Archive for December, 2009

16th December: Little sleep during the night (details of which to be told later 😉 ) left us wanting more time to sleep but it was time to quickly finish breakfast and start for the next visit – Maxis. Having visited Ports & Medical Industry players it was time for telecommunication and who else is better than Maxis commanding +30% market share and the industry leader. Maxis is the largest mobile operator in the highly consolidated Malaysian mobile telecom market consists of 3 major players: Maxis, DiGi and Celcom. With a total worldwide subscriber base of 10.5mn, Maxis has a presence in high growth, low-penetration markets like India, Indonesia & Sri Lanka. Maxis follow a dual branding strategy with Hotlink as a separate brand for prepaid consumers. This is due to the reasons that Maxis is a traditional brand and prepaid is mostly used by youth, thus a new youthful brand with bright red color and young name.

The Safari Group was first given a corporate presentation where we were given an overview about the journey of Maxis till 2009. This was followed by an introduction to their product portfolio. The interesting thing was to know that how much internet savvy people are becoming all thanks to e-ticketing concept brought by Low cost airline Air Asia. Ironically, the speaker said that people don’t want to pay for the internet. The data card and internet usage expenses in Malaysia are very low compared to that in India. Interestingly, they are already using 3G technologies and moving towards 3.5G & 4G. India seems to lag quite a lot in this front with issues related to spectrum allocation for 3G services still going on.

In all sense, the talk and visit was purposeful and helped us gained a valuable perspective on Malaysian Telecom Sector. From there we moved on to the next destination ABB Malaysia.

Check out the pics here

15th December, what felt like a lazy afternoon after the sumptuous meal, was the time for a visit to Simedarby HealthCare. Healthcare Industry has always been a crucial industry and of national importance given its criticality to the health of people of the country. Simedarby is one such organization which strives at providing healthcare services to national and international clients. Medical tourism has been one of the important areas for Sime Darby. It treated about 1,200 European, 600 US and Australian, and 3,600 Japanese patients in 2008 alone.  All the staff seemed to be well versed in English. The hospital provides special services such as assistance in travel arrangements and Airport pick up/drop off to International patients. Our visit started with a corporate presentation by Simedarby Corporate Communications Manager. It was an insight into the operations of the Healthcare Center and also on the current standing of Healthcare Services Industry in Malaysia. We students were quite curious to know about development of Malaysia as a Medical Tourism Center and the common conclusion was that Malaysia is emerging as a possible Medical Services preferred country next to India and is gearing up to provide the latest up to date technology in Medical Sector at cheap prices.  After the discussion we were taken on a round of the hospital where we visited some medical specialist. They tried their best explaining us the details of the departments but mostly the medical terms went over the head. None the less the visit was interesting as we got to see the Royal Suite reserved for the Royal Family and other dignitaries.

The visit ended with a group photograph where we learnt the new term “mani” for “cheese” when smiling in front of camera 😉

Check out the pics of the visit here

15th December 2009, it’s a beautiful morning in Kuala Lumpur and none of us wants to get out of bed. But our instructions are to get ready and at the bus by 8:30 AM. All of us get ready and go to the Coffee House of Hotel Sentral where we are served the complimentary breakfast. The non-vegetarians have no issues but vegetarians like me are again searching for compatible food. Luckily they had a veg counter, along with toasts and juices. We stuffed our stomach and left for the next destination Westport.

Located strategically along the Straits of Malacca, Westports today has positioned itself as the pit stop for container vessels plying one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Westports is not only a leading port in South East Asia, but also one of the top 5 Ports in the world in terms of productivity. Westports is now a mega hub for both local and transshipment containers. With current total quay length measuring 3.2 kilometers, which includes 5 container terminals, and a potential to build another 4 container terminal, Westports has a capacity of 15 million TEUs.

On arrival, we were taken straight for a PPT presentation. We thought it might be one of those boring lecture series but we soon found out it was not true. The presenter gave us a beautiful picture of the benefits of ports and how it has contributed to success of Malaysia and their economy. This was followed by a stark comparison with Indian Ports and we really could see the inefficiencies and the huge potential India has for developing and gaining from ports. From the discussion, the problems highlighted were government interference, lack of will, current development by private companies only for their needs & lack of co-ordination and integration among the small ports. The presenter highlighted that India has a huge potential and could only benefit if it works towards developing deep water ports of depth more than 15m. We all did agree and some of us got really enthusiastic about the ideas generated there.

After the presentation we were again worried about the veg food, but our host was superb to arrange sambhar-dhal, which was a delight given the lack of veg food everywhere. We thanked our host for the great food and thought the trip was over. But there were more plans. We were taken on a quick tour of the port where we could see the huge ships, the yard where the containers were kept. All this were in co-relation with the operational details we were explained in the presentation.

Finally it was time to bid goodbye. We gave a vote of thanks to Westport and left with the amazing experience to our next destination Simedarby Medical Centre.

Check out the pics of the visit here

It’s 14th December and we arrived at our accommodation Hotel Sentral in Little India region of Kuala Lumpur. After a quick lunch, the bunch of 41 students and in-charge prof. left for Royal Selangor. Royal Selangor is a company which makes designer items out of copper or pewter. The company was established in 1885 and since then has a interesting history built around it. Upon arrival we were first shown the museum which consisted of designer items made from pewter. It contained history about how Royal Selangor came into existence and about its founder Yong Koon. We got to hear the story about the ‘historical teapot’ which Yong Koon made from the granddaughter of Yong Koon itself. We also saw a replica of Petronas Towers made from pewter, standing magnificently in the gallery.

From there we moved on to a quick presentation about the company given by the Communication Manager and Marketing Manager. This was followed by an extensive tour of the production process which consisted of casting, filing, soldering and engraving. The most amazing thing was that each of the craft was still done by hand. We then moved on to the exhibition area where we had the opportunity to buy some of the designer items. Most of us bought some souvenir. Almost all of us did a photo session there with all beautifully crafted pieces whose price ranged from RM 5 to RM 10000.

With such a unique & insightful experience, we departed from Royal Selangor, knowing in our heart that the tour has started on a wonderful note and there are many more wonderful things to come in the journey.

For pictures of the visit click here

I planned to visit Singapore before visiting Malaysia. Lot of friends of mine are doing PhD from NTU, so visiting them and experiencing Singapore was the combined purpose.

As it happened, we sought for the cheapest tickets and ended up taking the route of Indore->Delhi->Kolkata->Malaysia->Singapore. A long trip which included long duration stops at Delhi, Kolkata & Malaysia. Unfortunately, there was no access to the departure terminal 2 hours before the flight and so I and my friend ended up spending the chilling night at the ticket counter zone. Kolkata was worth the wait as I got to meet friends whom I had not met for 2 years. Malaysian Airport again got us waiting in the departure terminal with us hunting for Vegetarian Food for 2 hours before ending up on a burger.

The good things started when we finally reached Singapore and to my friend’s place. We rested for a while and immediately set out for Sentosa Islands.  Sentosa Island was simply superb. The good & bad thing about it was that it was huge!! We started from having a couple of rides, and then went along the beach to enjoy the waters. A quick round of food (veg food again very tough to find) and then we went about doing treasure hunt for Underwater World Experience and the Dolphin Show. Underwater World was amazingly beautiful. The entire aquatic life was floating all around you – 360 degree. We again started walking for finding the “Bikini Bar” (obviously we were excited by the name, but were disappointed by seeing it). We left that place, had a couple of soft drinks at another place. It was 7:00 PM and we had almost covered the Island, so we decided to return. That was a fruitful first day.

The next day we planned to see Singapore city and took the metro rail to go to China Town. My Singapore friend accompanied us which made it a lot easier to move around in the city. China town was buzzing with activity with lots of local people and many Chinese and other local shops. We roamed around a bit, bought a memento and headed to another place called Little India for lunch. Little India is the Indian community area there with the Mustafa Market in the center. The place has a total Indian feeling and we just loved to have Indian Thali (being pure vegetarians). The next destination was Raffles Street where we visited the Merlion Statue which was magnificent. Finally, with little time left on our hand, we headed for Night Safari. The travel time to place of Night Safari took longer than we expected which restricted us to take only the 45mins tour by the train there. Frankly, Night Safari was not worth the SGD32 paid for it. The animals were which you could see (more clearly) in any zoo, and they took great pride in showing us Indian Buffalo (Still figuring, what’s so great to see in a buffalo). Well, the Night Safari ended and we rushed back to my friends place to collect our luggage to begin the chase for bus stop to catch our bus to Kuala Lumpur.

As if we thought that Singapore adventure is over, there was still some left. Don’t know why, but we were questioned at the Malaysian immigration before being given access. Later on we came to know from one of the fellow passengers that if any of our papers would have been wrong we could still have got off after paying bribe ! .. Wonder when the security system of any country would be perfect!

That’s the Singapore experience. An amazing one for sure! The country is damn beautiful, maybe too perfect. There are hell lots of rules, which people do follow and I think that is what keeps it super perfect. Some call it the country of fines, the minimum fine amount I saw was SGD500..Phew!! The people are nice, beautiful and cute. Definite recommendation for a one time visit!

Check out the pics here

Strategic Safari Strategic Safari is a new course launched at IIM Indore in which few students get the opportunity to visit Malaysia and study and understand some of the companies located in Kuala Lumpur. This year the Safari was conducted from 14th December to 21nd December. The companies which were visited were
1. Royal Selangour
2. Westport
3. Simedarby Medical Care
4. Maxis
5. ABB
6. Proton
7. Petronas

The tour ended with personal sightseeing embedded between the visits to the company and a series of guest talks on Islamic Banking & Finance at Universiti Tun Abdul Razak.
I was one of the 41 participants from IIM Indore who were part of the first Strategic Safari Tour of IIM Indore. Writing this blog at the completion of the tour, sitting in the flight back to India, I can say that the experience was enriching. From academic viewpoint, the interactions with corporations were insightful and gave a deep understanding of the business processes and a striking comparison of strategies and success drivers across geographies. On the other side, it was a really wonderful experience to be with 40 other talented friends and enjoying the scenic beauty and water sports of Penang, the theme rides & casinos of Genting Highlands & the night life of Kuala Lumpur.
In the next few blogs, I’ll try to share the wonderful experience of Malaysia – a place totally worth a visit for its beautiful people, culture and country.