The date of 24th October, 2016 becomes an exceptionally important date in the entire 148 years of glorious and untarnished history of the Tata Group. The sudden change in top leadership position without any prior indication, in form of removal of Mr. Cyrus Mistry as Chairman of Tata Sons Ltd. and there by the Tata Group Companies, and reinstating Mr. Ratan Tata as interim Chairman is not only an unprecedented event in the Tata Group history, but is also a shocking piece of news for the country as a whole. The Salt to Software conglomerate, Tata group touches lives of millions every day and employs a whopping 6,60,000+ people and accounts for more than 5 % of India’s GDP. Of course the news was of humungous importance for all directly connected with the Tata Group, but it was also important from various perspectives for different stake holders nationally and internationally. And as has become the norm in the current era, social media was instantly abuzz with the news. Along with that, all major TV channels instantly picked up the threads and started weaving their own stories. Since no specific reason was attributed for the sudden decision, speculation and guesswork led to conjecturing of various story lines by people as per their personal whims and fancies across the nation. Multilateral interpretations of expert opinions made anybody an instant jurist giving out self-asserted judgements on what must have happened and the cause of such an event.

The Research

The why may or may not be answered in the near or far future, and nobody may be the wiser for it, but the event definitely rings in the minds of people even those mildly interested in the Indian economy, commerce or industry. With advent of communication technology, information travels extremely fast over various communication channels supported strongly by the digital medium. It is the lower age groups that are understood to be more conversant and comfortable with newer technologies. This led to a tremendous flow of communications and information across personal communication channels on the matter of ouster of Mr Cyrus Mistry. Youth (18 to 30 Years) is considered most hands on with the new communications technologies and almost every youngster holds a smart phone connected to the internet. With this being the scenario, it becomes very interesting to understand what the youth is thinking about the change of leadership and its aftereffects. With this interest and objective, a dip-stick research study was immediately undertaken by a small team. A short questionnaire was developed and shared over internet and WhatsApp in the structure of a google form with a condition that it be responded by people in the age group of 18 to 30 years of age only. Gender, education and age were considered for demographic variables and questions were framed to understand the perception of youth on the decision and the impact it will have on the group from different perspectives.

Within hours of broadcasting on WhatsApp and sharing the questionnaire through emails, responses started coming in. Responses to ten specific questions ranging from importance of the event to whether it is only a social media hype, to shaking of confidence among investors, employees and customers were analyzed. Impact on the image and Mr. Mistry’s business style were also analyzed. Following are the broad observations from interpretations of findings as they emerge from the quick data analysis.

Office Politics and Dynamics

While respondents are almost unanimous in their belief about strength of the corporate brand to withstand any emergent situations, there is a definite concern on some issues and aspects of investor confidence. Considering the size and popularity of Tata Group, general public interest in the group is very high and removal of a Chairman without any prior indication, that too without any explanation raises a host of questions in the mind of people and makes the event a very important one in the history of the company as well as in the Indian business and industry sector. The analysis finds that female respondents do believe this to be a result of office politics while male respondents are equally divided on the issue. Very remarkably, majority employed or in business males do not subscribe to the theory of office politics, whereas employed females strongly believe it to be a matter influenced by office politics. Not implying any stereotype, but a definitive large number of females feel major decisions in the corporate are influenced by Office Politics.

Investor Confidence, Social Media Hype and Employee Moral

Assessment of impact of the decision on investor confidence towards Tata Group indicates that this event has led to a shaking of confidence towards Tata Group investments amongst investors. Along with this it is found that the matter is unnecessarily hyped up by social media more than what is called for. In our research, social media is playing a big role in bringing events to limelight, whether correctly or not, it is a strong belief among youth and more so among males. Employee morale is usually impacted whenever there are disturbances in senior management cadres. Surprisingly, this research throws up very contrasting results wherein respondents who are in jobs or businesses, a large three-fourth of female respondents indicate that the event will affect employee morale against which, 70% of the male respondents in jobs or businesses believe that there will be no effect on employee morale. A similar contrast of opinions is observed among the Under Graduate and Post-Graduate level respondents.

Customer Confidence

The brand constantly drove to supply their values and in turn, create an image in the minds of their customers (Witzel, 2010). This being a vital element, the researchers wanted to assess the perception of youth in respect of impact on customer confidence and would it be shaken in response to the event. While overall responses from male and female respondents do not show very contrasting opinions, certain observations are noteworthy such as, majority male respondents, which include 84% from Under Graduate level, believe that the customer confidence will not be affected. This opinion is shared similarly but among female respondents of Post Graduate level, and from the male respondents in jobs/businesses. At different levels of education or profession the opinion varies drastically in respect of customer confidence.

Sole Responsibility

When it comes to holding Mr. Cyrus solely responsible, there has been a very strong negative response from Under Graduate females (84%) for Mr. Cyrus to not be held solely responsible. This is also shared by Post Graduate female students with a percentage of 66% saying he should not be considered solely responsible. Across all three categories of male respondents, undergraduate, postgraduate or in job or business most of the responses went against the notion that Mr. Cyrus should be solely held responsible for the situation at the Tata group.

Focus on High Revenue Businesses

Mr. Cyrus Mistry is blamed for his focus on high revenue businesses or cash cows (Corporate Trends, 2016), the Under Graduate and Post Graduate female students do not agree with Mr. Cyrus’s approach with a high 76% and 66% responses respectively indicating his approach was not correct. This is very similar to the responses from the male Post Graduates and in job or business respondents, with a percentage of 64% and 65% respectively. Hence, this research shows that the respondents show a very strong stance in how they are against Mr. Cyrus’s approach and strategies.

Resolution at Group Level

With the news of Mr Mistry approaching the court on his ouster, researchers wanted to know the perception of youth on the issue being solved at the group level. Females are of the opinion that it will be solved at the group level. Likewise 69% males also think that this entire matter will settle down at the group level. Majority of these responses come from post graduate male students and females in jobs and business who are very positive on this issue being settled as soon as possible. Over all respondents are confident that this issue will be resolved at the earliest. Inference can be drawn from this that people are assured that the court case will not be a prolonged case and that both the parties will come to a solution amicably.

Sentiments of International Investors

Data analysis indicates that male respondents have a strong belief that this event will not affect the sentiments of international investors, against which large numbers of female respondents believe this event will have an effect on the international investors. Though overall, majority respondents think that this event shall not affect the sentiments of international investors. Short term events like change in the top hierarchy and management of the group does not have any huge impact on the psyche of the overseas investors.  These events are perhaps taken lightly globally, keeping the long-term performance of the company in mind.


Youth in India strongly support the notion that Tata Group is as strong as the steel they produce. While there are some hiccups in terms of shaking of domestic investors’ confidence in Tata Group for investments, it can be understood to be due to the undue hype being created on the social media rather than other factors. Though the event is a very big and important event in itself it is not likely to make much damage to the customer confidence. While on one side people do not want to blame Mr Cyrus Mistry as solely responsible for the situation at Tata Group, they are not in favor of the approaches professed by Mr. Mistry for focusing on Cash Cows or high revenue businesses. The resolve and tenacity of Tata Group are legendary and their response post Taj Attack is folklore. This research also indicates that the matter will be resolved at the group level. Finally, research indicates that Tata name is strong not only in India but also overseas with international investor confidence also not to be affected by this event.

Corporate Trends. (2016, October 24). Retrieved from Economic Times:
(2010). In M. Witzel, Tata: The Evolution of a Corporate Brand.

Prof Hemant C Trivedi – Chair,  FLAME School of Communication, FLAME University, Pune.
Ms Ipsita Roy – Student, FLAME University, Pune
Ms Sunayna Devaiah – Student,  FLAME University, Pune
Mr Monil Shah –  Student, FLAME University, Pune



Mr. Hari Menon

“Magical” were the words of the BigBasketer, Mr. Hari Menon. The first event of “Day Two” of Mantrapreneur 2016 saw Mr. Menon share his experiences with the ever enthusiastic future entrepreneurs of FLAME University. One aspect that came out as a single message from his interview was a clear cut “Think Big. Think Ahead”. Mr. Menon was clear when he started – he had to be an inspiration to the student community. Though not intentional but his choice of words and his wisdom did the magic and set the tone for the rest of the day.

His entire journey of being a first generation entrepreneur and his partners, The Three Musketeers as we called them the other day established a fact that people today forget – i.e. a strong team bound by trust is the only way to build a successful enterprise. On the question of whether ‘Thinking Big’ is a natural trait or can it be developed, Mr. Menon was very subtle in saying that it was only natural for a person to think big and it is sometimes just a gentle push that an individual requires to understand that they are also born to “Think Big and Achieve Big”.


Alysha Tharani, Sourabh Kothari, Samkit Shah, Akash Oswal and Swapnil Chavan had one thing in common – they all had an idea and everyone had their roots in FLAME. They had one single message across the six of them, “If you want to start, Then Start Now. Start Somewhere”. The present student community were truly awestruck at their business ventures and their stories and have already started dreaming of coming back to their alma mater someday, sometime in another edition of Mantrapreneur as nothing but ‘FLAME-preneurs’.


FLAME in collaboration with IBM held a workshop on Koham Innovation – preparing and positioning oneself for innovation. The theme for the workshop assumed importance in view of the internal changes at IBM wherein innovation and creativity were to be included in the performance evaluation parameters across all levels of employees. Therefore, the focus of the workshop was around:

  • the new paradigm of innovation,
  • the role of innovation and creativity and
  • techniques to foster and develop individual creativity.

The highlights of the workshop were as follows:

  1. There were discussions centering on IBM’s changing and dynamic business model, outlining their initiatives in various fields, especially cognitive, data, cloud and mobility.
  2. New concepts like evaluating employee experience at par with customer experience were deliberated.
  3. Concepts of creativity and innovation were discussed along with their classical definitions in the industry. Characteristics and features of innovation, with lucid examples were described. The concept of “Koham”, Sanskrit for “Who am I?” was explained within the context of creativity. The essence of discovering the self for enhancing creativity was stressed upon.
  4. Group work to ideate and mull over what was covered thus far was also part of the workshop. Groups has to share the ideas they had thought about. They individually presented their top ideas which were deliberated and discussed by the participants. The participants feedback was that the brainstorming exercise opened their minds to a higher level of creative thinking and through this process, they were able to confidently provide more ideas.
  5. The post workshop analysis has highlighted the scope of offering similar workshops to specific companies or on an open basis.

Dr. V. G. Patel

“Entrepreneurs are the engines for growth and employ 60% of India’s job seekers”, said Dr. V. G. Patel. Dr. Patel is the founder of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmedabad. He gave an interactive talk on the various conditions through which an opportunity can be found for a fresh and innovative business idea. The most prominent reason for travelling through this entrepreneurial journey is the ‘intoxication of success’, said Dr. Patel. Being an old player in this game and having studied the areas for immense growth, he laid emphasis on the fact that the new players in the market should concentrate on selling solutions rather than products or services.

Mr. Kiran Deshpande

Mr. Kiran Deshpande is a man of few words but immense knowledge. Through a very organized talk, he imparted plenty of technical information. Apart from being the President of TiE, Pune, he has also been the CEO of Tech Mahindra and the co-founder of AirTight Networks. He divided the entrepreneurial journey into 4 phases: Idea, Team, Capital, Business Plan. He said that the proper amalgamation and planning of these four would increase the probability for succeeding manifold.

Dr. Yogesh Gurjar

Dr. Yogesh Gurjar was an inspiration for the youth, who have grown up seeing mere corruption. A man of principles and ethics, he has very passionately formed ties between corruption and his field of interest. He has worked on a very ‘out of the box’ idea which can be a game changer for the nation. Being a very disciplined man with a great sense of the moral way of conduct, he has created a vaccine that prevents future citizens of the nation from being corrupt. Post a sequence of lengthy research, he discovered that the trait of possessing corrupt practices could be found from the genomic sequence of the foetus. This trait could be deactivated very effectively through the vaccine. During the talk, Dr. Gurjar quoted Murphy’s Law which was very inspirational as the passion to succeed and belief in his idea could be seen even after multiple disappointments.

Mr. Pradeep Lokhande

Mr. Pradeep Lokhande is the founder and CEO of Rural Relations. With such immense passion and knowledge of his subject, he is bound to make a difference in rural India. With strategic planning and imparting knowledge to students on the requirement of particular educational facilities and services, Mr. Lokhande guarantees that by 2020, the entire population of India will be literate. He has mastered statistical data of his field and after deep analysis claims that by 2030, all schools in rural India would shut down which would bring about the e-learning revolution.

Ms. Shveta Raina

Ms. Shveta Raina is an alumnus of HBS. After working in various organizations, Shveta found her true area of interest which was making a difference for the benefit of the nation. After conducting intense research, she discovered the urgent need of training the future of the nation i.e. the undergraduates for becoming work-ready. Ms. Shveta gave an interactive talk on the field of entrepreneurship by drawing parallels to her own start-up, Talerang. She emphasized on the fact that entrepreneurship is for those who are ready to do anything and everything during the inception years of the start-up. She also stressed on the fact that on-field and market research of the field is a vital factor for the success of the start-up.

Panel Discussion

There was a panel discussion held on the relationship between art and entrepreneurship. The lead panellists were Mr. Rahul Ranade and Mrs. Suniti Vadalkar. A very interactive discussion was held in which life experiences and life lessons of the two were told. Mr. Ranade credited his success completely to his mother as she was his guiding light. Mrs. Suniti, being a specialist in her field of creativity, was not into business at all. She said “Entrepreneurship happened to me”. She claimed herself to be very lucky and fortunate as she was guided into forming a creative bond between art and entrepreneurship. Through the discussion, Mr. Ranade emphasized on having the ability to create demand for oneself. With such a large population, mere skills do not promise success. The ability to market oneself is critical. They concluded by stressing on the fact that art and entrepreneurship has tremendous opportunity.


FLAME University organizes various events that bridges theory with practicality. One such event was the industry academia interactive session which was held on 28th January 2016, at the FLAME University campus. The session was followed by a networking dinner.

FLAME University has always worked closely, and has been extremely successful in placing its students with the most reputed organizations. Taking this relationship forward, they invited a host of big names. The session was attended by 35 participants from the industry, which included MDs, CEO/COOs, Functional Heads and senior professionals from diverse industries, i.e., manufacturing, IT/ITES, banking, financial services and audit / consulting. They represented companies like Accenture, IBM, Cognizant, Credit-Suisse, Deloitte, ShareKhan, Yes Bank, Abu Dhabi Bank, Kirloskar Pneumatic, Precision Camshaft and Divgi Warner. Faculty members and students from FLAME also participated in the session.

The objective of the session was to discuss the areas of common interests and to develop an actionable plan to implement common projects across various activities like MDPs, Training, Research and Consulting. The collateral gains of this initiative was building the FLAME brand and to facilitate the placements of students.

The session that lasted for over three hours was divided into three parts –

  1. Outlining the FLAME vision and mission and the need to collaborate with industry which was addressed by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Devi Singh.
  1. Brief presentation by the Provost, Prof. D. S. Rao, on the University including the academic structure, infrastructure and the key differentiators of FLAME.
  1. Panel discussion on the Role of Educational Institutions in building Organizational Capability to meet the Challenges of the Future which was moderated by Chair – MDP & Consulting, Prof. Sujay Joshi. The esteemed panelists were –
    • Sunil Lund, Head Centre of Excellence, Credit Suisse (India) Pvt. Ltd.
    • Kaushik Majumdar, MD, Principal Financial Group
    • Hemant Joshi, Partner, Deloitte
    • Anand Khot, HR Leader, IBM
    • Yatin Shah, MD, Precision Camshaft Ltd.
    • Sameer Mulay, Senior VP, Yes Bank

The panel discussion opened with Prof. Sujay Joshi orienting the panel about the topic of discussion. The diversity in the experience of the panel brought about a range of points and gave the audience an insight into the topic that was put forth.

The first point raised was that of preparing the students and future managers/ leaders of tomorrow with the ability to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity. The panelists urged to spark the spirit of entrepreneurship in the coming generation of leaders. In order to help organization build capacity and capabilities, it requires that the faculty of such educational institutions interact with the industry more so as to understand the industry’s pain points. Lack of industry orientation in the curriculum may make excellent managers but not excellent entrepreneurs.

An extremely interesting point that emerged was about what businesses look for in the people that they are recruiting. Today’s businesses look at four capabilities – ability to understand numbers, ability to deal with human capital from multicultural and across geographical boundaries, understanding technology and understanding industry. He also spoke about the coming of the digital age. Hence, any education system needs to focus on classroom learning, technology, content and e-learning.

The importance of holistic education in the students and not keeping them bound within functional silos was highlighted. This would go a long way in building capabilities of dealing with risk, uncertainty and ambiguity that was talked about earlier. It was stressed upon that the students must be encouraged to take up subjects and fields of study beyond their career goal and objectives without having the fear of failing. Likewise, in organizations, managers need to be encouraged to take up tasks beyond their comfort zone. Failure should not be looked at negatively but a medium of learning and experience. This requires creating an environment which helps creativity and innovation thrive without having the stigma of failing.

For any business to exist, it requires satisfying a need that makes it relevant in the value chain. The industry and academia need to be geared up to meet these evolving needs of the consumers. The course curriculum needs to be made more concurrent and relevant from an industry perspective. The educational institutes need to build in their students the ambiguity tolerance and not looking at their functional specialization in a silo but in conjunction with other functions, thereby creating an understanding of interdependency and overlap between functions. There is no end to learning. At every step in your career, you need to have the temperament of learning, unlearning and relearning. Educational institutes needs to develop an attitude in the students of embracing change in organizations, in work and adapting to such change.

Dr. Devi Singh appreciated the points that were put up by the eminent panelists. He stressed upon the idea of industry partnering with academia to solve problems that they are facing. There is a mismatch between the expectations from the students and that of the industry. The students need to be made aware and prepared for the grinding they are to go through once they pass out and join the industry. With these thoughts in mind, the discussion was called to an end.


Mobile phone penetration and internet usage has changed the way Indians communicate and transact. E-commerce heavily relies on usage of devises like computers, smartphones, tablets and technology like 3G /4G and is changing the way business was reaching its customers.

Business Valuation is driven by many factors and one of the key drivers is sales growth. Abnormal sales growth is a great indicator of wealth creation but it comes with two riders; first abnormal sales cannot be sustained for long as competition in the market would eventually lead to a normal sales growth and secondly abnormal sales growth needs to be financed with capital or debt specially when the business is not generating adequate operating cash flows. When the business risk is high, getting a loan for financing capital requirement is a challenge and this leaves the business to approach venture capitalist, private equity, hedge funds for funding requirements. Private capital comes at a cost, but the businessman has little choice. This funding requirement also leads to mergers and acquisitions activity specially when the entity has a cash crunch.

If we focus on emerging industries in India, we would be forced to take cognizance of the e-commerce players where sales growth is abnormally high and is growing at a rate of 35%.[1]. E-commerce includes online travel, online retail, financial services, digital downloads etc.

Recently a little known company (LeEco) entered the Indian market and was able to sell 55,000 units of 4G enabled smartphones in 9 seconds and had 20 lakh registrations in the three flash sales that they conducted. As the e-commerce market is expanding in India, e-commerce players from developed countries are eyeing to get a stronghold as the sales growth in their home markets are not as exciting. World’s leading e-commerce players Amazon, E-bay and Alibaba are familiar names to Indians and with the internet user base of 354 million (IAMAI, 2015), adding around 6 million every month (VC Circle), there is a huge potential in the industry.

Global e-commerce player Amazon Inc., is the world’s dominant player with sales of $107 billion (Dec2015) and has a market capitalization of $272.3 billion (as on 2 Feb 2016) which is more than the combined market capitalization of top six Indian companies TCS, Reliance, Infosys, HDFC, ITC and Sun Pharmaceuticals. Alibaba listed on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014 with a market capitalization of $231 Billion. If we compare the sales growth of two companies in USA, one which sells consumer goods in a conventional manner (Wal-Mart Stores Inc.) and the other which is an e-commerce company (Amazon Inc.), the results are very astonishing. For the year 2015, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sales have increased by 2% YoY whereas for Amazon the sales growth is 20% YoY. Euromonitor suggested that in developing countries store based retail sales will increase by 10% whereas online sales will increases by 40%[2]. All this put together makes us think on how the e-commerce industry is evolving and the change in which business is moving from brick and mortar store to online platforms.

Some of key e-commerce players in India are Flipkart, Snapdeal, HomeShop18, Jabong, Pepperfry etc. All of these companies are in the private domain, which means that they are not public listed companies. Source of funding for all these companies is private capital and since most e-commerce companies are incurring losses, the owner have to either infuse money at regular intervals or sell the company at a decent valuation and take out their capital invested.

Let’s discuss some mergers and acquisitions activity in the e-commerce space:

Flipkart founded in 2007 generates $1 Billion in gross merchandise value (2014). Flipkart has grown organically and inorganically by acquiring many e-commerce companies in the last six years. Flipkart acquired WeRead (2010), Mime360 (2011), (2011), (2012), (2014) and Appiterate (2015). The company also made strategic investments in Ather Energy (2014) and Mapmyindia (2015). Through 12 rounds and 16 Investors, they have raised close to $3 Billion of capital and its estimated valuation is around $15.2 billion[3]. Key stakeholders are Tiger Global, Accel Partners, Morgan Stanley Invt. , GIC, etc.

Snapdeal founded in 2010, has made a total 12 acquisitions and 8 acquisitions were done in the year 2015. Grabbon (2011), Esportsbuy (2012), (2013), Doozton (2014), Wishpicker (2015), Smartprix (2015), Exclusively (2015), Gojavas (2015), Unicommerce (2015), Rupeepower (2015), Reduce Data (2015), Freecharge (2015). In April 2015, Snapdeal acquired Freecharge for $400 million. Approximate valuation of Snapdeal was done at around $7 billion3. Snapdeal went through 7 rounds of funding and has managed to raise close to $1.4 billion. Some of the key stakeholders are Blackrock, Temasek Holdings, Softbank, Alibaba, etc.

Ola Cabs founded in 2010, with a network of more than 2 Lakh cars, acquired TaxiForSure for $200 million in 2015. Ola is owned by ANI technologies and is valued at $5 billion.

Bookmyshow which is India’s biggest movie and event ticketing company acquired TicketGreen (2013) and Eventifier (2015).

Pepperfry was founded in 2012 and is into furniture and home products. After 4 rounds of funding it has raised $128 million from investors like Norwest Venture Partners, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Zodius Technology Fund, etc., founded in 2012 by 12 students of IIT Mumbai, raised four rounds of funding from Nexus Venture Partners, Helion Venture Partners and in the last 4 years acquired companies like Indian real estate forum (2015) and Realty BI (2015).

Some of the Indian leading retailers who did not have their own platform for e-commerce made strategic tie-ups with big e-tailors to increase their business. Future group (Kishore Biyani) signed a deal with Amazon to sell its private labels[4]. Croma (Tata Group) entered into an exclusive deal with Snapdeal.

Many innovative start-ups are launching their services and creating a market by connecting the unorganized service sector to the consumer of service. One such example is, an online portal for customers looking for professionals in the service industry like wedding planners, yoga teachers, photographers, etc. Another start-up by the name of Timesaverz facilitates consumers by providing service relating to plumbing, electrician, pest control, cleaning, etc.

E-commerce companies are not just generating revenue for themselves but are enablers and dependent on technology like cloud technology, mobile applications, digital advertisements, search engine optimization, etc. They also depend heavily on logistic companies and payment gateways. They generate business for companies like DHL, Blue dart, Gati, FedEx for the delivery of products. For receiving payments, e-commerce companies rely on payment gateways which is a service that authorizes credit cards, debit cards or online banking in a secure manner.

Report of PWC indicates that online retailers have lost close to INR 10 billion because of their strategy to attract customers from physical stores to online stores by offering discounts on products sold on their platforms. Such discounts are not viable in the long run and all e-commerce companies have to start generating cash profits. Till then M&A activity trends would continue at a great pace. E-commerce industry is bound to scale up its operations and consolidate in the future.





– Dr. Ruzbeh J Bodhanwala, Professor, FLAME University.




CFA Institute is the largest association of investment professionals in the world. They have more than 135,000 members in 150 countries/territories. Therefore, one can imagine when they host a conference, it will have the most celebrated speakers. When FLAME University offered to send selected students to attend the conference hosted by CFA Institute, we were jubilant. We could not contain our enthusiasm when we saw the list of speakers, whom we would be meeting up close and personal. There were prominent speakers such as Mr. Jayesh Gandhi (Portfolio Manager, Birla Sun Life), Mr. Sunil Singhania (CIO, Reliance Mutual Fund), renowned valuation guru Prof. Aswath Damodaran (NYU Stern School of Business), Mr. Manoj Pradhan (Global Economist, Morgan Stanley) and many more eminent personalities from around the globe.

Thousands of people wanted to attend, but the event capacity was of 500 people. We were lucky to be among them, thanks to FLAME University.

The main event speakers were leading industry experts who provided incredible insights and wisdom.

  • Robert P. Browne, CFA, CIO with Northern Trust, gave key insights on global asset allocation, his past investing mistakes and what would the investment theme be in 2016 and beyond.
  • Ashvin B. Chhabra, President Euclidean and author of the famous book ‘The Aspirational Investor’ highlighted what the nature of an investor’s portfolio should be. He explained it should have ‘three baskets’, safety, keeping up, and aspiring. He also spoke on careful allocation of risk in an individual’s portfolio and stressed on its importance.
  • John Kay, visiting professor of Economics, LSE, provided an overview on the need for ethical and swift corporate culture. He emphasized on the importance of having a lean financial system in an economy to attract investors from around the globe. This helps the financial chain to run smoothly by providing cheap resources to the most efficient organizations.
  • Manoj Pradhan, Senior Economist, Morgan Stanley focused his talks on the analysis that he had conducted recently. It concluded that the future 30 years are not going to be like the past 30, in terms of the economic structure as well as the business themes around the globe.
  • The most awaited event of the day was the speech given by Prof. Aswath Damodaran, Professor of Finance, Leonard N. Stern School of Business. He presented his views on the corporate lifecycle. He had the most interesting views on how to value and analyze a new and young company such as Uber and Twitter as well as mature companies such as Apple and Microsoft. “Every business is born, matures and declines. Every number should tell a story and every story should relate to a number. Number crunchers shouldn’t diminish the value of storytelling; let’s go, tell stories!” Damodaran said during his speech.
  • Pranay Gupta, CFA, Director, Curriculum Projects, CFA Institute was the final speaker. He methodically provided guidance on the framework that an investor could use on multi asset allocation.

The speakers were a power house of investment knowledge. The knowledge gained from them, will remain with the listeners till their life time. The fluidity in which they explained, the practical examples and anecdotes they gave made it so simple. We understood the most complex theories in a matter of an hour. Extremely grateful to FLAME University for providing this opportunity to their students.

Vikas Gupta
FLAME University


Make in India – surely we all have read and heard a lot about it, but to think that our very own Make in India is garnering support globally would be far-fetched. Nonetheless it is not. Recently, FLAME University was graced by the visit of Mr. Tomio Isogai who is the COO, Indian Region of Sharp Corporation, Japan and also Managing Director of Sharp India Ltd., as well as Deputy Managing Director of Sharp Business Systems (India) Ltd. Mr. Isogai has a career span of more than thirty-five years at Sharp. He has spent more than twenty years out of Japan engaging in global sales and marketing of consumer electronics, domestic appliances, communication products, office automation devices, and solar power generation systems that Sharp manufactures. This obviously earned him the tag of a global citizen. He justifiably is a global minded multinational company executive, with diversified experiences in many parts of the world, particularly in the emerging markets. He was once a member of the Economist Forum in Dubai, U.A.E. as Managing Director of Sharp Middle East Free Zone Establishment.

During his visit to FLAME University, he very interestingly conducted an interactive session where he put forward the Japanese perspective towards Make in India. He was completely cued in on India’s development plans, and rightly so. He displayed immense knowledge about our economy, and where it is heading. In the course of the interactive session he praised the Make in India initiative and said it was unquestionably the way to go. India is definitely an emerging power, and with such initiatives, India will strengthen its position globally. He was extremely positive on India’s growth prospects. It was heartening to see a man from a foreign land supporting an Indian initiative so vehemently, and the extent of his knowledge on the subject left us highly impressed.

Further, he discussed how Japan places itself in the centre of the world from a business perspective as opposed to the rest of the world that puts the European market at the centre. This attitude has helped them succeed. He also stressed that HR policies are the most important aspects to concentrate on for corporate India. He discussed that he would like to motivate Indians to infuse the Japanese method of working into their work ethics. Culturally, India is beyond doubt, very strong. We Indians consider our place of work to be pious. However, he does not think Indian’s work well in teams. He suspects that each employee here only thinks about himself and not the larger whole. Hence, according to Mr. Isogai, Japanese team work habits blended with Indian work culture is the key to dominance.

Mr. Isogai is currently heading the Sharp’s manufacturing plant based in Pune where Sharp branded LCD-TVs and split air-conditioners are manufactured. Apart from his official duties he is also very keen and active in making his personal contributions to the enhancement of Indo-Japanese cultural and commercial relationships.


One of the great things in life is the occurrence of chance events which turn out to be enriching experiences. One of those happened on a normal Thursday evening when we met Prashant Jain, one of the most brilliant fund managers in India. The meeting was very thought provoking and inspiring.

Mr. Prashant Jain, is currently the Chief Investment Officer at HDFC Asset Management Company Ltd. Prior to his current role Mr. Jain was the Chief Investment Officer, Head of Funds Management and Fund Manager at Zurich Asset Management Company (India) Private Limited. Before that, he worked at SBI Mutual Fund as Fund In-Charge. Mr Jain is a Chartered Financial Analyst from AIMR. He earned a PGDM from the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. Mr Jain also received a B. Tech degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

He discussed his investment philosophy, how he looks at companies during a change in leadership, corporate governance, how he spends his day, etc. He gave us his contemplations on many different aspects of investing and also spoke about current events. Below are some takeaways from our interaction with him.

Views on the new generation taking over blue chip corporate houses

Mr Jain’s experience where the new generation has taken over blue chip companies has been largely positive. He observed that the new generation of leaders are extremely well educated, and have an open mind to suggestions on how to modify running the operations of the business. They come equipped with knowledge with a fresh zeal and energy. This attitude often results in improving the company’s profitability.

On contrarian calls

He has often believed in going against the tide of popular opinions. He trusts his experience and knowledge, rather than going by the popular opinion. He gave multiple examples where has has gone against the tide when valuations appeared frothy.

How he spends his day

Mr. Jain said he has stopped reading investment books since it stopped adding incremental value. He believes in reading more data driven articles from newspapers and magazines. He recommends books authored by John Bogle and Warren Buffett. He said he reads close to 8-9 newspapers a day searching for new themes or ideas which might spark his interest.

Thoughts on private management running a PSU bank

He said this is an experiment as no one knows how this combination will pan out. However, he thinks it’s worth a try. One should observe the way these institutions will be run by private management.

In addition, he spoke about the role of technology in the banking sector, his investment mistakes and the future of the new banks that have come up. Mr. Jain juxtaposed his experience and his knowledge, imparting what is useful and weeding out the rest, providing enormously valuable insights, and that is what made the meeting immensely memorable.


Before I joined FLAME University, I was told there will be opportunities to interact with industry stalwarts and meet them up-close. Since commencing my education at FLAME, they kept every bit of their promise. Recently we, the students of FLAME got a chance to attend ‘The INDIA 2020 STARS, Annual India Conference 2015’ organized by Axis Capital. It gave us an opportunity to interact with Promoters / CEOs of eminent companies who through their keynote speeches shared with us their business insights and strategies.

Through the two days of the conference, we got to hear and learn from a fantastic composition of speakers that ranged from diverse industries of the Indian Economy. The experience was surreal. We got to discuss a variety of topics and ask questions to the who’s who of the Indian corporate world.

CxOs of various companies, like Axis Bank, Balaji Telefilms, K. Raheja Group, JSW Steel, Bank of Baroda, Dalmia Cement, and Infosys, among others were present at the conference. There was also a session from Mr. Anil Swarup of the Coal Ministry. Needless to say the experience and interaction was extremely enriching. Merely just listening to these dignitaries, their views, knowing their experiences and opinions amounted to a wealth of knowledge. It was overwhelming at first, but by the second day of the conference we felt slightly more confident to have gained a lot more insights into the workings of different industries.

Below are few important points discussed by the keynote speakers:

  • Axis Bank’s CFO shared insights into how technology is changing the banking industry.
  • JSW Steel’s CFO focused on growth in value added steel products and the usage of steel in new upcoming industries – citing solar as an example.
  • The CxO from Dalmia Cement discussed how the company is focussing on higher output and reducing process costs. He also discussed the scope of automation in reducing costs.
  • Infosys’ CFO and COO emphasized on the security of data becoming increasingly critical, as malwares and spywares increase with every innovation. By preempting it they can solve many problems and stay market leaders.
  • Bank Of Baroda’s CxO discussed how the new team is changing the company internally by benchmarking operational parameters and globalizing to compete with international banks.
  • Raheja Group’s CxO presented his views on the real estate sector. He highlighted various possible opportunities in India and how the K. Raheja Group was focused on exploiting the opportunities to the fullest.
  • Balaji Telefilms’ CXO spoke about advancing in the space of content creation and coming out with quality projects. He also discussed their international strategy and insisted on the value of existing content.
  • Anil Swarup, from the Ministry of Coal, enlightened the audience on the process of ‘decision making’ undertaken by the ministry. He also talked about the evacuation of coal and increasing the purity of the commodity by installing washeries.

Apart from these keynote interactions, there were panel discussions on India’s infrastructure progress and behaviour of India’s consumers. At the end of the sessions we felt abundantly supplemented with knowledge. I specifically felt, I can discuss various topics in depth. All of this would help me in my projects, research, studies as well as my career. It was an unforgettable experience. Every minute was spent learning and soaking information. I will always cherish this experience and it will go a long way in shaping my future.

Vikas Gupta
FLAME University