ISB Updates


ISB Leadership Summit (ILS) hosted more than 45 speakers across 12 panels in the two-day event that was attended by students, around 200 of who had helped organise the event. Summaries of two panel discussions are presented here.

“Bottom of the Pyramid”, a panel discussion that was inspired by the core idea presented in CK Prahlad’s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid (2004). This panel was jointly organised by the Emerging Markets Club and the Net Impact club and comprised eminent luminaries such as A K Shiva Kumar, an economist and an advisor to UNICEF, who also teaches at Harvard Business School and the ISB, Srini Raju, an entrepreneur, private equity investor and founder of Peepul Capital, and Rohit Bansal, co-founder of Hammurabi & Solomon, which provides legal and strategic advice.
The topic was intrinsically linked to the theme of ILS 2011 hence the panellists were brimming with ideas as the discussion was opened. Shiva Kumar began by addressing what he felt was the most important aspect of the bottom of the pyramid: the people or the consumers. While statistics vary on the number of the people in this segment, it is important to address their lack of basic necessities. He added that poverty cannot be defined by counting the number of people who earned $2 or less in a day, the criteria must include the lack of amenities such as education and health. Raju spoke about the challenges associated with making products and tailoring services for disadvantaged population. The importance of training was underscored: Formal training that will not only make the poor self-reliant but also helps them enter the mainstream workforce at par with the rest of the population. Credits were given to training institutes such as the one being set up by National Innovation Council keeping in line with the National Skill Development initiative. 
Bansal brought to the fore the importance of motivating the poor. Through healthcare and other incentive programs employees can be motivated to undergo formal training and to actively participate in the workforce.
“The Next Big Leap – The unexplored sectors of growth,” was organised by the by the General Management Club. The discussion centred on the various emerging sectors in India that can potentially drive the economy for the next 20 years.
The panellists leading the discussion included distinguished members of Indian industry such as R Mukundan, MD of Tata Chemicals; Ramesh Srinivas, Executive Director (Retail) KPMG; Subu D Subramanian, MD and CEO, Defiance Technologies; and Tulsi Naidu, Operations Director, Prudential (UK and Europe).
The panel pointed out the journey of India's economic liberalization for two decades before they deliberated on aspects of further economic growth and touched upon themes of innovation and inclusive growth. Subramanian, who opened the discussion passionately, spoke about how technology is now an integral part of our lives and how it has changed the way we live. He said that India needs to encash on the importance of technology convergence across various platforms and capitalizeon the mobile telephony platform as a channel to deliver various services.
The panel also pondered over the recent FDI proposal on opening up the retail sector to foreign players. Srivastava not only explained the entire proposal but also pointed out the importance of this big step with references from the corporate world. He added that the impact on supply chain infrastructure is a long haul process and that major changes in business mind-sets and operational processes are required for companies to flourish. Naidu spoke about the risks associated with the opening up of the sectors. She also spoke the attitude of the Indian industry with regard to insurance that mars knowledge dissemination regarding the industry. Industries would be served well to leverage the growth in the rural industries. Mukundan pointed out the infrastructural deficits that mar the retail domain and encouraged people to understand and look at these deficits as the bigger challenges for the future. On the issue of inclusive growth he rightly pointed how it is important for all societal stakeholders to grow together, in the absence of the growth is fragmented; this exacerbates tensions and makes future goals untenable.
The highly energetic panel discussion helped the entire ISB communitygain fresh perspectives on the potential that lies in different sectors of the country and how each needs to be developed for sustainable and inclusive growth of the Indian economy.