How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Location: India

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Manfest - II

Day 1 events:

Tata Business Quiz

This was a well-attended event whose finals were to be hosted by Derek O'Brien. Samrat, my usual quiz partner, and I did not make it to the finals. The prelim questions were a mix of too-easy questions and fact-based, non-workable questions. This can be expected from an O'Brien quiz.
Anyway, one team from IIML topped the prelims and thus made it to the finals. It consisted of a second-year student and an alumnus. The finals were a continuation of the prelims in terms of the kind of questions asked. In terms of content, the quiz was not really very enjoyable. But the big crowd was given a lot of entertainment by the quick-witted O'Brien. True to his reputation, he kept passing humorous comments on everybody - the teams, the audience (including faculty), the sponsors. Sitting on the other side, it was good fun, but I'm sure being the victim of those comments wouldn't be very pleasant :). The IIML team won comfortably in the end, so we were pretty satisfied in the end.

Day 2 events:

Tata Motors Case contest

I had volunteered to be a member of the Operations team of Manfest - looking after routine operational things. As part of this job, I had to look after operational details in the final presentation round of the Tata Motors case contest. It was a strategic management case in which participants had to analyse the Tata Motors acquisition of Daewoo Commercial Vehicles and tie-up with Rover, UK, in terms of their strategic fit with the company and their success/failure.
Participants from 5 different B-schools, including two teams from IIML, had made it to the finals. This was a presentation round and it was interesting to sit through the case analyses. The presentations varied greatly in style and content, as well as in the recommendations made. But the common mistake that every team, without exception, made, was of not anticipating questions. This was evident from the way the simple but fundamental questions from the judge, a professor of strategic management at IIML, confounded the teams. The IIML teams again took the first two places, but none of teams were really convincing, I thought.

Murugappa Brainwave - the General Quiz

We had a lot of anticipation for this event, but it turned out to be a total anticlimax. It was conducted by Mr. Simantha Mohanty. The prelims consisted of true/false questions with school-level questions. Thus, it was a lucky draw in which the teams who guessed correctly went through to the finals. I didn't attend the finals, but the questions were similar to those in the prelims. Wonder what the quizmaster was thinking...

Tycoon - the Strategy Game

One of the events was a game on managing a business, called Tycoon. It was an online game with 40 teams, who were all competitors in the same market. I participated in it along with a classmate. In each round (there were 8 rounds, each representing a period of 1 month), we had to make decisions on raw material purchase, production, facility development, and selling. Raw materials were available on an auction basis with the highest bidders getting the limited material. Similarly, products were sold on a reverse auction basis, with teams bidding for the lowest sale price getting their products sold (the market demand was limited).
The winner, of course, was the team which made the highest profits at the end of the game. Teams had a fixed overdraft facility from a bank, and they were disqualified if they exceeded that overdraft limit.
We began badly and could never recover, not being able to sell our products and incurring huge fixed costs. Eventually, we were disqualified in the sixth round. The game did represent real life to an extent. In the initial rounds, there was brutal price undercutting to sell products, with teams bidding ridiculously low (much below costs) to win orders. This caused a major shakeout and most of the teams were out by the 4th or 5th round. Thereafter, the bids became much more rational as the remaining players now concentrated on extracting profits. We had a suspicion of a software bug in the game which contributed to our downfall, but it was a well-designed game.

So, day 2 was a day of disappointments for me. I wanted to hear a talk by filmmaker Dev Benegal, but eventually he didn't turn up. Again, the Tycoon game clashed with a panel discussion on Corporate Social Responsibility, which had people like Arun Maira of BCG, Prof. Vishwanath Baba of McMasters Univ., Canada and Chandan Mitra (editor, Pioneer) participating.

The day ended with live performances by the bands Silk Route and Taan-trikz, which I didn't attend because I wasn't feeling very well. The performances could, however, be heard in the rooms. While the former band was pretty good, the latter didn't sound very good at all. They tried their hands at every kind of song, leading to a jack-of-all-trades situation.


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