I spoke with conviction that without a feasible model that generates enough money, there is hardly a soul who would like to invest themselves whole heartedly into the pursuit of sustainability, and this explained the lack of talent in this field despite good intentions.
What we have been brought up to do is follow small practices in our everyday life, the 4Rs wherever possible. However, when I was given a picture of what complete sustainability looks like, it freaked me out. It meant going back through the ages and living on hand-me-downs for your entire life. It meant living without producing any waste at all. Whatever comes out of the earth should go right back into it.
This is the picture that Padam Shri Ms Janak Palta McGilligan conjured in my mind as I spoke with her between her sessions and throughout her talk at IRIS 2016. I have been firmly advocating the sustainable development goals since the day they got adopted by the UN, however this made me stop and think about if I was sufficiently dedicated to the cause. I realised I wasn’t.
The question isn’t whether you stand for sustainability. It is how much are you ready to give up for it.
I never waste electricity or water, even for a second, sometimes to the annoyance of my friends who have no regard for nature. I stare at people if they litter – until they feel embarrassed enough to find a dustbin. I fight with my parents if they begin to throw something out of the car window – since 5th grade when I learnt it is bad at school. Our house was the first one to stop bursting crackers in the entire colony when I was in 6th grade and participated in a painting competition that was based on this theme. I hesitate to throw anything away until I am certain it cannot be used anymore. I am highly mindful of what I buy to an extent that my mom considers it necessary to shop with me so that I can have some comforts we can afford. Is this enough? I don’t think it is.
I am stuck in the path of negotiation where the only limits are those I put. Sometimes I try to argue myself out of the dilemma thinking that the world and the markets will adjust themselves to a state where humans still manage to sustain. This is nothing but self serving logic though and I understand this is not how things work. I am easily taken by any argument that proclaims apocalypse unless we adopt certain practices. However going the full way is too much. Our civilization as a whole has worked towards creating a comfortable environment and if we do not take full advantage of it, then it would be disrespectful to their genius.
Having said that, it is also not right if we are partial to our comforts when we take advantage of our progress. We should be humbled by nature – because we now understand its bounty much better than our ancestors. It is thus the pursuit of knowledge that I advocate more than anything else.
How much do I wish to give up for sustainability? Nothing at all. Sustainability needs to be sustainable in itself – not a communist concept which fails when it strikes against basic human nature. Nevertheless, if your nature is so noble, as was of the great person I had the pleasure of meeting, I wish I could be more like you. Your ideas add to the pool of knowledge that we are ever hungry for. For the rest, strike your own informed balances.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of Hiral Arora, an IPM IIM Indore student. They do not reflect the ideas of the institute in any way.
I thought it was just another boat party but I was not aware of the adventures that awaited me at the canals of Xochimilco, also known as the xochimilco trajineras because of the canoes that take people for a ride. The place is filled with tourists, mariachi bands, and lush floating gardens.
However, wait for sometime and you will see the adjacent island with severed limbs and cracked heads of severely weathered dolls.
Welcome to la Isla de la munecas, the island of the dolls.
The legend is about one man, a lost relationship, and a dead girl’s doll.
Hundreds of photographers and thrill seekers travel to this haunted island of dolls every year, but it was never meant to be a tourist attraction.
It all started with Julian Santana Barrera, a reclusive Mexican man who found a doll floating at the same area where he had found the dead body of a drowned girl some days ago. To honor the girls spirit and save himself from further tragedy, Julian started hanging more dolls.
Julian was apparently haunted by the spirit of the girl and started hanging more dolls in order to get rid of the spirit. He soon realized that the dolls themselves were possessed by spirits when they started blinking their eyes and moving their heads. He continued hanging dolls all over the place. Apparently, he was marked by the fact that he was not able to save the little girl’s life.
After 50 years of collecting and hanging dolls, Julian was found drowned at the same spot where the girl died.
Yet la Isla de las Muñecas lives on. Locals tend to the island, while travelers from around the world seek out the site. Some even arrive with new dolls to hang in the trees, continuing Don Julian’s eerie tradition.
Stories from Mexico, brought to you by Niloy Jain, IIM Indore IPM-5 participant on student exchange. Stay tuned for more adventure!
An interview with Neeraj Gutgutia ( IIMI Alumnus), the founder and CEO of “Right2Vote Infotech Pvt. Ltd.”
Here is what he has shared with us :
Interviewer: How was your stay at IIM Indore as a student?
Neeraj: It was a great learning experience. Apart from studies you get to do many things and manage them well.
Interviewer: So were you involved in any club or committees?
Neeraj: Yes, I was a part of media committee in first year. Then in second year being a part of media committee, we came up with the college magazine I-Mag (known as Management Canvas presently). We also initiated entrepreneurship and consulting society in the college with the name of E&C.
Interviewer: You worked with Reliance and then with Hiranandani group. How was the experience?
Neeraj: After working with Reliance for 4 years, I got a chance to work with Hiranandani group. They needed a guy with Gas Project and Finance experience. As I worked in Gas sector with reliance and I was a CA and MBA, so they asked me if I would like to join and lead it.
Interviewer: Then how did you move towards entrepreneurship?
Neeraj: I always wanted to start up on my own, even before MBA but didn’t actually know how to go about it. Then at Hiranandi, I got to lead the project. It gave me exposure, confidence, everything you could ask for. I also starting saving money as I had a mental mapping that I need to start soon.
Interviewer: What was the thought while leaving such an interesting job at Hiranandani?
Neeraj: Actually, while leaving, I wasn’t too sure of what I wanted but had a rough idea on what to do. O had this “Right2Vote” in my mind. I wasn’t sure whether I could do the Technology part of it.
Interviewer: You also started “Guts Unlimited”, so what was the idea behind that company?
Neeraj: Just after leaving my job, I was very interested in start-ups , so wanted to start investing in them. “Guts Unlimited” basically was into advising and investing in the start-ups, helping them set up the whole system. As a backup to make revenue and financial support, “Guts” is still running but my major focus is “Right2Vote”.
Interviewer: When did the idea of “Right2Vote” come first into your mind and what was the reason behind it?
Neeraj: During 2014 election, I was working with Prashant Kishore, helping in the election management. I was also pitching people to come out and vote. But it was difficult for some due to various reasons like they were travelling, meetings at office etc. So I thought if there was an App where you could vote from anywhere, then people will vote for sure. And that was where it all started. I researched a lot and it was such a obvious thing, that everything is going online then why not voting.
Interviewer: What is the vision and mission of the company?
Neeraj: “When the 2019 election happen, that should happen on our platform”, this is the target we are aiming at. Our mission is to at least target 10 corporates to use the app for shareholders’ voting, etc so that our revenues start rolling in and also sign up big corporates which will also enhance or credibility.
Interviewer: What would you say about the present start up Ecosystem in India?
Neeraj: In last 2 to 4 years, the trend is really picking up. There is a lot of scope. In India still the ticket size is very small. The risk people are taking are not big enough. The Tech start-ups are the high risk and high gain, they are the ones which are in maximum number today. We have to boost the ticket size here in India. Also as a start-up, hiring people is very tough. Giving a good salary along with good office and confidence in the company is becoming a heavy task.
Interviewer: What has been the learning till now in this journey of entrepreneur which you would like to share with students?
Neeraj: There has been many highs and lows till now. During job I got a fixed salary but now it is a challenging task. Sometimes my family and others judge me and have a lot of doubt on my success. There is a lot of opportunity cost involved here but we have to keep moving on and believe in our idea.
Interviewer: So what would you like to tell to the budding entrepreneurs here at IIM Indore?
Neeraj: You should be well prepared before entering into the start-up idea. You should be financially stable, have support of the family. Also, the main focus should be on executing the idea. That is the most important part. Plan for at least 2 to 3 years ahead.Hope you gained an insight on how the journey unfolds from being a student to an entrepreneur.
“Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the bravest of them all?” – And the answer, as expected, wasn’t that impressive! I knew it. I knew it from the start.
This was my second week at Austin, during the five weeks International Immersion Program at the McCombs Business School (University of Texas) that IIM Indore offers to the EPGP participants. However, I knew that something had gone wrong. I felt a sense of sudden transformation from within, a sense of insecurity and vulnerability that increasingly heightened my dependence on my fellow mates. From the feisty girl that I used to be, I had somehow lost all my high spirits and would hardly step out of my room!
But this was not how I wanted to see myself. Being born and brought up in a very traditional family, I definitely have a very clear view of what is “good” and what is not. Yet, I was never told to be a subdued person who would just stay indoors. I interacted with people, laughed and giggled through life. Naturally something was hurting now!
Told myself, this jinx needs to be broken. The time showed 10.30 am on a Saturday morning. It was already late, quite late- since I require about a couple of hours to get all decked up. And that’s a must when I’m going out!
Anyway, the ordeal of happiness was finally over, and it was a super Saturday noon – with a bright and warm Sun welcoming Austin. I knew that I couldn’t afford to miss the chance. Quickly flipped through the Transit app and decided that the Aquarium would be my destination. The next bus timing showed 20 minutes to go and the walk to the bus stop was barely a 5 minute one. So, I had enough time.
Reached the bus stop and started awaiting the bus. The vehicle arrived on time and I checked the destination route. The driver wasn’t aware and asked me to help him find the right stop for me. Poor me, I knew nothing at all! But I decided to put up a brave front. It was as ridiculous as an illiterate man attempting to educate another! I had to live with that as I’ve an Indian accent and it was quite possible that my words were not being well comprehended by a Native American guy. Anyway, the journey began and started matching the stop names from my app in anticipation of being ascertained that I’ve embarked on the right track.
Nothing seemed to match though and to be candid I started getting goose bumps thinking that I’d probably get lost in America! Suddenly some wisdom dawned on me and I thought I better check on the direction to which the bus is traversing. And guess what, it was just the opposite of what I intended to board!
The driver very politely got me down at the next stop, suggesting how I should reach the desired destination. It was freaking hot and I started waiting for the chariot to my destination. The chariot arrived at the designated hour and after the long wait in the scorching Sun, the driver’s polite greeting literally seemed as though Lord Krishna had descended and was assuring me with his iconic “Tathastu” that I would reach my destination safe and sound. The bus was not much crowded and I went and occupied my all time favorite ‘aisle seat’.
Soon after an aged man came along and sat beside me. I’m usually quite stoic and refrain from eavesdropping into other people’s business. However, lofty ideals do get shattered at times; after all to err is human!
Couldn’t believe what I heard!!! This man was apparently talking to a lady whom he addressed quite respectfully. He was stating his apprehension over being treated in a regal style and some unknown people paying for his super luxurious stay at a hotel. He was repeatedly mentioning that he’s very perplexed as to what made him get all the royal treatment that he was getting and he’d no clue who was sponsoring his food and accommodation.
I kept looking straight but my ears were all up and eyebrows all risen. His plight seemed analogous to that of a creature who denies sumptuous meal in anticipation of getting butchered. And I say that with all the due respect. My instant reaction was to change my seat, as things seemed heavily fishy out there. I was just attempting to locate a good alternative when my chariot came to an unexpected halt. I saw two stout men entering and the entire bus became pin drop silent for a while. After a pause it struck me that they were the well celebrated US State Troopers and instantly my heart missed a beat.
This article was written by Sreemoyee Saha, an EPGP participant at IIM Indore.
There are some things we feel are far too big for us to care about. They seem irresolvable – distant – not our problem.
But they could very well be!
Today was a tiring day, we went snorkelling and kayaking (and the best part was the open bar on the boat!). We finally headed back to our hostel to relax for a while, perhaps just lounge in the balcony.
I think I dozed off for a while because I didn’t even realise when Roger came and sat down next to me. He smirked in my direction, I must have fallen asleep with my mouth hanging open again. He offered me a can of beer and a cigarette (which I obviously refused, lol).
Roger had served in the US Military for 30 years before he took voluntary retirement. He had no one. No mom, no dad, no cousins, no wife, no kids. No friends either.
He had always lived a life of loneliness. He discovered his sexuality very late in life, at a time when people did not know that gay people existed. He was sent to a mental correction facility for treatment. He was never married. He never had the right to marry anyone (Thanks, Obama). Now at 61, he longs for company, a partner who he can talk to. Someone who can just sit with him and watch the sunset. He is lonely.
I beg you to look in his eyes. Does this look like a face of a lonely man? It looks to me like a face of a happy man, someone who has had many laughs, his face wrinkled with signs of happiness. He does not deserve to be alone. Any one would be lucky to have him as his partner. He looks like popoye goddammit! He is so young at heart, I sometimes don’t remember he is thrice as old as me. I want to be his friend.
Roger has been receiving his monthly pension and living in Mexico for the past month. He spends his days drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. Sometimes drugs come to the rescue.
He says, everyone in America hates every other person. There is so much hatred and sadness in the society, that an individualistic culture just burns a man up. There is no one to share an emotion with. People are too engrossed within themselves and everyone carries a fucking gun. Why do you need a gun?!
He told me to be careful when in Mexico and just call him in case I need anything. He’s a good man.
What are the chances of running into a man like this, on your foreign exchange stint? The same as BEING that man.
Now that we all have met Roger, this problem is not so distant anymore.
Learn all about Mexico from the eyes of Niloy Jain, 5th year IPM Student currently on his student exchange program. He is enthusiastic about travelling and photography and he writes amazing diaries! Hiral Arora, reporting live from a facebook chatbox.
Forsooth, even these labels fall short
For these mercenaries of art
Are complicit to a different crime every day
Switching tastes sporadically
For fear of over-familiarity with one
Switching choices, opinions, stances
Whenever their conscience bids them to
For in their heads, to make an uninformed choice
Would be worse than not making one at all
And that is what pits them at the opposite end
Of the war with the rest of the world
A war which they haven’t waged but are forced to partake in
A war waged by a society that regards
Stability of thought and consistency in devotion as virtues
And all else? Seditious. Reprehensible.
“Artistic”, they say with contempt
Spitting out the word as though it be a wretched disease
It does not belong here
The makers do not belong
These artists. They do not belong, they say
In our kingdom, our land, our territory
In the kingdom that they have created inside their heads
And that is their greatest folly
For do they not realize that laws do not apply
To those who do not know how to live inside walls?
Lines have no meaning for them
For these creators of art can make their own
And those are far, far more beautiful
These mercenaries of art
Are warriors of a different ilk
Ostracized for their beliefs, their ways
Their little oddities that made them so different from the others
Only result in bringing them closer to each other
For they paint the world in a myriad of colors
Writers, Painters, Sculptors, Singers, Dancers, Scientists
All artists in their own right
For it is their creations
Their words, their canvases that shall adorn the walls
Their symphonies that shall echo through them
Their art that shall live on in the kingdom
Long after they have been turned away from it
Ms.Lalitha Vaidyanath (Senior Creative Director at J.Walter Thompson Hyderabad) recently visited IIM Indore as a speaker at Colloquium – the annual business conclave organized by the Industry Interaction Cell of the institute. The theme this year was ‘Marketing – Strategy, science or sorcery?’. Ms. Lalitha delivered an engaging talk about how targeting the right people the right way through advertising can change lives and even impact communities for the better. She added that advertising as a process has changed from being a one-sided monologue to an enriching conversation or an experience that has become pervasive. We caught up with her after the talk, and here is what she had to say about the field of advertising–
Jasmine: So one very interesting thing that I found out while reading up about advertising was that the first female copywriter was from JWT. In fact JWT even has a scholarship for young creative women in her name – the Helen Landsterne scholarship. It definitely appears then that JWT has particular interest in encouraging women to join this field. How strong is that spirit in the Indian advertising industry? How are female copywriters treated here? How far do they go?
Lalitha: Women actually do bring a lot to the table in the field of advertising. In fact, not just as copywriters but across the board, you have a lot of women making significant contributions in JWT and every other agency. But then advertising itself as an industry has quite a few women. There aren’t a lot of hierarchical issues, as the organisational structure is relatively semi-flat and flexible, so the concept of glass ceiling is perhaps not as reinforced in advertising because of that.
Hence it draws women to these jobs. Personally, I also feel that on an average, women have good aptitude for writing and graphic art. So there is a lot of scope for them in art and copy, and now a lot of women are playing a huge role in planning as well. Advertising is all about striking a chord with the consumers. By nature women are empathetic, so perhaps that’s why they fit in so well here. Honestly, it’s a very fascinating and interesting industry to work in, whether you’re a man or a woman.
Nike’s Da Da Ding song ad
Jasmine: That’s right. Even as outsiders, we see advertising as a very dynamic industry. In popular culture, like say movies, if one of the characters is from the advertising industry, they’re shown to be staying up nights, doing a lot of creative brainstorming, and also being quite a bit of a social butterfly. How true to reality is this image?
Lalitha: There’s actually a lot of hard work involved. What you see there is the glamorous part. For example, when I showed you guys the Da da ding ad for Nike featuring Deepika Padukone during the presentation, I could see all of you collectively thinking ‘wow this looks really amazing’. I myself have shot ad films with different celebrities. And I can vouch for the hard work which goes on behind the scenes. You can’t be over-awed by these elements while working. What you see as the consumer is a very snazzy TVC; what we see as the creators is the grit that it takes to make it.
Jasmine: So on an average how long would a good TVC like that take to make?
Lalitha: It depends. If you’re talking about going right from the ideating process, then it could range from anything between a week or two. Sometimes you just get a good idea in a flash; sometimes it takes a lot of time. It depends on the product, on the briefing, on the approval etc. Some clients just lap up the first idea because they liked it instantly. Some clients keep coming back to you asking for more improvements, giving suggestions, till they get the wow factor. But usually for a TVC to be produced , right from the ideation, going through the pre-production, going to the shoot, then the post-production, and then finally the final edit and bringing out the film, it could take 30-45 days.
Jasmine: At the beginning of your talk you spoke about how being right brained or left brained can change your approach to things. As management students a lot of us aren’t very sure which side we come from because we more or less learn just about everything between hard core analytical skills to interpersonal skills. How likely is it for management students to enter a creative field like advertising and make it big there?
Lalitha: I’d say most management students are left-brainers. I’ve seen them to be more verbal and analytical. Right now there are so many management grads in advertising. Recruiters from advertising agencies are loving the mix of skills that they get from these graduates. So I’d say the chances of management student making it big in advertising are pretty high.
The Life Saving Dot campaign
Jasmine: Another thing that we regularly get to hear in management school is the whole spiel about how we need to brand ourselves as individuals. ‘Self branding’ as a concept is becoming so important now because everyone is becoming increasingly competent and in order to make yourself stand out in the madness of the job world, you need to work smart. As someone who deals with the concept of branding on a daily basis, could you tell us how to get it right as individuals?
Lalitha: It’s true that ‘self-branding’ is becoming really important these days. Even recruiters today don’t look at students as just black and white. They recognise that there are many parts of you and they actively seek out more well-rounded individuals. They don’t just look for pure academics anymore. There is so much more beyond that, especially in a field like advertising.
Jasmine: One last question that I’d like to pose to you is this – since creative industries like advertising are so much about real time reactions, could you give me one example of a crisis handling situation that you’ve had to go through which really taught you a lot.
Lalitha: Every campaign is a crisis, Jasmine *laughs*. I say that because every client believes that they need to have what they want right NOW otherwise their world will end. They want their campaigns out within unrealistic deadlines, which is why it gets pretty crazy in there sometimes, but we signed up for the challenge!
About Lalitha Vaidyanath: As the senior creative director at J.Walter Thompson India and an advertising doyenne, Lalitha has worked on a hard range of sectors and clients like Hyundai Santro, Royal Enfield, Mitsubishi Motors, TTK Healthcare, Sun Direct DTH, ColorPlus, Sify, Eenadu, Murugappa group, Cholamandalam Finance, Muthoot Fincorp, UNICEF, World Vision among others. She has been at places like Saatchi & Saatchi, Everest, Maa Bozell, Mudra, McCann, and a clutch of creative boutiques across Hyderabad, Bangalore and at Chennai. She brings over 2 decades of experience to the table besides enthusiasm and passion for the written word. Her interests include yoga, voluntary service and armchair psychology.
Hiral Arora reports from Colloquium, the annual business conclave of IIM Indore organised by Industry Interaction Cell, talking about how to be an all round marketeer with a one to one interaction with Mr Avinash Janjire who has been associated with Future Generali and Thomas Cook travels.
In an awe-inspiring talk and lessons from his personal life, Mr Janjire took us through some interesting marketing campaigns from his work experience. As a context of his work in the Insurance sector, you might like to check this video explaining the Insurance Week Campaign, that resulted in breaking of the Guinness World Record for the Longest Balloon Chain.
Additionally, as a context for his work in the Tourism sector, you might want to check out the following explanatory video for Thomas Cook’s innovative Holiday Savings account scheme.
Hiral: As a marketer, how did you manage to work in two completely different product segments – Tourism (an extremely glam industry!) and Insurance (hard to sell, boring industry)?
Mr Avinash Janjire: I believe the experience doesn’t really change. As long as you understand the consumer and their needs, the industry doesn’t matter. You need to have the knack of understanding the consumer, the industry you can learn. Tomorrow I might join some other industry, except engineering perhaps, like an FMCG, and it won’t really make a difference. That’s the key.
H: When you portray Thomas Cook holidays as an affordable brand, does it not dilute the premium image it has right now?
A: That’s really a misconception. We have been here for about 150 years and people think that we are very expensive, but we’re not really that expensive. That’s because the product is such. We have holidays starting at ₹20000 also. But its just that the premium image comes because we sell a lot of these long haul holidays to Europe, US – which are expensive. This makes people believe that ‘this brand is not for me’.
If you compare us with any other competitive brand in the market like makemytrip or SOTC, we are at par in terms of price, we are very competitive. So while we have this premium image, we don’t complain about it, but it is not necessarily true. We are trying to change this idea because otherwise we limit ourselves to a very small segment of holiday goers. We want to go to middle India which has increasing aspiration for travel, beyond the 6 million people who already travel with us, and increase the size of the travel market base. 40% of our business comes from small towns. People want to go for holidays but price is a barrier. We want people to think that we are good but competitive. Not cheap, but competitive.
Right now people don’t even walk into our stores, thinking English naam lag raha hai (this is a fancy sounding english name, not for us!), otherwise they would probably go to some Kesari travels, something more localised. We want to appear approachable.
H: Is tourism a margin play or volume play industry?
A: Earlier it was margin play, decent money, but now it has become very very competitive. Now the margins have decreased to some 5-7% which is very less compared to the transaction value that we do, so it has actually become largely volume play.
H: In the insurance sector, how do you manage to make people buy (life) insurance and get past the mental block that they don’t need insurance (because noone wants to believe they are going to die!)
A: People right now buy insurance but not for the right reasons, they buy it for tax saving reasons and just look at the short term benefits so they end up buying the wrong instruments.
Most people don’t understand finance and can’t understand how much they have to pay and what benefits they can get. So the end up buying from agents who they know – such as family friends.
We have installed this mechanism of calling back customers who have bought insurance from us from the center. This is because we don’t know how the agent sitting in say, Indore, has sold the insurance. Once the deal is locked we call the customer from our head office, and there is a central unit which does this, to rectify what the customer has been told, like a welcome call. Questions like “Do you know what policy you have bought?” “Do you know what you have bought it for?” are asked so we know if it has been missold or not. This is because misselling is very rampant in the industry, leading to lack of trust.
Misselling happens because everyone has to complete targets. You need something, but I might not actually sell you something that you need. I might sell you something that gives me more money. There are some policies that make more money, some have a higher commission as compared to others, so I might want to force sell those. This problem exists because of these freelance sellers, most of whom are not our employees, they work for multiple agents. Most companies are trying to solve this through such back checks. However it is still not optimal.
When we are recruiting we train them in a way that they do the financial probing correctly. In our forms we have questions asking if they have done proper probing or not. What does the customer need money for – retirement, children’s educations, children’s marriage? Once we have that financial information and the customer profile, we can have an idea whether what they have sold is correct or not. This isn’t foolproof but it gives us some assessment, some idea as a brand. It is important to sell the correct policy because if I sell the wrong one, the customer won’t renew it for a second year, which is when I will actually start making money. The company makes money only in the 3rd and 4th years, for the first 3 years we actually lose money.
H: Thank you for the insights! To conclude, would you like to give a message to marketing and advertising aspirants?
A: Just focus on understanding your consumer and the results will follow!
This article is part of our Colloquium’16 series (Marketing – Strategy, Science or Sorcery)