Climbing Corporate Ladder with Ramana Sambu

                                 

Ramana Sambu – MBA’2016  

Associate Director, Business Development, Droom Technology Pvt ltd

Believer of “never lose hope, trust, trust and trust yourself”, Ramana Sambu shares the anecdotes for a successful career in the corporate world. In the short span of two years, Ramana has risen to the position of Associate Director and is leading a team at Droom Technology. Ramana especially gives credits to Personal Effectiveness sessions, he attended at Great Lakes as his major life changing experience that carved the niche for his corporate career. Let’s find out more about him in his interview below.

 Q&A

Q. What is your current role at Droom Technology?

Currently at Droom.in, I’m building a startup within a startup as a head for one of our Proprietary eco system tools called ECO (Auto Inspection). I am leading a team of 17 people and we are responsible for building supply across PAN INDIA with an aim to expand to all metro cities by March 2019 and reaching the team size of 800 people. I am also responsible for managing the End to End operations along with generating revenue of 24 Cr annually.

Q. In such a short span you have reached at the position of Associate Director. To what do you owe your success?

I joined Droom post my MBA at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon as Associate Manager, Business Development in the year 2016, where I worked directly with all the departments (Marketing (BTL), Ad-sales, Operations, Sponsorships and Business Development) and, I also used to network with various other departments at Droom. I was directly reporting to Droom’s co -founder Rishab Malik which helped me in excelling my skills and improving my efficiency manifolds. As a result I was able to establish great belief and trust in my peers and soon I was promoted to Associate Director along with handling a great project like ECO( ECO is an inspection/ verification service provider for automobiles in India). I believe commitment towards my work, passion to grow as an individual & zeal of building something new which disrupts the market led me to grow faster than others.

Q. How much has the learning experience at Great Lakes helped you in carving your career?

One of the great things that Great Lakes has is Personal effectiveness session which I don’t think that any other B-school has. The session vastly helped many students in several ways to build their career and I was amongst the ones who identified their real core strengths and weaknesses during the session, in turn it helped me in re-building my professional career in the field of business development.

Great Lakes exposed me to plethora of case studies, incessant feedback from Professors and internship opportunity. Great Lakes has excellent faculty where every Professor is a knowledge bank in his/her respective field. I was blessed to have an opportunity to do a Live Project at FIPI (Federation of petroleum Industry). The 12 weeks long Live Project developed me as an individual in terms of sharpening my skills and providing me an exposure for working about 12 to 13 hours every day which later on helped me in my job and resulted in achieving rapid growth.

Q. You are leading a team now. What qualities do you think a team leader should possess?

According to me, below are some qualities that a team leader should possess

  • Start every day at Zero
  • Cross Collaboration and continuous Feedbacks from the team
  • Stop evaluating your team based on potential – differentiate between superstars and rock stars
  • Decentralize decision making – Drive top-down context setting, not top-down decisions!

Q. Were you an active member of any committee/society at Great Lakes. Please share the experience?

I was an active member for Energy Club and a Passive member of Alumni Committee. I still remember a major life changing incident in my life.  Because of our alumnus, me and my friend got an opportunity to represent our Country and College in Indonesia as Indian Delegates at International Student Energy Summit-2015 to present a paper on Restoring of Lakes based on Kakatiya Project (Telangana). There we also stood among TOP 5 teams across 117 countries & it was fully funded by the ISES-2016 team. And the entire credit goes to our esteemed alumnus Mr. Vishal Gajjar who helped us in applying for ISES event.

Q. Do you have any advice for future Great Lakers?

With the amount of exposure I have gained in last 2.5 years at Droom, I can suggest to all my future Great Lakers that “Never ever lose hope and Trust….trust and trust yourself”.

Q. What do you like to do you in your free time?

I take out my time every day to play TT (Table tennis) and read a lot of  E-Magazines on Global Startups, Business Tycoons, and veteran Industrialists .

Q. Please share one belief/quote that you follow in your life.

Work hard and Party harder

 

 

Alumni Speak: “Switching from IT to Consultancy was a crucial step for my career, but making this transition wouldn’t have been possible without a formal business education.”

 

Freshly recruited by KPMG India as a Consultant in the IGH (Infrastructure, Government & Healthcare) domain, Sayan Chaudhuri (PGPM 2017-18), is experiencing a major shift in his career and enjoying the challenging new role. We got in touch with him recently to discuss his MBA experience. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.

Q1. Tell me about your professional background before joining Great Lakes, Gurgaon, and why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

Before joining Great Lakes, I was working as a Systems Engineer at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for more than 3 years. Even with a promising career trajectory at one of the highly acclaimed MNCs, I believed the time had come where I needed to upgrade my skills for moving up the corporate ladder and explore the strategical side of the business so that I could make a direct impact instead of just following orders. Acquiring an MBA degree from a tier I institute seemed like the right way to facilitate the career switch and Great Lakes, Gurgaon gave me the perfect platform to make it possible.

Q2. How did the one year at Great Lakes help you transform into the professional that you are today?

The journey from a hardcore IT profile of a Systems Engineer to a Strategy Consultant at one of the Big 4s was not an easy one, but Great Lakes ensured that I completed it with perfection. There was a lot to learn and the unwavering support of the acclaimed faculty at GL ensured thorough preparation for the corporate challenges that lie ahead. Most importantly, the ample practical learning opportunities that I received in the form of interactions with renowned industry experts helped me understand the day-to-day business challenges and prepared me for the job that I’m in today.

Q3. Mention three key highlights of your Great Lakes experience.

  • Inspiring & Esteemed Faculty
  • Unparalleled Exposure in the form of Corporate Lecture Series and Live Projects
  • The Ice Breaking trip to Rishikesh

Q4. Which faculty member/guest lecturer impacted your education the most?

Choosing one faculty member from a pool of such gifted mentors is next to impossible, to say the least. All the skills that I acquired in the last one year are a result of the collective effort of all the faculty members at Great Lakes, combined with all the esteemed corporate mentors and CXOs who took the time out of their busy schedules to interact and educate our young and eager minds. Therefore, selecting any one of them would be an unfair assessment on the same.

Q5. Tell me about your current organization and job role. How do you think going to a B-school has helped you in your career?

I’m currently working with KPMG India as a Consultant, tasked with catering to the needs of the IGH (Infrastructure, Government & Healthcare) clients of the firm.

As I mentioned earlier, switching from IT to Consultancy was a crucial step for my career, but it was the right one and without the help of a formal business education it would have been next to impossible to achieve the same.

Q6. What advice would you like to give to the future Great Lakers?

The one year at Great Lakes is filled with omnipresent learning opportunities. More than anything, your peer group is an untapped reservoir of knowledge. All your batch mates have come from diverse occupational backgrounds with a combined experience of 100+ years. So, use that. Learn from their experience, form lifelong bonds and as this is going to be your last academic year (most probably) don’t forget to have fun.

 

Alumni Speak: Mohit Kakkar – Winner of SAP Global IoT Prototype Competition

Mohit Kakkar, student of PGPM Energy (Batch 2014-16), is currently working with Deloitte Consulting India Pvt. Ltd. and has recently won the SAP Global IoT Prototype competition.

We got in touch with him to know more about his achievement.

What was the SAP Global IoT prototyping competition about?

The Prototype competition was meant to give you an end-to-end experience of designing and prototyping an Internet of Things app for people’s needs. The top 5 submissions each won a brand-new Intel NUC Mini PC and $25 gift card which can be used to fund an entrepreneur on Kiva. The top 200 runner ups were displayed on the SAP “best of” gallery with their outstanding prototypes.

What is your line of work? Why did you take part in SAP Global IoT Prototyping competition?

After completing my masters from Great Lakes, I started working as a SAP consultant at Deloitte Consulting Pvt. Ltd. I participated in this competition because I am an IoT enthusiast from my post-graduation days where I learnt the fundamentals of IoT like Sensors, Cloud and various other business technologies. Since the digital transformation roadmap strategy of SAP got changed and they announced SAP Leonardo which was put forward as an innovation portfolio focused on innovative solutions running seamlessly on the cloud, there was no better way to get myself acquainted with the platform other than by participating in this competition and working on it in real time.

In your own words, what specific problem does this prototype seeks to solve? How does IoT provide an ideal solution?

We are living in 2017 and power utility companies today do know where a power outage has occurred, but they do not know what triggered that outage. Additionally, utility companies still can’t predict an outage and hence, they can’t take any preventive measures to stop it. On the other hand, by the time a crew member gets to know that a power outage has occurred at some place, the impacted customers suffer approximately 20 minutes of power outage on an average. Lastly, today customers have no visibility of their electricity consumption pattern and neither the electricity tariff that power utility companies charge them on a particular hour of the day.

Hence, the problems were many and I came up with a solution i.e. an innovative app which connects assets, control room operations team, crew members and customers/people.

Leonardo IoT Bridge provides us with capabilities to cut across various aspects of a power utility business model. We can monitor the real time health of the transformers using IoT sensors, using cloud platform edge computing we can store and analyse huge volumes of data of all the real time parameters; and we can also predict the future outages using machine learning algorithms. Moreover, we can also help the customers stay aware of their electricity consumption behaviour patterns by using smart meter data. Hence, we achieve increased transformer utilization, lesser power outages, and maximized revenue generation by monitoring the operational status and customer satisfaction.

What inspired you in creating your prototype?

My passion for IoT and excitement to learn SAP Leonardo framework inspired me to create this prototype. But to think through the complete end-to-end solution my 3.5 years of experience in Power utility industry and my subject knowledge which I gained at Great Lakes Institute of Management gave a head start to start this idea. Once the first draft was ready, the feedback and motivation I received from my mentor were a huge inspiration for me to build this prototype in an agile model, wherein I did multiple iterations to touch up the inconsistencies.

Do you plan to do further work in developing your prototype?

We have actually started building this solution in Deloitte. But I am eagerly waiting for the SAP connected goods portal, wherein we can configure and use the pre build APIs.

What are your thoughts on being able to fund an entrepreneur via the Kiva crowd funding platform? How did you go about identifying an entrepreneur to fund? Were there certain criteria that you used?

It felt really great that our hard work helped someone start their business. We talk about connecting people in the SAP Leonardo framework, but for all the winners to be able to fund an entrepreneur has truly connected people together.

Initially, I tried to fund an entrepreneur in my country, but then I found a lady in Cambodia who needed a loan of $625 to purchase a motorbike for her daughter to run her goods delivery business. She had received $600 already and I thought I should give my $25 gift prize to her and close down her request. It truly felt like bliss to be able to help someone so far away.

Read more about the Competition, winners and their prototypes here!

Alumni Speak: “The two years at Great Lakes helped me understand the dynamics and parameters of management from all possible dimensions.”

Abhijit Panda, a student of PGPM (E) 2015-17 batch, recently got recruited as a Pre-sales Consultant by HCL. Let’s find out what he had to say about his Great Lakes journey.

Q1. What led to your decision of pursuing an MBA?

“I’ll have to start at the beginning for that. I completed my B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from CV Raman College of Engineering Bhubaneswar, Odisha and after working on the technology front in IT sector for four years, the job profile got extremely monotonous and devoid of any sort of real challenge. I wanted to go back to school to unlearn and learn new crafts. I wanted to understand various aspects of business that help professionals take strategic decisions. I also wanted to have a 360-degree outlook of the global business scenario around me. Hence, in order to understand various key aspects of business (Financial, Marketing, Operational etc.), I decided to undertake a formal full time MBA course.”

Q2. How did the two years at Great Lakes help you transform? Did you achieve your goals for which you wanted to pursue an MBA?

“Absolutely. These two years at Great Lakes helped me understand the dynamics of management from all possible dimensions. I could understand the strategies, parameters, regulatory frameworks at play which govern the entire business ecosystem. The intensive classroom teaching along with guest lectures by industry experts broadened my learning curve and the live project opportunities were really helpful for my preparation.”

Q3. Mention two key personality traits that you acquired during your Master’s?

“The two important and key traits were Leadership and Time Management. Being a student council member as well as a member of various committees helped me immensely in acquiring the above-mentioned traits.”

Q4. That is great. So, what all communities were you a part of?

“I was a member of three student committees; BPR (Branding & Public Relations), Toastmasters and CREST (Annual Management Fest).”

Q5. Mention three key highlights of your program.

The three key highlights would be:

  1. Diverse and Industry Relevant Subjects offered in the course.
  2. High-quality Mentoring sessions by Professors
  3. Live project opportunities to enhance skill sets and be industry ready.

Q6. What advice would you like to give to the future Great Lakers?

“My advice to the future Great Lakers would be to come to Great Lakes with an open mind to learn and create new dimensions. You will receive an enormous amount of support from everyone out here as well as ample avenues to showcase your talents. Work hard, build new skills, innovate, participate in prestigious B-school fests and be the best version of yourself as you walk out of the campus post two years.”

Alumni Speak: “What Great Lakes offered was a holistic learning approach that helped me immensely in my career.”

Abhishek Agarwal graduated from Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon, in 2016 and is currently working as the Product Manager at 91Mobiles.com. We recently had a chat with him about his professional life after graduation.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation.

 

Q1. What were you doing professionally before joining Great Lakes?

Before I started with my MBA at Great Lakes, I was working at IBM developing business applications in SAP for FMCG and utility sector projects.

Q2. It sounds like you had an interesting job profile there. So, what pushed you towards pursuing an MBA and why did you choose Great Lakes for your Master’s?

Yes, it sure was an interesting and challenging job profile, but I realised that there are limitations to how much impact one can have on the decision-making without developing business skills and perspective. Once this realisation kicked in, doing an MBA was the fastest route to achieving my goals.

The prime reasons for choosing Great Lakes, Gurgaon, were the one year advantage, world-class curriculum and the location. Also, a lot of hard work and dedication went into getting accepted in this prestigious institute.

Q3. How did the one year at Great Lakes help you transform?

First of all, I’d like to clear the misconception that one-year MBA’s course structure and curriculum is less challenging than its two-year counterpart. If anything, the one year MBA curriculum is more arduous in nature than a two year one, as you learn the same amount of concepts and fundamentals in lesser time. And trust me when I say that the one year at Great Lakes was so hectic and challenging that now I feel I can take any challenge thrown in my way by the corporate world head-on quite comfortably with poise and ease. Also, Great Lakes made me more of a logical and structural thinker, which is extremely important for my current job role.

Q4. Tell me more about your current organisation and job role.

I am currently working as a Product Manager at 91Mobiles, which is a Gurgaon based startup that helps people find the right gadget at the right price. My job role encompasses everything from product conceptualization to its final implementation.

Q5. Mention the key highlights of your GL experience.

  1. Enlightening guest lectures, unparalleled practical exposure via industry interaction and great faculty
  2. Learning and fun always went hand in hand.
  3. And most importantly, I don’t think I slept for more than 4 hours per day on an average, during my one year at Great Lakes.

Q6. How would you describe the peer learning experience in and beyond the classroom at Great Lakes?

It was, without a doubt, a great experience meeting and learning from the people of my batch who came from diverse professional backgrounds. It made me understand the corporate world from so many different points of views. There is just so much that you can learn in a classroom, but what Great Lakes offered was a chance to learn even from my batch-mates and it is this type of holistic learning approach that helped me immensely in my career.

Q7. What advice would you like to give to the future Great Lakers?

I would just like to tell them to make the most of their time here at Great Lakes as it will prepare them for the corporate world. You can learn a lot from the faculty and your peers, so keep your eyes and ears open all the time and learn as much as you can. Also, build a solid network as you never know when and where that scrawny kid or the school jock would be able to get you out of a mess or help you crack a deal. Always remember Uncle Bala’s (Great Lakes’ Dean Padmashri Dr. Bala V Balachndran) words, “Your network is your net worth.”

Alumni Speak: “In today’s fast-paced world that thrives on cut-throat competition, a Bachelor’s degree is just not enough to fuel an individual’s ambition.”

pk

Piyush Kant is the Director of Business Development at GCE Group and is responsible for the Indian and South-East Asian market of the Energy Efficiency Consulting Giant. He joined Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon, in 2010 in the first batch of the B-School. We recently sat down with Piyush to find out how the PGPM-Energy program of Great Lakes helped him in his career endeavours.

Here is what he had to say.

Tell me about your professional background before joining Great Lakes and also about what made you pursue MBA?

Piyush: After completing my engineering in Computer Science from Kurukshetra University and before joining Great Lakes, I was working with Cisco Systems as a Network Engineer.

In today’s fast-paced world that thrives on cut-throat competition, a Bachelor’s degree is just not enough to fuel an individual’s ambition. If you have a hunger to make it large in this corporate jungle; knowledge and understanding of the intrinsic factors focused on running a business and managing the people is imperative. This is why I didn’t stop after becoming an engineer and went on to pursue Masters in Business Administration.

Q2. So, why did you choose Great Lakes?

Piyush: I had a keen interest and passion of working in the energy sector and when it comes to energy, Great Lakes’ reputation is unparalleled and unmatched. At the time I joined the institute, it was Great Lakes Institute of Energy Research and Management (IEMR) – a one of a kind B-school with a focus on energy sector and its dedicated disciplines.

Q3. How did the two years spent at Great Lakes help you transform as a person?

Piyush: A lot actually. For starters, it turned a carefree man into a responsible one. I learned the true sense of empathy, the power and benefits of networking, traits necessary to become a leader were imbibed into my personality here, and most importantly, I learnt the art of learning from failures, how to overcome my fears and the thin line difference between confidence and foolishness.

Moreover, the institute helped make me a better person as it taught me that no reward is greater than the feeling of giving back/contributing to the society.

Q4. Mention three key highlights of your Great Lakes experience.

Piyush:

  1. Diverse professional background of the students that facilitated learning beyond classrooms
  2. Excellent practical exposure and personal interactions with the world renowned industry leaders
  3. Highly motivated, energetic and experienced faculty

Q5. Which faculty members/guest speakers impacted your education and learning experience the most?

Piyush: Although the entire staff of Great Lakes holds an extremely special place in my heart as I would have never been where I am today without them, but Dr. S.K. Palhan, Mr. Mohan Lakhamraju and Mr. BVR Vamsi (Powergrid Corp India) had the most lasting impact on my learning.

Q6. Describe the peer learning experience at Great Lakes in and beyond the classroom in one word.

Piyush: Can I use two? “Exceptionally Brilliant.”

Q7. Tell me about your current organisation and job role. How do you think going to a B-school has helped you in your career?

Piyush: GCE Group operates in the sphere of financial consulting, audits, industrial safety, energy efficiency consulting etc. It is the largest Energy efficiency consultant on the globe, headquartered in St. Petersburg, Russia. I am currently serving this organisation as its Director of Business Development in the Indian and South-East Asian Region.

As I stated earlier that I have done my graduation in Science from Kurukshetra University, grabbing this job and rising up to this level in the energy sector would have been impossible for me if not for Great Lakes.

Q8. What advice would you like to give to the future Great Lakers?

Piyush: I would like to tell my fellow Great Lakers that – Explore more about yourself, discover what you really want to do and achieve in your life and believe in yourself at all times. Then, start working on your dreams to inspire yourself and keep moving forward. Remember, there is no shortcut to success and there is no such thing as a free lunch. So, always keep working hard for your dreams, spot opportunities, grasp them and keep climbing the ladder, however, slow the pace may be.

5 hours and 247 pages: The Seven Day Weekend

5 hours and 247 pages: The Seven Day Weekend

Business team with hands together - teamwork concepts, isolated

 

Last night I opened a book and 5 hours and 247 pages later, the book had broadened my thinking. That book was titled – “The Seven Day Weekend”, authored by Mr. Ricardo Semler.

The best part of reading a good book is that the horizons of the reader’s mind get broadened and he becomes wiser than he was before opening the book. What I realised post this mini-readathon was – 1) I was ready for the scheduled book review session. 2) I got something to read which was insightful not just in terms of business perspective, but also helped me to focus on what I actually want from my professional life and 3) the approach I have had with me actually does exist in the business world and firms do exist and make good profit by implementing the same approach.

The primary reason as to why this piece of work is admirable and inspirational is that the author talks of having chosen employee happiness and satisfaction as the driving force of his business, unlike the more bottom-line obsessed business workplaces.

The author shares his experience of working at Semco (the company headquartered at Sao Paulo, Brazil), where he wants not just him (the CEO), but also his employees, customers, suppliers and community to be happy. The real motivation or the driving force behind a successful company is not growth, not profits, not power, not status, but Happiness.

Along the way, he asked himself, “If the workweek is going to slop over into the weekend, then why can’t the weekend, with its precious restorative moments of playtime, my time, and our time, spill over into the workweek?” The author then provides a roadmap to achieve personal and professional success.

The stressful and many a times overloaded workweek robs us of our passion and pleasure, it destroys family and community stability, and sets up businesses to fail once they have burned out their employees and burned through ever more manipulative and oppressive strategies.

The book describes how managers can turn the repetition, boredom and aggravation of the usual workweek into an environment that is filled with joy, inspiration and freedom.

I do believe that the old way of doing business is sprinting towards its deathbed, and the time has come to re-invent and re-engineer the way of doing business which could be more or less like the Semco’s way, aimed at fulfilling the central purpose of business. Thus, a satisfactory and rewarding life can be made possible for the entire workforce for their hard work. In order to achieve that, it is important to treat co-workers like intelligent mature adults by allowing them to manage themselves. This, as a business model, has worked like a charm for Semco and could possibly be put to use at any organization, anywhere in the so business world that wants to move beyond traditional thinking to a more democratic realm.

While highlighting how flexibility in work time and self-management by employees can work wonders to improve a company’s bottom line, it also narrates how self-organized employee groups can harness extra potential to bring about change in productivity just by eliminating time lags. The book supports encouraging employees to rely on their own intuition and use it in the workplace with a combination of reasoning and experience to reach a decision.

The book is full of stories from Semco’s everyday existence and is a joy to read. Time and again these stories illustrate that one must not opt for the easy way out.

On one hand, it is a thought-provoking guidebook that reveals how freedom and happiness can lead a business to success. On the other, it is an easy, fun to read book as it shares the day to day experiences at the workplace. Also, it is 100% free of MBA-jargons.

Author : Kinshuk Chaturvedi

PGPM Class of 2017, Great Lakes