A Piece of Rant Club…

15 05 2008

X: I Am Good At Management…

Me: Why Do You Think So?

X: Umm… I am good at coffee table conversations. I am good at talking to people. My communication skills are super. Top of the world actually. And, finally, I think I am good at coordination (really, any one can schedule meetings and handle logistics! ) and I enjoy doing it.

And finally as the discussion proceeds, I realize that its either the lure of flexible time, or the seemingly easy work that acts as a persistent motivator than the idea of career.

There is a lot of misconception about the so called management roles, at least in the field that I work in. Thought most of the senior people in those roles seem to be doing only talking, preparing pretty presentations, or spending most of their time in meetings, there is lot more under the hood than that meets the eye. One doesn’t account for the years of experience or the knowledge that they are equipped with to handle client demands on the feet, or the experiential insight that they bring in while addressing specific issues. Even bad communicators may have sound understanding or a strategic approach to the problem at hand. We can’t ignore the skills that they bring to the table because someone has bad presentation skills, just the way we can’t give weight for garrulous mouthing of words with little essence.

For those who are contemplating management career or decision making roles, a little bit of soul searching is crucial. List out all the reasons and hidden factors that propel you to consider this option. You can give a load of convincing answers to the world, yet please don’t deceive thyself.

Do you have it in you to face tremendous odds and come out trumps? Can you handle tremendous pressure or do you get fizzled out at the drop of a hat? Do you have the never-say-die spirit or do you give up easily and are driven by the principle of fatalism, i.e. the belief that you don’t have control over your deeds and some external force like God determines that.

After going through these discussions umpteen number of times, and talking to aspiring MBAs my mood turned nostalgic as I leafed through those memories of college days. I am blessed with a great mentor during my engineering days, and I am sharing a piece of those exchanges. These are times when I feel that the basics of these questions hasn’t changed over 5 years.

Why you want to do MBA?
1. Is it for money?
2. Is it for fame?
3. Is it for getting power?
4. Is it for getting a good job?
5. Is it for getting social recognition?
6. Is it because you want to make a career in Management?
7. Is it because you like to take challenges?
8. Is it because you want to broaden your horizons?
9. Is it because you have an academic bent of mind?
10. Is it for the sense of achievement?
11. Is it to get yourself equipped with an additional degree so that you can have an edge in this dog-eat-dog world?
12. Is it because you get turned ON by business and economy like nothing else?
13. Is it because you have nothing else to do?
14. Is it because of peer pressure?
15. Is it just for the sake of it and enjoyment?
16. Is it for making yourself more eligible in the marriage market?

It doesn’t require a great deal of analysis to figure out the secret motivator behind picking brain about management roles. For most of us in corporate field, its unavoidable. As we add on experience to the work life, most of our work or output depends on the deliverables of others. Thats when people management, communication, planning and organization skills come into play. For some, a management degree is a way to break free from the technical roles or a launchpad into different industries. For students, MBA is either a lucrative career option or a way to extend unemployment. ( Pun intended 🙂 )

But for those with mammoth goals and lofty aspirations, I am sharing this piece of advice that I received years ago from my mentor.

“A person doesn’t become a CEO just by doing MBA or just having the desire. The culmination is only due to untiring efforts and careful grooming over many years. Do bear that in mind. Although, having lofty ambitions is laudable, being nervous even before the battle has begun doesn’t behoove you. You need to have the emotional poise to handle things at ease. “

And finally, chill. We are all good at management in one way or the other. We all are managing our lives without much catastrophes. Acquiring management skills isn’t rocket science if we put our mind and heart to it. They say, vision without action is a dream and action without vision is a nightmare. Be true to the choices of life and be true to your dreams and longings. Life will sail on much more easily and happily.

The Grind Of Group Discussions!

2 06 2007

It’s been almost four years since I went through the typical MBA grind of group discussions and interviews. The irony of life is that I went through more GDs to get into a B-School than to find a job! Those 3rd year and 4th year of engineering were days of quite tension and light excitement.. Attending CAT coaching, writing GRE test classes, engaging in debates for the heck of it.. Cracking that CAT is terrorizing enough, yet one has to live with the agonizing preparations of GDs and PIs too..

I still remember my first GD experience in TIME coaching classes of Hyderabad. Its one of those training classes and my faculty pulled me into that exhibition fish bowl along with eleven another to be the bakras where the other folks had the pleasure of that live performance. I still remember my first attempt of courage when I started off the discussion by announcing the topic and the tongue-tied way in which I sat with a stupid expression only to be mocked by the facilitator! I must say that it did wonders to my ego and I never kept shirking away from saying something sensible ever again. Yet, oddly enough, it did generate a healthy disrespect for those fish market kind of GD settings. You either end up feeling rattled or queerly unsettled.

One can really judge ones’ behavior from the way he/she carries oneself in the GDs. Some people wear their heart on sleeve, and for some, its sleeve on heart.. You can meet your Mr. Hitler personified or Ms. Goody Two Shoes out there.. One may run out of things to talk on, or you may not even get a chance to make a presence. There is quite an amount of luck that comes in and your mood plays a huge role too.. Don’t let that influence you, as picking people out of a GD is a highly subjective matter.. More often than not it depends hugely on the evaluator and his priorities. Some may prefer the calm and sensible types while some may look for warm and aggressive people. Be assertive, and not pushy. Give chance to the other person, yet not at the cost of yours.. Be a great listener and add value to the discussion.. Whatever may be the outcome, take it in your stride. Remember always, it’s your attitude that turns the tide in your favor!

My Convocation!

27 01 2006

I went to Pune on this 21st of Jan. 22nd Jan was our batch convocation at IMDR. The moment Chennai Express reached Pune, every grueling moments of the 23 hour journey was forgotten and I was giggling like an idiot! I never know that I was suffering from such heavy dose of nostalgia! The train journey was quiet enjoyable, thanks to my batch mate who gave me a good company. I went to my old flat at Mini Apartments on Bhandarkar Road. Everything seemed so normal…

I met an old friend there. He became sick without proper food and a lot of tension in life. Well, he is working in sales in the financial sector and guess there lies the reason for his unbalanced life. Financial sector frightens me with a strenuous work life. I just wonder about those poor souls who are facing the heat! I spent the evening with another friend over dinner catching up with the old times. Nothing changed infact!

On Sunday Morning, I had a great time running to the railway station for booking my return tickets.. That was quiet a long walk which rejuvenated my old memories. Infact, I went for walking for about 4 km a day throughout my stay in Pune.  I went for the convocation dressed in the Maroon Sari, a tradition of IMDR. I was feeling curiously strange as the convocation discussion was a little off the track. Surprisingly, I was a little tensed! Ultimately I was called on the podium as I stood first in Lady Students of our batch. I won a cash prize called “Late Shri. S.G.Barve free studentship.” Well, I felt strange that they decided to have a prize for a ladies topper and that ended up to be me of all probabilities! I was happy that the most creative award of the batch went to Reema Sahay. Who else? I can never forget the beauty and simplicity of her poems.

After the convocation, I had a grand lunch with my Mentee. There is a thing called Mentorship in IMDR where one senior takes the charge of one junior in the process of begadofying and guiding. That’s quite a fruitful relationship as it creates the pegs and relationships across the batches. After that hearty lunch, I went to my relatives place. I love their daughter, who is just 6 years old. She is too sweet and pleasant. Infact, I extended my trip in order to spend decent time with her.

My Observations

One thing that echoed common among a lot of my batch mates is disillusionment, as their expectations are no match to the kind of profiles in which they all ended up. I could sense the dilemma and the turmoil. Life has become a struggle in work life with the emerging challenges. The desire to keep the dreams alive is dwindling and life is rolling in pursuit of mundane tasks. Sad, yet true. I felt little lonely in the campus, guess that’s because of the lack of the comfort factor. A lot of things changed, isn’t it? That’s all about my convocation..

A typical MBA frustration!

17 01 2006

This is a mail forward I have received. The author, who wishes to remain anonymous, has poured his heart out on the kind of frustration he is experiencing over his job. His mail follows now..

*****Am sitting with the feeling of absolute aaram. No work only aaram, I’m developing this excellent habit of managing time pass effectively soon, i would write a book on effective management of Time pass or 101 ways of better time pass.

The day goes like this:

Soon after reaching their desks, everyone is excited about reading mails and all, once they are done with it, it calls for a round of breakfast with tea coming from there is like a big thing but, then we have after all come for work na?

Staring at the screen gives no clue as to what is expected of u or what ur tasks are anyway, it at least gives the impression, that u r involved in something and thinking about it deeply. Then, no longer than half an hour from breakfast, it calls for a tea session, where the usual topics of Bosses, our company etc. are discussed. Coming from there is like: there is now only a small duration to be passed before we assemble for lunch. Gone for lunch means at least 1hr. or may be more effective time pass. After coming back, the messenger starts and then no turning back, coz laziness grips u, so it feels better to gossip sitting on desks only but its not before long that somebody volunteers for tea, and asks for any more volunteers. Surprise!!! all the laziness is gone suddenly and there is a new wave of chalo chai peene, and what better than terrace for it?

After coming from there, a fresh new wave of excitement grips u that soon it would be 4:45 so, we will go down to canteen, come back at 5:30 or something and leave. But don’t think anyone sits till 4:45 too. every now n then out of nowhere, somebody comes up coz he is not in a mood to work and then suddenly u find, a small group of similar feeling waalas has formed and sounds of laughter emanate. Its 5:45 PM. Yippes. Bhaago. and no turning back. Don’t know where is this going to take us. *****

I felt a little sad reading this mail. It’s a clear example which demonstrates that how lack of initiative can affect the way of life of a person. This is something which usually happens for a typical MBA who ends up in a traditional company. Life is less of challenge, more of patience. I wonder how many are being equipped to deal with it. Everyone has a vision of how his/her life should be. Maintaining balance is absolutely essential. In an IT industry, where the companies have to have surplus capacity to deal with the capricious nature of the clientele, this kind of situations are not rare. The onus lies on the individual to make his own way. That makes the journey more interesting, isn’t it?

My Learnings In Six Months..

22 12 2005

Its kind of easy to mention, yet difficult to collate. The work life has been a little shocking to start with, yet it got normal with the passing days. But its still different from what I am used to! I spent a great deal of my first two months at Trivandrum, with beautiful sceneries and a ligament tear to deal with. Days passed on with no sense of purpose and clue as to what I am doing. I am never exposed to the working life of software industry earlier and I had a feeling of back to school with strick schedule and hostel work. We had quite an interesting time, dealing with the corporate expectations. I guess, even the company is perplexed as to what to do with the 200 odd MBAs attending the training. After the gala time and the tension of the allocations, I finally landed up at Chennai. The training process gave me an enriching perspective on the working style of IT industry. With companies having 30% of surplus capacity so that they don’t suffer opportunity loss, it was quite difficult to see the kind of roles I could play. Yet, I got lucky (I hope so!) to get into a demonstration oriented ideation lab which prototypes the next generation ideas on telecom platform.

Luck got a different dimension in everyone’s life. Some curse it, some love it and some doesn’t believe in it. Its good if it works in your favour and its better if it doesn’t. The work life brought in a new culture. It means marriage to your desk, professional relationships and new challenges! Often you like the job, often you won’t. Often you blame the fate, often your boss!

I got to learn a lot of new things from different people. I had my own Oh! Shit moments as well. Yet, through all this flow of life, I can find that the importance of learning is tremendous. I should never let the fire of curiosity die. If that happens, there would be no difference between the dumb terminal on which I am working and my own little brain. I realized that one needs to have a clear focus on the career and which direction one has to mold it into. Its like this old saying: ” If you don’t know the destination, the road doesn’t matter.”

I feel good in my job profile as it keeps me in touch with the industry leaders and influential persons of the TCS client companies. At times, its simply amazing to hear what they have to say. I work with a group which tries to make technology as a part of human life and the implications are far more prominent than one would like to believe. The fight in the telecom industry for the customer mind space, the importance of presentation, the need for innovation and the struggle for market share brings in a level playing field for all the companies big or small.

Marketing still rocks for me, yet I could see the mutual dependence among the different functions for the proper organization of the company. It added a new respect with which I view this functions like HR and Finance. I may not be a great number cruncher, yet I can appreciate those big heads in front of the screens working furiously on Excel. What impresses me the most is the ability to touch people’s lives in a pleasant fashion. Some of the people I met really amaze me with the kind of confidence they exude and the smile with which they carry themselves. Impressive experience is what I had until now. And many more miles to go!

A Fresh B-Schooler Attitude…

5 10 2005

In my three months of working life, I have had a lot of fights with my own fresh B-Schooler attitude. When I was in IMDR, I used to make strategic analysis, resolve case studies, making reports and giving presentations. It sure gives a kind of hype as to the future roles. Yet, when I look back, joining a B-School straight out of college has its own disadvantages. People tend to generate their own assumptions without a realistic exposure. The live projects do give a glimpse into the real scenario and they can be shaped in a more better manner.

When I joined TCS, I had a straight 40 days training where I was introduced to the software industry background and the TCS business areas. All I could take away are the life skills classes. The training was not focused or tailor made to suit the kind of roles an MBA is expected to perform. Its like asking too much because there were 200 batch mates and each would be put into different roles which have their own responsibilities and requirements.

I landed up in an in-house R&D project of TCS where I have to plan the marketing of the products designed by my team. Life is quite relaxed in TCS as I don’t have to strain myself and the work pace is quite relaxed. Sometimes, I got all the time in world for myself. I have all the freedom to explore library, or the Internet.. The way I respond to the situations depends on myself and my attitude. Things are done quite differently once I have started working.

One doesn’t need to be a Jack of all Trades. I need to focus on the current job and need to say myself that ” I am going to do the current job better than anyone who has done it earlier”. Competing with oneself always pays. It keeps me in better health and in better pace. The moment I start worrying about the future and the fast track growth (a gift from my fresh B-Schooler attitude), my mental peace is gone down the drain. Life is pretty much simple, I try to do what I like the best. I need to keep that constant urge to better myself alive.

Yet, those Philip Kotler days in IMDR come to my mind. IMDR was an oasis which sheltered me for two years. It was a different world, yet it makes makes me comfortable with myself. May be this self-awareness is one takeaway which I name from IMDR. Now, the journey is on and life rolls on..

Life at IMDR!

20 09 2004


This is our insti as depicted by one of our seniors! IMDR stands for Institute of Management Development and Research, its the first management institute in Pune, India. Now why am I talking about it? I am a student of IMDR pursuing my Post Graduate Diploma in Management out here.. Its an institute where people can express themselves openly and getaway with it. A place where you can be yourself and still learn and grow. A place which believes in humility, simplicity and the power of thoughts. I simply love this place as it stands for the values it espouses. A home for me indeed!