Monday, December 12, 2011

PR Meet 2011-'12

It was a Sunday afternoon in January 2011, about six weeks after the SNAP exam, when I attended the Annual ‘City meet’ of SIIB. While I was interacting with the speakers and simultaneously analyzing my future prospects for SIIB (which later turned out were actually pretty good) a thought suddenly crossed my mind – “It would have been so cool if I was the speaker addressing this crowd”. Not knowing what fate had in store for me, I made a promise to myself that if I do get admitted to SIIB I will join the PR team.
10 months later, October 2011 another Sunday afternoon I am delivering a similar presentation while addressing a crowd of 100 odd nervous aspirants.
The 10 month journey from being a spectator to be a speaker has been nothing less than spectacular; my first day at college, first interaction round with seniors, Interview for PR team and preparing day and night along my with team mates to make sure that when the day comes we fall short of nothing and deliver the expected.
The PR (Public Relations) team bears all responsibilities related to official communication and visibility of college but the ‘Crack it with SIIB city meets’ is what everyone dearly waits for as it is a completely student driven initiative which gives us an amazing opportunity to meet our potential juniors and share our thoughts and experience with the aspirants. Same is also a wonderful platform for the aspirants to gain some extremely useful tips and insights on SNAP exam and process beyond that (GD’s, PI’s). We try our best to facilitate the journey that aspirants go through; which starts at the preparation stage and ends at the very door of SIIB.
On a personal front, I was eagerly waiting for the meet as it allows one to feel the same adrenaline again as one did a year ago when he/she was one of the Aspirants and also to realize how does it feel to be on the other side of the crowd.
The motive is to conduct the workshop in all major towns on the very same day accessing as much populace as we can across the country. This year we have planned to conduct this workshop in 13 major cities reaching every corner of India.
Invitations have been send, teams have been designated, months of planning & preparation boils down to the week of the city meet when we all embark on a journey to the designated cities to conduct the ‘Crack it with SIIB’ city meets.
For the PR meet scheduled on 20th Nov, I along with my two colleagues leave for Delhi to make arrangements and to conduct the workshop. We spent the preliminary days making venue arrangements and contacting as much coaching institutes and colleges in city as possible to invite the respective students to the workshop. Last but not the least, we got our suits dry cleaned and we were all set to represent our college.

The day went fine with people turning up in good numbers and two of our distinguished alumni gracing the occasion with their presence. The students seemed satisfied interacting with us and the alumni.

The workshop acted as a platform where aspirants could quench their thirst of knowledge when it comes to MBA program and SNAP exam, hence the session was aimed to provide a firsthand experience of life at a B-School & I think we were pretty successful in doing so. The aspirants seemed to appreciate the value of MBA and how it can act as a catalyst for their career.

Evening, in order to celebrate the success of the event we went out for dinner with both of our alumni and believe you me it turned out to be an enthralling experience, not just because of good food but because of the amazing anecdotes our seniors had in store for us.
As our super seniors were sharing their stories (indeed very interesting) with us we could see them getting a bit nostalgic and sentimental. For us it was a great feeling to see the level of commitment and love they have for their Alma Mater, Indeed a lesson for all of us to learn.

The Event was a huge success all across the county, the response was terrific, we addressed around 1500 people pan India. But the best moment for me was yet to come and it came a couple of days after I reached college.
It was in form of a mail which said “It was indeed a really good presentation and I wish I could do the same when I join SIIB”.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Regional Aspiration...A Step Further

Every two months a young college student in Rourkela, Orissa travels to Kolkata, West Bengal to shop for garments & accessories for himself & his close friends…A local Shoes trader in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh travels to Delhi every week to observe the latest trends & fashions with respect to footwear; in order to replicate the same designs for his stock of shoes to be sold in Meerut…The only thing common between them is that they both pander to Aspirational marketing & if studied together; they explain the Cause & effect relationship of a new phenomenon emerging from Aspirational marketing (which we will discuss later in the article).

Aspirational marketing is not new to the world of management; as it has been extensively exploited by the behemoth of Multinational corporations dealing in luxury brands for years. Aspirational marketing is a management technique that companies worldwide exercise to present their brand to a particular set of people in such manner that people would feel elevated & superior by associating themselves with that brand. The brand image is created in a way that people look up to that brand for its esteem & prestige; it is done by bracketing that brand with a certain element like a person, sport, Quality, ambition, or human trait that people are in awe of.

Raymond’ as a brand has been successful in crafting an inspirational brand by presenting the protagonist as a successful, global man; which people aspire to be (A complete man). The legendary ‘Marlboro Man’ campaign would be more precise an example. Associating a brand of sports shoes (Nike) with a global celebrity like ‘Michael Jordan’ can also be classified under the genre of Aspirational marketing. This process is extremely prevalent in developing nations as they have a constant desire to follow the west in fashion & lifestyle, so companies by connecting their brands to the desired elements create an Aspirational image amongst consumers. The study of Aspirational marketing in context of Indian society and market would help us answer a lot of unasked questions; such as:-

Why does almost every lounge in Indian metros emphasize on English (or western) tracks? The answer lies in the preference of young music followers as they are severely dedicated towards western music, not because the Hindi music is not peppy enough but because they (or ‘WE’ in many cases) feel pride being in the same class.

Why do Indian apparel brands such as ‘Kuotons’ use foreign origin models for their Brand advertisement in Indian market?The answer is simple & has already been stated in the above paragraph. Post Independence, both ‘the good and bad’ of the western lifestyle has influenced the Indian way of living; as ‘Dev Anand’ eloquently portrayed in his cult classic ‘Dum Maro Dum’. It reached its epitome in 1970’s when everything from Movies to daily wear garments (Bell bottoms) to food (fast food) to music (Disco & break dance) was directly influenced by western culture. Media after the advent of color television in 1982 & cable television a few years later has played a pivotal role in building this phenomenon from a niche segment to a mass occurrence. Mass mediums like Internet then gave us more exposure than ever to the global scenario.
Since then The Businessmen of the world have used this concept in daily operations to market & sell their products & services in India.

Otherwise; how would you explain such rapid success of fast food chain like ‘Pizza Hut’ or ‘McDonald’s in Indian market? Good market research & marketing policies! Yes Of-course it is one of the factors.
But isn’t it majorly because the youth of the nation has grown up watching Americans enjoying their hamburgers sitting on the bench with ‘Ronald Mcdonald’…!!! Aspirational marketing is not just limited to India or other developing nations, it can & it does occur in every society as people everywhere idolize some or the other element like celebrities, quality, form of sport etc, & this process admiration would be used by entrepreneurs to promote their brand by relating it with that particular element of admiration.

It is not just limited to one country or people in that country looking up to a different country & being influenced by their flamboyance. This process has evolved itself in such a way that it is now integrated to different states, cities or regions in any given country, wherein a certain set of people in a certain region looks up to a different section of people in some other region for inspiration. This gradual evolution of Aspirational marketing has led to a new phenomenon known as Regional Aspirational marketing.
Let’s not confuse this with local marketing as local marketing is to pick a globally successful product, adding a local regional flavor in it & presenting it to the consumers in that particular region. This form of marketing caters to the Pride factor associated with the regionalism, like regional language, food or regional attire. A nationwide television broadcasting channel playing soaps & movies in Marathi language in Maharashtra for the local customers is a classic example of this phenomenon. Spiderman the Movie’ being dubbed in Bhojpuri for the local industry is another illustration of Local marketing.

Regional Aspirational marketing is when a set of people in a certain region wish to emulate other set of people in different regions & trends followed by them. The businessman in that scenario would connect his products with the later & presents it to the former. So that the former set of people feels proud to be associated with the particular brand.A businessman operating a restaurant in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, with the restaurant serving Delhi centric cuisines & provides ambience which relates to lifestyle in Delhi can be cited as a case of Regional Aspirational marketing.
Again, let us try to understand this process in the context of Indian society & market. A quick analysis of cases mentioned in the starting should help us do that.A college student in Rourkela, Orissa & his friends are inspired by the fashion & culture of the Kolkata (the nearest metro city to Rourkela) & hence they try to follow the same trends being followed in Kolkata & visits Kolkata often to shop for their clothes & accessories.

A local shoe trader in Meerut knows that youth of Meerut is influenced by the Flamboyance of Delhi & given an opportunity they would like to follow their footsteps in regards to fashion. Therefore the trader goes to Delhi every week to understand the new designs of footwear & try to replicate the same designs in his stock of shoes. It might also work out well for the youth of Meerut as they are getting what they desire, but at a lower cost than actual price of those goods in Delhi market. Regional Aspirational marketing in India forms a cycle of admiration, where in people in villages’ looks up to nearest tier 2 or 3 city for exposure, Tier 2 & 3 cities gets influenced by larger metros & the people in Metros in India are inspired by the Western flamboyance.

Just like in case of people in Agra (tier 2), who might be influenced by lifestyle in Delhi (metro) & hence would prefer the Delhi centric restaurant, people in Delhi (metro) would admire Western lifestyle & would prefer to visit a Manchester club thematic Lounge. The trick is to NOT to miss a link in this chain, if a businessman associates its brand with a western Element & presents it to tier 2 & 3 cities, it might not work out in his favor.Opening a Manchester club Lounge in Agra (tier 2) might not be the best Idea.(This is considering that Agra youth might not be as exposed to club Football as Delhi youth)

This technique has been nicely put to use by Vishal Mega mart in its retail concept. Vishal mega mart’s strategy is to open more out lets in tier 2 & 3 cities & expose them to fashion being followed in Delhi.
The Idea is to offer a consumer (which is majorly youth in case of Vishal) clothes closely imitating the clothes which a tier 2 consumer might see people in Metros wearing & also actors wearing in Hindi movies & soaps (which increases the demand even more). It works out well for both the customers & The Vishal mart; as the customers are delighted to access these goods at a lower price as compared to the actual price in Metros & Vishal mega mart instead of selling established brands produce their own brands replicating the trend in Metros which offer them economies of scale & thus higher returns in Volumes.

Vishal mega mart is not the only player indulging in regional aspiration marketing, there will be other players following the same concept in business of durables, gadgets, fashion or retail, But the scope is still humongous. Considering that purchasing power parity of rural India & tier 2 cities is increasing day by day, Companies are lining up to market their products in the given segments. This will lead to cut throat competition amongst different brands as everyone would work out strategies to enhance their market share.
In a scenario like this, victorious would be the one who could relate with the masses well, One who could make them feel proud while spending money, One who would be able to understand their sentiments & what they aspire and to deliver the same to them in different regions of different states of a given country in affordable prices.

Written By: Nikhil Budhiraja

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Curtain Raiser @ SIIB '11-13 Batch

Late night studies to prepare for SNAP, going through various levels of group discussions & interviews and of course endless prayers, has finally led us to the big Gate which reads -


The new session has started and started off with a bang!!! From the very exciting & adventurous outbound session to an equally surprising ice breaking session with the seniors, life here is hectic but immensely enjoyable at the same time.

The outbound session; although perceived strictly as management learning outdoor experience, turned out to be more of a merry making management festival for juniors, thanks to the innovative ideas & the beautiful way it was conducted. One can’t get enough of those management games and the wonderful performances that it brought from all of us!!!

The batch consists of people coming from different backgrounds of society & distinct paths of life; but with a common dream – ‘To make it large’. I realized that our batch like every other batch at SIIB is full of Dreamers & Debaters, that’s what made the trip so very enthralling (even the Mountain trekking taught us a few management lessons).

The road ahead seems to be incredibly exciting with a lot of scope to learn & grow as an individual (& to do this while having a time of your life makes it even more worth it!!!).

Like in most Bollywood Movies (where Hero makes a grand entry) our seniors enthralled us with their grand entry (after they came back from summer trainings). Their innovation and impeccable implementation in conducting the Ice–Breaking session was marvelous. Hats off to you SIR!!!

This really made us comfortable interacting with them on variety of Topics & learn more about the institute. The wonderful equation built on the very first day with them still continues smoothly & will always do…

SIIB is a student driven institution, which has a lot of activities handled by students themselves. Students get to work for some interesting clubs & communities. Be it Alumni interactions, Guest lectures, Public relations, Students activity, Sport committee or a non-profit Non-Government Organization run by students – Prayatna, the list is never-ending…

The journey so far has been exhilarating; we have yoga sessions, aerobics classes, salsa classes, a movie club, late night activities, late night cricket etc. The campus is huge and awesome with sporadic spells of rain!! The campus seems to have some different energy; people remain busy for 24 hours. The professors are the icons, the ground breakers for all us and not to miss our very cooperative seniors. Altogether

The day ahead seems to be full of promise, hope and achievements. I hope that all my friends have a great stay at the campus. I thank all the professors and seniors for such a welcome. We hope to continue the on-going tradition of SIIB. "

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Film-maker Ashutosh Gowariker – enthralls SIIBians!!

The ‘Lagaan’ director was at Symbiosis Institute Of International Business, Hinjewadi, Pune for a discussion on management & film-making.
Leadership skills, ethical practices, effective planning and execution, human relations, emotional quotient, etc. are key managerial skills, MBA students aspire for. Cinema and process of film-making have always been closely associated with these managerial aspects. Such qualities are best-depicted through films and therefore, today movie-scripts are often used as case studies in educational institutes and the corporate world. Director- Mr. Ashutosh Gowariker is one such film-maker whose protagonists Bhuvan (Lagaan) & Mohan Bharghav (Swades) changed our perception of the conventional ‘hero’, by bringing about a revolution through lateral thinking, with patriotism as the backdrop.
On 18th February 2011, Symbiosis Institute of International Business, Hinjewadi Pune (SIIB) invited Mr. Ashutosh Gowariker for a guest lecture on “Management & managerial aspects of films and film-making”.
Dr. Rajani Gupte, Director, SIIB and Dr. Vidya Yervadekar, Principal Director, Symbiosis Society, were also a part of the programme.
Mr. Gowariker began the session, with his early experiences as an actor, gradually moving towards film-making, which involved financing, operational issues, film-promotions & marketing, etc. He then spoke about how he zeroed down ‘leading actors’ for his films, based on the character’s temperament. He also threw light on how a film’s success and failure both equally important for a film-maker.
Highlights of the session:
The simplicity, humility & straightforwardness with which Mr. Ashutosh put forth his points, thoughts, ideas and experiences, wrapped in humour, had the audience in splits.
He came down to the level of youngsters which set the comfort level of the audience.
The journey of his gradual evolution from an actor to director, director to a producer and finally from a producer to writer, with confusion and chaos at every stage, is something every youngster faces at this point of time, and could therefore connect to the transition process instantly.
The interaction was the USP of the show, since people actually came out with frank, open queries, and having most of the questions answered much to their satisfaction.
Overall, it was a highly interactive, humorous and interesting session, and the audience enjoyed every bit of it.

End of Kyoto ?

The Kyoto Protocol set its first step on a social cause, i.e. contributing to ‘Combat climate change’. Today, it has developed into an effective & highly industry driven ‘global business plan’ wherein profits, brownie points (carbon credits) and trading of brownie points go hand in hand. Kyoto involves the developed, developing and least developed nations. India and China are major markets for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects.

Each element of the CDM, right from the project design document to registration of a project is a business in itself involving positioned tailor-made entities at every stage. Tools like perform trade and achieve, renewable energy certificates, could act as close complements to the Protocol.

In addition, sustainability reporting & corporate social responsibility aimed towards fulfilling socio-economic and environmental obligations could prove to be effective tools of brand building as well.

To summarize, it isn’t feasible for nations to let go of such offbeat, yet fairly consistent sources of income and brand management, just owing to ‘documented’ deadlines. The ‘so called’ end to Kyoto shall only give rise to its closest substitute in the form of a similar, innovative business mechanism, differently named, but ultimately contributing to its principal cause ‘Combat climate change’.

Aarohan 2011

Aarohan -SIIB's National Level Supply Chain and Logistics Summit will be held this Friday , February 25th 2011. It is the fourth edition of Aarohan, and it has carved a space for itself in the Nation B-school event calendar . Aarohan has from start featured a National Level case study competition focusing on Operations, Supply Chain and Logistics. This year the theme for the case study was the Pharmaceuticals and healthcare industry.

The Supply Chain Summit is a platform where eminent personalities from the Industry share their views with the students. The theme of this year’s event is “Missing Links in Supply Chains”. Aarohan’11 will also host a Panel Discussion based on the theme “Risks with the Last Link of Supply Chain”. The participants in the Panel Discussion include professionals from both Corporate and Academia.

The preparations for the Pre-Events are in full swing , and for the first time , there is going to be a Post-Event too ( "War of DJs" ) where all can let down their hair after some serious gray cell activity after the Panel discussion and the Finalists of the Case study competition presenting their case solutions to the judges.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The 25 things I learned at SIIB (or thought so)

It's not time to make a change
Just relax, take it easy
You're still young, that's your fault
There's so much you have to know
Find a girl, settle down
If you want you can marry
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy

I was once like you are now
and I know that it's not easy
To be calm when you've found something going on
But take your time, think a lot
Think of everything you've got
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not

How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again
It's always been the same, same old story
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away
I know I have to go

I was once like you are now
and I know that it's not easy
To be calm when you've found something going on
But take your time, think a lot
Think of everything you've got
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not

All the times that I cried
keeping all the things I knew inside
It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it
If they were right, I'd agree
but it's them they know not me
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away
I know I have to go

-Ronan Keating ("Father and Son")

Experiences cannot be quantified yet the pages of memoirs are limited.The ink and page should approximate what the eyes saw, the mind thought and the senses felt.My journey in SIIB ends in roughly 20 odd days, so I thought this post should deal at length with some of the things I learned here.

1)In Semester 1 ,it felt good to be back in a classroom after some years of corporate life.One promises to study hard and play harder .Life seems rosy.The world is conquerable in six PowerPoint slides.Or maybe not under the withering glance of wizened Professors who have seen the same trick somewhere else.

2)You promised yourself that this time the mistakes you made as an undergraduate would not be repeated. Ha ! Life's little jokes. So history repeats and will again. Caveat emptor, future SIIBians.

3)Do your own thing anyways , keep your head above the water while doing that "own thing". This needs some further explanation. There is not an exact correlation between CGPA and the job you land , though for certain jobs ,it helps to have an edge.See where your interests lie and if they are not exactly being a topper in academics,but say dramatics : make sure the two years are filled with drama.That may mean you may not be able to attend all the classes,and some assignments may not be as top notch had an extra hour been spent on it.The point I am trying to make is an old one : do not miss the woods for the trees.

4)It is easier said than done to retire by age 35 unless you are Warren Buffet .The quote "do a job you love to do and you will not feel you are working" is not always realizable.One can do financial planning but why would one retire by 35 ?The average Indian lives upto 70 years , what would you do with 50% of your life ?If you can answer that , then you should go all out for that retiring early bit.

5)Income taxes matter, beyond the basics one should know.Irrespective of the specialization one chooses.Yes,even if you are a people's person and could not care about money.

6)Presentation skills matter. So do Excel and PowerPoint.Learn them.Do not exceed time limits meant for Presentations in classroom, it is: a)Bad manners b) Rude c)All of the above.

7)It is good to be silent ,and it is also good to speak out.You are in an academic environment , you are allowed to make mistakes.That is what is so great about being in a learning environment.

8)Make friends with people who do NOT think like you. Group-think is a real affliction.

9)"Group assignment" is an oxymoron , few groups get together to contribute equally or even close to the same to an assignment.Deal with it.Try to visualize how to make the best of a bad situation ,if the groups were not selected by you.

10)You may not understand everything at the first go.It's OK.Make sure you do get the essence.

11)The most productive days were when I went to the classroom without expectations, and listened like a layman . Mental baggage can and does stop effective learning.Learning to unlearn is a continuous process.On the same note, doing the extra reading before a class can help you see what the Professor teaches in 3D 2048 X 1536 resolution while other less prepared see the same class in hazy black and white imagery. Footnotes often contain juicy details.It is good to know, and good to know that you know :old Chinese saying.

12)There will be fads and there will be trends.Social networking is a fad today.Will it be 15 years down the line ? Read science fiction.You will smile.

13)And this is a mistake which I did make : I overslept for most of the days I know out here in SIIB. Which meant I woke refreshed every day,but saw fewer movies.Or read less.So if possible, sleep less.

14)Get involved with the social service activities out here in Symbiosis Infotech Campus, it will humble you to know the unique challenges facing the underprivileged.You will count your blessings and you will see there is so much you can do to help.

15)An empty mind is devil's workshop.Do something, anything.

16)Read research papers for they would define the many tomorrows to come.Having knowledge of obsolete practices is not going to help.

17)I wish I had discovered TweetDeck earlier.TweetDeck allows me to see all my Twitter tweets, Google Buzz and Facebook news feed in a single interface.The amount of time people spend on Facebook is ridiculous ,it is the idiot-box of our generation.

18)I learned that I can live without TV for months altogether.

19)Discover new genres of music.

20)Understand how rural India thinks , it is very different from what the aspirations of city-dwellers are.It takes some time to do this even to a small extent due to lack of readily available documentation.

21)Personal integrity is of surmount importance, never compromise it.

22)I have learned the most out of observing people, and their reactions to situations.Be it in case studies or campus.

23)You may be calmness personified or your temper may have a short fuse : one needs the ability to be professional at all times.

24)The art of explaining well is a prized gift.

25)And the last one : do not believe all you read.If all this sounds pompous and pretentious , that's because it is.I read a draft, and I asked myself :"Who do you think you are to preach?". Yes, self-deprecating humour can be substituted for humility.

Best of luck all ye future SIIBians .
-Aby Johnson (Batch of 2009-11)