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JULY 16, 2006
 Cover Story
 BT Special
 Back of the Book

Widening Video Ad Market
The $12.5 billion global online advertising market is poised to grow. As broadband penetration increases, eMarketers are eyeing opportunities to tap the online video ad market, which is set to cross $1.5 billion by 2009. With major portals such as AOL and Yahoo re-inventing themselves to showcase more multimedia and interactive elements, sky seems to be the limit.

Flying High
Outsourcing is taking wings and how. Flight training is moving overseas with aviation boom creating a huge shortage of commercial pilots in India. The country will require anywhere between 2,500 and 4,000 pilots to fill cockpits over the next six years. Eyeing the market, institutes in the US, Canada and Australia are offering tailor-made courses. A look at the flying season.
More Net Specials
Business Today,  July 2, 2006
India's Best B-school Profs

If you are a professor, what does it take to win the respect and admiration of some of India's brightest kids? A complete mastery of your subject apart, it takes some self-deprecation and a sense of humour. Meet the nine most popular professors at IIM-A, B and C.


Arnab Kumar Laha/Probability and Statistics
A Head For Numbers And Humour

Calculus isn't the easiest of subjects to learn if you've never studied it before your first year of MBA. Yet, Arnab Kumar Laha, a 38-year-old Professor of Probability and Statistics at iim Ahmedabad, never has trouble getting a full house. Why? He knows just how to put the greenhorns at ease. He tells them jokes and spins funny stories around statistics to make the subject less formidable. "He comes down to the level of the students to explain concepts," says Anuja Trivedi, 23, one of his second-year students. Laha is so good at keeping his students engaged that most of them actually enjoy his 90-minute lectures. Not surprisingly, IIM-A's graduating class of 2006 had no trouble voting him as the best professor.

Interestingly enough, Laha never set out to be an academic. After getting his bachelors and masters degree in statistics from the Indian Statistical Institute, he worked with a software company for one year, before taking a break to do his PhD. That done, he decided to turn to teaching and joined IIM-A in 2004. It is "the ability to remain at the frontier of research that drew me to academics," reveals Laha. Understandably, then, when not teaching, Laha spends time on research. Currently, he is working on 'change-point problems' relating to financial volatility in stock prices. That's another reason why his new students may not want to miss his classes.

Ajay Pandey/Finance and Accounting
Philosopher Engineer

Last year, the headcount at one of Ajay Pandey's courses, 'Philosophies of Management', shot up from about 80 to 180, forcing IIM-A to create a new section. "This is a course geared to questioning, in a pragmatic way, all that one learns in the classroom," explains the 43-year-old. His students find him so good at it that they have even given him a nickname: "God of All Things". "Once he was explaining how stock markets behave and he ended up correlating it to human behaviour and even philosophy," says Mayank Rawat, 25, a second-year student. Pandey's lectures on finance too are sprinkled with titbits on philosophy, often making a deep impression on his students.

Voted the 'all-rounder professor' of the year in 2005, Pandey came to IIM-A five years ago from Engineers India Ltd. Before that, he did a short stint at ONGC after finishing his fellowship programme at IIM-A. All that apart, Pandey has done teaching stints at IIM Lucknow, the Administrative Staff College of India, and Management Development Institute, Gurgaon, and worked in the financial services industry for three years. "Today, I enjoy what I am doing, but I don't know what I want to do looking ahead or what I have always wanted to do," declares Pandey, with a touch of philosophy. "But my true sense of accomplishment lies in the rapport I have been able to build with my students," he adds as an afterthought.

Ravichandran N./Strategy and Operations
The Value-adder

Ambition without ability is a sure recipe for casualty in business." That's one of the many one-liners Ravichandran N. likes to keep throwing at his students in between demystifying the intricacies of strategy and operations. Do students appreciate his one-liners, which sometimes tend to wound them as well? Let's just say that, over the years, they have actually turned books out of such pithy remarks. "They give me a copy once in a while," laughs the 52-year-old popular professor. At least, in the case of the first-year students, Ravichandran says, he likes to maintain a tough veneer, but the sophomores end up becoming "his brothers and sisters". He's even co-authored a book called Competitive Strategy with his students, and he proudly points out that only two chapters in the book were written by him and the other 10 by his students. The 'book' is, of course, a compilation of student assignments, but made more rigorous under his guidance.

The IIT Madras engineer says that he doesn't believe in too rigid a learning structure and, therefore, prefers spontaneous lectures in the classroom. He feels that the student-teacher relationship will sustain only when there is a clear value addition to the students. Kindling curiosity, responding to them and adding value are the three most important aspects of being a teacher, he says. Quite clearly, the students think he does all three very well.


R. Vaidyanathan/Finance and Control
A Man For All Seasons

Here is one professor who not only influences the world views of his students, but also those of the regulatory bodies of the country. Professor of Finance and Control, R. Vaidyanathan sits on the advisory boards of SEBI and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). But here's the thing about the two-time Fulbright Scholar: He doesn't hesitate professing his ignorance if he doesn't know something. "Some of my students really get shocked when I tell them that I don't know something," he quips. But, then, there aren't too many things that this doctorate in management from IIM Calcutta doesn't know about. "Not too many professors can teach as well as entertain, but he strikes a perfect balance," says Sriwatsan K., 23, a second-year student at IIM-B.

Despite his vast experience, the 54-year-old Vaidyanathan spends at least one hour preparing for a two-hour class. "Well prepared and sincere faculty is any day appreciated (over ill-prepared tutors) by the Gen-next students," he says. Meeting new, vibrant young people every year is a renewing experience for Vaidyanathan and he says that he finds the classroom diversity fascinating. In a class, he says, there are students with no less than 16 different mother tongues at any given time. Meanwhile, Vaidyanathan is gearing up for the launch of his book "India Unincorporated".

J. Ramachandran/Business Strategy & Policy
The Strategy Don

On IIM Bangalore's Bannerghatta road campus, Professor J. Ramachandran isn't just loved and respected, but revered by his students. "I am passionate about what I do and I think this draws them to me," he reckons. A chartered accountant by education, it was his passion for teaching that pulled him out of industry (he was the Vice President of Management Services at Reliance Industries) into academia. "For me, teaching is a calling, not a job. I wake up every morning with a spring in my step and I work seven days a week," says the 48-year-old, who did a fellowship at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad.

The fact that Ramachandran has extensive industry experience, adds tremendously to his classroom discussions. "In a single lecture, he once came up with 100 questions, all pertaining to the case we were studying," recalls Abhishek Rana, 22, a second-year student. Yet, Ramachandran isn't smug about his teaching skills. "The greatest challenge I face every day is to battle 65 great minds (the average size of his classes)," says Ramachandran. His ability to connect with his students ensures that many of them stay in touch with him even after they have graduated. "A lot of my buddies are my students," he says proudly. A much sought-after consultant, Ramachandran is currently writing a book on globalisation of companies from emerging markets.

R. Narayanaswamy/Finance and Control
To His Credit, Entirely

R. Narayanaswamy's first reaction last year on being told that he had been selected by his students as one of the most popular professors, was one of shock and disbelief. "I thought at first it was another colleague of mine with a similar name, because usually all his bills come to me and all my cheques go to him," he says with a grin. Over the 20 years that he's been with IIM Bangalore, Professor Narayanaswamy has honed his sense of humour and the art of keeping his students engaged. He likes to think of the classroom as a market place for ideas that must be kept constantly stimulated. "The way I point out their mistakes, they are doubly happy to point out mine," he says.

One of the things that the 49-year-old professor, who worked with the Steel Authority of India before joining IIM-B, likes to do is to use case studies from stories that appear in business newspapers and magazines. That not only makes his discussions more topical, but also relevant. "Coming from an engineering background, I knew nothing about accountancy, but after the three-month course, I am no less than a ca when it comes to reading a financial statement," says Madhurjya Banerjee, 23, a sophomore. When not teaching, Narayanaswamy spends time on research. He is currently working on a paper (on adopting us GAAP in non-us markets) that is to be presented in China in July. Here's wishing him all the best.


Amitava Bose/Economics
An Institution Builder

Professor Amitava Bose has been teaching economics at IIM Calcutta longer than some of his students have been around on planet Earth. But the 59-year-old professor, despite his popularity, doesn't think he's perfect. "I haven't been able to connect with my students the way my own teachers at the Delhi School of Economics did. I wish I had more initiative," says Bose. As his students will tell you, Bose is being too self-critical. Some of his old students still drop by routinely, and the current batch thinks he's every bit the seasoned teacher. "He simplifies concepts and never gets irritated, and (learning) is a journey with him," says Joydeep Chakraborty, 22, a sophomore.

Bose was the director at IIM-C for five years until 2002, but he turned down a second term. "I was desperate to get back to research, since it gives me a lot of internal enrichment," says the PhD from the University of Rochester, who jumped at the opportunity to join the institute way back in 1974, happy to have found a job in his hometown. Since then, "my life has been intertwined with the development of IIM-C, particularly during my years as the director", says Bose. His research interests revolve around employment issues in India, besides which he has plans of writing a book on macro-economics. If the idea is to leave a mark, then Bose needn't bother. He's already a legend in Joka.

Leena Chatterjee/Organisational Behaviour
Joka's Jane Austen

Ob, or organisational behaviour, isn't something MBA students tend to lose sleep over, simply because it is not considered 'hardcore' like strategy, marketing or finance. But Leena Chatterjee gets an eager class just the same. For, when Chatterjee is on the podium, the class turns into a theatre. Students have to make presentations based on various characters in novels and act out situations. "I bring in examples to everything I teach and use a lot of poetry and literature in my teachings," she says with a smile. Not surprisingly, Chatterjee likes to write for journals. She has two articles coming out in international journals later this year.

Chatterjee, 50, studied psychology at Lady Shri Ram College for Women (LSR) in Delhi and then did her doctorate from IIT Kanpur. Given her specialisation, Chatterjee is not only a teacher, but also a friend and mentor to many of her students. In fact, she knows each of them (about 260 in each batch) by their names. What inspired Chatterjee to join academia? Apparently, her "wonderful teachers" at LSR. Rejecting offers from companies after her graduation, Chatterjee came to IIM Calcutta 22 years ago to teach ob and hasn't thought of doing anything else since. "I believe in enjoying what I do," she says by way of explanation. "The biggest perk of the job is, of course, the wonderful interactions I have with young, intelligent people," she adds.

Rahul Mukerjee/Operations Management
Open-door Tutor

Of the nine professors profiled in this story, Rahul Mukerjee was the only one who couldn't be reached. Not at all surprising, as we discovered. Go to Mukerjee's profile on IIM Calcutta's faculty page and you'll find the reason listed under 'hobby': International travel with special interest in western Europe and the Far East. Unfortunately for Mukerjee, the trip this time around wasn't to Western Europe (they are playing the soccer World Cup in Germany, after all), but merely Darjeeling. And since he doesn't believe in carrying a mobile phone, there was no way to reach him. But when he's on campus, Mukerjee maintains an open line. Students are free to call him or drop by at this office almost whenever they feel like. "He relates to us like a friend," says Joydeep Chakraborty, 22, who graduates next year.

Before joining IIM-C in 1989, Mukerjee taught at the Indian Statistical Institute in the city. A passionate statistician (he topped in both BSc and MSc, and has a PhD from the University of Calcutta), Mukerjee has also been a visiting faculty at the University of Michigan, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (Berkeley), and Hiroshima University. Mukerjee, 50, has co-authored five books and more than 200 papers. "He is a professor whom students love a lot," quips Chakraborty. That's more than what a tutor can ask for.




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