Friday, September 14, 2012

The SIIB Bajaj Workshop

As kids growing up, the “Hamara Bajaj” advertisement was one that we eagerly waited for and probably even led to a lot of us buying a Bajaj as our first vehicle.  So it was a moment of pride when we finally met the man who today is the face of Bajaj Auto Ltd.

When a student begins his course at a B-School, one of the things that he/she looks forward to a lot is the guest sessions. The much awaited session with Mr. Rajiv Bajaj took place on the 10thof September 2012 and the students turned up , eager to learn from one of the brightest business minds that India possesses. The first thing that stood out about this interaction was Mr. Bajaj’s humility and his ability to put everyone at ease. For a man who heads one of the largest private sector companies in India today, he seemed attuned to what we as students were most keen to learn from him. To facilitate this, he began the session by inviting questions spanning all aspects of Bajaj Auto Ltd. which he then proceeded to address through a structured presentation which covered Bajaj’s history and included their strategies over the years.
Mr.Bajaj sharing his experiences with the students of SIIB 

We were quite literally spellbound by the amount of knowledge that Mr. Bajaj brought to this session and the clarity with which he put it all together.  The session largely dealt with “Brandology”, a concept that was developed within Bajaj Auto, and seems to be the epicentre of everything that they have done to get to the position that they hold in today’s motorcycle market.  Mr. Bajaj also seemed to possess an uncanny knack of picking out the most relevant concept from his vast readings, and apply it to the discussion at hand.  He spoke at length about how the idea of the Bajaj Pulsar had come about and how it was based on the principles of marketing strategies.  The success of the product, he said, was largely down to being able to set the product apart from the clutter in the minds of the consumers.  He then listed out these strategies and proceeded to explain how Bajaj had applied them to wrest control of the motorcycle market from Hero Honda, and establish themselves as the pioneers in this field.

No Stepneys in this ride ( In this pic : Rahul Bajaj)

We were vaguely aware of the fact that Mr. Bajaj’s interests ranged from the teachings of Jack Trout to the founding principles of Homeopathy, and we were given a taste of this as he explained to us how he had applied these little nuggets of information to his business.  We had also heard about his famous tendency to play down the importance of big name B-Schools and consultants and we were not disappointed as he explained to us why he sets store by logic and not by the rigid principles that are taught at these institutions.  He also challenged a lot of the conventional wisdom that we are exposed to and really proved to us that the best decisions are those that are grounded in simplicity.  He kept the audience captivated by peppering the session with anecdotes about some of the crucial decisions in Bajaj’s strategy had come about through seemingly innocuous interactions and ideas. 

In the end, this session left us with a lot of food for thought which was best summed up in the vote of thanks given by one of the students who said – “Wisdom does not lie in achieving success or in not failing.  True wisdom lies in knowing what will succeed and what will not.”

Article authored by Jaidatt Udiyavar and Nikhil Budhiraja .Nikhil and Jaidatt are final year students of SIIB, Pune .Both did their internships at Asian Paints. They are very passionate about marketing. Their interests include exploring different methodologies of branding .

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