I, The Absolute

Archive for October 28th, 2005


Posted by itheabsolute on October 28, 2005

Negotiation Analysis

My question in the first class of this course was if could one learn negotiation skills in a classroom, where role plays at best are simulations. Notwithstanding the fact that they are graded. But after four classes and three role plays involving single issue, two person negotiation to multiple issue, multiple person negotiation, I realize that at least the skills can be honed. Don’t think that if someone is bad at negotiation, he can learn this skill here. But if someone is good, then he can become very good. The reading material given by the Prof, a young one from Singapore who is now a permanent faculty at ISB, is pretty good. Where are the students going to use the skills picked up here first. No prizes for guessing. In the placement season. I will write more of this course once the term is over by which time I would have known all the concepts.


Considering that I spent three years handling microfinance portfolio as a part of my role, I find it surprising I haven’t written about microfinance so far. Microfinance is the most happening topic on the campus. I will exclude consulting and Investment Banking. Every inter b-school competition that various b-schools conduct have multiple entries which have microfinance as the topic. Recently, we had a CEO of a microfinance PE firm on campus. There was good response from the students. What is microfinance? Why this excitement about it? It is not easy to write about it in short space, but I strongly believe that it has many solutions to India’s poverty and the poor. Microfinance is about providing financial services such as credit, insurance and savings to the poor. Microcredit refers only to provision of credit. Microcredit depends on the concept of peer pressure, where women (special attribute of microcredit is that 90 % of its beneficiaries across the world are women) form into groups of 5 or 10, as requested by a Microfinance Institution, and approach the firm to borrow small amounts of money. Thanks to self selection only women with good credit track record form groups. Because otherwise, if one woman defaults on the loan, then the remaining women of the group have to repay the loan defaulted by that woman. The system works wonderfully well. Except that a few unscrupulous elements are starting Microfinance Institutions for personal profit. Grameen Bank, founded by Prof Yunus, is the best known and largest microfinance bank of the world. Till Indian Microfinance Institutions catch up.


Krishna Kolluri (popularly called Kittu), EVP of Juniper Networks, was on campus today. Kittu’s name finds mention in the book The New New Thing by Michael Lewis (as founder of Healtheon). He was CEO of Neoteris. He shared his experiences of how he started/lead a few ventures and what caused their successes. He made millions of dollars in the process. He says that innovation should necessarily focus on things which customers feel as “must have”, not make do without types. A good combination of such technology with positioning/communication can make one earn a few millions. Ignore customer feedback only at one’s risk and peril. He mentions that outsourcing may give comparative advantage but not competitive advantage. Because everyone can outsource and reduce cost. He is joining a VC firm and is looking to invest in the start up ventures in India.

What I found interesting about him was his way of using words and phrases – xyz was ‘under understood’, ‘re-purposing the objective’, etc. His way of combining adjectives/ nouns / adverbs and verbs was quite unique and interesting. One thing which I find being mentioned invariably by most of the guest speakers is reading as a habit. Reading good books can be a great differentiator in many aspects of life. Am happy to share at least one habit with these people.


1. In fact, I have my first unofficial job offer on campus. The CEO of Microfinance PE firm did ask me if I would be interested in joining his firm post ISB.
2. Etc. is a good excuse when you don’t remember anything further.

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