I had a great privilege to spend a day with Uncle Bala and had the opportunity to interact with him for a long time. Basing on Uncle’s advice to share my experiences with you all, I herewith present an article “A Day with Uncle Bala”.
It’s quite well known that Uncle Bala is highly respected by all the business barons and by all corporate houses in India. I personally experienced how much reverence Uncle Bala commands, during Mr Ramalinga Raju’s son’s marriage. Mr Ramalinga Raju personally called couple of times to Kellogg to confirm Uncle Bala’s visit. Owing to Mr Raju’s insistence, Uncle Bala attended the wedding on April 30th 2006 at Hyderabad.
As I also had to attend the same wedding, I took the 6.20 AM flight to Hyderabad and met Uncle in the airport at the check-in counter. Few eMBA students, JPs and few others came to see off Uncle at Chennai airport. When we landed at Hyderabad airport, a Manager from Satyam Computer Services was there with a bouquet and a gift to welcome Uncle. Also there are representatives from Tata Consultancy Services with a chauffeured car. Although Satyam arranged a stay at a 5* hotel, uncle preferred to opt for TCS guest house. I too proceeded to Guest house along with him.
From the TCS guest house Uncle along with Keshav(JP) went to meet Mr.ChandraBabu Naiduat the latter’s residence. As you all know, Uncle is engaged in a consulting/research assignment with Mr Naidu. Uncle also wanted to take me to Mr Naidu but the Special Protection Group (SPG) commandos objected for a third person’s entry without prior permission. I later came to know that during the Uncle’s previous visit to Mr Naidu’s residence, Mr Naidu personally came over till the car to see off Uncle and SPG didn’t like Naidu violating security protocol for Uncle Bala.
As SPG didn’t allow me, I proceeded directly to the marriage venue along with some other acquaintances. Uncle & Keshav had discussions with Mr Naidu for around 45 minutes and then arrived at the venue. The arrangements for the marriage were magnificent and mind boggling!! Scores of politicians, cine starts, business honchos, and academicians graced the occasion. When Mr Raju came to greet Uncle, he appreciated Mr Raju for achieving “Operational excellence” in the arrangements!
Its here I observed how uncle Bala doesn’t leave a single opportunity to market Great Lakes. As uncle mentioned in his mail, he met different people (Heads of Flextronics, Sasken, Infotech, TVS motors etc) and he made sure that he spoke about Great Lakes with each and every one. Uncle also introduced me to Prof CK Prahlad, Prof MS Krishnan (Michigan Univ), Prof Mangalam Srinivasan(Harvard). Interestingly & also quite surprisingly, ISB Dean Mr Rao didn’t know CK Prahlad till then and uncle introduced them to each other. Also, I heard Uncle asking Mr Rao “Any thing is required from Kellog!!”. I too introduced some business men in AP (Chairman of I-Labs, Vijay Electricals, Maj Gen Bagga, etc..) to Uncle and some of them were mentioning about sponsoring their employees for eMBA.
After the marriage is over, we proceeded to the guest house and there I had a lengthy discussion on various aspects with him. He enquired if the students had any concerns. I mentioned a few and we had a candid discussion on some aspects like Infrastructure etc. I am surprised with many of the deep insights he had and with his vision to make Great Lakes a school of global repute. Some of his focus areas this year include international placements and we will be surprised to know that he is studying all of our profiles for this purpose. Another focus this year is on taking Great Lakes deeper into corporate circles.
We all know that Uncle Bala contagiously spreads passion and energy and I too experienced the same after being/talking with him. But he cautioned me that we(students) need to preserve this passion and energy throughout this year and strive for excellence. I feel we all should be positive, optimistic, more importantly objective and be as productive as possible in all fronts.
Contributor: Vikranth V
PGPM Class 2007