” Deadlines are Sacrosanct “The three magical words every Bschool graduate gets to hear very often. The phrase has been used many times by all, however, its importance, it seems, is yet to be known to many. The only sacrosanct rule at all IIMs is punctuality.
Good Management is only appreciated in its absence. So, while waiting for my food order in a queue made me realize how unaccustomed I have become to queues, waiting, and things not happening as they are supposed to. This further made me admire the beauty of time and how efficiently things happen in IIM Kashipur.
I remember my first week of induction which was by far the busiest and most rewarding schedule as I was given a rehearsal for the life waiting ahead for me. I was reassured over and over that we will sail through it and no one has ever died of insomnia. For a moment 24 hours felt quite less seeing the ocean of things lined up -course work, assignments, enrolments, orientation sessions, alumni meet, student body meets, senior interactions, batch meets round the clock and then you have sacrosanct deadlines for them.
If you want to know the value of one minute, ask the person who missed their deadline by a minute and has been awarded one grade lower than what they would have received if they had submitted the assignment on time.
All this is done not to scare anyone nor does any faculty enjoy doing so, it is done to make us part of an erudite culture that values time above all commitments. As every management institute does, the IIM Kashipur framework serves as a paradigm of effective management. All tasks are done from a “better never than late” mentality, based on the central principle of punctuality.
The obligation of punctuality extends not only to students but also to both faculty and staff. No one is permitted to waste someone else’s time, resulting in a super-efficient system.When you have grown used to such a culture indoctrinated for the system to function smoothly, even a 15-minute line seems weird.
So my only tip is value and plan things ahead of time and keep an action plan ready for last moment hiccups. My go strategy for the same was to simply set all my clocks ahead by 15 minutes (and then forget about it).
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
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
Much bigger than merely a two-year course: MBA is an amalgamation of a plethora of domains, integrated so astutely that each one of them finds a core point of strength that others can gain from. This is exactly what it means when It is said that MBA caters for an overall holistic development of the students. However, the popular opinion states that the journey is slightly more rugged for the freshers. They are the lot without any prior exposure to a corporate world. Unaware of the adversities and the pre-requisites for the same, they step into this course in reticence. Self- consciousness, shyness and insecurity are some of the feelings that gush through their veins at the beginning, but not for long.
The first step in their holistic growth comes from the diverse pool of peers. During the first few weeks of their MBA journey, they meet a lot of people; some sharing the common apprehension while others who have already paced their journey beyond that. Through healthy and continuous interactions, this is where they learn the know-hows of a corporate life and how it changes and molds one’s personality.
After a brief glimpse into the kind of life awaiting them, the next step of development comes in the classroom itself. Through experiential learning and case-based approaches that follow, students, irrespective of their academic backgrounds and experiences are invited to speak and encouraged to bring forth their ideas on to the table. None of the opinions are refuted in the classroom. The freshers are said to bring in much more creative ideas as compared to others, reason being their ability to not restrict their thinking in a particular domain. They allow themselves to fly freely. They are the optimistic lot and play the role of risk takers in group tasks and convince their team regarding the feasibility of the strategies undertaken.
The final step, which brings everybody on board and at par with each other on this journey, regardless of their prior corporate exposure, is their commitment to various student bodies. Student bodies are an integral part of an MBA curriculum. They give a glimpse into various aspects of work life that lies ahead. Adhering to the timelines, working in a team, taking leads frequently, dealing with conflicts etc. are the lessons drawn from it. It knows not to see someone from prejudiced eyes. This is the point where all the inhibitions of a fresher shatter and he/she finally starts to believe in being worthy of the course and standing tall with their peers, if not above then at least at par.
So, it does not matter if you have years of work experience, or you are fresh out of college. An MBA curriculum needs you as much as you need it.
About the Author: Nancy Raj, a BA honors in Statistics by qualification, is currently pursuing an MBA from IIM Kashipur. She is a part of various student bodies like the cultural committee and Admissions support body. She is fond of reading, writing and travelling. You can connect with her on LinkedIn
What we are going to read about will be sort of a story (Fairy Tale! Nothing short of that!) of ‘The Spring in the North’! – The Spring rejoiced by young entrepreneurs, startup owners, industry experts, faculties, college and school children from across the country. Yes, we are talking about Uttishtha – The Annual Entrepreneurship Summit of IIM Kashipur – The Spring of Entrepreneurship!
Here is the story by Team E-Cell about how they managed to pull off the event amidst difficulties posed by the pandemic!
Uttishtha is the much-awaited Entrepreneurship Summit which has an objective of revolutionizing how people view entrepreneurship and create an indelible impact in the entire startup ecosystem of the country and beyond!
The restrictions imposed on us due to COVID-19 and taking into consideration the safety of all the stakeholders of the event, we were forced to organize an event of such high magnitude on a virtual platform, which in turn meant restructuring of the entire Summit.
We, the entire E-Cell Team, decided to break the entire summit into small tasks and decided to go about the event in a phased manner. Subsequently we divided the entire summit into 3 phases, namely, the planning stage, the preparation stage and the summit!
So, we divided the team according to the preferences and expertise of the members and set off on our Voyage of “Making Entrepreneurship Bloom”!
The Planning Stage:
We all knew that Uttishtha’21 was going to be a completely new experience for all the stakeholders and we precisely knew that to create maximum value for everyone we had to restructure the entire summit upside down and planning or ‘Out of the Box’ sessions, we used to call them, were going to be the most important element of the entire summit!
In Uttishtha’21, as we were revamping almost everything, we decided to go beyond the mainstream in everything we were doing! While deciding the theme of the event, our thought process was to keep a theme that portrayed new beginnings, asked people to get rid of their winter blues (COVID blues!) and focus on embarking on the journey of 5R, namely, Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Resurrection, Renewal and Regrowth! So, with a decision to keep the whole Summit light and bright, we decided to keep the Theme – “Spring”, or the “Spring of Entrepreneurship”, more holistically!
We believe, the first major challenge that came towards our way in the planning stage was in the form of event crafting and flow mapping! We knew, that events of last year needed a major revamp, if we were to create the Summit engaging and create value for the people involved! Last year Uttishtha, had events like Startup Exhibitions, Entrepreneurship Bootcamp and Expo, which could not be conducted online given the nature of the events. So, we needed to come up with events which could fill the space of these events and so we started brainstorming on the needs and wants of all the stakeholders and subsequently came up with new events such as Not Clubhouse – focused panel discussion sessions, firechat conversation – a dialogue between experts from completely different areas, co-founder dating – a virtual internship fair for students across the country, among others! The molding of events according to the theme of the summit and requirements of the stakeholder involved, was a fun-filled experience!
We believe, ‘Uttishtha’ is an epitome of collaborative effort and it sees contribution and cooperation from each and every member of the IIM Kashipur community. After the planning of events and identifying the work areas, it was very important for us to gather support from the community and form an enthusiastic team comprising people who were motivated enough to work on the event diligently. Given the lack of physical interaction with the people involved, in a virtual setting, it was a bit difficult to find the real potential of the applicants. But after due process, we were lucky enough to have found a team, where members were on their toes to make the best out of the opportunity provided. Given the virtual nature of the event, the division of the functional teams had to be revamped where traditional functional teams such as arrangement teams, People management team and promotions team among others had to be dropped off the chart and made way for new teams such as virtual platform team, Audience engagement team and social media team among others.
The Preparation Stage:
Uttishtha’21 being virtual posed a lot of challenges in the execution of ideas, but along with the challenges involved, it also provided us with a lot of opportunities with respect to the extended reach of the event.
The main challenge that the team had to endure while executing the plans was the possibility of miscommunication at times due to lack of physical interaction leading to redundancy of work. Also, too much follow up on the tasks slowed down the process of execution of plans. Although these were challenges which were natural to come in a virtual setting, the dedicated and mindful work of different functional teams ensured smooth operations throughout.
The teams working on onboarding industry experts, dignitaries, speakers, startup founders, school administrators and students had a large pool of people to target given that there was no need to look after travel and lodging arrangements of the guests and with the click of a button experts could join the sessions. This not only allowed us to reach out to people beyond boundaries, but also opened wide range of opportunities for the teams to reach out to people of high stature. One approach that stand out during the whole process was the use of quirky tweet threads on twitter to reach out to people. The choice of this unconventional way led to us having onboarded a lot of good speakers and industry experts.
One of the tasks, that took substantial amount of our time was choosing an ideal virtual platform for the Summit. It proved to be an exhaustive process, given we had certain criteria such as neat user interface (UI), easy accessibility and usability, and comprehensiveness with respect to functions among others in our mind. We tried out nearly 12 virtual event platforms before narrowing down on “Airmeet” for conducting the Summit, which we believe served our purpose well.
The digital media team had a humongous task in hand, given they were responsible for creating all the buzz around the event and getting the word across boundaries. They came up with innovative ideas to promote the event to the best of their abilities. With the support from Media and Public Relations Committee (MPRC), the team was able to forge meaningful partnerships with various media partners such as Amar Ujala, Campus Beat among others which helped the team in multi-channel promotions of the event. The digital marketing team came up with numerous creatives and took advantage of all social media opportunities (paid as well as unpaid) to promote the Summit.
The Summit (5th March – 7th March):
Team Uttishtha Meet! Date (4 March, 2021), Time: 10:00 PM! Each and every member from the entire team was there. We all had our cameras switched on! We all were from different functional teams, we all had completely different tasks assigned, but one thing common in all of us was the satisfaction we had with the level of preparedness for the summit that was going to commence next day morning. We all were pumped up and were fully motivated to make the summit a memorable one for everyone and enjoy the three-day summit to the best of our abilities.
Finally, the Spring of Entrepreneurship was here! The first day started off as a warm breeze with esteemed speakers showering their wisdom on the attendees. The first day saw the presence of dignitaries like Mr. Arun Pandey (Chairman and MD, Rhiti Sports), Subhadeep Sanyal (managing partner, Omnivore) among others. We expected that getting the speakers and attendees accustomed to a fairly new platform like ‘Airmeet’ and ensuring the smooth internet connectivity throughout the sessions were something which might play spoilsport during the events, but we are proud of our Techno-savvy team which kept technical issues at bay throughout the Summit.
The Second and third day were going to be crucial days of the event given we had events lined up in those two days which overlapped too, the risk we had to take because of the limited time we had and plethora of events planned out! We had Clear Harvey workshop for school students, Udaan – a national level B-Plan competition, speaker sessions, panel discussions with school administrators planned out, which led to many of them overlapping. But unconsciously, the bond in the entire team and the culture passed on by our seniors helped us sail through roadblocks smoothly and conduct the events in a synchronous manner. It was great to see people taking ownership for their responsibilities and coming forward to take additional responsibilities! Last minute cancellations of few of the experts was something we always had in our mind, and we are happy that we had backups and plans to deal with those situations!
Overall, we can say that Uttishtha’21 was a roller coaster ride for each and every member of the team. Each turn had some challenge for us and we are proud and happy that we had our experienced seniors (our partners, supporters and mentors), who were not only there to show us the path but were there to handhold us through the trouble times. The support from the entire IIM Kashipur community helped us in making the event a national success!
Uttishtha’21 is indeed an epitome of collaborative effort!
When we talk about the origins of modern management theory, we often start the curve from F.W. Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management, authored about a century ago in 1909.
The evolution of the practice of managing people since then has gone through various stages, from Labour Welfare to a more organized form called Personnel Management, then to Human Resource Management, and now, to ever-complex, empathetic, and most-strategic People Management.
Managing human resources or people is mainly based on the edifice of motivation, the stimulus you provide to a person for doing a particular job, and staying loyal to you.
This simple-to-use yet hard-to-master concept of Motivation is utilized in all organizations today, by taking inspiration from various motivation theories, Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory (1943) being the most popular of them all.
Now, what if I tell you that there’s a centuries-old management theory that not just discusses the concept of Employee Motivation but also structures a complete HR cycle. This theory was authored about 2400 years ago (yes you read that right!). It holds its relevance even today – and will probably continue to do so forever. The theory is given by India’s pride Chanakya, one of the most advanced and brightest minds known to have ever existed. The theory is:
Sama – Dana – Danda – Bheda
Most of us might have heard this string of words plenty of times before but never really knew what it meant.
Collaboration – Reward – Punishment – Separation: The entire HR cycle summed up in 4 words
Here is a short description of each of these four “Upayas”: –
Sama ~ Collaboration: It implies finding the right person for the right job and then ensuring a mutual win-win situation by aligning his or her individual goals with the organizational goals. The employer must make sure that every person in the organization feels like an integral part of the larger team. An efficacious collaboration requires attentive listening. If a person feels that he is understood by the people around him, his problems have ears, and his struggles have supporters, then he will be there for you when you would need him the most. This is the foundation stone of every relationship and any cracks left unfilled during this process can vandalize the whole ecosystem in the future.
Dana ~ Reward: At the end of the day, all conversations boil down to this – the monetary and non-monetary compensations one receives in return for loyal services to an organization. Salary, bonus, increment, promotion, wellness benefits, medical insurance, housing facilities, vehicle, stock options, personal assistant, etc – everything forms a part of Rewards and Benefits. It goes without saying that an underpaid employee would never work to his full potential. Interestingly, studies suggest that even an overpaid employee is a complacent liability for the company. So, it becomes crucial for HR to strike a healthy balance when it comes to Rewards & Benefits of the workforce.
Danda ~ Punishment: Now this serves as a discipline wand, a motivator but of negative nature. While the high-performing employee enjoys the reward, the low-performing faces the brunt of the management in terms of verbal backlash, pay-cuts, demotions, or even expulsion. In every organization, performance appraisals reveal a bell curve of employees’ distribution, where 70% of them are found to be average performers. Fear of Danda ensures that these employees do not deviate towards the category of Non-Performers and continue to match the outcomes with expectations.
Bheda ~ Separation: This involves parting with an employee in the form of voluntary or involuntary retirement, resignation, or expulsion. It is rightly said that change is the only constant. The people, whether you like, love or hate it, cannot work for you forever. They will leave you when a better personal or professional opportunity comes across their way. For HR, it is important to take this pragmatically and ensure that the HR cycle keeps on running smoothly by not shying away to collaborate with new people and focusing a great deal on their training and development.
These words of wisdom that continue to guide people-managers are the doctrines that helped Chandragupta Maurya build his enormous empire in 300BC. Even today, with the right essence and execution, these can empower each one of us in building our own!
Opportunities! “Consultants must find newer opportunities. If you can’t find one, create one.” This is precisely what Consilium strives to do – creating opportunities!
Consilium, the academic club of IIM Kashipur deals with Strategy and Consulting aspects of Management. Since its inception, Consilium is determined to assist the students with preparation, comprehension and expertise in this domain. The club continuously collects and updates relevant resources to enhance the knowledge of the community. With the changing business dynamics across the globe and shift in the recent global order, Consilium ensures that the students are equipped with the latest trends and have hands-on learning experience throughout the academic year.
Established with the vision of nurturing students to become the future leaders in the domain of consulting and business strategy, Consilium has been consistently working in this direction by conducting case study competitions, knowledge sharing seminars, guesstimate workshops and the most anticipated-industry interactions.
“Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless.” – Morris Chang
Consultants often find themselves interacting with different verticals and domains of the business. It requires solving problems not just through single domain optimization but via a collective approach encompassing all domains. The problems can be visualized with say an example where an organization wishes to analyze the pros and cons of venturing into a new market, which will require an understanding of marketing, finance, supply chain, operations, and a fair knowledge of relevance between all of these. That is where strategy comes into play. The methodology does not limit to one vertical but through a broader lens for looking at multiple domains.
The journey with Consilium starts with the very first month in the MBA curriculum at IIM Kashipur, where students are provided with the introduction to Strategy Frameworks, Consulting interview questions and reference materials. These resources assist students not just to gain a perspective in the domain, but also to comprehend highlights of the practices that are used in further stages.
Moving forward, Consilium provides a variety of hands-on opportunities through case competitions, business simulations, questionnaires and industry connections. The club is managed by Executive members who have demonstrated the knowledge and expertise at National level having a flavour of participating and winning reputed B-school and corporate case study competitions like Flipkart Wired, Thoucentric Bottoms Up, etc.
Consilium’s monthly newsletter shares the best practices, strategies and changing dynamics from different industries ranging from sports, FMCG, Petrochemical to latest Industry 4.0. Further, the newsletter comprises frameworks and their usage in real-life business problems from these industries. The club also ensures that the resources are not just limited to a monthly basis, and provide consistent updates through our social media channels.
The theme for the November Newsletter had been Covid-19 impact on business strategies covering the impact on the Sports and Oil industry along with the role of Digital trends in business expansion.
“It’s not about money or connections – it’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone…And if it fails, you learn from what happened and do a better job next time.” – Mark Cuban
In Foresight Series, the academic experience in consulting and strategy is tested through gamified quizzes, guesstimates and infographics. Foresight comprises three events throughout the year, offering a constant opportunity to compete with peers and test their mettle in solving real-world problems. Due to pandemic, Foresight 4.1 was conducted online with a mix of quiz to cover domain knowledge and guesstimates problems to prepare students for interviews.
Consilium brings together experience from industry leaders in the consulting and strategy domain. Students get to explore from real-life experiences of consultants and explore insights from the challenges they face, the thought process behind critical decisions taken and the key takeaways from years of experience in the domain.
EndGame is a national level simulation designed on a business scenario wherein the students walk the consultants’ shoes and apply their knowledge to compete with peers from other B-schools. It involves the application of academic knowledge from various facets of decision making, marketing and economics. It also tests the strategic forecasting and understanding of competitive dynamics in real-life situations. Further, the event demonstrates the presence of zero-sum game, to create similarity with as much real-world dynamics as possible.
Consulting Knights and Ranbhoomi
Consulting Knights and Ranbhoomi provides a diverse and enriching experience in solving cases at Pan-India level. Students utilize their knowledge of all disciplines to prepare strategies for business cases in teams. This event is organized in collaboration with various organizations like Havish M Consulting, to get an essence of existing business problems.
In the academic year 2020-21, the club initiated a strategy-talk series “Consilium Conversations” wherein it invites budding entrepreneurs and industry stalwarts from various domains for a conversational interview. It focusses on unearthing the strategies that go behind creating a successful business or project. The motive behind the series is to inspire the students to develop strong critical-thinking skills required in strategy & consulting roles and learn about the latest developments in the industry. With each initiative, Consilium creates a robust environment for the students to learn and challenge themselves in the field of consulting and strategy.
Ever since I started pursuing an MBA, my interest in marketing and advertising started increasing. So, whenever I saw any competition related to this field, I got excited to work on it. Neeraj also has a similar interest in marketing, so it was relatively easy to work with him even though he had just started his MBA journey. Your core values and beliefs should match when you want to form a team, and that happened when I met Neeraj.
‘Vigyaapan- the advertising challenge’ by IIT Bombay precisely had all in store for us. On the surface, it looks like an advertising challenge, but it was not just making an advertisement for a known brand or product. After the quiz round, they shared with us some products that don’t exist at all in the real world. So first, we had to create a product strategy, give it a name, price, packaging, and everything related to product development. After a lot of brainstorming and considering all pros and cons, we chose to work on ‘Intoxicating Tea’. The case was simple. We had to plan a campaign for this product and execute it on social media in the form of an image and video. So, we researched tea and alcohol brands, studied their social media advertising and communication strategy. Then in the second round, we created a brand logo, product package, brand tagline, and structured an STP for the launch of the campaign. I have worked on Adobe illustrator before so creating a poster was a bit easy task but most of the time went into the creation of the advertising copy.
We discussed a lot of ways in which we can tell our message, but everything was lengthy and complicated. We wanted something in minimal illustration with the right message. Eventually, we came to a consensus and went ahead with ‘teacup and a man going high with the fumes of the tea above the cup’. Later the idea was appreciated by the judges in the finale round.
The difficulty arose in the finale round where we had to submit the video ad as Neeraj and I were not in the same city. We could easily address this problem by compiling some stock images and showing something. But we believed originality is the key to winning and thought of producing our own film. So, we needed a script considering parameters such as ease of editing, minimal dialogues as we didn’t have proper cameras, and most importantly, a good story. Storytelling is the most crucial part of your communication strategy when you advertise. We needed a story where the consumer will have a surprising element by aligning it with the product benefits.
Beginning with this complex task, we first divided the work. Neeraj took the recording and editing work as he had some equipment and I worked on the script and direction. It was the first-ever experience of doing remote work in the direction of the film. We realized that challenges are inevitable and can be handled with proper communication and teamwork. There was a point where we thought we should give up as Neeraj had his exams while we were in the finale round. But his exams finished just two days before the presentation round. So, we had only two days to work on the script, then shoot it and post it on social media. But he worked all day and night and then created the final copy with all iterations that I had suggested. At the same time, I worked on the deck, which was to be presented in front of the judges.
Judges liked our idea, the out of the box thinking, and the way of storytelling. When the results came out, we were thrilled and thought that our sleepless nights have finally paid off. The experience in this competition was marvelous and unforgettable. On a leaving note, I would like to give a message — be focused, be original, push yourself a little harder, and you will find the key to winning hearts.
-by Rohit Jagtap
Team The Vikings [Rohit Jagtap (MBA Batch 2019–21), and Neeraj Tulsani (MBA Batch 2020–22)]
National Winners, Vigyaapan — The Advertising Challenge by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay
B-school competitions are the first and foremost thing that the students are required to prepare for soon after they enter college. Let alone winning or losing, just by taking part in a competition and honestly putting efforts into research and data collection — which are the starting points of the competition can make one learn a lot. B-school competitions are an invaluable experience and an essential part of an MBA.
When it comes to choosing a team for a competition, it is important to remember that all of the members need not be the best in everything — this may work reverse bringing in a lot of rework and discussions that forever go on a loop instead of adding value to the team. A short description of our team for DigiBytes a digital marketing competition conducted by IIM Bangalore will help you get the perspective rightly. One of the team members is a good initiator. With an idea in hand, he knew from where to initiate and was able to give a face, body, and life to the idea. The second member of the team is good at crunching numbers, bringing in facts to support the idea, and draw out revenue plans and cost structures, in short, a person good with data interpretation and understanding numbers. Our third member is a person who is creative, good at presenting his ideas simply, and understandably without diluting the essence of all the efforts that the team has put into building the case solution. Having diverse members in a team helps in bringing different perspectives and formulating a unique winning strategy. Adding on to the above merits, dividing work among the team becomes easy when the team is diverse, which saves a lot of valuable time given our hectic MBA schedules.
The context of DigiBytes case was to launch a new product in a given set of industry sectors and market them organically on social media handles. We can break down our approach in the following steps. The first step is to understand the category (fitness, food and beverages, chocolates, etc.) in which you are competing, whether the category is already established or it is new and developing.
The second step is to identify your immediate competitors and other competitors. For example, for launching new chocolate, its immediate competitors would be other chocolates such as Dairy Milk, Snickers, Milky bar, etc. and other competitors could be native Indian confectioneries, cookies, cakes, etc.
The third step is to understand the offerings of the competitors, what are the benefits that the competitors are communicating to their target group. This process will help in finding white spaces where your product can cash in and win.
The fourth step is to list down a set of your potential target customers, prepare a discussion guide, and conduct in-depth interviews. The fifth step is to identify your final target customer group, define his/her characteristics in-depth by answering questions like who is he, what is his behaviour and why does he behave so. This will help not only in understanding your target group better but also enables you to find tension or say a need state for your target group that you will go on to fulfill with your product.
The sixth step is to create an effective communication strategy for your product which is in line with your brand strategy and purpose, which serves the need of your target group that you identified in the previous step. The final brand communication must be impactful and should guide your target group from their current state to the desired state. For example, the current state of the target group is “ I believe starting my day early is good and healthy, but doing so is difficult, and I don’t find a motivation to do so”. The desired state is “Winners and achievers wake up early and start working towards their goals, and results don’t come easily, one has to work hard to achieve one’s goals”. The brand communication for your product should act as a bridge that moves your consumer from his/her current state to their desired state. For example, “I want my target consumer to believe that A cup of Sleepy Owl coffee is the best possible way to start my day and stay active throughout the day”.
The next step goes on to developing creatives and running campaigns that will take this brand communication to the desired target group. Better content categorization can be done using a funnel approach. The success of this step depends on the impactfulness and creativity of the campaigns.
To conclude, working towards winning a B-school competition along with the regular academic rigour not only adds value to the CV but also sparks innovation, shows the competitive part of you that you never knew existed. Humans are competitive and have been competing over territories, food, mates, etc., for hundreds of years now, and competition makes you better in what you do. The high that you get from winning will push you towards expanding your limits and thrive more for success. All the best. Keep working towards a better tomorrow. The right idea, at the right time and the right place will definitely win.
Team Black Clover
Aravind R, Gaurav Gopal, and Vignesh M (MBA Batch 2019–21)
National Winners, DigiBytes organised by IIM Bangalore
IIM Kashipur has been building a culture among the students to participate in the case competitions and find ways to express themselves by competing with the other B-schools. Last year, IIM Kashipur saw success in numerous competitions making the culture even stronger. We got to know about corporate case competitions after joining the MBA program at IIM Kashipur. The first year of MBA was no less than a roller-coaster ride, spent in learning key business concepts and time management, we decided to participate diligently in the second year. It took us a while to understand how the case competitions work and what needs to be done to crack them. Firstly, we would say, selecting a good and coordinating team is of utmost importance. A team should consist of members who respect each other’s opinions and believe in having constructive discussions. The strengths and weaknesses of members should be known and utilized well. Above all, there must be strong bonding and a 100% commitment towards teamwork. Three of us worked together on an academic project in the first year and gelled up well. Consequently, we decided that we will team up for case competitions and started preparing for the same. We focused specifically on the presentation skills and having done multiple class presentations in the first year helped us a lot in this aspect.
The next thing is to select the right competition. With the busy curriculum of the MBA, it is difficult to compete in all the case competitions. Therefore, it is better to research and select a few competitions based on your domain, interest, or industry and work hard towards understanding and approaching those competitions. At the end of the first year, we had prepared a list of all the competitions and their tentative dates that we were expecting to be floated during our second year. We even tried to plan our electives and other curriculum activities accordingly.
Coming to the competitions, no matter how much you prepare for the case challenges, you will not be able to reach the case study round, unless you clear the preliminary elimination rounds which are usually quiz or simulation rounds. Hence, it is important to take them seriously with a fitting approach specific to each competition. It is important to stay calm and focused even when you are not able to make through the first round in a few competitions. We always tried to stay positive and looked forward to moving ahead.
The main challenge comes after clearing the first round. It is important to understand the case problem clearly. The companies generally organize a webinar or doubt clearing sessions after floating the case. We preferred to attend these sessions — well prepared with our doubts to get everything clarified. Also, efforts should be made to understand the ‘expectations of the jury’ and ‘judgement parameters’ set by the organizer.
L’Oréal Sustainability Challenge 2020
L’Oréal Sustainability Challenge was a challenge of ideation, where we had to provide an innovative solution on how L’Oréal could enable its consumers to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the use of its products. Now that is a challenge specific to the behavioral change of L’Oréal’s consumers and at the same time open to any idea which is feasible and scalable to the world. Hence, we focussed on the novelty and simplicity of our idea. We believe that extensive research from reliable sources and brainstorming are the keys to get a novel idea.
For the preparation of the Grand Finale, we thought and discussed on every aspect being brought to our notice by the mentors from L’Oréal. We prepared the final presentation following their suggestions. We tried to keep it as simple as possible to understand, such that it included all the nitty-gritty of the idea. We also kept backup calculations in the appendix. We felt that the Q&A session plays the most crucial role in winning a competition, the jury would be ready to dive deep in your solution and we had prepared for every possible question in advance, at least the ones we could think of.
Winning the L’Oréal Sustainability Challenge was an enriching experience and gave us some key learnings. We faced quite a few challenges as we had our midterm exams just before the final round and the virtual setup had its concerns to deal with. But with some luck, and some sleepless nights of hard work, we are happy that we were able to sail through.
“If you try to win, you might lose, but if you do not even participate, you lose for sure”
So, participation should be done leaving all the expectations aside. Winning or losing depends on a lot of factors that are difficult to define. Some things are not in our hands. That said, we can always focus on a few factors which have the potential to create a difference.
If we are to say three things that helped us in our journey, it would be Confidence, Simplicity, and Dedication.