Monday, 21 January 2013


Prof. Arun Kumar,
Professor of Marketing and Operations, NIILM Centre for Management Studies 
writes about how a manager can achieve top performance in life...

Contact Arun Kumar at

Managers seek sustained high performance in the face of ever-increasing pressure and rapid change, both for themselves and for their employees. Most approaches to sustained high performance connects high performance primarily with cognitive capacity. A successful approach to sustained high performance must consider a person as a whole – it must address the body, the emotions, the mind, and the spirit[i]


The body is the fundamental source of energy. The key to increasing physical strength is the creation of balanced work-rest ratios. For example, in weightlifting, a muscle is stressed to the point where its fibers start to break down. And then the muscle is allowed to rest for at least 48 hours. The muscle not only heals, but it also grows stronger. But, if an athlete persists in stressing the muscle without rest, his muscle will suffer acute and chronic damage. Conversely, if the muscle is not stressed, it will become weak. In both the cases, the culprit is not stress – it is the failure to oscillate between stress and recovery.

Rituals play a strong role in recovery. For example, best tennis players use precise recovery rituals in the 15 or 20 seconds between points. Their between-point rituals include concentrating on the strings of their rackets to avoid distraction, assuming a confident posture, and visualizing how they want the next point to play out. These rituals have strong physiological effects – their heart rate rises rapidly during play, but drops as much as 15 p.c. to 20 p.c. between points. The mental and emotional effects of precise between-points rituals are also significant – they allow players to avoid negative feelings, focus their minds, and prepare for the next point. In contrast, players who lack between-point rituals expend too much energy without recovery. Regardless of their talent or level of fitness, these players become more vulnerable to frustration, and loss of concentration, and are likely to choke under pressure.

Managers push themselves too hard mentally and emotionally, but too little physically. They do not realize that physical stress is a source not just of greater endurance, but also of mental and emotional recovery[ii]. For example, an executive worked 12-14 a day, and traveled on the weekends. He had almost no time for himself, and did not exercise at all. He felt tired and irritable all through the day, till he joined a health club. He went for workouts during office hours, and returned reenergized and better able to focus. He could work fewer hours and got more done. Besides exercising, good sleeping and eating rituals are also important for sustained high performance. It is important to remember that the body and the mind needs recovery every 90 to 120 minutes. A manager must schedule breaks every 90 to 120 minutes during which he can do some exercise, eat a nutritious meal, or simply go for a walk. He must engage in some ritual to break the linearity of work.


Positive emotions drive high performance, while negative emotions drain energy. Negative emotions like frustration, impatience, anger, fear, resentment, and sadness increase heart rate and blood pressure, increase muscle tension, constrict vision, and ultimately cripple performance. For example, a manager worked long hours and traveled frequently. He was a critical boss, whose frustration and impatience sometimes boiled over into angry tirades. A regular workout regimen built his endurance and gave him a way to burn off tension. He also developed a precise five-step ritual to contain his negative emotions whenever they threatened to erupt. First, he became more aware of signals from his body that he was going to explode – a physical tension, a racing heart, tightness in his chest. When he felt those sensations rise, he closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. He then consciously relaxed the muscles in his face, and made an effort to soften his voice and speak more slowly. And then he tried to put himself in the shoes of the person who was going to be the target of his anger. Finally, he focused on framing his response in positive language. Initially, he felt awkward practicing the ritual, and often went back to his old ways. But, after a few weeks, the ritual became automatic.

There are a number of other rituals that help to offset feelings of stress and restore positive energy. Music has powerful physiological and emotional effects. It prompts a shift in mental activity from the rational left hemisphere of the brain to the more intuitive right hemisphere. It also provides a relief from obsessive thinking and worrying. Music also regulates energy, raising it when the time comes to perform and lowering it when it is more appropriate to relax.

Body language also affects emotions. In an experiment, actors were asked to portray anger and then were subjected to many physiological tests, including heart rate, blood pressure, core temperature, galvanic skin pressure, and hormone levels. Next, the actors were exposed to a situation that made them genuinely angry, and the same measurements were taken. There were virtually no differences in the two measurements. It means that effective acting produces the same physiology that real emotions do. Therefore, if a manager carries himself confidently, he will start to feel confident, even in highly stressful situations. Managers should consciously create the look on the outside that they want to feel on the inside – A person is what he repeatedly does.

Close relationship is the most powerful means for promoting positive emotions and effective recovery. Spending time with family and friends induces a profound sense of security and safety. Such feelings are closely associated with sustained high performance. Unfortunately, managers are spending far too much time at work, and they are not spending enough time with family and friends. By spending more time with their families and friends, and setting clear boundaries between work and home, managers will be reenergized and they will perform better at work.


The idea is to increase managers’ cognitive capacities, most notably their focus, time management, and critical-thinking skills. Focus means concentrating energy in the pursuit of a goal. Anything that interferes with focus dissipates energy. Meditation helps to train attention and promote recovery. An adequate meditation technique involves sitting quietly and breathing deeply, repeating a word each time a breath is taken, or just counting each exhalation. Meditation quiets the mind, the emotions, and the body, promoting energy recovery[iii]. Meditation slows brain wave activity and stimulates a shift in mental activity from the left hemisphere of the brain to the right. People so often find solutions to vexing problems when they are doing something ‘mindless’ such as walking, working in the garden, or singing in the shower. This happens due to mental oscillation i.e. mental activity shifts from the left hemisphere of the brain to the right. Therefore, managers must learn to align their work with the body’s need for breaks every 90 to 120 minutes by alternating periods of stress and recovery. For example, an investment banker used to working for endless hours without breaks, built a set of rituals that ensured regular recovery. Once in the morning and again in the afternoon, he did deep-breathing exercises for at least 15 minutes. At lunch, he walked outdoors for 15 minutes. He took fruit and water breaks every 90 minutes. He worked out six times a week after work. In the evenings, he often left his office early to spend more time with his family. At home, he and his wife made a pact never to talk business. He decided not to work on weekends. He instituted a monthly getaway routine with his wife. The result – He was far more productive, and the quality of his thought process measurably improved. He was doing more on the big things at work and not getting bogged down in detail.

Rituals that encourage positive thinking also enable sustained high performance. People have to create specific mental rituals that allow them to move from peaks of concentration into valleys of relaxation. For example, a golfer sharpened his concentration as he walked onto the tee and steadily intensified his concentration until he hit his drive, but descended into a valley of relaxation as he left the tee through casual conversations with fellow competitors. Visualization also produces positive energy. For example, a golfer formed a mental image of the ball rolling into the hole before each shot. Visualization does more than produce a vague feeling of optimism and well being – it reprograms the neutral circuitry of the brain, directly improving performance. It builds mental muscles, increasing strength, endurance, and flexibility.  For example, a manager took time to sit down in a quite place and think what he really wanted from a meeting, and then he visualized himself achieving the outcome he wanted. The practice made him much more relaxed and confident when he went into meetings, and he was less distracted by negative thoughts under pressure.


Spiritual capacity is the energy that is unleashed when a person taps into his deepest values, and when he discovers a strong sense of purpose. Spiritual capacity serves as a sustenance in the face of adversity, and is a powerful source of motivation, focus, determination, and resilience[iv]. For example, a woman executive tried unsuccessfully to quit smoking, blaming it on a lack of self-discipline. Smoking took a visible toll on her health and her productivity at work. But she quit smoking when she became pregnant, and did not touch a cigarette until the day her child was born. Quitting was easy when she connected the impact of smoking to the health of her unborn child – a deeper purpose. She started smoking the day she was out of the hospital. Understanding cognitively that smoking was unhealthy, feeling guilty about it on an emotional level, and even experiencing its negative effects physically were insufficient motivations to change her behavior.

Making connections to one’s deepest values requires a person to regularly step out of daily chores of deadlines and obligations to take time for reflection. Managers keep doing whatever seems immediately pressing while losing sight of the bigger picture. Rituals that give people the opportunity to pause and look inside include meditation, journal writing, prayer, and service to others. Each of these activities also serve as a source of recovery i.e. to break the linearity of relentless goal-oriented activity.

[i] Jim Loehr, Tony Schwartz, ‘The making of a corporate athlete’, Harvard Business Review, January  2001

[ii] J. Kiely, G. Hodgson, ‘Stress in the prison service: The benefits of exercise program’, Humans Relations, June 1990

[iii] M. Der Hovanesian, ‘Zen and the art of corporate productivity’, Business Week, July 28, 2003.

[iv] D. P. Ashmos, D. Duchon, ‘Spirituality at work: A conceptualization and measure’, Journal of Management Inquiry, June 2000.

For more about this, and many other insights about Organizational Behavior, read Prof. Arun Kumar's book by Vikas Publications "Organizational Behavior: A Modern Approach"

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Milestones of NIILM CMS in the last sixteen years

NIILM Centre for Management Studies was established in 1996 with the aim of being at the forefront of disseminating cutting-edge management education.

According to the latest surveys the institute has been adjudged as the Best B-School in North India by Times Research Foundation and Best MBA College in North India by Brands Academy. Prestigious publications like Indian Management, Outlook, Competition Success Review have been ranking NIILM Centre among the country’s most promising B-Schools over the last few years. In the latest surveys for the year 2012 for instance NIILM has been considered among the top 10 business management institutions in the country.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Educational loan for PGDM program at NIILM CMS: Do's, dont's and FAQs

Prof. Sunil Joshi,
Professor of finance, NIILM CMS                                        

Students desirous of pursuing higher studies can go for scholarships, grants and aids in terms of tuition waiver being offered by various institutions. However, if this option is not there then the student can definitely go for education loan. This loan is a very viable option for students in the sense that it gives benefits on tax and help in reducing the cost of the loan. The student can claim a deduction under section 80E of the income tax act for the interest paid on an educational loan. However, the student will get the tax benefit on an education loan only if the loan is raised in his/her name for the purpose of higher education. Tax benefits are available only if the course is a full time studies and not part time. Under this loan scheme, the students need not pay any amount during their study. They get a moratorium of 6 months after the completion of their study before the repayment of this loan starts. During this period, the interest charged on this loan is simple rate of interest. The repayment period ranges from 5 to 7 years. Thus a student does not feel the financial burden on this loan as he can repay it in such a long time because the monthly installment comes out to be very low. Students can get this loan from Govt Banks, Private sector Banks, NBFC's ( HDFC etc ) and private players in the market like APNA LOAN, DEAL4LOAN CREDILA etc.

Success rate of education loans

These loans are gaining currency in the market. Banks are aggressively  marketing this loan product under their retail asset business. For banks, it is a very safe loan and helps in building their retail portfolio with minimum impairment in this category. Loans up to Rs 4 lac requirement do not require any collateral security. Therefore, the demand for loan in this segment is very high and banks are also financing up to 90% of the loan requirement.

These loans are available for international studies also. The students are supposed to submit I-20 form along with admission letter from the international university. Loans up to Rs 20 lac is permissible to the students subject to availability of collateral security.


Student should have got admission through a merit criteria. No management quota admission is entitled for a  education loan. The institutes should be either AICTE approved or UGC approved or an institute of repute offering the higher education courses like engineering, medicine , management etc.

List of banks with RoI

Most of the banks are offering this loan at an interest rate ranging from 12% to14 % depending on the cost of funds of each bank. All the banks with their ROI are available in the website.

Dos and Donts

·         Dos:
The student should avail this loan only after confirming the ROI from all the banks.
They should also check if the rate of interest is on floating rate basis or on fixed basis as it can affect their financial viability.
Try to pay the interest component during the currency of loan as it gives incentive in the sense that you get a rebate of 1 % on your loan interest.
Before seeking admissions, check the authenticity of the institute thoroughly through market survey.

·         Donts:

Avoid going to the private players for loan as their interest rates and processing charges are higher as compared to the banks and other financial institutions.

FAQs: Getting educational loans for studying at NIILM CMS

Q1. Can I get Education Loan for my studies from NIILM CMS?
-Yes, You can approach any of the banks for education loan.

Q2. What is the maximum loan amount I can get?
      - Maximum amount of loan one can get is Rs 10 lac.

Following are the expenses considered for loan:
  • Fee payable to College / Hostel
  • Examination / Library fee.
  • Purchase of books s.
  • Caution Deposit / Building Fund / Refundable Deposit supported by Institution Bills / Receipts, subject to the condition that the amount does not exceed 10% of the total tuition fee for entire course.
  • Purchase of computers - essential for completion of the Course.
  • Insurance premium for student borrower.
  • Boarding and lodging expenses in recognized Boarding Houses / private accommodations.
  • Any other expense required to complete the course - like study tours, project work, thesis etc
Q3. How much margin is required by students?

Upto Rs.4.00 lac

Above Rs.4.00 lac
Studies in India

Q4. What is the security required for this loan?

Upto Rs.4.00 lac:
Co-Obligation of Parents. No Security
Above Rs 4.00 lac and Upto Rs 7.5 lac:
Co-Obligation of Parents together with collateral security in the form of suitable 3rd party guarantee acceptable to the Bank
Above Rs 7.5 lac:
Co-Obligation of Parents. Collateral Security of suitable value along with Assignment of future income of the student for payment of installments
The security can be in the form of land / building / Govt. Securities / Public Sector Bonds / Units of UTI, NSC, KVP, LIC Policy, Gold, Shares/ Mutual Funds/ Debentures, Bank Deposit in the name of the student parent / guardian or any other third party with suitable Margin.
The document should be executed by both the student and the parent/guardian.

(Know more about Prof. Joshi and other finance faculty at NIILM CMS or

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

My 17th Year at NIILM-CMS

Prof. Jitender Sharma
(Professor, NIILM CMS)

writes ...

As I am about to complete seventeen years with this great institute, I am really excited to share my personal experiences at NIILM-CMS, and give you a brief glimpse into its legacy.

Founding fathers of NIILM CMS

NIILM-CMS (Northern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management at the time of inception), established in 1996, is the dream child of great personalities like Dr. Abid Hussain, Mr. P. N. Kaul, and Mr. A.N. Haksar. The dreams and vision of these eminent personalities still inspire and guide us, though they are no more in this materialistic world.  

I am fortunate enough to have worked for all the directors of this institute, who helped shape NIILM-CMS to reach new heights. That NIILM-CMS is ranked among the best management institutes in the country is proof of the inspired leadership provided by three great directors -  Dr. S. Mahalingam, Prof. Umashankar Venkatesh, and most important among all, Prof. S. Neelamegham, currently President – NIILM-CMS.

Prof. S. Mahalingam, Prof. Umashankar Venkatesh and Prof. S. Neelamegham

Prof. S. Neelamegham has worked assiduously for more than a decade to take NIILM-CMS to the forefront of management education. The institute prides itself in developing leaders with values, vision and versatility. NIILM-CMS is known for its highly qualified, research-oriented faculty and linkages with some of the finest universities and academics both in India and abroad.

As I reminisce, I realize how NIILM-CMS has grown from a small team of people to such a highly qualified and dedicated team of employees - faculty and supporting staff. Many of my ex-colleagues occupy excellent positions in different institutions, but they still remember NIILM-CMS whenever they are in need of right advice or guidance. Such is the work culture of NIILM-CMS and bonding among people that even after leaving NIILM-CMS for compelling personal reasons, people don’t perceive it as the ‘other’ institution. We always welcome our ex-employees with an open-heart, and extend all possible help.

The governing body of NIILM-CMS consists of the best brains both from academics and industry, including Prof.  Jahar Saha, former Director – IIM Ahmedabad, Prof. K.L. Krishna, Former Director – Delhi School of Economics, Prof. K. Subramanian, Professor and Director – IGNOU, Dr. B.S. Baswan, Former Director - IIPA , Dr. N. Ravichandran, Director – IIM Indore, Mr. Aquil Busrai, Former Director – IBM India.

The governing body of NIILM CMS

When I joined NIILM-CMS in May 1996, the institute was in its infant state and comprised a four-room office at MCIE, New Delhi. At that time, the roadmap for its future expansion was planned keeping pace with the changing economic scenario and requirement of fully qualified skilled managers in the country. Today, the institute has a 2.5 acres campus at Greater Noida with state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities. Its classrooms, conference halls, lecture-theatres are equipped with the latest technology used among the best institutes in the country. The library has over 40000 printed books, more than 75000 e-books, over a dozen online and offline academic databases that provide the widest possible knowledge base available only in a few management institutes in the country. Similarly, the computer lab of NIILM-CMS is equipped with state-of-the-art computing facilities, and we have a wi-fi enabled campus. Each student is provided with latest configuration laptop for real time access of knowledge anytime anywhere.  Through an ERP system, the faculty and students can know about academic and professional progress made by the students on regular basis.

The institute has held fourteen convocations, and I have attended each one of them. The memories of the graduating students, and each convocation is very nostalgic. The convocation addresses at NIILM CMS have been delivered by stalwarts such as Hon. Dr. Manmohan Singh, Dr. C. Rangarajan, Hon. Minister, Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar, Hon.  Minister Shri Suresh P. Prabhu, Prof. K.B. Powar, Dr. Asis Dutta, Dr. Dharni P. Sinha, Dr. K. Venkatasubramanian, Dr.V.N. Rajasekharan PIllai, Prof. M.R. Rao, Prof. Mool Chand Sharma, Dr. T. N. Ninan, Prof. G. K. Chadha and Padma Shree Prof. N. R. Madhava Menon.

NIILM-CMS students have achieved distinctions not only in studies but in extra-curricular activities as well. I have seen the proud faces of students year after year carrying various trophies and medals won by them all over India in competitions held at institutions likes IIMs, IITs, BITS, AIMA and so on.

I have seen how NIILM-CMS students have extended their helping hand over the years for various social issues.  They have put in their best efforts for social causes like poverty alleviation, social uplift of Jhuggi clusters residents, traffic management, and disaster relief activities. They have always raised voice against any kind of discrimination in the society. I feel proud that in this age and time when values are being destroyed in the society, I am part of an institute that inculcates the true spirit of social responsibility among its students.

Many of our alumni hold distinguished positions in the industry. Several are entrepreneurs, and are running their businesses successfully in a highly competitive environment. Whenever I get a chance to be in touch with our alumni or when I come to know about their achievements, I feel proud that I too have contributed whatever little I could in shaping them into what they are today.

The work culture at NIILM-CMS is transparent and gives complete freedom to pursue one’s academic and professional interests. Students can choose their areas of interest from a wide range of subjects. 

Over these seventeen years I have developed such a bonding with the institution that I consider NIILM-CMS as my second home or to be more precise my first home rather.  Whatever I am today or whatever I achieved professionally over these years is all due to support and freedom to work I got from NIILM-CMS. May NIILM-CMS and everyone associated with it achieve greater glory in the years to come!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

HR Meet 2012

NIILM CMS, one of India’s premier business school, organised its annual 7th HR meet titled “Employee Engagement: Issues and Challenges” on November 3, 2012 at the PHD Chamber of Commerce in New Delhi. The key note address for the meet was delivered by Biswarup Goswami, chief of HR at Emaar MGF. Mr Goswami introduced the topic and spoke about the key strategic challenges of employee engagement. The  daylong event also had three technical sessions about conceptual issues and challenges,mythological issues and challenges and innovative issues and challenges. The sessions were moderated respectively by Avadhesh Dixit, head HR, CMC Limted, Alok Narain , Sr VP, Quatrro Global Services, and Himanshu Arora, VP- Talent Transformation India Home. The seminar provided great insight and fresh industry perspective on HR issues facing the industry in relation to employment engagement and effective internal communication.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Convocation 2012

NIILM CMS, one of India’s premier business school accredited by National Board of Accreditation, the highest accreditation body in India has conferred PGDM degree in management to 139 students at its Fourteenth Annual Convocation held on 22 September 2012.

The convocation was declared open by the chief guest: Padma Shree Professor N. R. Madhava Menon, founder vice chancellor and IBA – CLE chair professor, National Law School of India University Bangalore.Addressing the audience, the president of NIILM – CMS Professor S. Neelamegham said: “NIILM- CMS is stronger than ever before and we are busy in laying the foundation for its future growth. The founding fathers of NIILM- CMS had a vision to build a world class business school which is globally connected, contributes to scholarship, learning and management, and more importantly prepares young men and women as managers and leaders with values, vision and versatility. NIILM CMS stands today poised to fulfil this promise with committed faculty, dedicated staff and disciplined students. We remain focus on the realisation of our vision to be a pre-eminent business school in the country.”

The president said that NIILM CMS’ consistent top ranking and its reputation of being high grade institution confirms its commitment to improve quality through rigorous peer review. This year, NIILM CMS has been a recipient of prestigious Brand Academy Award for the best business school in North India.

Highlighting the achievements of students and the institution, the president said that NIILM CMS will continue to remain focus on growth and excellence in everything it does. He further said: “We have achieved success over the last 16 years in delivering and learning experience that is vigorous, relevant and rewarding. We will continue to challenge and inspire our students and unleash the potential for their personal and professional growth.”

He told the graduating students that the institute salutes them on their success on this momentous day of their life and stands united in their price and pride in what they have learned during their course of study at NIILM CMS.

The chief guest Professor N. R. Madhava Menon congratulated the graduating students and said: “as the students of management you should be aware of the business environment and the laws related to you field of business. As a graduate of a prestigious institution with values and vision you have the responsibility to conduct yourself ethically in your professional life.”

Professor Menon emphasised that the business schools in India should have a module on law so that the students have a basic understanding of the fundamental rights and duties of business entities and their responsibilities towards the society.

He said the business environment in India is fundamentally different from other countries in the world, and it mentioned in the constitution of India that the sole objective of business is not just profit making, but also to have policies that seek promote the welfare of the employees and the communities in their place of operation.

He emphasised that it is outlined in Article 38 of Constitution of India which says: “the State shall, in particular, strive to minimise the inequalities in income, and endeavour to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.”

Professor Menon stressed that the provisions in regard to the responsibility of the State to secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people shall not be enforced by any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws.

The other dignitaries included:
Mr Vinay Rai, Founder Chairman, NIILM CMS
DR. B. K. Mohanty, Professor, Indian Institute of Management
Mr Vinay Rai, Group President, LE Group
Mr S. K Sethi, CEO, Ria Insurance Brokers Pvt Ltd
Professor J Saha, Former Director, IIM Ahmadabad.

Priya Mittal, a graduating student was awarded the Gold Medal for best academic performance. She also won medals in the area of marketing and for the best all- round performance in extra circular activities.

Payal Jha, a graduate said: “It’s indeed a great day in my life. I am delighted to receive this degree and feel very proud to be a graduate of NIILM CMS. I am confident that I’ll be able to us the knowledge and experience gained through this degree in my new job.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


  • From where are topics for GD chosen?
  • How should a candidate conduct himself in a GD?
  • Dos and don'ts in a GD
Companies are intent on selecting the ‘best’ candidates for their organization on the basis of several rounds of selection process. The placement trend at NIILM CMS and at many other B-schools in India suggests that a group discussion among the prospects on campus, or at the company’s office (off-campus) is an important part of this selection process.

Most students wonder how to prepare for a Group discussion, and of course, if it is really possible to prepare for it. To answer the second question first, it is really not possible to prepare for a specific topic in any competitive GD process simply because the topic chosen by a company can be from among a plethora of such topics. Saying that of course does not mean that a student can make the cut by mere gut feel. Daily dose of a few activities can make clearing the GD a cake walk – reading a general purpose newspaper, reading a financial newspaper, and brushing up communication (particularly if one not very fluent) are absolutely essential. An alternative to reading (which many students dread) is to actively follow a news channel and a business channel.

From where are topics for GD chosen?

At NIILM CMS we advise students to focus on three types of topics for the GDs – topics that are based on current business stories, topics that are based on current affairs other than business, and general topics that have been in vogue for a long time (for instance, ‘Is honesty really the best policy?’). Students often ask the rationale for topics related to politics and social issues – the rationale is very simple – business operates in a public domain, which influences and shapes business policies and operations. Therefore, a candidate’s seriousness to get selected gets a huge boost when his prospective employers come to know that he understands, and is actively engaged in everything that is happening around him.  

It is important to remember that the reading habit cannot be cultured suddenly, and nor can one start speaking fluently without adequate practice. Therefore, in order to do well in a GD, one needs to be consistent at least from the third semester onwards.

The first step for any candidate is to read about current developments, next to discuss them with others, and last to form his own opinions. However, many students often commit the mistake of having strong opinions with no logical or factual backing. They are only opinionated, and convey the impression of being adamant and forceful, and stand to be rejected in the group discussion.

How should a candidate conduct himself in a GD?

1.  You can initiate a discussion in a GD if you understand the topic well, and have at least two-three points that you can cover. Though an initiator is often perceived to be someone who is willing to take initiatives and is ambitious, if you have nothing substantial to say, this will go against you. So, always start only if you know the subject well.

2.  You are more likely to succeed in a GD if you take a stand in a topic, instead of trying to appear as though you are trying to please everyone by saying ‘yes’ both for and against the topic. If you decide to speak either in favor or against the motion, you must not only say so, you must substantiate your stand by offering facts and data. Merely saying something because you ‘feel’ so does not score you points. For instance, if your topic is “FDI in retail”, you cannot keep arguing that it is bad, without facts to help you out. So, you can give arguments such as the elimination of middleman and their means of livelihood, or failure of the same policies in other countries.

3.  The critical success factor in a GD is to contribute new arguments and keep substantiating it with facts and data.

4.  Sometimes a student may get stumped with a topic about which he knows nothing. In this case, it makes sense to listen to a few others talk about it, gather opinions of others before starting to speak. After hearing atleast two speakers, one would know something about the topic to talk about it.

5.  Some candidates are not very aggressive, and are always scared of a group discussion where presumably only aggressive people are successful. It is important to understand that this process of selection cannot be wished away. Therefore, it is best to design a strategy to cope up with the process in case one is not very aggressive, or one fears speaking in public. Such candidates should focus on the friendliest person in the group and address as many points as possible to him/ her. The other (better, but more difficult) method is to look at everyone but not focus on anyone in particular, and really pretend that one is talking to an empty space (comes only from practice). Essentially, the idea is to not feel conscious of many pairs of eyes staring at you when you speak, which is what causes nervousness.

Ideally, such candidates should use their entire MBA course as a practice session to get rid of their phobias. They should make as many presentations as possible in the class, talk to as many people as possible during their course, participate in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities in college and actively practice speaking in public. At NIILM CMS, we constantly tell our students to practice these methods.

6.  Though it is widely publicized that one must use terms such as ‘my friend has said this, but I don’t agree/ I agree’, and ‘my friend, let’s understand that what you are saying is not always true,’ and so on, the use of the term ‘my friend’ (in my opinion), is not always appropriate. Everyone knows that all the participants of the GD are competitors, and also that most may not even know each other. So, instead of feigning friendships and sounding artificial, one can just say candidate 3 or 7 said this, but I don’t agree. Or even use the third person, such as, ‘even though some participants have said this, I don’t agree because…’

Another common blunder is to appear too friendly by constantly saying ‘please, my friend, you haven’t spoken so far, you please speak,’ which does not make sense at all. In a GD, everyone should have the ability to speak on his/ her own. Once in a while, if there is a candidate who is unnecessarily aggressive or insensitive, such words can be used to calm him down or give opportunities to others. But in general, one should focus on doing his/ her job, which is to contribute to the GD, and not ask others to do so.

7.  Body language is as important as spoken words. Appear interested and keen in what others are saying. Be attentive, because sometimes, the moderators can ask you specific questions at the end. For instance, you may be asked about your opinions about the topic, or you may be asked to sum up.

8.  In some GDs, you are allowed to write down points. Write your points to initiate and carry forward the discussion, and also note down important points that have been discussed during the course of the discussion. This will be helpful later.

9.  Regarding summarization, unless the moderators ask you to summarize, there is no need to appear unnecessarily enthusiastic and say that I will now sum up. Sometimes there are no summarizations in the GD, which is perfectly all right. At other times, each participant is told to individually sum up in 30 seconds or a minute. In other GDs, two-three candidates may be chosen by the moderators to sum up.

Dos and Don’ts in a GD

1.  Always be calm and composed. But be alert and attentive.

2.  Never launch a personal attack on anyone.
For instance, if the topic is “Gender sensitivity of policemen”, and a lady in the group vociferously defends her standpoint that cops are not at all sensitive to issues on women, one cannot accuse her of being biased because she is a woman.

3.  You can rebut an argument, but only if you have something substantial to contribute.
For instance, in the above example, you (either gender) can rebut the lady and say that she is wrong. But you must either defend your argument with facts or add a contrary point. For instance, you can say that gender sensitization is a part of police training (to rebut her and defend your rebuttal). Or add a new dimension to the argument that police sensitization cannot decrease crime rate against women (and quote an example from some other country).

4.  Trying to help out another candidate is good, but remember that your own selection is more important.
Many books will advise you to be helpful to other candidates by inviting the others to speak especially if they are weak and no one else wants to hear them. This should be done in the rarest of instances, else this will become your main contribution to the group.

5.  Don’t repeat points. If you have a limited stock of points, spread them over the GD, and with every point, give data, and explain.

6.  Never look at the moderators in a GD. This is a group discussion, wherein you are expected to discuss amongst yourselves, not with the moderators.