September 19, 2006

On Workloads and Lack Of Sleep...

This last week has capped one of the most strenuous and rigorous times I've ever been forced to deal with. The workload here at IIFT as I'm sure with any of the top B-schools in India must be comparable. But, here at IIFT, in addition to all the coursework related assignments , projects and term papers, you are also expected to sit through 8 hours of classes on average.
Here's a snapshot of a typical day ( and yes like the cartoon , we don't have any weekends, in fact the only holiday we've had in our first trimester was 15th August, Independence day...which leads to pretty perverted reasons for us to be thankful to our freedom fighters)

6.45 a.m: Fight off the cobwebs of a slumber that has just about started , and get ready for a yoga session

7.00 a.m - 8.00 a.m. : Yoga

9.00 a.m. - 6.45 p.m. : Classes with 15 mins break between classes and plenty of surprise assessment elements including quizzes thrown in ( usually spent catching up on sleep),and a 45 min break for lunch ( usually spent on working on backlog asignments). every class usually results in assignments and projects due in no time flat.

7.30 p.m. - 9.30 p.m. : Work on asssignments

9.30 p.m.: grab dinner in a hurry

10.00 p.m- 11.00/11.30 p.m.: Club meetings . Trust me to make the cardinal error of joining 5 clubs.Which means I've a club meeting on almost every alternate day. Now club membership at IIFT is a solely voluntary, but an extremely serious affair. Lack of attendance at club meeting can get you barred from the club and also result in disciplinary action.

12.00 midnight.: Someone reminds you there's plenty of work left to be done on atleast 2-3 projects/assignments/papers that are due in class the next day

12.01 a.m.: You curse like haddock, but get down to work. Really, working hard here is not about the marks , but about the fact that every Proffesor here expects you to live up to and justify your being here at IIFT. Most of us come from top under grad schools ( includin the iconic IITs) and we've done pretty well there and later on in our work life, but the magnitude of work here is truly daunting. It absolutely forces you to become an efficient time manager. These last two months have definitely managed to ensur that I'll survive in absolutely any high pressure senario.

4.00 a.m : you finally call it quits. Hastily latch on the last few slides to your PPT, or frenziedly finish typing the report your working on and... SLEEEP!!!!!

6.45 a.m : Wake up again!!!

The last week was even worse, as we'd absolutely a plethora of asssignments and submissiondue on a continuous rolling basis almost every 3 hours or so. Deadlines here are precisely that, you meet them or you are dead. And so, we coped.

That's not to say we don'tget time to do other stuff.. we do, some of us more than the others, but all of that comes with an academic price tag attached. So when I spend hours on orkut, my blog , or talking to manali, what I'm basically doing is maintaining my sanity in this hell hole that I've vountarily consigned myself to for the next two years.

Love this hell hole though!!


P.S: Today is a lot more relaxed. For a couple of days now we have no classes. So we can finally hit the books, or the movie theaters as we prefer prior to our end terms which start from this thurday.

P.P.S: my next blog will deal with some of the more entertaining Profs and their styles of teaching.

September 17, 2006

On One Trimester Later...

You would'nt believe it, but time flies, shit happens, and sometimes even before you know it started, its over...I guess that's the best way to describe the first trimester at IIFT that just whizzed past..five days hence, we begin with our end terms...yesterday things came to a head with some really hectic assignment deadlines converging as big wave converges on big wave to form a mean tsunami, but we survived that too!...The pic above is us yesterday night, fighting to meet deadlines...I suppose it's only fair to admit here that my room has pretty much looked like this throughout the trime. But with exams round the corner, the stickler in me was aroused and anyways, I usually go out of my way to find some excuse, any excuse, to stay away from my books...even if it is for that one second i decided to clean my room... And.....

Voila!!!!...Clean Room :)
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September 11, 2006

Me: Then and Now...

Hindu Senior Sec.School (HSSS, Chennai) group photo of class IV A. Pic courtesy Prasanna

Me at Juhu Beach (circa 2006). Pic by Manali desai
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September 07, 2006

The First 100 Days

This mini-elective is one of the most popular courses taught at France's INSEAD. Since 2004 the course has had students taking the reins of a simulated company during its first 100 days in business. Before they can even sign up for the class, students have to form a team of four, with one student serving as chief executive, another as chief financial officer, and the other two heading operations and marketing and sales. There is a limit of 10 teams per session, and you can't drop out of the course once you have won a seat in the competitive bidding process.

But the class is not your usual B-school simulation, where students input information to a computer that spits out results that show whether they did things correctly. Professor Patrick Turner relies instead on friends—real accountants, journalists, and lawyers—and his own acting abilities to give students a taste of what acquiring a new business is like. Turner serves as chairman of the board for each team's company, and when students send e-mails to employees in various departments of their company—such as Lucy in accounting—they're actually corresponding with their professor. And Turner at times brings in actual lawyers, for instance when students have to make legal decisions about their business.

"The First 100 Days" is probably one of the only classes that requires that students bring in their cell phones—and always have them turned on. Lisa Long, who graduated from INSEAD in July, recalls a 4 a.m. phone call to say production at her fake company was offline. It was her job to wake up and make a decision about how to proceed. Grades are determined by the chairman of the board (Turner), your teammates, and the real people you encounter along the way. "It was like The Apprentice and Big Brother wrapped in one," says Brendan Collins, who also graduated from INSEAD in July. But students won't tell you too much more than that. They sign a nondisclosure agreement at the start of the session so that Turner can keep surprising future participants.

Head here for some more courses that are off the beaten path...

September 05, 2006

On my mind

This song is constantly on a loop in our hostel room....

One fine song!!!

This one's for you baby

Click HERE to play

September 04, 2006

TiE Mentoring Session

Attended a mentoring session organised by TiE this evening. The speaker was Mr. Sridar Iyengar who is the president of TiE global. For those of you who don't know much about this iconic organisation, head to the link on the post title. Mr. Sridar Iyengar was previously the Partner-in-Charge of KPMG's Emerging Business Practice. He has had a number of leadership roles within KPMG's global organization particularly in setting up and growing new practices. He has the unique distinction of having worked as a partner in all three of KPMG's regions - Europe, America and Asia Pacific as well as in all four of KPMG's functional disciplines: assurance, tax, consulting and financial advisory services. From 1997 to 2000 Sridar was Chairman and CEO of KPMG's India operations and a member of the Executive committee of KPMG, Asia Pacific Board. He also currently is on the board of ICICI,, Infosys and Progeon.

I am going to run you through the gist of his talk (as i remember it - with my comments in parentheses) in bullet points:

  • Don't be afraid of change, when faced with a fork in the road: Take it!
  • Out of a hundred people he mentors and interacts with, only maybe 2 or 3 start up firms. This doesn't mean the rest are'nt entrepreneurs. Be entrepreneurial wherever you work.
  • When he joined KPMG in 1968, he decided that he would quit KPMG the day they offered him a partnership and go his own way. So have focus, know where you want to go
  • Ages 35-55 are the most productive wealth creation years. Use your time to acquire all the weapons and expertise needed to hit 35 with the stuff to go on your own if you are serious about being an entrepreneur
  • CEOs are not specialists they have to be Generals( generalists)
  • In the old days the concept of internship and rotation across functions ensured that by the time you reached the top you knew absolutely everything about very function in the company.
  • Make sure you spread your radar and learn across depts ( I remember my Dad giving me the same advice one day before I was starting off for my first job at ESAB) make sure you can see the big picture. 
  • Also ensure that there is atleast ONE specific skill where you are the best, the "Go to" guy
  • Key areas of learning / expertise absolutely essential for CEOs / entrepreneurs: Product knowledge (R&D); Marketing and selling (very crucial);Finance ( for obvious reasons, especially if company is in trouble)
  • Don't get stuck in a rut/ vertical dead end. If need be, take a demotion across departments , and then move upwards again
  • An Entrepreneur/CEO needs to have dashboard in front him. he needs to be clued into absolutely every small change that occurs and respond as things play out
  • Don't try to get from pt A to point B in your career via a straight line it may be the shortest path, but prefer a weaving path if it provides more learning and challenge.
  • Learn that in life you can't always do what you, but you MUST like what you do!!
  • Let's say you're trying to build a 1000 storey building on a 200 storey foundation, you know it will collapse. What if you have a 200 storey bldg and you spot the opportunity to build 5 more storeys should you do it? Let's say you know that building these 5 storeys would keep the building intact for a year and then the entire edifice would collapse , what then? - Business is about striking at such opportunities as and when they arise, and then back filling - Go ahead, build those extra 5 storeys, but make sure you have the foundation sorted before the year is out. If you wait to solidify your foundation first someone else may have already beaten you to building those 5 storeys!
  • Leaders have a tendency to feed off successes and walk away from failures, Great leaders tend to walk away from successes and flock to failures.
  • Work experience in a large organisation ( generally) can be useful to help you curb both over enthusiasm and frustration, when you are experimenting with ideas in your venture.
  • Try to spot "white spaces" - new ideas , new business avenues that people find promising and are willing to bet on for the future- in an organisation and move into them, if you want retain your entrepreneurial spirit within an organization - especially large ones.
  • In a large organization, a leader must protect his people from the organisation itself.
  • When delegating make sure you brief properly. If your subordinate doesn't do a job well enough, make sure it's not because you did a bad job of briefing them
  • Pursue ideas, but know your limitations and build an excellent team; get people better than you to cover your bases on areas where you're not that great
  • It's usually the case that VCs (and I'm sure PE firms as well) prefer a great team with a decent idea than a decent team with a great idea. That's how important the quality of people is to any business venture.
  • It takes a lot of persistence, staying power (both monetary as well as personal) and tremendous self-confidence to succeed in an entrepreneurial venture. Most businesses fail because the founders call it quits too early
Plenty of things to consider there...
TiE is also planning some sort of Angel investor interaction at IIFT over the next week.
I am hoping we can chalk out some formal tie-up between TiE and our ECell ( Entrepreneurship club at IIFT)
Do post your comments below....

Blog Hopping

Is my favourite activity on the net nowadays when I'm not blogging or wasting time on Orkut. It's amazing what a rich and wide variety of views exist on any given topic, and it only helps to increase the depth and stregth of your perspectives. Sometimes it can be humbling to see what you consider an untenable position, argued into not merely plausibility, but positions of strength by flawless logic and brilliant analogies.

Stumble upon a whole host of blogs by my batchmates at IIFT and blogrolled them.

Here are a few interesting reads at Partha's Blog includin a post on lingo at IIFT

And a repeat blogcast of a previous post by me on lingo at my alma mater , COEP

Have linked to this blog before on a previous post but what the hey, have look at Niladri's blog

And there are plenty of others notably : Peggy, Ravi , Swati, and...... ( they wil all be tracked down and mercilessly blogrolled)