Prof. Sunil Handa’s Laboratory in Entrepreneurial Motivation (LEM)

Fri, Nov 30, 2012

Industry Speak

“Have the end in mind and every day make sure working towards it.”

– Ryan Allis

How often have you read such lines more importantly how often have you understood the real meaning?

After the last workshop as famously known as Laboratory on Entrepreneurial Motivation (LEM), I am sure at least what the above signifies and what it stands for in life. If you’re wondering what was so unique about this workshop. Without an iota of a doubt it was the speaker – Prof. Sunil Handa.

Day 1

On the day, as usual, considering it to be like yet another lectures that are organised at IIT as an intensive routine, I had hardly anticipated anything special about this one, except the fact that, I was head on with my first intensive workshop at IIT Kanpur. Entrepreneurship has always been my area of interest. But I had almost forgotten my dream of being an entrepreneur. So, at my entrepreneurial best, I left my hostel but without any real expectations. But the session turned out to be a thriller. The intense discussion, the charm of Prof. Handa and the suptuous stories, the environment was very energetic. Audience was put to imagination and the more we focussed, more we felt like entering a swamp of intellect!

He started the session with one of his own anecdotes.  Citing his personal experience, he elaborated that he left his high paying  job (at mill that he dramatically revived, and gave him 21 years of experience in just 21 months as he proudly says) as it was continually becoming less challenging, and he thought it was a time to move on with something of his own and joined his brother to start their own business venture.  Further, he candidly elaborated on how on few instances he failed but more importantly, he learnt a lot from those failures.

He continued to exemplify the fact that the more you work towards the success of your own organisation the better the more will the success bring. That is why inspite being one of the topper of his batch at IIMA, he chose to take a road less travelled.

He substantiated his anecdotes and professed the idea of entrepreneurial ideology with some concrete data. He elaborated using basic mathematics how the companies gain more due to the appreciation of the assets (primarily the land) rather that the actual profits generated by the business.

Day 2 – The LEMmers

On day 2, we yet again got a chance to be the LEMmers – believe me it was bliss. Prof. Handa had some precise and immaculate examples (typically from his own rich experiences with the subject and a happening life) to share for every question that we shot at him and to elaborate some of his mind jolting thoughts and ideas.

Further, he shared some really motivating stories of his students. Now, understandably, he being an IIM Prof., has mentored many of his students to their ways to the top. Some of them are the founders of the well known companies such as , Fractal Analytics et al. As amusing were the stories of such start-ups, equally captivating were Prof. Handa’s  analysis of such ventures. He cleverly highlighted the parts where there was learning marked for us.

There were some of his remarks that I would like to share as personally I would remember them for a long time.

1. Never jump the gun

An entrepreneur should choose a field that he/she desire as per any criteria. But, the vital aspect is the knowledge about the sector, industry and everything even remotely related. Substantiating, Prof. Handa gave the example of his own chemical company. He joined a rigorous 2 months course, in a university in England, on microbiology just to better understand the happenings in his company. More so, he trained a group of people alongside him to have the unmatched knowledge in their field of work.

2. Always start with manageable

This is yet another aspect that is of paramount importance, as elaborated by the Prof., and should be kept in mind while going for a venture. Prof. Handa continually stressed on the cutbacks one needs to put in place when starting a business. The reason is clear but yet is ignored by many.

3. Credibility matters

Do a venture that holds credibility. Your work ethics are the primary source of credibility and motivation for the customers as well as the employees. Believe it or not, it doesn’t take time for ill processes and frauds to leak through the walls of company or its balance sheets to reach out to the stakeholders. If you destroy the milieu that you grow in or if you do not gain respect from what you do – It is not worth doing.

4. You can NEVER lose in business

Last but not the least, Prof. Handa said “You can never lose in business”. Now, it certainly led to a lot of raised eye brows and, consequently, people shot a lot of queries at him. But, he embellished his statement with his comprehensive elaboration and soon made the true meaning of the statement crystal clear. If one keep eyes on the balance-sheet, market trends, customer reviews and takes rational decisions, under normal circumstances there is a little chance that you make a unrecoverable blunder.

Bidding Adieu

Since, it was my first hand on workshop it has set a benchmark in my mind. Prof. Handa’s own experiences and knowledge were as practical as it can get. He made us come out of our little shells and made us realise that the world is full of opportunities. We just need to put our fears and long held stereotypes behind us and work towards our goals.

I guess many of us also needed a push – the motivation to come out of the shell. And, as the Prof. Handa culminated his session he surely gave us that much needed reason – the head-start.

I end this article with a promise that I will further share the comprehensive details of experiences and the learning that we accrue when we meet Prof. Handa in Ahmadabad this December for some specific industrial visits and more!

Anil Kumar

MBA 2014

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