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The Podium is the annual corporate interaction series of IIM Shillong. At The Podium, IIM Shillong invites speakers from the corporate world to share their industrial experiences with the students thus helping them to get corporate insights into the various industries that these leaders belong to. Speakers from diverse backgrounds like Marketing, Finance, Operations and HR Domain come every year to share their expertise. 

This year the Podium sessions were graced by the following industry stalwarts:

Session 2: Mr. Tapan Singhel

Session 3: Mr. Aditya Verma

Session 4: Dr. Mitez Sheth

Session 5: Mr. Pankaj Kumar Rai

Session 6: Mr. Sandeep Sinha

Session 7: Mr. Suresh Narayanan

Session 8: Mr. Saurabh Doshi

Session 2

Mr. Tapan Singhel 

Managing Director and CEO, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance

Mr. Tapan Singhel has been associated with Bajaj Allianz Insurance since its inception and has been an integral part of the team which worked on setting up the company’s retail insurance business. Over the years he has been involved in a number of international projects such as the firm’s retail business in China and development of bancassuarance in the Asia Pacific region. He has been honored with numerous awards including the Corporate Leader of The Year Award in 2012. 

Mr. Singhel brought to the fore the actual workings of the insurance sector and the challenges it faces in India. Speaking on a low penetration of insurance in India (around 1%), he spoke about his own struggles in starting an insurance business in the country and how it has gone on to grow into the only profitable general insurer in the country today.

Mr. Tapan Singhel addressing the students of IIM Shillong

Mr. Tapan Singhel addressing the students of IIM Shillong

Mr. Tapan Singhel with students and faculty members of IIM Shillong

Mr. Tapan Singhel with students and faculty members of IIM Shillong

The session was peppered with his personal anecdotes as he drove the students to think outside the box and come up with new, innovative ideas and strategies to lead the next phase of insurance in the country. Announcing that the tipping point of insurance in the country is coming, he sent out a call to prepare for this change just as he addressed the future managers of the country into coming up with fresh ideas on how to manage organizations. 

His closing remarks on the session was to urge the students to study now for the sake of learning but prepare to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Mr. Tapan Singhel from Bajaj Allianz with students of IIM Shillong

Mr. Tapan Singhel from Bajaj Allianz with students of IIM Shillong

Quote: “When life is bad to you, the real strength of your character comes out. Fight Back.”

Session 3

Mr. Aditya Verma 

Vice President and Global Head, Logistics, Lava International

The Institute played host to Mr. Aditya Verma from Lava International who highlighted the changing dimensions of logistics in today’s fast paced world. Mr. Verma has 18 years of experience in supply chain planning, operations and indirect procurement across sectors like FMCG, telecom, commodities and automobiles. Currently, he leads the logistics division at Lava International. 

Mr. Verma’s speech focused on the impacts which are expected on supply chain management because of the implementation of GST and the advent of machine learning while also delving into the intricacies of human resource management in the supply chain. Identifying GST as one of the most revolutionary changes for the taxation regime in India, he presented it as a boon for the logistics sector in the country. While he lamented on GST being partisan between the center and state, he still considered it to be far better than the present structure that is plagued by inefficiencies and a long lead time.

He went on to highlight Lava International’s plan to consolidate its warehousing capabilities from the present 42 to 6 in the future to drive home the benefits that GST will have for the sector. 

With the changing scenario there is a need to constantly innovate to adjust to the changing business world and the advent of machine learning is going to be one such change that brings logistics closer to the customer. This has increased the need for trained professionals managing the operation. So as GST and machine learning steer the logistics sector towards a new order, Mr. Verma’s words steered the minds of the students towards a new reality where logistics is increasingly mechanized and streamlined.

Quote: “In the present scenario there is a need to define, refine and redefine the scope of logistics industry”
Dr. Mitez Sheth with students of IIM Shillong

Mr. Aditya Kumar Verma from Lava International

Session 4

Dr. Mitez Sheth 

Director – Strategic Initiatives, CaSI Global

Dr. Mitez Sheth has a wealth of experience working with organizations across industries, including firms like Deutsche Bank, Yes Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He currently heads the Global Strategic Initiatives at CaSI Global, CRS and Sustainability Institute, New York, a global sustainability body for CSR and Sustainable Practices. He is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta and Mumbai University. He has also earned his doctorate degree in Strategy from Western Carolina University, USA. 

In the session, Dr. Sheth spoke on a wide array of topics ranging from the operation of treasury markets and the setup of front, middle and back offices in a banking institution. He also spoke at length about his personal experiences in the sector, his initial struggles and how he overcame them.

Dr. Mitez Sheth from CaSI Global

Dr. Mitez Sheth from CaSI Global

DrMitez Sheth with students of IIM Shillong

Dr. Mitez Sheth with students of IIM Shillong

Dr. Sheth also highlighted the need to maintain a healthy work life balance and to continue to dream no matter what. These dreams are what provide us with the will to carry on. He also touched upon the concept of sustainable finance and the need to invest in sustainable institutions in order to create a future that is both, conducive to growth and well-being. 

He ended by urging the students to make the most of the two years they have in the management institute and ensure that their every action brings them closer to their goal.

Quote: “Each one of us is a brand. We need to know who we are.”

Session 5

Mr. Pankaj Kumar Rai 

Director – HR, Kohler K&B

Mr. Rai is a Human Resources professional with over 18 years of experience in HR Strategy, Organizational Design and Structuring, Change Facilitation and Talent Management. He has a diverse experience of working across multiple industries in manufacturing and service sectors. He pursued his PGDM in Human Resources Management from Xavier Institute of Social Service and is also an alumnus of St. Xavier’s College. 

He began by introducing the students to the philosophy of Kohler and stressed on the importance of design and innovation, especially in the context of today’s fast changing world. Highlighting Kohler’s own innovation in the field of design, Mr. Rai spoke on how form and function needs to go hand in hand. He then went on to highlight his own personal anecdotes and shared his mantras of success with the participants.

Mr. Rai also emphasized on the need to give every task equal importance and give your best to everything you do no matter how small the task may seem. He also spoke on the need to take people into confidence and thus ensure loyalty towards the organization by building a sense of trust.

Quote- “All tasks are equally worthwhile. Learn from every interaction, every transaction.”

Session 6

Mr. Sandeep Sinha 

COO, Cummins India

Prior to joining Cummins, Mr. Sandeep Sinha was the Sourcing Manager (India) for Grindwell Norton. He has also served in a number of positions at ReCon India besides being the Director-Corporate Strategy and Strategic Sourcing Manager for Cummins Inc. He is an alumnus of Indiana University- Kelly School of Business where he completed his MBA in General Management. 

Mr. Sandeep Sinha from Cummins India

Mr. Sandeep Sinha from Cummins India

Mr Sinha spoke on the way technology has changed businesses throughout the world and how investing in technology development centered away from the international headquarters helped make Cummins a truly global company . He also stressed on the importance of gender equality in the work place as he spoke on how companies can employ innovative measures to ensure the same. Highlighting how businesses work in a globalized world, Mr. Sinha underlined the importance of collaboration among different stakeholders and even competitors to ensure growth and success.

Mr. Sinha then went on to emphasize on the importance of encouraging innovation in the modern workplace and creating an ecosystem where new ideas are encouraged. This, he said is the only way companies can continue to stay ahead of their competition. As the session drew to a close, the audience developed a better understanding of the modern workplace and how businesses operate in these tough circumstances. 

Quote: "We have created a work space that encourages collaboration and seamless team work; our focus has always been on ensuring that innovation breeds itself”  

Session 7

Mr. Suresh Narayanan 

Chairman and MD, Nestle India

Mr. Narayanan has over 3 decades of experience in the FMCG industry and has held senior management and top leadership roles in various global companies including HUL and Colgate Palmolive. Prior to joining Nestle India as its Managing Director, he had held top positions in a number of other regions including Philippines, Egypt, Indo China and Singapore. 

Mr. Suresh Narayan holds a master degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics and a Diploma in Executive Development from the IMD Business School, Switzerland.

Mr. Suresh Narayanan, Chairman and MD, Nestle India

Mr. Suresh Narayanan, Chairman and MD, Nestle India

Mr. Suresh Narayanan addressing the students of IIM Shillong

Mr. Suresh Narayanan addressing the students of IIM Shillong

Coming from a period that saw the company undergo some difficult times, Mr. Narayanan spoke on the importance of transformative leadership and the role it played in ensuring that the integrity and the values of the company stay intact even after the Maggi crisis. Outlining organizations as an aggregation of individuals, he spoke on the importance of each and every stakeholder within an organization and how the company’s strengths are reflected not just by its financials, but by the people who make it. 

Also speaking on the current strategy being adopted by the company, Mr. Narayanan pointed out how the company had launched over 30 products in the last 6 months, its most aggressive stance in India till date. Highlighting how crisis brings out the best in people and organizations alike, Mr. Narayanan urged the students to never leave their winning spirit.

Calling upon the students to choose an organization that is in consonance with their values and not just go by its sheer size or reputation, he stressed on the fact that it is not important where you come from but what you make out of the journey.

Quote: “Our vision was to build the company brick by brick, consumer by consumer and employee by employee.” – on the Maggi Crisis
Mr. Suresh Narayanan being felicitated by the Chairman, Placement and Public Relations

Mr. Suresh Narayanan being felicitated by the Chairman, Placement and Public Relations

Session 8

Mr. Saurabh Doshi 

Head – Media Partnerships, Facebook, India

Mr. Doshi joined Facebook in 2014. A CA and MBA by profession, he has over fifteen years of industry experience as the head of New Media & Video Monetization at Viacom 18 Network, a part of Content Partnership at Big TV DTH with Reliance Big Entertainment and as an investment banker with Bank of America. Currently, he is involved with ramping up the partnership teams in India with a core focus on connecting people to content as well as creators that best inform and entertain on Facebook, Instagram and FB Messenger.

Speaking on the various products and services being introduced by Facebook, Mr. Doshi introduced the students to how Facebook is touching the lives of more than a billion people worldwide which includes India, one of its fastest growing markets. He also highlighted the efforts of Facebook towards making internet accessible to the billions in the developing countries who still live without connectivity along with Facebook’s continuous drive towards cutting edge innovation.

Outlining the advent of personalized information through social media, Mr. Doshi pointed their own innovations in the field of artificial intelligence and chat bots which are able to connect with the users at a more personal level. 

As the session drew to a close, the realization dawned upon each of the participants as to how ubiquitous social media and Facebook in particular has become in our lives and the power it holds in affecting the lives that we lead.

Quote: “Over 10 percent of our monthly active user base is from India. It is one of the largest markets for us.”
Mr. Saurabh Doshi from Facebook India

Mr. Saurabh Doshi from Facebook India