Gayathri Ramkrishnan

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On November 28, 2017, Gayathri Ramkrishnan commented on “I wouldn’t trust them to build a canoe”: Building the Australian Navy :

Thank you Paul. I enjoyed reading this post. I worked in the shipbuilding industry in my country during a consulting project and the nation was faced with a similar situation. Your question, “Is it acceptable for a government to spend taxpayer dollars on overseas goods when a domestic alternative is available?” really resonated with the project that I had worked on. My country was working on a project to build frigates (warships). The government was insistent that the ships should be built within the country indigenously. Yet there were quite some gaps when it came to technological infrastructure and know-how, which could significantly speed up construction. Producing domestically would mean increased delays and cost and less sophistication. At the same time, there was a strong requirement for indigenous manufacturing. Eventually, the country decided to work with an established international shipbuilder for transfer of know-how and technology alone but kept manufacturing restricted to domestic territories. To answer your question, in this case I just described there were several domestic alternatives. Were they the quickest? Not necessarily. The most sophisticated? Not really. In such circumstances, when you want to leverage the best practices that exist globally to optimize your own effort and investment, I think it makes sense to look at overseas options.

On November 28, 2017, Gayathri Ramkrishnan commented on AltSchool: Personalizing K-12 Classroom Learning :

Edtech is one of my favorite topics! Thank you for covering this Aahan. You pose an interesting question by asking, “Can a software developer create commercially viable educational platforms while simultaneously operating its own physical schools?” I definitely think they can. Many for-profit and non-profit organizations have combined traditional methods and technology to deliver great value to students. One organization that I really admire in this field is Bridge International Academy. The first Bridge International Academy opened in 2009 using a “school-in-a-box” franchise model. The objective was to give “children a quality education for roughly $5 a month, beginning with early childhood development classes through eighth grade.” Supported by big-name investors, including Bill Gates and Pierre Omidyar, the company looks to provide quality schooling to children living in extreme poverty. Bridge International takes advantage of technology to achieve its aims, including the use of tablets and smartphones. Standardized curricula are delivered simultaneously and concurrently by the teachers, who use tablets to coordinate their efforts. These scripted lesson plans have “step-by-step instructions explaining what teachers should do and say during any given moment of a class.” Administrative tasks, including tracking of teacher schedules and subsequent student evaluation, are included with the package so Bridge can be sure their “Academy Managers,” as administrators are called, deliver the program as expected [1]. Since 2009, it has built more than 500 schools in India, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Uganda, and has educated more than 250,000 children [2]. Both software companies and physical schools can embrace such innovation to combine technology with traditional methods to deliver strong learning outcomes.


[1] Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: Raab, S., Raab, S. and Susan, M. (2017). Bridge International’s “School-in-a-Box” Approach to African Education – Non Profit News | Nonprofit Quarterly. [online] Non Profit News | Nonprofit Quarterly. Available at: [Accessed 29 Nov. 2017]. [Accessed 29 Nov. 2017].

[2] Ojomo, E. (2017). Bridge International Academies; a model for innovation – Christensen Institute. [online] Christensen Institute. Available at:

On November 28, 2017, Gayathri Ramkrishnan commented on Adidas: Revolutionizing the Supply Chain with SPEEDFACTORY :

Heejin raises a great question in the end by asking, “Will SPEEDFACTORY eventually replace the conventional production in Asia?” I strongly believe that automation will replace conventional methods, perhaps not immediately but definitely in the decades to come. Companies will increasingly prefer to decentralize manufacturing in multiple locations as cost and time to manufacture reduce as a result of automation. I am very fascinated by AI and often enjoy reading about the field to learn more about what robots would mean to our jobs in future and to mass production centers such as China. I learned that in the next few decades, about 56% of all salaried workers in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam could be displaced by automation and advanced technologies, such as 3D printing. Robots, for instance, are increasingly handling the labor previously done by low-skilled workers in industries such as automotive and electronics manufacturing. For governments and employers willing to educate and train workers for new, high-tech jobs, the shift could benefit all as it raises productivity and wages. But employers and countries that continue to rely on low-cost manual labor as their chief competitive advantage risk being left behind in the global economy [1].

1. Bain, M. (2017). Robots are set to take the jobs of millions of Asian workers in the coming years. [online] Quartz. Available at:

Eli, raises a great question in the end by asking, “How should JLR balance its response to the ambiguous external trade environment with the requirement to increase investment in new technologies, such as e-mobility and driverless cars?”

I believe that the post-Brexit world has indeed created sound conditions for JLR to focus on innovations such as driverless cars. It is a boon rather than a bane. Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said that several factors meant that Brexit Britain could be better suited to support the development of the fledgling technology than a UK inside the EU. UK has a more liberal attitude than much of Europe to the internet communications used by technologies like driverless cars, meaning legal issues around testing the vehicles are likely to be less complicated. The opportunity to escape from European red tape could further make the UK a friendly location for testing. In addition, David Cameron’s government announced the Modern Transport Bill, which was intended to reduce restrictions on automated driving and update the legal system to reflect emergent technology [1].

[1] (2017). Brexit could be a boon for driverless cars, says auto industry body. [online] Available at:

On November 28, 2017, Gayathri Ramkrishnan commented on Performance with Purpose: PepsiCo’s move to a sustainable supply chain :

Brandon poses an interesting question at the end of the article. He asks, “How does PepsiCo strike the appropriate balance when approaching suppliers to adopt renewables? Will it impact efficiency or take precedent over other projects they are working on?”

A number of consumer product companies are leading significant changes through their suppliers when it comes to fighting the climate change battle. The purchasing power held by consumer companies and retailers gives them significant influence over their suppliers’ business practices. The supply-chain collaboration has led to a reduction in carbon emissions of more than 3.5 million tons, with suppliers saving an average of $1.3 million per emissions-reduction initiative. In recent years, consumer companies and others have adopted more sophisticated and effective methods for changing their suppliers’ practices. They have gone from disseminating codes of conduct, performing audits, and fielding questionnaires to helping suppliers design and implement sustainability programs that directly support the companies’ own goals. Campbell Soup Company, in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund, offers farmers technologies, guidelines, and products to help them optimize their fertilizer use and improve soil conservation. Digital technology has also increased companies’ ability to assist large numbers of suppliers. In 2014, Walmart launched a program to help thousands of its Chinese suppliers make their factories more energy efficient through the use of an online tool. The program has enabled the average supplier to reduce its energy consumption by an average of 10 percent. Unilever uses a software tool, developed with the University of Aberdeen, to collect data on whether farmers in its supply chain are using sustainable practices. Unilever offers them the tool for free, with the aim of procuring 100 percent of its agricultural content from sustainable sources by 2020 [1]. Pepsico can leverage some of these best practices as it collaborates with its suppliers.

[1] McKinsey & Company. (2017). Starting at the source: Sustainability in supply chains. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Nov. 2017].

On November 28, 2017, Gayathri Ramkrishnan commented on Casa Luker: Unveiling the sweet future of Colombian Cocoa Production :

The author poses a question at the beginning of the article. She asks, “Will advancing harvesting techniques and innovation for sustainable practices in the industry be enough to offset the effect of climate change and open opportunities for profitability and growth?”
My answer to this question is a no. Mere focus on innovation and advancement is not adequate. The bigger challenge in the Colombian coffee industry is to encourage and enforce adoption of these innovations. In Colombia, 95% of the 500,000 coffee growers are small-scale farmers, with less than 5 hectares. These families are extremely vulnerable in the face of extreme weather events. Their livelihoods have been affected as ‘rust’ (a coffee leaf fungus) has reduced productivity and incomes, and landslides from excessive rainfall have destroyed homes and roads. In one extreme case, an entire coffee-growing community had to be evacuated as a result of severe landslides. To deal with the threat posed by climate change over the longer term, Colombian farmers have had to begin diversifying their income so they are less vulnerable to these threats, as well as increasing their use of rust-resistant plant varieties. Some new varieties have been developed by Colombian Coffee Growers Federation’s (FNC’s) National Coffee Research Center (Cenicafé). These have been available for some time but farmers can be reluctant to uproot existing trees and plant the new variety. Why are coffee growers reluctant to change to rust-resistant varieties? For one thing, it is often hard to convince farmers to change their longstanding agricultural practices. However, the reality is also that many cannot afford to forego three years of income (while the new trees mature), without external assistance. The FNC has been working with the local government and finance providers to improve credit programmes and increase the pace at which new coffee plantations use rust-resistant varieties. [1] It is interesting and commendable that Casa Luker has developed strong innovations. However, to truly deliver value, the company has to offer adequate financial and non-financial incentives to the poor farmers of Colombian coffee industry to encourage the adoption of advancements aimed at fighting climate change.

[1] Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Nov. 2017].