Follow by Email

Wednesday, April 30, 2014



‘Stretching beyond your limits leads to problems’

Mumbai: She is the first and youngest woman CEO in the 146-year-old Tata Group. But Avani Davda lives up to the humility that the salt-to-software conglomerate is known for. The Tata Starbucks CEO refuses to be carried away by titles and says that they look good only on visiting cards. She says several other women in the group have shouldered far more complex and greater responsibilities.
    Davda comes from a middle class family of engineers and doctors. After finishing her MBA from Mumbai’s Narsee Monjee institute in 2002, she tried her luck at Tata Administrative Services, the group’s leadership induction programme. She got through. After getting acquainted with the functioning of the group’s diverse businesses from steel to automobiles to power, Davda was given her first assignment at Taj Hotels in 2003.
    Five years later, she was cherry-picked by Tata veteran R K Krishna Kumar to be his executive assistant. At that time, she was a new mother and Krishna Kumar was known to be a tough taskmaster. The assignment turned out to be the most significant of her career. She says it gave her a ringside view of the dynamics of business.
    During this period, she worked on several key projects including the Starbucks partnership. Her contributions to the Starbucks initiative encouraged Starbucks and the Tata Group to pick her to lead their joint venture when it was finalized. “I wasn’t surprised. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to be a part of a venture that I had started and finished,” says Davda, who is now the mother of a seven-year-old.
    She says honesty and discipline have helped her balance work and family. “It is important for women to be articulate. At the end of the day, we are human beings playing various roles of daughter, wife and mother. Stretching yourself beyond limits only leads to problems.”
    While Davda expresses concern that women form just 15% of Starbucks’ retail outlet workforce, she is in no hurry to improve the ratio. “Women need to appreciate that meritocracy cannot be given up for diversity,” says the 34-year-old, who recently approved a twoweek paternity leave for an employee.
    Davda believes a career is not everything. She says women shouldn’t feel helpless and shouldn’t treat work as their identity. “Everybody today wants to work, but if all start working, how will we know our children?” she asks, leaving us with a question to ponder on.
Vipashana V K & Reeba Zachariah Toi 140421

EDUCATION SPECIAL..... THE FINANCE FORMULA ...for those going abroad for studies


Tips on how students can manage their finances while studying abroad

    Studying abroad is an exciting, yet expensive affair. Most countries, other than the United States, allow international students to work off campus while studying. In the US, international students are permitted to work on campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week. While other countries, too, have a similar limitation on the number of hours, international students are permitted to find jobs off campus as well. For instance, in Canada, you can apply for a permit that allows you to work off campus for 20 hours per week during the academic session and 40 hours per week during vacations. The rules are not very different for students who wish to study in the UK and Australia.
    By working on or off campus, you can expect to earn sufficient funds for your personal expenses and sometimes even living expenses. But very rarely will you be able to fund your entire education from this income. The work students typically do on campus includes working in the library, laboratory, dining halls, admissions offices, etc. Off-campus employment usually involves working in restaurants and at petrol pumps. The average minimum wage in the US is $8.25 per hour. Thus, working for 20 hours at the minimum wage can fetch you about $660 a month.
Students unable to work on or off campus can always apply for funding from the university itself. Most universities in the US and some in Canada and Australia offer students graduate assistantships (GAs). A GA is an award which pays for your entire tuition fee as well as a monthly stipend which helps you take care of your living expenses. Students who get such assistantships can work as teaching assistants (TAs) or research assistants (RAs). Typically, the job profile of a GA is to assist professors in grading papers, teach small classes and help with research. Assistantships are extremely competitive and are granted to students with excellent grades and, at times, to those with work experience. Students can earn a stipend of up to US$1,200 per month.
If you do not land up with a GA or an on- or off-campus job, you can still apply to the university for merit- or needbased funding. Many universities offer scholarships to students with excellent grades. Such scholarships are evidently not only competitive but also based on need. Thus, if you can demonstrate that you actually require the funds, you may have a better chance at receiving them directly from the university. Such scholarships generally cover 10-75% of the tuition fee.
Finally, if you have no other choice, you can apply for education loans in India. Several state banks offer education loans of up to Rs 30,00,000. The interest rate for these loans is around 11.75% and the repayment period starts one year after the completion of the course or six months after getting a job, whichever happens earlier. The loan must be paid within 12 years. The security required to obtain it is usually around 115% of the loan amount.
    Banks in the US give loans to international students without security only if a citizen or green card holder with good credit history acts as their guarantor. The benefits of this loan include lower interest rates of around 7-9% and repayment period of close to 25 years.
    A good way to fund your education is a combination of the several options listed here.
    If you wish to pursue your education overseas, make sure that you plan your finances before applying for admissions or at least before you leave the country

Karan Gupta, international education consultant EDUT140412

INNOVATION SPECIAL..................... Innovation Is an Attitude

INNOVATION SPECIAL Innovation Is an Attitude
 True innovation has nothing to do with your company's size or industry. It's a way of thinking. Here are three ways to make sure you're on the right track.
You might think that the business world is split between two camps: companies that innovate and those that don't. And you'd probably be right. However, is the divide between the successful behemoths and the barbarian entrepreneurs pounding at the gates? Not at all.
Successful innovation is a matter of attitude and practice, not of size. There is nothing sacred about being an entrepreneur--many will fumble around without hitting a spark of genius. Large companies? Some manage to keep churning out new products and technologies on a regular basis.
Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, has an interesting view. In an interview with McKinsey & Company, he explains how tech startups successfully challenge incumbents. Though some of the mechanics apply specifically to that industry, the places where incumbents fall down are a matter of attitude. They also aren't a simple matter of size.
In other words, there's a chance that you're leading a dinosaur. A little baby dinosaur, to be sure, but one as doomed to extinction as its brethren. Here are the basic problems exhibited by companies that will ultimately lose, no matter their size.
Are You Relying on the Old Answers?
In high tech, it's now possible for a "kid with a credit card--with a $1,000 budget"--to create something that, to a consumer's eye, looks like the polished mature product of large competitors, notes Ries. That's an industry dynamic, to be sure, but it doesn't mean other industries escape the fate.
Everything is running on computers. You can model problems and solve them on computers. Computers can run inbound sales and make a company look big and sophisticated. In addition, service providers run on computers. Want someone to provide fulfillment for your products? Amazon has it down pat, all riding on computation that helps make things affordable. Need to manage a more complicated sales process? There's Salesforce.
So, large technology companies not only face direct competition, but those in areas other than high tech might find competitors using sophisticated simulation, automation, and communications to grind down the barriers to competition.
Now, realize that none of this is restricted to a large versus small view of the world. Ries said, "And so you're not dealing with one potential competitor but with thousands or millions." But the same is true for a small company. Are you up to the level of innovation necessary when everyone in the world is out to eat your lunch?
Are Your Failures Productive?
Businesspeople, whether entrepreneurs or the heads of legacy corporations, don't like to fail. That's a shame, because you don't get anywhere without failure. Failing is the reconciling force in this great laboratory of life. You try something, it doesn't work, and you go on to something else.
Only, as the great Samuel Beckett once wrote: "All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
Failure is scary, but it's necessary because without it you can't progress. Just make sure you--and the people who work for you--learn from all those mistakes. Your company's culture must welcome failure, even though it can be enormously scary. If a big company slips up, no one may notice it. If you lose a big gamble, it could be the end of your company.
But there is no other approach that can work. Make productive failure part of your corporate culture, even making its smart existence one of the ways you judge employees (and yourself).
Are You Keeping Your Head Above Ground?
When it comes to competition and innovation, the absolutely worst thing to do is to bury your head in the sand. You might not want to hear about all the dangers, or consider the amount of hard work success will take, but it's the only way.
Be ready to face reality, and make sure your employees understand that it's the only thing you want to hear. Any size company can be willfully blind. Make sure it doesn't happen to you.
BYErik Sherman

PERSONAL SPECIAL.....................15 Revealing Signs You Genuinely Love What You Do

PERSONAL SPECIAL 15 Revealing Signs You Genuinely Love What You Do

Passion and purpose--in short, doing what you love--can be difficult to find. Some people search forever. Some gain remarkable skills and talents only to think, I'm great at this. So why don't I feel successful? Others, even after building successful businesses, suddenly think, Hold on. This is just not me.
Though we would all like to be happier at work, at times it's easy to miss the work-we-love forest for the irritation trees. So I asked Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot (No, 666 on the Inc. 5000 in 2013) and a guy who has spent a tremendous amount of time thinking about doing what he loves and creating a company his employees love, how he knows he loves his work.
See what you think. Though some of the following may not be true all of the time, when you love what you do, many should be the case much of the time.
1. You don't struggle to stay disciplined; you struggle to prioritize. Your problem definitely isn't staying busy and on task. Getting going isn't an issue. Your problem is you have so many things you want to do, you struggle to decide what to do first.
2. You think, I hope I get to... instead of, I hope I don't have to... When you love your work, it's like peeling an onion. There are always more layers to discover and explore. When you hate your work it's also like peeling an onion--but all you find are more tears.
3. You don't talk about other people; you talk about the cool things other people are doing"I hear Chad just invested in a startup. What are they working on?" "I can't believe Angie won their business back; I'd love to know how she did it." "Cecilia developed a new sales channel. Let's ask her how we can best leverage that."
When you love your work, you don't gossip about the personal failings of others. You talk about their successes, because you're happy for them (which is also also a sign you're happy with yourself.)
4. You think about what you will say, not how you will say it. You don't have to worry about agendas or politics or subtle machinations. You trust your team members--and they trust you.
5. You see your internal and external customers not as people to satisfy but simply as people. You don't see customers as numbers. They're real people who have real needs. And you gain a real sense of fulfillment and purpose from taking care of those needs.
6. You enjoy your time at work. You don't have to put in time at work and then escape to "life" to be happy. You enjoy life and enjoy work. You feel alive and joyful not just at home but also at work. When you love your work, it's a part of your life.
7. You enjoy attending meetings. No, seriously, you enjoy meetings. Why? Because you like being at the center of thoughtful, challenging discussions that lead to decisions, initiatives, and changes--changes you help make happen.
8. You don't think about surviving. You think about winning. You don't worry much about your business failing. You're more worried about your business not achieving its potential. And you worry about whether you're making as big an impact as you can. Those are good worries.
9. You're excited about what you're doing, but you're more excited about the people you're doing it with. Why? They're smart. Passionate. Confident. Funny. Dedicated. Giving. Inspiring. 
10. You hardly ever look at the clock. You're too busy making things happen. And when you do look at the clock, you often find that the time has flown.
11. You view success in terms of fulfillment and gratification, not just money. Everyone wants to build something bigger. Everyone wants to benefit financially. Yet somewhere along the way, your work has come to mean a lot more to you than just a living. And if you left your business, even if for something that paid more, you would miss it. A lot.
12. You leave work with items on your to-do list you're excited about tackling tomorrow. Many people cross the fun tasks off their to-do lists within the first hour or two. You often have cool stuff--new initiatives, side projects, hunches you want to confirm with data, people you want to talk to--left over when it's time to go home.
13. You help without thinking. You like seeing your employees succeed, so it's second nature to help them out. You pitch in automatically. And they do the same for you.
14. You don't think about retirement, because retirement sounds boring…and a lot less fulfilling.
15. Your business is a business you would want your children to run. There may be aspects of your business you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy, much less your kids: insufferable customers, unbearable employees, difficult working conditions, uncertain long-term prospects.
BY Jeff Haden