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SCMS Cochin Alumnus Mr. Sajith Nambiar can very well be called a dreamer and an achiever

ME (1)If there is a clean cut concept of smooth transition then alumnus Sajith Nambiar’s story clearly reflects it. Having tried and tested his mettles from the sales domain to the event management field, Sajith can very well be perceived as a seasoned professional with thorough knowledge of various domains and sectors. He began his career as a professional dealing in the sales of financial products and gradually turned towards a profession that wasn’t even remotely related to it. He is presently deployed as an Assistant Manager in Ernst and Young and is taking care of the Event Management for internal clients of EY GSS (Global Shared Services).

Nambiar had always been keen on getting into the Event Management field and though he couldn’t do so initially he finally made his dream turn into reality. Today, he is living the life he had always dreamt of and contributes his achievements largely to his learning at SCMS Cochin School of Business. “In today’s world one needs dynamic managers for the growth and development of the firm as well as the society as a whole. A manager must have knowledge about the basic facts, logics and strategies and I personally feel that quality education from a good institute always pays. I am fortunate to be a SCMS Cochin School of Business alumnus which, in true sense, gave me a good foundation for my career”, he states.

Nambiar’s passion for the event management domain and the knowledge he gained at SCMS Cochin School of Business has helped him excel wherever he went. Talking about the role the B-school played in shaping up his career, Nambiar says, “I did get a strong foundation for stepping in to the management world. I can say it was the way we were trained at SCMS Cochin that helped a great extent – the deadlines for project works and assignments, the disciplined life and the positive approach that we were asked to follow made us evolve gradually from students to professionals. I still remember that I was an average student when I joined the school but the kind of exposure that I got here instilled confidence in me and helped me reach where I am today”. Interestingly, he even found his soul-mate at SCMS Cochin School of Business. Thus the place holds even more significance for him.

Though Nambiar has had his share of professional ups and downs, he is content with the way his career has progressed. Besides, working at a good position in Ernst and Young, he is also working on a Big Budget Malyalam movie titled Dolphin Bar. He would be handling the marketing and promotional activities for the same.

Nambiar’s message to the student at SCMS Cochin School of Business: “Each dream begins with a dreamer; we all have within us the strength the patience and the passion to reach where we want to, so follow your heart and live your dreams… better late than never!”

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Alumni

 

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Ms Benaazir Mukherjee, SCMS Cochin Alumnus’ MoodSwings Jewelry by Benaazir specializes in making one-of-a-kind handmade pieces

Profile 3The aim of B schools is not only to create corporate bigwigs of tomorrow but also to build the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst students. That’s something SCMS Cochin School of Business seems to have done for Ms Benaazir Mukherjee, who started her jewellery business in 2010, called MoodSwings Jewelry by Benaazir.

But modest Ms. Mukherjee quickly plays it down and gets talking about her entrepreneurial sojourn. “It was my passion to be involved in craft that I could convert into a sustainable business” she explains. That was the birth of the business idea for Benaazir but the road she took towards her goal deserves a special mention.

Benaazir doesn’t come from a business background, nor did she want to rely on anyone to finance her project. So she accumulated the funds for her venture before setting it up; definitely a commendable move for a woman entrepreneur. But she doesn’t see it that way. “I do not find any difference between a man and a woman entrepreneur.  What really matters is your risk appetite, confidence and your product,” she says.

You can see her independent and business-oriented mind at work here. Wonder how much of these beliefs and notions were built during Benaazir’s years at SCMS. “The theoretical knowledge learned at the institute was quite helpful. You do get some exposure to marketing when you work on somebody else’s business,” she admits but adds that setting up your business is a different ball game altogether.

Benazir was always inclined towards the idea of being an entrepreneur. The Computer graduate worked for a while after completing her PGDM. But in 2008 she quit her job to pursue her passion of travelling and jewellery. How did she decide that it was the right time for her to turn entrepreneur? “There is no right time, but when you have your finances fairly sorted out and have no pressures on them, it seems like the time to take the plunge,” she says practically.

Jewellery business is quite competitive at the best of times. How does a woman entrepreneur manage to stay motivated and deal with the rough tides that are a part of business? “Every business is competitive. Trying to excel in your chosen field; I do not see that as competition. It’s like running a marathon against your own willpower,” explains Benaazir. You can’t help but notice her refreshing perspective on business that makes her stand out.

The same attitude is probably reflected in the quirky brand name. “It’s fun and has several interpretations; women relate to it, husbands and boyfriends can relate to it. The name suggests jewellery for every mood one might have,” says Benaazir, who seems to be in a winning mood herself.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Alumni

 

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Turning obstacles into stepping stones A chat with Harshad Ali – serial entrepreneur and connoisseur of all things beautiful

MT6A3155 (1)As you get out from the benign Kochi sun and walk in, the first thing that strikes you is the air conditioning; it’s perfect. You look around and take in the ambience– the lights are just right, the walls seem to be custom-made for the expansive designs that adorn them, the seating is snug and comfortable. You lift your eyes to the stage and realise that this is a setting with a difference. You’ve come in early to hear one of your favourite artists unplugged, so there is no performer on the stage; and yet, you can barely take your eyes off it. The backdrop is an immaculate white, and the single black amplifier, the black cord running to the microphone, and the black mic on its black stand – all stand out like three mute characters of a pantomime act. As your eyes adjust to the wall in the background, a sparse, grey interpretation of a Bodhitree springs to life.

And you think to yourself that if Steve Jobs had designed a cafétucked away somewhere in Palo Alto,  it would’ve been just like Café Papaya.

However, this best-thing-to-have-happened-to-Cochin-in-recent-times, is the brainchild of a few homegrown geniuses of Kerala. One of them is Harshad Ali, a product of Kerala’s flagship B-school, SCMS-Cochin. With its unique setting, it is not the least surprising that Café Papaya is not the work of a hotelier, but the offspring of a bunch of “music, movie and mocha crazy” designers.

“Papaya Media Designs is a group of creative people who are passionate about movie-making and design,” says Harshad Ali, who passed out of SCMS-Cochin in 2001-2003. “When we started, we were planning to market ourselves in Europe for Online design projects. One of our friends suggested the name ‘Papaya’. We felt the name would be of some interest to our prospects, papaya being an exotic tropical fruit. Then we did some design projects for Malayalam movies – Big B, Daddy Cool, Salt n Pepper, 22 Female Kottayam, etc., which helped the Papaya brand gain popularity. When we ventured into setting up a cafe, we actually couldn’t find a better name than this. CafePapaya is a venture initiated with Mr. Aashiq Abu (filmmaker of Malayalam movies) and Jithu Livingstone (manager of the band Avial).”

Barely one month into its existence, Café Papaya has nearly ten thousand three hundred followers on Facebook, and is being hailed as the place with the best ambience, best music, and certainly the best coffee in town.

“The men behind the scenes are all childhood friends. We are all passionate about the music we listen to, the movies we watch and the food we eat. Some time ago we were on a trip to Coorg and while hanging out at Orange County resorts, we had a sip of their coffee. “Ssssuperb!” was the unanimous verdict. Without a second thought, we struck a deal to source our coffee beans for Café Papaya from them. And the rest, as they say, is history.”

As for the coffee, serious R&D has been put into the food served at Café Papaya. Thanks to Ayaz Salim, who takes care of the food department, the pastries and sandwiches are of an international standard. The olive, multi-grain and herb breads for the sandwiches are home-made and for pastries, unconventional recipes using ingredients of international standards have been developed. In true perfectionist tradition, Café Papayadoes not put a dish on its menu unless it has passed its very high standards. Owing to its connect with music and movies, the café is now as good as an open studio for budding and established musicians.

“SCMS helped me ride into the corporate world and when, after 7 years in B2B, Pharma, Banking, Insurance, etc., I felt a lethargy creeping into my life, what was taught at SCMS came back to me again. I quit and ventured into Papaya Media and started coordinating projects on movie designs, branding, social media, videos and photography.That is when I truly realized what I had gained from SCMS. Yes, my PGDM from SCMS-Cochin helped me be ‘liquid’. It helped me adapt to any situation, in any industry. After two years of design and media, we floated Café Papaya, which is a complete departure from everything I’ve done. I love the liquid life! Now, every day is a new day and I’m doing things I could not even have imagined three years back.”

Everything was a hurdle when Harshad Ali started, but he and his friends survived to prove that all these obstacles were actually stepping-stones to success. None of his colleagues has a background in hospitality and yet they managed to get things right at the café.

“The market is just an illusion,” says Harshad, echoing the ideas of Steve Jobs, who refused to do any sort of market surveys for any of the Apple products. “It’s the entrepreneur who creates or defines the market.”

Harshad signs off with a short message for his juniors at SCMS-Cochin – “Do what you love”. He reveals that the coming months will be jam-packed with performances and events, including those of Mili Nair of (Meethiboliyaan fame (from the film Kai Po Che), Yatra, BadriBadriya, A. R.Rahman tracks, and Jazz musician.) There’s also the launch of Manta Ray comics – a graphic novel publishing house – on the 1st of September, and some very interesting workshops on sound engineering for musicians.

Clearly, at Café Papaya you are likely to get your fill of exciting music, eclectic movies, books, sound recording studio and perfect more mocha… and, ofcourse, bump into the men behind it all, including SCMS-Cochin’s very own Harshad Ali.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Alumni

 

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“SCMS- Cochin taught me that if you excel in something, you would not be left behind.” says Nazmi Najeeb, Marketing Manager, Flavourite Spices Pvt. Ltd., 2011-13 Batch

DSC04286Nazmi Najeeb has taken her new-found confidence to Flavourite Spices Private Limited, where she has been placed as a Marketing Manager. Originally from Kerala, Nazmi did her schooling abroad in the Sultanate of Brunei; returning to India for her higher education.

“I did my UG from MG University and then chose SCMS-Cochin for my PGDM. The decision was based on the fact that SCMS was one of the best colleges in Kerala.” Exuding utmost confidence in all aspects of her personality, it comes as a surprise when Nazmi reveals that she was extremely shy, diffident, and acutely lacked confidence right upto the day she entered SCMS-Cochin.  

“SCMS provides you the environment and encouragement to feel confident about your own self. We were provided a lot of training – a lot of notes and tips – to build on our personality. We were guided on the ethics and principles while in an interview. It has all helped immensely. One thing I would say is I was not at all time-efficient. I used to be slow and would take all my time to finish an assigned task. SCMS-Cochin changed all that. There would be so many things that had to be wrapped up within tight deadlines. Back to back assignments, projects, group discussions, papers, all of it had to be squeezed within a certain span.”

Nazmi acknowledges that SCMS-Cochin has certainly not been easy; apart from the hard-word there were a lot of rules and regulations. But she concedes that she would not exchange the experience for anything else in life.

“I needed discipline; I needed confidence… and I’ve got it here. It was a bit hard in the initial stage, but after that we went along with it quite well. It helps me a lot now in office to cope up the stress.”

Nazmi Najeeb has already joined Flavourite Spices on 4th April, 2013.

“For the first year I will be a management trainee. For a marketing profile you have to be very smart, very spontaneous. There is hardly any time to think. You are given the task right on the spot and you need to be on your toes all the time. You have to be ready to derive effective results. SCMS-Cochin trained us well enough on how to handle such situations. We were exposed to a lot of practical knowledge. Our classes were always balanced with real-life lessons and interaction with the industry. PGDM at SCMS-Cochin is not about the same, old, traditional curriculum that many B-schools in India still deliver. Here the course is structured in a way that the students can be industry-ready as soon as they step out in the real world. The syllabus is up-to-date and it definitely is helping me in my current job.”

Nazmi believes that SCMS-Cochin has taught her that the most important thing in life is to remain positive.

“Life will keep giving you reasons to be disappointed but that should not let you down or let you lose hope. If you excel in something, you would not be left behind.”

Nazmi Najeeb is not looking at hopping jobs as a means to further her career, but is willing to embark on the deliberate climb up the ladder at this mid-sized company. She prefers a job that offers challenges, and there are quite a few in her current one. Five years down the line she intends becoming an important part of her company’s growth story, heading a domain or a division altogether.

 

Nazmi Najeeb

Marketing Manager, Flavourite Spices Pvt. Ltd.

2011-13 Batch, SCMS-Cochin

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2013 in Alumni, Student Life, Students Speak

 

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“SCMS-Cochin has something that most B-schools today do not have – Discipline. It has been the single most important factor that has helped me rise in my organisation.” says Deepjyoti Das,Batch of 2009-11

30102010232For many of his course mates from SCMS-Cochin – and colleagues at Videocon – Deepjyoti Das is the ‘turnaround man’. After all, you don’t often come across somebody who goes from being a Management Trainee, to Sales Officer, to Business Planner – reporting directly to the COO (South) – in just 9 months after passing out of a B-school; certainly not in a corporate conglomerate like Videocon.  Until less than 4 years back, Deepjyoti was the typical small-town boy from the Eastern states of India.  He did his intermediate from KV, Silchar (Assam) and thereafter pursued a BBA from NSHM, Durgapur (West Bengal). That he cracked a management college of the caliber of SCMS-Cochin did not surprise many; he had all the requisite qualities to make it. What did surprise his acquaintances was that despite seemingly good options closer to home, Deepjyoti actually decided to break the proverbial umbilical cord and move from extreme east to extreme south, in Kerala.

“SCMS-Cochin has something which most B-schools today do not have – Discipline. Yes, things were tight when we joined as freshers. Right from the Hostel Warden to the Faculty members, everyone was strict at SCMS-Cochin. But that is exactly what future managers need – Discipline. It was a privilege to attend classes of greats like Prof. Paulose, Prof. RTR Varma, Prof. Appala Raju, Prof. Deepa Pillai, and Prof. Sudheer Sudhakaran. Being late for such classes would imply that neither did you respect your management training, nor the legends that were imparting it to you. I have no hesitation in saying that Discipline has been the single most important factor that has helped me rise in my organisation. As my boss says, we must work for ourselves; and to work for ourselves, Discipline is the first thing that has to be adapted.”

To Deepjyoti Das, SCMS-Cochin stands for a lot many things. It stands for Sports meets, long chats, Bike excursions, running around for notes and PPT’s and group study on the night before exams, and Coffee breaks at 3 AM that tasted far better than anything at Barista of CCD. But most of all SCMS-Cochin stands for good friendship.

“Samar, Rahul, Hillol, Kakoli, Susmita, Pritam, Prashath, Jose, and John; they were like my brothers and sisters from different mothers. We all know that our deep connect is for a lifetime; whether we talk once every day, or once a year.”

It is now nearly 2 years since Deepjyoti passed out of SCMS-Cochin but time has clearly not dimmed anything.

“Sunday was the only day that we could give some extra taste to our taste buds. We would be up early on Sundays and travel a good hour-and-half to ‘Dal-Roti’ restaurant in Fort Kochi – the best North Indian Restaurant in Cochin, as rated by my fellow batch mates and me. It was the ‘lunch of the week’. What can I say of Durga Puja. Being a Bengali, I presumed it would be very tough and sad to be away from home during Durga Puja. The only Durga Puja in Cochin was organised by the Bengali Samiti of Cochin in Kadavanthara. Thanks to this, I never felt away from home in those 2 years.”

Deepjyoti is pretty much in the fast lane today, taking care of Business Planning in the Consumer Durable Division (LCD/LED and CTV) for the 14 branches in South India. But 18 months back, when he started out in the corporate world, things looked a lot more challenging.

“For somebody who cannot pronounce a single word of Tamil, being a sales trainee in Chennai, can be quite a handful. I used to think, “this is not where I belong; after all I am an MBA”. How can I sell a LCD or Refrigerator to a dealer who has never spoken English or Hindi in his entire life? How will I approach him? There were a lot of rejections and reality checks, but thanks to my seniors and the lessons learnt at SCMS-Cochin, I stuck to the job at hand. I started to pick up Tamil, and with sustained effort, business also started to generate. I was recognised as the top 3 performers from a group of 68 MT’s. It was a fantastic confidence booster.”

Deepjyoti Das cautions aspiring management students that a good management college can be a make or break issue, when it comes to one’s career.

“There are B-schools mushrooming all over the country, and most of them do not adhere to quality standards. Before joining any management college do an extensive survey and research about the credentials of the B-school. We were lucky enough to get through SCMS-Cochin. With a bit of luck and hardwork, you too can make it!”

                                                                                                                Deepjyoti Das,

                                                                                                                Business Planner – South India, Videocon

                                                                                                                Batch of 2009-11, SCMS-Cochin

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2013 in Alumni

 

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“Alumni meets give me a sense of how important the alumni have been in the phenomenal growth story of SCMS- Cochin.” says Manoj Sethi, Batch1996-98

IMG_1699For Manoj Sethi, alumni meets are all about going back to his circle of absolute comfort, where the shadow of growing older falls away from his countenance, and he laughs like he used to in the good old days at SCMS-Cochin. At the recent alumni meet of the Delhi Chapter of SCMS-Cochin, Manoj was all joviality, reliving the days of the 5th Batch (1996-98) at SCMS-Cochin, and sharing invaluable knowledge with other alumni about his sector.

“A lot has changed since we passed out of SCMS-Cochin,” Manoj elaborated, while emphasising the absolute importance of such alumni meets. “When I joined the Banking sector in 1998, the concept of Services in the private banking industry – which began in 1994 – was just about taking root. The private insurance industry did not exist. So in ‘98, the opportunities for a B-school grad were far fewer, as compared to the current times.The other interesting bit is the amazing appetite for entrepreneurship in the current generation. It is not necessarily because after 10 or 15 years of experience you are fed up of working for somebody else; it is also because there is so much to ideate about. Infact, the uncertain times have made business managers more confident about entrepreneurship, with less risk aversion.”

Having worked with HDFC for over nine years, Manoj has literally seen the sector grow, while being a part of it. As a part of the Senior Management at ICICI Lombard, Manoj currently works in the niche space of providing mass solutions for the BPL (Below Poverty Line) segment. While the work is very close to his heart, he feels that the real challenge lies in dealing with various departments of the Government of India.

“As the largest corporate in the general insurance sector, we need to deal with all government departments. For instance, we have mass health insurance schemes that cover people en masse. I have a team of 8-10 people travelling across the country working with various ministries, trying to evolve products which interest them. Dealing with the Government can get very difficult at times. You have to deliver things on time, which is quite a challenge in this space, since the decision-making process is often slow, leading to a longer turn-around period. We continuously need to wrack our brains over evolving good products with new to-do strategies.”

A regular at the alumni dos, Manoj explains that alumni meets are the best place to get a feel of how far SCMS-Cochin has come.

“I was part of one of the first few batches of SCMS-Cochin. Interestingly, our batch even then had representation from almost all parts of India. Back then, SCMS-Cochin was a budding institute, with just the Kerala campus; there are so many new campuses now. I remember how there was always regular faculty – and an exceptionally good one at that – right from the nascent stage, and the infrastructure of SCMS-Cochin was unparalleled even during those days. In those days, Marketing was a compulsory part of the curriculum, with the option of combining it with either Finance or HR. Yet, SCMS-Cochin had a fantastic set of visiting and guest faculty members even in those days.”

Manoj believes that the current status of SCMS-Cochin as one of the foremost B-schools of India springs from its sound fundamentals. These alumni meets help him get a sense of how well SCMS-Cochin has grown, instilling a deep sense of satisfaction about being a part of – and a reason for – is continuing growth story.

Manoj Sethi,
Alumnus, 5th Batch (1996-98)

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Alumni

 

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“Even after 15 years, almost our entire batch remains connected and we watch out for each other.” says Sandeep Kumar,Batch1997-99

sandeepSandeep Kumar seriously believes that time has wings. It seems to him like it was just yesterday when he entered SCMS-Cochin for the first time – a wide-eyed youngster transfixed by the most beautiful campus in the ‘God’s own land’.  Yet now he was doing the rounds of bustling get-togethers of Delhi Chapter of SCMS-Cochin alumni, as a ‘veteran’ of the 6th batch that passed out 15 years back; shaking hands with ‘youngsters’ who’d just passed out of SCMS-Cochin.

“Memories of SCMS-Cochin are very vivid in most of us. We were a class of 50, and we used to fight like anything,” recalls Sandeep with a smile. “And yet the moment we’d step out of the campus, it would be ‘one for all and all for one’. I even remember how we’d gone on a ‘pen-down strike’ in Dr. Radha Thevannoor’s class. It was for something so ridiculous, that I can’t even remember it! In the end we ended up making complete fools of ourselves! Whenever we remember those days, we just can’t stop laughing. Even after 15 years, almost our entire batch remains connected and we watch out for each other.”

After passing out of SCMS-Cochin in 1999, Sandeep joined Carrier Air Conditioning, and worked his way up in the organisation for the next 8 years.

“When you complete your MBA from a top B-school like SCMS-Cochin,your pay and designation make you feel that you are being inducted as an implementer – an expert in the organization. Fact of the matter is you got to start from the basics; you are an executioner at the middle of the managerial pyramid or maybe lower.Organizations work in pressure situations – especially in sales and marketing departments – and it’s tough for B-schools to emulate the real thing. Beyond facts, business decisions and transactions should be simulated more rigorously. Every day is a new day in the corporate world; and the world is changing so fast that you cannot predict what’s coming next.”

Sandeep made a switch in 2008, to the electronics giant – LG. Ever since, he has worked his way up, to the position of the Key Accounts Manager for AC’s.

“I have the tendency to get to my chair atleast half an hour before office time. This helps me get a rundown of my day ahead. Once office-hours start, I try to generate all kinds of MIS; taking down notes of the priorities for the day, before discussing and taking down concerns of my team members. Around 12 in the noon I report to my bosses. We have a weekly meeting with our MD. Coordinating efforts and resources is a tedious job, but I deal with it in a way, so that I have atleast 3 days a week to get a first-hand feel of the market. I make it a point to visit my costumers and interact with them as often as I can.”

Sandeep Kumar strongly believes that profits are the by-products of ethics. He advises the budding managers of SCMS  to “learn to be ready to face all kinds of situations boldly as in some cases you will be able to wriggle out of situations tactfully  but in some others you may really have to stand up and say “sorry boss, I am not for that “. He believes that when it comes to grooming ethical managers, SCMS-Cochin is second to none.

                                                                                                                                Sandeep Kumar,
Key Accounts Manager,LG
Batch 1997-99

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Alumni

 

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