Interview Street – Connecting Corporates and Campuses

Morpheus Venture Partners has announced their latest batch of startups. InterviewStreet, a chennai-based startup, seems to be an interesting idea. Students can attend mock interviews(through Sabsebolo conference service) with real professionals and improve their skills. For students, it would be a good opportunity to enhance their skills. For professionals like us, it would be a nice opportunity to mentor people and get paid for it too. Only thing which is not very clear is the “conflict of interest” that may arise.i.e. if I prepare someone for an interview through this service and they come to my company, will it be ethical for me to take their job interview?

Right now they are in Alpha stage. So if you are interviewer, don’t expect to be paid and if you are a student, this is a chance to get your interviews freely done. Do check out their service by registering here.

Measuring the effectiveness of LinkedIn – Survey

As a part of the Social Network Analysis course, we did a study on the effectiveness of LinkedIn for professionals. Our sample size turned out to be small and too concentrated. Although the assignment is officially over, I am still interested in knowing the reach and effectiveness of such a network on one’s professional life. So it would be great if you can spend some time and take up the survey

I would be soon publishing the report based on the number of entries collected. Needless to say, your personal data would not be shared with anyone.

DTH in India – My Interview to “The Analyst” March 2009 edition

ICFAI’s financial magazine “The Analyst” has come out with an article on DTH industry in India titled “DTH in India : Opportunity Beckons”. Incidentally, I was interviewed on the current challenges and opportunities facing the industry. The magazine is available for Rs.90, but if you wish to read an electronic copy of a specific article, you can buy the pdf for Rs.50 at the magazine’s website. 

You can find my interview here: DTH in India – My Interview to ICFAI Analyst Magazine (For reading the entire article, you have to buy the magazine or the pdf) 

Right pick for the avid techie – The Hindu Business Line Review

The Hindu Business Line has reviewed our “SCMAD Exam Guide” and gives a thumbs-up for the book.

Mobile developer stuff by D. Murali

Where does the true developer stuff start for an engineer aspiring to be a Sun Certified Mobile Application Developer? In ‘The MIDlet,’ say Ko Ko Naing, Sathya Srinivasan, Chad Davis, and Sivasundaram Umapathy in SCMAD Exam Guide: Exam CX-310-110 (

“If a configuration is like the skeleton of the human body, the profile forms the rest of the body — the skin, muscles and so on. Following this analogy, sunglasses, tattoos and jewellery would translate to Bluetooth support, video capture and other technological bling — the optional packages,” the authors begin, in a chapter that shows ‘how to actually write applications for mobile phones.’

They define MIDlets as high-level conceptual applications much parallel to Java servlets and applets.

“These applications do not contain main method entry points like the lower level applications. These higher level applications are executed by being deployed in some other lower level application, such as a servlet container or a JRE plug-in.”

Right pick for the avid techie.

Source: as appeared in “Books 2 Byte” column on 2nd February 2009, The Hindu Business Line – The Hindu Business Line Review may harm your computer

I had my laugh yesterday, when Google search recommended that visiting may harm my computer. In fact, the message was shown for all the search terms. This strange behavior lasted for 30 minutes and Google reports it as a bug during a rollout of a release. Google’s partner also has a posting on the same. Google promises to do robust file checks to avoid future incidents. But shouldn’t Google have them already?

Google May harm your computer

SCMAD Exam Guide

My long pending book “SCMAD Exam Guide” which I co-authored with Sathya Srinivasan, Ko Ko Naing, Chad Davis is now out. This book helps you to ace the Sun Certified Mobile Application Developer (Exam CX-310-110) certification. You can also use it as a general reference to understand the JavaME landscape. If you are in India, you can buy your copy from any local bookstore. If you are outside India, you can get your copy through Amazon but you have to wait for atleast two weeks as the book is still not available there. Please watch out this space as I would be updating it with more information in the coming weeks.

SCMAD Exam Guide - Front CoverSCMAD Exam Guide - Back Cover

ISBN-13: 978-0-07-007788-1

ISBN-10: 0-07-007788-6

Publisher: Tata McGraw-Hill

PGSEM 2008 – Open house

IIMB has announced the PGSEM 2008 calendar. PGSEM is a part-time MBA program offered by the prestigious IIM, Bangalore for folks working in Software industry. The program is conducted at Bangalore and Chennai (Via distributed mode of learning). Open house for the 2008 program, where you can hear from the Alumni, the current students and professors from IIM,  will be conducted at the following places.

UPDATE: There has been a change in the places and the following table has been modified now.

Venue Date
IIMB Auditorium Sunday, 2nd December, 2007
Green Park, Vadapalani, Chennai Sunday, 16th December, 2007
Distributed Classroom, Bangalore-Chennai Sunday, 20th January, 2008

The registrations for open house is available at PGSEM Open House. So hurry yourself and register folks.

Reflections on PGSEM vis-a-vis other MBA programs for people with work experience in India

The below article is authored by Prof.DVR Seshadri of IIM, Bangalore and has first appeared in the PGSEM newsletter. It has been reproduced here with permission. This article throws light on PGSEM (a post-graduate program in management offered by IIM, Bangalore for working professionals) in comparison with similar offerings in India.

The well-known MBAs in the country for people with work experience are those offered by IIM Ahmedabad (one-year PGPX), ISB Hyderabad (one-year executive MBA), IIM Bangalore (three-year part time executive MBA) and XLRI Jamshedpur. There are a host of others, some launched, some in the process of being launched, including ones by IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow, and many more. They all cater to people with work experience. These contrast sharply with the regular MBA programs of most management schools in the country (variously known as the 2-year PGP Program or MBA), where the participants typically have little or no work experience (although there are some notable exceptions among participants of these programs as well).

Before going further, there are many semantic terminologies that prevail, that need to be clarified. Wrongly, MBA specifically tailored for people with work experience is referred to is ‘executive MBA.’ In fact, this is a grave misnomer. Executive MBA originated in the western world and is meant for people who are working, usually in considerably senior positions, who desire to get an MBA. The basic entry criteria are work experience; desire to do an MBA and ability to pay the requisite fees. In contrast, MBA for people with work experience in IIMA (PGPX), IIMB (PGSEM), etc. are considerably different in that they have stringent entry criteria (CAT/GMAT, elaborate application process, interviews, etc.) In the following I would like to restrict my comments to contrasting PGSEM with other MBA programs for experienced persons, taking IIMA’s PGPX as a specific case in point.

My own personal view is that the content of an MBA program being largely oriented towards management practice, the best learning can be had in the program only if one has spent several years in the industry, and seen at close quarters the functioning of organizations. In fact that is one reason why top schools in the world typically admit only participants with some years of experience into their regular MBA programs.

My own once again personal experience as a teacher at both IIM Bangalore and at IIM Ahmedabad, where I teach in various long-term programs (PGP, PGSEM, PGPX, PGPP) has been that it is much more fulfilling to teach a class wherein all the participants have several years of experience. Thus my most rewarding classes as a teacher are those in PGSEM and PGPX. Participants in these programs have made a very conscious choice to join the program, often having to make many adjustments to juggle their many commitments. This makes them much more motivated learners. They also have a great deal of ability at multi-tasking acquired through many years of industry experience, often juggling obligations at work, home, and their MBA education. Willy-nilly, they are excellent time managers. As a case teacher that I am, I find the classroom discussions in these programs much more stimulating, and many issues that I may not have thought of earlier, routinely surface during the classroom discussions. These are the truly ‘WOW!’ moments of fulfillment for a teacher, because there is a great deal of element of surprise in the process. The typical class attendance in these programs in my experience is 100%, and the preparation for class is also generally very high.

Since in some sense, I have had the unique opportunity of teaching extensively in both PGSEM (at IIM Bangalore) and PGPX (at IIM Ahmedabad) for the last two years, I cannot but admire the tenacity of the participants in both these programs. While the PGSEM is a part time program, the pressures are enormous on the participants, many of who are 3 to 7 years into their careers in the intensely competitive software industry, with its uncompromising deadlines, etc. Often many participants straddle different continents, time zones, etc., all as part of a week’s work. The PGSEM folks in both Bangalore and now Chennai (through the distance education classes) have to additionally reckon with long hours on the road just to attend classes. The fact that the program is spread out over ten terms of ten weeks each (spanning about 3 years) may perhaps allow good assimilation of the various subjects. In contrast, the PGPX participants have let go of their jobs, and often shift with families for a one year ‘boot camp’ at IIM Ahmedabad, where the whole program is packed into about 11 months, including a few weeks of foreign immersion. The PGPX grind is severe, and participants in this program without doubt, are perpetually sleep-starved for the entire duration of the program. I would imagine that the same situation prevails for folks at ISB and elsewhere, in one-year MBA programs targeted for people with significant work experience. For them however the silver lining is the placement process that awaits them at the end of the grueling year, a great incentive and icing that does not exist for PGSEM. I only hope that the placement factor of PGPX does not over the years eat into the spirit of learning which is what at least till date distinguish the MBA programs for people with work experience from the regular two-year MBA programs.

Since the participants in both these programs (PGPX and PGSEM) have a lot of work experience, my experience has been that the uptake of ideas and concepts is much faster and more permanent vis-à-vis participants of regular MBA 2-year programs. I must qualify this observation with the disclaimer that this may be subject-specific. Another intriguing aspect is that a multiplicity of dimensions come into the classroom discussions, and in this sense, each case gets discussed from an inter-disciplinary perspective. For a case teacher the challenge of conducting a case discussion for this forum can be daunting, since among participants, it is not uncommon to find a country marketing manager of a large FMCG company, or bank, etc. Participants of both programs are always red-eyed, although the reasons are different. For PGSEM, it is juggling work and study. For PGPX, it is due to almost inhuman compression of learning. The compression is further exacerbated with up to ten courses in a term, and scheduling complexities, that result in considerable skewing of work loads across each term. The average work experience in PGPX is considerably more (10 years) vis-à-vis about five for PGSEM. However the two worlds converge very closely. I often have a PGPX student in Ahmedabad wanting to know if I came across his former colleague in XYZ Company, where the two worked very closely till last year!

The value addition to participants of both PGSEM and PGPX (or the ISB version) should be more or less similar from my perspective. Given the spread of 10 terms, thus facilitating better assimilation in the case of PGSEM, my suspicion is that on this count, PGSEM folks are somewhat better placed (For participants of the one year executive MBA programs, it is a hurricane of courses and one class after another, sometimes as many as eight sessions a day!)

A few other differences: Scope for team work / group projects (which is so essential in management education) is very limited in PGSEM as the participants split soon after class into their own worlds and only meet again the following week for their classes. In contrast, PGPX participants are intensely immersed into their management education for the period of study, cutting off all other distractions during the period of ‘sadhana.’ This creates an atmosphere wherein participants can be very focused on learning. The campus atmosphere and pedagogy deployed provide excellent opportunity for team work and for building life-long relationships with their fellow participants. Perhaps this ‘immersion’ and focus, more than compensates for the heavy-intensity bombardment of cases, concepts and courses that they have to reckon with.

In fact, my guess is that networking is a very essential take-away in any MBA program. That may be very limited in the case of PGSEM since the relationships are essentially ‘transactional.’ The structure of the program does not leave scope, bandwidth or energy for group work, relationship-building, etc., as participants are essentially fighting many simultaneous fires on many fronts. This may also explain why student solidarity and alumni movement in PGSEM is very weak or non-existent, something I will address in more detail towards the end of this write-up.

The participants of the MBA program for people with work experience have a clear advantage in that they have access to placements through their institutes. Their institutes leave no stone unturned for brand-building these programs. This enables their investment in the program (time, money and effort) to be a booster rocket for higher trajectory careers. However, PGSEM by its very structure does not facilitate this, as there are inter-organizational relationship issues to be reckoned with.

While a PGPXer with prior software industry work experience has the opportunity of migrating out of the software industry into any other industry if s/he so chooses, PGSEMites may not have such flexibility. Awareness about PGSEM in the society at large, Indian industry in general, the software industry and perhaps within the employing organizations is still abysmally low. I have heard some of my PGSEM student alumni complain: “When I tell some senior managers in my company that I have completed PGSEM, they ask whether it is one of those ‘Reliance Web World type programs’.” When I meet a lot of my ex-students from PGSEM, they complain that their organization has not given value to their MBA qualification, and that they are essentially doing the same thing as what their other non-MBA colleagues are doing. Alas! The stratospheric salaries that make rounds in the context of discussions relating to PGP and PGPX graduates are no where in sight. With the growing numbers of one-year MBA programs that are tailored for people with work experience in the country, sooner or later, this issue of disparity will begin to bother the PGSEM graduates (I see that already happening now), and a creative solution would be needed. This would need the meeting of minds and hearts of the institute, the participants and the organizations they work in. Brand-building of the PGSEM program is an urgent need of the hour.

I also suspect that the PGSEM program being non-residential and part time, the degree of competition for grades once into the program, is considerably less than the PGPX program where every one knows where they stack up against the rest of the class, as they run into each other all the time. This might have an important implication on learning. When competition is minimal, the efficacy of learning is purely dependent of voluntary exertions of the individual participants. However when competitive forces are unleashed, one is pushed to ‘catch up with the Joneses’ just to stay afloat, which may nudge even the more easy-going folks to exert themselves. However, from a philosophic perspective, whether or not competition aids or hinders learning is a moot issue.

A final important aspect that must be addressed is that the networking among PGSEM participants, alumni, etc. is much weaker compared to what one finds with the other one-year MBA programs for people with work experience. Developing a stronger alumni network and student representation body of PGSEMites may be the first step to address some of the ironies discussed above that are only likely to get further accentuated in the years to come. Given the already stretched lives that PGSEMites (both present participants and alumni) lead, this enhanced level of alumni and student body activity may be a tall order, but nevertheless needed. Who will bell the cat?

Disclaimer: Views expressed in the piece are the author’s personal views and not that of the institutes with which he is associated.

Courtesy: Prof. DVR Seshadri, IIM, Bangalore.