Thursday, June 22, 2006

Performancing Test... 1...2...3... And Assorted News

There is this blogging tool called Performancing which is an extension to Firefox. I downloaded it yesterday and this is the first post I am doing through it. And wow. Im lovin' it. (Note: Those 2 lines had 2 product placements in it: Performancing[intentionally] and McDonalds[unintentionally] :-)

In other iflex news, I will be conducting a corporate quiz for iflexers, under the aegis of iCE (iflex Cultural Ensemble.) Will be the first quiz that I will be conducting and am looking forward to it.

iCE is a team within iflex, which is an HR initiative. We organize various events within iflex from time to time. I shall dwell in detail about our activities at length in another post. The Argentina vs Holland match is just minutes away. So...

Each night, I decide that I will goto bed at 12.00 midnight. But then unfailingly, I have to watch the midnight matches too... :-)

Well, we only live once. And tonight, as I write this, I am in love with life....

Today has been kind to me...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

IIMs vs ISB - Who's Your Daddy?

I came across a thread on Pagalguy today. It was a heated debate over the IIMs vs ISB with people getting all heated up and making a lot of personal attacks without giving concrete facts and figures.

It was a sermon lasting many, many pages and I got bored by the time I finished Pg 1. So I decided I'l just shut it.

While I had decided, I should stay away from this debate since I am neither a part of IIMs nor of ISB(and there are enough IIMers who are crying themselves hoarse over why they deserve their top dollar salaries and enough PR by the ISB machinery too to say they have arrived), still, old habits die hard :-)... So here goes my two bits worth...

I believe theres no need nor any ground for comparison. Both are fundamentally different schools which cater to different domains, different target audiences, different cultures. Its like saying: "Hey, who is better? Australia or Brazil?" The point to note is, Australia are the world champions in Cricket and Brazil in Football. This debate, in my opinion, is similar to that simple question.

Point 1 - Target Audience
The primary target audience for the IIMs are graduate students fresh out of college. Whilst they have certain part time executive programs and another coming up for people with more than 7 years experience, their flagship PGP programme still primarily comprises of people with less than 1 year of work experience. In the current batch, it is 63%. Also the mix comprises primarily of engineers with the current batch having 70%+ participation from people with an engineering/technology background. For those who wish to cross-check, here is where you go.

For ISB, it is people with atleast 2 years of work experience, if not more. They also come from varied spheres. They come with experiences, both in terms of work and life, and their contribution to a class room will understandably be different from what it would probably be at an IIM ( I don't have the link for the ISB student profiles with me at the moment.)

Point 2 - Course Duration
An IIM PGP programme is of 2 year duration, which comprises of compulsory subjects(in the first year if my research is right - Mayank and Shipra, feel free to correct me.) and electives in a trimester format. An ISB course is of 1 year and is comprised of 8 semesters. 4 semesters for the core curriculum and 4 for electives, with each semester being of 5-6 weeks in duration. This point is pertinent for a couple of reasons.

One: At ISB, you have to be sure of yourself and very confident that you will be able to absorb the course curriculum, since the pace is going to be very hectic. It is a course for someone who knows what s/he wants exactly and is willing to go after it in the shortest span of time. At an IIM, there is still the opportunity to go back and do course corrections.

Two: The opportunity cost involved (i.e the salary you are losing since you are joining a B-School and also the increments you are losing out on.) For an IIM, it is around INR 200,000 avg. whilst for ISB, it is around INR 450,000 avg. That is to be expected since ISBians are people with work experience compared to more percentage of freshers at IIMs which will take the average down.

Point 3 - Cost Involved - Fees and ROI
An IIM PGP degree (at IIM-A) costs around INR 500,000 (INR 350,000 tuitions + living expenses.) The average salary on graduation is INR 500,000 - INR 600,000.

An ISB degree costs INR 1,300,000 (tuition) + INR 115,000 to INR 175,000 for apartment + living expenses + Laptop Cost(since it is compulsory) The average salary on graduation is INR 1,000,000. While this figure is higher than the IIMs, it must be borne in mind that this is given to people who already have work experience.

An ISB degree thus works out to be a very expensive degree, and students will definately consider the Return On Investment for an ISB degree vis a vis the IIM degree. In short, only the people who have saved enough or are rich enough will be able to afford an ISB education and it certainly isn't one the majority of the population can afford. In contrast, an IIM degree is much, much cheaper and also has a good return on investment

Point 4 - Faculty
The IIMs comprise primarily of Indian faculty drawn from the best talent pool and having people holding doctrates from institutes like MIT.
The ISB comprises of visiting faculty that is drawn from US and European B-Schools like London Business School, Wharton, Kellogg, Stanford, Chicago, Duke, and Texas throughout the year along with Indians. For a subject within a semester, one professor takes one half, while the other professor completes the course.

Point 5 - Culture
In India, an MBA is considered a done and dusted post-graduate degree, to be gone through as a ritual in the quest for the elusive top paying job, a way out of the present job, to acquire functional skills, to acquire the right "qualifications" to get a promotion over a colleague amongst other reasons. We seldom stop to think: "What are the skill sets I wish to develop? Do I need an MBA to assist me in the roadmap I have charted out for myself? Which school should I choose? Does it suit my purposes? Do companies in the sector I wish to work in, come to this school? What are their intakes? What kind of profiles do they look for? How much experience would qualify me for a lateral placement?" It's usually: "IIM - Barclays paid USD185,000" or "ISB - INR 1 crore school..."

How many applicants visit schools to study their profiles, talk to the alums, get a feel of the campus before deciding? I recently spoke to Raghu (IIM-L) and he said, the IIMs arent known for this. ISB has a visit programme and once you evince interest and send them your information, they will help you to get in touch with an alum for guidance.

That is the difference in culture I am talking about. The ISB is modelled on US B-Schools, where an MBA has evolved from a purely academic degree to a vocational course to something that is today, somewhere between the two(this line is credited to Vatsa - but I swear I jotted it down from what I remembered.)

Point 6 - The Qualification Process
For an IIM, the CAT is the be all and end all. It is the filtering process used to weed out potential applicants and keep the best of the lot for further weeding out through GDs and PIs. At ISB, the GMAT scores are taken as one of the parts of the applicant's candidature submission. There is weightage given to work experience, the industry, the gender, diversity of work and personal experiences, submission essays, recommendations.

Point 7 - Marriage Prospects :-)
For years, I have been hearing "That brilliant boy with an IIT-IIM pedigree" line. Guess, now I can start hearing about "That brilliant boy with a BITS-ISB pedigree" line. Its my (flawed???) research that more BITSians goto ISB.

A lot can be debated over this issue by people far more wiser, more qualified and more adept than me in all ways. But there's no substitute for common sense and common sense says: "Jeeyo aur jeene do..."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Romba Sandosham... 1 Week - Part II

Part II is 1 week late... Apologies for the delay... Been busy with work and the World Cup... Without further ado, let me proceed.

May 27th, Saturday - I had a morning flight at 9 AM. Given my fear of heights and flying, I was quite cool about the whole thing. And as the aircraft took off, the funny feelings returned, but it all went through fine and I had a fun flight. Read "Atlas Shrugged" on the journey, while hoping I had Ayn Rand face to face, so that I could debate some of the issues raised in the novel.

When we reached Bangalore, my little cousin, Nagarajan, came running as soon as we got out of the Exit gate. Mahesh mama had gotten his car(a Suzuki Baleno) and we all got in and drove home, which wasnt very far away. This was also my first glimpse of my other little cousin, Satya, after a long time. She's a real cute kid :) In the whole week, Satya and her pal Sanjili really entertained us :)

Reached home and called up my iflex pals who are in Bangalore. We decided to meet up later in the day, but due to certain time constraints, we could not. The next day, at 6 in the morning, the rest of the family arrived from Madras(Chitti, Chittappa, Mama, Mami, Rajesh, Chintu, Karthik, Kutti Raja). The house was jam-packed and I was lovin' it :)

The next couple of days went in shopping and lazing at home. I bought "The Argumentative Indian". Hope to find time to finish it soon.

On Monday, there was a function that got over soon. In the rest of the days, we went mall hopping, bowling and basically had loads of fun :). We went to the Garuda mall, where I finally convinced my dad to allow me to buy him a shirt and finally got him something he liked at Westside... But then, I saw a Louis Phillippe outlet and wondered if I should take him in there too... He would have none of it and so that plan of mine is on hold at the moment.

A couple of days, we rented cd's of Spiderman2 and a Tamil movie called "Ghajini". Since I rarely get to watch new Tamil movies, it was a real fun experience for me, even though I could not watch it completely. In the nights, we cousins used to sleep in the same room and had great fun telling jokes and playing pranks on each other. Truly memorable...
Wednesday and Thursday were the days for the main function, ie the Nandi and the Poonal of my cousin. I helped out wherever required, which was mostly as a load carrier. Trivia: Shops in Bangalore open only at 10 AM. I wanted to buy a paper and I had to go out 5 times and check if the shop was open or not. Phew.
After the poonal, we went to a nearby Planet M store, where I bought "Bombay Fever" by Taufiq Qureshi.

Thursday was the day the Madras battalion was to leave. Therefore, me and my cousins went off to have burgers. My treat :) Before leaving, my aunt told me once again: "Don't get married without telling us." This statement had been told by her to me almost 4 times in 6 days making it a 66.66% hit ratio... Very unnerving statement, considering Im only 22 with absolutely not even a remote thought about it(which eliminates the motive) and frankly without a bhuti-kaudi to my name(which eliminates the opportunity)

We stayed back one day longer than the Madras battalion. Friday: I visited the iflex office at Baghmane Tech Park in Bangalore. It was pretty close to where I was put up. The architecture is akin to a ship and a lighthouse. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Met up with all the pals after a long time and spent a couple of hours with them. Later in the day, we(Dad, Mom, Nithu and myself) went to our favourite haunt Brigade Road. I have strong memories of this particular place, since Iv been going there since I was a little kid. Always have had fun visiting it. This time too, we went into Cauvery Handicraft stores, which is a superb store for traditional handicrafts. Mom wanted to buy out the store :), but thankfully settled on a few items... We spent almost an hour there. Next stop was the "Music World" store, where Dad bought an L. Ganesh composition on the Piano cassette whilst I bought 2 cd's of Remember Shakti. Wanted to buy a third, but since I already had 2 of the 3 songs on that album, decided against it. Went to the Nilgiris restaurant called "Kurinji", where we had yummy sandwiches and coffee. Walked up a bit, reached Garuda Mall again, and went in and did some window shopping :) Returned home and had a lovely time playing with Satya and Nagarajan.

Next morning, went and exchanged the sherwani my Uncle had bought for me. Planned to meet up with the iflex pals for lunch. Had a flight at 4.20, so met up with Vijay and Minesh and Neha(who arrived a bit later). Had lunch at a small place in Domlur that served food that tasted like home. Had fun and returned home.(Coincidentally, I met up with Vijay outside the Diamond District building where iflex has another office.) Did the final checks and after saying our goodbyes, we left for the airport. It was then, that my grandpa said the words that form the title for this series.

And suddenly, it hit me. When will I see them again? Will I see them again? How old will my little cousins be when I see them next? This being the 1st vacation Iv taken with Mom, Dad and Nithu in almost 5-6 years(due to circumstances I have travelled alone while they have travelled without me in these years), will we get the chance to travel together again soon? At all?

Put aside the emotions that washed over for 30 secs, took one last look at everyone and we were off. Growing up from 17 to 22 is beneficial, since it does help to put things in perspective. I told myself: "What can I do to influence the outcome of the meetings or visits?" Ans: "Nothing. So wash it up and move on."

Our flight back was delayed by 1 hour, with 45 mins being spent circling over Mumbai due to excessive air traffic.

Well, that completed my 1 week trip (actually 8 days...) They were truly some of the most memorable and fun days of my life in the midst of my family, who are the focal point of my life. Everything went off perfectly and well, I fall short of words to say how much it meant to me... I just pray to God that whether I get money or success or anything else in life, I don't care. Just give me my family around me... Always and everytime... Nejama romba sandhoshama irindidh... Life lendh vaira onnum vaindam... Idh porum...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Romba Sandosham... 1 Week - Part I

Those were the words of my grandpa as we left Bangalore. Roughly translated, they mean: "The last 1 week was full of happiness..."

Nothing more to say in Part I...