‘I was furious about assumptions on my promotion without my consultation’

‘I was furious about assumptions on my promotion without my consultation’

Beth Comstock

BENGALURU: When Beth Comstock approached the HR at National Broadcasting Company (NBC) for a promotion to Head of Communications, little did she know that they would make the decision for her. The then 20-something was told that she was definitely up for a promotion but at a later stage since she was a mother and the new responsibilities came with a lot of travel. “I was furious that the assumption was made without being consulted,” she recalled at the tenth-anniversary of Literati, a corporate book-club hosted by SAP Labs India, in the city.

But not one to accept defeat easily, she fought for her promotion and got the new role. It’s no surprise then that Comstock eventually went on to become the first female vice-chair at GE. The journey, however, had challenges of its own, said the 58-year-old. Born in a small town in Virginia, Comstock joined a radio station while studying in college before she went on to work for NBC and CNN. During her stint at NBC, which was owned by GE, she got a job to work for the latter, but her first day was far from pleasant.

“Since there were few women in the senior level, the women’s bathroom was converted to men’s. We had to go through the kitchen and use the washroom there. But of course, we did get our restroom later,”
she recalled.

Outside the comfort zone

An introvert by nature, Comstock recalled times she would come out of meetings without speaking a word of what was on her mind.”I felt I was holding myself back. So, I started writing permission slips, where I would give myself permission to do something that I am afraid of,” she said. She introduced the same strategy to her team at GE and claims it worked, despite it sounding “silly”.

Comstock moved from GE abruptly towards the end of 2017. Life since then has not been without difficulties either. “I realised feeling lost sometimes is okay. I would write a to-do list every day
and realised I didn’t have anything to do. But I am discovering new things and coaching teams,” she said, adding that she would soon be back in business with something different.

At the writing desk

Comstock has recently penned a book titled Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change, along with Tahl Raz. “I saw people making the same mistakes that I have made. Hence, I wanted to convey this to them and offer them advice,” she said, adding that she might write more books in the future.


China ahead of India in Pharma

Despite this, 95 per cent of drugs sold in the US are manufactured in India.

China ahead of India in Pharma

TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao along with Prof. Krishnamurthy Subramanian, chief economic adviser of the Government of India, and Jayesh Ranjan during a Coffeetable conversation at HICC on Tuesday. (Photo: DC)

Hyderabad: India must face several challenges head-on if it attempts to close the gap with China in the biotechnology race. This was the general consensus among panellists at BioAsia 2019 Life Sciences 4.0 discussion on ‘Can India match China in the ‘Bio’ race’, in Hyderabad.

Quality and pricing of products and emboldening Indian entrepreneurs in healthcare are areas that India must pay more attention to if it wants to catch up with China as a bio competitor.

Managing director of Boehringer Ingelheim, India, Sharad Tyagi, said that in the early 1990s, both countries were talked about as nations with potential.

Today, India is still being talked about as a country with potential while China has leapfrogged ahead by not only realising its potential but “going beyond it”.

He said, “When I look at organisations looking to invest in a country, it is the sentiments about a country that drives the decision. These sentiments are stronger than actual facts and figures.”

“So what are the sentiments? China says, ‘I want to be the biggest, the best’. But the noises you get out of India are ‘I don’t want multinationals’, ‘I don’t want to pay for patents’, ‘I want to control prices’.

“It becomes very difficult for someone sitting miles away and unfamiliar with the ground reality of these messages to say

India is a better place to invest.”Moderator Utkarsh Palnitkar agreed that China’s growth in biotech has been outstanding.

He said, “China stated clearly that it wanted the sector to contribute four per cent of its GDP by 2020, a number that is very large.”

The growth has been underpinned by a number of changes it made, principally the setting up of the China Food and Drug Administration, he noted.

“Rapid clinical trials; massive increase in product launches and the strengthening of its intellectual property rights are reasons why China has leapfrogged in terms of growth in the last two years,” Mr Palnitkar said.

The scale of things in China also gives the country a manufacturing advantage — whether it is their biotech parks or infrastructure.

On the flip side, however, the Chinese language continues to be a barrier to outsiders; its novel products are limited and clinical trial documentation remains difficult and hazardous, added Mr Palnitkar, an independent consultant specialising in Life Sciences.

For its part, India is taking several steps to strengthen the sector in terms of creating new bio policies, increasing clinical trials and increasing quality clinical trials.

Chennai Corporation gives mosquitoes nightmares

Chennai Corporation gives mosquitoes nightmares

For representational purposes (File | AP)

CHENNAI: The Chennai Corporation’s system to track mosquito breeding across the main waterways in the city has helped reduce larval densities by ten times in certain areas after it was launched last month.
This centrally monitored vector control monitoring system collates daily larval density readings taken at 60 locations in the Buckingham Canal, Cooum and Adyar rivers. “Zonal health officials take readings in five different locations that have been marked for each day of the week.

This allows us to get an accurate picture of vector-breeding levels across the city,” said chief vector control officer S Selvakumar.

This allows officials to target the use of vector control measures in different areas. In addition to effectively reducing menace in areas infested with mosquitoes, it also helps in conserving use of larvicides in areas with low larval densities.

“We are able to effectively use our resources and send mosquito sprayers and lorries to areas with the most menace. Daily changes are possible because of real-time data collation which wasn’t possible when we were manually monitoring mosquito menace,” said Selvakumar.

In addition to collating larval densities, the app also helps analyse pH levels at various points of these water channels.

Engineering solutions

Through this app, the Corporation will identify areas that don’t have water flow, thereby, providing a conducive environment for mosquito breeding.

“In areas where high larval densities persist despite intervention, we have asked zonal officials to identify places that require an engineering solution to aid water flow,” said Selvakumar, adding a committee has been set up to ensure there is a free flow of water in major channels.

Preemption is key to be mosquito-free

This app is used to provide intervention in high-mosquito breeding areas, daily, but officials in the health department believe that collation of data can help them preempt mosquito menace in various seasons. “Identifying a pattern will be key to predict spike or fall of mosquito menace in certain areas. This will take at least a year,” said Selvakumar, explaining that larval density will be analysed season wise and constantly keyed in with exceptional cases to make predictions even more accurate.

Inspiring young buyers to make a move

Inspiring young buyers to make a move

Puneet and Giecy Sharma will move into their new unit in Blacktown in 2021. Picture: Angelo VelardoSource:News Corp Australia

Young professionals and immigrants are among the rising number of buyers flocking to a western Sydney suburb for its affordable homes.

Not only does Blacktown have a median house price of $714,500 — well below Sydney’s $985,000 median — but the latest CoreLogic figures show its median unit price comes in at just $540,000.



And with a whopping 327 unit sales in the past 12 months, there is proof that home seekers are jumping at the chance to own new apartments sprouting in the CBD.

Nurse Giecy Sharma, who grew up in the Philippines and dreamt of moving to Australia and buying a home, is counting down the days until construction starts on her new home.

Blacktown is a popular spot for buyers chasing value. Picture: SKYview Aerial PhotographySource:Supplied

The local resident bought an off-the-plan apartment in the 20-storey Inspire tower with husband, Puneet, when they were renting in 2016.

“I was driving past the display board and it caught my eye,” Mrs Sharma, 29, told the Blacktown Advocate.

Artist impression of the tower, which will rise 20 storeys once complete.Source:Supplied

“I had been looking for a property to purchase for a long time and this caught my eye due to the location because I am working at Royal North Shore Hospital, and this will be close to the train station,” she said.

Despite buying when the market was still hot, they paid $600,000 for a two-bedroom, two bathroom unit with a car space. It will be on the building’s 15th floor in Second Ave, which will have views from Parramatta to the Blue Mountains.

The building will have green open spaces for families to enjoy.Source:Supplied

Mrs Sharma said while the home came in under budget, it was a relief to have found something for that price as units near her work had been far more expensive.

“We mostly searched in the western suburbs because that is where my family lives too … we are looking forward to moving in.”

Puneet and Giecy Sharma love calling western Sydney home. Picture: Angelo VelardoSource:News Corp Australia

The Merhis Living project is due for completion in 2021. Prices start at $425,000.

Marketing manager Anthony Aoun said it had been popular with migrants, most of whom came from India and the Philippines.

Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali (middle) with Anthony Aoun (right) from Merhis discuss the Inspire tower at the project’s launch.Source:Supplied


He said Blacktown offered these newcomers and first home buyers “an attractive, more affordable alternative to its surrounding suburbs Granville and Westmead”.

Near shops, restaurants, schools and Blacktown Aquatic Centre, the $190 million building will have floor-to-ceiling windows and open common areas for residents.

Originally published as Inspiring young buyers to make a move

Education remains focus of Delhi budget, city to get two new universities

Education remains focus of Delhi budget, city to get two new universities

This was the fifth time in a row that the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) government has allocated the highest share of the budget to the education sector. (File Photo)

The Delhi government has allocated Rs 15,601 crore, 26% of the total budget, for the education sector in its budget for the 2019-20 fiscal. This was the fifth time in a row that the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) government has allocated the highest share of the budget to the education sector. Of the total allocated, Rs 7,818 crore will be used for various plans and schemes.

The budgetary allocation includes administrative expenditures such as payment of salaries to teachers and other departments (such as PWD) that coordinate with the education department on various schemes. The focus of this year’s budget was on strengthening the status of higher and technical education in Delhi, with the government proposing to set up two new universities — University of Applied Sciences and a University for Teachers’ Training.

While presenting the budget on Tuesday, finance minster Manish Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, said, “Education is the first priority of our government and it will continue to be so as long as every child in Delhi gets a good education. Some say we do politics over education. Yes, we are doing politics over education. It’s our responsibility to bring education into politics and we are doing that.”

“There is no university for applied sciences in the country now. Due to this, the interest of students in skill-based institutes such as ITI, Polytechnic remains low. To resolve this, and to set a new benchmark for applied sciences, the Delhi government will start a ‘University of Applied Sciences’. There will be programmes for vocational education of three to 12 months in various trades, certificate courses of one to two years, diplomas, degrees, postgraduate courses, MPhil and PhD programmes,” Sisodia said.

The government also announced a new curriculum, “family business”, at the Delhi Technical University (DTU). “From next year, MBA (Family Business) will be started in DTU where children from the business community will be able to learn management skills for furtherance of their respective businesses. It will also be started in the other universities of the Delhi government,” Sisodia said. The course is already available in some B-schools such as IIM-Bengaluru and Indian school of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad.

DTU vice-chancellor Yogesh Singh said, “As per the direction of the government, we will be creating a special programme for those who have family businesses, be it a grocery shop or a manufacturing firm. We will teach these students how to take their businesses forward and provide jobs to others.”

The construction work on the GB Pant Engineering College and Polytechnic Complex at Okhla also received a fillip with the government allocating Rs 527 crore for this project. Once ready, there will be an additional 3,000 engineering seats in Delhi.

Government schools will each receive Rs 5-7 lakh to strength its school management committees (SMCs) in academic session 2019-20. The SMCs will also be provided an additional fund of Rs 1-1.5 lakh to help teachers who want to take up initiatives to make learning better.

An allocation of Rs 42 crore was made to provide seed money of Rs 1,000 to every student studying in classes 11 and 12 in government schools and Rs 5,000 each to those studying in the Delhi government-run colleges and universities to start developing their “business plan” under the upcoming “entrepreneurship curriculum”.

Minister seeks report on stranded E-buses

MD calls for report on whether there was any fault on part of the technical wing of corp.

Minister seeks report on stranded E-buses

The probe will cover whether the inexperience of the company drivers resulted in the scenario.

Kochi: Transport minister A. K. Saseendran has sought a report from the KSRTC management over the incident in which two air-conditioned battery electric buses got stranded mid-way during the inaugural day of deployment of the environment-friendly buses in the Thiruvananthapuram Ernakulam section.

Though five E-buses started journey from Thiruvananthapuram Central bus station to Ernakulam on Monday morning, the battery charge of one bus died down when it reached X-ray Junction (Cherthala) and another at Vytilla, resulting in passenger protest.

KSRTC Managing Director M.P. Dinesh directed the Executive Director (Vigilance) to probe into the issue and submit a report on whether there was any fault on part of the technical wing of the corporation.

“After recharging, the electric buses will run a distance of 250 km. The buses were successfully deployed in the Pamba-Nilackal section during the last Sabarimala season. Also during the trial run conducted in the Thiruvananthapuram-Aluva section, nearly 20 per cent charge was left when the bus reached the destination. All this prompted the management to deploy the services,” sources said.

The probe will cover whether the inexperience of the company drivers resulted in the scenario. “There was no issue with the remaining six services,” they said.

Meanwhile, all eight E-buses operated smoothly on Tuesday with the KSRTC readying charging facility at Ernakulam depot and Harippad.

Also, the KSRTC has reached a final agreement with the KSEB over setting up of five e-bus charging facility at Thevara depot by setting up a new transformer there at a cost of Rs 17 lakh.

What lies hidden behind the front door of this Largs Bay home?

What lies hidden behind the front door of this Largs Bay home?

A Largs Bay home comes with a hidden musical treasure.Source:Supplied

It may not look like much from the outside, but a hidden musical treasure in this Largs Bay home could earn its new owner a few extra bucks.

Built in 1974, the three-bedroom ranch-style home at 438 Military Rd is being offered to the market for the first time in 45 years and features a custom-made entertainment unit that will have retro enthusiasts in awe.

It includes a vintage reel-to-reel player – made popular in the sixties, a cassette player, a vinyl player, an equaliser and an FM/AM radio – all of which are in working order.

A quick internet search shows each item could resell anywhere between $250 and $1000, providing a cash bonus to whoever buys the home.

Here’s a dream for retro lovers

Mid-century beachside charmer

SA’s most popular suburbs for new houses

438 Military Rd, Largs BaySource:Supplied

438 Military Rd, Largs BaySource:Supplied

Selling agent Peter Kikianis of Ray White Semaphore says while buyers were predominantly drawn to the home for its location, the entertainment unit had undoubtedly become a key talking point.

“The property was originally the Largs Bay croquet club and the house itself was built in 1974 by a family who loved to entertain,” he says.

“I’ve been told by the people I’m selling this place for that their parents held many parties in this home and that at the time it was built, their father wanted a state-of-the-art sound system.

“So they’ve had this cabinet specifically made with all that equipment.

“They wanted something that would allow them to play whatever form of music they liked. It’s quite a talking point and you can close it all up, so you just have this beautiful timber unit to look at.”

438 Military Rd, Largs BaySource:Supplied

438 Military Rd, Largs BaySource:Supplied

Set at the top end of Musgrave St with views all the way down to the Esplanade, Mr Kikianis says the property offered plenty for prospective renovators or those seeking a big block of land to build their dream home.

As it stands, the 1354sqm property includes a three-bedroom, one bathroom home with an open-plan lounge and dining area. There’s also a country-style kitchen with a second meals area, which opens out to the rear yard, and a large rumpus or master bedroom on the upper floor.

438 Military Rd, Largs BaySource:Supplied

438 Military Road, Largs BaySource:Supplied

“The music cabinet is the focal point of the home but a lot of people also like the design of the home,” Mr Kikianis says.

“It’s been designed in a chalet-style with raked ceilings and open-plan living spaces and you can tell it’s been a happy home for many years.

“The home also sits on a very unique parcel of land and you get some beautiful views.

“So for those who don’t want to renovate, the land does give the opportunity to build a dream home.”

Originally published as What lies hidden behind the front door of this Largs Bay home?

China delays, sales slowdown hit Australian infant formula maker Bellamy’s

China delays, sales slowdown hit Australian infant formula maker Bellamy's

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Infant formula company Bellamy’s Australia Ltd on Wednesday said its half-year profit fell almost two thirds, hit by regulatory delays in China and falling domestic sales as it lost market share, sending its shares sharply lower.

FILE PHOTO: A person holds a tin of Bellamy’s organic toddler milk formula in Sydney, Australia. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

The former market darling has been waiting for 14 months for clearance to sell its products directly in its biggest growth market, and said the foregone sales would shrink annual revenue and margins would be squeezed as marketing costs rose.

The delay, for which the firm has no clear explanation, underscores the regulatory challenges of doing business in China and has left Bellamy’s to rely almost entirely on sales via notoriously fickle Chinese shoppers in Australia.

“I don’t think the model has blown up, but the question will be: ‘Can they get the traction back?’” said Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio strategist at stockbroker Blue Ocean Equity.

Bellamy’s shares dropped as much as 10 percent to a six-week low in early trade, before recovering to trade about 2 percent below Tuesday’s close by mid-session, while the broader market rose 0.3 percent.

The company’s flagging sales come amid a broader consumer slowdown in China which has affected firms ranging from U.S. tech behemoth Apple Inc to Australian vitamin maker Blackmores Ltd.

Bellamy’s said its net profit fell 63.7 percent to A$8.1 million ($5.8 million) in the six months ended Dec. 31.

Sales also dropped by a quarter to A$129.6 million as customers swapped to New Zealand rival a2 Milk Company Ltd, which posted a record half-year profit.

Bellamy’s Chief Executive Officer Andrew Cohen gave no firm date for finally securing permission to stock the company’s organic milk powders and formulas in shops in China, which he had previously hoped to secure by the end of 2018.

“We fully respect the process and we don’t want to take guesses about how that process is going to go on,” Cohen said.

The company was hopeful officials would audit its premises in Melbourne by the end of the year as part of the accreditation, he added.

The company said it expected full-year revenue of between A$200 million and A$300 million, compared with A$329 million in 2018.

It expected an earnings margin of between 18 percent and 22 percent, compared with a previous forecast of 22 percent to 25 percent as a rebranding effort lifts marketing costs.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook in Sydney. Additional reporting by Shanima A and Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; editing by G Crosse and Stephen Coates

Mukesh now among world’s 10 richest men

Mukesh now among world's 10 richest men

Mumbai: Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani has broken into the top 10 richest list globally with a networth of $54 billion, while his younger brother Anil has paled into the oblivion having lost over 65 percent of his networth, according to a report.

The Hurun Global Rich List 2019 is topped by Amazon chief Jeff Bezos for the second year in a row, while the senior Ambani is placed 10th with a network of Rs 3.83 lakh crore, thanks to a rally in RIL shares, which had topped the Rs 8-lakh-crore-mark last month. Ambani owns almost 52 percent in Reliance.

Anil Ambani, held in contempt of court by the Supreme Court last week for not paying up Ericsson Rs 540 crore, has lost over $5 billion, from $7 billion seven years ago to $1.9 billion this year, even though both the brothers got off with more or less same amount of inherited wealth.

“Having started off similarly after the break-up of the family wealth, Mukesh added $30 billion to his wealth in the past seven years, while Anil has lost over $5 billion during the same period,” says the Hurun report.

The other wealthiest Indians are Hinduja group chairman SP Hinduja with networth of $21 billion, Wipro chairman Azim Premji is at third with a networth of $17 billion, says the report released Tuesday.

Cyrus S Poonawalla, chairman of the Poonawalla group that run Serum Institute, with a networth of $13 billion is not only ranked as the fourth richest Indian but also breaks into the top 100 global ranking.

Steel giant ArcelorMittal’s Lakshmi Mittal stands at fifth position, followed by Kotak Mahindra’s Uday Kotak ($11 billion), Gautam Adani ($9.9 billion) and Sun Pharma’s Dilip Shanghvi ($9.5 billion).

Cyrus Pallonji Mistry and Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry, both with wealth of $9.5 billion each come in the ninth and the 10th position, respectively, thanks to their 18.4 percent holding in the country’s largest conglomerate Tata group.

According to the list, Smita Crishna, a third- generation heir of the Godrej family, tops the female billionaire list with a networth of $6.1 billion, while Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon is the richest self-made female entrepreneur ranked 671 with a wealth of $3.5 billion.

“Since 2012, this is for that first time that India has slipped to the fifth rank in the Hurun Global Rich List.

An underperforming rupee and a lackluster stock market resulted in the country losing one-third of the list,” Hurun Report India managing director and chief researcher Anas Rahman Junaid said.

The report also points out that media billionaires had a bad year, led by Zee’s Subhash Chandra and Sun TV’s Kalanithi Maran who lost their networth substantially.

Bezos of Amazon tops the list for the second consecutive year with networth of $147 billion, which may not hold for long as he is divorcing his wife who owns half of his 16 percent in the world’s largest online retailer.

As per the report, the number of individuals featured in the 2019 edition has come down by 224 to 2,470 from 2,694 in 2018.

The cumulative wealth of these 2,470 individuals stood at $9.5 trillion amounting to 12 percent of global GDP.

With a wealth of $96 billion, Microsoft founder Bill Gates ranks second in the global list followed by Warren Buffet, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway with networth of $88 billion, LVMH’s Bernard Arnault at $86 billion at the fourth slot.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg with networth of $80 billion is at the fifth position

Jennifer Lawrence Formally Debuts Her $200K+ Engagement Ring at Dior’s Show


Jennifer Lawrence did her first event today since news of her engagement to Cooke Maroney was confirmed by her publicist earlier this month. And while J.Law has been photographed in her ring multiple times since the proposal, her appearance today marks the first time a high-resolution, crystal-clear shot of the ring has been taken. Previous photos were long distance and grainy.

Jennifer Lawrence Formally Debuts Her $200K+ Engagement Ring at Dior's Show

So what does the ring look like? It’s emerald-shaped and definitely diamond. ELLE.com asked a couple diamond experts to weigh in on its value and carat count. The consensus seems to be it’s roughly four to five carats and worth around $200,000.

Here, what they all said:

President of SuperJeweler Andrew Fox gave ELLE.com the lowest carat estimate. “Jennifer’s ring, which is surprisingly modest, appears to be a 3-4 carat emerald shape diamond,” he said. “While I’m certain that it’s of very fine color and clarity, he [Cooke Maroney] most likely paid over $200,000.”

Gemologist Grant Mobley echoed Fox’s estimate of $200,000 but gave a slightly higher carat count. “The ring appears to be around a 4 to 5 carat emerald cut diamond and set in a classic platinum four prong solitaire mounting with a petit band,” he told ELLE.com. “The beauty of a classic mounting like this is that the center diamond is the main focus and can get all of the attention. Because there are no other stones or embellishments on the ring at all, you can tell that the natural center diamond was the most important part of this ring for the couple. A natural center diamond of that quality and size would be close to $200,000, and because large, natural diamonds are growing increasingly rare, this ring will definitely retain its value over time.”

Kathryn Money, VP of Strategy & Merchandising for Brilliant Earth, also agreed the diamond is at least four carats. “We can confirm that Jennifer’s engagement ring features an estimated 4-5 carat elongated cushion or emerald cut diamond in a white gold or platinum solitaire setting,” Money told ELLE.com. Depending on the quality and specific characteristics of the center diamond, we estimate the cost of the ring at approximately $60,000 to $100,000.”