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Last February, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, educational institutions across the country had to comply with government regulations and shut down operations to uphold the safety of the students and curb the spread of the virus. However, the resilience and willingness to adapt to change saw online tutorials replace the classroom learnings industry allowing to maintain imparting education to the students of the country.
As the crisis, prolonged students nearing their graduation faced a major challenge towards their placement perspective. A recent report by Naukri.com highlighted how about 66 percent of students did not receive their offer letters, while 44 percent faced deferred joining dates after being hired. The report also highlighted how another 33 percent of students did not hear back from the employer with regard to the status of their employment.
Students desperately hoped for normalcy to resume in order to launch their prospective careers. A mere three months ago, this hope seemed to have made sense, as the number of cases witnessed a steady decline, and the aftermath of the pandemic believed to be ebbing away. However, the second-wave catastrophe quickly swept through India fueling a massive spike in the number of cases in the country.
Hence, the fluctuating phases of the virus left students with no other option than to gain stability in thought and openness to adjust to the new normal and explore possibilities hidden in the unexpected future. On the bright side, despite the Covid-induced slump, a few top players in the industry continued their recruitment drive.
The leading management institutes shared a different experience as they witnessed a surge in demand from consulting firms and tech companies. Here are takeaways pointers from some of the industry experts, from IIM, MU, Jaipuria, and NCU institutes who have shared their insights on the current placement trend and suggestions on how students can turn current challenges into an opportunity.
The immediate future for young aspirants could be rough in terms of the adapting job market. But the silver lining in this unprecedented pandemic has been the digital revolution, which has emerged in a big way. Rapid digitalization has certainly changed the current dynamics of the business world. It has compounded the demand for more tech-savvy management graduates.
Hence, there is going to be a rise in demand for executives who are comfortable with handling digital transformation. Companies are going to opt for management graduates well-versed with new-age technology skills such as programming, analytics, and tools like R and Python, data analytics, AI, Machine Learning, etc. Such candidates can prove to be an asset to a company. Commenting on the ongoing rise in digitalization, Prof. (Dr) Daviender Narang, Director of Jaipuria Institute of Management, Ghaziabad said, “Data is the new asset now. It is freely available in large quantities. We now need smart and young minds to optimally utilize that data in order to produce high-yield results. This is true for every industry today.”
*Focus on new skills
Adaptability is the key to survival in any phase of life. The current circumstances have set similar precedence, where those who have adapted and adopted new skills in line with changing times have unlocked the door leading to great opportunities. The global pandemic has accelerated demand for graduates with specializations in cloud computing, cybersecurity, AI, ML, process automatic, and data science. While imbibing new skills, it is advisable to gain a grip over the fundamental management skills as well. Prof Amit Karna, Chairperson Placement, IIM Ahmedabad said, “Leading in uncertain times and decision-making under stressful and dynamic environments is becoming a norm for managers today. Job seekers would serve themselves well if they were to focus on these skills. Also, adaptability of self and organizational goals is something that candidates need to be very comfortable with.” He added that organizational skills would also prove to be an add-on, especially while managing virtual teams working remotely.
*Polish your strengths
While focusing on new skills, don’t forget to polish your key strengths. The current economic slump has taken a major toll in the hiring process in the industry where even though the hiring hasn’t stopped, it has definitely taken a dip. The trend witnessed of reduced hiring has seen companies be a bit more meticulous in the process and they have been focusing on investing in quality over quantity.
Emphasizing the current scenario, Prof. Prem Vrat, Pro-Chancellor at the NorthCap University in Gurugram, Haryana said, “For good students, the placement scenario will actually be better. As the rest of the industry catches up, the overall placement situation will improve. The demand is already outstripping supply in sectors such as Edtech, Fintech, Healthtech, Consulting, Cybersecurity, Gaming, Analytics, Cloud computing, etc., which is also reflected in the compensation packages being offered to trained candidates.” Hence, the silver lining to the current crisis is that it has created greater opportunities for able and talented management graduates.
*Look for opportunities
Digitalization has brought down many barriers, including distance, hence professionals are no longer required to be on the field or travel frequently to continue working. It has also opened the doors of international placements, providing an opportunity that was earlier limited only to a few. Hence, the young graduates can work on building a strong online profile and reach out to companies of their interest. In the age of social media, management graduates or job applicants can get access to more projects by networking, reaching out to new market players, and sharing their work online. Recruiters are shifting the entire placement process towards automation and are employing proctored and psychometric analysis. This progressive move has infused speed and efficiency in the system, allowing recruiters to assess more candidates.
Sharing its experience, Masters’ Union said that this year over 40 leading companies, many of whom belonged to the category of Fortune 500, reached out to the institute to recruit from its first cohort batch of the season. They witnessed that the active use of digital assessment tools expedited the entire process.
Rupesh Bisht, CEO, Masters Union, highlighted that irrespective of the market trends, student fitment, and training has been imperative to management requirement. He suggests that students develop traits like agility, adaptability, and the ability to learn and unlearn, apart from general awareness as these would go a long way in their career path. Besides, he urges young management graduates to develop the knack of identifying growth patterns in the industry and the ability to differentiate the sunrise sectors (in technology) from the rest. He believes that the candidates should hold foresightedness to be able to look at startups and identify (well-funded, high-growth, innovative) the ones with strong potential, alongside keeping an eye out for blockchain, NFTs, and other new and upcoming elements. (IANS/JC)
As kids growing up in different states, Shoba Narayan and Michael Maliakel shared a love of one favorite film — "Aladdin." Both are of Indian descent, and in the animated movie, they saw people who looked like them.
That shared love has gone full-circle this month as Narayan and Maliakel lead the Broadway company of the musical "Aladdin" out of the pandemic, playing Princess Jasmine and the hero from the title, respectively.
"Growing up, there was such little South Asian and Middle Eastern representation in the American media, and Princess Jasmine was really all I had. She was a huge role model to me as someone who was intelligent and strong and independent and beautifully curious, and that's who I wanted to be," says Narayan, who grew up in Pennsylvania.
The pair arrived at "Aladdin" in very different ways. Maliakel is making his Broadway debut, but Narayan is a musical theater veteran, having made her Broadway debut in "Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812" and touring with "Hamilton" as Eliza Hamilton.
She was in "Wicked" as Nessarose when the pandemic shut down Broadway in March 2020. Her agent called in April with the prospect of auditioning for Jasmine. She sang "A Whole New World" over Zoom on gallery mode, pretending to be on a magic carpet. "It was a very unique experience," she says, laughing.
Disney producers flew her to New York to meet face-to-face and go through the material again. Narayan was asked to read with different Aladdin potential actors. She got the gig: "I went from a wicked witch to a Disney princess. Can't complain."
Maliakel, a native of New Jersey, came from the world of opera, a baritone who studied at Johns Hopkins University and the 2014 winner at the National Musical Theatre Competition. He trained his voice to be flexible, waiting for the right window to open.
"I didn't really see a lot of people doing what I wanted to do in the world," he says. "There just wasn't a whole lot of representation. So it's really hard to imagine yourself in those scenarios when you have no one to look up to as a role model or an example of how it could be done."
He played Porter and understudied Raoul in a national tour of "The Phantom of the Opera," which ended its run in Toronto just before the pandemic hit.
"I always dreamed that Broadway might happen someday," he says, laughing. "I'm just kind of dipping my toes into the waters in one of the biggest male roles in the business right now, and it's kind of surreal."
'Aladdin' featured as a Broadway Musical with a cast of Indian origin playing the main roles Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Broadway's "Aladdin" is a musical adaptation of the 1992 movie starring Robin Williams. The musical's story by Chad Beguelin hews close to the film: A street urchin finds a genie in a lamp and hopes to woo a princess while staying true to his values and away from palace intrigue.
Key Alan Menken songs from the film — including "Friend Like Me," ″Prince Ali" and "A Whole New World" — are used. The lyricists are the late Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Beguelin.
The show — and it's two new leads — had a few performances to celebrate Broadway's return from the pandemic this fall before it was forced to close for several days when breakthrough COVID-19 cases were detected. The actors say the safety of the cast, crew and audience are paramount and closing was the smart move.
"This is how we keep theater going in the pandemic," Maliakel says. "The other option is to just not do it at all. And that's not an option. A week's worth of lost performances, when we look back on things in a year or so, I think will just be a little blip on the radar."
They both look back with heart-thumping appreciation at the early performances when they welcomed back theater-starved audiences, who gave the company 3-minute standing ovations just for singing "A Whole New World."
"It is every brown girl's dream to be singing that song on an actual flying carpet," says Narayan. "And the fact that I got to do it on Broadway in the full costume with the lights and the 32-piece orchestra beneath me — oh, my gosh, I really had to hold it together. It was emotional overload for me."
Maliakel recalls that he and his brothers wore out their VHS cassette version of "Aladdin." He remembers having lunchboxes, pajamas and bed sheets with the film's theme. Aladdin was "every little brown kid's prince." Now he is that prince.
"Now, finally, to get to get paid to do it on the world's largest stage — it's not lost on me how crazy that is," he says. "The responsibility of my position right now feels really great. This moment sort of feels bigger than me in some ways, and I don't take that lightly. I think it's a really exciting time." (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Aladdin, Broadway, Musical, Indian Descendant cast,
Jack Daniel's is the world's most popular whiskey brand, but until recently, few people knew the liquor was created by Nathan "Nearest" Green, an enslaved Black man who mentored Daniel.
"We've always known," says Debbie Staples, a great-great-granddaughter of Green's who heard the story from her grandmother. … "He made the whiskey, and he taught Jack Daniel. And people didn't believe it … it's hurtful. I don't know if it was because he was a Black man."
But people believe it now — in large part because Brown-Forman Corporation, owner of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, has acknowledged the foundational role Green played in the brand's development.
"The truth of the matter is, Nearest Green was the first head distiller of Jack Daniels whiskey," says Matt Blevins, global brand director for Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey. "We're very proud of this story and are very committed to amplifying it and acknowledging that. In the past, we did not amplify it the way that we could have in earlier eras, but we're about the future and moving forward."
America's first-known Black master distiller
The story begins in Lynchburg, Tennessee, current home of the Jack Daniel Distillery. In the mid-1800s, Green's slaveholders hired him out to a local preacher named Dan Call. Green, who had a reputation as a skilled distiller, made whiskey for Call, using a sugar maple charcoal filtering process that is believed to have originated in West Africa. Daniel, a boy who worked for Call, became Green's apprentice and learned the special technique that gave the Tennessee whiskey its smooth taste.
After emancipation in 1863, when all enslaved people were freed, Daniel purchased Call's distillery and hired Green as Jack Daniel Distillery's first master distiller.
"The best knowledge that we have is that they had a mentor-and-mentee sort of a relationship, and I would say, a friendship," says Blevins. "The stories that have been passed down [talk] about the care that Jack Daniel took to always acknowledge … the Green family."
Historic photo of Jack Daniel (in white hat) seated next to George Green, the son of Nathan "Nearest" Green Image source: VOA
There are no known pictures of Green, but there is one of Daniel with Green's son, George, sitting next to Daniel, rather than being relegated to the back.
"That photograph shows the respect that they had for one another and for their families," says Stefanie Benjamin, an assistant professor of tourism management at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. "To be not only allowed in that photograph, but also positioned in the foreground and sitting right next to Jack Daniels himself."
Search for the truth
Green's role in the history of the brand was uncovered by a writer and entrepreneur named Fawn Weaver, who became fascinated by Green's unheralded contribution to the world's most popular whiskey. After extensive research, including interviews with Green's descendants, Weaver shared her documentation with the company.
"I was very pleasantly surprised when they embraced my research and updated their records to reflect that," Weaver told VOA via email. "I think it said a lot about the character of their company that they moved that quickly to course correct."
Jack Daniel's has incorporated Green's contributions into the official history of the brand, but Weaver has gone a step further. She invested $1 million of her own money to establish Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, which is now the fastest-growing independent American whiskey brand in U.S. history.
Fawn Weaver (center in red) with her leadership team at Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, including master distiller Victoria Eady Butler (far left), the great‐great‐granddaughter of Nearest Green. (Photo courtesy Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey) Image credit: VOA
The company's master distiller is Victoria Eady Butler, Green's great‐great‐granddaughter.
"Uncle Nearest is the most-awarded American whiskey or bourbon of 2019, 2020 and 2021, and the fact that it is the bloodline of Nearest Green blending and approving what goes into our bottles is something I marvel at regularly," Weaver says. "Victoria is an absolute natural when it comes to blending, and to watch her work is to see something pretty darn close to perfection."
Seven generations of Green's family have worked at the Jack Daniel Distillery, a tradition that continues today with Staples and two of her siblings. But the Green family did not benefit when the Daniel family sold the Jack Daniel distillery to Brown-Forman for $20 million in 1956.
"Although they [the Green family] were very well off in terms of finances [in the 1800s] in that time, they were not the owners or co-owners of the Jack Daniel distillery," Benjamin says. "And so, those millions of dollars have been passed down through generations of the Jack Daniel family, and not necessarily the Green family."
Maturing barrels of whiskey in a barrel house on the grounds of the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. (Photo courtesy Jack Daniel's) Image credit: VOA
Weaver's Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey has joined forces with Jack Daniel's to launch a program that provides support, expertise and resources to African-American entrepreneurs entering the spirits industry.
Staples says her family is thrilled their great-great-grandfather is finally being recognized.
"It's kind of mind-boggling … and we are so proud," Staples says. "And to think that from here to Africa, that recipe goes all the way back. And to think that he played such an important role in establishing this company. It sometimes seems unreal. It really does."
Because of Weaver's tenacity, Green's story, although left untold for more than a century, will not be lost to history. But that's not the case with so many other stories of Black achievement and contributions to the nation.
"Part of telling his story and sharing his legacy is to give credit and to give attention to a person who, if it wasn't for him, we wouldn't have the Jack Daniel whiskey as we know it today," Benjamin says. "It showcases yet another example of how formerly enslaved people, Black people, African American people who have really built this country, are left out of the dominant narrative that we tell." (VOA/RN)
(This article is originally written by Dora Mekouar)
Keywords: Jack Daniel's, Whiskey, Nathan Green, Slavery, Black achievement
Cricket fans can now book the ultimate experience with the official accommodation booking partner for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup, Booking.com. The T20 Pavillion, a bespoke cricket-themed luxury stay that transforms the Presidential Suite at Grand Hyatt Mumbai Hotel and Residences into a classic cricket stadium.
The suite offers guests an all-inclusive once-in-a-lifetime experience during the India vs Pakistan ICC Men's T20 World Cup match on October 24, 2021, packed with quirks and luxuries that is sure to satisfy even the biggest cricket enthusiast. Additionally, as a part of the experience, guests will also have the exclusive opportunity to meet Bollywood actor Shraddha Kapoor at The T20 Pavilion.
The booking window that opens at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and will be booked on a 'first come, first serve' basis with check-in date on October 24, 2021 and check-out on October 25, 2021. | Photo by Alessandro Bogliari on Unsplash
For one night only, guests can soak in the energy of a roaring stadium to enjoy the epic match on a life-sized screen while seated on comfortable sofas -- just like the luxury box seats at the stadium. They can also head to the locker room (dining room) next to the field (living room) to have some energy drinks, just like a cricketer would do or head to the bedroom, transformed into a net practice area. It's got the field, the pitch, the locker room, pitching nets and cricket memorabilia infused in every element of the room.
The booking window opens at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and will be booked on a 'first come, first serve' basis with check-in date on October 24, 2021, and check-out on October 25, 2021. The T20 Pavilion is priced at Rs 6666 only in honour of all the great sixes smashed at the T20 World Cup. The T20 Pavilion can accommodate up to four guests. Cricket fans can visit the website or mobile app to book this cricket-inspired stay. (IANS/ MBI)