Part1: Alum – Astute Leaders under mask
There are many ways of penning down this article. I can take you on a fantasy ride into the world of entrepreneurs by promising you ‘aha’ ideas to fanning controversy by expressing my views on the latest Facebook alumni page gossips. However I believe now is not the time to focus on bestsellers but instead restrict my views on my personal favorite topic – the question of faith!
I am not a believer, I am neither an atheist. I call myself an agnostic who questions every happening and then chooses to believe or dismiss a claim. For a moment I request you to play this game with me. Read this piece, a very short one at that, and then categorize your affiliation – do you feel reasonably proud to be an Alumni of Great Lakes?
How does one institutionalize the feeling of belonging to an organization? Perhaps this intangible element has no empirically proven method and hence becomes the greatest challenge when running an organization. I have always wondered why in IT companies, objects like computers are coined assets while the humans are termed resource.
Are we just stocks on which our companies can draw in order to benefit dollars and pounds? I believe not. We have listened to innumerable discourses where leaders have declared people as their biggest assets. Question hence arises – why then there is this debatable demarcation in the categorization of what is an ‘actual’ asset and what really contributes to an organizational growth?
If I were to run Great Lakes (everyone claims to be a better alternative these days!), the only change I would suggest is “building contemporary patriotism in today’s cynical age” as a core subject. From time immemorial, we have all had opinions on topics ranging from politics to cricket. How we wished the liberals would dress up in saffron or for that matter Dada and SRK would be best pals.
When it comes to Great lakes, have we ever thought on how we compete with student’s quality in other management institutes across India? Why focus on students alone in the first place? Well because we are the greatest promoters of the Great lakes brand.
One way to see things in perspective is through various competitions that we engage as MBA students and the trophies that we win. Frankly in my two years of association with the college, I have been discombobulated on how we manage to win every second competition. This claim might be too fancy but nevertheless a true indicator that we are amongst the best peer community that any institute has to offer.
We might ridicule and criticize each other. We may sometimes even dismiss true intentions of the few Gandhians, who once in a blue moon pop up from amongst us and offer solutions. However we are a varied crop of assorted breeds descended in an unknown place which we call home and later fondly remember all our lives for the lovesome memories and crazy times.
Ask yourself this – We never chose to be born in a family but still feel emotionally obliged to their wellbeing. Didn’t we choose, at least at some level, to do an MBA from Great Lakes? Choice was ours and so will be the repercussions. Believe me when I say that a drop of inspiration, a mere sight of an inspiring article, an example of a ‘jugaad’ entrepreneur can bring revolutions and make the same hesitant and not so active alumni of Great Lakes, the most influential and visible of them all.
I still believe Great Lakes will be the number one MBA college in this country. The moot question is, do you?
- Shashwat Rai
Spartan, Batch 2012
Students from the University of Miami learn leadership lessons from Great Lakes
“Leadership cannot be learnt in the classroom but only with experience and concern for others” is the motto of Karma Yoga, a leadership experiential program founded by Dr Venkat R. Krishnan. On 4th March, 22 management students of 7 different nationalities representing University of Miami, USA along with Dr Vaidy Jayraman came to visit and experience the unique way of learning leadership from 20 students of Great Lakes who have been associated with Karma Yoga for 9 months now.
The day began with Dr. Krishnan delivering a speech on Leadership and Karma Yoga and explaining the visiting students how it is done at Great Lakes. Students from Miami were enthralled to know about it and shared their own experiences of community work concept in the USA. This was followed by a case study on social entrepreneurship initiatives of rural Gujarat where students from both the institutes sat together to exchange ideas and come up with solutions to potential social issues of rural India. The interaction was a platform for all the students to learn from each other’s social and cultural background and turned out to be a very enriching experience for each one of them.
To show how far Great Lakes had reached in achieving its objectives of Karma Yoga in the past few months, a village visit was planned for the Miami students. They visited the Hope school at Pudupattinam where Great Lakes students had started up a lot of educational activities and later an organic farm at Natham-Kariacheri which again had a lot of initiatives from the Karma yoga students. After the visit most Miami students stated that they had never known this aspect of leadership and relationship building and found it very interesting and helpful.
The day ended with students of both institutes bonding with each other and learning some valuable lessons of leadership- relationship building and concern for others, an important aspect of management education.
On Saturday, 9th February 2013, Great Lakes Institute of Management witnessed the first ever Karma-Yoga Convention – an annual all-inclusive platform that aimed to bring together farmers, businessmen, self-help groups, non-governmental organizations, students, local Panchayat leaders and every other stake-holder relevant in the rural development schema together under one roof.
Interlaced with motivating speeches, cultural celebrations and discussions on raging socio-economic issues, this event enabled the institute to take the relationship and trust it established with the villagers through the Karma-Yoga project to a whole new level.
The Convention was divided into four segments: first was the inauguration session, which included motivating addresses by the chief guests, next was a panel discussion on the topic “Changing trends in Rural Communities: A look at livelihoods, education and social interface of communities”, which was followed by the cultural program by children from all 20 villages and the valediction ceremony.
Dr. Swarnamalaya Ganesh - a professional Bharatnatyam dancer and Director of Ranga Mandira Trust and School of performing arts and Dr. S. Natarajan – Opthalmologist, Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital Pvt. Ltd were the chief guests for the day. The conference also saw the participation of members from NGOs and non-profit organizations, who participated in the discussion as panelists. Some of the NGOs and non-profits organizations that were represented are: Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Vaanagam, Centre for Culture and Development, Tamil Nadu Science Forum, RUWSEC, Reward Trust, Rotary Club of Madras West, Childline, Centre for Social Initiative & Management, Hope Foundation Elementary & Primary School & Nalamdana Trust.
After the invocation song and lighting of the lamp of knowledge by the dignitaries, Prof. Venkat R. Krishnan – Director, Yale-Great Lakes Center for Management Research welcomed the dignitaries, members from NGOs and non-profit organizations and the people from the villages and set the context for the convention. The objective of Karma-Yoga, the village empowerment project undertaken by the institute with the help of its students, he said, was to help the people lift themselves into their better selves and to enable them to achieve growth and development without any dependence.
After the welcome speech, Uncle Bala took to the dias to address the gathering. He welcomed the guests and said that it was heartening to see the involvement of more than 2/3rd of the students who weren’t from south, in this Leadership Experiential Project called Karma-Yoga which necessitates them to visit the villages and interact with the village people who speak only Tamil. This, he said, was an example of the inclusive growth that the institute promotes. He also provided some nuggets of wisdom in his mesmerizing manner and asked the students and villagers to aim high in life so that they got somewhere even when they failed to achieve what they had initially aimed for. Uncle ended his address with a quote from Saint Thiruvalluvar in Tamil, which meant, “There is nothing called impossible, everything is possible. Yes we can, and we will!”
After Uncle Bala’s welcome, it was time for a thought-provoking and insightful inaugural address by Dr. Swarnamalya Ganesh that dwelt on how ‘aesthetic action’ can make the action itself, less burdensome. Dr. Ganesh also spoke about the three levels of problems existing in our country today – that of Governance, Society and Individual morals and said, that we would need to work our way up to solve these issues for which we needed to empower our brothers and sisters through education. She was delighted that the Karma-Yoga project was aiming at doing exactly that by reaching out and connecting with the village people and trying to curate their morals through various initiatives. The dialogues between the communities that this project was creating, she said, was the best way to carry out and sustain aesthetic actions like ahimsa, activism, social responsibility and public services which would make the whole process of solving the problems existing in the society a lot easier!
Our other Chief Guest Dr. S. Natarajan’s address was disarming in its simplicity and adherence to his to-the-core family-values. He spoke about the origins of Karma-yoga by quoting from the Bhagwad Gita and said the best way to live is by dedicating ones’ life for the service of humanity. He asked the students to have a large heart, as that was what was expected of tomorrow’s nation builders. He also spoke of the opportunity the students got by virtue of being born in well-to-do families which most of the people in this country don’t have, but they have skills and it was our duty to accommodate and hone their skills and to provide them equal opportunity to shine in the society.
Next was the keynote address by Dr. Prabhat Kumar – CMD, BHAVINI, in which he spoke about how time-tested tenets guide one as one strives for excellence. “It’s a terrible thing to see but have no vision”, he quoted before going on to talk about the importance of nurturing dreams and aspirations and how they tend to become important in shaping one’s future by citing examples from life of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. After an enthralling speech, he left the audience with his formula for achieving success, which he called the 3Cs: Clarity of vision, Conviction to succeed and Confidence to be.
It was time for the panel discussion post the inauguration session. The topic “Changing trends in Rural Development: An overview of education, livelihoods and the attitudes of people towards change”. Moderated by Prof. Venkat R. Krishnan, this was an open-ended and frank discussion of burning issues between the panel members from the NGO and non-profit organization and representatives of the rural communities which included but wasn’t limited to farmers, labourers, panchayat-presidents, councilors, women-self-help group leaders and young college-goers. This energy packed discussion session drew the participation from almost everyone in the hall!
Next was a cultural extravaganza by 20 teams – one from each of our Karma-Yoga village. The performances made sure the audience were glued to their seats till the very end and clearly reflected the amount of hard work put in by the students over a period of 3-4 weeks which resulted in extremely inventive and entertaining dance, music, fusion and drama performances by children ranging 5-17 years of age.
The first-of-its-kind convention ended with the valedictory session where the winners of the Cultural extravaganza were announced and certificates were distributed to all the participants whose hard work and dedication resulted in the event’s roaring success. The convention not only played a major role in bringing all the stakeholders together but also provided them with a platform to interact and to witness the development brought in by the Karma-Yoga project. This will definitely result in further community-development and engagement in mutually elevating collaborations for the partners.
On Thursday, 7th February 2013, Great Lakes Institute of management saw a host of entrepreneurs descend on the campus to be a part of the 5th International Entrepreneurship Conference. Organized under the auspices of the Orchid Pharma Center for Excellence in Management of Technology, Innovation and Technopreneurship [OPCET], the conference had “Entrepreneurs as disruptive innovators” as its theme.
Disruptive Innovation is all about Reimagining Competition and bringing new customers into an existing market or creating consumption from a non-consuming segment. And a disruptive innovator is one who is able to provide the re-imagined product or service at a low price point profitably by using a business model that is not attractive to the established leader in the market.
Mrs. Padma Chandrasekharan, an angel investor with Chennai Angels and an IIM-A graduate was the chief guest for the day. The conference also featured some high profile speakers, participants and panelists like Dr Ravindran (chairman Aravind Eye care), Mr. C.K Ranganathan (founder CMD Cavinkare), Mr Raghavendra Rao (CMD Orchid pharma), Mr. Devi Shetty (Narayana Hrudalayala) and corporates honchos from Tata motors, Godrej, Hindustan Unilever etc., who shared their thoughts with the students through the inaugural session, the panel discussions and the Valedictory session.
Uncle Bala, in his inaugural address, expressed his delight at the increasing number of entrepreneurial ideas and ventures, especially from the 16-23 age-group in the silicon valley and mentioned that this spirit is somehow lacking in their Indian counterparts. He said that Great Lakes is trying to arouse this drive and passion in its students through this conference and the entrepreneurial cell and was proud of the fact that at least 5% of the graduating class goes on to become entrepreneurs every year! He then spoke about his journey from being t professor to being a edupreneur and mentioned that all it takes is the right amount of risk and knowledge. He then welcomed Dr. K.C. John to provide an overview and to set the context for the conference.
Dr. John spoke about the whole initiative of seeking out disruptive innovators by Great Lakes and how it came to be launched under the able guidance of Prof. R.S. Veeravalli. He also spoke about why and how Prof. Clayton M. Christensen, coined the word ‘disruptive innovation’. Then he went on to say that in today’s world of cut-throat competition, disruption is the way to go and that it has become a necessary condition for creating a mutually inclusive society. He also applauded Great Lakes for taking this initiative and preparing business ready managers who are also entrepreneurial in their thinking. And explained the reason for choosing ‘disruptive innovation’ as the theme was because the school itself believes in redefining instead of just maintaining the trajectory of progress. He also introduced the panel members – an amalgamation of first-gen disruptive innovators and entrepreneurs who would provide insights into the opportunities and possibilities in the emerging markets. He ended his speech with a video from Prof. Clayton Christensen where he talks about the importance of Disruptive innovation for the society.
Next was the keynote address by the chief guest, Mrs. Padma Chandrasekaran, who was a founder member of SIFY and has also worked for Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. Mrs. Chandrasekaran spoke about the qualities necessary for being an entrepreneur and which every budding entrepreneur should inculcate – A strong Vision, Belief in self, Going out and exploring, Iterating. She also spoke about other important factors that decide the fate of the businesses like choosing one’s partner, the core product/idea, the traction etc. She also emphasized on the importance of piloting a concept and getting a few paying customers before going to the market. She spoke about the amount of opportunities available today vis-à-vis the pre-1990s and asked the students to grab the opportunity when it presents itself by having faith in self. This, she said, was the only way to get the most out of this country!
After the invigorating speech, Prof. Veeravalli came on to the dais to deliver the Vote of Thanks to the chief guest and everyone who worked towards making this conference possible and introduced the dignitaries for the panel discussion.
Prof. G. Sunderraman led the Panel discussion and set the context before inviting Mr. Alok Goel – Chief Products officer, Redbus to share his views. Mr. Goel spoke about the various aspects of disruptive innovation by sharing his experience and by citing 4 examples that changed the world. These were Facebook – by giving people the power to share and making the world more open and interactive, Googledocs – by making usage amazingly simple and using the power of iteration, Nokia – who lost the race as it failed to bet on the market and missed the trend and the example of his brainchild, Redbus which changed the way bus tickets were booked forever and affected an entire group of travel agents who made their living by doing that. He also put in a word of caution by saying that while the examples sounded fascinating and it was ok for anyone to talk about it in hindsight, it is very difficult to avoid or predict the occurrence of such game changing events. He ended by saying that Iteration, perseverance, evolving the product day in and day out is what is required to make it work and that’s what an innovator should focus on.
Then came Mr. Rajesh Nahar – CEO and co-founder, Cbazaar.com who spoke about his journey as a disruptive innovator and how he along with his partner started the Disruptive Innovation Cloud! He also emphasized the importance of nurturing a strong passion and the power of iteration by saying that it took him 7-8 years to figure out what would really work for them and till then, it was very important to keep building on the initial plan according to the situation. It was only after that they started thinking about higher margins, demand and scalability. He finished his talk by asking the students to be customer centric and to realize the latent demand of the consumers, as that was a very important pre-requisite of getting the idea.
Mr. Manivannan, CEO – Desicrew, a rural BPO explained what the concept and model of Desicrew through a video and went on to say that it was built on the single idea that it was high time India harnessed the power of the crowd residing in its rural areas. He also went on to speak about the company, how it was able to establish itself and how it was making a difference in the lives of the rural population and defined his disruptive innovation model as BPO 3.0 – which focused on creating wealth at the bottom of the pyramid.
Prof. G. Sunderraman, then gave his concluding remarks by connecting the concept of disruptive innovation to entrepreneurship and said that ‘trying not to kill the customer’ was the core of disruptive innovation! He then shared his experience of working with Prof. Clayton and his journey of developing the Chotukool. He noted that innovators and entrepreneurs shared a Common DNA – Courage that gave rise to the desire of doing something new, of venturing into the unknown and concluded by saying that, “Courage is not an attitude, it is a skill. It can be acquired. Getting an idea is simple, getting it through in the market is tough but getting it through a herculean company like Godrej is a herculean task. Chotukool is a result of this courage!”
Post the panel discussions; it was time for the Unconference session, which was anchored by Serial entrepreneur Mr. Pravin Shekhar, chief creator of KREA. Unconference – a participant driven meeting without the rigidness of a structured, conventional conference and the format was based on the premise that in any gathering the people in the audience – not just those selected to speak on stage – have interesting thoughts, insights and expertise to share. And it proved its point to the students.
The conference ended with the valedictory session where the winners of the Internal Business plan competition ‘Audacia’ were awarded and invited to share their winning plans’ overviews with the audience. The winners were awarded the Shri Narasinga Rao Memorial Prizes, totaling INR 2,00,000/- (Two lakhs). This prize was instituted in commemoration of Mr. Narasinga Rao (a distinguished alumnus of Great Lakes and the co-founder of the famous SSI Ltd.) by his batch-mates and Dr. Bala V. Balachandran, our founder dean, to be given every year in this annual event celebrating entrepreneurship.
The conference enriched the students’ knowledge about the immense opportunities in entrepreneurship and the advantages of being a ‘disruptive innovator’ and hopefully, also motivated some of them to consider Entrepreneurship as a career and contribute back to the society through their future innovative and sustainable business models.
29th January 2013 marked the beginning of the 6th edition of L’Attitude 13° 05′ – Great Lakes’ annual inter B-School festival. The festival features a potpourri of events and competitions that encompasses various spheres of management education in the field of marketing, finance, operations, strategy and Human Resources and provides an amazing platform for the brightest of the minds across the world’s best Business schools to showcase their unique talents and compete against each other in various events spread across different functions.
Spread over a period of two days, the festival comprised of 10 events which was thrown open to all the B-schools across the country coupled with a Rock Show by Parikrama on the 1st day and a Cultural Extravaganza by the students and staff followed by DJ night on the 2nd day. The fest saw an overwhelming participation from all over the country which proved that L’Attitude 13° 05′ has made its mark in the annual B-School festival arena and that it is getting bigger and better with each passing year!
The festival centers on a different theme every year on which distinguished guests from various walks of life are invited to share their experiences and insights with the students. The theme for this year was ‘Business Darwinism: Be Distinct or Be Extinct’. The event was inaugurated by Industry stalwarts like Mr. Nitin Paranjpe – CEO and MD, Hindustan Unilever Ltd. and Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan – Vice Chairman, Cognizant Technology Solutions Ltd. on 29th January and was closed with the valedictory address by Mr. Shanker Annaswamy, Senior Advisor – India Enterprise, IBM India/ South Asia on 30th January.
Day 1 (29th January 2013)
During the inauguration, Dr. Bala V Balachandran, founder and dean of Great Lakes, spoke about the importance of developing a good attitude for B-school graduates in his enthralling welcome speech. He emphasized on nurturing and practicing the core values like ability with humility, passion with compassion and mobility with nobility. He also spoke about the relevance of the theme in today’s rat race when the businesses have no option but to be distinct and different from the rest in order to succeed.
The inaugural address by Mr. Nitin Paranjpe was spell bounding to say the least. The charismatic Mr. Paranjpe spoke about the importance of ‘focusing on change’ in order to stand out in this competitive age by citing the example of internet and how it empowered people and transformed the society by democratacizing information and expression. He also cited Peter Drucker’s definition of profit to remind the audience that the purpose of business isn’t making profit but serving the society. Further, he said, that the businesses will cease to exist in the future unless they reinvent capitalism by going back to their roots and start focusing on creating shared value for the society.
In his key note address, Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan spoke about the three qualities a great leader must possess in order to successfully lead an organization viz. determination, humility and innovation and then spoke about the future possibilities of focusing on innovation to stay ahead of the competition. He then spoke about the need of the hour being the creation of a new model of innovation to bring about convergence by citing the example of information technology and how it brought about a convergence in the telecom, media and entertainment sectors. Mr. Narayanan also emphasized on the importance of developing a Social Quotient for the future leaders in order to be able to interact with people and to co-exist in the society.
Post the inaugural ceremony, Spandan, Zoopraxis, iHuman, Nirnay, Glickr and Inquizito were condusted on the first day before closing with a spell-bounding 2.5 hours of performance by Parikrama.
Day 2 (30th January 2013)
Uncle Bala inaugurated the Closing ceremony where he talked about the importance of being Glocal in today’s world and coined a new phrase “Global issues, local tissues” in his trademark style before welcoming and inviting the Chief Guest, Mr. Shanker Annaswamy, to give the valedictory address to the students and guests.
Mr. Annaswamy, a pioneer of transformational leadership, spoke about his vision of transforming India into a leadership position in the world economy and shared insights as to what India can differently to reach there in the not so distant future. He also talked about the “Globally Integrated Enterprise” and how the world is becoming a seamless business playing field.
Mr. Shanker identified urbanization, Energy, Water, Transport, Education and Financial Inclusion as the key challenges in the way of transforming India into leadership roles and went on to speak about the emergence of an instrumented, interconnected and intelligent world which provides us with amazing opportunities to ‘think and act in new ways’ and to make India a ‘smarter nation’. He emphasized the importance and emergence of Big Data by saying that “Data is like Oil, fuelling economic growth”. He also talked about intelligent electricity grids, intelligent transportation systems and other areas of opportunity that can help the country in emerging as a global thought leader and finished his presentation by sharing the totem for transforming the country and hence the world: Innovative Vision, Collaborative Partnerships and Forward Thinking Leadership.
The valedictory address was followed by the prize distribution and felicitation ceremony for the events that were conducted during the fest which was a grand success. This was followed by a Cultural extravaganza by the PGPM and PGDM students and a DJ night to celebrate and mark the end of months of planning, team-work, efforts and sweat put in by the students in order to make this fest a grand success.
We will be pressurized, we will be judged,
We will be tested, and may be even cursed,
We will be misunderstood, and at times ill-treated,
We might be blamed that we were the ones who cheated,
But don’t you fret and waste your time,
For there are things that are more important in life,
Set your priorities and follow them till the end,
Make some rules that’ll guide you through every bend,
As insecurity surrounds and panic intensifies,
Have some faith and strengthen your ties,
As confidence dips and the sun goes down,
Don’t worry, my friend, don’t you dare frown,
For hope is what makes us wait for tomorrow,
As the sun rises again, it’s bound to wipe out the sorrows,
Do your best and get a good night’s sleep,
For each morning brings a challenge, as we swim in the deep,
Hone your skills and build yourself,
To be better than you were today, so deep you delve,
Face each trial with a warrior’s mind,
And be rest assured that He will reward you in kind.
Written By:- Tanya Seth, PGPM Student, Batch 2013
Great Lakers were on a knowledge spree when just after a day receiving an excellent lecture from Dr Richa Pande on HR domain, Mr S.S.Prasad Satyavolu, Global Head- Innovation, Manufacturing at Cognizant Technology Solutions landed on the campus. Mr Prasad had a very informal but thought provoking discussion on innovation in business with students here. He started the discussion by showing videos on organ rebuild and Google’s driverless car concept. Students shared their ideas about innovation and later Mr. Prasad elaborated by giving business implementation of the same. He made the discussion livelier by taking us 3 yrs future forward and asked us to imagine the role and challenges of innovation then. He emphasized that companies like Google, IBM, and Cognizant are excelling in innovation by forming a close knit community. He also shared that new age technology can help people overcome behavioral issues they face in the process of innovation. With example of Disney he explained the concept of thinking creatively in a box and contextualizing your idea each time. He stressed upon that one innovation will not feed you for life and that company have to keep themselves engaged in this process. He ended the talk by giving examples as to how leaders are promoting innovation and how by applying the known to unknown areas, companies can always have an edge over the others in field of innovation.