Saturday, December 29, 2007

Week Sixtyfive - Last Post

Thats it. From the 2nd of January, 2008, I start my post-MBA corporate innings. This is the last post from me as a MBA student :)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Week Thirtyeight - Sleeping away the jet lag

Shouldnt it be jet lead? I travelled in the direction of earth's rotation... Anyways, thanks to the way my electives are structured, this week was light academically, just one MSI lecture. I slept away the jet lag/lead, it was good restoration for the tissues :)
Today we played a home match against Whitchurch - a match that was abandoned due to rains. We batted first and crossed 200 to get the maximum batting points, but rain came down in the last over of our innings, and by the time we were done with teas, the wicket had a puddle at either end. The two captains decided to call it off then. I didnt play today, just stood umpire.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Week Thirtyseven - International Business Experience

USA - the land of opportunity they say, where people from all corners of the globe come to realise their dreams. Certainly, a huge economy, and loads and loads of opportunities.
We started our week long visit in Washington DC with the World Bank Group, visiting the World Bank itself and the International Finance Corporation. We also did a short course at the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University.
We then shifted to New York, where we visited Detica, who are an international business and technology consultancy. The next day, we visited Bear Stearns, one of the largest investment bank, securities trading and brokerage firms in the world. The next visit was to Bloomberg, the largest financial news and data company in the world. We then visited the Hearst Corporation, a media conglomerate that reaches out to the world with its monthly magazines and media interests. And finally, on the last official day, we visited American Express and Towers Perrin. American Express ofcourse is a globally known card and travel company, while Towers Perrin is, to put it simply, a world leading HR consultancy.
I personally got to learn a lot about business in the USA, and had interactions with some interesting people doing some very interesting work.
Apart from business, like I mentioned in my previous post, I also had another agenda, family and friends. I met my parents, sister and brother-in-law after a very long time, and my nephew for the first time. Also, my dear friend Amresh and his sister too. It was great meeting them, and fun too.

Week Thirtysix - Prepare for takeoff

This week started with press conference v2, another round of facing and fending off a hostile press when you are on shaky grounds... This time around was a bit more strenuous, but the learning was even greater.
Another important event of this week was a meeting with ECB officials. They want to set up a development centre for Bedfordshire in Cranfield, in order to benefit from the excellent facilities at Cranfield University. Cranfield University ofcourse wants to reach out and benefit the community of which it is a part. The Cranfield University Cricket Club wants local involvement and could do with some coaching. So all of us stakeholders met for discussing how best to accommodate each other's concerns. It was a good meeting, and I hope the outcome will be of benefit to all.
Lastly, and perhaps the dominating feature of this week, was preparing for our IBEs. As I have told you before, Cranfield takes its students on a business experience tour to various countries. I am going to the USA, where apart from the scheduled interactions, I will be meeting family, my nephew, and friends who go back a long way. We have researched the topics and companies, prepared our responses to anticipated questions, and are all set to go to the USA. I will miss the cricket this and the next week, but I am sure USA will be a very interesting experience.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Week Thirtyfive - Say cheese

Thats right - the FTMBA 2006/07 students gathered all dressed up for the batch photo this week. We also had a small discussion prior to the photo session on the Cranfield conference that marks the end of our MBA. It is moving closer and closer to the inevitable finish, this one year leadership course...
But not over yet, as the AMS WAC reminded us. 1500 words, 24 hours, team and stream dumps, working through most of the night researching on a denim brand, writing a report on how they should align their marketing and supply chain, and submitting in the morning.
The best part of course was after the submission. You guessed it, cricket! We played Willen in a home match. The highlight of the match - for me that is - was my knock when for the first time I scored in double digits. Should greatly up my batting average...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Week Thirtyfour - WAC, business pitch and test cricket

The week started with a WAC, this time for MSI. Then we had the ENT business pitch presentation - presenting our business plan to a panel of real life investors. That went well, we (Amit Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Jina Goswami, Sunil Ankalgi and yours truly as the Lead Entreprenuer) had prepared and rehearsed it. We did not win the prize, but informed sources say we were a close second.

Yesterday we played Milton Keynes, and it was as close to a test match as I have played. Batting second, our top order did not survive some good bowling. I went in with a mandate of not getting out. Fantastic rear guard action, even if I say so myself. I batted out 14 overs, sometimes with 9 close-in fielders, scored a measly 6 runs before the umpire gave me LBW on an inside edge. I know, all umpires are mad, but hey, the effort served the purpose, the match was a draw.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Week Thirtythree - Meet the press v1

After AMS, MSI, LIC, OBPPD and ENT prep lectures, the famed press conference was the academic highlight of this week. I dont want to give away too much, but essentially, I was the MD of a tourism company, my team was the management team of the tour company, and one of our tours was involved in a very serious situation. There was a press conference, and we were grilled by two journalists. It was everything I expected, we braved it out, stuck to our guns as it were, and personally speaking, my journalism background saved me the blushes. By the by, we also submitted our business plan this week, for starting assessment centres in India, requiring £150,000. Not bad, considering an average 30% return over 5 years.

The other highlight of this week was my first county league wicket - batsman dismissed clean bowled. We played an away game with Harlington, batting first, and I scored a duck. Ball going down leg, wanted to play fine, closed the face of the bat a bit early, edged, the ball flew high and was safely caught. It was the bowling bit I said was the highlight, remember? Right arm off spin, the righthand batsman went frontfoot to backfoot, swung crossbat, missed, and the ball took the bails off. Neat.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Week Thirtytwo - Road repairs

The only thing one can safely say about English weather is that it might rain. Cricket was washed out this week. Instead, for our MSI project, we (Folake Kolade, Tokunbo Onitilo and yours truly) went and interviewed a company ASI Solutions Plc, which has invented a new and better system of road repairs. They use infrared heating and special coatings to carry out longer lasting and cost efficient reparis to potholes. It was interesting, we are looking at what technology diffusion issues the company faces. Apart from that, a few lectures and some nets.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Week Thirtyone - More cricket

Two BUSA home matches, and one County away match. We played Nottingham (2nd May) and Nottingham Trent (6th May) in the BUSA matches, and Stoke Hammond (5th May) in the County. I got injured (left hand thumb has a soft tissue injury) in the first match, but took one wicket. Then played in the county game, where I could not get a wicket, but remained not out. We had good players for the BUSA match, and I wasn't feeling right, so I stood umpire in today's BUSA match.

If this gives you the impression that this week was only about cricket - it was not. We had a full schedule of lectures too, AMS, LIC, OBPPD and MSI. We also had ENT prep lectures for the business plan.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Week Thirty - Cricket

Today was the first cricket match of the season, a BUSA game, played against Derby. The highlight of the match for me - my 3 wickets bowling right arm spin. One caught at short mid-wicket by Amit Mulay, one stumping by Vijay Shetty, and, on the last ball of the innings, one LBW. The result of the match - well, we enjoyed the game and had a good time. :)
Apart from cricket, this week we had the OBPPD Studio, the ENT test, and one lecture of AMS. Nothing too hectic.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Week Twentynine - Leisure

A leisurely (comparitively) week, where another of my electives, Leading and Implementing Change was introduced. We had MSI, LIC and AMS, plus OBPPD. This was in the first half of the week, then nothing in the second half. So as you can well imagine, some light reading, some preparation for next week's ENT exam, and some cricket. The season starts next week, so I am getting ready.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Week Twentyeight - Bootcamp

Monday was a bank holiday, so was Friday last week, so this was a looooong weekend. Rested and recuperated, the second week brought us one report submission and the full tediousness of the boot camp - three days of day long lectures. We submitted the SOAR 1 report this week. Also, this week covered AMS, ENT, and introduced Managing Strategic Innovation. ENT is done now, we have a test the week after next, and then a business plan to submit.
In addition, we ofcourse had the OBPPD studio, where we talk in teams of what we want to develop in ourselves, how we do it and track progress. The SOAR 1 comes in here, it establishes what can loosely be called aspirations and goals, then you work towards them. Don't be dismissive, it is a very useful process.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Week Twentyseven - Part 2 begins

It still doesnt feel like I am already half way through the course. My electives in part 2 are Aligning Marketing and Supply Chain Strategy (AMS), Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation (ENT), Leadership and Top Team Management Skills (LS), Leading and Implementing Change (LIC), Managing Strategic Innovation (MSI) and the ever present Organisational Behaviour and Personal and Professional Development (OBPPD).
Part 2 of the MBA started off with an OBPPD exercise - we played spy games. The planning and managing of a human communication chain covering the campus was the challenge, and as is usual, my team (Pallavi Chandra, Amit Kapoor, Anoop Nair, James Bolle, Parin Makadia and yours truly) rose to the challenge, devised a plan which was accepted by the rest of the group (half the MBA batch) and implemented it successfully. That our plan was more effective than the other group's plan is a sideline (yeah right!).
After this day long exercise on Monday 02 April, I had two electives - Aligning Marketing and Supply Chain Strategy, and Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation. The Entrepreneurship elective is running the first two weeks in Boot Camp fashion, I am not sure this is the way it should go, but they are doing a good job of this, so probably it is the right way.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Week Twentysix - Lazy part II

More on the same lines as last week... and no watching cricket either... just playing some...

The Morrants Four Counties Cricket League has published their Season 2007 book, with a list of fixtures... it starts for Cranfield on 5th May with an away match, we will be playing Stoke Hammond CC. I thought I will start a separate blog for the cricket season, but then decided not to... the lazy-ness is really getting to me :) Will keep up with cricket in this same blog.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Random Walk

What do I want? From this MBA? From life? From myself? What are my values? My priorities? Why is it that I am in a foreign land, away from everyone and everything that I cherish? What is the benefit of a broader view of the world, a broad weltanschauung? What can I do with this? How will it help me in what I have to do?

Janani Janmabhoomischa, Swargadapi Gariyasi. Whatever happened to that? Why is it that people no longer cherish the task of serving the nation? Why is it that serving one’s nation is viewed in terms of taking over other nations, foreign resources? Why is serving the country always equated with non-confrontation and blindly following the directives of established leaders and policy makers? Why is it always win-lose? Why is environment being used as a tool to thwart the development opportunities of developing countries?

Why is it only me who is asking all of this? And why is it me again who has to look for answers? And why do I look for them within myself? Why is it that I do not feel overwhelmed by all these questions? Why is it that... ???

From the bottom of my heart, I care about the environment, about wildlife, about people, about our earth. About providing clean potable water and medical facilities to masses, securing their inclusive economic development – rather providing access to avenues for economic development. What people do with their lives is not my concern, my concern is that people should have the option of making a choice about their lives.

I want to see an end to the misery of the second largest (soon to be largest) population in the world. Ideally would like to see the end of all misery, but I am being a bit conservative in my ambitions here… Even attempting a shot at India’s problems is something that will merrily occupy the rest of my life… who knows what problems the world has? I want to provide people the choice of doing what they want with their lives. I want to free people of shackles – of poverty, of lack of education, of lack of resources, of a narrow mindset. Just think, only urban India has caused this tremendous impact and change in India’s economy, imagine when all of India gets into the action.

I sometimes think the theory underpinning corporate-ism is flawed. Creating share holder value, or in rare instances, stake holder value, somehow always ends up taking away from someone else. Rationalising suppliers takes away jobs, ruins businesses, families even. Off shoring destroys pockets of local economy and creates artificial and stressful environments in other localities. And reversing off shoring decisions because of local public outcry destroys pockets of local economy in the offshore countries. The theory looks too much at one snapshot in time, rather than continued benefits – I am arguing for sustainability if you like the word, but probably in a different way...

I think value is created by people, and people should be the measure of business success. But then, that is a different view, not just a different point of view…

Week Twentyfive - Lazy

Thats what I have been - lazy... not getting up from bed even when I am wide awake, not bothering to eat breakfast at breakfast time, skipping lunch and having early dinners... shooting pool, watching cricket, reading books, and wandering all over the place...

By the way, I am not alone in this lazy business, the Indian cricket team has been very lazy too... They proved once again to be a team full of Gods with feet, legs and even heads of clay... I think it is something about us Indians as a people... One moment we are idolising our heroes, calling cricket our religion and Sachin Tendulkar God Himself, the next, we are stoning their houses... But hey! That is what it is, and that is how it is for cricket players... win and you will be the best thing in recorded history, lose and you will be trampled on.

Diehard Indian cricket fan that I am, I am hoping that Bermuda defeat Bangladesh and India advances to the super eight. The irony and shame of that is not lost upon me either, but if that is what it takes, so be it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Week Twentyfour - End of Part 1

This week we had our exams for the second term, handed in the MIT report and Strategy report, and this ended the first part - core courses - of this MBA. Part 2 is about electives, chosen by each to suit his/her own requirements from this course.

After the exams, we had our career fair. A great effort by our careers team, a number of great companies present, great interactions... good opportunity. I did the rounds too, lets see where that leads to.

Yesterday we had an auction in support of charities. MBAs (full time, exec, modular) and MScs joined in some serious bidding for the items on auction, and we raised £11,798. It was good fun, and the more, umm, exotic (for lack of a better word), the more fun we had in raising the bid.

So now I am looking at a fortnight of rest, watching the cricket world cup, catching up on old friends, meeting new people, some thinking and some planning. I said I would write about my thoughts, not today, but certainly next week.

Here's to an Indian victory in the Caribbean!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Week Twentythree - Revise Wise

In preparation of next week's exams, the MBA course is occupied revising the 5 subjects we will write exam papers on. Revising hard - or for some, hardly - in the hope that we will cover in a few days what the course has been teaching us for the past term...

That has been pretty much the story of this week. The lectures ended by Tuesday, revision sessions - with and without teachers - are on. We did find time to play some cricket, but it is mostly working alone or in teams to get concepts straight and cover important topics.

I have spent some time thinking (!) but more on that later, next week maybe...

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Week Twentytwo - Holi hai!

Holi - the festival of colours, joy, abandon... I remember the Holis I went crazy, and the ones I didn’t do anything on. Time sent running, bicycling or riding from one friend's place to another, splashing colours and water, throwing water balloons, just letting go, finally stopping some time in the evening for a cup of "cutting" chai with samosas and fried salted mirchi. Other times, when I spent time not playing Holi but being in the company of someone special, under the pretext of studies... This is my quietest Holi ever, I am studying, honest. And wanting to run back to India, get drenched in the pure joy of Holi. I guess despite a sizeable Desi population, the pressures of the course take its toll. FYI, we have to submit a 2000 word assignment on Business Law - tomorrow.

This past week has been wonderful. We did the People Management group report, where all of our learning team members commented on the HR practices of their previous employers. It was a good exercise, and a great revision for the exams, scheduled next week. Commenting on the HR practices of Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd was a bit weird. I see why the policies are what they are, and how they are beneficial to the company and its employees, but put them in the context of the course and they look ancient. A lot, I think, has to do with the nature of this course - we get to learn how things should be, what the theory is, and then see how this is adapted to real life.

The lectures are now reaching their final stages, and we will have revision sessions this week.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Week Twentyone - MacroWAC

Let me be a bit more comprehensive - 1 presentation, 1 WAC and 1 disappointment. These all are discrete events.

Apart from the routine of classes and studies, this week started with our learning team's presentation on the report we submitted last week about IT systems and their benefit to a retail business. As a team, we did very well. Individually, of the 2 questions that came my way, I handled 1.5 - I am a bit disappointed in myself. Now we go on to choose individual suggestions and write more about them - individually.

We had the Macroeconomics Analysis & Business Environment WAC. This was fun - and I mean FUN. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. We were supposed to submit a report on the current macroeconomic state of a country of our choice (given some constraints), comment on issues facing it and come up with policy recommendations. I doubt if any of us would be considered qualified for this - most Chief Economic Advisors, Governors of Central Banks and such luminaries have multiple PhDs and years of study and teaching and practice under their belt. However, despite this obvious shortcoming, we dug up data on countries, looked at what can happen, analysed this (after all, we are MBA students, analysis is what we do!) and came up with some general some specific policy guidelines. I am proud to say that our reports should stand up to good and thorough scrutiny by the abovementioned luminaries, and am equally sure that the grades we get will be a bit of a disappointment. After all, there is only so much you can write in a given word limit!

The real disappointment came before the WAC, but concerned something that we had planned for after the WAC. It was to have included people from the MBA and MSc courses, I had done a fair amount of spadework, somebody else had put in more effort than all of us in preparation, and we had to call it off. We tried not to do so till the last possible minute. I felt miserable when I had to inform about the cancellation. But that is life. Have to take it and move on.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Week Twenty - Busy Bee

This has been one busy week! It started with the routine, and soon, free time was at a premium. Supply Chain Management - a report on how supply chain can afford companies strategic advantages. Who else? Dell! There are two companies who have made their money in managing their supply chain - one is the consummate channel - WalMart, the other is the consummate anti-channel - Dell. We looked at Dell in this report, but I am as fascinated by WalMart.

I had barely finished commenting on the Dell Direct model when we had to submit another beauty - the Managing Information Technology group report. This was done in learning teams, we looked at a retail operation and how IT systems can help this particular shop chain in bettering its performance. Let me be honest, I have always believed that IT is a tool, a very important tool, but only a tool. And I found that this particular tool has vast possibilities. We came up with suggestions that if properly implemented should contribute tremendously to the success of this operation.

Then came the tutorials and then came the cricket. And to top it off, another Desi Bollywood night. And this time, after the dancing, the eating and the dumb charades, we had our first official round of Antakshari. Work hard, play harder, it suddenly looks a lot easier to do than to say...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Week Nineteen - Assessment time

The last week was assessment time - an assessment of leadership potential and other issues. We used a lot of techniques, most of which have obscene costs, to come up with some very pertinent insights. I for one received feedback from friends, colleagues, ex-colleagues and ex-managers about my work. I also was assessed in a proper assessment centre, and will be given detailed feedback soon.

This was in the first half of the week, and the second half was amazing. Despite assurances from my local friends that we will not see snow again this year, it snowed on Wednesday and Thursday. 11 centimetres of pure white winter wonder. What to say - England swings like a pendulum. We of course made good use of the opportunity. Snowman, snowwoman, snowballs, snow fights, snow and more snow... And guess what? We were assessed on the snowmen too - the Cranfield Students Association held an impromptu competition. We didn’t win, I guess the criterion was the bigger the better! But hey! it was fun!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Week Eighteen - WAC - again

This time - Financial Management. We were set an assignment - look at a company's past performance, analyse the data to come to understand growth issues that it faces, and recommend financing strategies for funding growth. If it sounds daunting, it is. But it was fun too. We (me, my team, my stream, my course) worked on data that is easily available for most companies, some fairly reasonable assumptions and some of the theoretical knowledge gained in this course. The stream dump was very useful, particularly for me, and although everybody worked out the answers individually, they were remarkably well thought out.

But this is the end of the week. We started with the same routine, that by now you know by heart. This week had afternoon classes, one day had morning classes of Business Law. Other than the Finance WAC, this week was as routine as ever.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Week Seventeen – Very Special

This week was special. Like other weeks, it too started with lectures and studies, but this week was different. The Friday in this week was 26th January. Before India gained independence in 1947, India’s freedom movement declared in 1930 that 26 January was the day for Poorna Swaraj (Complete Independence). Twenty years after that, on 26 January 1950, India ceased to be a British dominion, George VI King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India was replaced by Dr Rajendra Prasad as Head of State, and the Constitution of India came into force. Also, in 1965, Hindi was adopted as the National Language of India.

Another special day was Tuesday 23rd January, when I was elected the president of the Cranfield University Cricket Club. Cricket is almost religion in the Indian subcontinent, to lead my university’s cricket committee is an honour for me. The club puts up teams for the Morrants Four Counties Cricket League and the students-only BUSA competition. I want a full and enjoyable season of Cricket this year, and I am working towards that.

Contributing to the “special”-ness of this week, it was also the International Week in Cranfield School of Management. A celebration of the 25 nationalities on campus and the beauty of all those countries. I prepared Aaloo-Chaat, it certainly was good. Actually, I asked many people and no one said it was not good. But seriously, it is hard to get aaloo-chaat wrong.

This week was also special for another reason – it snowed. The first snow is always a special moment, but here in England it seems it only snows for a day or two. Most of my local friends say this is all the snow we will get in this year.

One more first term result is out, I take pleasure in reporting that I have been adjudged good enough to meet and exceed Cranfield’s norms for Accounting. Not that I doubted, it is just good to know.

Coming to the end of the week, Saturday was Burns Night, the day London Business School comes to Cranfield for some muddying of clothes. Rugby and Football, I should have said. We did well in rugby (kicked their a&%!s really), but had the favour returned to us in football.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Week Sixteen - A bit windy

The week started with Business Law - a likeable old man talking about origins of law and taking us through to Tort - all in a neat, interesting way. He enjoys what he does, and it comes through in his teaching.

The next day - 16th January 2007, was our Project Management examination. One hour, multiple choice, involving creating timelines and questions based on what you did. It was a good paper, and given that me and my team had taken our eyes off the ball, this time I rechecked every step and still finished in time. Nobody told me project management teaches you time management, but hey, in a time pressure environment, I never would have thought that I would spend time on checking that I had laid down the basics correctly. I am confident that I shall not err, and the rechecking confirmed that I hadn't, but it still was worth the time.

We have moved on with the subjects, two weeks covers a lot of ground, and subjects like Strategic Management and Macro Economic Analysis are reaching points where I am getting more and more involved. I went through Maverick, Ricardo Semler's book on how he created what he calls the world's most unusual workplace. It isn't a course book, just interesting reading. Unusual it certainly is, and the concepts he puts forward add to the discussion during People Management classes.

Towards the end of the week, Europe was hit with a storm, I am sure you know about that. Nothing terrible happened (that I know of) in the vast open flat land that surrounds Cranfield, lots of strong wind, part of a tree was sheared that fell on the roof of a parked car near my house, but no serious damage. Just like the week was for me, fast, lots of work, exam in the morning, lectures in the afternoon... fast paced, a bit windy, just the way I like it.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Week Fifteen – Bring it on

This week started with us going back to school after the break. We will be studying Strategic Management (the good stuff – best use of brains I say), Macro Economic Analysis & Business Environment (why governments do what they do when they play around with interest rates), Managing Information Technologies (choosing which IT resource to deploy where), Financial Management (cash flow is the reality, profit only a notion), People Management (hiring and motivating those who work for you, depend on you, look up to you), Supply Chain Management (taking costs out of the supply chain – but I am not sure why not vertically integrate), and Business Law (the limits you can push ‘laissez faire, laissez aller, laissez passer’). The Spanish lectures continue, we have the Project Management class test this month – actually, on the sixteenth.

New subjects, new teachers, new learning teams – they merit new strategies. Each team is trying out variations to the three day cycle to better suit their situations. So are we. We are looking to incorporate some flexibility and the abilities of our team members to cover topics. It is a challenge – but we all love challenges, and we all believe in each other.

Some results for the first term are out, the rest will be out soon. I managed to astound myself in a few, disappoint myself in one, so overall, I will say I am satisfied. The team effort – Green 1 from last term – has also paid off, we turned out some brilliant group performances. In this context, I should thank my friends, the Green Stream Learning Team 1 for all their support.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Week Fourteen - Contemplation: The Sequel

Learning has many aspects. One learns from teachers, from peers, and also on one's own. I was thinking of what I have learnt – to date.

Some time ago – a long time ago in fact – I dabbled with entrepreneurship, where I learnt how to manage people - people who work for you, people who look up to you, and people who are your customers. I learnt to anticipate other's needs, and to convert that need into an opportunity for me. I learnt the importance of planning, and the critical role that people play – as executioners of the plan or as surprise elements. I learnt how to manage for such surprise elements. I experienced the practicalities of running a business in the dynamic Indian business milieu. I learnt that in an ever changing world, there can be certain constants, and the importance of these constants. I realised the limitations of being a tiny player in a highly commoditised market. I also realised that a great way of growing is to harness the ambitions and aspirations of others.

I had once aspired to be a bureaucrat – part of the iron framework of Indian administration – the Indian Administrative Service. While that dream was never realised, the preparation for that was a great learning experience. I learnt the different subjects that a civil services aspirant is tested on, and it is widely known that the examination tests you on any subject under the sun. I re-learnt the importance of planning and proper execution in an academic sense. I met some former bureaucrats, fabulous teachers, some dedicated people who now have joined the services, and also some who are diligently working towards that goal. The relations I formed then are some of my most cherished.

Later, I became part of the business process outsourcing boom – working in a big international BPO company for a bank customer service process. I learnt that most people – no matter which time zone they are in – share the same anxieties. I learnt what drives the young, upwardly mobile people of my country. I learnt about the aims, ambitions, desires and wants of this new consumer class.

Communication has always interested me, so I enrolled for a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism. I met some of the most wonderful people here. The course gave me my most cherished academic accomplishment. It also gave me the opportunity of getting to know a very unique mind – that of a journalist.

I became a journalist – working for the world’s largest selling English language newspaper. I worked with some great individuals, some brilliant minds. I learnt what goes into making tomorrow’s newspaper. Believe me, it is not just wire feeds and sensationalism and pictures. I learnt why something that is at first glance trivial is deemed newsworthy while some apparently interesting or drastic event is ignored.

Then, I became a business communicator, working with a group that has been the pioneer of industry in India. In the restrictive Licence Raj days of India, they were the first Indian multinational with manufacturing plants in four continents. I was now on the other side of the fence. I had started as a service provider, working to establish relationships with customers. Now, I became the face of the customer for a host of service providers. I learnt the drivers of what the service providers would perceive to be my organisation’s needs. I faced one crisis situation – and I was exposed to the knowledge in processes that has been built up over more than a century. As an internal service provider, I learnt how to manage sometimes conflicting demands, and to manage projects which depended totally on others performing their allocated tasks – tasks that may not have been as important to them as for me.

I felt I had accumulated a lot of empirical learning, I needed a framework to analyse and digest this. I came to Cranfield for that framework. I am now learning some things that I had never heard of, some that I had heard, and some I had practised too. There are some interesting twists to bits of theory I had once thought I had understood.

Classes for the second term start tomorrow; it will be a new class, new subjects, new issues and new learning. Bring it on!