Sermons from an Ivory Tower

30 05 2008

Mohan’s post (Faculty Crunch in B- Schools – Part I) referred to an article titled Making Management Education Real by R. Gopalakrishnan published recently in the Economic Times.


Mr. Gopalakrishnan is a senior and influential corporate citizen, serving one of the top business houses in India. More than his views as an individual, what is disturbing me is the tendency of those ‘who have seen it all’, to serve platitudes from a a pop-up pack to gullible readers.


I felt disgust at the hollowness of the article. It is not just illogical, incoherent and pretentious; it is replete with ivory tower solutions in search of problems. A smorgasbord of buzzwords like ‘Transformation Management’ or subtly showing off his Boston connection may work on a few impressionable minds, but for many readers, Mr. Gopalakrishnan’s smug homilies on an intractable challenge do not fall short of a disgrace.


I have no issue in an influential corporate manager expressing views with a for-profit organization bias. But when that same person writes as if he knows what is to be done to solve each and every problem facing our nation, it represents a deep malaise.


What is the need of making management education real? What is ‘real’? And ‘real’ for whom? And what were all the business leaders doing all these years with “unreal” management education?


It is so simple to construct sentences with ‘should’s and ‘must’s! Has the author lived the recommendations himself – at least as a test case? Sorry, it is not about “life’s paradoxes” (that wonderful escape route!), it is about leaving responsibilities at your doorsteps.


– Rajeev. A. Paranjpe. 



Business Quiz – IPL Special

30 05 2008

Occasionally we will post Business Quiz in The Second Take. Here is the first of our quizzes, an IPL Special


1. In which TV channel will you see Charu Sharma, the former CEO of Royal Challengers Bangalore and the first lady of TV commentary – Mandira Bedi, analyzing IPL semi-finals and finals?


2. When Vodafone won the exclusive on-air rights for IPL, what did its rival Airtel do to make use of the IPL opportunity?


3. He was seen as the grandson playing chess with his grandfather on an Airtel TVC. He was also seen as the young man brazenly dating two girls in the Sprite TVC.Now he is anchoring IPL on SET-Max. Name this model turned TV anchor ?


4. With which company was the Sundar Raman associated with, before he was hired as the CEO of IPL by Lalit Modi?


5. Which two business houses in addition to Preity Zinta co-own the Mohali franchise?


6. Besides, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Royal Challenge is  a sponsor of three other IPL teams. Which are these teams?


7. Which retail chain is the partner of Ticketpro, the agency responsible for selling IPL tickets?


Answers may be sent in as an email to rajib1sarkar1@ gmail .com. All correct entries will be acknowledged in this blog. Answers will be published on June 1.


– G.Mohan.

Faculty Crunch in B-Schools – Part II

29 05 2008

Industry-Academia interface has often been prescribed as a panacea for improving the quality of faculty in B-Schools. In this post, I’ll try to examine this interface from the industry perspective.


The industry views the academia primarily as a supplier of high-quality trained people at the entry level. When jobs were few and the scale of recruitments was small, industry did not feel the need to build any relationship with the academia. Those days, just an advertisement in the newspaper would have sufficed.


As companies started scaling up their recruitment, they realized that campus recruitment is a very effective mode of hiring freshers in large numbers.  When companies started competing for talent, they discovered the need for building relationship with the academia.


When I was with an IT Services company, for a brief period, I was given the additional responsibility of being the Academic Liaison Manager. My brief was limited to interacting with  Placement Coordinators of B – Schools, projecting my employer as a model employer and trying to get Day One slot during the campus placements.


Another level of industry-academia interaction is sponsoring research. In a small way, Indian companies have started setting up excellence centers and giving research projects to academic institutions. This trend is stronger in IITs than in B-Schools.


There a few companies who create chair positions in the various B-Schools, with the objective of using the services of the Chair Professors to do research on problems areas identified by the sponsoring company.


Ideally, research should help the academia gain real world insights by solving real world problems. The industry on the other hand can benefit by receiving knowledge created at the frontiers of academic research.


On the ground, it is a different situation altogether. Industry treats sponsored research with indifference.  The research areas chosen are often far removed from the real problems of the company. The solutions are rarely implemented. The expenditure incurred on research is treated as image-building exercise or at best, philanthropy.  


Using B-School faculty for consulting assignments is also an area where the industry and the academia come together. Often insignificant consulting projects using cheap manpower available with B-Schools are dumped on Indian B-Schools whereas critical assignments go to either multinational management consulting firms or B-School professors from Ivy League US Business Schools. It shows the cavalier attitude of the Indian industry towards Indian B-Schools. 


In recent times, the industry has started viewing the academia as a distributor of certificates.  IT/ITES companies facing high attrition have woken up to the potential of the academia to design tailor-made courses that can both improve the capabilities of their workforce and reduce attrition. Accenture has tied up with ISB for a 3- year course on Software Delivery Management. ICICI Prudential has tied up with 21 B-Schools to conduct a 1-year program on insurance. Wipro BPO is offering part-time MBA to many of its employees by tying up with universities.  


While the engagement is expanding, the quality of the interface between the industry and the academia leaves much to be desired. Instead of blaming B-Schools’ quality of teaching, the industry would do well to come down from its high-pedestal and help B-schools connect with the real world of business.


The industry can take the following  five steps without any more delay to show that they really care about the quality of management education:


1) Sponsor more chairs in B-Schools. This will enable  B-Schools to hire top class talents by paying them handsomely. Sponsors must have a say in deciding the quality and the remuneration of the Chair Professors.


2) Plan research requirements in tandem with B-Schools on a long term basis. Establish mechanisms to monitor progress. Top management’s involvement in budget allocation and periodic stock taking are not to be glossed over.


3) Offer exchange programs to the academia whereby selected faculty members will work in companies for a certain period of time while their counterparts in these companies will take up classes in those B-Schools.


4) Participate in designing new courses and developing course contents to make B-School curriculum more relevant to the real world.


5) Help B-School researchers and teachers develop world class case studies reflecting the Indian business realities.


– G. Mohan.


What’s Cooking at Tulip Star

28 05 2008

Tulip Star Hotels scrip is having a dream run in the last three months. From Rs. 75 the stock has moved to Rs. 253 yesterday. During the last fortnight, this stock has gone up by 61 %. The daily volumes have also gone up from 9441 to 41170 shares. 


Tulip Star Hotels Ltd, a hotel management company, is more known for its owner, Ajit Kerkar, erstwhile Chairman of the Indian Hotels Company ( the Taj Group of Hotels). This company bought the Juhu Centaur in Mumbai when the NDA government went for  its divestment. The hotel has been lying closed for over four years now.  Even the Dec’07 results of the company indicate a loss.  


Is Tulip Star up for sale?


Disclaimer: I have no investment in the company mentioned above.

– G. Mohan.


IPL – Winners and Losers

27 05 2008
While we have to wait till June 1 to know who will win the inaugural Indian Premier League Final, we have put together a set of winners and losers on the business side of IPL.
The biggest winner in the IPL business is undoubtedly the UK based World Sports Group (WSG). By bagging the 10 year television rights for US $ 918 Million, this company will profit the most from the success of IPL. WSG has sold the television rights in India to Sony Entertianment Television (Sony) for an undisclosed sum for a period of 5 years. WSG has sold TV rights to various channels in the US, UK.,Asia and Middle East for $ 100 million. As per WSG , 8 million viewers are watching IPL outside India.
Sony after suffering huge losses in the World Cup 2007, took a big risk by putting its bets on IPL. Fortune favours the brave. IPL has turned out to be a huge television success. In the first two weeks of IPL, Mindshare, a media buying agency has reported that 131 million viewers had watched IPL. After the high initial TRPs of  8, the matches are still getting average TRPs of 4. This has automatically resulted in the increase of spot rates. From an initial rates of Rs 2,00,000- Rs 250,000 per 10 second spot, Sony is reportedly selling 10 second spots for Rs. 1 million for the finals and semi-finals.
All the IPL franchisees are winners. ( Please look at our other story on the profitability of an franchise.)   Some more so than the other. Rajasthan Royals, whether they win the IPL Cup or not on June 1 are certainly a big winner. Emerging Media, owners of IPL, bought the franchise at the lowest price in the IPL auctions, spent intelligently on players, tied up a slew of sponsors and now have a successful team whose valuations all other franchisees would be envious of. Kolkata Knight Riders ( KKR) is also expected to be a big winner on the business front, largely attributable to the sponsorships.
Reebok, the offical apparel for four IPL teams will be a winner. Reebok has already reported over Rs 50 million sales of KKR merchandise.
TV companies who normally have a sluggish April and May have reported 10 % higher sales, courtesy IPL. LG and Onida have launched new LCD models coinciding with IPL.
IPL and T20 are ideal for betting. The cricket betting market has once again come alive.  Ahmedabad and Jaipur are the big centres for betting. Daily bets of Rs 1.5-Rs 2.0 billion have been reported in the media.The overall IPL betting transactions are slated to be over Rs 1000 billion.
Indian Cricket League (ICL) and Zee Sports, both part of the Essel Group, will be the biggest loser in the success of IPL. It will be interesting to see, how ICL reinvents itself to counter IPL next year.
Nimbus too may lose out as bet its bottom dollar on BCCI’s test and one day matches which may see much lower eyeballs hence drop in advertising revenue. Big ad spenders have already allocated a large part of their  ad budget on IPL.
The companies who lost their bids for IPL franchises like the Future Group, Reliance ADAG and ICICI Ventures must be brooding over their loss. ITC, Britannia, MRF and other companies who sponsor sports must be ruing over their lost opportunity. Expect some of these companies to buy off some franchisees , at a higher valuation in the future.
The success of IPL as mass entertainment has taken away viewers from other TV  channelsKya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hain – a TV game show with Shah Rukh Khan as the host, has been declared a  miserable flop, thanks to IPL.
Movies released during IPL viz. Tashan, Krazzy 4, Bhootnath have come croppers at the box office.
Multiplexes too are suffering due to IPL. 
Shopping malls have reported 20 % drop in footfalls, in this holiday season, the reason cited is once again IPL. 
One thing has become clear. Just like the marketers  plan and prepare for  major festivals like  Diwali, Durga Puja or Christmas, they will have include to IPL in their annual calender.
There is no telling though whether  the runaway  train called IPL  will stay on course the next year or the year after. 
– G. Mohan.  

Outsourcing Exit Interviews

25 05 2008
In the growing trend of HR outsourcing, add Exit Interviews. The Chennai headquartered Ma Foi Consultants has pioneered this trend in India and they are reporting 100 % growth every year.
Not surprisingly, Ma Foi’s clients are IT/BPO and financial services companies.These are the industries with large manpower and high attrition rates to justify outsourcing. Ma Foi uses a mix of on-line questionnaire and an offline interview process. The data drawn from the exit interviews are analysed and presented as recommendations. A neutral third party conducting the interview is stated as the key benefit.
With recruitment, selection, payroll, compensation, training and now exit interviews getting outsourced, is it exit time for the HR departments, as we know them ?
– G. Mohan

The Career of Careermaking

24 05 2008

If there exists any single industry whose growth curve perfectly mimics the job growth curve of any economy, it has to be the recruitment industry. Over the last few years, this industry in India has been witnessing significant intellectual capital formation along with rapid financial growth. If we just look at the search and selection (placement) segments, the market size is about Rs.8 billion, growing at 30% p.a.. Add another Rs.7 billion. to account for recruitments through jobsites and print advertisements.


While the selection sector is highly fragmented (over 4000 placement firms operate in India), the search sector has no more than a dozen players. Typically, an exclusive mandate to fill up a top management slot in a large company is called a search assignment. Selection assignments, on the other hand, are for less exalted positions. Unlike, selection, which depends on a process of elimination to arrive at the right candidate, search is about zeroing on the right candidate and get him or her to come on board. Many use the expression – headhunting – I must say, loosely – to describe this process.


If India were to achieve its ambition of becoming global economic superpower,

it is impossible to overstate the need for a professionally mature recruitment industry. Akin to the stock market, this industry facilitates allocation and relocation of resources

(in this case, human), rewarding the efficient and punishing the inefficient. As an intermediary, it unlocks the true value of an individual and aids the better managed organizations to aggregate better talents. As India is competing globally for market share, India Inc’s fight for talent share too is getting fiercer. The premium on human capital has never been higher.


Like any other industry going through a dizzying phase, the challenge facing the recruitment industry is its dearth of quality professionals. It takes a lot to assume responsibility for fulfilling a candidate’s ambition, on the one hand and a client’s human resource requirement, on the other. An eye for spotting talent, ability to draw out people,  indefatigable emotional stamina, high level of  comfort in dealing with ambivalence and uncertainties, the power of persuasion, domain knowledge in at least one industry sector and the capacity to stay  focused amidst a deluge of data and distractions make for a top recruiter. If this list appears daunting, let me make it a tad simpler. If you think you have an intuitive ability to navigate the subterranean terrains of the human mind and if you are curious about everything in life, this is the profession for you.


Now, is the reward part. Recruitment industry pays rather well. It doesn’t have a choice. People create all the wealth here. And they demand their due share. Typically, fresh management graduates are hired as research associates for about Rs.200000 to 250000 p.a. 20 to 25% growth in salary per year is commonplace. If you make it to the level of a partner in a reputed firm, you will take home Rs.4 to 5 million p.a. That doesn’t even include the incentives, which can go up to 30% of the bill value of the placements executed by you. 


However, for many, the real reward of this profession lies in the opportunity to get ushered into the minds of the best and the brightest of corporate India and receive otherwise hard- to- access insights. Likewise, gaining intimate knowledge of the corporate leaders’ visions and values, while partnering with them in hiring head honchos, can be an inspirational high. Add to that, the scope for acquiring a helicopter view of the business dynamics of various industries – courtesy both clients and candidates – you will never have worry about boredom in the office.


Beyond all these rewards, there lies something else. If a career in law is finally about one’s commitment to justice, a career in the recruitment industry is about fulfillment. Fulfilling someone else’s dream, fulfilling someone else’s potential, fulfilling someone else’s business vision. In this profession, your fulfillment lies in helping others attain their fulfillment.


 – Rajib Sarkar.


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