27 January, 2010

In case you did not believe me.....

That's me with Ratan Tata ...Notice...only two brilliant gentlemen are wearing blue ties in the group...fullto matching!

Coincidence???? I think not.....

25 January, 2010

How do you solve a problem like career?

(Sing in the tune of ‘Maria’ from Sound of Music)

How do you solve a problem like career?
How do you find a job and keep it down?
How do find work that defines career?
A paycheck, benefits, a frown?
Many a thing you’d like from your career
many a things you like to understand
but how do I make me stay?
And listen to all they say?
Dumb work makes me a lesser man…
How do you solve a problem like Career? (Sustain High Notes here)
A job to make you proudly stand….

The Original Tune

22 January, 2010

The few moments with Ratan Tata

Yes people…you read the title right! I hope you did not fall of the chair. Yours truly was fortunate enough to be chosen to go and meet the man himself - Ratan Tata, in flesh and blood, a few days ago. The man (for the rest of the article, out of sheer respect…the man will be Mr.Ratan Tata and not yours truly) was coming all the way from Mumbai just to spend a few hours at our college with the students. He was very clear that he did not want any folks from the press. It was all for the students.

Yours truly was chosen to go and pick him up from the Chennai airport where he arrived in his private jet.( Me squealing like a little girl in excitement at the thought of a private jet) We wait about 45 minutes before the jet arrives. Drummer boy, our founder and I were waiting at the airport in the special section which was meant only for VIPs. The guys from the Taj were totally jealous that the man was coming all the way from Mumbai only to meet us, even they don’t get such quality time. Anyway, the man followed by Ramadorai and Mahalingam (TCS) arrived at 9:30. And holy god, bless my stars! It was a total honour to meet the man himself. The guy who has built one heck of an empire. And I still can’t believe I shook his hand. Dad asked me not to wash it, but we all know that its not possible. What struck me was the humbleness of this man while the others around him were all airs. He very politely greeted everyone present with no airs of a multi-billionaire that one would expect. When we handed him the bouquet, while the others chose to merely acknowledge its existence and throw them into the car instantaneously, Mr.Tata held it with him until he got into the car. It’s the little things that matter.

We leave the airport in one awesome convoy, Tata and our founder in the Mercedes infront, Drummer boy and I in the Merc behind (yes…I got to go by Merc once again)….Ramadorai and Mahalingam in the Merc behind us followed by the rest of the junta from the Taj huddled in the Tata Safari. I was a little disappointed. Why is the owner of the Jaguar car going around in a Merc? Not complaining though. While the others chose to give long winding speeches, Mr.Tata spoke for under 10 minutes and opened the floor to questions for nearly 40 minutes. This is the kind of thing most Tata employees dream about, and here we were, getting exclusive access. In your face, other college in the south with a one year MBA. Gnaaaaaaaaah!!!!!

Even while addressing the students, Mr.Tata patiently answered even the most ridiculous of questions put forth by some of our …ahem…brightest eager young minds. Speaks volumes for the man. Needless to say, I got photo time and a ‘Hello’ from the man. Will upload the pic soon.

15 January, 2010

So much love, concern and scorn

Well, placement season is upon us. And people are behaving quite oddly. With a batch of 260, let one person get short –listed, the barrage of advice …sorry…free unwarranted advice can nearly bury a man. It is amazing as to how when one gets short listed, the number of people, some whom you have never had the honour of interacting with during college, come up to you with free advice. Many folks go about trying to psych you out too, which is quite hilarious.

I got short-listed for a company, and the number of people who all of a sudden have a vested interest in my career is over-whelming. And all this was without me even asking for any. While I do appreciate the advice…thank you all, I need to ask, if you know so much about the company, why didn’t you apply, or get shortlisted. Standard reply, “ Noooooo daaaaaaa! I want big company daaaaaaa!” and something on those lines which more or less condescendingly infers that they would not touch your company with a barge pole. As always, when a list comes out, the usual conspiracy theories and Watergate scandals seem to crawl out of cupboards.” Dude…that fellow is good friends with placement committee da….”,“ full biased against me da….i got low marks no!”,“ That fellow is sleeping with (name not mentioned) so he got shortlisted” …and other very scandalous remarks with no concrete base what so ever. But that’s what makes this all fun. Same sort of conversation gets translated into office politics when someone gets a promotion, “she’s sleeping with the boss dude….”

I particularly enjoy feeble attempts at being psyched out. While I had applied for a certain FMCG company with the hopes of being shortlisted, some acquaintances presumed I was surely getting a call. However, thanks to the eclipse, I did not get short listed. (I have come down to blaming solar phenomenon too…what’s next? Gophers ate my resume?). Anyway, general procedure for any FMCG with a greenhorn is to throw them in a remote rural area and ask them to sell soap. All of a sudden people seemed worried that I would get placed in Bihar and that gundas there would kidnap me so as to marry me off to their otherwise plump daughter named gulab jamoon. While I am really happy that I have so many guardian angels, even the biharis would think twice before kidnapping me. My mum will have to give them a training course on how to silently endure the likes of Mr.Nikhilesh Murthy. Some people came up to me saying that there is no social life in an FMCG. There would be no time for the girlfriend or the missus. Since I have neither, and there seems to be no scope of either in the next few years, I don’t seem too worried. Might as well make some money.

Any one getting even short listed for a company, irrespective of size of company, is looked down upon with a certain scorn…generally varying with pay package being offered. People smiling through their teeth in the hope that should you bag a deal; they may get a free meal. Well, I like free meals too. But am not too scornful. Reason is simple. The big chunk of companies coming our way are predominantly IT…and wild horses would be needed to drag me back to that domain. I need something a little more exciting. So I have applied to very few companies and am facing minimum competition. I am also using the ‘Aaal eeez well’ technique so as not to lose my mind. I’ve been down this road before and it has ultimately turned out for the best. So in the lord I trust. But that does not stop you from offering sincere prayers. C’est La Vie…

12 January, 2010

The Party’s over…and the hunt is on.

I’ve been unable to write anything the last few weeks owing to the big college fest of L’Attitude, which thanks to the organizers (me being a part of them) went off really well. We managed to get very good responses from visitors and people from other schools. The biggest part of the fest was the second performance of the band. Rain and an impending cyclone threatened to cancel the cultural show, and I was all ready to send the truck back owing to the financial aspect of matters. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the equipment was set up, not on stage, but in the corridors of the main building. This created a sort of ‘concept concert’ kind of thing, almost on the lines of U2. While we did not have a major turn out, the 50 odd who did come had a great time, or so I presume. I was in full form and was behaving more high than any of my band members. I was jumping up to a height of nearly two feet with a guitar, and head banging and what not. Twas a good show. Post-show hangover, 92 kilos falling on my poor ankles have them swollen and hurting. Scars of war I guess.

I also got to meet a good number of CEOs and leaders which made it quite interesting. I got to meet Salman Khurshid, A Vellayan , Ajit Balakrishna , Srivatsa Krishna, Raghavendra Rao and the ever charismatic TN Sehsan. When we welcomed Seshan at the fest, I asked him,’ Sir, How do you do?’. His reply – I survive! I was left with nothing more to say and Seshan obviously wanted it that way. It was a fun session seeing Seshan rip apart people with his natural wit. Overall, it was a great fest. No conquests in the damsel department, but then, that has never happened. I see no reason for it to start now.

Anyway, the fest is over and the time for placements is upon us. Quite clearly, the slowdown isn’t over and tempers seem to be on edge. Friends have become …well…not enemies…but then, everyone looks at everyone with an air of suspicion. Any student with high grades, many years of work experience is generally scoffed upon by those that have neither. Companies are being very picky. Low grade students (yours truly) are left with not much to take from. Apparently, no one saw ‘3 Idiots’. Grades never matter. I am confident, to a point of arrogance that I can and will kick butt at the work place. First list of candidates shortlisted for a consulting firm came out recently and ever since, well…things have not been the same. Many seem to smile through their teeth and the good wishes have an air of fakeness to them. The first company is paying a nearly scandalous salary of 23 Lakhs per annum. Needless to say, whoever gets through is paying back their education loans by the end of this year. A friend of mine who got shortlisted was being all self-righteous (as she normally is) and was wondering why people were acting funny and passing snide remarks. Well Du-uh…if I had applied and not got shortlisted, I may have too.

This brings me to another point – the kind of companies coming to campus. Apparently, besides IT, no one seems to be recruiting…or so I am made to think. Every company coming through is IT oriented. And if there is one thing I am very clear about, it is that I have no intentions of going back to anything remotely IT…unless it’s Microsoft or Sony Gaming Division. (Geek). So here I am sucking my thumb because there really isn’t one decent organization or role that I want coming my way. I am filled with fear and anxiety. But what else can I do. God is receiving a lot of messages from me lately. It’s IT everywhere….software this…hardware that…underwear this…sheesh! Quite infuriating it is. And being someone who did marketing communications, I still remain clueless as to the nuances of software and anything related to it. I would be throwing away 30 potentially good years of work if I went back to IT. So far, I have arrogantly (or stupidly) managed to stick to my guns and not apply for any IT firm…no matter how big. Let’s see whether I cave. The war has begun.

04 January, 2010

Normal is boring

We had a very interesting assignment that dealt with the subject of pricing strategy. The subject involves determining what is the right price a customer is willing to pay for a product. If the product costs 5 bucks to make, can we price it at 10 to ensure some sucker buys it? Well, that’s the crux of the subject. For further details, I am open to being a consultant for a suitable fee. Anyway, we were asked to take up a product or a service and determine the factors affecting pricing, was it justified and why is it different in different places.

Needless to say, the group we formed decided we’ve had enough of talking about cellular phones, computers, printers, hotel industry and all the other mundane industries that the run-of-the-mill MBA grad would study. Time to spice things up! Much brainstorming for a topic….BLINK….the light goes on! The mail is sent out. Topic for pricing Strategy – Durex Condoms. ( I have a bad feeling the ad thingy would read this keyword and draw up condom ads on the side).

Needless to say, people thought we were just joking around and that we would soon send in a real topic like automobiles or something. But the 5 of us were dead serious about presenting this topic. And we had no intentions of making this a laugh riot, but were going to be totally professional about the entire affair. Complete intention to present the ‘hard’ facts about pricing.
People still kept wondering how any of us were going to present the same with a straight face while using words like ‘inter course’,’love-makning’,’pleasure seeking’,’extra ribbed’….and the rest. The thing is, we too were a little scared until the last minute. The preparation was a total laugh riot as we kept running through tons of sites that threw up facts that left us giggling like giddy school boys who’ve just seen their first dirty magazine( or website). Somehow, two days of excessive googling, we managed to pull up some real concrete data on the company and its product. All the costs were in place, actual numbers that showed pricing strategy. Put in a few videos, and marketing jargon, we’re all set to make what would be the most daring thing an MBA grad presenting can do, or the most foolish.

D-day, mails go out telling people to fill the classroom. And so they did. There were some who were not even from our subject or our class. But everyone was eager to see how we pulled this off. Lights go down…spotlight…center stage. We deliver. The expressions on peoples faces were brilliant. Some kept grinning from ear to ear, some looked down in embarrassment (must have been some of the facts we threw up), some were just plain bored. And that was perhaps the most straight faced any of us have ever been, no giggling or squirming while using words that would make your mum go ushoooooooooo……….But overall, I think people were convinced that we did what was quite a daring thing. I was just hoping the class question master ( the dude with all the irrelevant questions just before break time) did not start to ask us questions. The prof was quite enthusiastic and was asking tons of questions and was explaining a lot to the class.

At the end of it, the 5 of us walked out feeling like we’ve conquered something. In the years to come, there is no way we would ever get a chance to take a topic like this and present. Most would be boring topics of the same product line of software, insurance, banking; retail…etc.etc….if wasn’t now. It was never. I’ll put the slides up some time. For now, we’re semi-heroes and it feels nice. Normal is boring. I'm sincerely hoping this presentation becomes the stuff of legends...the next topic is going to be tough if we are looking to trump this one.