Small Big Bang: A book by Ashwin Murali

Ashwin Murali (student of IIM Kashipur, PGP2013 batch) published his first book “Small Big Bang” with Grey Parrot publications.
Small Big Bang has been an experience of a lifetime for many. Here’s what Ashwin Murali, a key member of the SBB team, from IIM Kashipur has to say,

‘Small Big Bang’ is a dream come true for budding writers like me. I was overjoyed when I got selected for the project. The project took off and it was a whole new experience in itself – meeting the entrepreneur, chatting with him, interviewing him, the audio recordings, the videos, chronicling his story, trying to do justice to his story through my words. It was an experience that I’d cherish forever. Not just my experience, but the entrepreneur’s story was so inspiring that it gave me the courage to take risks and try out new things in life. I an indebted to Grey Parrot Publishers for this opportunity and I sincerely believe that this is a start for many more to come.’


A tete-e-tete with Tata MindRover Season 3 winners – Ankita and Sulabh

It was an exhilarating experience to be among the top five teams of one of the most coveted competitions, ‘Tata MindRover Season 3’, after successfully competing with thousands of entries. We, Team “Balle Balle” (Sulabh Arora and Ankita Sharma), were to embark on an unprecedented journey to Mumbai in order to challenge the best in the business. On reaching the destination for the presentations, both of us were anxious but at the same time were thrilled to be at such a position.

We got to meet the top level management of Tata Motors and the interaction with them was splendid and rich. Meanwhile, waiting for our turn to showcase our analysis, we got an opportunity to interact with the other contenders who too were from reputed B-schools. After delivering our presentations, Tata Motors had a panel discussion in which all the participants were given opportunities to ask any queries that we had and we received great insights.

The team of TATA Motors clearly showcased unity, fun and dedication towards the company, which was highly inspirational. We secured the 3rd prize at the event for which TATA presented us with PPIs, certificates, and goodies. We had received warm hospitality from TATA Motors during the whole event tenure, which made us feel like a part of the TATA family.

Rakesh Kumar from PGP ’12 on clearing the CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional) exam

PGP ’12 student, Rakesh Kumar, recently cleared CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional) exam. He shared his insights on importance of CSCP and approach that is required to clear it.

1) What is APICS CSCP Program and what is its scope in today’s context?

APICS (The Association for Operations Management) CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional) program is the only certification of its kind in the field of operations and supply chain management. CSCP becomes even more important with enhanced role of supply chain management in success of business in prevailing cut throat competition, changing technological and economic dynamics. Accordingly this certification or designation is subject to renewal after five years as it becomes outdated after that due to obvious reasons like change in the ecosystem, technology, etc.

CSCP program requires prior work experience of two years as eligibility criterion along with bachelors’ degree. CSCP has only one exam, which consists of three modules (listed below) each having equal weightage-

  • Supply chain management fundamentals
  • Supply chain strategy, design, and compliance
  • Implementation and operations

All these modules expose you to the essential terminology, concepts, and strategies related to demand management, supplier planning, sales and operations planning, and more.

2) Who should pursue this program? How does CSCP add value to a regular MBA?

CSCP program is essential if you want to acquire comprehensive understanding of supply chain management right from the supplier’s supplier to end customer. This program becomes very relevant if you are interested in making carrier in operations field and to be specific in supply chain consulting or ERP systems.

CSCP helps you in enhancing your knowledge and skills in the areas like risk management, sustainability, SRM, CRM, ERP, six sigma, lean production, and continuous improvement, etc. Not only that it also enables you to comprehend and compare various practices and tools against each other at one place which is not the case with regular MBA. In regular MBA the things or courses are taught or learned in fragmented manner depending up on the availability & timing of the electives. Further CSCP program exposes you to various challenges, best practices, trends and developments of supply chain industry in a consolidated manner.

3) Do you think the popularity of the CSCP is growing? If yes, what advantage do students have in placements if there are already many people having cleared CSCP exams?

Since its inception in 2006, more than 13000 professionals in 77 countries have earned APICS CSCP designation, which is pretty much an indicator of its popularity in the business world.

In India companies across various sectors like IT, FMCG, consumer durables, consulting, etc. do spend money and time to make their employees undergo this certification. Hence having CSCP certification (along with at least two years of work experience) distinguishes you as an industry expert with specialized, high level knowledge and skills. It indicates that student has an ambition to make a carrier in this particular field. Strategically speaking this gives you an edge when you are doing MBA from an IIM as after completing this certification, you will be having most sought after combination i.e. an MBA from a college like IIM and CSCP from a body like APICS.

4) How should candidates prepare for CSCP considering academic rigor in MBA?

Here is what I did/suggest –

  • When to take exam?- APICS Exam is conducted every 3 months (March, June, September, December). To leverage the exam to the max during the final placements, I decided to take the CSCP exam just after completing my summer internship and not in first year. I made the decision keeping in mind the following points:
    • Knowledge retention while facing the final interviews.
    • Extended validity of the certification after graduating, as the certification is valid for only 5 years. Taking the certification in first year would have lead to wastage of 1 year of certification during the second year of academics.
    • To be ready with the scorecard so as to include it in my profile at the onset of campus recruitment season given that it takes one month to get the score-card/result.
    • Avoid clash with academic rigor, although it’s a risky affair considering the fact that if you don’t clear the exam in 1st attempt you will have to wait till September for a retake and it will be already November by the time you will have your certification/score in hand. So one might want to consider taking this exam in March rather than in June.
  • What to study? – CSCP study material provided by APICS is a must as most of the questions are based on the concepts/ terminology mentioned in those modules. There are many useful references in these modules for those who want to study some concepts in detail. As far as the exam goes, I believe the given study material is sufficient.
  • How much to study? – Ideally two readings of APICS content is must. First reading should be done with the motive to learn in general, while the second reading should be focused towards passing the exam.

In a nutshell, a candidate should be ready to spend at least 100hrs towards the preparation. If you are taking the exam with academics in parallel then you should start at least two months before the exam so as to have a reasonable spread of the load. The week before exam is “the showdown week” where you must put in more number of hours and take as many practice tests as possible.

PGP ’12 student Harsh Patel speaks about clearing CFA Level 2

PGP ’12 student, Harsh Patel, recently cleared the CFA Level 2 Exam. He shared his insight on need of CFA and approach that is required to clear it.

1) What is CFA Program and what is its scope in today’s context?

CFA program is globally recognized course in the field of finance. CFA program includes three exams (Level I, II and III). After passing all three levels and four years of work experience in finance field one can earn the CFA Charter. CFA program primarily focuses on portfolio management, valuation and investment analysis. CFA level 1 covers fundamentals of finance like financial reporting analysis, economics, statistics, fixed income, corporate finance, derivatives etc. whereas CFA Level 2 focuses on aspects of valuation. CFA level 1 and 2 exams consist of multiple choice questions. CFA level 3 focuses on portfolio management and it consists of essay type questions and MCQs.

2) Who should pursue this program? How does CFA add value to a regular MBA?

CFA is a good course to pursue for those who want to build a career in the finance field. Especially for MBA finance students, it is an added advantage.

Regular MBA is focused on case study and problem solving while CFA gives you much deeper insight into theoretical explanations and well developed US financial markets. The structured nature of the CFA course is very beneficial, as it helps in getting concept clarity and brings out clearly the interrelation and distinction among various theoretical aspects of finance. CFA exposes an MBA student early to complex financial fields like derivatives, fixed income etc., which are not covered in MBA 1st year. This will give students more clarity regarding their career preferences.

3) Do you think the popularity of the CFA is growing? If yes, what advantage do students have in placements if there are already many people having cleared CFA exams?

If we go by sheer numbers, latest data shows Indian students form third largest group (5,173 candidates) after US and China while the total number of candidates registering for CFA level 1 December 2012 exam stood at 48,981. India has seen a huge rise in CFA registration in the past decade even after financial crisis.

Clearing CFA exams are highly appreciated by recruiters. It shows dedication of the candidates who shell out thousands of rupees for reading thousands of pages!! Passing CFA level 1 is not only a strong resume point but also helps to crack the interview for summer internship. For final placements, passing CFA level 2 will be a differentiating factor.

4) How should candidates prepare for CFA considering academic rigor in MBA?

Considering rigor of MBA, especially of IIMs, candidates should start early (at least three months before exam on average) and put in regular efforts so that they can allocate reasonable amount of time for their regular academics too. For the non commerce candidates, CFA level 1 requires more time to prepare as they are getting exposed to nitty-gritty of financial field for the first time. Students appearing for CFA Level 1 in June will find the going a bit easier, as some of the concepts will be covered in MBA classes by that time. Once one gains conceptual understanding it becomes easy to build upon these for the next levels.

Apart from CFA books, there are numbers of materials available that compile the course for sort of crash course preparation. But that is not advisable as it is difficult to get learning or understanding out of that. So better stick to its original books. Candidates should start solving mock exam papers (like Schweser test papers) at least 15 days before exam followed by performance analysis. Scoring more than 70% (generally around 65%) in exam would suffice to pass the exam, but the primary aim should not be just to achieve the score instead emphasis should be on learning and application in the real world.