the 2 year program gives you a 5-10 year head start as in most organization you entry point is somewhere in the middle and not at the bottom.
Finally third, it is the social context where you get to meet hundreds of students from various backgrounds and cultures. This really teach you how to be adaptable, adjust to situations, be self-reliant and come out of the comfort zone of your parental home. And get to build relationships for life and the fact that 50 people from 1997 batch are here today proves that.
Any suggestions for the TAPMI students on what competencies they need to develop to face the corporate world?
The concepts you learn here should be at the back of your mind and in real world you should see what is asked for and adapt to the situation. You should not keep saying that I learnt it that way and this is different. You need to unlearn and learn very frequently in the real world. Being pragmatic and aligning to the situation to get the job done is the mantra for success.
In this ever competing life of a budding manager, every minute is valued. Be it submitting a project report or sealing a deal with your business plan. Tapmi-Atharva has given a platform that instills the same in the minds of the students. In their intra-TAPMI B-Plan event “Sambhavana” you get 10 minutes to convince your judges how worthy your business plan is. Students’ hard work and creativity for many a days comes down to these ten minutes. It’s a make or break decision! One winner will get a chance to enter into the grand finale of the oldest and the most stimulating national B-School competition – “Sankalp”. Let’s gather some insights about Sambhavana 2015.
This year “Sambhavana” had six shortlisted teams – five from PGP1 and one from PGP2. The event was graced by judges Prof. Rajiv Shah and Prof. Sudeep Kumar – members of the faculty who are also experts in the domain of business plan analysis. The team from PGP2 was “Team Salt Mango Tree” comprising of Swapna, Ranjit and Arun. The teams from PGP1 were “Team NaMo” comprising of Shivam, Peush and Devang; “Straw hat Crew” which included of Sriram, Ravitheja and Teja; “Victorious Agents” having Abhishek and Ravi; “By 2 Coffee” with Aditya and Natesh and “Team Flavor” comprising of Aparna and Shreya.
In the two and half hour battle, every team got 20 minutes. Ten minutes to propose and explain their B-Plan and next ten minutes to sustain their plan from the array of questions by judges and audience. The Q&A round exceeding ten minutes for every team was a proof that it wasn’t a less arduous task. Teams not only had to answer the questions but also needed to make sure that the judges and the audience were convinced by the same.
Each team presented a unique idea which tickled the gray cells of every listener. The amount of hard work they put in was clearly visible from their thought processes, presentations and explanations. Each team had ideas from varied domains allowing their creative wings to explore. “Team Namo” presented an interesting app “Hello Doctor” through which a patient can reach a remote doctor while “Straw Hat Crew” presented an app for the trekkers. “Victorious Agents” presented their plan of starting a Skydiving firm “SkyFall Goa” and “By 2 Coffee” presented “Z-Axis” a 3-D printing business service module. “Team Flavor” added desi flavor by an idea of an online portal for handicrafts across the country while “Salt Mango Tree” presented a business model about facility management.
Everyone came out of the room becoming a bit extra knowledgeable and leaving the judges for the daunting task ahead. Now, it is a real tough challenge for the judges to select one team that would qualify for the finals. Participants cross their fingers as the results are awaited.
The 12th edition of “Quiz on the Beach”TM (QoTBTM), the flagship event of TAPMI, was successfully held on the exquisite sands of Kaup beach, and was well complemented with a scenic Arabian Sea sunset on January 4, 2015. The participants from Amity University – Abhimanyu Bhadauria and Sreshth Shah were declared Grand Finale Winners of QoTBTM 2015 with a grand cash prize of 6 lakhs! Participants from NALSAR University of Law and IIT-Madras were judged runner-up, winning 3 lakhs and second runner-up, winning 1 lakh, respectively.
18 teams had qualified for the Semi-finals which took place earlier in the day at TAPMI’s Badagabettu Campus at Manipal, including teams from all over the country and Dubai. Giri ‘Pickbrain’ Balasubramaniam of the TATA Crucible fame was delighted to be the Quiz Grandmaster for the Semi-finals as well as the Finals. In an exciting set of three Semi-final rounds, 8 teams progressed into the Grand Finale: Amity University, IIT-Madras, IIFT-Kolkata, NALSAR University of Law, Christ University Bangalore, BMS Bangalore, BITS Pilani – Dubai Campus and BIT Mesra – Ras Al Khaimah – UAE.
The city level qualifiers were conducted in seven locations across India – Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Kolkata and Manipal – along with an International qualifier in Dubai. An online qualifier was also conducted to provide an opportunity for contestants from remote locations to participate and be a part of QOTBTM 2015. TAPMI was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the participants of both the City and Online qualifiers.
The ceremony hosted by the Mahindra Group, Broadvision and covered by CNBC – TV18 was held at the Grand Hyatt, Mumbai and attended by some of the top industrialists in India including Mr. Anand Mahindra himself.
Mahindra War Room season 7 saw India’s best 36 B-schools fight it out to provide innovative solutions to different case studies covering various sectors. There were three rounds viz. Campus Round, CEO Round and President’s round. Each round was elimination round. The Team Garvit from TAPMI, Manipal comprising of Girish Hemnani, Shivam Sinha, Vineet Jain and Deepak Kumar shined into the competition as wild card entry from the South Zone. After becoming South Zonal Champions, the team entered the CEO round comprising of 22 teams. Since the team picked the Aftermarket business, they presented in front of CEOs of Aftermarket Business and Agri market business. The team successfully qualified for the Presidential round. The team then presented their ideas and solutions of the case to Group Executive Board of Mahindra Group which comprised of eminent leaders like Mr. Pawan Goenka(Executive Director & President), VS Parthasarathy (CFO, Mahindra Group), Mr. SP Shukla(President – Group Strategy), and Mr. Anish Shah(President – Group Special Projects).
After the presentation, Prakash Wakankar, CEO – Mahindra Retail praised the team for their outstanding performance during the final round. The team from TAPMI stood 5th and was inducted in Mahindra Hall of Fame.
It was a true vindication of the excellent pedagogy and industry readiness of TAPMI students as they were South Zonal Champions last year but couldn’tn’t make it to National finals.
TAPMI welcomed Mr.Damodar Mall, the man behind Big Bazaar, DMart and who is now with Reliance Retail. Mr. Mall is the author of the acclaimed book “Supermarketwalla : Secrets to Winning Consumer India” . Much of his interaction revolved around the contents of the book: why retailers should make room for the “elbow push factor”, how to stop short of becoming a “shopkeeper-in-law”, and what to design for the “Gold-collared man”, among other things.
Mr. Mall discussed about the rapidly changing demographics and psychographics of the Indian population which has given rise to new opportunities and new challenges for the marketer. One area where we see the effect of this change is in retail.There is no longer one solution for all and it has become imperative to get to know consumers at close quarters to be able to talk to them meaningfully.Mr Mall talked about the changing roles and ways of the modern consumer and the aspects of behaviour that define a person’s attitude to retail.
The interaction was very enlightening for the students as the speaker shared a lot of insights from the retail sector. He also answered various questions put forward by students. The guest lecture conducted by Mr. Mall at TAPMI was a great learning experience for the students, future retail managers and those who crave to understand consumer dynamics.
On 6th December,2014 Ms.Ronita Mukharjee, the Senior Client manager, Landor Associates graced TAPMI with her presence and gave students an insight to the world of branding. She started briefing about Landor Associates, being the oldest branding company started by Walter Landor. Walter Landor was a German product designer who started his company in 1941 while he was in San Francisco at a product exhibition. Landor has defined the meaning of branding and how we know of it today. Ms.Mukharjee showed us the logo of her company which was a big ship, she added that the very heritage begins with the Klamath. Their first office was a big ship equipped with impeccable infrastructure which included an amphitheatre and also clients enjoyed coming to their office.
Ms.Ronita Mukharjee spoke about how the culture and tradition is inculcated in their offices as well as in every Landor employee. Ms. Mukharjee took students into the world of branding and mentioned the prolific work of Landor with almost every brand we come across on a daily basis, for example Citibank, Café Coffee Day, FedEx, etc.
Ms.Mukharjee then talked about the services provided by Landor associates which includes Strategic designing, number crunching, brand image, logo creation, brand engagement and also employee engagement.
Ms.Ronita Mukharjee then engaged the students in a game where a picture of a product like Apple, and then asked the crowd what if apple was a hotel? What characteristics would we attach to it ? Likewise she showed pictures of BMW and what characteristics it would hold if it were a musical instrument. Then she told the students that the exercise was to voice the brand perception, brand image and brand recall that the Apple and BMW hold.
She further spoke about the difference between brand and branding, the main difference is that brand is something the firm believes is their product and branding the message that’s sent out through advertising and other marketing means which creates brand perception. “Brand is the story or meaning and branding is the signals that give the customer an experience”, she added. She ended the lecture with stating the most important characteristics of branding which are : Effectiveness, emotional connect, commanding a premium, reducing the risk for expansions and to galvanize employees.