Strategy in the Context of a Diversified Business House
The New Campus at IIM Ahmedabad played host to another accomplished alumnus this Friday afternoon, as the PGPX class of 2016-17 and the wider IIMA community got a chance to hear Mr. Shankar Krishnan, Group Head – Strategy for the Shapoorji Pallonji Group (and an alumnus of the PGP Class of 1994) as part of the Speaker Series. He was also accompanied by Mr. Paritosh Bhalla from the Corporate HR Group, himself an IPMX graduate from IIM Lucknow and hence a past traveler in the One-year MBA path.
Mr. Krishnan joined the Shapoorji Pallonji group in October 2009 and he is helping drive the Group’s strategic growth agenda, for which he works in close coordination with the Promoters, his peers in the Group Centre, and the leadership teams of the Group’s diverse businesses. His role includes institutionalization of processes related to strategy formulation and implementation within Group businesses, as also assistance in the incubation of new businesses within the Group. Shankar also serves on the Boards and Management Boards of select companies and business divisions of the SP Group.
The class was fortunate to be part of a masterclass in strategy from a practicing strategist who has had wide experience in management consulting and in a corporate role. He first discussed the facets involved in formulating the strategy for a single business, and then talked about the added nuances involved in a diversified business house. As an aide-memoire for the class, Mr. Krishnan distilled all the elements of the discussion into a “Strategy on a Page” – a holistic but concise overview of strategy planning and execution. He also had an interactive and engaging Q&A with the class, on a range of themes of interest.
Mr. Krishnan elaborated on the legacy and current context of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, which is amongst the oldest and most widely respected business houses in India. It is today engaged in a wide range of businesses in India and overseas, which include engineering and construction, infrastructure, real estate, oil and gas, renewables, water and consumer products. We were privy to the way central functions of expertise work in tandem with business leaders to realize business value, as well as the frameworks and tools used by strategy practitioners. The distinctive nature of family-owned businesses was also spelt out, where corporate values and culture are often a direct influence of the founding family. In addition, Mr. Krishnan shared snippets of his own personal and professional journey.
Prof. Sunil Sharma, the Chairperson of the PGPX and also an instructor in Strategic Management, was particularly pleased that Mr. Krishnan had succinctly summarized virtually the entire content of his course. Of course, it was purely co-incidental that the next case we would be discussing in the Strategic Management Class would be on one of the most popular diversified conglomerates ever – GE!
Thus ended another evening of learning and insights for the participants, thanks to the PGPX Speaker Series.