3rd Annual Convocation 2014
Chief Guest Speech
Mr Arun Maira, the Chief Guest, Members of the Society and Board of Governors, Director and faculty members of IIM Rohtak, students and parents, ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon, and a very warm welcome to all of you to the Third Annual Convocation of the Indian Institute of Management Rohtak.
We are greatly honoured, Mr. Maira, that you acceded to our request to be the Chief Guest today. Your contribution to industry is immense, first as a practitioner of management in a leading industrial company of the country, then, as a CEO of consultancy companies and, now, as a member Planning Commission, responsible for manufacturing and infrastructure. We eagerly await your advice to this young audience on the threshold of embarking on a new experience of life.
I am very pleased to see nearly 122 students graduating this year. I convey my heartiest congratulations to each one of them. I am sure that the two years of precious time that you have spent here would go a long way in creating a solid foundation for a brilliant career in whichever area you choose to embrace. You would have learnt a lot of theory and practice in various facets of management; but, above all, you would have learnt how to work together while keeping your own identity. You will be going out of the portals of an institution where you have played a part in shaping its direction and characteristics. I do hope that you will remain connected to this institution and contribute to its further progress and development which will benefit future generations of students.
I would like to particularly thank the parents and relatives of graduands who have supported the choice of students to come to IIM Rohtak. I do hope that you stand fully vindicated for that support today. Even though this IIM is just 4 years old, it is developing very well. I would like to cite a few indicators to support this statement. First is the Institute’s progress towards achieving greater diversity The Institute is conscious of the fact that we need to have diversity amongst students so as to create leaders with different skills and competencies. With this in view, we began to change the norms for intake. I am pleased to say that from an intake of about 10% in the first three batches, we have reached a gender diversity of nearly 50% in the 4th batch. This is a great step towards empowering bright young women by giving them equal opportunity. I remember when I first interacted with the first batch I found just one or two students who were not from an engineering background. I have a great respect for the engineering profession of which I am one, but the Board felt that we needed to broaden the appeal and competencies of budding leaders who will be in a position to take a variety of roles in this world. Over a quarter of students in the 4th batch come with a non-engineering background. I would like to compliment the Director and his team for working towards this objective.
Secondly, I would like to mention that in spite of increased size of the batches, the Institute is now attracting well-known companies for both final and summer placements. Also noteworthy is that over 20% students are opting for a career in start-ups and early stage companies as well as seeking own employment, rather than vying for conventional corporate jobs.
Thirdly, the Institute is looking outwards beyond the shores of India. Last year, it entered into collaboration agreements with two universities namely, the Singapore Management University and California State University, Fullerton. This will enable it to interact with the developments in management teaching and research in the Orient and in the West.
Fourthly, I am also pleased to inform that a beautiful learning oriented campus is planned in a 200 acre site about 10 kms from here. A lot of effort has gone into understanding the needs of students, faculty and staff, besides learning from experiences of such institutions in India and abroad. A competent team of architects has been selected and the design has been approved by the Board. The first brick will be laid in a few weeks and the first phase of the campus, to be built in harmony with local environment, yet of international class, will be ready by early 2016, subject to government approvals.
And, finally, I am pleased to announce that we have adopted the Road Ahead document laying out objectives and plans for the Institute, and we are progressing well as per the plan.
My dear students, we are living in very difficult times when the economic growth rate has slipped from over 8% to less than 5% and inflation, high interest rates and a lack of liquidity are almost choking economic activity. The demand for goods and services has shrunk considerably. How long will this last, is anybody’s guess. However, the only silver lining is that economic cycles have an upturn too, which should crank up growth, hopefully sooner than later.
We are living in a world with increasingly greater uncertainty and unpredictability and higher complexity, and we are witnessing greater speed of change. The uncertainty and unpredictability sometimes come from natural events like tsunamis, earthquakes, etc; but, many are manmade. They are a result of conspicuous consumption, greed or throwing financial prudence and control out of the window. Excessive consumption of natural resources is creating after-effects, causing a lot of harm not only to our generation, but, in a compounded way, to the later generations as well. The demographic and social profiles are undergoing massive changes in different parts of the world. We have a very ageing population in Japan and a very young population in India. This coupled with multifarious regulatory requirements is creating complexity by a geometrical progression, especially for organizations which have or want to have an international presence. The speed of change is so immense that new segments get created overnight due to massive technology changes. Who would believe that just 20 years ago we didn’t have cell phones and that today we cannot do without one. Ten years ago we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter etc and, today, our life revolves around them.
Operating in this changing environment makes life very very difficult. It also gives unheard of opportunities to new players who do not have a great regard for experience or longevity. In India particularly, there is a great opportunity unfolding. We are a young population and will remain so in the next 25 years. Almost overnight, we have reached a high level of information connectivity through the explosive growth of cell phones and spread of televisions. This has made knowledge and information almost instantaneous even to people living in rural areas and has brought about a massive urbanization of minds. This, with increased physical connectivity coupled with greater disposal income and even greater access to financing, is bringing goods and services within their reach and creating a surge in demand.
Therefore, it raises the question as to what kind of leaders do we need to have. We need leaders who can understand and be aware of the challenges, but not be threatened by them – leaders who want to break out of the mould and create opportunities for growth and not wait for it to happen; leaders who are bold, entrepreneurial and temperate and who reduce risks through the application of new techniques and processes like scenario planning, analytics etc. Also, please keep in mind that display of leadership is not an attribute required only at the top echelons of any organization, but at all levels. In fact, it is the early stage promise that propels you to top positions.
I would like to state four characteristics for you to embrace and practice. First is that greater skill will be required in people orientation. It’s only through team effort that success can be achieved, and an ability to work with fellow human beings and going in a well-coordinated, focused manner will be a great asset. I do hope you will keep this in mind when you embark upon your new future. The second key characteristic that you need to live by is fairness, equity and integrity. In this environment which we find ourselves in, you need to be the beacon of change; you need to create a critical mass of responsible business bringing about a change in society. The third thing to do is to have an open mind, for nobody is a repository of all wisdom in this world. Take in as much diversity of views as possible for reaching solutions which are all embracing and richer and sustainable in the long run. And, the fourth is to have an inquisitive and enquiring mind and to think of innovative solutions whatever you may be engaged in.
On behalf of the Board of Governors and the Society, I give my very best wishes to each one of you to become a great and distinguished leader.