The conference was inaugurated by Mr. Harsh C. Mariwala, Chairman and Director, Marico Limited and Dr. Rafiq Dossani, Director, Centre for South Asia, Stanford University and former CEO – India Operations, Jardine Fleming Investment Banking Group. The other dignitaries who also chaired the inaugural dais were Dr. Karsanbhai Patel, Founder of Nirma group, Shri Rakeshbhai Patel, Vice President, Nirma University and Dr. N. V. Vasani, Vice Chancellor, Nirma University.
Mr. Mariwala shared with the audience as to how he converted the business of Marico from being an unbranded player to a branded powerhouse. “People and Innovation have led Marico to what it is today”. He also said that it is important for the employees to be involved as it leads to commitment and is an important aid in innovation that is necessary in today’s competitive environment. Marico’s innovation focuses on product, staff functioning, finance and human resources. It also encourages its employees to take risks to innovate, as persistence is important for innovation and collaboration amongst departments. Marico also practices In-house facilitation to encourage and reinforce innovation amongst its employees. He summed up by saying that in the current scenario organizations need to “Apply conventional thinking that will lead to innovative solutions. Apply an open mind that will lead to wonderful solutions.”
Prof. Rafiq Dossani stressed on four goals of higher education namely; Quality, Access, Equity and Cost. He also quoted that, “By 2011 India will be the single largest producer of engineering graduates in the world”. This has been due to the increase in the number of engineering institutes as well as the increase in the disposable income of households. He also suggested that Indian institutes need to focus more on Group projects and Journal Writing in their curriculum to grow and compete with their American counterparts. He summed up by stating that the challenges faced by the current education system include the conflicting nature of the objectives of the stakeholders and the weak power of the government in the era of coalitions.
The inaugural ceremony was followed by a plenary session by Mr. Sanjay Verma, Professor, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad who enlightened the audience on the topic “Knowledge Management during Turbulence”. He stressed on the fact that one needs to think out of the box and be observative while seeking knowledge. He also said that “Each person has immense capability; the only thing that is required is to challenge oneself.” He talked about the challenge faced in bringing out the tacit knowledge residing in the minds of the people. He quoted that “We have to move from know what to know how”. He explained the importance of knowledge management in MNCs like Tata Steel, Infosys, ONGC and Mahindra etc.
The track sessions during the day covered variety of themes such as “Creativity & Innovations: “Technological Implications”, “Turbulence in Business and Society”, “Leadership during Turbulence”, “Learnings from the Downturn”, “Entrepreneurial Culture for Managing Turbulence” and “Functional and Cross-Functional Challenges during Turbulence”. More than 50 papers were presented during the five parallel track sessions by academic scholars, practising professionals and management students.