Why Women Are the X-Factor in the New Working Environment

New ways of working and leading are desired in today’s business environment.  In order to succeed in that system, organizations will need two fundamental sets of skills. The first being digital skills for which many organizations are actively hiring software developers, data scientists and analysts, experienced designers, and people with critical digital skills. The second skill set, however—is just as important: human-centred skills in areas such as communication, collaboration, motivation, emotional intelligence, creativity, and imagination.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, its economic disruption and uncertainty, has only underscored the need for these skills. Over the next decade, these leadership skills will become must-haves as traditional, top-down approaches decline in the face of fast, highly collaborative, agile organizations. Nonetheless, today’s leaders will have to navigate uncertainty and comprehend the needs and challenges of various stakeholders in the ever-changing scenarios. Leaders must be empathetic and able to encourage others, inspire teams, develop relationships, and learn with humility, in a business world with increasingly differentiated, multi-functional teams that operate independently.

A NEW LEADERSHIP MODEL

While algorithms can perform standardised processes and make straightforward decisions much faster, cheaper, and more accurately than humans, other skills – which only humans can leverage, such as empathy, imagination, and judgment—are essential for complex problem-solving.

That’s why, in today’s agile organisations, leaders don’t just issue orders based on their own expertise or experience instead, they identify a problem and then support autonomous teams that do the actual work of solving that problem. Such leadership necessitates a level of vulnerability, such as someone who encourages and supports people who have better knowledge about a given subject than their superiors and are more likely to find a solution. 

Then, the question arises – How can women leaders contribute to this change? Something that many people already know – women tend to be highly empathetic, with strong emotional intelligence, active listeners who solicit ideas, collaborate, share credit, and change course when necessary. It has also been observed that when there are more women on a team, the collective intelligence of the groups tend to increase. Moreover, gender-balanced teams are how diverse leadership teams boost innovation than their competitors, and perform better. While empathy and relationship-building skills appear to be uncommon among leadership candidates, most organisations will find them in their own untapped pools of women employees and managers.

GROWING EVIDENCE OF WOMEN’S ABILITY TO LEAD IN THE NEW WAYS

Empirical evidence suggests that many of the essential leadership qualities are more likely to be displayed by women.  For example, a recent study published in Harvard Business Review found that women in leadership roles were ranked higher than men in a variety of key competencies, such as encouraging and motivating others, building partnerships, cooperation, and teamwork.

When looking at more granular skills, researchers from a German university discovered that women, in general, can accurately decipher emotions from people’s faces. Another research discovered that women are better at reading body language than men. According to a third study, men detect subtle signs of emotion like depression just around 40% of the time, while women can notice them 90% of the time. Furthermore, a study published in the journal Science found that having more women on a team improved the collective knowledge of the groups. Rather than attempting to dominate a conversation or a task, women are more likely to consider others, elicit feedback, listen actively, and take turns contributing. As a result, women-centric organizations have become more collaborative and better able to tap into the potential.

For organizations that understand the need to work and lead in new ways, and the imperative of diversity, the message is clear: workplaces need to identify people with these skills and put them in leadership roles. That was true even before COVID-19, but the pandemic has emphasised the relevance of empathetic, collaborative leadership. Companies that wish to reap the benefits of these leadership skills must increase their efforts to recruit, retain, and encourage women.

About the Author:

Payal Singh, a Production Engineer by qualification is currently pursuing MBA (Analytics) from IIM Kashipur.  She is a part of  Team Insite- Admission Support Body at the prestigious institution. You can connect with her on Linkedin.

Rising Steel Prices: Can Fintech save MSMEs in distress?

The Alumni Relations Committee of IIM Kashipur has served as a bridge to beget valuable insights about the role of Fintech in MSME from our erudite alumnus. This article covers the questions surrounding the issue of rising steel prices and how Fintech can save the MSMEs in distress.

A sharp rise in raw material prices, (especially steel) over the last few months has impacted the recovery of manufacturing, construction, and small and medium industries from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The MSME industry needs to provide steel at reasonable prices so that export competitiveness of value-added products is maintained

A sharp rise in raw material prices, (especially steel) over the last few months has impacted the recovery of manufacturing, construction, and small and medium industries from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The MSME industry needs to provide steel at reasonable prices so that export competitiveness of value-added products is maintained.

Fintech lending platforms have the ability to address the credit gap for small businesses. Most digital lending platforms which used to rely only on equity and debt capital are now also looking at post loan origination sources of capital such as securitization and direct assignment transactions to improve liquidity. The fintech, banks, and NBFCs will play a huge role in powering small businesses in the post-pandemic new world and will help in reviving the economies. These new and innovative lending models will not only strike a right balance between financial stability and growth but also encourage a focus on the credit needs of small businesses in the country and NBFCs and fintechs are considered as better equipped to support this endeavour.

To understand the reasons behind the bullish prices, we can look at some of the factors affecting the price of steel:

Supply And Demand-

As with any commodity, supply and demand is a huge factor that determines steel prices. The higher the demand and the lower the supply, the higher the price. As lockdowns were gradually eased and construction work resumed, steel prices started rising with the rise in demand.

Moreover, the prices of steel are determined not just by current supply and demand, but by forecasted supply and demand. The more information available, the better this can be predicted, and the less volatile prices will be. We must also strive to be aware of inventory in the supply chain in every link from the steel mills to the end-user.

Industry Trends-

Price is also influenced by the demand of the various industries steel is used for. If the auto industry is strong, for example, steel demand may be higher; the same goes for construction, packaging, and other businesses that rely heavily upon steel.

Costs of Materials-

Scrap metal and iron ore are two of the main materials used to create steel. If there is a limited amount of these resources available, demand exceeds supply, and the cost of materials will jump up.

Iron ore fetching a year-end price of $175 a tonne on the Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE), is now the world’s best performing major commodity for the second year in a row. Indian Steel Association (ISA) calls for Government Intervention and demands a six-month ban on iron-ore exports, restriction of e-auction sale to steel- and pellet-makers. The Government suspects that the steel-makers might be indulging in the manipulation of production to lift prices, forming a cartel in the cement and steel industry. However, on the contrary, in the steel industry where two major players, namely, SAIL and Vizag Steel are government-owned are also a part of the same trend.

Costs of Shipping-

By the same token, materials used to create steel and finished goods can be costly to ship, a factor that may help determine the price.

Time of Year-

Time of year has its effect on many industries, and those that use steel are no different. Holidays, weather, and seasonal highs and lows affect the output of new products, either raising or lowering demand. Seasonality can impact shipping patterns and transit modes.

All these events have left the MSMEs in jeopardy. Nothing was happening for several months because of the pandemic. The projects were shut down or were on hold. The rise in steel prices is eating into their narrow margins making it more and more difficult for them to sustain. A big issue of MSME credit gap can be solved by fintech lending platforms if they are able to access reliable digital data sets that can assist with credit risk analysis and cash flow-based lending, the regulatory framework supports a low-cost KYC and customer onboarding process and if these platforms themselves are able to tap into a wider set of channels for their own sources of capital.

About the Author:

Mr. Shahrukh Khan, an Alumnus of IIM Kashipur who has completed his PGP in the year 2019 is currently handling the Product & Process – OfCommerce at OfBusiness. While at the campus, he has been a Class Representative and Joint Secretary of Wellness Coordinators. He has also represented IIM Kashipur in multiple TT Tournaments.

Management from a Homemaker’s Lens

The word Management as defined in the dictionary means the process of dealing and coordinating with people. Management is a never-ending loop that begins when one gets up in the morning and ends when one sets the alarm for the next day and goes to sleep.

 Management is always conceptualized as a fancy degree from a Business school and jargons like Presentations, Entrepreneurship, SWOT, ROI, etc. Management is inevitably present and significant in all these fields, but what we often forget is that management is applicable in all walks of life. It covers all facets of our lives. We ignore this fact because we have been so used to doing these roles that we have forgotten about the management nature. Even a trip to Goa with friends or relatives requires proper planning so to effectively manage one’s schedule for an enriching experience.

 If we deep dive into our daily life schedule, I see my mother implementing all my MBA lessons in some way and the best part is though those decisions or acts of her do not bring any life-changing decisions but are pivotal for the smooth functioning of the house.

 The duties of a homemaker are frequently looked down upon, but as we look closely, we can see that becoming a homemaker demands immense management skills. One of the most difficult examples of management is managing an entire family, taking care of everyone’s special needs, settling petty conflicts among children, maintaining the bonds intact, ensuring food is prepared on time. All this might sound so simple when we compare it to the life of an MBA graduate but it is equally challenging and complex.

 If we draw an analogy between the life of a manager and a homemaker, it is quite indistinguishable. The only difference is the nature of the work they both execute. Just like in an organization, A manager is the one responsible for streamlining the tasks, planning things ahead of time so that the needs of the clients are fulfilled on time, and addressing the grievances of its employees. In the same fashion, Homemakers must plan for the whole family, predict future challenges, multitask and make the most use of their resources, and be armed with plans for any last-minute hiccups.

 Let us take a few examples where we see homemakers implementing various concepts of MBA.

 Before buying any vegetable, she does a SWOT analysis for it and checks for if it is the best available product in the market.

She keeps a close record of all house expenses and makes sure every expense is recorded and gets tallied with the money she has in hand. In some or the other way, she exhibits great accounting skills.

She doesn’t have a degree but yes she is a perfect manager and a successful leader.

About the Author
Sakshi Poddar a Computer Science Engineer by qualification is now pursuing MBA(Analytics from IIM Kashipur. She is a part of various student bodies like the Media and Public Relations Committee and Admission Support Body. She is an IT professional with 2 years of experience in Hewlett Packard Enterprise. She loves traveling and dancing. You can connect with her on LinkedIn

Management is an Art!

There are many B-Schools to provide you with the Knowledge of Management but is that enough? Is knowing it all enough? I believe it’s not. To be a successful manager you need to possess the art of applying the right knowledge (the craft), at the right time (the vision) and most essentially, delivering efficiently to the right people (the communication). Books and professor’s knowledge can tell you what different tools and frameworks you can use but which to apply where needs an understanding so deep it will be a tragedy to not call it an art.

A good manager must also have imagination and the audacity to redesign their organisations or the way they work, just as an artist needs vision, and a strong commitment to realise them.

One may argue about the new and improving scientific methods being taught to and applied by the up-and-coming managers for better decision making, or about those skills to derive unexpected success by making probable failure surrender to competence and nerve. But Management has always been more than that. Not all great students have been great managers, and not all great managers have started strong. It takes more than just the technical skills and intuition to be a good manager.

To be a good business manager, one needs to perfect their skills in dealing with people and express themselves verbally, just as an artist needs to master his craft. 

Moreover, just like the art has no right or wrong similarly the managerial decisions can’t be labelled correct or incorrect. In fact, in management failures can lead to new opportunities. There is no perfect formula for success.

Therefore, I strongly believe that Management is an Art and the artist needs to keep on practicing the art to achieve the epitome of success in the career.

About the Author:
Dr. Ankita Gabhane, Dentist is pursuing MBA from IIM Kashipur. She is an active member of different student bodies like the Cultural Committee and Admissions support body. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Guest lecture by Mr. Gaurav Saxena

IIM Kashipur welcomed Mr. Gaurav Saxena, VP and Zonal Head, Birla Sun Life Insurance. The topic of discussion was ‘Distribution Dynamics’. Mr. Saxena shared his views on different distribution channels and how good distribution is directly related to successful products. He shared numerous examples of companies which have managed to succeed on the basis of a good distribution network and the challenges companies face when it comes to reaching the masses. He also discussed the distribution strategies of insurance companies in India.

1 2 3 4 5 6

Guest Lecture by Mr. Devendra Raghav

IIM Kashipur welcomed Mr. Davendra Raghav, former Director UBS – AG. The topic of discussion was money laundering. Mr. Raghav shared his experience in the banking industry. Different types of money laundering techniques, International standards to fight money laundering, black money and Hawala were some of the key issues discussed.

1 2 3 4

SEBI Financial Awareness Workshop

IIM Kashipur welcomed Mr. Jubin Mehta, AGM SEBI and Mr. Prashant Saini, AGM SEBI. A financial awareness workshop was organised to discuss investor awareness and how investment will lead to the growth of the economy. Mr. Mehta shared his experience with SEBI and how SEBI acts as a regulator whose first priority is looking after the interests of the investor.

1 2 3 4

Guest Lecture by Mr. Hirak Kayal

The students of IIM Kashipur had the privilege of listening to the guest lecture by Mr. Hirak Kayal , the Vice President of Applications Outbound Product Management at Oracle India. His prime responsibility is to drive Applications success and particularly Fusion Application adoption in India. He holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from IIT Kharagpur and did his post-graduate studies in Business Management from IIM Calcutta.

3

The agenda of the seminar was to discuss the emerging trends in technology and introduce the students to the latest business reality of SMAC, an acronym for social media, mobile, analytics and cloud. The convergence of the said four is considered to be the next huge disruptor in business technology since the evolution of internet.

1

The paradigm shift from the ‘buying’ model to ‘subscription’ model and its impact on business was discussed. The rise of social media, with over 1 billion subscribers, offers a great opportunity for companies to market their product. Approximately 83% of the internet users can be found on social media. The emergence of Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn has led to more targeted and innovative methods of marketing. But it has also come with its own share of problems. A customer is connected virtually to a large network of people who are further connected to other networks. In such a scenario, the information flow is quick and any negative or positive comment about a company can reach far more number of people than earlier. A popular example of the ‘united breaks guitar’ was also talked about in the seminar to give an idea about the ramifications of this connectivity and the power of a single customer in current market.

2

The emergence of smart phones has also had an impact on industry. The seminar briefly touched upon the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy followed in industry. With the continuously increasing subscribers of mobile, it is imperative for the industry to cater to customers through this channel efficiently. The emergence of social media and internet usage on mobile led to the collection of a large amount of data. This data, which was initially not utilised to the fullest, is now an input to analytics that transforms this data into useful information using powerful tools. Data about the history of a customer shopping pattern, to know his preferences, helps in providing a customized service.

4

The recent emergence of cloud computing is a game changer. The various services that are offered are software as a service, platform as a service and infrastructure as a service. The seminar also gave insight about the various models like private, public and hybrid cloud. The consumerization of cloud services was also explained to the students.

Mr. Alvis Lazarus A from Flipkart @IIM Kashipur

IIM Kashipur students got the opportunity to interact with Mr. Alvis Lazarus A, India Head – Distribution Centre & Line Haul Operations, Flipkart.com. Though his presentation, he explained the importance of “Mix of Supply Chain, Lean and Six Sigma”.

2

3

4

Guest Lecture: Mr. Nagaraju KB, COO at TVS Logistics Services Limited

IIM Kashipur welcomed Mr. Nagaraju KB, COO at TVS Logistics Services Limited. He is an IIM Calcutta alumni and had previously he has worked with Lenovo India Pvt Ltd and Transmart India Pvt Limited. Currently he is on sabbatical and working with an NGO. Coming from Operations field, Mr Nagaraju explained the students about “The Triple-A Supply Chain- Agility, Adaptability and Alignment”. He shared his experience in supply chain dictating the fact that Supply chain is a backbone to meet customer expectations. Along with arranging for logistics, supply chain very evidently includes planning and manufacturing. From his experience he compared the current scenario of industry with that in early 2000s. He said that the current industry is very demanding and the customers want product at their doorsteps at their preferred time. To achieve this managers have to necessarily go for a steep learning curve.

1

2

Mr Nagaraju explained the AAA supply chain model through experiences of his operations career in companies like Compaq India, Tata Motors, Lenovo, etc. He stressed upon the importance of localization of supply chain in order to achieve immediate demand of customized products by the consumers. He also very promptly answered queries of the students regarding supply chain and logistics. IIM Kashipur thanks him for his presence at the campus.