Test Testy

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Another 45 days to go

We still have 45 days only and I already started to prepare list of things to do.

Though I'm based out of Hyderabad and would be moving to the ISB campus at Gachibowli, I've decided to move all my stuff to my relatives space. I also have to change my address for correspondence for all my bank accounts and my subscriptions.

It would like a new beginning for me. Next year this time, I'm positive that I would have an offer or two in hand and would be counting days for the final term. All my life till now since 1983, I am based at Hyderabad and I now see a great possibility of me moving out of Hyderabad post ISB.

It would be a new beginning and surely a nice one too.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Customer Service in Retail - A small brush with reality

Having worked for 12+ years now in different industry verticals and functions, I'm always surprised why so many people cannot see their job linked to customer satisfaction and customer satisfaction to their job. For me it was always crystal clear, whether you talk about internal customer or the external customer and even others who are dependant on your performance including the boss, the cause was always first for me than the task itself. After I moved into training industry, I always find it very difficult to train people with experience in basics. Many times I feel isn't it obvious for these people, isn't the reality hitting in their faces but again I'm reaffirmed that these people really do need training and coaching.

Let me give you a recent example of employee indifference that could have made a zero-transaction into a negative transaction.

On the last Sunday I went to Central mall and did some shopping. Before going there I didn't know that a Sale was happening but just dropped in there as it is highly convenient (the "P"lace factor, one of the four P's). After buying what I wanted I picked up a T that had a 10% discount. I paid the bill, came home and then realized that I picked a wrong size. I checked the bills and found that you are supposed to exchange only between 11Am to 4 PM within 7 days. That was on Sunday.

I couldn't visit the mall on Monday as I was busy with work and my office is far off from Central. The next day that is on Tuesday I went again. Right at the entrance the exchange help desk was present, which is very nice. She made a note of the bill and item and gave me a printed slip. I went to the place where I picked the T and got the right size and asked the sales guy to help in completing the transaction. Till now this transaction was zero-sum. I was not expecting anything except to return the wrong size and pick the right size, I went in the right time and also before the due date. I expected that they do the exchange quickly without any hassle. If they did anything better it would have been a positive transaction, if not at least zero.

Now this salesman says that I have to pay the full amount as the sale is over, which means I have to pay the 10% discount that I got earlier. For me it was crystal clear, I made the transaction when there was a discount, I am just trying to change the size, same brand, same color, it was just trying to correct a small mistake. But for him it was totally different, I don't know what. His lack of empathy upset me immediately but keeping my cool I asked him to guide me to the customer care. I reached the customer care and the guy there gave the credit note. He didn't discuss the discount point as he didn't even notice or may be even understood that there can be a issue. I reached the counter now and I got the same answer that I got from the first sales guy. But this guy was little soft and was open to listening. His facial expression was soft and because of that I mellowed down and explained him my logic and then he said you have to go to a counter near to the place where I picked up the item. I realized from his body language that what he is not saying is not the key issue and told him that there was a 10% off and he was relieved. He quickly made the bill and handed it over to me and I made the exchange without paying any extra money.

If you look at the whole transaction, you can understand why employee indifference can make customers upset/irate and thereby even loose business.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A conversation between an ISB aspirant and a round one admit, part 2

Here comes my reply:
from Kiran Kumar A <kiran.aalla@gmail.com> Feb 20 (12 hours ago)
to raj date Feb 20, 2007 10:37 PM
subject Re: Hey kiran ... Can you pls suggest me dude mailed-by gmail.com

Hi Raj,

Nice to know you. Good to see that you want to get started well in advance. I shall try and reply to your queries, but please keep in mind that these are my opinions, some of them are subjective. Feel free to question anything that I say.

1. First GMAT:- I scored 690, AWA-6.0. 690 is like 91 percentile. I have seen even others who could make it to the interview stage even wit scores like 650, 620 also. I'm sure a handful might have even got through this year too, which you would see shortly in the class profile of 2008. But keep one thing in mind, a high GMAT score, in the range of 740 - 760, alone cannot ensure your chance, may be a 780/800 would but on the other hand a low GMAT score reduces your chances drastically. I wouldn't 740 is must but 740 is desirable and I don't think it's a great issue. If you are an avid reader and are an Engineer with a good IQ, you should be able to score at least 720, which is quite OK, it wouldn't reduce your chances. So work hard for 50 - 60 days and take the GMAT. As I didn't score 740, I don't think I can give any tips on GMAT.

2. IT background: There seems to be a strong assumption that if you are from IT, it's difficult to get in. I totally disagree with that. Currently 48% of the batch are from IT. Even more number of IT companies are coming to the campus, which is what ISB wants. Also IT guys have more visibility, better pay packets and therefore are beneficial to ISB's metrics. But the actual issue is that among the applicant pool you will have around 60 - 70% from IT background, therefore IT guys will have a higher competition compared to non-IT. ISB is interested to broad base its student profiles as they are focusing on long-term. Who knows after five years which vertical would be in boom? Just keep in mind that you will have higher competition and therefore be prepared to fight hard. Don't take anything light.

3. The most important question: Why MBA now? I will look at it in a different way than most others. If I had an option I wouldn't have gone for an MBA now. In fact there is no reason for me to do an MBA now but for my long term plans. Its a give and take scenario between you and the school. What will you be giving to the school and what are you expecting from the school. What any school can do is provide quality education, now they are not experts in career shifts or career growth. Their core competency is providing world class education. If every student gets sold only by the school's reputation then the school is giving to too many people and will get drained after sometime. Instead if the students are contributing to the image of the school and are not expecting too much, the school will be less pressurised and can focus on better things. So their question would be: Do we have to do a lot to place this guy or would this guys past profile and he himself be attractive enough for big brands, greater roles and good remuneration.
Currently I'm doing well in my job, and I am pretty happy with my role too. Only reason I want to go to a B-School is to get that Brand and at the same time eliminate certain gaps in my profile. By saying this I'm not undermining the learning from professors and peers at all, that is bonus for me. If I work hard myself I can reach my goals even without this MBA but this will take me to a different league, which is why I'm ready to spend the money and time and make the effort. In fact, I felt that if I don't get in this year I wouldn't have tried again as the ROI wouldn't have been attractive. I would have looked at easier options next year.

Similarly check if you really need the MBA right now, are you ready for it, what is that you will get in the MBA that can unleash your potential. Have exhausted all the potential available to you based on your current qualification, your experience and your area of expertise. If yes and if you feel that an MBA would take you into a different league then you have a strong case. But if you are saying I'm not enjoying my current thing, I'm not fit for this but need to do an MBA and go for a change then you have a very weak case.

Finally it's not a question of having a chance or not, it is a question of how valuable is it for you right now. Don't go by the average salary figures, they are for the industry and media, what should matter to you is known only to you.

Hope I made some sense.

After writing this detailed mail I feel that it would be useful to post this whole thing on my blog and if you are OK your mail too without your name and specific details. Let me know if you're OK with it otherwise I'll just post my reply.

Feel free to write back.

Warm Regards
Kiran Kumar. A

A conversation between an ISB aspirant and a round one admit, part 1

While I was preparing for GMAT and again while I was writing my essays, ISB student blogs were the only source of inspiration for me. I specifically searched for blog posts that can give me some clues about what goes on in the minds of applicants and what their decision making process could. Though I started writing this blog for more general purposes, I have realized that most people would read this bolog for similar information that I have searched for earlier. Few time I though that may be I should post in detail the whole process but again felt that it would be too mechanical or even technical as I felt that most of my emotions have faded away.

Only way I relive them is when someone asks me my view. That gives me an opportunity to relook at the reasons why I think I got admission. Yesterday I have recieved a mail from Mr. Raj. As soon as I saw the mail I immediately replied to him in detail and towards the end got an idea that may I can post the conversation on this blog. I request his permission to post his part of the conversation to which he agreed readily. Below is the mail sent by Raj. The next post is my reply. I have written the mail as a reaction, therefore I have not done any re-writing or structuring and I hope that this post to a great extent reflects my thinking.
from raj ch Feb 20 (13 hours ago)
to kiran.aalla@gmail.com date Feb 20, 2007 9:05 PM
subject Hey kiran ... Can you pls suggest me dude mailed-by gmail.com

Sup Kiran !!
This is Raj Ch . I am working in USA (IT) . I am seroiusly planing for an entry into ISB 2009-2010 batch.

I know its a long way to go , but Ya want to start of preparing for GMAT.

I have some Q's that i think u will answer .

My undergrad was in ECE( I worked for 6 months as a TSR in DELL coz my project was minute and we finished in just 1.5 months) and then I went to Australia ( MS in Microelectronics , I worked in a call center her as well but it was into client relations operation team/Lead) and then Now in USA( workign as a business Analyst)

I just started a small consulting firm and I have some huge plans in the coming 3-4 years.

first up do u think I have a chance ?? secondly is IT a hedge to get through ?? and finally GMAT ( I guess I need to score around 740 to get through aint it??) Your help is greatly appreciated ..

Raj Ch

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Potential to Performance in IT and ITes

That was the topic for the panel discussion held at Sui Generis - management event conducted by the Vivekananda School of PG studies, Hyderabad on 14th and 15th Feb '07. The panel consisted of four speakers:
1. Dr. Prasad, Advisor, TCS,
2. Mr. Ratan Tipirneni, CEO and Founder IP Touch, Inc
3. Mrs. Sheela Reddy K, Group Head - HR, Maytas Holdings Pvt. Ltd
4. Mr. Srihari Krishna, Manager - Risk, GE Money Servicing

Dr. Prasad is a Metallurgical Engineer and currently working with TCS as a consultant. He spoke for less then 3 min. Key points that he mentioned were - 1. Sum is more than total of individuals and 2. COmmunication is one of the key skills required.

Mr. Ratan spoke next. He used a ppt and he talked a little bit about web enabled IT and its importance in future, his company is in this area, and then he mentioned about the skills that he would look for in a graduate. He ended with a mention about the potential but also warned about consolidation.

Next it was Mrs. Sheela Reddy. She is an XLRI alumnus and has been in HR from a long time. Her son is currently doing his medicine. In the brief interaction with her, I gatherd that she was at Xl during 87-88. She mainly spoke about how important is attitude and focus on the studies. One main point that I liked was that she stressed on the importance of discipline. She mentioned about the efforts companies make to train the employees.

Lastly it was Mr. Krishna. The day before this event, I tried reaching all the speakers. Mr. Ratan infact called me himself and I called Mrs. Sheela Reddy. When I managed to reach Krishna and spoke to him on phone, I realise he was not clear about his role. I tried to guide him but I don't know what he made out of my call. When his turn to speak to came, he went in a different tangent altogether. He started stating his opinions as statements and even started praising GE on the stage. Here is an event that is supposed to be giving some gyan to the students and you have a speaker who like a first time employee starts praising his company. May be the organization is a great place but is it the right forum, as a speaker don't you have responsibility to control your emotions and be sensible? I was really surprised. So when I had to sum up I said on the valentine's day (the event was on 14th feb) if Mr. Krishna is given a chance he would change the spelling of "Love" with "LoGE."

Now I know why one of my earlier colleague, used to hate GE.

But then Mr.Krishna got it back from Dr. Prasad. Suddenly after some simple questions from the students, Dr. Prasad asked Mr. Krishna a question. He asked Krishna if what he stated about attitude that it depends on how you are bought up and cannot be changed, is based on any survey is it his opinion. Initially Krishna who was still in a trance like mood, didn;t quite get the question, so I had to explain him. And then Mr.Krishna didn't know how to respond, he meekly said that it is based on a survey but he cannot give exact details. I had to intervene and say that as Mr. Krishna couldn't provide a reference we will take it as his opinion only, which he stated as if it is truth. It was really funny to see someone unable to control his tongue and speaks some nonsense on the stage. Why do people forget that they are supposed to prepare and speaking extempore and still making sense is only a gift to few people in the world.

Later Dr. Prasad said if attitude cannot be changed, how could GE train people and other companies recruit people from GE to become CEO's, another statement made by Mr. Krishna. Somewhere I feel that loyalty to an organization is good but you should be loyal to yourself first. According to me the hierarchy of your loyalty should be something like this.

1. Yourself - without you there is no loyalty
2. Your Parents
3. Your immediate family
4. Your society
5. The nature and only then you can consider other things like your organization, your country etc.

May be for some people even before self there can be God.

One important quality I believe one should have is questioning. Question everythingis important, don't accept anything unless you have exhausted all your questions. No need to stop from doing work but even while continuing do question. If at any moment you feel something is wrong don't fear to turn back and admit the mistake.

May be I am becoming very directive but again I recommend you to question before you accept.

Modernity is not chronological, modernity is conceptual

That was one of the key points mentioned Dr. Parakala Prabhkar, a doctorate from LSE and M.A., M.phil from JNU, Delhi.

Some of the key points he highlighted were:
1. India and Indian people always were wealth creators. It is a misconception that Indians focused too much on religion, god and philosophy. According to Kautilya, Dharmas rests on economy, economy depends on Rajya or the law and order, law and order rests on humility and respect for elders, respect for elders emanates from control of Indriyas or senses.

Indians always believed that economic well-being is the foundation of Dharma and not vice-versa. How can anyone haunted by scarcity be rightful. So in order to see that people follow dharma, it is essential that they are economically strong.

2. India has been attacked for more than 1200 years continuosly and only in the 19th century the British established control, even then not on the complete country. Though it is claimed that British ruled for 200 years, the actual complete control was for about 90 years only. During all the invasions, lots of wealth was carried away from India, again and again relentlessly but despite that India was rich.

3. In the 8th century India contributed about 33% to the world economy.

The gist of the talk ad discussion is that we, Indians have to interact with cultural self-confidence when dealing with the world. We had been rich, we are rich and we will be rich. We are rich in every aspect of life - cultural, social, political, religious, and even economic wealth creation.
One of the participants raised that our education system doesn't highlight all this and we are actually forgetting all these. We are confused as to whether we follow the west or dig deep inside.

In my view, India is not about a country and Hindu is not a religion, both are referring to a civilisation that got strated and evolved in the midst of almost ideal conditions for human civilsation and being in these circumstances, so much knowledge and wisdom got developed. In our headless-chicken-run, we are fogetting that there is so much lying in our ancient literature. It is time for us to go back to school, learn sanskrit and decrypt all the wisdom lying within us.

For all of you who may read this post, my advice is learn sanskrit, study all the Indian ancient literature from a modern perspective and you wouldn't need even a MBA to become a Global leader.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Two posts pending

Lot of interesting things happened yesterday and today. I want write in detail but I don't have my notes with me right now. So I shall note down the highlights and then before this weekend post full details.

Yesterday, 13th Feb: Modernity in Indian Context, a talk by Dr. Prakala Prabhakar.

I know Dr. Parakala Prabhakar from two fronts - One I watch a telugu program called “Prathidhwani” on ETV2 in which he is the moderator of debates and Two, I met him at a CII conference. From what I had seen I felt that he is a great orator, he modulates very well and can carry on any kind of discussion in a very balanced way. All in all he is a fantastic speaker.

Dr. Parakala Prabhakar is a doctorate from the London School of Economics (LSE).

He has done his M.A., and M.Phil., from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi

His thesis was on the political economy of security doctrines of the developing countries. It is a tri-continental study, which examines Brazil, Ghana, and Indonesia as case studies.

While pursuing his PhD, he also taught at the LSE to the undergraduates. During the same period he has authored a paper titled 'the structure of International Society’.

He has lectured at several universities and research institutions in many countries. England, USA, Germany, France, Belgium, Singapore, Malaysia, Maldives, Italy, Netherlands, are some of them.

He was a member of the Task Force that helped formulate the Tenth Five Plan for India
He is presently heading a research organization called Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS). It is an independent research and policy consultancy firm based in Hyderabad. UNICEF, UNDP, WTO, ILO, state and union government departments are some of its clients, besides several corporate organizations.

The talk was fantastic and I need to post it separately. But I definitely got inspired to start learning Sanskrit. Why, I shall explain in the next post.

Today, 14th Feb: Potential to Performance in IT and ITes, Panel Discussion. Speakers were -
1. Dr. Prasad, Advisor, TCS,
2. Mr. Ratan Tipirneni, CEO and Founder IP Touch, Inc
3. Mrs. Sheela Reddy K, Group Head - HR, Maytas Holdings Pvt. Ltd
4. Mr. Srihari Krishna, Manager - Risk, GE Money Servicing
and I was the moderator cum speaker
Location: Satya Sai Nigamagamam, Srinagar Colony, event: Sui Generis, organized by Vivekananda School of PG Studies, Srinagar Colony.

The program got delayed by more than one hour but I definitely enjoyed the whole experience. It reaffirmed my belief that whatever your opinion is, don't stop yourself, just go there and let yourself go through the experience. The points made by the speakers, the questions by the students and after the discussion one student coming to me and asking me to give an autograph were all fascinating. I rejected to give an autograph but gave him my mail ID.

This event too would need another separate post. At the end I could meet two achievers - Mr Ratan and Mrs. Sheela Reddy.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My horoscope for Monday, February 12

"Working hard or hardly working? Actually, while others think you're having fun, you're actually working. Your brain functions better when your heart and soul are in the enviable state known as flow. "

The above two sentences describe exactly my current state. I don't how astrology.com is so accurate but as a Sagittarian I found most of my daily forecasts close to reality. One of the reasons could be that I read them at the end of the day or next day :)

Monday, February 12, 2007

ISB Hyderabad Admits meet

Yesterday we had a ISB Hyderabad R1 and R2 admits. There were about 18 admits but I fell there are another 5 to 10 who couldn't make it yesterday.

It was suppposed to start at 6:00PM and I reached there at 5:30 to meet my collegaue from Ivy before the meet starts. To my surpirse I already found four of them already there. Sravanthi, as the organizer of this meet obviously took it seriously and made a lot of effort to see that everything is smooth.

This colleague of mine, Rajender, was in Technical recruiting at Ivy and during the 15 months he was there, he worked on niche requirements and achieved very good success. After the Ivy saga, he has decided to start on his own and try his luck. These days techincal recruiting is highly attractive and rewarding, if you do it right. He wants to try it for three months and assess where he is going. He is also looking for a B-school admission after two to three years.

Coming to meet four of us from the original Hyderbad group - Sravanthi, Arun, Gajanan and me, were there. Apart from us, Sireesha - International applicant, Nidhi, Gowri, Ashish, Jagan, Ratnakar, Karthik, Arjun, Saujanya (R2 waiting for the result), Sumithi, Senthil, Anand and Gaurav were present. I have posted the pictures on the ISB class of 2008 blog - http://isbclassof2008.blogspot.com/. Just now I have realised that I missed posting one of the picture, which i will post in the evening.

It was a completely diverse group with people from IT, Auto, insurance, petroleum, finance, and pharma. Everyone enjoyed and one of the R2 admit who was indecisive at the beginning about accepting the admission decided to accept by the end of the meet. Such was the energy and enthusiasm.

We had multiple rounds of intros as people were coming late and we had to start again and again. People at CCD started wondering what is going on as we shuffled the whole coffe day thrice and occupied almost 1/2 of the space. Someone enquired if it was a bloggers meet :)

The meet definitely pumped in lot of energy into all of us.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Can bad time management lead to death

Yes and I have an incident that happened just yesterday in Hyderabad. Read the below news report:

Title: Student, father crushed between bus and bridge
Hyderabad, Feb 7, 2007: An engineering student and her father were crushed to death by a college bus in Bowenpally on Wednesday.

The deceased were identified as 19-year-old Sneha Priya, a first year student of Sreedevi College of Engineering in Gandipet and her father S. Shankarnath, 48. The father was trying to overtake the college bus from the left on a narrow culvert at Chinna Tokatta bridge after they narrowly missed the bus at the regular alighting point. The girl died on the spot due to head injury and the father succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment.

Everyday the father used to drop the girl at the bus stop, but on the fateful day they were late by may be less than 2 minutes and the bus had already left the bus stop. In order to catch the bus the father tried to overtake the bus and ended up on his last ride.

I felt very bad and I can understand the amount of grief Shankarnath's wife is undergoing. Shankarnath has three daughters and Snehapriya is the eldest. Look at the fate, what all the family must undergo now without the head of the family. I am really feeling bad even now.

Why did they come late? I have seen so many people taking importance of time lightly. It is not even time, it is just a question of priority and exercising the control that we have. We all have control on our starting time on any journey. But most of us underestimate or just casually start on our everyday journey. Simple discipline and prioritisation would save us lots of risk. Why does some have to rush on a vehicle, be it a two-wheeler in which case the rider is in danger or be it a four-wheeler in which case everyone else is also in danger. Why can't we plan and manage our time and start a little in advance. A two-minute delay has took lives of two people.

Looking at the above incident, I would say, Bad Time Management does lead to death - beware!

If your life is important, then managing time, prioritising it and following some basic rules is important as well. Look at the social, and economic impact on the family for a more powerful reason.

So friends, assess the risk that you are taking for the two extra lazy minutes you are taking.

Though we cannot stop death but at least we can do whatever is in our hands and see that our valuable life is not wasted. Everyday we feed ourselves, invest in ourselves, develop relationships, accumulate material things, dream about great things, plan for future but without life everything vanishes in thin air. So manage time, and only then do everything else is my strong advice.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Sudden Explosion - Stress Management

Thank god that I applied in R1, otherwise it would have been a roller-coaster ride. So many issues cropped up suddenly and with everyday passing the D-Day is coming closer.

But all my previous experiences indicate to me that everything is going to be fine - "This too shall pass." The golden words that help me to calm down. Yesterday I was reading "Necessary but not Sufficient," by Eliyahu Goldratt and I came across something nice. I am reproducing the the small portion for you:

She sighs, and thinks about the duck picture on the wall of her personal office. Scott gave it to her as a reminder of how to get through situations just like these. Stay calm on the surface, but paddle like crazy underneath.

Nice analogy. I am also trying to practice this. Earlier I did get through many situations but the whole thing used to to show on my face, but slowly I think I am learning to to behave like a duck. There is no difference in the effort, I am as paranoid as earlier, but I'm able to stay calm these days.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Some thoughts

I just walked into office and found a message from my old colleague. I wrote a reply to him but felt that those thoughts are worth sharing with others. I have just removed his name from the message:

Hi S,

ISB program would be starting in mid-April. You are welcome to call me anytime, I would be more than happy to guide you.From your message I can sense what is going on with you but let me assure you, it's the same for everyone and everywhere.

In fact I am always surprised to see issues everywhere, right from the number one comppany in the world to the corner shop. I now started feeling that issues and problems are an indication of life, only place that is perfect and peaceful is death, nothing else, atleast in my experience till now. So take a deep breath and sigh a relief.

Yes, it help's to have a bird's eye view and then decide whether you are drifting or not. Coming to dragging, it's the difference between an Ox and a Dog going for a walk, you can choose which one to be.

In my twelve years of work life all I wanted from others was guidance and I know how valuablle it is. If you feel I am in a position to guide you, I will be more than happy to do that, as I mentioned earlier.