Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management
Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay
Shailesh J. Mehta, School of Management
IIT Bombay
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Avenues 14

Avenues 2014, the International business extravaganza of Shailesh.J.Mehta School of management, conducted on October31, November 1st and 2nd witnessed a grand success. Avenues 2014, through its theme "Breach the Zenith" aimed to explore the dire need and ways to continually raise the bar by the incumbents through the plethora of competitive events, leadership lectures and panel discussions. 

Along with the Flagship event Alankar- The Global leadership summit wherein eminent personalities share the secret of success, there were four flagship events namely Ashwamedh, Mahayodha, Manthan and Navonmesh.

Avenues as an evolving festival, this year added yet another feather to its cap by introducing an entrepreneurial event “Startup conclave” which turned out to be a top shelf one. A joint initiative of Avenues and E-club of SJMSOM, IIT Bombay, tagged up with three sub events centered with the topic of “Promoting Entrepreneurship in India: Role of our educational institutions”. It was inaugurated with the Entrepreneurship talk by Mr.Ajeet Khurana, CEO of SINE (Society of Innovation and Entrepreneurship) IIT Bombay. A distinguished Texas University Alumnus and an entrepreneur-turned angel investor gave lots of insights to the participants by sharing his experience and knowledge. It was followed by an inspirational speech rendered by Mr.Chaitanya Nadkarny, President, Rang De( An award winning NGO which offers micro credit to the under-served communities).

Next was "Start-up Arena" wherein budding entrepreneurs pitched their start-ups against one another in front of a blue ribbon panel consisting of stalwarts in this journal. The event provided an opportunity to budding start-ups to network with the experts and get valuable feedback from them. The event finished up with two workshops conducted in association with National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) on the topic of “Generating Business models”.

Along with SBI partnering us, this year INK talks joined to be associative sponsor and graced the event. On part of that, the INK conference was livestreamed at IIT Bombay campus which gave valuable experience to the participants.

Avenues 2014 – Pronite in association with Mood Indigo (IIT Bombay’s annual festival) was an astounding revelation for its grandeur.  The night of amazing music with the heartthrob singer “Javed Ali” was sensational and untied the knots of enjoyment for Avenues guests and IIT Bombay community.

 Ashwamedh, the crowd puller of every year, saw legions of students battling against their counterparts in a sanguine combat of strategy and intelligence. The event was lined with online round, case study round and final on campus round, where the industry stalwarts adjudicated the solutions and opinionated real life cases. Our similar flagship events Mahayodha, Manthan and Navonmesh encountered varied participation from premier business schools across the country.

The launch of VIRTUOSO – the multi domain Quizzing Marathon such as in Operations, consulting, marketing, Finance etc. turned to become one of the biggest events of Avenues because of its countless participation.

Avenues followed the legacy of its domain events like Mimamsa – HR online quiz & case study event from planning to separation, Leagile – Opertaions event with a unique lean thinking game developed with the help of Prof. Owen Berkeley Hill, a Lean consultant, Prakalp – Systems event focused on Innovative solutions, Strategia – the consulting project and Pratimaan – multi domain business consulting event, Abyutthan – Marketing case study, Upkriya – a social Entrepreneurship event, Mulyankan – Finance event based on Equity research and also Strategy events like Anukaran, Nirvikriti and IPL Auction 8.0. Apart from these, several online events was conducted and provided virtual platform for participants to battle up. Also, many On-the spot events rattled out in the Department building throughout the day to refresh and rejuvenate the participants.  

Avenues 2014 made its footprint by making the biggest line up of speakers from diverse fields for its flagship event Alankar – The Global Leadership summit. The speakers included Mr. Javagal Srinath, Dr. Prakash Amte, Ms. Monica Tata, Ms. Aruna Jayanthi, Dr. Mayilswamy Annadurai and Dr. Anil Kakodkar.

To say that Alankar 2014 was a grand spectacle, bigger and better than at any other time in its illustrious history, would be just stating the obvious.

It all began in a very un-businesslike, relaxed session by Mr. Javagal Srinath, the pace spearhead of the Indian attack just a few years ago. Mr. Srinath, being an engineer, felt quite at home with the predominantly IITian crowd and established a wonderful rapport with the audience. He recounted his experiences in the Indian cricket team, the dressing room atmosphere, the highs and lows of a long career as a fast bowler and the quieter, yet equally meaningful journey after he bid adieu to his beloved sport. When time conspired to take Srinath away from his cricket-fanatic audience, there was a definite sense of melancholy at what a few more hours with one of our cricketing idols could have meant for us.

The talk by Srinath set the tone for the day and we were absolutely enthralled by the next guest – the man who lives and breathes by the credo of “Simple Living and High Thinking”, for whom “service for others” is not merely a catchphrase to be bandied about at appropriate times, but is instead a philosophy of life, the activist-extraordinaire Dr. Prakash Amte. We were also graced by the elegant presence of Dr. Mandakini Amte, his better half for so many years. The husband-wife who have lived with the tribal people of Maharashtra for the last 40 years or so and worked tirelessly for the downtrodden and voiceless took the occasion to talk about their journey, their vision when they first started out and how they overcame the countless obstacles on the way. Mr. Amte stressed on the need to be conscientious about whatever task we take up as our vocation and reiterated that if you want to change the world, you could start today.  The audience left the talk with a deep sense of gratitude and inspiration, a sense of new-found belief in the possibility of good things happening.

While it was hard to switch off from trying to change the world, intoxicating as the idea is, it was made easy by the easy charm of our third speaker, Miss Monica Tata, CEO HBO Asia. This was a tale of how you can carve your own niche in the corporate world, how decisions made twenty years ago can have unintended consequences today and how far sheer passion can take you. She spoke about her early stints in sales and marketing just as the Cable TV industry was booming in the post liberalization era. She also kept reverting back to the importance of passion as the “5th P” in Marketing and how you can derive the maximum utility out of your work if you really love what you do. Miss Tata shared some of the difficult experiences that she had as a professional and how she dealt with unpleasant situations, blatant stereotypes and discrimination and traversed her way through the corporate jungle. She also enlightened the audience about the future of the Television and Media industry and the challenges that still remain in the sector – esp. backward integration and digitalization.

The next day of Alankar had an awesome speaker, who has consistently featured in the top business women in India ranking since many years. We were with Miss Aruna Jayanthi, CEO Capgemini India. What struck us the most about Miss Jayanti’s session was the confidence and authority she exuded. She was the consummate professional. She avoided talking about herself and instead focused on what the students could take away from an interaction like this. It is not a linear ladder, but is instead a maze or to use her phrase “like a jungle gym”, where you can reach the top through numerous routes. She gave instances from her career where she has taken up assignments which no one else was likely to take up, the unfashionable tasks; because she felt that she would learn something from it despite the unglamorous nature of the profile.

The third and final day of Alankar had another couple of stars lined up. And invoking a heavenly metaphor is quite apposite because we had with us Mr. M. Annadurai, Program Director of Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan, the man who put us on the moon and then took us to Mars. The sense of excitement and pride was palpable in the hall, even before Mr. Annadurai had arrived. His talk began with his early days in the ISRO, how he received timely and much-appreciated encouragement from the ISRO director when he was just cutting his teeth in the job, how cost-efficiency and delivering projects on tight schedules became second nature and the humongous challenges faced by his team during the planning and execution of both the lunar and the Mars missions. He took the audience through a detailed walkthrough of the challenges in each mission and how they were overcome. The major idea in the talk was the marriage of knowledge and intelligence to create innovation. He also gave a sneak-peek about the future of ISRO with a reference to the Aditya-I mission to the Sun. The extremely challenging resource constraints under which ISRO routinely pulls of miracles is indeed a source of immense pride and inspiration for all Indians and the audience was suffused with that very joyous feeling by the end of this lecture.

All good things must come to an end and so did Alankar-2014, but not before one last detour into history. Mr. Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, was our last guest and he took us back to the halcyon days of Pandit Nehru and Homi Bhabha when India was taking baby steps in the field of nuclear energy. Mr. Kakodkar explained the rationale behind some of our historical choices and we were left with a better grasp on the complexities of policy design on a large scale. He also spoke about several other key issues that continue to confound us as a society – esp. the massive migration and uneven urbanization challenge. Mr. Kakodkar also spoke about the urgent need to deal with issues of land acquisition with sensitivity, the dynamics involved in environmental protests, how people’s concerns must be handled and how the “Not in My Backyard” problem can be resolved in the context of a project of national importance. This talk was a serious introduction to the intricacies of public policy formulation for many people in the audience.

The mettlesome opening of Avenues 2014 jazzed up the coordinators and participants by its successful conduction of events in its own style. The count of registrations went up to 15k which also witnessed a footfall of 6000. Along with the top premier B-school participations, a high number of 100+ B schools battled out over 23 events. In the online publicity front in the form of Facebook reach, it saw a massive increase by 56%. The famous Pronite featured Javed Ali performing in the stage witnessed a packed audience of over 3000+.

Thus, several months of hard work put up by the students to make the extravaganza reach unfathomable heights has paid off at the moment when all things went successful leaving a footprint in the history of SJMSOM, IIT Bombay. Avenues 2014 ended with joyous moments and breathtaking experiences dimensioning into new horizons and setting up of high targets for the next batches to carry forward its legacy.