Tag Archives: Corporate

Leading vs Performance

I had an interesting conundrum last week at work. Something which left me with this dilemma. It was the kind of question for me which impacts you as a person, questions your beliefs and core principles. I did took a decision and went ahead by it, I still probably would take the same decision in the similar circumstances but I am still not able to shake that feeling if I did right.

We had a small professional competition in office where I participated. The competition required us to form a team, we sent in the team nomination with some members and some people who were interested were assigned to our team. At the end I had a fourteen member team which I was supposed to lead in the competition. The competition was a long one with 6 weeks of timeline, requiring the teams to submit professional documents at the end of every week and finally ending with a presentation at the end of the contest. All of this was to be done over and above the regular working hours and deliverables we all had.

We started at a positive note with enthusiasm and everyone interested. We divided work and went around with our deliverables at the end of the first week, the enthusiasm continued till the second week. At the end of the third week the quality of the work started coming down, some of the team members stopped showing for the meeting without intimation, while others expressed inability to contribute further citing the workload. We finally moved to fourth week and there was further cutting of corners and general lack of interest by the people. The deliverable at the end of the fourth week end up in a situation where some of the people had just copy pasted stuff without even reading. By the time we reached five weeks we had reduced the number of contributors to eight from the initial fourteen. The eight folks kept at it picking up load on weekends and pulling late nighters to ensure the quality and the timeliness of our deliverables.

Our final presentation was good and we were happy with our effort. That is when the dilemma started. The organization leadership was a part of the panel judging our efforts, based on the number of people they saw in the final presentation they had a question on folks who had actually contributed. Since, I was the leader of the team I was asked this question. Apparently we were a part of the top 3 winners and they wanted to acknowledge and reward only the people who had contributions across all the stages but the final decision was with me. My first reaction was that as the leader of the team I should not discriminate between the members. It was a team effort and the entire team stands to win or lose, it would be opportunistic to drop people when we were winners. On the other hand, the contrary thought process was that this was a corporate competition with an idea and spirit to identify performers, reward people who can deliver. Why should the rest of the people who contributed far more significantly should carry the people who didn’t keep this work at the priority. At the end of the day entire team gets the credit for delivering, so people who didn’t contribute significantly throughout shouldn’t get the benefit of the victory either. When one deprioritsed the work, he/she let the rewards also to be forfeited along with the decision.

In the end I gave the eight member team pruning the list to people who contributed throughout the six weeks. I am still torn between if I made the right decision. Was it correct on my part to let go of the people who didn’t contribute when we won. Had I failed as leader when I chose to disown the people from my team? If I had I taken the other side would I have been unfair to people who spent working on weekends and late nights to ensure the work gets completed on time with winnable quality while their peers focussed on more important and personal things otherwise. Do let me know what you think?

My Confusion about Internet.Org

There has been a lot of noise on the internet about Net Neutrality in India. Specially after Honourable Prime Minister visited the Facebook offices and the viral tricolour profile picture and the fiasco post that. I have been reading, following the discussion about the net neutrality starting from the Airtel, TRAI circular, Internet.org, AIB video and thousand other shared Facebook Posts, tweets, and blogs.

I have done all, shared those videos, posts, wrote emails to TRAI etc all in the name of net neutrality. I understand the concept and appreciate it. However, I have lately taken to wonder if my stand and belief is justified. A lot of it is based on Internet.org, the concept being propagated by Facebook where the below poverty line folks get access to a specific set of sites for no charge.

I understand this at some level violates the principles of net neutrality and might tilt a level playing field. To give you a perspective, I border on the obsession of being connected. I have two cellular connections with Internet connection, one data card, one fibre optic broadband and a fail safe broadband in case the fibre optic isn’t working. I spend a fair amount every month to get this kind of connectivity while fending for my obsession. I wonder what happens to people who don’t have money to spend on buying connectivity? Mark Zuckerberg wrote about those children in Chandauli village who saw connectivity for the first time, what about them? Don’t they have a right to experience Internet or a part of it?

While the middle class, upper middle class and the rich are busy sharing corny, degraded humour on whatsapp 24*7, what about the poorest of the poor, Don’t they deserve even to know the weather forecast for next week? They have to make do with the inaccurate one in the newspaper at the local tea stall? They have to wait for their exam results or latest news to be published in news paper or put on the government school notice boards. Why the people which belong to the lower strata of the society be deprived of the essential connectivity? Why they can’t search for some government or medical procedure?

I see a lot of people complaining about the net neutrality aspect of internet.org. I agree with their view point that the internet should be a level playing field. I totally agree with those funny AIB videos which talk about the importance of net neutrality. But what confuses me the most is when you go out and decide on behalf of those poorest of the poor, when you go all out on decide on behalf of those kids in Chandauli village that he should not get access to the restricted access to some 35 sites which are a part of internet.org, what do you offer him in return? Do you have a plan which will make a neutral internet available to those kids and others in need and lack of money? Are these people going to launch a startup to provide free access to internet, you don’t need to be restricted to that 35 sites, here is a completely neutral internet free of charge for you. If we can’t provide that to a kid in Chandauli with a better alternative, then what right do we have to deny him basic connectivity as restrictive as it may be.

As a matter of fact a lot of technological changes have happened in a similar fashion, where disrupters came and disrupted the industry bringing change in the entire dynamics of the industries. There are umpteen examples of this industry disruptions, the time when SMSes killed Pagers, then SMSes were killed by Whatsapp. Then there were times when Reliance launched mobile calls at a nominal rates of few paise per minute, when Google & Apple started giving weather update on your phone killing the Airtel Special service which provided weather forecast @3Rs/SMS.

Like any other industry there is a win-win fortune which lies at the bottom of the pyramid, and if internet.org is going to provide some kind of free service by cross subsidising the connectivity costs from advertisement revenues we should probably accept the challenge and come with a low cost connectivity solution with less restrictive internet. Calling foul on Zuckerberg doesn’t work in my opinion.

This is what makes me so confused about the internet.org platform. Two conflicting views and I am probably in agreement with both. What do you think

Real Estate: The Biggest Ponzi Scheme Ever

Movies is one of the most influential art form, they have the power to mesmerize you, influence you and stay within you unlike any other art form present. There are many movies which have moved me, made me think and introspect. One of the dialogues which manages to send the shivers down my spine is one from the fight club. Sometimes Most of the times the way we conduct ourselves, I tend to feel the words of Tyler Durden are an epitome of truth.

An entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

One of the things which make me believe in these words is the current real estate market in India. Irrespective of the economic scenario, macroeconomic reality, this particular market is perennially headed north. Looks like we haven’t learnt from the lessons of 2008 in the US, and all of us are guilty of feeding to the whims of this Ponzi scheme. Imagine a piece of land or a house which is sold at Rs. X. Out of which 0.85X is financed by the banks and 0.15X is paid by the individual buying the house. Now in a matter of a year with almost no economic value add the price of the same house becomes Rs. 2X. Again the individual buying it pays 0.3X and the bank finances 1.7X of the house. This will continue till and the individuals will keep making money as long as there is somebody else to buy the house at inflated house, which is why the commonly preached parables like “Real Estate never goes down”. But in reality the chain stops when one is unable to find a buyer to buy out at a significantly higher price. When that happens you are either left with an old property & a highly leveraged mortgage/bank loan. Combine that with a difficult economic situation which hits the markets where real jobs are created and actual value add are done, you got yourself 2008 global meltdown.

The fact is government doesn’t want to create a regulator and instruments because a lot of people in the government are the creators or nodal points in this Ponzi scheme. The politicians and bureaucrats who have the information on where the next extension of the metro rail would land, where the next development & infrastructure zone will be created all start these nodes of this Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme, where a common middle income man spends his life savings, provident fund and at times hard earned money at Onsite too, ends up being the loser.

So in the end, I don’t say don’t risk yourself in this Ponzi scheme but make sure you aren’t in a situation where you actually become the last node.

 

 

C’est La Vie

And I am back again with a long hiatus yet again. I have to be ashamed with my lack of drive to post things on this blog. There are two things which I have kind of procrastinated for more than a year the first being updating regularly on this blog and the second obviously being to start working out.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about, there is politics where we are still living in the world full of comical entertainment, then there are short stories and poetries ideas which come to my mind but are killed by procrastination and then there are general happenings in my life which mostly wife inflicted torture on yours truly with television shows like “Big Boss”, “All Random Singing, Dancing, cooking reality shows” all reality shows. To be honest I kind of stepped into the rarified bubble of corporate workload driven self worth, not that I have stepped out of the bubble now but then kind of realized the existence of the bubble and acknowledged the world beyond it yet again.

Surprisingly this year 2013 has flown by so fast that I couldn’t even start going to gym which I could stop later in the year.  For a person who hated Hum Apke Hai Kaun from the bottom of his heart, I kind of live in an extensively large Rajshri production kind of environment where another family function/event engulfs you before the first one is over. For the uninitiated this is more tiring to attend to than a 60hrs+ work week and in some sadistic turn of events I am subjected to both.  I don’t know why but I have hardly watched any movies in the theatre since June, which is kind of record of sorts for the person who even watched Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag (If you are not aware of this movie, I would suggest you buy the DVD as it will serve well for your private torture chamber).

As I write this the New Year is less than 6 weeks away, the 2013 will become a leaf in history. I have had a good year with some significant landmarks but wish I had achieved some more and not at the cost of losing my joy of writing and reading, losing the spiritual side of me in the humdrum of extensive work. No point crying over the past, time to set ourselves to the next set of goals and the plan to achieve them.

Before closing this post it has been more than 8 years since I have been blogging and 8 years of Ginger & Cardamom. How has your 2013 been till now?

Ranbaxy Saga What Happens to the Indian Consumers

The newspapers these days are absolutely filled with negative, depressing followed by more negative and more depressing news. There have been scams, controversies all across India, but there has been one controversy which has been subdued in India, where the focus is currently on the IPL spot fixing, and Phaneesh Murthy controversy. The controversy which I am more worried about is the fact that Ranbaxy pleaded guilty to seven federal criminal counts of selling adulterated drugs that didn’t meet specifications. The US courts have fined Ranbaxy to the tune of $500 Million for duping the American consumers with the adulterated drugs.
I have always felt the healthcare business is one which runs on faith and the people in this business are no lesser than gods when it comes to patients. Imagine you are suffering from a fever, ache or any other ailment and you visit a doctor who looks at your symptoms and prescribes you some small tablets. These tablets work as magic inside your body and in a few days you find yourself cured. When a company which makes these drugs indulges in action like these you tend to question that faith. Personally speaking whenever I play squash or go for a run and there is an ache I use Volini spray which is a product of Ranbaxy and now I question if the product is authentic, does it really works on my ache or is it my body itself recovering? I don’t even know how many times doctor would have prescribed me a Ranbaxy medicine and I am not sure if it worked.
My heart goes out to people who had critical diseases, who lost out people because the medicines they trusted on were adulterated and the company sold them in the market faking specification. The fact that they were are penalized in US for the malpractices; I have my doubts if anything will happen to them in India. The people in our country who suffered by their lack of ethical practices will never get justice or even understand what has been done to them. At times when all the media is talking about other controversies I am wondering is there an enquiry happening on what Ranbaxy has been selling in India. Are there steps being taken so that until things are cleared people don’t use adulterated and drugs made not up to specifications?

It is high time government and the Indian judicial system takes up the task of delivering justice to the common man against corporate greed and unethical practices.

You can read more about the controversy and the case here.

Writing a Statement of Purpose (SOP)- Do’s & Don’ts

The discussion started when one of my colleagues got an interview call from IIM Bangalore for their prestigious two year full time PGP program and he asked me to help him with his SOP. Since I have been exposed with both sides of the table attending and conducting interviews; the idea floated that I should put some tips or pointers for people writing SOP.

1- Purpose– It is not called the Statement of Purpose for nothing. Decide on a theme which you think is most relevant and in line with the objectives you want to convey to the panel reading your SOP. The purpose should eventually relate to the type of course or job you are going to pursue. This theme is something which should be common and reflect in all your answers, attitude and the statement of purpose. It is always advisable to introspect deeply and find the reason why you’re applying to a course or appearing for a particular exam/job. The answer obtained out of such introspection would form a great theme for binding the entire SOP together.

2- Background, Education and Work Experience– Your family, the environment and places you grew up can be a part of the SOP; but ensure the context such that subtly the backgrounds relate to the underlying theme of the SOP while indicating its contribution towards the person you are and the choices you are making today. Illustrate your education and work experience in a fashion that it looks like a series of events occurring by your choice all with a rationale of underlying theme. Elaborate on some specific aspects of your education or work which will be of value in the course you are trying to pursue.  Don’t mention this for the sake of it, especially if it doesn’t fit the theme they belong in your resume not in the SOP.

3- Future Plans– Delve deeper into the courses, subjects (if you haven’t researched, do it first) how they form the part of your long term and short term goal. This is the most important section of your SOP try to bring as much of facts on the paper and relate them with the theme and purpose. Any panel loves a candidate who knows what he is doing and why.

4- Hobbies-The SOP should include the extra-curricular interests and how they have developed you as a person. Relate these interests or hobbies very subtly if you can with the theme of the SOP.

5- Story– All the SOP in the end should form a small story of your life(past, present and most importantly future) subtly indicating that why the course you are pursuing or the job you are applying to is the most logical step in the story of your life.

6- 3Cs – Always remain Consistent, Clear and Concise while writing SOPs. Never contradict yourself in an SOP it is always a recipe for disaster. Avoid ambiguity of any kind, in a stress interview an ambiguous line might hijack your entire interview in a direction you never envisaged. Be concise, as a candidate you write one SOP and would like to showcase all your achievement.

Things not to do in an SOP-

1- Never use Slangs/SMS Lingo Phrases.

2- Use Quotations to glorify the SOP. It is not only weird to see quotes instead of candidates original words in an SOP but at times there have been instances when the interview  went towards the author of the quote and his other works as he was the favorite author of a member in the panel.

3- Use very flowery vocabulary- If the panel wanted to test your vocabulary they would have done it in the entrance test; think of the plight of the person who has to read 50 SOPs in a day and he has to refer to the dictionary to understand what the candidate is trying to say.

4- No Spelling and Grammatical Mistakes

5- Avoid abbreviations- Apart from the common and well known abbreviations avoid the rest in your SOP. When in doubt prefer the complete word/phrase over the abbreviation

 

Is there anything else you feel should be taken care while writing the SOPs?

Disclaimer: SOPs are a very personal and intense document to write and prepare. The above Do’s  & Don’ts are based on the author’s personal experience. The readers are advised to use their judgment and belief while writing the SOP.

Suicide at High Noon

As last time this too is from a team building comptetion we had at our offsite. The rules of the game were that one had to write a suicide note which should include the following-

  • Not more than 80 words
  • It should have one Name
  • It should have two places
  • It should have threee animal (Air, Land and Water)
  • It should have four things

So this what I wrote and it was appreciated generally by the audience and also got the prize-

Hi Helena,

When you saw me naked holding our dog by the rear and I said “Oh Fish”, it wasn’t because I was doing the dog, it would be cuckoo. I wasn’t doing our fish either. I was ironing my trunks for my trip to Los Angeles when the dog pulled it down and the iron fell from the board on my “thing” and I ran to fetch some Ice from the kitchen when you saw me.

But that is not the reason why I am commiting sucide; I am treading this path out of embarrasement. During my interview with the firm from Argentina when they asked me for my testimonials; I probably showed them the wrong thing.

Embarrasingly yours,

Spartan

Ps. This post might be greater than 80 words because I am trying to recreate it from memory. During the contest I had great help in editing by a dear collegaue Aishwarya who ensured this was compressed within a limit of 80 words.

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The Warriors of the Purple Hue

We had our management consulting offsite last weekend, where practically close to 200 people were stuffed in a resort, trust me for once we all felt like Karnataka MLAs as venue being the same as it was for Yeddy’s men. Coming back to the event which was a lot of fun, we all were divided into teams with a set of activities which we had to participate in starting from creating baloon towers, group skipping, flying kites etc. One of the activities was to write a team poem which should have the team name (mine was Purple Team) and should have the basic principle which team agreed upon (We had chosen Winning, Never Giving Up, Being Ethical); I was trusted with the task of creating a poem in 15 minutes of time, and this was what I came up with.

The Warriors of Purple Hue

At the behest of the cries of war,
When the armies gather from near and far,
We are a band of warriors fighting amidst iron & dust,
Fighting for a cause righteous and Just.

For a single victory many battles we fight & hop,
Never letting go until we spend the last drop,
Our desire to win brought us together to far,
Yet enjoying every moment of togetherness & the war.

The exhaustion of war & satisfaction at heart,
Together we perfect the battle and it’s art,
Finding the purpose in wounds & midnight dew,
We are the warriors radiating in our Purple Hue

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The Litigators

Author: John Grisham
Publisher: Hachette India
Price: 350/-
Pages: 436

I have always loved John Grisham’s style of writing and the legal genre he writes, starting from “The Firm”, “The Pelican Brief”, “The Client” and many more. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading his works and when the latest in line “The Litigators” was released I had to read it. Litigators is the story based on the dirty world of the street lawyers and the high profile mass tort legal culture now an intricate part of the US legal system.

The protagonist David Zinc belongs to a respectable family of lawyers and judges, himself a lawyer from Harvard and working for one of the most respectable law firm of Chicago finds himself cracking under the pressure and boredom of his corporate life. From working in the backend offices of Rogan Rothberg; in a bizarre turn of events David lands up at Finely & Figg, a two partner street lawyer firm.

From the back offices David now finds himself in a new territory of street lawyers, where the partners carried gun. The partners were sleeping with clients, and chased ambulances, car wrecks and morgues for the new cases. The plot proceeds when their small law firm gets involved in the mass tort wave against one of the largest pharmaceutical giants Varrick labs over a drug called Kyaroxx. In a series of more bizarre incidents he is in the court with the two partners who have never appeared in the federal courts before.

The story continues when David needs to come on the forefront of all litigation, protecting and finding a new life for his firm and his two partners. The story is evenly paced and the author has ensured that characterizations of the protagonist and other important characters happen in great detail.  The story is weaved with multiple side plots which keep on progressing with the main plots keeping the reader engaged on multiple fronts.

Where the book leaves the reader high & dry is the lack of the punch which is usually a characteristic of John Grisham, the plots are relatively predictable and the highs during the climax are missing. Towards the second half of the book one can get a hint of how things would unfold is visible to the reader. Also the build-up done in the first half doesn’t carried across to the end. Overall the book is a good picture reflecting on the world of mass tort litigation and street lawyers, author has ensured the dark side of the street law the non glamorous side has been covered in detail.

Summary: An average read might disappoint readers expecting usual John Grisham type thrillers. Pick up if you like the legal thrillers genre.

Rating: 6/10

Scammed: Confessions of a Confused Accountant- Book Review


Author: Anonymous
Publisher: Grey Oak/Westland
Price: 175/-
Pages: 175

This book caught my attention especially due to the interesting title and a more interesting the anonymous author. The book is a story of a small but ambitious accountant, Hitesh Patel, in a large audit firm, who gets into the maze of political & corporate sleaze to rise to the stardom as the rising youth icon, and entrepreneur. The story takes dramatic turn with Hitesh where he is finding to firm his feet in the new founded success while trying to find a worthy life partner.

While rising to all the success, Hitesh’s world turns upside down, when he gets trapped in a political turmoil involving his company amidst a corporate scam, a murder and a falling government. A time where all his friends and his well wishers turned their back on him, leaving him to face this all alone. This is story of a boy with middle class values and ambition to fight and survive all this sleaze, his story of finding true friendship and love in life.

The simplicity of the book works very well for the reader and the characterizations are well done. The pace of the story is really fast and the author doesn’t take too much time get to ravel the plot, the events unfold at a pace that the author manages to retain the reader’s interest throughout the story.  The only downside with the book I felt was that it climaxed a bit early, the unravelling of the plot happened a bit too quickly. I was hoping some details and further characterization would be in place to show the strength of the character of the protagonist. Overall the book is a light hearted spicy page turner covering corporate and young middle class ambitions. A very good read for the someone looking to experience the new age Indian literature.

Summary: A good book with new look at the corporate world and the world of sleaze and political funding in corporate. A light and interesting read, must pick up for someone looking for a book to read during travel.

Rating: 7.5/10

PS: I have changed my rating scales from 5 to 10 to ensure I can have better reflection on books which are very close