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Thursday, August 31, 2006


Now, let me give an idea of the courses that we had in Term-3.
We had Corporate Finance, Operation Management, Entrepreneurship and Managerial Accounting. We had Prof. Suren Mansinghka for Corporate Finance while Operation Management was handled my Prof. Ram Bala. Prof. Mansinghka is amongst the oldest professors at the moment while Prof. Bala should be the youngest in the line. Entrepreneurship was taught by Prof. Venkat and Prof. Rama Velamuri. Prof. Sridharan and Prof. Nainnar took the Managerial Accounting lectures. Needless to mention that it was a great learning experience, thanks to the perceived practicality of the topics and the skills of the professors.
"Corporate Finance" was amongst the most difficult topics till date and the way Prof. Suren handled it, was great. It is never easy to teach a highly conceptual topic like Finance. The one liners that Prof Suren used during the lectures still possess the freshness to bring back a smile on my face as I quote some of them.
If your one leg is on fire and the other is on ice, by the law of averages you should be pretty comfortable.
You see there is nothing called partial pregnancy. (to explain that Finance is very precise and unambiguous)
Tell your debtors that you are planning to marry a professional girl and see how happy they turn out to be. (while explaining the impact of merger on lenders)
Patience, my friend, patience…patience is the biggest virtue……I am coming to that. (whenever some sharp brain gets ahead of the lectures)
Friends…I will try my best to keep you awake…and you should do your best to keep me awake.( at the beginning of every class)
Each of his lines has a deep practical concept hidden within, as applied to Finance.

"Operation Management" was an equally useful topic and considering my profession I could directly link it with what I was doing during my job. From Quality Management to the Toyota System, from inventory handling to flow theory, this course introduced us to quite a number of concepts. “The Goal”, the novel by Goldratt, was also part of the syllabus.

"Managerial Accounting" was mostly numbers to begin with and the magic it possessed was not appreciated by me until recently.....very practical topic in real life management, especially while preparing annual reports and understanding the complexity behind them.

"Entrepreneurship" was highly inspirational. It was based on a variety of case studies that introduced us to the basic building blocks that goes into the making of an entrepreneur. It introduced us to different kind of entrepreneurs and their approach towards their dreams.This course also acquainted us with the basic jargons and terminologies associated with Entrepreneurship.

Alums had informed that Term-2 and Term-3 were the toughest as far as the academic rigors are considered and I am so glad that these terms belong to the past.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


When we stepped into ISB for the first time it was summer and yet the campus looked amazing and well maintained. But now, with the rains, the campus has worn a new look. Everything in the campus looks beautiful. The adjacent snap pictures the roads in ISB.

The paths which we take to reach our respective lecture theatres from our student villages. The variety of botanical samples surrounding these paths can invite a researcher interested in studying rare species of plants.

This snap pictures the SV-1 (the student village, where I stay) from a distance. The boulders, lush green lawns, the vintage chairs on the lawn and the wooden bridges...all of these remind me of the European countryside.

The adjacent snap presents the ISB academic center from a distance, as viewed from the road, that surrounds the architectural splendour. The garden surrounding the academic center is a real treat to the eyes.

Term-3 was accompanied by the nature's grace which has provided such a look to the campus. For years to come, the beauty of this campus is likely to stay in our memories and remind us of the great moments that we are enjoying now as ISBians.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Term 3 ended today. So it is reflection time and my next few posts will try to picture some of the important aspects of the term. The term passed rather fast or that is how I felt, especially because I wanted it to proceed with a slower pace. In the absence of topics like Marketing and Markstrat, life was much better. Topics like finance, operations and managerial accounting were extremely practical while the inspirational case studies from Entrepreneurship were always a treat to read. I will try to give a much better image of the courses in my next post.
Three terms have already passed…sometimes it is really difficult to keep track on time. Only when something gets over, you realize that it is over. You complain about the process…you complain about the rigors…you complain about the ruthless academic schedule….but at the end when it is over, when you have a free unoccupied evening, you realize how valuable the effects of the whole process was. Suddenly everything which used to be so dull and colorless appears to have left a colorful and indelible mark in the attitude.
ISB sounds so silent at the moment. Some people have left for their homes and others are out to enjoy the vibrant night life of Hyderabad. You can easily trace an ISBian in any of the popular hangouts of Hyderabad….be it the popular waterfront or Prasad cinemax or TDS. Life cannot be sweeter than this.

Friday, August 25, 2006


ISB is a kind of mini-world where the total population includes all those associated with the institution. This mini-world has its own spirits, ethos, aspirations and desperations. One thing that helps in defining all the emotions of this mini-world is “grades”. “How important are grades?” This always will remain a complicated question to answer and different people will have different diplomatic ways of answering.

But the concept of grades is nothing new. Starting from primary school to MBA curriculum….in any Indian educational system, we can find the concept of grades occupying the prime slot. But at the end of the day, do your grades really matter?

Recently, I came across a very old school-time friend. This person used to be in the bottom 10% of the class. Presently, he is an officer in the Indian navy. This is just one of the many examples where people who don’t have the official grades, but they are in no way less successful than those who have great grades.
The same story holds well in IIT also. My branch constituted 23 students and thus 23 ranks and 23 different grades ranging from the best to the worst. If we go by the universal definition of success, I don’t think I can single out one person who is more successful than other till date. The toppers are doing great in research….the middle graders are doing great in stable and handsomely paid jobs…..and the lowest graders are doing great in exploring new avenues and have been fairly successful in whatever they have tried. The basic point which I want to drive home is the fact that grades are not that important as the Indian education system has made it look like. When you are in a school or any educational institution, you can feel the ubiquitous concern for grades. But once you are out, you seldom find the time to look at your grades again.

The story in ISB is no different. But one thing that has been frustrating me lately is that the undue importance given to grades sometimes kills the real purpose of an MBA education. There are people who just cannot speak any topic other than grades and I just cannot describe in words how irritating it can turn out to be in the company of such people. Especially after being in a profession, where practicality is more valued than the text book stuff….where the people are much more emotionally matured than a fellow who is almost in tears because he missed A grade for 0.5 points, I find dealing with certain people beyond my capabilities.

Where else in the world can we find this mad rush for grades? As they say…”It happens only in India”.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I have not given a count on the number of cases which we have prepared so far, during the first three terms of the ISB schedule. Some of the cases are inspiring…some others are average and a few of them are even boring to some extent with their high quantitative content. But, the last case of “Entrepreneurship”…Harvard Business School case on “The Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai, India: In service for Sight”, has made me think really hard.

Normally, the entrepreneurship cases are filled with a high emphasis on Venture Capitalists, angel investors, politics and government, high technology stuff and last but not the least the passion to make profits. But here is this case where the entrepreneur mixes passion with spirituality, success with the desire to serve humanity and an appeal with a mission.
Dr. V as he is addressed in the case, is none other than Dr. Venkataswamy, who started the Aravind eye hospital after retiring from the Government services. He revolutionized the way cataract is treated in the country, and got back light into the lives of many.

Here is something, directly from the words of Dr. V (as presented in the case)

What I learnt from Mahatma and Swami Aurobindo was that all of us through dedication in our professional lives can serve humanity and God. Achieving a sense of spirituality or higher consciousness is a slow and gradual process. It is wrong to think that unless you are a mendicant or a martyr you cannot be a spiritual person. When I go to the meditation room at the hospital every morning, I ask God that I be a better tool, a receptacle for the divine force. We can all serve humanity in our normal professional lives by being more generous and less selfish in what we do. You don’t have to be a “religious” person to serve God. You serve God by serving humanity

What makes me really admire Dr. V, is his ability to transform his motto of life into success with such immaculate perfection. Such cases does question the real objective of life..the real objective beyond the passion to make profits...beyond the desire to grasp power....beyond the board rooms...and beyond the tangible measures of success.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Accounting is not amongst my favorite MBA topics, however lately I have developed a kind of fascination for the topic. Not because the degree of my liking for the topic has changed but because I come across numerous occasions where I can see the “magic” of accounting. Be it Financial Accounting or Managerial Accounting, the fun always exists. You want to change the cost of your product…change the theory of accounting…. and voila….your product suddenly looks so cheaper without any change in production technology. You were running into losses with your product… apply Activity Based Costing in your accounting book and see the change which will bring back your good old days. You can play with depreciation and save taxes only to realize that the net income has fallen while taking care of the depreciation. These are just a few examples of this enigmatic subject.
Modern day Accounting is much more than just maintaining the accounts. It is much more of a decision making tool which can change the complete look of the financial situation of an organization. And the interesting fact is that sometimes the games of accounting cross the borderlines of ethical business… and this is when the biggest frauds of corporate world are scripted.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Sometimes, perception is so different from reality. You think something, perceive it as you want and it gets imprinted in your mind as your self-designed conceptual entity. This is very much applicable to the concepts of corporate finance. Before joining ISB, I always had my set of notions about concepts like “borrowing” and “lending”. I had my understanding of stuff like “bankruptcy” and “cost of capital”. But, now I realize how different my perceptions of these concepts were, from the reality.
“Corporate finance” has been deeply insightful. It brings forth the real intricacies of the corporate decision making process. Concepts which were always a half-understood phenomenon to me are now slowly evolving into their true selves. Bonds, shares, dividends, equities, debts and their roles in dictating the policies and the strategies of the corporate world is becoming more and more evident. The varieties of betas, expected returns, cost of capitals, discount rates is not very clear at the moment but things are moving in the right direction. NPV, WACC, APV calculations can be so effective in decision making.
Further interesting is the fact that, I can see a link getting developed between these concepts and the way these concepts can be applied to a ship sailing in the high seas (of course in my own imagination). A sailing ship is very much similar to a company by itself. By all possibilities, all these theories should be applicable in developing the strategies for the ship. Shipping companies buy ships, they sell ships, and when the ships sail, they depreciate. Ships are chartered…sometimes "time chartered" and at other times "spot chartered". I have a notion that NPV calculations and risk analysis must be the tools that specialists in this domain must be playing with regularly. Stocks, dividends, bonds, shareholders are so commonly used terminologies is ship finance. Finance really helps to see things from a completely different angle. Hopefully, some day I will be using these tools to decide the future of a ship.
Again, this is my perception of the industry. Reality might be different.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


It was such a lovely evening yesterday. As I lied down on my bed and looked out of the quad, I could see lot of people around. Little kids with bright colorful attires were playing in the SV-1 garden, realizing very well that their parents will not forget their long-due promises that they made a week ago. I could also see happy spouses (normally wives), most probably discussing how to spend their evening with their husbands. It was also the busiest time for the usual cupid-hit couples walking on the path, which is slightly away from the best public vision. Autos and cabs are busy within the campus and it was time to take a break from the typical schedule. Term-3 mid term is over.

The garden looked beautiful….The colorful setting sky with broken clouds added to the charm. And the frequent flights which take off from the Hyderabad airport always lend a marvelous touch to the charm when they cruised through the clouds. With the monsoon, the lush green campus looked like a velvet carpet with the exquisite botanical samples lending an ornamental touch.

But not all people were so lucky to lie down and appreciate the beauty of nature. One of the biggest seminars on “Corporate Governance” was hosted by Center of Analytical Finance. The professors and the students of the finance club had a really busy day. Both the mid term and the seminar were scheduled on the same day. Many top finance leaders and CEOs of blue chip firms were in the ISB campus and it was golden opportunity for the students of the finance club to learn from the big guys. More details about this can be discovered in

So that was it….half of term-3 officially over….

Monday, August 07, 2006


I tried really hard to concentrate on all those finance terms which have given me absolute nightmares…..but somehow was unsuccessful….Nothing abnormal…This was bound to happen if you see a movie like RDB on a Sunday evening. This was the first time I saw this movie. Can I say that I was little depressed after watching the movie?

At times, when the mind is ready to appreciate things worth higher than the traditional concepts of an MBA syllabus, let me borrow some lines (from the “Wings of Fire”) which Dr. Kalam has so magnificently used in his book. Really helps to get back into spirits and move into the real world.

"This earth is His, to Him belong those vast and boundless skies;
Both seas within Him rest, and yet in that small pool He lies" (Atharva Veda)

"All beings are born to delusion...overcome by the dualities which arise from wish and hate...But those men of virtuous deeds in whom sin has come to an end, freed from the delusion of the dualities, worship Me steadfast in their vows" (Bhagawad Gita)

"Beyond the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the shadow" (T.S. Eliot's Hollow Men)

"Beautiful hands are those that do
Work that is earnest and brave and true
Moment by moment
The long day through" (From Kalam's diary)

"If you want to leave your footprints
On the sands od time
Do not drag your feet." (From Kalam's diary)

"We create and destroy "
And again recreate
In forms of which no one knows" (AL-WAQUIAH)

Saturday, August 05, 2006


It is both an exciting and inspiring experience when we read a book on the strategies of world war or watch a movie giving a glimpse of corporate board room strategies or hear an entrepreneur elucidating the strategies he followed to get his company to the present status. If we consider the ambience of each of the situations, we can safely conclude that they are vastly different from one another. A corporate board room shares very few similarities with a dreaded battlefield. An entrepreneur is no general in a literal sense. However, there exists an uncanny similarity in the underlying game of strategy, which can be so uniformly applied to any of the above situations. Here are some such quotes.

(1) Strategy is the art of making use of time and space. I am less concerned about the latter than the former. Space we can recover lost time never. - Napoleon Bonaparte
(No one will agree to this more than a present day successful entrepreneur)

(2) I began revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I do it with 10 or 15 and absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and plan of action. - Fidel Castro

(3) In Critical and baffling situations, it is always best to return to first principle and simple action. - Sir Winston S. Churchill

(4) God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.- Voltaire
(5) Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future. -John F. Kennedy

(6) Intuition is often crucial in combat, and survivors learn not to ignore it.- Anon

(7) When a general complains of the morale of his troops, the time has come to look at his own. -Marshall

Friday, August 04, 2006


Can India replicate the magic which China performed in the manufacturing industry?
Gone are those days when “Manufacturing” was limited to a factory or shop floor where machines were manufactured. Modern day manufacturing is now more linked with international trade and national ecosystem. Retailing, shipping, food processing and packaging industry and several service sectors are now looking towards the theories of manufacturing and operations for efficient performance and value addition.
Thus, if India has to catch up with China in the manufacturing, it has to undergo a complete transformation in the bureaucratic structure of organizations. Getting used to the complexity of the global competitiveness and maintaining sustained competitive advantage are important. Getting habituated to concepts like “IT-enabled modernization of customs and port operations”, and “optimal supply chain solutions for infrastructure development”, calls for a complete transformation of work culture in the Indian context especially in the public sector. Better concepts of resource management have to be applied in the industrial context. Innovation can no longer be neglected. Concepts like lean manufacturing which are limited to international auto subsidiaries should be extended to other sectors also. The magic of effective supply chain management should be appreciated and applied in the real context. Though all these don’t look so easy at the moment, yet experts are quite upbeat on the prospects of India picking up in manufacturing.
A high level international summit on manufacturing (Summit on Indian Manufacturing Competitiveness) is currently underway in ISB, with global manufacturing heavyweights and industry leaders delivering their experience. The presentations of the host of CXOs and the top professors provided a unique opportunity to get an idea of the strategies adopted by the top manufacturing organizations. It is a great experience to learn the strategies which companies like Crompton Greaves, Deloitte, Jindal Steels, Saint Gobain Glasses and Sundaram Clayton followed which provided them with the competitive advantage. The following link provides further details of the seminar.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Sounds slightly out of topic. What does somebody from the shipping got to do with Infosys?

Well, the more I read articles about this company, its history, its mission, and its vision, I do develop a kind of admiration on the principles on which this company is built. One of the latest articles which I read on Infosys is available on the following link. One reason why I liked it slightly more is perhaps attributed to the fact that it is written by one of my favorite professors.

All companies stress on making profits, but not all companies can create that emotional bonding with its members (read employees). Only when a organization is successful in creating this bond and passion in its employees it reaches a league of its own. When the bosses turn out to be mentors and sources of inspiration, when simple middle class values rule the ideology of the organisation, where simplicity is honored and mutual respect is valued, things have got to work well. All the best Infy for your 25th Birthday.