Term 5 – without Red Bull

Ahmed started the last four terms with a stash of Red Bull cans that helped him keep his energy up, especially in the second half.. And he is carrying back all of his Red Bull cans this time, courtesy Prof Kale !!!

For the first time, we had a Prof who had more data on our organizations than we had and our answers changed depending on how far or how close he was standing when he asked the questions ! Prof Kale, you came in with a brilliant strategy to teach us “competitive strategy” and executed flawlessly. On the last day you spoke of the many biases that we should be aware of but by then we were already Kale-biased 🙂 We are never again accepting any story without asking for data, Antony is trying to get you the data on Spicejet and all of us are asking our CFO’s what our Cost of Capital is !! You helped many of us to overcome our Cognitive inertia and pushed us against our Action inertia … And forever made us all wary of the word “Synergy” in the corporate context. All of us have been told how you cant ride two horses or sail on two boats – you brought home the point in your own way on how companies need to choose between cost leadership or differentiation and will sink if they are stuck in the middle.

Prof Chopra – I was a little worried before coming into your class since I saw that you had co-authored the pre-read textbook alongwith Prof Deshmukh. We all love Prof Deshmukh, but there are some strange reactions in many of our minds and bodies when anyone talks of Probability and Central Limit Theorem – it reminds us of our first test and many of us nearly packed our bags in term 1 after that test. We are so glad we didn’t, because we would have missed your artistry in teaching a black and white topic like operations !! You have improved our questions 🙂 you have ensured that we will always ask what is improvement, where to target it and how to improve – after we separate simplicity from complexity. Prof Kumar gave us the macro economic view of FDI in retail and you gave the operational reasons why the “Kirana” stores are needed. If in the marketing class we saw the video where some folks in China were sleeping in an Ikea store, you made us realise why the Ikea managers sleep peacefully because their operations strategy is perfectly aligned to their business strategy. We thought no one can do one up on Prof Kamma’s explanation of EVA – but you got really close with your EVA model and linking financial metrics to operational metrics – the loop is closed, well and truly well. You said in the last class, that you were singing a single song in all the classes, your artistry and mastery lies in the fact that each class sounded slightly different but you brought it all around to the opening note.

Prof Kale and Prof Chopra – both of you have raised huge entry barriers with your respective styles of teaching, there are no substitutes in place, ofcourse you are suppliers of your time, so have huge bargaining power and we as buyers are demanding that you continue teaching PGPMAX and between all the professors the subjects are complementary so the rivalry is intense only in styles !! Love the market structure and we are coming back for more.

This term was also about using Ideascale and all of us coming together to think about how to create more value for ISB, PGPMAX and ourselves. The visit to Bhaskar’s dairy plant and just hearing him speak of his struggles to setup Creamline dairy was hugely valuable. To have created an amazingly successful business in 22 years deserves a standing ovation and Bhaskar’s humility, perseverance and openness to learning is the bigger lesson for all of us ! Hats off to you Bhaskar. We owe you ideas and our collective mastermind, and we will ensure you scale the heights you choose to.

The gala was muted, the Brazil tickets gave us a tour of all the airline websites, the term nearly went by without anyone complaining about the food (I am ignoring the last day’s lunch), we got to meet the assistant deans and for the first time I drove down from Bangalore along with Krishnan and Amma. The drive was beautiful – classy road, no reasons to get below 120 kmph ! Another first in this term was seeing a deer on one of my cycle rides inside the campus, down road no. 3. Had seen several peacocks but this is the first time I have seen a deer.

Term 5 is a high five …. And time flies. We better choose our seats well, to get in all the sights.

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