Sapience is the flagship annual management conclave of Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon. Every year, Sapience focuses on a theme that the present industry is resonating to. Sapience 2020-21 was based on the theme ‘Crisis Inspiring Innovation’. Industry leaders from across the domains of Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, Operations, Analytics and Entrepreneurship gathered around for panel discussions on how the COVID-19 crisis transformed the way they conduct business and how it paved way for innovative methods to deliver value to their customers and stakeholders. The event was conducted as a 7-part series between 16th and 31st January, 2021.

Sapience offers a great opportunity for the students of Great Lakes Gurgaon, to listen to senior executives from a range of industries and learn first-hand about what innovations they have made in their businesses and how they foresee the future unfolding. This year, the interactive forum was opened up to alumni of Great Lakes as well, garnering immense participation from all around the country.

Keynote Address

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Sapience 2020-21 began on 16th January, 2021, with the Keynote address delivered by Mr. Ashwin Muralidharan, Head of Tax & SAP Project Manager – IMEA, Henkel. He discussed the importance of having an open mindset and staying positive even in the most stressful situations. It is highly important for management students to be innovative and to dare to explore without any inhibitions, and ultimately to come out of their comfort zones.

Marketing Conclave

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18th January, 2021, marked the second day of Sapience 2020-21 with the Marketing panel discussion. Mr. Shashank Srivastava, Executive director, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, discussed how the prevailing pandemic had changed the process of buying for consumers, the biggest change being the process of digitization. Mr. Sanjay Gupta, Marketing Director – APAC, Uber, discussed the dramatic shift in the thought process of businesses and how companies are becoming more responsible to be more customer-centric. Mr. Deepak Ohri, CEO – Lebua hotels & Resorts, Bangkok, shared his thoughts about building emotional connections and prioritizing relationships with employees and customers especially during unprecedented times.

Entrepreneurship Conclave

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The Entrepreneurship panel discussion was conducted on 21st January, 2021. Mr. Chand Seth, Founder & Chairman, Pearl Polymer, simplified the meaning of entrepreneurship and explained how his motivation behind his product was his passion that came from being his own boss. Mr. Manish Goyal, Founder and CTO, i3 Nanotec LLC, shared his journey of being a successful entrepreneur and talked about how adaptability is the key to sustainable long-term plans. Dr. S. Lakshmi, Director- Center of Entrepreneurship and Career Oriented Programs, Delhi University, shed light on practical knowledge for students and how hands-on industry experience, which earlier used to be a challenge, has become one of the most crucial aspects of any degree. Mr. Bhairaw Kumar Mandal, Director & Founder, Enerture Technologies Pvt. Ltd., and also an alumnus of Great Lakes Gurgaon, shared his career story by introducing his first innovative idea of creating an online presence for small businesses.

Finance Conclave

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The third panel discussion, conducted on 23rd January, 2021, was the Finance panel discussion which commenced with Dr. Gargi Chatterjea, Executive Director, CESC, talking about the importance of extensive digital channel usage, connecting with people through social media, and engagement with consumers. Mr. Naveen Kumar, Director – Operations, PTC India Financial Services Limited, talked about the need to a need to shift to the virtual world and become technology savvy. Mr. Virendra Saklani, Deputy Vice President, HDFC Bank, talked about how quickly the government acted in rolling out the emergency credit line guarantee scheme to MSME and other segments of the customers. Mr. Biswanath Sen Gupta, Start-up Evangelist & CEO, Arthavedika, gave a clear picture of how the industry is coping with the current financial crisis like the declining GDP and rising unemployment that occurred during the first phase of the pandemic.

Analytics Conclave

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The Analytics panel discussion was conducted on 29th January, 2021. Mr. Pavan Shah, Head- Applied Machine Learning/ Data Science, Ads Marketing, Google (UK), established the discussion by talking about the pivotal role of data at such a crucial time. Mr. Prithvijit Roy, CEO, Bridgei2i, stated that for re-crafting the strategies, the silver lining was that enterprises had gone digital, generating huge amounts of data, essentially leading to analytics and AI-driven strategies. Mr. Srikanth Velamakanni, CEO, Fractal Analytics, stated that leveraging data in an effective way has helped in making India stand at a relatively better place in terms of infection spread when compared to other countries. Mr. Abhishek Bhattacharya, Co-Founder, Whrrl, talked about the challenges in leveraging Blockchain during the initial days of the pandemic.

HR & OB Conclave

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The 5th panel discussion, on Human Resource & Organizational Behavior was conducted on 30th January, 2021. Ms. Sapna Harplani, Director- HR, Markem- Imaje, talked about there was a fundamental shift from thinking that work from home is not going to work to how it became more normal for them and from a process perspective, things had really worked well. Mr. Ashish Jain, VP, Right Management, stated that his focus was on the employees who were staying alone and the heart of the process was to constantly communicate with all the employees. Of all the industries, the hospitality industry was the hardest hit by the pandemic. Mobilizing the staff and then training had become a huge challenge as stated by Mr. Ahmad Mehdi, General Manager, L&D, Lemon Tree Hotels. Mr. Gaurav Mehta, AVP- HR (APAC & MEA), CVent, very beautifully explained that there are three sides where the workforce settled during the pandemic, one is personal other is professional and the third is the silver lining.

Operations Conclave

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The final session, the Operations panel discussion, was conducted on 31st January, 2021. How the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the approach towards patient-centricity, hierarchy, continuity, and risk was briefly discussed by Mr. Pawan Datta, Senior VP & Head, Max Healthcare. Mr. Vinay Kushwaha, VP- Supply Chain, Britannia Industries, talked about new consumer habits like focus on health, healthy foods, use of sanitizers, direct customer deliveries are here to stay. Mr. Sudam Maitra, Managing Executive Officer, Maruti Suzuki Limited, discussed the need to come out with different ideas for improvement in different areas along with the future of operations and production with respect to robotic process automation. Mr. Saurav Chakrabarti, VP, Tata Teleservices, discussed about the urgent need to redesign offices based on learnings from situations, as technology is moving towards a more employee self-service mode.

Valedictory Address

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The closing day of Sapience 2020-21 was a day of immense importance with the Valedictory address by Dr. Bala V Balachandran, Founder, Chairman and Dean Emeritus, Great Lakes Institute of Management, along with the preview launch of the Great Lakes Management Review, Great Lakes Gurgaon’s own business and management journal. Dr. Bala, or Uncle Bala as the students call him, addressed the students and alumni, sharing the valuable life-lessons he learnt throughout his journey as an army officer and as a world renowned academician. Uncle Bala concluded the day’s proceedings by lauding the academic team for conceptualizing the journal and conveying his best wishes to Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon, for her ongoing journey of Inspiring Greatness.

Sapience Through the Years


  • IIT Stuart School of Business
  • University of Bordeaux
  • UMKC
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