Regional Conference Keynote
LEARNINGS ON NATIONAL SECURITY
Colonel (Retd.) Anil Athale
Founder, Initiative for Peace and Disarmament (INPAD)
In his keynote address, Mr. Anil Athale captured the linkages that exist between national security and project management. He effortlessly connected the myriad topics of national security and defense, nation building, and project management.
With 22 years of service in the Indian Army behind him, Mr. Athale emphasized that national security was the first primary requirement of nation building. "We tend to forget how wars are challenging and revolutionary moments of a nation's history. Wars are like projects that require meticulous planning and working towards the goal. Management is a facet of leadership that helps in better planning and execution, both in wars and in other fields," he remarked.
Admitting that India has had military disasters, he said, "It can be looked as a colossal failure of project management in the fields of defense and security. Sufficient intellectual inputs coming from project management experts will play a role in enhancing our national security." Using a quote from former prime minister Indira Gandhi, he said, "Nobody can keep elephants as pets. India is too large to be anybody's pet. We have no choice but to stand on our feet and behave like the elephant that we are."
He said project managers can play an important role in better planning, rationalizing the course of action, and implementing policies for the government.
RETAILING GETS CLOSER TO THE CUSTOMER
MR. HARI MENON, CEO, BIGBASKET.COM
Addressing himself as a grocery man, Mr. Hari Menon engaged the audience with his insights and wit that brought out the peculiarities of the grocery business.
India's online retailing industry is estimated to be Rs. 500 billion, of which online grocery takes the largest share and is growing fast. It is the only business he said that allows the delivery of product from farm to homes, without requiring intermediary storing.
Mr. Menon said the online grocery business has stemmed from the need to improve customer convenience. "Our focus is customer retention and we are leveraging big data analytics to get consumer insights," he said.
On the role of project management in retailing, Mr. Menon said that to flag off any new project, one requires a vision, competent planning, and thorough execution. "For a localized, city based online grocery business like BigBasket, same day delivery becomes essential. Planning inventory is a complex issue as many of the goods are perishable. This is where project management comes into play," he said.
He concluded by saying that for a project like BigBasket requires reliable market research, capacity planning, customer loyalty programs, building in vendor's inefficiency and logistics support, which are all cardinal aspects of project planning.
GREEN PRINCIPLES IN CONSTRUCTION
MR. PRADEEP BHARGAVA, DIRECTOR, CUMMINS INDIA
To exemplify the importance of leadership in nation building, Mr. Pradeep Bhargava cited Mr. Narendra Modi's coming to power and his campaign that had clarity of goal and honesty of purpose.
"It was one of the best examples of public relations management and aspiration management, which turned both the strengths and weaknesses as positives," he remarked.
He cited the prime minister's projects such as Bahumukhi Vikas and Swach Bharat as examples of project management. "Budget 2015 shows that Mr. Modi will continue with project management even after winning the elections. The budget talks about inclusive development, and every aspect is linked back to this same goal. It is all about projection, perception, priority, and partnership management," he said.
Talking about his experience of setting up India's first green manufacturing facility, Mr. Bhargava said, "The story behind the Cummins Ranjangaon factory in Pune is all about optimizing natural resources and managing power generation, following Lean and green principles with zero defects."
Mr. Bhargava said that while designing a first-of-its kind green factory building in India, they have explored and used nature through rainwater harvesting, solar energy, and natural lighting. "We took used bricks made of fly ash for better thermal properties, constructed a natural wind tunnel for fresh, cool air to the entire shop floor, and eliminated the usage of electricity. We used alternate material instead of wood in the factory, thereby conserving the environment," he elaborated.