Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Breed Apart - A Story of 2 XLers

Why Some Execs Are A Breed Apart
Kunal Guha
(Economic Times, Tuesday, December 26, 2006)

When one starts off in the corporate world, they’re well aware of the ‘why’ and so the ‘how to’ follows. But after a couple of years, and hours of labour many lose sight of the ’why’. It all seems pointless and does not commiserate to the effort exerted. Even at this point, most people choose to sit back and suffer, while satiating themselves with the minor perks that their corporate life offers.

They lament, grieve and hypothesise about the sorry state of the world. But it is only a select few who take up a cause that infuses a new dimension of meaning to their lives. They do this knowing that their endeavours might not always bear fruit. But when you find a cause which could light up your soul and fill you with a feeling of vitality every single day- it goes beyond all rewards. We profile two such brilliant personas who have dedicated their lives for a greater cause- to serve humanity and fulfil themselves in the process.

The wind beneath her wings

After passing out of XLRI in 1988, Gargi Banerji did what most would do: she chased corporate success at Tata Consultancy Services. A couple of years down, she went on to do something which could again be safely called as a logical next step by moving out on her own and setting up a consulting firm- Prometheus with another XL-er and TCS colleague Sunil Pillai. Life was routine up until her participation in a path-changing expedition that took her across the length of the Indian Himalayas in 1990.

Having spent her childhood in the Himalayas, the call of the Himalayas had always been there, and this adventure ride catalyzed her to undertake work to address the growing degradation of the region in a more active manner. She began by trying to draw the attention of several NGO’s towards this neglected land.

But since most did not venture into the remote villages and high altitude areas, she decided to take things on her own hands and co-founded Pragya with Pillai in 1995, and has since then dedicated her career to addressing the issues of the Indian Himalayas and improving the lives of its indigenous communities. Pragya has been very successful in developing innovative solutions to problems such as depletion of medicinal plants, reducing water resources, lack of livelihood options. A recent Pragya initiative is addressing the problem of electricity in high altitude villages.

Banerji explains, “Normally, electricity is generated at a central point and then distributed. But many of the remote Himalayan villages can’t be reached this manner, and even those that are electrified, suffer power breakdowns lasting even upto 2-3 months. We have developed a mode of decentralised energy generation using renewable sources for local usage and have installed a solar wind hybrid system- a windmill and a series of solar panels – to light up a remote village at an altitude of 14000 feet. Being a modular system, it can help in electrification of all remote, unserviced villages.”

Why are you doing this?

One of the basic reasons one works is to impact the world with one’s work. In the corporate environment, you can at the most impact a few thousand people in the particular organisation and among its customer base. But in working for a social cause, you are able to impact an entire community and that is what has kept us enthused.

What have you gained?

There is tremendous learning and opportunity to be creative in this kind of work. In the corporate sector, the context is structured and solutions are standardised. But generating electricity for remote Himalayan villages is a wide canvas with not a line - a delight for one’s creative self! Besides, the satisfaction of bringing electricity to a farmer’s hut or for that matter, introducing a new cash crop to an entire valley, has to be felt, to be understood.

Teaching values to Generation Y

Ashraf Patel, another XLite from the batch of 1990, has a similar story. She was working with Escorts Finance, when the 1993 Mumbai riots took place. She was deeply affected by the state of affairs post-riots. Patel explains, “After the 1993 Bombay riots, I was disturbed by the polarisation of society which was affecting us very deeply. Communalism was moving to violence based on hatred that we had for each other and I just wanted to do something about it. So, it all started of with a desire to make people question violence and the repercussions of it and see the connection between self and society.”

Patel quit her job to launch Pravah, a New Delhi-based organisation that facilitates high school and college students to confront conditioned values and stereotypes, expands their awareness of social issues and gives them the leadership skills needed to tackle pressing social problems.

Why are doing this?

We are doing this because we have a vision of a society that we want to live in and the kind of society we live in today needs serious changes. Everyone has a role to play in it being a part of the larger community. If everybody says that someone else will do it then it will never be done. Non-violence, social justice and equity of opportunity are three values that I would want my society to imbibe. I have also been inspired by my volunteering days in school and college where I was actively concerned about social issues.

What have you gained?

There is a lot of learning about social issues and you are able to make an impact. What counts for us most is ,when for instance, young people take up a campaign as a result of our exchange with them. The idea is to create a sense of purpose and direction and a sense of community, and belonging to the larger world. Your message to management grads:

While you are studying management, you should keep your minds and eyes open and be aware of social issues around you. Securing a job should not be the only objective, we should all engage in social action. For me the solution would be that everyone, in which ever field they would be in, should be involved in social issues.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Harsh Kumar (78BMD): MD of Mahindra Intertrade

Mahindra Intertade, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mahindra Group, announced the appointment of Mr. Harsh Kumar as Managing Director. He had joined as Joint MD last year...

Mr. Harsh Kumar has had a distinguished career of over 25 years in various functions spanning manufacturing, marketing and strategic / project planning in reputed organisations. He has an excellent academic record with a B.Tech (Mechanical) degree from I.I.T. Delhi and a PGDBM (Marketing / Finance) from XLRI, Jamshedpur.

He started his career with The Indian Tube Co. Ltd. as a Management Trainee and moved on to Tata Steel where he was involved in diverse functions such as Marketing, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management. Prior to joining Mahindra Intertrade, he was the Executive Vice President, Tata Metaliks Ltd., responsible for Marketing & Sales, Exports, Business Development and Mergers & Acquisitions

Thursday, November 30, 2006

XLer's Launch of "Maya of Magic"

Crossword Bookstores

invites all for the launch and reading of

“The Magic of Maya”


Nandita da Cunha (BMD'01, XLRI)

Anil Dharker will launch the book, followed by a dramatic presentation of excerpts by Raell Padamsee's ACE Productions

Date: Friday, 8th December 2006
Time: 7.00 pm
Crossword Kemps Corner
09/11, Mohammedbhai Mansion, NS Patkar Marg
Below Kemps Corner Flyover
Kemps Corner, Mumbai - 400026

Ms Bakhtawar Bamboat – 23842001 / 9820776765

Sunday, November 26, 2006

R Ramakrishnan (82BMD), Exec President & COO, Bajaj Electricals in Germany

R. Ramakrishnan (82BMD), Executive President and COO, Bajaj Electricals was invited to speak at The Campus Symposium at Iserlorn, Germany on September 28 & 29, 2006 to a group of over 1000 German business leaders and Professionals.

Ramakrishnan spoke on "Tomorrow's India - Opportunities and Challenges". Other speakers included Mr Bill Clinton, Lord Chris Patten of Oxford (Former Governor General of Hongkong) , General James L Jones of NATO, Mr Rudi Weyler of Audi, Mr Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair of Mashreq Bank, Mr M. Rudiger , CEO of Credit Suisse , Mr R. Groger , CEO of O2 and the German Finance minister amongst others.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Dinu Poonacha (96BMD) appointed Yash Birla Group's Group Prez

Mumbai, Sep 25: The Rs 2,300-crore Yash Birla Group has announced the appointment of Dinu Poonacha as its President-Corporate Strategy and Planning.

Poonacha will be instrumental in helping develop business and operational strategies for each company and the group as a whole and going forward, "he will play a key role in the group's aggressive path toward growth in existing and new areas of business", a press release issued here today stated.

Poonacha has over 10 years' of experience in the area of strategy consulting and corporate strategy in India and the Middle-East with leading firms including McKinsey & Co, Kaiser Associates, Tata Strategic Management Group and the Government of Dubai.

He has worked on strategy for a wide range of sectors including chemicals, energy, economic zones, government, agri-business, media, textiles, pharmacy, real estate and materials.

Yash Birla, Chairman of the group, said: "We are very pleased to have Mr Poonacha on board. Our group will benefit immensely with his vast experience and his appointment will definitely help us build a stronger organisation." On accepting his new responsibility, Poonacha said: "I would like to thank the group for this opportunity to shape the growth and development of the group as well as the individual companies. I will leverage my extensive strategy experience in this challenging and a highly-entrepreneurial role."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Winners of Microsoft Corporate Challenge 2006

Kumar Anand (BMD-05) and Lara Lobo (PMIR-06), were part of the Standard Chartered Bank (India) Team that won the Microsoft Corporate Challenge 2006.

The event involved them going in Kerela countryside with cross country running & cycling, rowing, puzzle cracking, deciphering, map navigation, stock market simulation, etc, and even required making a boat out of bamboo sticks/tubes and row across a lake as well as the Kerala backwaters. The 35 participating corporates included the likes of Barclays Bank, ICICI Securities, ICICI Bank, J P Morgan Stanley and a host of others like Unilever, Infosys and our formidable Indian Navy.

For more on this exciting event check up Business Today (Issue: 8 Oct, 2006)
catch up the event telecast on NDTV Profit on 26th, 27th, 28th & 29th of September from 6:00pm to 6:30pm.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

George Zacharias (82BMD) - Video Interview

George Zacharias (82BMD) is the Managing Director of Yahoo! India

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Annual XL Alumni Homecoming '06


In case the mail has not reached you
Block your date!.. and plan your travel!

The 3rd Annual XL Alumni Homecoming
is scheduled on
November 18-19, 2006
@ XLRI Jamshedpur

To know what to expect, please visit the photoblog of Homecoming '05 at:

....and watch this space for updates

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Piyush Mehta (90PMIR) on MBAs

Business Standard (July 11, 2006) carries an article on MBAs & the Art of Job-Hopping by Piyush Mehta (90PMIR), Sr Vice President, Genpact.

"A B-school label certainly increases your marketability, so the temptation to switch jobs frequently for a better designation, a more prominent brand-name or a larger pay-cheque is high.... But it's not a good idea from the point of view of professional growth... to develop as a well-rounded professional, it is important to prove yourself over a period of time within a company.

...Another aspect that you can't really learn at B-school is the need to develop a positive disposition. This may sound simplistic and idealistic, but the importance of a constructive outlook cannot be over-emphasised. It is easy these days to find people with drive, passion and ambition... But the tendency to be easily dissatisfied and cynical is also high."

Read the full article at:
MBAs and the Urge to Job Hop

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Intel's India chief moves to US...

Amar Babu (89BMD) is moving to Santa Clara...

Business Today (July 16, 2006) reports:

"Amar Babu, Intel India's managing director for sales and marketing, must have mixed feelings about his relocation to the US. He must surely be happy that he is exchanging country-specific responsibilities for a larger corporate role at Santa Clara, but at the same time sad that he will miss all the action back home. In the seven years that Babu, 40, has been with Intel India, the local marketing business has grown from a four-city set up to an estimated Rs 2,733 crore in annual revenues for 2004-05 (Intel doesn't disclose figures)... His India lessons may just come handy in the US.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Reshaping the India Education

The June issue of Education World features Ashish Rajpal (92BMD) among the "50 Leaders Reshaping the India Education"

[Ashish Rajpal, top row, between Narayana Murthy and Arjun Singh

Ashish is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of iDiscoveri India Pvt Ltd.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Titan's Bijou Kurien (81BM) joins Reliance's Retail Venture

Bijou Kurien <81BMD), chief operating officer (COO) of Titan Industries, quit the company to join Reliance's retail venture.

A long-timer at Titan, Kurien will be heading the lifestyle division of the retail venture. He joined the list of high-profile CEOs in the country from different sectors who have already been roped in by Reliance for its mega-entry into the retail sector later this year.

Rajan Krishnan (85BM) to head Principal Mutual Fund

Slightly dated news:
Rajan Krishnan (85BMD) took over as the new Business Head of Principal Mutual Fund, the Asset Management group of PNB, in May 2006

Rajan used to be the Vice-President, Sales & Marketing at Principal PNB Asset Management Company Pvt. He started his career in the mutual fund with Kothari Pioneer, the first private sector mutual fund in the country. After spending about five years in Kothari Pioneer, he moved to take on Sales & Maketing responsibility at Zurich India Mutual Fund. He has been with Principal Mutual Fund since June of 2003. Prior to joining the mutual funds industry, Mr. Krishnan garnered rich and solid experience in the field of advertising and market research and has worked with renowned names from the industry, like, Lintas, Ogilvy & Mather and Bozell.

Shebu Raphael (92PMIR) as Global HR Chief of Marlabs

BANGALORE (CIOL, June 21): Marlabs India, wholly owned subsidiary of Marlabs Inc. today announced Shebu Raphael as its worldwide head of human capital.

In his new role Raphael is responsible for HR services to the projects and professional services in India, the US besides other markets where Marlabs operates in.

Earlier Raphael was the director - HR services, North America for Birlasoft

Vikram Rao (75BM) Joins AV Birla Board

According to Times of India (June 20, 2006) Vikram Rao (75BM) has joined the boad of the AV Birla group.He was the Head of Garment Business of the group.

The news item reads:
"He was roped in from Arvind Mills as group executive president of the fabric business. He was instrumental in the Birla's acquisition of Madura Garments.

Over the years, he played a significant role in consolidating and growing the garments business, product development and forging partnerships with retail chains across the country. Under the new dispensation, he also has additional responsibility of Jay Shree Textiles and Vikram Woolens."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Vikas Gupta (88BMD) joins ABP

Vikas Gupta (88BMD), Marketing Head, Coca Cola India has put in his papers at the flavored water giant. Gupta is scheduled to join the Anandabazar Patrika (ABP) Ltd as President, Businessworld magazine and Chief Marketing Officer of the group. He will continue to be based in Delhi.

...He has been with the cola major for over 10 years, including a five-year stint at Coke headquarters in Atlanta. Before joining Coca Cola India in 1994, he worked with Brooke Bond and P&G India. Gupta is an alumnus of XLRI (Jamshedpur) with specialisation in marketing & finance. Gupta has also worked with Brooke Bond and P&G India in their marketing departments prior to the 1994 era.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Conquering Antarctica.. Ashish Asthana (92BMD)

Seniority Counts!! ;0)

Just around the time when the current batch of students are planning for flag-off for a trip to Mt Everest Base Camp this month, one of their super-super-super... seniors is on his way to Antarctica

Ashish Asthana (92BMD) is part of the expedition 2041.com/ to Antarctica (Feb 26 - March 10)...
You can listen to his Audio Dispatch (click here)

and read his musings:

"I believe it is a combination of my passion for this expedition and my deep rooted belief in the power of the individual which won me my place on this trip. I passionately believe that individuals are capable, alone and collectively, of making a difference -- as exemplified by what one of my country's most revered leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, a single man in a loincloth, accomplished. I come from a country (India) and practice a religion (Hindusim) which believes that each man has a destiny and a path to follow. It has always been one of my dreams to, during my lifetime, set foot on all seven of the world's continents, and touching Antarctica always seemed like it would be the most challenging. This expedition is dear to my heart because I have a keen sense of the environment and come from a background where respect for nature and recycling is a way of life. What Robert Swan is doing is legendary and to be able to participate in his efforts is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. I hope to return from this trip with an enhanced sensitivity to how lucky we are to be in a position where we can make a difference. I look forward to convert that realization into reality by doing what I can to make the world a better place to live in, for ourselves and the generations which follow. For, we do not inherit our planet from forefathers but borrow it from our children and theirs and theirs..."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

George Zacharias (82BMD) Logs into Yahoo! India

Global internet company Yahoo Inc has appointed George Zacharias as managing director of Yahoo India, with effect from January 30, 2006.

George Zacharias (82BMD)

He would be based in Bangalore and work with the head of Yahoo's global software development center Venkat Panchapakesan to draw on those resources and build a stronger India-focused product organisation, it added.

Zacharias moves to Yahoo! from Sify, where he was President and Chief Operating Officer since 2000. Prior to joining Sify, Zacharias had spent 16 years in a variety of sales, marketing and export assignments at Madura Coats in Bangalore. In 1997, he was appointed President of Madura Garments, a leading garment/retail company in India, then a division of Madura Coats. As President of Madura Garments, Zacharias was responsible for $23 million in business, which he grew to $55 million in annual revenues in two and a half years. Zacharias graduated from Nagpur University with a degree in Chemical Engineering in 1980 and from XLRI, Jamshedpur with a PGDBM in 1982.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Zubin Mody (93 PMIR): The New Head (HR) of IndusInd Bank

IndusInd Bank appoints Zubin Mody Senior VP-HR
[Hindu BusinessLine, January 5th, 2006]

MUMBAI: IndusInd Bank announced the appointment of Mr Zubin Mody as its Senior Vice President, Human Resources.

Mr Mody will be responsible for the entire HR function of the Bank, IndusInd said in a release here. Mr Mody was earlier with ICICI Lombard as Head HR and had also worked for FMCG brands such as Marico Industries and Heinz India. - PTI