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Saturday, August 31, 2013

WOMEN / FINANCE SPECIAL .....Why Women Are Wary Investors

Why Women Are Wary Investors

The main reason why women don’t take investment decisions is that they are safety oriented and reluctant to take risk, notes a survey

It took nearly a decade, truck-loads of ridicule, a smart name-change and numerous spot-on market calls before the world began taking Geraldine Weiss, one of America’s first successful women investment advisors, seriously.

When Geraldine started off as an investment advisor in the 1960s, no one would come to her for advice, despite her education in business and finance. The male chauvinistic Wall Street could not stomach the idea of taking investment advice from a woman. “What do women know about bulls and bears?” they thought.

In 1966, Geraldine started an investment newsletter, Investment Quality Trends (IQ Trends), but sharks and minions of the Wall Street would still not take (or read) her advice. Some quick out-of-the-box thinking and she knew what to do! She decided to sign her newsletter ‘G. Weiss’ – a perfect masculine name to dupe the male ego.

Soon people started subscribing to Geraldine’s IQ Trends. They followed her value-investing strategies which delivered decent returns even in bad market phases. It was only in mid-70s Geraldine revealed her true identity. But by that time, she was a bankable advisor on the Wall Street. IQ Trends is still a widely followed investment newsletter in the US. Geraldine retired from active investment advice in 2003.

That’s the story of an early-bird woman investment professional, who made it big in the big man’s world of stockmarkets.

A 2011 survey by Catalyst Research says that finance is still a male-dominated profession, especially at the top. While women in US account for 55 per cent of professionals in finance, they make up only 16 per cent at executive level and 3 per cent at CEO levels.

Blog entries by various self-styled experts say that women lose their investment acumen when they hit the family road. Some writers have even discovered hormonal links to this premise. The exact reason for lower number of women investment professionals is still a mystery. Even when it comes to their personal investments, not many women are known to take their own decisions.

A recent DSP Blackrock Investment Managers-Nielsen survey, conducted on 4,750 women from India, reveal that about 77 per cent of working women depend on spouse or their parents for their investment decisions. Only a miniscule 23 per cent of the surveyed working women claim to be sole decision makers. Just about 18 per cent single working women make their own investment calls.
Shailesh Menon- See more at:



In a challenging economic environment, you will need more than just the right credentials to bag the job you’re eyeing – you’ll also need a dynamic resume. Suraj Ahuja learnt this first-hand when he took the help of an experienced friend in redrafting his resume to apply for a job as a manager in an accounting firm. After analysing the job requirements, he customised his resume to showcase the skills relevant to it. “I really feel the extra effort I put into it did the trick,”he says. Sreeradha D Basu speaks to experts to find out how to make your resume stand out in a sea of applications:
1 Summarise Achievements
ManpowerGroup India director GN Udiaver says a summary of achievements shows the commitment and engagement of the candidate when working with various employers. “It must be done for atleast the last 2-3 jobs along with the individual’s role in the programme/project/initiative. The achievements listed must have success dimensions, such as cost saved, productivity improvement, cost management etc,” suggests Udaiver.
2 Highlight Challenges
Draw attention to difficult tasks that have been assigned to you ahead of your peers. “The best people are typically assigned tasks/clients/projects that are normally given to more senior people. If it happens regularly, especially during the first year of each new job, it shows tangible evidence of the achiever pattern,” says Rajiv Burman, managing partner of search and selection firm Lighthouse Partners. Similarly, he says, people need to highlight when they have been put on important multifunctional teams.
3 Spell out Work Dimensions
Besides role description, a good CV must clearly list out the work dimensions. “These dimensions are important because they provide an insight to any future employer about the size, geographic coverage, critical customer contact points etc of your job,” says GN Udiaver of ManpowerGroup. For example: ‘manages a fund portfolio of 500 crore’ or ‘manages a sales turnover of 150 crore in the Southern region’ etc.
4 Emphasise Initiative
Include occasions when you have volunteered or asked to be assigned to projects over your level. A person needs a lot of confidence to take on a task where they have little or no experience. “If they’re successful at it multiple times, the person deserves double bonus points,” says Lighthouse Partners’ Burman.
5 Highlight Rapid Rise
 If you have got out-of-turn promotions, make that the focal point. Burman says this indicates the high value your employers placed on you. “Also highlight if you have been rehired by a previous organisation since top managers tend to rehire their best subordinates from previous companies,” he says.


CEO / CREATIVITY SPECIAL...... Cult of Creativity

Cult of Creativity 

CEOs need to feed their own creative side well to foster innovation 

As a manager, how do you get the absolutely best, most creative performance out of your people? It starts with getting the best out of yourself. Reflection, combined with talking it out, is one of the best ways to stimulate new ideas. Take a lesson from Carlos Brito, the CEO of the beer company AbInBev. He religiously carves out time each week when he's not bothered with the day-to-day matters of the company. Fridays are sacrosanct: they are his time for reflection. He lets his mind go, and sometimes brings in thought leaders to discuss bigger picture issues.
    If you want to be innovative, you've got to come out of your silo.
    Another thing I've found in my work with managers is that it's important to be in regular dialogue with people who are not in your industry and to read in areas that are unrelated to your work. Picking up books on history, science, and other large and small topics can get different areas of your brain going. This kind of information building allows you to develop what I call "knowledge nodes"--synergistic conglomerations of data that can be unexpectedly combined to create great solutions. This is how Steve Jobs operated--his wide-ranging interests allowed for a creative lifetime of connecting the dots.
    Leading by example is a great way to inspire others in your organization. Sachit Jain is an exemplar of this. A year behind me in our MBA program at IIM Ahmedabad in India, he graduated to marry into the family that owned Vardhaman Industries in India, a conglomerate that is one of the largest suppliers of high-quality fabric in the world. Like most men who marry into such families, he became a senior manager in his mid-20s.
    Jain was suddenly plunged into dealing with a textile manufacturing enterprise that had experienced so much strife that a lockdown had occurred at the factory and the chairman had almost been killed. Yet, amazingly, he turned the situation around. And not just that situation, but host of them since then.
    How? He started talking to his employees. In India, for a boss to sit at a table with his workers is unheard of. But Jain has persisted in regularly getting down to the shop floor level to find out what's going on. His method for instilling an innovative spirit in an organization is to ask his employees, "What can you do in the workplace to make tomorrow better than today?" He doesn't ask them to think about making things better for the organization. He asks them to think about making things better for themselves.
    On a study trip to India with Stanford MBAs in 2011, I saw a few examples of the remarkable results of this kind of managerial approach. One was the case of a worker who had the equivalent of a third-grade education in the West. He had noticed a problem: changing the thread spindles when they ran out was a physically stressful job. It required a team of two--one pushing a cart with the fresh spindles, and the other constantly having to move the stool, climb up and replace the spindle, and climb down. The guy on the stool was often taking sick leave because of the physical demands, which sometimes led to falls and other injuries.
    In his own time after work, the factory worker began experimenting with how to propel the stool so that the worker didn't have to keep getting up and down. Eventually he had the idea to put wheels on the stool, and then he rigged up an electric motor to propel it. In a final ingenious flash, he adapted a sewing machine pedal to the mechanism so that the worker could stop and start it at will. The results? Less sick time, less injury, and greater efficiency and productivity.
    To support the process, Jain drew on one of the most powerful motivators for innovation: social recognition. The factory worker earned tremendous social prestige by our visit, which included a private meeting with him to hear about how he came up with his idea. Other people in the company began realizing: If he can do it, so can I.
    Democratizing where innovation can come from, encouraging grassroots ideas, and utilizing social recognition are all powerful methods for encouraging innovation. But the most inspiring method is, as Gandhi affirmed, to "be the change." A manager who takes time to feed her own creative side well is the one who
knows how to elicit the creativity of others best.

Baba Shiv is the Sanwa Bank, Limited, Professor of Management Science, Stanford Graduate School of Business


INNOVATION / INVENTION SPECIAL..... BIOMIMICRY... Smart Inventions Inspired by Nature


14 Smart Inventions Inspired by Nature 

Companies seeking breakthrough products tend to ignore the greatest invention machine in the universe: life’s more than three-billion-year history of evolution by natural selection. By watching birds, dogs, sharks and other creatures of the wild, researchers and engineers have invented several new products that are inspired from these animals and their physical attributes.

Eiji Nakatsu, an engineer at the Japanese rail company JR-West, took inspiration from the kingfisher, that creates barely a ripple when it darts into water in search of a meal. The train’s redesigned nose — a 50-foot-long steel kingfisher beak — reduced power use and enabled faster speeds.

Mercedes-Benz instead found inspiration for a car body (less its wheels) in the boxfish, a tropical species shaped sort of like a two-door compact. The fish’s body turned out to be aerodynamically superb, and the resulting concept car has one of the most efficient shapes for a car of its size.

Wind turbines take up a lot of land, their blades sweeping circles more than a football field in diameter. John Dabiri of Caltech built a wind farm where the location of turbines relative to each other take advantage of the air flow among them. Their placement was determined by studying the wake vortices produced by schools of swimming fish.

A Humpback whale has a row of warty ridges, called tubercles, on the front edge of its fins. Frank Fish, a biology professor in Pennsylvania, discovered that by adding rows of similar bumps to turbine blades he could reduce drag and noise, increase speed to changing wind direction and boost the power harnessed by 20%.

When insects of the genus Photuris light fires in their bellies, the radiance is amplified by their anatomy — sharp, jagged scales, according to research by scientists from Belgium, France and Canada. The scientists then built and laid a similar structure on a light-emitting diode (LED), which increased its brightness by 55%.

A process called anhydrobiosis protects a tardigrade’s DNA, RNA and proteins. Laboratories have developed “a glassy film made of sugars,” or “candy-coated vaccines.” It keeps the virus effective for six months at temperatures up to 45 degrees celsius — helpful for vaccinating vulnerable populations in tropical countries.

The source of the gecko’s grip is the microscopic hairs on the bottom of their toes. Scientists estimate that the bristled hair from a single gecko could carry about 113 kg. Researchers have developed Geckskin, an adhesive so strong that an index-card-size strip can hold up to 700 pounds. A form of gecko tape could replace sutures and staples in hospitals.

Individual bees can sense what job the colony needs done and sets at it instinctively. A problem with complex human infrastructure, such as the electrical grid, is that its components don’t monitor the whole grid. Regen Energy creates a network and provides controllers for grids that communicate wirelessly with each other to maximise efficiency.

The swimming centre at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 was dubbed the Watercube. Its design is based on the structure of soap bubbles — both in form and function. Each bubble in the walls is made of rugged plastic. It traps hot air from the sun that is circulated to heat the pools. The plastic is resistant to damage from sunlight, weather and even dust.

Certain spiders protect their delicately crafted insect nets with a special silk rope that reflects ultraviolet rays. Birds can see the ultraviolet rays and recognise the webs as obstacles they should avoid. German engineers at Arnold Glas glazed their Ornilux-brand glass with a web-like pattern of ultraviolet-reflecting coating to save birds from high-speed accidents.

After a hunting trip in the Alps in 1941, Swiss engineer George de Mestral’s dog was covered in burdock burrs. Mestral put one under his microscope and discovered a simple design of hooks that nimbly attached to fur and socks. After years of experimentation, he invented Velcro — and earned US Patent 2,717,437 in October 1952.

The 2003 Nobel Prize was awarded in part to Peter Agre for his discovery of a membrane protein that allows water to pass through cell walls. Danish company Aquaporin has developed a new approach to seawater desalination that eschews the polymerlayering of traditional industrial films for the energy efficiency of biological membranes.

Sharks stay clear of algae thanks to their skin, which is covered with microscopic patterns called dentricles. These patterns help reduce drag and keep micro-organisms from hitching free rides. NASA scientists copied the patterns to create drag-reducing patterns they call riblets. It helps planes, boats and windmills reduce drag and conserve energy.

The Namibian Beetle raises its back into the air as fog rolls into its desert habitat. Bumps on its shell catch water droplets, which then run down chutes toward its mouth. A “Dew Bank Bottle,” designed by Pak Kitae in Seoul, imitates the beetle’s watercollection system. Morning dew condenses on it and conveys it to a bottle, which has a drinking spout.