Dr. Pawan G. Agrawal, CEO of the revered Mumbai Dabbawala Association, was greeted with a huge round of applause by the enthusiastic BITSian junta so much so that the auditorium roared with jubilation. Dr. Agrawal was here to deliver a lecture as a part of the Think Again Conclave of APOGEE 2013.
Sporting the quintessential Nehru cap and a dabba in his hand, his persuasive mix of Hindi and English was received with high spirits. He explained the complex system of the Mumbai Dabbawalas who were numbering somewhere around 5000. With an error record of one in about sixteen million deliveries, the dabbawalas would deliver roughly 200 thousand tiffins daily.
Despite having no technological backup and therefore an encumbrance to store records, Dr. Agrawal went on to explain how it became possible to be bestowed with the prestigious Six-Sigma Quality Certification. The co-ordination of the dabbawals are amazing. Say Dr. Agrawal, “Our watches can go wrong, but not the dabbawalas. Work is worship.”
He explained how unity and discipline were maintained among the unified group of dabbawalas. The primary goal that drives them towards perfection and reliability is their motive to achieve 100 percent ‘customer satisfaction.’
This 122 year old organization has hardly seen any strike or retaliation. They make their way through the crowded Mumbai local trains where even standing steadily becomes difficult. On a bad day when train services would discontinue (as in a calamity or hazard), Dr.Agrawal chuckles, “On a day that bad, people would anyways not go for work.”
When Piyush Pandey, advertisement magnate as well as Executive Chairman and National Creative Director of Ogilvy and Mather, India, stepped on the stage of the jam packed BITS-Pilani auditorium, spirits were already high. He was, after all, the man who had provided us with numerous memorable advertisements in the past. Named as ‘the most influential man in Indian advertising’ by The Economic Times for 8 consecutive years, he is the guiding light behind all the Fevicol, Cadbury Dairy Milk (voted the campaign of the century), Asian Paints, Fevikwik, Vodafone’s ZooZoo campaigns and very recently the Hindu ad campaign (the Youth are watching).
He spoke about his love; that is advertising. His speech which included ready wit here and there made the audience glued to their seats. According to him, any person involved in advertising had to be agile in accommodating the entire on goings throughout the world. Everything depends on his capacity to intake all audio and visual cues. Because advertisement is all about observation. Cultural relevance is also a major component while planning for some particular campaign. Indians love melodrama. The key is to know and respect what viewers want.
He stressed upon innovation which according to him was absolutely necessary. Customers cannot be served the same cup of tea daily. Change had to take over.
He ended his speech by emphasizing that one needs to reinvent himself on a continuous basis. His speech left the audience wanting for more. Inspirational words about following one’s heart sent waves of enthusiasm filled with emotions through everyone.3) Jeff Lieberman
Jeff Lieberman started the show with his phenomenal hold. What can be cooler for young budding engineers then to get a platter served full of crazy but meaningful scientific fundas. Jeff Lieberman with his comical sense intact, managed to hold each and everyone’s attention. Even the back benchers in the huge auditorium who had dozed off got up to listen.
The best thing about Jeff Lieberman was that here was a guy who was extremely knowledgeable when it came to basic sciences and he tried applying his knowledge to find answers hidden beneath our existence. His was a quest to find out mysteries of life and human emotions.
Devdutt Pattanaik came next and in his usual way started by reciting a story from the Mahabharata and posed a dilemma. From there he took us into a journey comprising of the teachings of mythology and epics that can be applied to this contemporary world.
Devdutt Pattanaik’s application of the offerings of mythology to modern day management was indeed breath-taking and refreshing to quite an extent.
The last day of the Think Again Conclave ended with a feeling of wanting for more. I personally went back to my room with a head that kept pondering over the new ideas and concepts just learned. Frankly, I did not interview anyone asking their experience of the night because it was not needed. To learn from the learned has been and shall always be the path through which knowledge shall be transferred.
Credits- English Press Club, BITS-Pilani
Adarsh S and Ratna Prasanth K
2012-2014 MBA Batch