Wednesday, August 19, 2015

eBooks v/s Print Book : Does E-book really help ?








I`m sure, each of us have our own collection of E-Books. We are so fond of E-books that we just keep downloading from various sites, torrents and illegal sites. I have may be 15GB of E-books collected on various subjects ranging from Mechanical Engineering to Aerospace Engineering to Programming to GRE to GMAT. In fact, I get greedy when I come across E-Books. I just keep collecting them and dumping them into my hard-disk. But, Do I really make use of these E-books ? Can we really study and make notes from E-books ? Can E-Books replace physical books one day ?

I was so grossly involved in collecting E-books that one day I decided - "Let me a buy a E-Book reader". I decided to get a Kindle Paperwhite. I thought buying a E-book reader will make me read more books. E-Book readers here refers to any device capable of rendering E-books on the display. Example - iPad/Android Tablets/Kindle/Smart Phone. Before we go any further, Please take a look at this video that I created about Kindle Paper white sometime back for Happy Schools Blog.

Unfortunately, this video got never published. But still, I think this video is worth watching once. In this, I discuss the features of the Kindle Paperwhite, its pros and cons, how it can be useful as a e-book reader, advantages and its disadvantages. I compare the kindle one-on-one with an iPAD and Manhattan 5LB GRE Book !! Though its a bit long, I`m sure by the end of it you`ll get a general idea of what is a e-book reader and what it is not.


*****Key points Covered*******
1. Kindle Paperwhite - Unboxing Video
2. Physical tour
3. How to read load books and how to read it
4. Comparison with iPad/Any tablet
5. Comparison with Physical Books
6. Advantages and Disadvantages of Kindle

I have both these reading devices with me. I can`t answer if E-Books are better than Real Physical Books. Each one has its pros and cons. But, I understood one thing. There is no point in endlessly collecting E-books and dumping it in the hard disk. Physical books have been lying around for centuries. E-books will never be able to replace Physical Books. I end this post, by leaving these open-ended questions.

1. Does E-Book really help?
2. Will it be able to replace Print Books one day ?
3. Are we collecting tons and tons of E-Books and not using them ? May be if we bought Print-books we might have read them ?
4. When you read a Technical book or a Test Prep book or a novel on a e-book reader, is that equivalent to reading it on a physical book ?
5. Is touching a book with your hand essential to feel the characters/words/content of the book ?

Thanks for Reading

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Management Lessons from Baahubali - The Begining




There is so much hype and noise around this latest South Indian Telugu Flick - Baahubali that I started taking note of it. I am not a big fan of Telugu movies for the simple fact that I don't understand the language. Since Baahubali had a IMBD rating of over 9.5, I decided to take a plunge and watch the movie as I was promised that there are English Subtitles shown on screen. The movie was Phenomenal and No wonder its shattering all box office records and still roaring to go high. Anyways, this post is not a review of the movie. 


As a Management Student, I have always been a keen student of "Strategy" and this movie provided me ample scope to revisit some of the strategy concepts. Strategy as a Subject in Management Field may be a relatively new term (Only in 1970`s did Harvard introduce Strategy as a Management Subject in Business Schools), but Strategy as a Concept is very old. In fact, the it might be about 1000`s of years old. Strategy as a concept has been extensively used and devised in almost any war that has ever been fought, be it the Great War of Mahabharat or the Wars fought during Greek or Roman Era. One of the earliest known treatise on Strategy is "The Art of War" written by Sun Tsu - A ancient Chinese Military General. This treatise was probably written in 500 BC and has a lot of relevance in today`s business world. It is in fact one of the recommended texts for Strategy Courses in B-Schools. 

The backdrop of the movie Baahubali is probably set up in the 8th Century AD. This is based on my understanding from the subtitles. The movie is basically about fight for the throne of a kingdom by two brothers. However, I found the following scenes from the movie that explicitly shows the Strategy concepts or Management lessons that I found very interesting. 

(Note : If you have seen the movie, it is easier to relate)

1.Gender Diversity - There is enough evidence in the movie that Women are treated as equals. Some ancient stories/texts forbid women from entering battlefield. At least, that's what the perception is. In this movie, we see that Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan) takes over the Kingdom when the King of Mahismati dies. Ideally, Bhijjaladeva ( Nazar) should have taken over, but owing to his disability, Sivagami steps in and performs the duties. One point to be noted is She doesn't assume the throne as she feels that not her right place. This goes on to show that one doesn't need a title to lead. And doesn`t necessarily need credits to prove he is a leader. Also, she is present during the war on the Battlefield. Another Instance of Equality of Gender was when the Tribal Leader assigns Avantika (Tammana) the responsibility of killing Bhalladeva (Rana) and Freeing Devasena (Anushka). 

2.Optimal Use of resources - Prior to the War, it is learned that Kalakeya(Antagonist - A tribal warlord) has a army of 1,00,000 and they wage a war against Mahishmati Kingdom that has a army of 25,000. Clearly it seems that Kalakeya has a advantage. But, in order to mitigate the attack Baahubali (Prabhas) suggests that they have a trishul formation. Out of the 25,000 available soldiers (Resources) 10,000 soldiers are assigned to Baahubali (Prabhas) and other 10,000 is assigned to Bhalladeva (Rana) and 5,000 is assigned to Kattapa (SatyaRaj). The way the trishul formation happens is similar to an Isosceles Triangle. In the vertex is Kattapa with his 5,000 solidiers giving a strong defence whereas from the 2 equal sides, Baahubali and Rana provide the defence A signal is given to the 2 crown prince to attack the warlord Kalakeya whereas Kattapa still provides the defence. This is a case of optimal resource loading and assigning the right people with right task. 

3.Innovation - Bhijjaladeva ( Nazar) is partial towards his son and provides Bhalladeva (Rana) with the best weapons. Among the arsenal of weapons, Bhalladeva gets all the swords, arrows missile system and a chariot with cutting blade which is deemed to be the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Baahubali (Prabhas) in turn gets Cannon Guns, Spears and Bows and arrows. Generally, these weapons are considered to be a liability than a strength due to their long loading times and inefficiencies. Kattappa suggest Baahubali to ask for better weapons or rather equal share of weapons. But, instead of cribbing about this, Baahubali thinks of innovative ways to use his set of weak weapons. One such innovation was to use a oil drenched cloth along with the canon balls. The enemy is puzzled at what this cloth was all about in a deadly war. He later sets the cloth on fire destroying hundreds of enemies. This is innovation at work and trying to think an out of the box solution. 

4.Motivation - After Mahisimati has a huge casualty, the soldiers start dying and suddenly the fear of death prevails among them. They start giving up and running away from the battlefield. At this point, Baahubali gives an inspiration speech (I dint understand much of it) but it was very inspirational and motivational and he urges the soldiers not to give it up yet and start fighting again. In contrast, the other crown prince, Bhalladeva doesn`t really care or bother about the situation and stays mum. The lesson here is that leaders should motivate and stay with their team members even in the difficult times instead of pressurizing them to deliver results. 

5.Thinking out of the Box - When Baahubali suggests that they will go for Trishul formation, Bhijjaladeva ( Nazar) doesn't accept the solution saying that it is a textbook example and can never be implemented in real time or war situation. Still, Baahubali persists with his idea and tries to convince others. Sivagami too appreciates the fact that even the enemy Kalakeya wouldn't expect a textbook example being implemented in action. Even Bhalladeva in in favor of this solution. The takeaway here is that even though time and tested methods of solution exists, always try to differentiate your solution/offering. Think Different. 

6.Compassion - During the war, the target set for the crown prince is that they should kill Kalaleya in order to become a king and whoever so kills him shall become the king of Mahishmati. Bhalladeva is very focused on this target and is always in a dire urge to kill Kalakeya. In fact, in one of the situations, Kalakeya holds the innocent citizens of Mahismati as a defence against incoming attack of Mahishmati. Bhalladeva has no mercy or concern for the innocent citizens and charges his blade chariot into the innocent citizens killing a lot of them in order to attack Kalakeya. When confronted with the same situation, Baahubali doesn't proceed ahead. Rather he decides to first secure the innocent citizens and then proceeds to attack Kalakeya. 

Another instance of Compassion is that before the beginning of the war, it is traditional to sacrifice a animal to ensure victory to Goddess Kali. Bhalladeva proceeds with sacrificing the innocent animal, where as baahubali doesn't believe in this blind belief and doesn't proceed with the sacrifice. This goes on to show that Leaders should have Compassion and should protect the interests of all the stakeholders, employees and workers even at the cost of achieving profits 

So, to me, I thought that it was very good film with a lot of thought put into it. Other things to look out are the breathtaking VFX, excellent portrayal of characters and exotic locations. I think it was a very good movie by Director Rajamouli and Team and I`m looking forward to see the next part in 2016.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

5 things that you must do before you join PGPEX-VLM program


Congratulations to all the aspirants VLMPians on getting selected in this Prestigious program. I plan to come up with a series of articles aimed for PGPEX-VLM candidates. More like the Do`s and Don’ts that I derived out of my experiences in this program. Warning : These are strictly derived from my own personal experiences and characters in these series having any resemblance to any person living is purely co-incidental.  




    1. Communication Skill : Traditionally, Manufacturing engineers are known to have communication troubles. The reason for this isn’t anything to do with skills or competency level. The main reason behind this is that we come from a Shop Floor environment and have dealt with numerous workers and contract labourers. To talk to these guys, you have to use local language. I have seen guys in my batch using extensive “Hinglish” with works such “Kyun-ki”, “Matlab” etc. Not that I am discriminating North Indian friends, but this is something that one needs to consciously avoid.

Communication just doesn’t mean speaking in English. Communication includes your verbal, non-verbal and body language as well. So, spend some time reading some books on these areas. Your communication will be the single most important factor for your placements – Mark my words !

Some good books to get started are:




           2. Business Acumen: Well, you are entering the Finance Capital of India – IIMC. After all, you are entering a business school. So, you should start reading Economic Times or Business Standard if you haven’t had the habit of doing it. You should be aware of the latest trends in the stock market, Why dollar price is going up, its effects on various industries, What`s happening with Airlines Market and why they are introducing flash sales, Why spicejet is not making any profit, How e-commerce industry is raising money from Investors, Flipkart v/s Amazon.

No one will directly ask you questions from Economics times and Business Standard, but it will help you immensely in Classroom discussions and Case Analysis.

                   3. Welcome to “Case World” :  I always used to wonder why GMAT/GRE/CAT exams have these long boring reading comprehension passages with obscure words. I used to wonder why Engineers are being tested on English. Well, it made sense when we started reading case.  IIM-C was India`s first IIM and it was established in 1961 with Technical Collaboration with MIT and Ford Foundation. IIM-A was set up with collaboration with Harvard. Hence, most IIM`s very religiously have Case Studies as a part of their curriculum deriving its origins from Harvard and MIT.

Case studies are typically a long passage written by expert faculty and case writers highlighting a business problem or a situation. Case discussion generated lots of views from the class, from the faculty and learning is facilitated in such discussions. Cases can vary from 2 pages to 40 pages. Cases are a thick dense paragraph of English mixed with Business Jargon that closely resembles Reading comprehension sections.

Cases are sometimes so long, that one forgets what he read in the first few paragraphs. So, one needs to develop a knack of reading cases and structuring cases in a easy to retrieve format in the mind. You would be required to read at least 3 cases every day (rather every night) before you go to class. If you haven’t read the case, you wouldn’t follow a bit on what is happening in the class and trust me – Faculty can easily make out from your expression on your face whether you have read the case or not.

(I won’t be posting any cases here as it would hamper your learning experience)

                           4. Mathematics : Most of the experienced folks would have been out of touch with Mathematics. May be the last time we encountered it was during 1st year Engineering. Maths plays a key role in a MBA program (Hence, no wonder GMAT/CAT/GRE are so quant focused). The maths that we are talking about here is not trigonometry or Calculus (I wonder why VLM aptitude exams tests that? Ohhh.. IIT`s are involved!!). Here, you would be required to know some basics of Statistics, Regression Analysis, Probability Distributions and Linear Programing.

In a 2 year MBA program, typically, students undergo a refresher course in Mathematics for 4 months and become strong in these areas. However, for a one year program, the schedule is so tight that there isn’t any dedicated Maths Refresher course. However, these topics are neatly disguised into a subject called Decision Making.

Since, we have been out of touch with Mathematics for nearly 5 years and above, I strongly urge candidates to go through these concepts and understand them. It would definitely help. For example, linear programming is like the Hutch Dog.  It will follow you from IIM Calcutta, to IIT Kanpur and finally till IIT Madras.

                            5. Enjoy Your pre-VLM days : These are very exciting days and hopefully the only days you`ll be free in this year. Your next one year is going to be very hectic. So, take a good rest. Try to resign from your job at 2 weeks before the program starts. Spend time with your family, go for a nice vacation, meet your friends. I see that 9th batch guys have already formed a Whatsapp group and Google group. Get to know your batch mates – Their background, experience, why they joined this program. Get to know your seniors and ask them any questions that you may have. Networking is one very important component of any MBA program and Networking is actually your Networth.

Hope you enjoyed reading this article and do write to me at arunpx2015@email.iimcal.ac.in for any queries or suggestions on what should the next article focus on