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Thursday, November 30, 2006


It was moving exactly in the right direction, but something....something really crucial went wrong. The Indian cricket team which looked invincible just a few months back looks so fragile now. The star studded team looks so ordinary today. Motivation and agression are no longer the constant companions. So what went wrong? why did it go wrong? and what should be done now, especially when the world cup is hardly a few months away?

Losing confidence can be the worst thing that can happen to any person...any team, irrespective of whatever the profession or vocation is. Perhaps, the Indian team is undergoing a stage of lost confidence, from where it can be really tough to plunge back, atleast in near future. It is just unfortunate that all these happened just before the world cup.
And the impatient public is ready to roar as always. They just forget that it is very natural for a team to undergo such stages. West Indies were in a similar situation until the beginning of this year. Pakistan, with all its players in form has picked up all the lost vigour and ruthlessness in its attack. This was not exactly the case a year back. England, which almost overtook Australia is suddenly in doldrums.
It is such a tricky story....the game of cricket...or in that respect, whatever we do in life. We never know when something might go something might go wrong....without any reason. And at every stage, we need to be prepared for these kind of eventualities...from where it takes only courage and determination to fight back. The cyclical reversal of fortune is always there, however the effect of the cycle can be more pronounced at one time than other. And unfortuntely it is neither the sufferer, nor the winner who chooses this time.
Wishing Indian team speedy recovery to form.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


December is all set to enter, yet the winter is nowhere. You still need to put on the a.c. before you get to sleep. Warm clothes are stories of the past. Since the last four years, I had been used to quite severe winters...I have always loved those snowy winters.
Last year, this time, I was sailing in the freezing North Sea. It is always an experience...if you sail North Sea in the winters. North Sea is never kind...and takes immense satisfaction to be in its most ruthless form in the winter months. Rolling can easily touch the 35 degree mark when the vessel is in ballast voyage and when mixed with pitching can make life really uncomfortable. Even the most seasoned of sailors find it tough in the North Sea in winters.
It was such a memorable trip...travelled from S.Korea to Mumbai...from Mumbai to Madrid.....from Madrid to La Corona, moved from La Corona (after the dry docking of vessel R).....travelled to Vlissingen, Netherlands to board vessel L (I had seen vessel L built from scrap before my eyes...and the attachment was deepened by the fact that she carried a very sweet name). From Vlissingen, we sailed to the north and then returned back to Antwerp...travelled to Brussels to finally catch the flight to Mumbai...a one week stay in Mumbai and then again flew to S.Korea for the newbuildings.
The complete span of this trip was more than two months, but what made it so different was the 21 days I spent in North Sea...Weather was mostly chilly, but one day sun was out and the sea was not as rough. I decided to move to the bridge wings....and I wonder if I can ever forget the panaromic view in front of my eyes...the rays of the sun playing with the shimmering waves...some rare species of sea fish jumping high into the air....huge colorful sea birds flying not very far from our ship....and the colorful horizon that provided one of the most enigmatic views, I had ever come across....a rare chance to appreciate the beauty of God's creation.
That trip was tough...but in hindsight it makes such wonderful memories....more so because it was my last long trip before I joined ISB. I wonder if life can be as interesting after MBA.

Monday, November 27, 2006


We may need to solve problems not by removing the cause but by designing the way forward even if the cause remains in place”- Edward de Bono.

De Bono uses the Six Hat Approach and this approach is
symbolized by the act of putting on a colored hat, either actually or imaginatively in gearing towards the process of decision making.
De Bono's six hats are

1. White hat (Blank sheet): Information & reports
Red hat (Fire): Intuition, opinion & emotion
Yellow hat (Sun): Praise, positive aspects
Black hat (Judge's robe): Criticism, negative aspects
Green hat (Plant): Alternatives, new approaches
Blue hat (Sky): overall process, looking at the bigger picture

The main purposes of using "Six Thinking Hats" are to improve the thinking process, encourage creative, parallel and lateral thinking, and expedite the decision making by improving communication.

Lets say, the top executives of a company….why the top executives…in fact any group meet to decide on how to reach a decision. In the beginning, the members stress on Blue Hat to discuss how the meeting will be conducted and to develop the perceived outcomes of the meeting. Red Hat thinking follows to collect opinions and reactions to the problem and to develop constraints for the actual solution. The meeting can then wear the Green Hat in order to generate ideas and explore the possibilities of solutions. Next, what follows is the White hat thinking as part of developing information, Black Hat thinking to develop criticisms of the solution set, and Yellow Hat thinking to appreciate and encourage ideas.


Often we keep on trying hard to understand our aspirations and expectations. And especially when life is confined to the thought process of a b-school, this problem gets more acute. The collective opinion of peers plays so important a role in Indian b-schools that, at times, people are really confused on which path to follow. And these include people who considered themselves fairly concrete regarding their aspirations.

This fact is so evident when companies post their jobs. At times, the same person applies to different types of job designations ranging from finance to marketing roles of a single company. Often such candidates are rejected and the reason is not at all unpredictable. Multiple applications to a single company should be handled with sufficient care and be designed in a manner that it shouldnot force the recruiter to out rightly reject the candidature of an applicant.

Managing expectations is never an easy task. Temptation to achieve something big often makes people forget their skill sets and interests. Being ambitious is good, but being practical is far more important. Ambitions need to be in sync with capabilities. And the sooner we learn it, the happier we stay in life.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Incentives are important before we decide to start something and no sane person in the right frame of mind can deny this. I had certain incentives when I started this blog, and it is a great sense of satisfaction to see the number of visitors cross the five digit mark.
The first eight months of ISB travelled with the speed of light and with whatever little free time I had, I have tried to pen down my experience of being a part of the ISB system.
The period spanning the next few months will be decisive for the students. The decision of a day can change the whole direction of life. Excitement will be at its peak. Great success stories will be scripted. Luck can a play a great role in such stages of life.
I will try to capture as much of this excitement as possible as the roller coaster ride enters its peak. However, I do value the feedback of the readers of the blog and hope to get some suggestions on issues, I need to include in the future posts.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


When I need to work really hard, she comes to disturb me so effectively….When I am completely free and want her to flirt with me, she is nowhere……
She is such a capricious lady….and so easily she rules over me these days…. She comes unwelcome in the busiest moments of the day and I succumb to her needs…yet she is nowhere in the most silent hours of the night.

Come on sweet heart….I need you now….I need to sleep.

Friday, November 24, 2006


I was browsing through the ISB yahoo groups. It was a nice feeling to see people doing what we used to do last year, this time. Lots of speculations…lots of views are floating on interview cracking objectives. So let me keep this post for providing my inputs on interviews and what it takes to create an impact during the interview process.

So what does it take to convert an interview call into the final offer? Difficult question and different people have different methods of proving themselves. However certain things are important for almost kind of interviews.

(1) Remaining cool and positive throughout the interview: Staying cool and positive is perhaps the most important aspect of cracking an interview. Interview is normally a personality test. According to me, it rarely targets to test the knowledge (at least at MBA entrance level). The panel doesn’t want to know if you know the answer of something. Instead they may be more interested to find out how you react when you realize that you don’t know about something. It is very natural to get nervous during interviews and one should learn how to handle nervousness. From my experience of interviews, I feel that bringing out the picture of an optimist normally helps during interviews.
Two people saw out of the window- one saw the stars and other saw the mud.

(2) Be yourself and be truthful: Normally people try to imitate others or try to misrepresent facts. This is not a good idea as people who conduct interviews are normally very smart people and can easily make out any misrepresentations. So if you are applying to other schools don’t hide this fact. Also let the panel know of the options you have in case they ask you what path you plan to follow in case you don’t make to the school. Understand your essays and resume well enough to answer back any questions related to your application package. Mind you again, these questions are just targeted to understand the real person within you. Be frank…be soft….and be confident. Being confident is very different from being assertive. All these traits can be imbibed if you are just yourself.

(3) General soft interview skills: These are small things, but create great impact. The way you dress up, the way you enter the panel, the way you sit of the chair, the way you hold your file, the way you wish the panel…are small things but are extremely influential skills. These things provide a kind of first impression. It is a good idea to practice a couple of mock interview sessions to get a good grip on these skills.

(4) Maneuvering the discussion: This is a skill which involves maneuvering the topic of discussion to the topic of your interest. For instance, if you are interested in History, you should be able to carry the discussion towards History. This will make you more confident during the interview and will help the panel know about your special interests and skills.

(5) Don’t carry notions: It is not a good idea to carry impressions about the panel based on the experience of other people. However, it may be good idea if it is possible to know your panel before the interview. Different people have different views about the panels and so it really doesn’t make any sense to enter the panel with a bias, which is based on the judgment of another person.

(6) Get to know the panel during the interview: It is important to know the panel during the interview. Especially during the introduction, you should make sure that you don’t forget the names of the people who just introduced themselves to you, when you introduced yourself to them. Be friendly with them, but know the limits.

(7) Don’t get into minute detail of any single topic: The interview is supposed to provide an all round view of your personality. So don’t get into the minutest details of one topic, unless specifically asked by the panel. Maneuvering is important, yet it is a good idea to talk about as many different topics as possible during the interview time. This will keep the interview panel involved and interested in you. It is good to be humorous, but never go beyond line of demarcation. Never turn into a self created joker.

(8) Never be desperate: Never be desperate before the panel. If you are good enough, the school needs you as much as you need them.

This is all what I can remember on my take on interviews.


"We always have a choice,
At least I we think we do,
We can always use our voice,
I thought this to be true.
We can live in fear.
Extend ourselves to love,
We can fall below, or lift ourselves above"

"Fear can stop you loving,
Love can stop your fear.
Fear can stop you loving,
But it’s not always that clear.
I always tried so hard
To share myselve around
Now I’m closing up again
Drilling through the ground"

"Fear can stop you loving,
Love can stop your fear.
Fear can stop you loving,
But it’s not always that clear.
I love to give myself away
But I find it hard to trust
I got no map to find my way
And what’s these clouds of dust?"

"Fear can stop you loving,
Love can stop your fear.
Fear can stop you loving,
But it’s not always that clear.
But it's not always that clear…
But it's not always that clear…
But it's not always that clear…
But it's not always that clear…"

(From: "Fear and Love", Enigma)

Monday, November 20, 2006


Term-5 is almost over. Just the exams left to bring the formal close. No term break for me considering the fact that the exams are stretched over a period of one week. And my exams are schedules towards the end of the week…..only left with the traditional week end for the respite.

Five graded courses….Macro-economics (MAPI)….PAEV all these made life hectic. But the courses were great and the kind of courses I took, were both different and enlightening. Apart form the traditional finance courses like Advanced Corporate Finance and Econometrics, I had also taken a course in Microfinance and another in Real Estate and Property Finance. ISB is one of the few schools to offer courses in such specialized but potentially strong topics.

Advanced corporate finance was great , and only if I could have managed to give some more time to the cases, the learning curve would have been really great.But, this is one of the drawbacks of a one-year MBA. We are always hard pressed for time.Yet, the course was great…the cases were fabulous... and Prof Shankar De stressed a lot on the intuitive aspects of finance. The course pack is simply awesome and is a great reference.

Micro-finance is slightly different and took me away from the lectures of corporate decision making to topics like group lending, micro credits, rural India and numerous African countries where Micro finance has been implemented successfully….Lots of potential lies stored for this field in India and Prof. Shamika Ravi is successful in infusing a lot of interest.

Real estate was again different in the sense that it got into lot of technicality into the real estate terminologies. Lot of abbreviations and new concepts….CMBS…REITS…which when added to the traditional concepts of finance gives a new picture to the old world. The ppts of Prof Piyush Tiwari are huge and it demands a lot of time to prepare for the end terms.

Financial Econometrics is highly mathematical and Prof. Mudit Kapoor taught the topic in great manner…White noise…ARCH model…GARCH model…random walk model….just to name a few jargons from this course.

The course on Strategical Alliances, by Prof. Gurneeta Vasudeva was quite nice and brought different aspects of alliances. It was mostly case based with plenty of interesting readings.

That’s about my courses of Term-5.
There were also courses like Marketing Research, Pricing, Branding, Futures & Options, IT related course, Logistics and Supply Management, Global manufacturing strategy….the list is really long….and depending on the interests, aspirations and the availability, were chosen by the students.
Meanwhile, the job postings are on a rise. A singapore based health care consultancy and a couple of international software and telecom companies are the latest to post their requirements.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


One interesting trend in the international placements posted so far, is stress on general management and strategy roles. L (a European Airlines Company) was the latest in the list to post its job postings and interestingly general management was amongst the roles offered. However unlike the posts of earlier companies, the positions posted by L is more tuned to people with less/no work experience.
Term -5 has already entered its last week. It was the quickest and the most happening term till date. It ignited the excitement in all aspects - course selection, specializations, b-school competitions, placements...
Bidding for Term-6 is over. Three strategy courses and one finance courses is what I plan to complete next term...will provide more details about the courses as I get to know the contents.
One interesting aspect of Term-6 bidding is the fact that the bid for one of the courses "Corporate Mergers and Acquisition" closed at almost 1000 points. Just to remind, the total bidding points allowed is 4000 for more than 16 courses. I had bid only 600 points...and I missed the course. Considering the utility of the topic, I guess I have to do some serious self study to learn the concepts of this topic.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Each passing day is adding extra tinges of excitement. The nascent placement fever has now given way to devotional commitment on the part of the class of 2007. The interviews of DB, GS, H are in progress while those of IC (Italian Cement Giant) and N (Swiss pharma leader) are scheduled towards the end of the term. Certain companies prefer years of experience while others prefer the younger ones... with perfect logic to substantiate their stances.
Normally the manufacturing/heavy industry based giants offering a wide range of roles prefer experienced people for the diversified roles. Experience in such cases ranging from four years to more than 12 years. IB organisations have been prefering students with few but relevant experience. Also the locations offered looks very much diversified...not limited to the UK, US or Europe. One of the companies, in fact requires professionals for locations like Egypt and Kazakhastan.
This is just the beginning of all the excitement, nervousness and a new wave of enthusiasm. If this is the situation now, I can well imagine, how the heat will be in February, the month which is devoted for the real placements.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Congrats and best of luck for the final round. You have been hearing this through out the day, but this time the person who said so is very different from the others. He is one of the nine people with whom, you will competing on a fateful day for a much sought after job …..for a company which is ranked number one in its industry.. ….for a role, that can pave the doors of opportunity for you…..and in a country which has defined the definition of beauty and romanticism.
No one knows which amongst these nine people will be lucky enough on that particular day. Only for those, who make it on the final day, it matters coming all the way long, after grueling interviews. Losing in the last round is as good as not being selected for the first round itself. Either you make it or you break it. But, this is life….the irony of life. The reward is only stored for the person who makes it to the last winning spot.”

Such thoughts filled my mind as I was walking back to my quad after dropping the assignments in the drop box.
As I looked up, I saw the clear sky…. the occasional clouds were missing too. The moon looked even more beautiful than ever. And the stars were twinkling even brighter. Everything looked so beautiful….so solacing.....providing the determination and inspiration to remain optimistic...till the end

Friday, November 03, 2006


I came across this interesting metaphorical approach to Strategy. Just liked the idea of linking strategy with oceans. The very basic idea is as follows.
"Either you try to steal customers from exisiting competitors. Or, you can create uncontested market place that makes competition irrelevant".
The former concept is the theme behind the "Red Ocean Strategy" while the "Blue Ocean Strategy" defines the second concept. In other words, Blue Ocean Strategy lays stress on creation of demand.
The people behind this idea are W.C.Kim and R. Mauborgne.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The dining period is nowadays occupied with heavy placement oriented talks. Tonight, the dinner table added two other names H (a European Cement giant) and N (a Swiss Pharmaceutical giant) to the existing BT, DB and GS fever. The Citibank scholarships were declared and four very able people are amongst the happiest people in the campus. After listening to all the interesting and ambitious stories, I finally came to my quad, completed the pending assignments and as I was just about to sleep, I decided to give a look at the orkut scraps.

And perhaps the most unique scrap till date “the lucky charm hangs in my room happy and making happy”

And this scrap is from one of my friends of good old IIT days……and I am getting in touch with him after four long years……after four very defining years…….of his life. Let me write something about the "silent monk".

After I completed a year of my job, I had been to IIT Madras and that was the last time I had met him…..and perhaps that was the time he was gripping with the most difficult days of his life. I talked with him for sometime and then handed him over an oriental lucky charm, made of wood. I came back from IIT and moved on to my next assignment.

And today, after a long time….the scrap reminded me of a lot of things….it reminded the precision of the guitar of the silent monk…I am yet to meet any person from IIT Madras who can play the strings better….After years of hard work, dedication and courage to put aside all the personal sorrows he faced, today silent monk is very close to success….I mean the real passionate success which very few people are lucky to enjoy. He is just about to get his first big break into the world of music.
It was such a wonderful feeling to read his journey of last four years…..passion, dedication, ambition…..and relentless efforts. How can success evade all these qualities?

Thank you so much silent monk for remembering the “the lucky charm”. And I hope it makes you happier and more successful with each passing day.