Consulting – Overview and Problem Definition by Mr. Girish Shetty, Director, Consulting-Healthcare, Cognizant Business Consulting

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Consulting is one of the most sought after professions these days, which is growing in popularity not only among the seasoned industry professionals, but even among the fresh B-School graduates.

TAPMI, on the 31st of July, 2014 organised a Guest Lecture by Mr. Girish Shetty, the Director of Consulting -Healthcare at Cognizant Business Consulting, intended at giving the bright young TAPMI students an overview of the consulting world – what it involves and what it requires. The GL was delivered via video conference.

Mr. Girish Shetty is an MBA graduate from the University of Louisville, specializing in Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations. A seasoned professional with extensive experience as a consultant in the Healthcare domain, he had a lot to share with the students.

Mr. Shetty started off by giving an account of the evolution of consulting. Today, consulting has shifted from a pure advisory role to an implementation role i.e. the consultant’s role does not end with just giving the solution, the solution needs to be implemented as well. Another interesting aspect is the integration of consulting with technology and outsourcing in the modern world. Also, today, consultants are expected to be partners in innovation i.e. they are expected to be abreast of the latest technologies (for example – analytics, cloud computing, and mobility), so that they can help the client leverage these effectively. The final point in this regard was about the rise of asset based consulting, which is a departure from the traditional knowledge based consulting.

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Mr. Shetty now delved upon some of the traits of a consultant. He emphasized that a consultant is a professional, a problem solver, has superb communication skills and is a consensus builder. The consultant is a high energy individual who has the ability to deal with ambiguity and moving targets. He also stressed upon the importance of relationships and networking for a consultant.

According to Mr. Shetty, there are four types of consulting, broadly. Strategy consulting, which deals with top line and long term issues; Strategy/Operations consulting, which deals with cost cutting and the bottom line; Domain/Functional consulting, which deals with specific functions or domains and Technology consulting, which specifically focuses on the latest technological advancements.

At this juncture, he also pointed out that consultants are hired by people at various organisational levels for different purposes. For example, a CEO would hire a consultant for help with transforming the business or coming up with a new Business Model or paradigm. A functional Vice President on the other hand would hire a consultant to say, increase the efficiency of the functional business processes.

Mr. Shetty now ventured to briefly explain the consulting process, which he divided into two sub-processes, the selling process and the engagement execution process. The former deals with the selling aspect: identifying a problem, getting a Request for Proposal (RFP) and arriving at a proposal that the client approves. The latter deals with consulting engagement and solution hand over. Mr. Shetty also explained the consulting life cycle. A key point according to him is the importance of keeping a back-up plan. “Never have only one solution” is what he said to the TAPMIans. He also highlighted the importance of creating an implementation roadmap.

Mr. Shetty now talked about Problem Identification. According to him, there are five dimensions to keep in mind in this stage: Substance or identity, organisation or physical location (where is the effect of the problem), problem ownership (whose problem), absolute and relative ownership and the time perspective. He also spent some time on explaining the typical pitfalls in problem identification, an example being the tendency to confuse the symptoms with the problem, or the tendency to jump to conclusions in this stage.

The session concluded with an elaborate Q and A session. Mr. Shetty answered all of the many questions posed by the students with real life examples from his own experience. When asked about what is the biggest challenge for consultancy companies in the Healthcare domain, he replied that the main issue is concerns about data privacy. Unlike traditional sectors, in healthcare, some of the data is personal information about patients which has privacy issues. Another aspect he highlighted was the interplay between cost cutting and patients. Here, cost cutting has to be done after a lot of thought as patients’ lives are involved. He also talked about the role of analytics in Healthcare at this point.

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Mr. Shetty, in response to a question on career paths in consultancy also explained the progression from analyst to consultant to manager (consulting) to principal to partner: what are the roles and responsibilities at each of these levels.

Mr. Shetty concluded the lecture to rousing applause from the TAPMI students.

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Entrepreneurship: A Promoter-CEO’s Perspectives – Mr. Amrit Basu, MD and CEO, and Mrs. Kalyani Basu, Director, Vanilla-Beans Consulting Private Ltd

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On the fourteenth of October, 2013, TAPMI played host to Mr. Amrit Basu and Mrs. Kalyani Basu, of Vanilla-Beans Consulting Pvt Ltd. Mr. Basu addressed the students of TAPMI on Entrepreneurship, but from the perspective of a Promoter-CEO. It was an interesting lecture that served to give the students a flavour of what it is like to be an entrepreneur, and more specifically what it takes to be one.

Mr. Basu started off by first making a distinction between a CEO and a promoter CEO. In his view, a CEO merely drives and implements, whereas a promoter CEO ideates as well as executes. He made it clear that his talk was targeted at those students who seek to become entrepreneurs but are unsure about the nitty-gritties of the trade.

Then, he proceeded to talk about the base reason why so many people want to be entrepreneurs. He talked about the desire for freedom, control, and the need to excel. He pointed out that the first and most important thing any entrepreneur requires is courage – the courage to give shape to your ideas and go the full distance with it, despite many failures and setbacks. At this point, he also briefly described his journey from his early days in banking and foreign exchange trading to HR Consulting, and to the more recent Management Consulting domain. He used this as an example for the need to constantly seek out new avenues – a must for any entrepreneur.

Mr. Basu now set out to describe the various skills that a student, hopeful of becoming an entrepreneur must develop and polish. The first skill he touched upon was Business Development. Here, he highlighted the need to know the market (in particular competitors and differentiating factors) and constantly look out for opportunities to tap.

The second skill that is a must for an aspiring entrepreneur, according to Mr. Basu is the skill of negotiation: the ability to strike a balance, maintain long term relationships and price competitively, with an eye on the competition. Undercut (after evaluating the market conditions), where and if possible was a mantra he suggested here to stay competitive.

Another skill he talked about was the elevator pitch. Mr. Basu urged the TAPMIans to build an elevator pitch of both the company profile, and the self (for budding entrepreneurs). The idea here is that an aspiring entrepreneur must be able to pitch his business or himself to a potential funder within sixty seconds. The key to doing this is to put provoking questions in the minds of the funder, so that he/she will extend the time and ask you more questions and give you a chance to impress further.

Finally, he also touched upon a few other key skills to be developed: Crowd-sourcing (for ideas/money), marketing and social media, technical skills in the relevant domain, etc. He also impressed upon the TAPMI students the need to know the language and the jargons of the business and Entrepreneurship world, such as OPEX, CAPEX, Mark-up, Business Plan, and Return on Investment. He highlighted the need to meet investors early and convince them, not with presentation skills (as that does not work!), but with hard facts. A potential investor needs to tangibly see the potential returns.

Now, Mr. Basu ventured to give an idea about how to build your company. He talked about the kind of policies and systems that need to be put in place, which need to be employee-friendly. The work culture, in his opinion needs to emanate a sense of the freedom to innovate and a sense of ownership.

Mr. Basu concluded by urging the aspiring entrepreneurs amongst the TAPMIans to be courageous, have the fear of missing out (as it is a key driver), and to believe in the old adage “Winners never quit, Quitters never win”.

This was an enriching session that gave the TAPMI students practical tips and ideas about the skill-sets they need to build to be the outstanding entrepreneurs of the future.

First session of the TAPMI Guest Lecture Series 2013-14 by Mr. Rahul Mullick, Partner – Business Consulting and Technology, PwC

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T A Pai Management Institute (TAPMI), Manipal experienced an informative session by Mr. Rahul Mullick, Partner – Business Consulting and Technology, PwC on 17th June 2013. Mr. Mullick has rich experience in organizations like Microland, QAI, E&Y, Wipro, KPMG spanning over geographic regions like Delhi, Melbourne and Saudi Arabia. A proud alumnus of TAPMI (1997 batch), he addressed the gathering on ‘Careers in Consulting’.

Consulting according to Mr. Mullick broadly includes reusability of learning, an opportunity to meet people, making improvements, taking up new challenges – sometimes even with limited knowledge, working in teams, fast delivery, high quality output and growing careers. Right attitude and hard work are few of the major requirements for a consultant. Citing his experience over various roles along his career path, he reckons that there is always something new to learn in every new role taken up.

Mr. Mullick discussed the various skills a consultant is expected to have. Being smart, articulate, research oriented – thorough with data and analysis and thus investing in oneself is a mandatory. Being sales oriented helps in networking; being good at number crunching, having an eye for detail, communication skills and being methodical and organized are skills well appreciated in a consultant. He touched upon the basic behaviour that needs to be demonstrated in today’s corporate world. Being people first, a team person, taking up new challenges, taking ownership, being responsive, down to earth and most importantly being ethical are few facets which is expected from a professional. He also highlighted that it is not just an individual’s professional responsibility to do a good job, but it is a morale responsibility too.

Mr. Mullick gave a brief insight upon the career movement in consulting. Analyst and Consultant roles are generally in line with experience below three years. Similarly, Consultants and Assistant Managers usually have three to six years’ experience and are assigned as small project leads. Higher up – Principal Consultants and Managers with six to nine years’ experience are assigned as project managers. Managing Consultants and Senior Managers serve as service line or regional leaders or program managers; Associate Directors and Directors have expertise in their practice and are usually regional heads.

The speaker rounded off his speech by mentioning that at a B-school like TAPMI, its students are expected to always be at the forefront of team exercises, volunteering for tasks, eager to present output of team, good at preparing reports and documents, digging deep to research for output, staying connected with fellow team members, professors, industry and other B-school students. Thus, the first session of the TAPMI Guest Lecture Series 2013-14 concluded with students gaining a deeper understanding of the consulting industry and requirements of a successful career in it.

– Media and Industry Relations Committee, TAPMI, Manipal