Inspiration

I, Avani Awasthee, an undergraduate student of FLAME University, Pune had been selected for the “International Antarctic Expedition 2016”, which was a once in a lifetime opportunity. This program is called the “Leadership on the Edge” and the expedition was held from the 13th-25th of March 2016. The International Antarctic Expedition 2016, which hosted Sir Robert Swan’s Leadership on the Edge program, was indeed an exhilarating and a life-changing experience for all the 143 participants from 30 different nations across the globe. Antarctic – The last great wilderness on earth is melting! We along with the 2041 Team witnessed, debated, discussed and received firsthand information of the effects of climate change which was more than evident on this continent. We had the opportunity to see the effects of temperature rise on this icy and remote continent.

Our aim on this expedition was to learn about climate change, sustainability and energy use and how they affect us worldwide and what we can do to “PROTECT THE ANTARCTIC”.
The icebergs do calve naturally, regularly and frequently. We ourselves witnessed, firsthand something that not many humans have seen, which is unimaginable –  massive icebergs breaking away due to the steady increase in the temperatures. This is happening at a rate ten times faster than previously thought. We can sure look this up on the internet, but I have been there and seen it happen!

The oceans make up 71% of the earth’s surface. Less than 10% of this living space has been explored by humans. The Antarctic Ice Sheet that forms and melts over the ocean each year is nearly twice the size of the United States.

On the afternoon of the 14th of March 2016, after making final phone calls back home, we embarked our ship the Ocean Endeavour and bid adieu to the southern-most city of the world – Ushuaia. Sometimes misty and grey, other times calm and clear, crossing the legendary Drake Passage took us a good 30 hours. During this crossing, we were a part of various multimedia lectures by global experts about Antarctica including its geology, wildlife, history and geography. We were given IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) guidelines for approaching the wildlife and soon began to discuss about renewable energy and how it plays a role in the preservation of the Antarctic. One of our major conclusions at the end of this expedition was that we have to change our ways!

Once we successfully passed the Drake and entered into calm waters, we had the opportunity of making many shore landings in inflatable rubber boats called zodiacs. The places we visited include – Port Foster & Whalers Bay, Brown Bluff, Portal Point and Dallman Bay, The Lemaire Channel, Port Charcot & Pleneau Bay, Peterman Island and finally the Neko Harbour.

After a lot of learnings and experiences, it was time for the biggest experience – The Polar Plunge. The challenge was jumping into the Antarctic waters which was then -2 degrees Celsius; but it was worth every moment. It was extremely scary but an experience which I will never forget throughout my life! On this note, we headed back through the Drake back to Ushuaia.

“It is us who needs the environment, not the environment that needs us”- This is the statement I strongly believed in for a long time now, but the visit to the icy continent has just made this belief even stronger for me. All of us need to be considerate and sensitive towards the environment; it could be in the smallest way by switching off the light bulbs when unnecessary or by living on renewable energy through solar panels. But eventually, the choice is ours!

Avani Awasthee
Undergraduate student, FLAME University

InspirationLife at FLAME

Fascinated by simple mechanics of physics, Mr. Sonam Wangchuk wants to spread the love of learning, not for marks and definitely not for passing. He hence founded SECMOL- the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh to transform education into being practical and fun! This school is meant for the ‘labeled failures’ in our society, to provide them the platform to apply their knowledge of simple science and creativity in real world scenarios.

Mr. Wangchuk believes that memorizing kills learning and confidence of students and said, “If failures can achieve what toppers dream of, then there is something wrong in the system”. His school is run by students themselves; they have parliament type sessions for discussion of ideas, nurseries maintained by students, concept of germ theory where they learn the science behind and art of making jam and sell it. They even learn geography, innovation and apply concepts in science used on campus around earth, sun, ice and fire.

Now, he has hit upon another inspiring idea – to build artificial glaciers in the upper reaches of Ladakh. The idea behind artificial glaciers, or ice stupas as they are referred to, is to freeze and hold the water that flows away down the streams and into the rivers throughout the winter. Instead, this ice will melt during springtime, just when the fields need watering.

If only every individual had as simple, yet visionary ideas as those of Mr. Wangchuk’s, the world would be a better place to live in!

We were thrilled to have him interact with us at FLAME University.

BusinessInspiration

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”.

FLAME-preneurs

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’.

BusinessInspiration

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.

Inspiration

Smt. Jaya Row of Vedanta vision visited FLAME University on Tuesday, 01 March, 2016, to address and interact with students and faculty members. The session was  held in Chanakya-1 between 11:00 am and 12:30 pm.

“Karmanyevadhikaraste

         ma phaleshu kadachana

Ma karma phala hetur bhur

         mate sangostvakarmani”– Bhagavad Gita 

This timeless verse from the Gita forms the backbone of Smt. Jaya Row’s approach to her work and her life. Perseverance marked by detachment to the outcome propels her action and percolates every aspect of her life.  Jaya Row excels at presenting the ancient wisdom of India in a contemporary fashion and motivates her audiences to live inspired lives. Her seminars help evolve a management style that is not only successful but uniquely Indian. She has spoken at several prestigious organisations like:

  • World Economic Forum, Davos
  • World Bank, Washington DC
  • Young Presidents’ Organisation USA
  • Southern California Edison, Los Angeles
  • Shell UK, London
  • Coca Cola Company, Atlanta
  • Accenture
  • JM Morgan Stanley
  • ABN Amro Bank
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Infosys
  • Novartis
  • IBM
  • Purdue University
  • Washington University

Mrs. Jaya Row has specially designed world-class educational programs on basic human values for school children and the youth.  (EF)2 – Early Foundations Excellent Futures is a fun-filled program addressed in a contemporary manner with animation, interactivity, role plays and stories.  The course covers subjects like Action, Motivation, Decision Making, and Love, Forgiveness, and Achieving Excellence. It awakens the possibilities in students as even the most gifted person needs motivation to translate talent into success.Mrs. Row has been honoured with the Harit Rashi Award by the Maharana Mewar Foundation in recognition of her contribution to society. She was conferred the Zee Astitva Award for her stellar role in bringing the esoteric philosophy of Vedanta to the common person.

With the above introduction by Ms. Anahita our student, Mrs. Jaya began her talk  titled ” work is worship” where in she explained the basics on how should be our approach and attitude towards work to find that inner peace and satisfaction.  She dwelled deeply on things like Svadharma and also stressed on the need for inner motivation and making a difference in this world by giving up the I, ME and MYSELF.

The audience was spellbound and recieved her message with open arms and wished for more.  The pearls of wisdom shared would definitely guide all present in their day to day life.

InspirationLife at FLAME

Guest lectures at a university are a pretty common occurrence all around the globe. They are very popular and effective. I recently discovered the reason behind this when, the very famous ‘Metro Man’, Dr. Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, who is a retired IES officer visited FLAME University as a guest lecturer. He is known as the ‘Metro Man’ because he is credited for changing the face of public transport in India during his tenure. His passion, his honesty, his penchant for doing work for the larger good of people and for India clearly reflected in his talks. The positive influence of such interactions, and how it bridges the theories we learn at the university with the real world, makes these lectures priceless.

Dr. Sreedharan is known for building the Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro when he served as the managing director of Delhi Metro. Mr. Sreedharan was awarded with the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2001 and the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 2005. He was named one of Asia’s Heroes by TIME magazine in 2003. He also received the Padma Vibhushan in 2008. Recently he has been appointed to serve in the United Nations’ High Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport (HLAG-ST). He was invited by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to serve on his HLAG-ST for a period of three years.

During his talk at FLAME University, he emphasized on the importance of four things in life – integrity, punctuality, competence and social responsibility. He elaborated on these four basic principles, and how they have always helped him complete his work within a stipulated time frame. Now we all know such huge infrastructure projects are extremely complicated, with different stakeholders interfering with several aspects, leading to project delays. Therefore, his completing such public transport projects, with minimum delays and within a particular timeframe is definitely commendable. We realized while listening to him, that he firmly believed in those four principles, and actually applied them in his life. He stressed upon how as young leaders today one must imbibe these qualities, and indeed if the youth did so, it will change the face of India completely. He spoke in detail about how he managed to take up and complete the Delhi Metro Project within the stipulated time of 10 years. The Delhi Metro is world class, and obviously contributed to the city’s growth significantly. It is also one of the most successful ventures of public transport in India.

Additionally, Dr. Sreedharan highlighted the strategic and functional aspects which led him to succeed in other projects as well, like using reverse day countdowns for achieving targets. He also detailed how he set targets for his Kerala Railways project, which actually was not a norm then.

He is an exceptionally inspiring figure who is unbelievably humble and it was a privilege to interact with him. He believed in himself and his principles so much that it was easy to see how his sincerity trickled down to this team and made them achieve the impossible.

BusinessInspiration

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.

InspirationSports

I joined FLAME because they offered various sporting facilities of international standard. I wanted to pursue sports seriously. I was aware that it is an uphill task when you are trying to excel both in academics and sports. However, at FLAME my dedication increased as I was constantly coached and given the best of facilities. I am also completely aware as to what it takes to be a good sportsman as my father is a good hockey player and both his sisters played hockey for the Indian national team back in early 80’s.  My own swimming career started when I was 4 years old when my father took me along every time he went swimming. After some professional coaching I went on to represent CBSE schools, from Oman, at the national level in India for 9 years.

I always had a liking towards cricket and during 2012, my father put me on to a very good coach in Oman with whom I have been practicing hard ever since. During the 2014 GCC women’s cricket tournament, which was held in Oman, I captained the team to finish third. I was extremely thrilled when I got a call from the Oman cricket board this October, inviting me to join the team in order to participate in the GCC 2015 tournament which was to be held in Doha, the capital city of Qatar. I was in a bit of a quandary, hence with great trepidation, I approached Dr. Razmi who has been my mentor at FLAME, and has always encouraged me in the field of sports. She was instantly delighted to hear about this opportunity, and was very supportive. My doubts vanished, when she told me that I should follow this and make it to the tournament and that she and FLAME will support me completely in this endeavor.  Meanwhile, the Oman cricket board had written a formal request letter to Prof. Santosh Kudtarkar, Associate Dean – Faculty of Liberal Education at FLAME, to allow me to participate by granting adequate leave. I am extremely grateful to Prof. Santosh Kudtarkar for taking this matter forward and discussing it with the faculty members to grant me the required amount of leave. I was elated when I was informed that FLAME will be supporting me completely.

Post the approval, I was very excited as I began my training with the boys at FLAME. I owe so much to them for their advice and even the coach for all the tips and advising me on how I can improve my game. They all came forward and taught me the nuances of posture and how to approach the ball differently. The FLAME cricket team constantly practiced with me and I became better and better with each passing day.

When it was time to leave for Muscat, I felt ready and confident for the next step, thanks to my daily practice on the international sized cricket ground at FLAME. After two weeks of intense training in Muscat, with a probable list of 20 players, the final team of 14 was announced in mid-November. Ms. Vaishali Jesrani, who was the team coach last year, announced that she would be playing this year. Therefore a very eminent coach was brought on board to replace her.

The purpose of this tournament was to encourage more gulf countries to participate, as well as encourage more women to get involved in this amazing sport. We were given the privilege of playing under floodlights in Doha which was a rare experience and which gave us the added exposure to play under such circumstances. The size of the cricket ground did intimidate other girls, but not me, as I had been practicing on the international sized cricket ground at FLAME. Hence it boosted my confidence as I had better judgment as compared to others which impressed my coach immensely.

Finally, the tournament day arrived and it was indeed a great moment to walk into this world-class stadium in Doha and experience the competiveness at the international level. We fought well but couldn’t get a standing in the tournament this year. The team from UAE won the tournament. Even though I was disappointed, the learning and value addition from the experience was immense.

I once again thank the faculty and Associate Dean at FLAME for all the support. When I came back to FLAME, they were all so proud of me.  Guess this is what keeps sports men and women sweating it out all their life – the assurance that they are being recognized and appreciated.

– Sunayna Devaiah, FLAME

BusinessInspiration

The CFA Institute Research Challenge is a global competition, held across the world on a grand scale. This challenge tests the analytic, valuation, report writing, and presentation skills of management students.

Last year nearly 2500 students from over 546 institutes in 45 countries participated and learnt best practices in equity research from leading industry experts. Local CFA societies host and launch local competitions involving teams of three to five business and finance students from participating institutes who work directly with a local company in researching and preparing company analysis. FLAME students won the 1st position in the western region in 2012, beating many reputed and renowned Business Schools. The students continue to participate and bring glory to FLAME University, while they enrich their experience by many folds every year.

The talented team that represented FLAME University for CFA Institute Research Challenge 2015-16 consisted of 5 members, Mohammed Mandasaurwala, Team Leader along with 4 Team Members – Vikas Gupta, Nishant Gadia, Kunal Kanungo and Yash Tilakraj, under the tutelage of a very senior and experienced faculty, Prof. Sujay Joshi.

For this challenge, the team had to conduct an in-depth evaluative study on Whirlpool India Ltd. It’s obviously no small task, as one can imagine. Just the amount of literature available on the company would be overwhelming. Primary research, valuation, studying the balance sheet, financial history, position in the industry, gauging the competition etc., were a few tasks that were undertaken. The research also involved quantitative evaluation as well as qualitative evaluation, encompassing topline growth and bottom-line growth, analyzing management capabilities, business model and its long term sustainability in light of increased competition. The students were asked to present a price target for the company over the next one year, taking into account various parameters from the data available in the public domain.

Besides Whirlpool the team also analyzed its competitors, their financials and their competitive strengths to gain more knowledge about the industry. Different companies use different strategies to gain presence in the market. The team gained insights through dealer surveys, analyzing market reports and by observing how the companies are reacting towards current market scenarios.

The work can be insurmountable, but the learning and experience one derives from this is invaluable too. This detailed study provided experiential learning about the various concepts and dynamics of equity valuation. Not only did this exposure give the students immense benefits, but also the interactions with mentors helped them form a strong base to understand how to look at companies from different angles and study the reports in-depth.

Besides that, the team got a real life experience working in a very active market scenario. They also learnt the importance of working as a team, lending support and utilizing each other’s strengths to enhance the results. For example, while one team member may be extremely good at research, other can be better at analyzing the data. Some people are shy and nervous during presentations, while others are extremely confident. Understanding other’s strengths, while overcoming your own weaknesses, and using it to the best of the team’s advantage in itself is a great learning experience. This makes the student very ‘job ready’ in today’s competitive scenario.

This whole experience was extremely crucial for it gave an opportunity to implement theoretical knowledge in practical scenarios. The competition also enhanced the analytical, decision making, interpersonal, and presentation skills of its participants.

Inspiration

CENTRE FOR PUBLIC POLICY, FLAME UNIVERSITY
EMINENT LECTURE SERIES
CONSTITUTION AND PUBLIC POLICY: THE PRESENT CONTEXT
LECTURE DELIVERED BY: HON’BLE JUSTICE P. B. SAWANT
(Ex-Judge, Supreme Court of India)
Date: 27th November 2015.

THE VISION

The constitution of India, the most indispensable law of the land, provides the basic guidelines for the public policies in its formulation and implementation stages. In the instances of conflict in the formulation and implementation of the policies with regard to the breach of the fundamental rights or any other provisions of the constitution. The constitution empowers the Judiciary to adjudicate for consonance of the policy in accordance with the constitution. Hence the integration of the constitution and public policy is to be reviewed recurrently.

In the present time, we have witnessed formulation of some of the most noteworthy rights-based public policies as a result of the interpretation of the ‘Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policies’ by the judiciary. We are also witnessing the lackadaisical execution in some of the instances. In this regard the conflict and struggles of implementation provides an important framework to be examined and analysed.

SESSION AT FLAME UNIVERSITY

There was an air of excitement, as students, faculty members and staff of FLAME University gathered in large numbers for the lecture on the ‘Constitution and public policy: the present context’, to be delivered by- Hon’ble Justice P.B. Sawant.

After the brief introduction to the topic and the guest of the evening by the chairperson, and the Provost, Justice Sawant delivered his lecture on the topic.

He underlined the significance of the constitution, especially the preamble to the constitution and highlighted the salient features of the same. He referred to the present day challenges and ensuing debates in the country on some of the significant aspects of the constitution and how these have consequences for policy implementation. The Justice spoke at length on the issues of farmers, breach of fundamental rights of citizens and development issues.

The session was followed by questions from students of FLAME University. No doubt it was a serious topic, but the thirst for knowledge among students was palpable.

BREIF ON HOW IT CAME ABOUT

The Indian constitution was adopted on 26th November 1949 and in order to celebrate the occasion, Government of India has declared 26th November as the Indian Constitution Day, and embarked on a year-long celebration. In order to celebrate the constitution and public policy, we at FLAME University organized the Inaugural Eminent Lecture Series which was delivered by Hon’ble Justice P. B. Sawant.

One of the most significant objectives of the lecture on the subject of the “Constitution and public policy: the present context” was to sensitize the faculty and students on the Constitution of India primarily, and to understand the various compulsions on the Judiciary for directing the Executive and adjudicating in implementation of the policies.

The Eminent Lecture Series is an important activity of the Centre for Public Policy, introducing the students and faculty to thought processes of the eminent scholars, practitioners and leaders from the different fields of public policy.

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE SESSION

The students understood the policy making process and the directives that come from the constitution. It was an important lecture that highlighted importance of public policy, especially social development policies, and the law of the land. The event motivated the students to bring the debate on development and policies back on the agenda and generated interest in public policy courses that are being offered at FLAME University.