Coverage by Bhat Dittakavi of Variance.AI on “CBA Graduation Ceremony” at ISB on 26th May 2018
The big moment has arrived. It is the moment 89 graduating participants of ISB’s Business Analytics program (CBA) have been eagerly waiting ever since they made their final capstone presentations earlier this month. CBA is a rigorous 18-month program for working professionals. Students are on campus literally every other month to attend six residencies. During each of these residencies that are equally split across three terms, students stay on campus for five full days. Each of these days is jam packed with business analytics classes from 7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. followed by industry talks or knowledge sessions. In between those days, they burn the midnight oil to submit next day assignments. When they are off campus, they attend online tutorials, work on practicum projects at individual level and work on capstone industry project at the team level.
Outgoing students are from the class of Summer 2018. They are joined by their happy families at Khemka auditorium for the graduation ceremony. Srini Raju, an astute businessman and board member of ISB, is the chief guest. Dr. Sridhar Seshadri, one of the founding members of the CBA program has accompanied the chief guest with Raj Srivastava, Dean of ISB. Dr. Rambhadran Thirumalai took the role of emcee for the evening.
Prof. Sridhar Seshadri:
Analytics is an young field and is going through its own wild west moment. The idea of CBA is conceived by Dr. Galit Schmueli and a team of us have launched the same in 2013. At that time, we enrolled 100 applicants in the founding batch. Since the huge demand was huge, we started the second intake during the same year. Amit Ghosh, Seema Gupta and others are part of our founding team. I can’t forget the generous gift of Kiran Muzumdar for this program. At that time, we used to call the program ISB Biocon CBA.
Prof. Bhim was the constant guiding force of this program right from inception. He used to tell us stories that suited the mood we were in. He made us part of the family. I wanted to celebrate Prof. Bhim’s life and I request all of us to carry his vision and principles. He was the person who could balance goodness and work and he was the best at it. In Prof. Bhim’s memory, we will be setting up a scholarship for this program. It would be good to do this scholarship in his name.
We got so far 660 alumni and we crossed 750 with this batch. I am proud to announce that we got several CXOs and even Startups who graduated from CBA program. I expect more startups from you. ISB is the pioneer in business analytics in India.
Predictive maintenance in IoT, omni-location and many more interesting areas are out there.  This is the wild west. We got star faculty teachers such as Dr. Shailesh and Dr. Andya Ghosh just to name a few best faculty. Several of the teaching assistants  of CBA have gone onto doing PH.D. abroad in USA. Teaching Assistants continue to make us feel proud.
This current batch got immense talent. I was truly impressed with the nature of projects you have done. Ashok Leyland, Blue-dart, Medipro and many more industry leaders sponsored the projects. Today we get many more capstone projects than what we can handle. True strength of the program is you. Your success and your support and recognition for you helps us. We all live in the glory of your success. I see you sponsor future projects for us and recommend your team members for the upcoming batches.
Slowly firms realize they need very clear data strategy. How we organize, how we recruit and how we draw the boundary of the firm with reference to us and customers is fast changing. Firms are looking at people like you to guide them. This is the change I see coming very soon. I think the concept of learning go beyond the traditional ways. Keep your antennas on and the day where we work with machines. I don’t see that being far off. I advise you to come back to ISB and start being part of AI conferences and research at ISB. Keep coming back to ISB and you only have just begun.
Everything we do has a purpose. Don’t get overwhelmed by new technology. It is important to seize opportunity as it comes by. I believe we have prepared you and you are a blank slate. Please grow our community and wherever you go, you have my best passing wishes.
Dean Prof. Rajendra Srivatsava
We are delighted to have with us our chief guest Srini Raju who is board member of ISB. He is founding member of IIIT Hyderabad. He is also a visiting faculty at IIT, Chennai and ISB. Prof. Seshadri mentioned wild wild west and I disagree with him. I say it is wild wild east. I often refer to ISB as a fast-growth innovative business. Our PGP program is one year program. We packed in a lot in that one year. It is beginning to happen in USA now and you will soon see one-year MBA programs.
CBA program has also spawned a great deal of innovation. It was a research center that anchored this program of Applied Statistics Lab. This program has been an innovator and it has lead to the connect between research and the teaching. This program has become a common theme. We owe it to the faculty who designed it.
“When it comes to course content, among all the programs such as the one in IIM, Bangalore, ISB is the best.”. 
After today, you will be taking different roles and opportunities to apply what you have learnt. You are entering a volatile wild wild east world where things are constantly changing. As a country we are able to do things such as e-governance and there are India stack innovations that won’t even happen in USA. Just to create one aadhaar number, we have to compare it with 1.2 billion numbers. See the computing analysis. Our admission into hospitals in India is much faster now and thank data. You pay a very central role here. Data is the new oil. Oil is also used to reduce the friction in engine. In that sense too. Informed decision making as opposed to making judgments.
We will invest more on analytics and use of information to manage Fin-tech, e-commerce and more. This may not be easy as it requires you to understand multiple domains. We got 9700 alumni in PGP programs. Add 750 of your alumni strength. ISB is ranked in top 100 institutions. Per ca pita productivity at ISB is much higher than every European and Asian university in research publications in leading journals.
In addition to learning and implementing what you learn, you will be expected to play leadership role. In order to lead you have to think ahead. Develop a vision about what should be done. Identify the problems that are worth solving. The best way to learn is to teach. Teaching makes you understand content better. Challenge the status quo. Try to do new things and come back to relearning process. In order to be a leader you need followers.
I advise you do things in utmost integrity. Not only do the right things but also do them right. 
Chief Guest: Srini Raju
ISB is a family for me. I was part of the team that brought the ISB selection team to this site back in 2000. Fellow members started questioning what kind of the wild wild place were you getting us into. That was the beginning. And life took me into different turns, I ended up again at ISB. Last 40 years have been exciting. I went to NIT Kuruksheta and after that I went to IIT Chennai. We didn’t have computer science program for bachelors there. In those days computers look like huge almirahs. You may remember punching cards?
Interestingly new emerging field called AI has come in those days. Way back we used to say we were doing AI. Then it took winter and it came back again recently. The new comeback of internet has made it to top five largest companies of the world. new comeback is good. Many people give doomsday prediction AI. Notice the transformation in the world. 20 years ago we conversed about databases and operating systems. Now we don’t ask such questions. We have moved away from under the hood software to application layer. Something will happen for data. Before it was transactional processing got data. In future data gets generated through many-fold devices. This device of mobile phone itself is generating humongous data. Think of tens of them per person. Opportunities going forward are many fold. Opportunity will be very big.
China has been using heavily in AI ML. 20 years ago I was so worried. So,I started a company in China in order to not to miss the wave. Then we learnt China was into hardware than software. During my days of software services, we were handling email services for our clients. Now we don’t know where emails are getting stored. In India we started a little late but we have millions of talented IT people.
In college I was never gold medalist. I was shooting for honors. I switched from civil to computer science. I took courses in Stanford. I never waited for an opportunity. I used to volunteer without seeing title and pay raise. They offered and I excelled. This changed my life. In 1990, my friend told me not to return to India. But I took a chance. I was the first CEO of the Dun Broadstreet Satyam Services. Four years after that, they paid my three years salary. later on, it became world’s largest it services company. I got recognition and credibility. It was a great learning for me. Now I got the money, I started Satyam Enterprise, a JV with Satyam. That was the time we never knew ERP. In three years of its operations, we have become India’s largest ERP company. I took the opportunity that came my way. I sold it to Satyam that has become Tech Mahendra today. I left Satyam when it was the best. I left Satyam on the day Bill Clinton came to India. I believe in exiting at the peak.
I started a fund called iLabs Capital. We funded 50 companies till now. Tech, media, consumer services and all. I am an investor in TV9, India’s largest network. We are creating a smart city. It is a sustainable city.
Each of you will be presented a different opportunity. Grab the opportunity that comes your way with both the hands. We played in a market space if $100 billion and you may play in $100 trillion in size. As a fellow ISB alumni, I am very happy you chose to be with ISB. A day will come you will be proud to say in the same lines of Harvard, we are from ISB.
Scholars of excellence
Gold medalist: Hemant Garg
Capstone project Winners
I am the industry mentor for two capstone teams from this class. One of the teams,  comprised of Hemant Garg, Ankit, Swati and Payal, had won “best capstone project” award. I am very happy for the work they have done for Variance.AI and more happy for the kind of commitment they have shown and they truly deserve this award. On behalf of team Variance, we wish them all the best. 
Vote of thanks by Dr. Sudhir: Every person you meet knows something you don’t. Learn from him. When you leave from here, don’t forget when you came.
 Throwing the hats in the air

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