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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Mr. Prem Kumar, CEO, Eastern Condiments shares his over three decades of management experience in a session that hits the right notes with students of SCMS Cochin School of Business

It’s not very often that students from B Schools get to interact with industry stalwarts with over three decades of experience. But that’s exactly what happened during the Industry Institute Interface (III) session held recently at SCMS Cochin School of Business. Students had an opportunity to listen to and gain from the experiences of Mr. Prem Kumar,CEO of Eastern Condiments. And needless to say they utilized this opportunity to the fullest.

CI8J0507 (1)Eastern Condiments is one of the biggest brands in Kerala and as the CEO of the company, Mr. Kumar works towards building its reputation further. An MBA graduate with 33 years of experience in Sales & Marketing, he has worked in different industry sectors including Trade & Rural Marketing, Training & General Management. He has also worked with several global brands like Gillette, Horlicks, Aquafresh, Panadol, Lucozade and Ribena, Sundrop and Dainik Bhaskar.

Hence it was only natural that there was a lot to gain from his experiences, which is one of the major aims of these sessions in the first place. They are designed to ensure that students get an exposure to real industry dealings and trends, which broadens their horizons to a great extent. Mr. Kumar on his part did just that by offering students insight into the secrets of sales and marketing. “You have to make a difference. Secondly, you have to understand your consumers, only then will you be able to convince them,” he said.

Mr. Kumar talked about his own experiences with different noteworthy brands he has worked with and helped students understand the difference between classrooms and real world corporate life. He also stressed on the fact that the time of academic learning was important for students and they should make the most out of it. “Quantitative skills are important and you need to understand the business environment as well. That means you have to get your basics right and now is the best time to do that,” he emphasized.

As Mr. Kumar was talking of his own journey from a management student to a successful corporate professional, his words resonated with the gathering and had a deep impact. But he reminded the students that their personal life journey was of importance too. “You need to build on your skills and evolve every day to change the environment we are living in. Communication and storytelling are two important aspects of management and they can only be learned through personal life journey,” he said thoughtfully.

The audience was held in rapt attention throughout the session, which was brought to a close by Mr. Kumar as he offered management aspirants tips for their future. “Find your domain of occupational interest. Keep yourself abreast with the current issues and most importantly, know your strengths and weaknesses,” he stated. The student gathering had got what they’d hoped for from the session, but Mr. Kumar had a parting shot to leave them with. “Information is power but too much information is paralysis,” he said amidst huge applause.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2014 in News And Events

 

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Speech of Mr. K. I. Vishwanathan, Vice President, Marketing Division, ITC Ltd. in the 21st Convocation Ceremony of SCMS Cochin School of Business

Dear Students,

It indeed gives me immense pleasure to be here today in your midst, on this happy occasion. It is of great benefit to experienced managers like myself to be among such youth since you bring a lot of energy to the forum – energy to work hard, energy to think smart , energy to innovate ,energy to achieve – and I can soak up some of the energy.

As a business manager one always tries to determine what customers want and equally importantly what they don’t want. I am reasonably sure of what you don’t want – a long winded, boring speech.   I hope what I believe you want to hear, would make sense to you.

Typically a speech on such occasions would dwell on advice. Advice to manage your career, advice to be successful, advice to manage business etc., To that extent my speech is similar but the difference is that I am going to leave you with some suggestions to ponder, to introspect and not, per se, give you any advice. Because advice tends to be prescriptive but management is an inexact science where such prescriptions do not always work.

It is not to suggest that I have practiced all these suggestions. Some, yes but largely by observing more successful managers. And it is obviously not an exhaustive list – you can and will keep adding to these based on your experiences.

Hard work vs smart work

It is a popular myth that smart work is in lieu of hard work. There is probably no success without prople putting in enormous amount of work, persevere against all odds to achieve tasks. Extraordinary results come from doing simple things diligently. All of us love that Eureka moment but the reality is that the Eureka moment is the culmination of efforts carrying out an enormous number of simple tasks in an exceptional and consistent manner. So, be aware that what will succeed will be hard+smart work

Routine vs Big idea

All of us are excited, caught up with big ideas, big innovation, disruptive concepts, standing out through differentiation etc., but the reality is Big Ideas don’t occur every day but routine does happen every day. It is our ability to accept routine as a necessary and integral part of life and work, while at the same time working towards Excellence and Big ideas, that will set us apart and make us successful. You will find many people constantly complaining that work is dull because it is routine. Most of our lie is about adhering to a routine – simple tasks like brushing, bathing, eating, exercising etc., When we can accept this as reality and therefore are comfortable with it, why then do we find it unacceptable in work?

So, the suggestion is that in any work that you are engaged with you will find a lot of it is routine, accept it as reality but keep looking for that 10% space that causes excitement, a sense of achievement which may lead to that Big Idea 

Keep learning

The formal education for most of you is probably getting completed today. While a lot of what you have studied will be useful in appreciating and managing businesses, what is crucial is that you continue to keep learning going forward. The prerequisite to keep learning, is to keep an open mind and to do so you have to be humble.  You don’t know where good ideas can come from. They need not always from your seniors in the organisations, equally educated peers or management books. When you keep an open mind to learning and receiving ideas, you will find enormous number of sources to learn from.

Attitude

I am a great believer that good attitude compensates for a lot of other shortcoming. I urge you to read the book FISH to understand this. The essence of  what it says is that in reality we generally won’t have much of a say in the choice of kind of work, our bosses , our co-workers etc.,  but what we have and should have complete control is our ability to bring in a positive attitude towards everything that we undertake to do. This simply could be the reason between success and failure.

Who you know matters

Most of us keep focussing on what we know and keep improving on same. I would urge you to focus as much on who you know – in essence means building a network of influencers, well wishers with in the system and also outside. This will improve your ability to influence the course of events in a manner that is right, just and rewarding.

 Be ready

I find that a lot of youngsters expect Organisations to have a clear career path chalked out for them. This is a myth and an unrealistic expectation. At best Organisations can have the career path drawn for a few years and not long term. Because careers get shaped up not only by a lot of what you do but also due to what happens around you – sudden growth in business, acquisitions , some other personnel leaving etc., What you can and should do is to be ready for larger responsibilities and more importantly seen to be ready.

 Lastly, learn about Sustainability

This is not a suggestion, almost a prescription.  All of us are aware that natural resources are finite and limited. In our greed to attain material success and under the garb of development, we have been exploiting these resources indiscriminately. As you would have been observing and reading, Sustainable development has become a matter of concern , globally. Consequently the societal and statutory pressures on Organisations and all of us to demonstrate in action, eco-consciousness , eco-responsibility  will increase in future. A few years ago the list of stake holders to any Company would have included only shareholders, customers, government, employees. Today the list has expanded and will include suppliers, environmentalist, immediate society around your operations, media etc.

You would have heard that the new Company’s Law mandates that 2 % of a Company’s profits should be spent towards Corporate Social Responsibility ( CSR ) and SEBI has mandated for Business Responsibility Report (BRR).  This is how seriously this issue is being viewed now.

Unfortunately, I don’t think, the subject of Sustainability is part of curriculum anywhere today but is emerging as a serious and important area.  Apart from doing things that are right, this could also become an important criterion by which markets – capital, customers, suppliers- will evaluate and differentiate among Companies.  I would urge you to read more on this very important subject.

Dear students,

As I come to the end of my speech, I do hope that you would find these suggestions useful and help you manage your career successfully. As the world of opportunities beckons you, go make a mark and make your dreams come true and have an exciting and rewarding life and career achieved through  diligence , hard work and fair means.  I wish you all the best!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2014 in News And Events

 

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