Rumblings of an MBA mind...

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Friday Night

Monday, March 23, 2015 Posted by Vijay No comments

'7 errors', 'Build failed'

Arun once again witnessed the familiar pop-up window. Yet another precious hour wasted for the same piece of code. He looked around; only very few left in the floor, may be two or three here and there. Then he looked at his watch 9:30PM. It was a Friday night & still he had a couple of documents to review and some mails to be sent. He thought whom should he blame - his manager, his colleagues or himself? Already he had lost his chance to go to a pub with his friends, but he denied the offer saying he had to do his "so called" work. Totally fed-up, he decided to call off the day!

He was a typical bachelor in a metro – staying with friends, long commutes and hotel food. Though it was already half past 10, thankfully he had a couple of choices near his house itself & he decided to go to his favorite. After washing his hands, he found a comfortable seat. Since it was too late, only very few were there having their dinner. Being a south Indian, dosas were his favorite & he was ok even if had them three times a day. He asked the waiter to bring a masala dosa. The waiter looked at him awkwardly -  

Arun read his mind "What the hell do you think yaar?....Its 10:30PM. Nothing is left". The waiter said politely, " No dosa sir". Arun asked what is available & the reply was only meals. He ordered the same. It was cooked in the afternoon itself, but was hot since they used to heat it consistently to have a feel that it is fresh.

When he was about to finish it, a bare-footed boy started approaching him to clean a nearby table. Perhaps of ten years old, he looked very. Arun understood that the boy wanted to clean his table also. The boy started taking the plate that Arun ate. The boy sprinkled some water & started cleaning the table with a cloth he may have been using for the entire day. It was almost torn; that the boy was literally cleaning with his bare hand. 

The boy was new to the hotel & possibly new to his JOB too. Arun thought 'Is this what a boy of this age is supposed to do?'. He compared his childhood to that boy's. He never even took his own plate or cleaned it. His mother gave everything in hand while watching television, reading or playing. It was not even comparable in anyway. He thought to talk to that boy personally. This he wanted earlier also. But every time he skipped it. Today he decided to talk to that boy. But he was in dilemma, what to ask & in which language? Finally he asked the boy in broken Kannada.

Ninna hesaru enu? [What is ur name?]. 

The boy was so perplexed as If Arun was the first outsider to talk to him. He said in a very low voice "Nagaraju". Arun wanted to talk to him more. But he didn’t know Kannada. He continued his talk with Nagaraju in broken Kannada & Tamil. He came to know that the boy was a drop out from third standard. His father, a street sweeper & mother a house maid. He has not seen his father for past 9 months. He no longer comes to their house. Nagaraju, his 2 year old brother & mother stays in a small house along with a family of his uncle. His cousin is also working at the same hotel. His day started 5 AM in the morning, helping others to cut vegetables; from 8, cleaning the tables and end at around 11:30 PM cleaning the plates & vessels. 17 hours X 7 days. Almost like the advertisement 24X7. Even though his slum is near to the hotel, nowadays he stays at the hotel kitchen itself. Arun thought whether he can compare this to his 12 hours job, 5 days a week in an air-conditioned room with no hard labor. That is also incomparable. That is what education; probably a science or engineering education gave Arun. This boy is deprived of even the formal education. Still we say "I was born intelligent; Education ruined me"- what an irony? The boy gets 75-100 rupees a day for all this hard labor. 

"How many days can he continue in this rigour"- Arun thought. The waiters & the cashier started a small smile seeing they talking for a long time. They must have thought "has this person gone mad". Arun wanted to help that boy somehow. But he was reluctant to give him some money to the boy. But finally he handed over a 50 rupee note to that boy. The boy didn’t accept it. The boy said, the hotel owner will give him the money for the day. And now the people around us started really smiling. But still Arun wanted to do something for him. Finally Arun ordered the waiter another meal for the boy and asked him to sit near him. It must be the first time the boy is going to sit in that seat meant for customers. The meal came and boy had it. Arun could sense a relief from hunger and happiness from the boy. When the boy finished his meals, he took his own plate & cleaned the table. No other go. Arun put the 50/- rupees into that boy's half packet. Both were very happy & Arun said bye to him. The boy replied "Tanks". Arun smiled and started walking towards his house & the boy back to the kitchen….

ps: This is 50% fictional piece of writing :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Was my MBA worth it?

Monday, August 18, 2014 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
Note: It has been more than four years since I started this blog. It has been a great experience with nice comments, discussions and of course readership count following a sine wave :) This post may well be the conclusive post to this blog; except that I may update it occasionally. Marketing as a subject captured the most my interest during the days at IIMB and I am planning to continue writing about my learnings and thoughts @ Digistra. Do let me know your valuable comments about it!

Time just flies! It has been more than a year since I graduated from one of the coveted B-Schools of India.I thought its a good time to re-visit and reflect on the ROI generated out of this education. To start with, here are the investments I made to gain this prestigious and envious diploma !

  • 2.5 years (or rather three years) of no weekends, personal life
  • Around 10 Lakhs as tuition fees and other expenses
Fortunately or unfortunately there wasn't any loss of salary since mine was an executive program. Otherwise there would have been another cost bullet above. Today, as I see it, this where I am after MBA and some personal changes -

  • Married
  • Joined a small company
  • Moved my career to marketing domain
  • Thoughts are more inclined in terms of monetary implications (I won't call it money oriented though :P)

If I had not joined the program, I would have saved around 15 Lakhs which I could have very well used for buying an apartment; I would have enjoyed those three years' weekend (or wasted? :)) and kept on cribbing about the software engineer's job!

This is the outside picture anyone can get if they look at me. But the real story can be told only by the person who experience it. Here is a glimpse of that --

  1. First and foremost is the change in thought process -- honestly, I would not have thought about alternative investments and NPVs and optimum solutions about my savings if I had not studied that one core subject - Corporate Finance! 
  2. Similar is the case with my reading stamina. Unless I had gone through the hundreds of HBR cases and articles and readings, I doubt whether I would have ever read a 500 page book on business models and organizational development. 
  3. Courage to experiment. I acquired the courage to do some experiments like - investing in hard-core stock markets (from short-term trading to futures and options) to contemplating the a consulting business to taking classes for kids & even professionals. MBA taught me what matters is trying out; not whether you succeed. The boost in optimism one will have is invaluable.
  4. Moving away from the comfort zone. Whether it is public speaking or trying out new things or networking; the MBA anchored to make those steps.

Of course one can argue that you need not do an MBA, waste time and money to achieve all these. I don't deny; but if you are confident that you can achieve all these yourself; lucky you! you dont need an MBA.

Coming to the core question of any MBA aspirant - did it provide what the newspapers and media boast of? A definite NO; I have to say it's just hype and myths propagated year after year. Of course there were and will be few folks in all MBA batches who get those hyped salary offers and job profiles. Its not because of either brilliance alone or luck alone; but a combination of factors like luck, brilliance, background, timing and so on.

Let me close this post by making a couple of more points. MBA is a sunk investment(Well! that's a jargon). What I meant is you cannot consider the ROI of an MBA or for that matter any education from only the salary that you get post MBA. That's a pinch you have to accept. It's the intellectual stimulation, the network and the holistic thinking ability that you should look forward to. Don't go by the media reports; do an MBA only if you really think it will add value to you (The question Why MBA in SOPs is not just there for the sake of it; consider the SOP as an opportunity to critically think about the choice you are making!).

ALL THE BEST to the MBA ASPIRANTS out there and WISH ALL DREAMS come true for the MBA grads!

Disclaimer - all opinions in this post and blog are just my own and personal!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Book Review: The Curious Digital Marketer 2.0

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Posted by Vijay , No comments
The Curious Digital Marketer 2.0 - A cool book on Digital Marketing; that's what I will say about this one. A very practical guide without much textbook type theories and definitions. It is very practical in nature. It's written in a Q&A format with a good range of questions that will come to a marketer in the industry or just starting her career. 

It touches almost all aspects of digital marketing from display advertising to analytics to social media marketing. The beauty of this book is that it captures the essence of each channel as questions yet covers the practical aspects of them.

Only drawback I see is - it's more India centric; so someone outside the Indian geography may find few data points irrelevant.I got the most value out of mobile marketing section.The book is also available at a reduced price in ebook format. One area that I thought the book could have done more justice is going into the details of paid marketing and some of the new buzzwords like programatic buying and real time bidding. 

Overall a good refresher and ready-reckoner for a digital marketing professional and worth keeping in your personal library!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

MOOC - Lifetime learning

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 Posted by Vijay No comments
It has been long since I blogged something here. Lot's have been happening in life - change the personal status from single to married :) , moved to a new city and finally moved to a new company - this time to a small one working on an exciting challenge of marketing attribution. Hoo hoo! too much flux to handle. So far life has been kind enough to me with not many BIG surprise though it continues to be an enjoyable roller-coaster ride! 

An education like MBA makes you even more thirsty to continue to learn. Now that I have KINDA settled, have started to do courses in MOOCs. We very well know the number of such MOOCs have exploded recently. But this is even more good news for a learner as each of these MOOC come up with some uniqueness in terms of either the themes they offer or teachers they bring in. Some of the ones that I have learnt from and recommend are

I am now exploring one such MOOC called Open2Study; already completed few of them and currently doing User Experience for the Web

Have you used MOOCs? Which of them do you recommend?

By the way, I am planning to continue this blog by writing more about marketing and strategy topics; hope and wish I will manage it. Let me know your opinion. Read the series @ Marketing Chalk :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Curious Case of Self-Help Books

Saturday, July 20, 2013 Posted by Vijay No comments
Lately, I have been reading a lot of books -especially self-help books :) Its actually fun to read those ;). For example, the latest one that I read was by Prof. Clayton Christen of Harvard Business School titled How Will You Measure Your Life?

A Harvard Business Review article with the same title was introduced to me during one of MBA elective classes. The article was just amazing that I was eagerly waiting to read his book. While I agree that he has done justice to the book, it was no as powerful as the article! That brought a thought to mind about how the self-help books are written (at least those I have read…)

Often, I feel Calvin was completely right on target :)

Calvin and Hobbes on writing Self Help books

In any self-help book, the author tries to

  1. Convince you that there are problems and its better to tackle those
  1. Convince that you are not alone in facing those problems; its universal
  2. While the problems may not be due to your fault; there is wide scope to improve
  1. The book gives sure short answers on how to tackle them

Lately, I have even seen many authors out rightly suggesting #4 in the above list is not possible and the book will only help you to think :)

My inquisitive mind suggested to read some of the old books on this topic - like those which are decades or hundreds' of years old - like the ones written by Dale Carnegie or James Allen. In one of our MBA elective courses on career management, we even went as deep as discussing the thoughts of philosophers like Socrates and Epicurus. It was fun :)

I believe if we see the modern books on self-help and happiness, earlier authors' and philosophers' thoughts are camouflaged in one way or the other as if they are writing it for the first time. May be the most value add is these authors make it so simple while the early philosophers'' thoughts were very deep. Considering these, I would think the essence of all these books or rather the best thoughts are --

  1. Don't whine about your situation
  2. Decide on priorities and move on
  3. If the course of action you took is not delivering results; just try another one

I am sure your immediate question would be - what if we keep failing on the courses of action we take? Just keep trying :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

de doux souvenirs - Sweet memories from IIMB life

Friday, March 15, 2013 Posted by Vijay , , , , 1 comment
Some UN-forgettable Moments
  • When I met in person Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
  • When I got 4/4 GPA in my elective course Elements of Management Consulting
  • When I sat along with the Director and a Chief Guest and participated in a short discussion on a company's international aspirations!
  • When I received scolding from the Director for something I was not directly responsible for (It was a Déjà vu from good old Engineering days :))
  • At 1 AM when the group had no idea what to present the next day; Perumal (a group member) suggests an idea and later it becomes the insight for the classes applauded by Professor :)
  • At 4 AM, the group fighting on formatting issues of a project report after daunting discussions and heated arguments :)
  • Creating a presentation while the Professor is teaching and presenting to the class after the lecture and getting appreciation from the Professor ;) ;)
  • When I became the Secretary of Students' Council

Some events I wish never happened!  
  • Burning few bridges and loosing a good mentor and friend over petty issues and ego clashes :(
  • Screwing up during an important public facing event
Some Lessons learn-t the hard way!
  1. There is no such thing as 'free lunch'
  2. It doesn't matter how much you deserve; all that matters is how much luck is with you
  3. Be assertive; need not be aggressive; most of the time no harm in being aggressive also!
  4. You can learn any number of leadership theories; it takes experience to become one!
  5. It's OK to be little selfish!; there is no such thing as utilitarian thought though they teach about it a lot event in B Schools...
Few things I missed during B School life
  • International Exchange Program
  • Hostel Life
  • I thought I will become fluent in Hindi at least here; but didn't happen :)
 Some Professors whose classes I enjoyed the most
Some courses that kept me on my toes everyday
 Some courses I wish I never took!
  • Telecom Strategy
  • Quantitative Methods II (Operations Research, LPP etc.)
  • Management Control Systems
  • Services Marketing

Some courses I wish I studied more seriously!
  • Corporate Finance
  • Quantitative Methods I

Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Review: The Wall Street MBA by Reuben Advani

Monday, January 28, 2013 Posted by Vijay , , , , No comments
I bought the first edition of The Wall Street MBA by Reuben Advani and this review is predominantly based on it. In the second edition few more chapters are added on Real Estate, Currency and Commodities. But I don't think there is any significant changes in the already existing content.

Overall a good read! a nice refresher for those in the field and a good introductory discussion for those new to the field. But don't get fooled by the title; it is NOT a crash course on corporate finance (well, I can see the author has changed that sub title in the latest edition). I felt this book to be more a refresher for financial accounting as half the book is written about FINAC. I must admit the first half is a thorough piece! When it came to the actuals of CORP FIN; its more a mere introduction on layman's vocabulary that we can get easily from the internet.

The coverage given on topics like Ratio Analysis, Cost of Capital and Financial Statements is exhaustive. I expected more on bonds, derivatives and some stuff on i-banking as the title suggests :P

Overall a good introductory and refresher type book!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Book Review - Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

Sunday, January 06, 2013 Posted by Vijay , , 2 comments

I think its very hard to read classics let alone write reviews about them. First of all if you have not read a book that is there for decades - you missed big time (unless you are from the young breed reading books one by one :P). Secondly, you would have heard from friends, lectures and other books to the extend that you may think the book content is repetitive!

Having said that and taken a bail :) my honest opinion after reading the book was that it had no 'aha-aha' moment. All it says is that change is inevitable and learn to move on!

The beauty of the book I believe is how Dr. Spenser has put forth his thoughts. The book could be read in half an hour; however the content resonates once you start to reflect yourself. The book essentially talks about the fact that we should not get lazy and fall into a comfort zone once we find some success. As per the book success is not everlasting; we have to change according to the circumstances; there is no point in thinking an 'auto-switch' for recovery will be enacted!

A quick read especially when your are emotionally down that will help you to rejuvenate and move on. I really liked the simplicity with which he has written the book!. A good summary is available in wikipedia with the key take-aways.

When I read the book, some of the thoughts I read in S.U.M.O (Shut Up, Move On)by Paul McGee resonated well :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

10 Truths I learnt at my B School

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 Posted by Vijay , , , , No comments
Here are some of the truths I learnt the hard way...some of them nothing specific to B School life; somethings - may be because I acted so naive in some situations!
  1. Networking is not all about Hi and Bye
  2. There is not such thing as free lunch
  3. The world is competitive; you cannot escape from it!
  4. Watch out for opportunities; once missed; they are missed forever!
  5. MBA doesn't make you the senior executive you dreamt of overnight
  6. B School is really hyped sometimes :)
  7. B School is where you have all the licenses for inventing terms and jargons even for common sense :)
  8. A bluffer who can talk well will be lauded and the one with substance will be ignored if you are keeping it to yourself
  9. Carrot and Stick approach works well even in IIMs
  10. There can be utterly mediocre Professors even in the so called best B Schools in the world!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Interesting quotes from classrooms - II

Sunday, November 25, 2012 Posted by Vijay , , , , , , No comments
This is a continuation of some of the quotes I wrote down from classrooms. For the first part, see

Interesting quotes from classrooms - I

Consumer Behavior Professor: "One need to know what is inside the box before thinking out of the box!"

Consumer Behavior Professor: Now the new buzzword is moving up the value can you move up every second? It will get broken ! (not recalling exact words....)

Consumer Behavior Professor: "vision is there, mission is there, but eyesight is missing"

Economics Professor: SOAPS will continue as long as women have tears in their eyes ! 

Consumer Behavior Professor: at least learn it like a science, u will apply it as an art... if u think its an art... u will be applying as a fine art !! 

OB Professor: Even an Aishwarya  Rai cannot make an Abhishek into Amitabh!

OB Professor: Organizations should not be where intellectual Gullivers locked up by bureaucratic Lilliputs! 

OB Professor: In India, we worship potholes; they are there as perpetuity!! 

Consumer Behavior Professor: There is difference between talking in English and talking with concepts!

Strategy Professor (on CP): Hidden talents make no value; so speak out! 

Strategy Professor: It's good to have aspirations; but keep this question always in mind - What will you do if you are given your boss's job overnight? (not exact) 

MANAC Professor: Startegy is such an overused word that, today I heard some one saying 'I just had a strategic lunch!!' 

Operations Professor: (on designing social ideas): They[poor in need of help] may be illiterate; but they are not stupid - keep that in mind

Strategy Professor: (as a reply to a student's comment during a case discussion that the company doesn't have any strategy ever in place)  Well, they had a chief strategy officer and by the way he is a Professor in IIMB and standing in front of you now!!!

Operations Professor: (I guess this will be the most controversial :)) IIMs produce only good managers; not leaders!!

Operations Professor: (on placements) Everyone is behind CTCs; Have any of you thought about the CTI (Cost To Individual on working with the company)

Operations Professor: (during a friendly talk) You have to take care of yourself! No one will be there beyond a level