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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Handling difficult times - 2

Though I am continuing the series, I have decided not to force myself to maintain any continuity, which means you can expect these posts to be random and readers will have to make the connection.

One very important skill necessary to handle difficult times is planning. We are experts in corporate planning and very easily make assumptions about different variables but when it comes to planning in personal life, we act in a completely different way.

We don't want to take any risk in personal life and can only visualize a straight path almost all the time. There is no contingency planning, which means even a small unforeseen event can throw us into a negative spiral. Instead if we assess the bottom of a downfall (even the stock market can't go negative) and then be prepared for it, I think the shock will be minimal and we can fight the negative spiral.

Like in corporate planning, we need to make assumptions in our personal life and should weight the probability of different outcomes and come up with the expected outcome. If we are either too optimistic or too pessimistic, then we are in for some kind of trouble.

That's all for today. Meanwhile I am back in Delhi after a whirlwind sleepless four day trip to Hyderabad. I have done some very interesting things during this trip apart from meeting my classmates at Solstice 2008 that included giving a treat to my friends by getting them all together for the first time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Solstice 2008

My trip to ISB for Solstice has been in doldrums till yesterday but all of a sudden I have decided to go.

This would be a great opportunity to meet with all my classmates,few current batch students and few alums. I will also be meeting my friends, those who know me from my school days.

I am planning to visit my native place and my grandfather. I shall continue the "Handling Difficult Times" series once I am back from this trip.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Handling difficult times - 1

It was not the best of times when I was looking out for a job for the first time in 1994. I was searching for a technical job and all the job openings were in sales. I never thought twice as my objective was simple - start earning before the 100 bucks I got from my grandfather exhausted. I took up a Jr. Sales Officer job at a start up that was to publish a telugu socio-political magazine by name "Sravanthi." I had no chance to think about "how my job was related to what I studied" neither did I mull over "what's in that job that I enjoy." I just needed to get started and I did. From then my career took so many twists and turns, some driven by me and some driven by situations, in fact I never thought about going back to college till 2006 (which is 11 years after I started working).

These surely are difficult times and it is more probable that even at the top B-schools, one may not be in a position to choose but one would be in a situation to be chosen by someone. However there is no need to despair, one would not be in a position to influence the situation at all times; you will have to accept the fact and the situation and act accordingly.

This is not the end of this post, I am going to discuss how I handled difficult times and hope that the readers would benefit from this.

Monday, November 17, 2008

In thick of things

Only reason for my inactivity is that I am right now in thick of things.
I have been doing donkey stuff, which does have certain value addition but also gives a feeling that you have earned your salary for the day. When I began 5 months ago, I wondered whether there would be any serious activity in the Power Transmission sector but suddenly things started rolling when every thing else seems to be slowing. This clearly shows how decoupled I'm from the main stream business, it's seriously contra-scenario here.


However the decoupling is only till the point where white paper is involved, as soon as the time comes for the other paper (Indian currency is in different colors, so can't say greenback)things are gonna change. But you have to be optimistic till the time you actually face the situation, you can be prepared for the worst though.

Solstice this year will be held on 19th and 20th Nov and I am looking forward to meeting all my classmates again. While 6 months is not a long period at work, most people would have overcome the starting troubles. I look forward to listening whether the paid holiday syndrome is over or is it still on.

Meanwhile it would be interesting to see how immune B-school admissions are from recession.

The current financial melt down is going to provide a new episode for "Commanding Heights." Uncertainty rules

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Last couple of weeks

I got to see how Delhi celebrates Diwali this time and I can say that it is a much bigger festival here than in South. Dasera is celebrated much better in South. Bursting of crackers started at around 8pm and went on till midnight.

I had four days of holidays for Diwali and despite all the planning, I managed to do only one thing - watch a silly movie titled Fashion. It was a welcome break however. Sometimes you just want to lie down and spend time lazily, it is a luxury nowadays considering that everyone seems to be busy and wants others to be busy too. In fact people get surprised when I say that I am able to restrict my office time between 9:30 to 5:30 except on few odd days. At the beginning of my career, I was in a similar situation and I was able to devote considerable time for my hobbies. I am able to do this again.

Another observation I made is that though some things such as, providing good service to customers are quite obvious as a customer but most service providers either forget it or don't get it right. I have experienced both Pizza Hut and Dominos service and I can clearly say that Pizza Hut is much better and will surely do well. Similarly I saw Meru Cabs doing much better than Easy Cabs.

After the B-school competition season, it is time for cv reviews. I have been getting lots of requests and trying my best to give whatever inputs I can. Those with interesting past-experience are the ones who find this process most difficult. Sometimes you feel why can't they look at me, talk to me and then give me the job. After all I am taking a bigger risk than the company in joining them - if I fail, my career will be ruined but the company can easily replace me, and if I do well both parties will benefit. However firms are more worried about many other non-sense parameters and the cost of observing your performance that they would never do this. All the talk of diversity, opportunity, risk taking etc by companies is nothing short of nonsense as they go back to their tradition of recruiting people who fit into a set mold.

Change is easy talk but difficult to implement. I have been reading a lot of books but a simple auto-biography titled "A Celebration of Youth" by Mr. Anand Mohan Lal has been the most interesting readings of all. There was no way I would have even stumbled upon this book had it not been sent to me by a friend of mine from Hyderabad.

Apart from the admission queries, cv reviews, request for a xxx report spam mails, there have been regular "I am getting married - invites" have been regular in my mail box. My Diwali greetings spam also got responses from old colleagues and friends, which was possible due to nice feature in gmail.

Weather in Delhi is at its best now. That's all for now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Movie Review - Fashion

It happened in the past and it happened again. You hear a lot about the Director, his past successes, see the promos and feel the new movie is gonna be a sure shot hit, you book your ticket and watch it on day one - phew, the movie is not upto your expectation.



This is how I felt after watching fashion. Madhur Bhandarkar surely did some research but the plot is not worth producing a movie on. While Priyanka and Kangna attempted to act, Arbaaz suited the best for his role. Photography is quite good but the script is loose and there is nothing great in the movie.

My verdict - Don't watch

Monday, October 20, 2008

Time for action

I have been postponing many things in life and i always postponed them saying that i will start working on them as soon as I finish this new big adventure (mainly with my career) I have taken up.

After writing the last blogpost, I felt it is time for me write down my goals afresh and start working on them on a daily basis. It suddenly occurred to me that I have no more excuses and that I should start working.

I am preparing my list of goals and would be working on them on a daily basis. Despite being ambitious, smart (in my perception and hard working (many others would agree with this), I have never worked meticulously; rather I focused on one thing at a time. But now I think I don't have that luxury anymore. Everyday is going to be important and I need to use the time productively to live a life that I would like to. The life I would like to live includes writing blogs and even books, traveling to different places, interacting and collaborating with people on different issues etc etc. Rural India surely occupies a large portion of my mind space and social business is something that I have been thinking from quite sometime.

One simple method to overcome procrastination I have discovered is to make your goals public and to make it really happen, set a deadline (this i have learnt at ISB). This is what I am gonna do from now on.

Happy Diwali to everyone. May the gloom of recession be overcome with the light of optimism

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Let us Stand Up and Take Action against Poverty




If there is one thing that can separate human being from other animal species on Earth that would be elimination of Poverty.



Overcoming poverty is the first freedom that human beings would need to achieve if they have to enjoy other sorts of freedom modern society (supposedly) provides.

In absence of any other respective means, crime or politics seem to be the only way out of Poverty. This is reiterated today by Arvind Adiga, winner of Man Booker prize this year. Both the major forms of economy, communism and capitalism, aim to provide some sort of equality to all the people. One attempts to forcibly distribute the outcome while the other attempts to provide uniform opportunity for all.

So much has been said about the role of education to overcome poverty but it is a long process. And during this long process many will get crushed in poverty. It is very important that we as a Society should "Stand Up" against evils such as Poverty whatever the cause may be. Having been born in this modern era, every human being is entitled to live a respectable life.

Everywhere around the world, governments are trying to keep unemployment rates down but the cries of poor people almost always go unheard. Politicians try to manipulate numbers and statistics rather than genuinely work for the causes that would help the poor.

One of my goals is to build a home for those in distress, where everyone is welcome without any discrimination, where anyone can get their basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing fulfilled for a week and then further enter into a sustainable routine. I shall use all my resources to make this a reality and then duplicate this in as many places as possible. I urge all the readers to think about how they can contribute to eliminate poverty and stand up against it. Please leave your comment as a way to say that you would like "stand up" against poverty.

From this month, I am going to save minimum of 5% of my income towards this cause and would work few extra hours to increase this fund

Thanks for reading and contributing.



Monday, October 13, 2008

A major battle won - Update

This is in continuation with my previous post with the above title. I must appreciate the telecom major for accepting my input, with resistance from the front-end though, and them taking action.

Here's the proof of their action and their attempt to cover a mishap and convert it into something positive for them:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Recession Economics

Everyone is talking about financial crisis and the looming recession. However some B+ve thinkers have come up with research findings to cheer up people in this situation.

One such article talks about how people take more care about them thereby becoming more active and healthy. Another column writer talks about how trouble raises human consciousness thereby helping us to become united in the fight.

Reading all these and considering that the real interest rates are negative (inflation is more than risk free) I too started thinking that it is time to have fun rather than investing for future. All the I-bankers who must have amassed large amounts of money during the hey days should also loosen the purse strings and splurge and see if the economy will bounce back due to their increased spending.

Most of us don't get the option to choose a life style, instead we get drawn to a certain type based on what we see and what people around us say and then get trapped. This is good time for all those who thought they got trapped in a burning candle life style to get out and start a oil lamp life style.

It's time for everyone to read "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint Exupéry and examine what their world consists of. It is time to weed out unnecessary things and plant things that you always wanted to in your planet. It is time to refresh/expand/explore your own planet and also become aware that each one of us is living in a different planet.

Another interesting thought I wanted to share is about insurance and lotteries. After a discussion it suddenly occurred to me that both of them can be classified as soci-philosophical instruments. By choosing to subscribe to these instruments, the concerned individual is ready to give up a part of his hard earned money and place it in the hands of fate, allowing it to decide how to redistribute the pool, funny, ain't it.

That's all for now. Happy Dasera to all of you

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The biggest need of human race (as of now)

Of all the species that ever appeared on Earth, human beings are the most interesting ones. Apart from eating food, sleeping, fulfilling other similar bio-needs, procreating, growing old and finally dying, they also indulge themselves in many forms of activities that would so funny if viewed from the activities of an animal (blogging is one such thing, both writing and reading). Despite our seemingly unlimited shortcomings, we seemed to have successfully survived for quite a long period even while destroying nature and other species. We have been overloading and overusing many of the natural resources and call it development.

One of the biggest problems since last few years has been our aggression and over focus on economic development. Everyone in the world wants to grow not just at the normal pace but at a pace greater than everyone else (including me). We are ready to do anything to achieve this. As long as no one spots the mess we are creating, it's fine and we can boast our great achievements but when things go wrong we blame it on others - government should have taken care of it, rich people are to be blamed, USA/China are to be blamed, religion is surely the biggest culprit and so on and so forth. If there is a God and if he is watching us from the top (for that matter from any direction), he must be having hell a lot of fun. He must have forgotten counting our mistakes and misdeeds as much as our righteous behavior. He must be wondering how the hell is this possible, I never meant all this to happen.

Coming to a serious note, when I started writing this post, all I wanted to say is that it is time for a new religion. It has been quite sometime a messiah has appeared on Earth and taught us how to use our complex faculties and still be happy. None of the religions appear to be able to answer/solve the questions of the different types of experts and different categories of people we got divided into currently. While the oldest of the teachings are still relevant and are still meaningful if understood, we seemed to have stopped understanding simple things in life. We need a religion which uses complex formula and rituals to keep us busy throughout the time without having to do anything with nature or other people.

We seemed to have forgotten living life and seemed to be driven by things that we don't understand anymore, which are not primary to our nature.

Oh God, if you are truly watching me write this silly blogpost, please don't take this as an expression of frustration over the financial crisis or my angst about the serial bombings of Indian Mujaheddin (what is so Indian about this outfit and why Indian? any patriotic reason or is it like Unilever calling itself Hindustan Level limited, only God knows), sorry God for the digression, but please take this as a sincere prayer to you to send us a Messiah who can give us a religion that will be the most modern,is not controversial, needs no sacrifices except self-sacrifice, doesn't need large donations (or land), doesn't allow any unnatural killings (direct or indirect) except for natural needs (please don't treat this as an exhaustive list and pardon me if I excluded any other important covenants) and as I believe you know everything, I hope you will surely do a perfect job (unlike me, so many grammatical errors in this post itself) and save the human species (otherwise of all other species) from early extinction - I remain, Humbly waiting for your action, a tiny speck on a tiny speck called by us as Earth.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Difference between Real business world and B-school cases

The whole world has been busy analyzing the fall of Wall St. giants and now there is divided opinion about the bail out. There have been interesting comments from different types of experts. But all this is ex-post, when everything was going right (atleast appeared to be), no one was complaining.

A year back, sitting in a B-school classroom, I was thinking that I can understand every business model, scenario and situation. But after about 4 months in the real corporate world, I still have no questions about my ability to understand business models, scenarios and situations but I realized that if there one thing that separates class room from real world then it must be "transaction costs."

While appearing to be most simple, transaction costs are the most difficult to model or come up with assumptions about. Their nature is so different that even the smartest manager cannot predict them. They are ubiquitous and they need no planning, they just happen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A major battle won

I have been fighting a battle with one of the telecom biggies for more than a month now. While I have been successful at individual level, my interaction made me feel that these guys are not that customer friendly. They were trying to be legally correct, so I decided to take them on. But then somewhere in the middle I felt that to benefit all the customers like me, I must not first try to see if something can be done without making the issue public.

And I can now claim that I have been able to convince the telecom biggie about a practice of billing postpaid customers as wrong and made them change the practice. Considering that the financial impact is in the tune of 100+ crores, I consider this as a big achievement. As I have promised confidentiality, I will not be making the name of the company public. But I suggest that you check your postpaid bills (whichever company they are from) for the months of August, September and October to verify the following:
1. The monthly charges are for the previous period (which means a bill dated 10th August has monthly charges, say for the period 8th July to 9th August and not 11th August to 10th September, which is the next period - don't worry about the day but look at the month)
2. If the charges happen to be for the next period (as explained above), then make sure they are reversed in September or October bill (no monthly charges :))
3. If the charges are not reversed write to me to know about how to approach the company and get them reversed.

I know that Rs. 250 to 500 bucks may not be much but allowing charges for next period means you are negligent and amounts to giving away your right.

Hope I didn't bore you with this encrypted message but I hope you've been able to read between the lines and decrypted the message.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Delhi Blasts 2008

5 bomb blasts, 20 dead and many more injured, result of illogical attacks by god-knows-who and god-knows-why terrorists. Even after thousands of years of civilization, we, the human race, has not been able to overcome hatred and violence. Only one kind of violence is natural and acceptable (?, to me at least), which is for food and survival, everything else is inflected by contrived human thinking.

Every terrorist or naxal outfit has its roots in the suffering of people either socially or economically. Politics is the institution that society has come up to overcome this but politics in turn is aggravating social and economical gaps leading to further problems. When would our politicians stop this silly nonsense and focus and what they are really expected to do. When would people demand that the politicians do what they ought to do.

As an individual one can do whatever he chooses to and by nature is designed to be selfish. But the moment he chooses to live in a society and benefit from the outcomes of organized labor and other benefits of organized society, he has to keep in mind that some of his actions can harm others and in turn trigger a negative spiral leading to hatred and violence.

To ensure a peaceful society we have practice what I call enlightened selfishness. If you harm someone, that negative energy is going to flow and will eventually harm you back, in what proportion no one knows. If the idea that brain waves have energy and can influence circumstances, then this will be all the more true.

We just have to ensure that our actions do not trigger any negative trigger. I know this is idealistic but I think this is the only answer and as far as I know Mahatma Buddha tried to simplify implementing this by his preachings. I know I have drifted away and not kept myself to the topic at hand as taught at B-school, but what can I do, I am more of a human being than a B-school student

Sunday, August 31, 2008

ISB admissions for Class of 2010 essay

In the race to outsmart each other, ISB adcom seems to have come up with a tough topic for one of the admission essays. While the essence of the topics remain the same every year, the topic changes, putting the applicants in a fix. From all the requests that I have been getting I have gathered that there is an essay asking the applicant to describe what would he/she do if he becomes student body president.

Most applicants think that they have to gather as much information as possible and only then attempt the essay. I don't know how many people have approached the current and the previous GSB president.

My sincere advise and request to all the applicants is as below:

Are you expected to know everything about what happens at ISB? I don't think so, if you feel so, write to adcom to describe about the position rather than approaching alums you know. If you know too much, you will have to explain how you know in the interview, which may not be a good thing. On the other hand assuming everything may not be correct.

If I have to attempt this essay, I would try to think about how does the student body look like (details available on ISB site), what could be challenges they face, who are the different parties the President have to address (interact and work with), what kind of approach would be good (you would be dealing with a diverse and smart peer group) etc and then put down the essay. Rather than focusing on the specifics, I suggest that essay should address the big issues.

This is more than what I wanted to share, I would take leave otherwise I may get a call from the honor(horror) committee. I wonder what to do if they take away my degree now :?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wassup? An Update

I don't know about others but I can say one thing about life after ISB, it becomes slow. At ISB so many things keep happening and you hardly can catch up with half of them but outside things move so slowly that you have to keep pushing them hard.

After watching Barack Obama and Michelle Obama talk in the convention and comparing that with the speech of Chiranjeevi, who launched a new party in Andhra Pradesh called "Praja Rajyam," I started writing a post with the title "What are we proud about, as a Nation?" but then stopped midway due to laziness. The question still remains, while Mr. and Mrs. Obama tried to inspire by talking about the values of America, American dream etc etc, Chiranjeevi could hardly inspire, instead he chose to use the cine background and inspire people. He still made an attempt to relate to people. But in India politics are all about community, caste, regionalism and criticism of the opponent but nothing what we stand as a nation and what we want to achieve as a nation. I think I'll leave it here and ask you guys to leave your comments.

On the other hand, I managed to trigger two interesting and won a small corporate battle.

As a part of our ELP we did a project and I made one innovative suggestion. Recently I came across a source that could make that idea a reality. Immediately I got in touch with the entrepreneur and linked him up with the corporate. I am helping this guy with the proposal and I'm sure it is gonna work. There is a lot of thrill in seeing one's idea take shape into reality.

Second, I got in touch with the CEO of an interesting company and started discussing about how his services could be launched in India and what could be the potential. This too is exciting as I could see how local knowledge combined with global expertise can do wonders.

Finally I won a battle with Airtel as a customer. Now I am waiting for a call from an alum with Airtel to decide whether I should turn this into a war and see how a corporate would react to an attack from a customer equipped with a B-school degree. I have already won the battle and I have the required ammunition to take them head on but I am thinking what's-in-it-for-me. However if you are an Airtel Post-paid customer I can share the details privately so that you too can benefit from what I did. Hope that raises curiosity, leave your contact details or write to me if you want a response.

There is an early morning meeting tomorrow, so I must take leave know. Bbye and good night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Market competitive pay may not be perfect but it works

I wrote this post as a contribution for another blog - http://marketcompetitivepay-pegasus.blogspot.com/ but decided to reproduce it here for the regulars

Whether it is the stock market or the job market, Market does work, though they may not be perfect as yet and may not become perfect ever. Cost-benefit analysis may not be done consciously, either by firms or individuals, it is always done.

There are many direct and indirect costs and benefits involved. What is valued, how much it is valued is different for the firm and for the individual. For example, consider office location. I know many people who are willing to take a lower salary so that their travel time is reduced. Recently I met a lady who changed the job so that her travel time is reduced but after joining she learned that the new company is also shifting to a far off location shortly. I am sure that she is going to change her job shortly, once again.

Alternative to Market Competitive Pay is to fix the compensation based on the reservation prices of the firm and the candidate. Based on the value addition, company can calculate its reservation price and similarly candidate can come up with a reservation price based on her priorities. But consider doing this for yourself or the next candidate you want to hire. It is quite difficult in both cases and one immediately tends to fall back on the market information to benchmark. Apart from this the Market Competitive Pay is the BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement) for both the parties. Except in few cases where the company or the candidate has clear negotiating power, where we can observe negotiation happening and the compensation may not be comparable to market, in majority of cases Market Competitive pay works. Even in the minority cases, where one party can fix prices, it would lie somewhere in the bargaining zone, which is Market based.

Though HR Managers keep talking about intangible benefits, very rarely they succeed in bringing down the direct salary costs unless the claims are well accepted in the market and the candidates believe the claims to be credible. On the other hand money is credible in all circumstances and conveys lot of information when examined in combination with other information publicly available. This could be one reason, we observe that candidates tend to choose either a well-known firm or a firm that pays very well. Even the reputed firms can't go below a certain level in pay, which indicates that reputation of a firm is only marginally beneficial. Firms that are average in both pay and reputation finally end up with adverse selection issues.

The first two posts rightly identified that stage of career also affects choices of the candidate, we cannot simplify and generalize it. I have personally observed that even gender would play a part. But before we draw a conclusion, we have to verify whether these factors have statistically significant effect on choices or not.

This post clearly sounds a little (or too much) technical but I hope the readers got the essence of it. Feedback and comments would be greatly welcome.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Zidd Karo, Duniya Badlo

Last time I visited PVR, one ad caught my attention and the title of this post is the punchline of that ad. The ad essentially asks people to push the system in the right direction. If you haven't seen it, here's the video for you:



I tried pushing ICICI and I found that they are far more responsive than the so-called customer savvy telecom players including Airtel and Vodafone. These telecom players must learn something from ICICI's process. May be ICICI's officers are not as trained as the CSE's of Airtel/Vodafone but they follow the process very nicely. Last time when I wrote a post about ICICI network problems, someone from the bank noticed it and requested me to make an official complaint. While the complaint was not against the people, I got a call today from the branch in question and an assurance to take care of any issues if I have any in the future. I had another issue with ICICI last week and I was surprised at the responsiveness of ICICI customer care. I got a call within 24 hours and a resolution in another 12 hours.

On the other hand Airtel has asked for seven working days to revert back to me and that too the response appeared to be an automated response. Surely ICICI is working hard and kudos to the ICICI team.

The issue that I have raised in front of Airtel is not a small one. If all goes in the way I think, it is going to create a bang. Wait for the update on that.

Meanwhile after Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra including their capitals getting flooded, looks like its time for the national capital to get flooded. Fols from Delhi had earlier warned me that I will not be able experience as many rains as in the south here but surprisingly there have been lot of rains and today's rain was really heavy. Since the drain system is not used to these kind of downpours, there is water logging at many places. I don't know if I am the only one facing trouble to drive car as the visibility becomes quite poor in rains but I am little worried about the upcoming winter. But I hope it will not be as worse as people have been telling me.

Finally Happy Independence day.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Customer Service in India

I am fully aware that by writing this post, I may not only be making the readers aware about the experiences that I have gone through but the generalizations I am going to make may hurt the image of India as the Customer Service back office for the globe.

The sector that I am talking to about is the much touted and highly successful mobile telephony in India, where customer service is all about unfulfilled promises.

The first sore experience is with Vodafone, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh (earlier Hutch) and then now with Airtel Delhi.

In the case of Vodafone, the service failure started in Delhi but even the AP circle didn't handle it well. At the end I had to terminate the connection without paying the bill in protest but they have taken no action till now. In fact I wanted to publish the full mail transcript in the blog but didn't to clutter the blog with nuisance of Vodafone, which claims "Happy to Help" after spending crores of rupees but does "nothing to really help the customer." Vodafone's tagline should be "Happy to Harass" instead of "Happy to Help."

Let's come to the Airtel scene. The quality of service has been good till it came to billing. I must say that the welcome call and the series of service SMSs were all very good. But when it came to billing, things have started going wrong. My efforts to get an answer for my query resulted in nothing. Instead I ended up spending an hour to make Airtel guys understand the problem. During they process they have made wrong claims multiple times and made false promises again and again. In a single day I have encountered as many as three service failures. Finally I gave up and decided to pursue it through mail. I hope they try to learn something from this.

I will post my interactions with Vodafone shortly as they seem to be thinking "Silence and No-reply as the best Customer Service actions."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Friends, let's meet

There is a saying in Telugu that says "Brothers need not be born under the same roof." I have truly experienced this in life. Time and again whenever I was in trouble, my friends have come to my rescue.

It may appear that it is easy to make friends with people who are similar to you. But this is not true; neither is the saying that opposites attract, at least in my case. My friends are so different that if I put them all together in a single they will surely wonder if it is the same Kiran that they all know.

For my schoolmates I was intelligent but bad guy. I always made friends with the back benchers and revolted against the teachers. While I never dared to bunk classes, I was the one my friends depended for their exams. Our combined studies never benefited them but they benefited me.

At college, friends came from different backgrounds. I become close I fought with initially. All my previous bosses are my good friends even today. Few others became my friends because we shared passion towards certain things in life.

I am planning to get all my friends together sometime in December this year at ISB during the Solstice week. I have not started any work on this but this is an event I am looking forward to.

If there is one thing I am surprised about friendship is that it doesn't need any reasons, similarities or commonalities except that you have spent some time together and shared some thoughts and moments together.

Happy friendship day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is ICICI bank's service network choking?

Since I've moved to Delhi, I've been experiencing problems with ICICI bank's services, both on the internet and at the branch, leading me to feel that ICICI bank's service network is choking.

The overloading problem can be clearly seen on the faces of some ICICI employees. While some have been able to handle the constant pressure, few employees take it out on the customers. ICICI has been trying hard to keep pace with increasing customer base, their increasing demands using technology but seems like it is not being able to keep up with the pace.

I hope someone from ICICI reads this mail and takes it seriously. I am a satisfied customer of ICICI but I may not be if this continues further

Friday, July 18, 2008

Innovation in daily life: Taking advantage of Camera Phone

When I had to buy my first mobile phone in 2005 (earlier I always had a company phone), I chose not to buy a camera phone. The argument I had was that camera phone may not be allowed in a company that implements ISMS and BS7799.

But recently when I had to buy a second phone, which is a CDMA phone, I had to buy Nokia 6275 that has a camera phone along with Bluetooth. I also bought a 2GB memory card for the phone.

Having a camera phone with enough memory in sunk cost led to a innovative usage that I want to share with you all in this post. But the idea is not new as I have used it at ISB few times. I used my 6 mp Sony camera to take pictures of documents and store them. Once I used the camera to click few pages that I wanted to read later (as per my knowledge, this is not copyright violation as long as you don't copy more than 10% and not use it for commercial purposes).

After moving to Delhi, I have noticed that whenever you are sending a hard copy document to someone, it becomes necessary to keep a copy with you for filing or as a proof. Generally photocopying is done and in some cases the document is scanned and kept. While scanning is a very good, low (direct)cost, paper-saving option, it takes certain amount of time and effort, making it not-so-preferred all the time. In such cases photocopying is done. I wanted to avoid the photocopying and the wastage of paper in the process and started using my camera phone to click the document and copy it to my laptop. This may appear to be a dangerous thing to do as people may use it to copy sensitive documents but if someone wants to steal there are many other easy and powerful ways. This is one innovative usage.

The next one is outside office. Whenever you are assigning a auto guy to carry luggage without you or a lady is going alone in the auto, a simple safety measure is to click the auto regn number and the driver's photo. This should to a great extent introduce fear in the auto guy and restrain him from doing any non-sense. You can't really do much in extreme cases anyway but in most cases you can reduce the probability of problem by saving the photo and letting the guy know about it.

This can be used for handling domestic help, plumbers, electricians, other repairmen too. I am sure that if women use this, they can be little more secure at home and office.

I noticed another such innovative use yesterday. Maharastra Electricity Distribution company (Mahavitaran) is using photo bills in which the photo of the bill with reading is printed in the bill to avoid any disputes related to billing. Imagine the amount of savings achieved in this manner.

Interesting, I thought and decided to share it with you all. Cheers

Saturday, July 12, 2008

At peace with life

I don't remember any other time in my career till now when I was more peaceful with life than now. I am surprised with myself about this. Let me describe the state first. I am getting up at 6AM, going for a jog for half an hour, reaching office early and then doing some sector specific reading, attending a meeting or two, discussing specific issues with a colleague (another B-school recruit), leaving office early, catching a bus (Delhi even has air-conditioned buses and though the fare is double the normal, who would complain when it is only 5 bucks) and then spending some relaxed time, watching no TV, read old telugu chandamama (Chandamama has put up old archives on their site for free, Thank you Chandamama publishers) and going to bed by 10PM. No tension about things that I am not doing, no tension about things that are not happening in the way they ought to be, no tension about anyone, I know that you are growing jealous, but that's the truth.

I have collected some 200+ movies in one shot from a colleague and that is another addition to my collection. One of the advantages of your office being located at Nehru Place is that you can buy anything related to computers in minutes if not in seconds. I bought a 500GB seagate external hard drive for 5k and I can keep all my stuff on that.

PVR is at walkable distance except that the cost has gone up tremendously. Earlier it used to cost 30-40 bucks in Hyderabad in a normal theatre and at Imax it would be 100 bucks but here it costs you 200 bucks but there is convenience for me, no vehicle required so no parking hassles, no travel time required and I can watch a movie even on a working day. That's very good.

That's all for now.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Delhi Auto blogging

Can i Call this auto blogging.Don't jump to the conclusion that I have come up with some way to blog automatically, all I am saying is that I have started this blogpost in a Delhi auto and wouldn't know if I will be able to finish it by the time I reach Nehru Place from Saket.

It has been a mixed experience till now with Delhi. It has a lot of traffic but the density of houses is quite low compared to other cities. In the colony that I stay I get to hear and see a full grown peacock to which my initial reaction was disbelief and then that of surprise. Initially I thought it was ISB hangover, which is making me hear the sound of another bird as that of peacock's but then I couldn't disbelieve my eyes. Surprisingly Delhi has lots of parks and wide roads except that they are not well utilized. Delhi has umpteen radio stations and if you have a FM radio then you have movie music almost all the time except FIR FM radio that broadcasts different stuff.

Few things are difficult to find in Delhi that you would be able find without effort in Hyderabad. Such things include Idly rawa, groundnuts, curry leaves, sona masoori rice while it is so easy to get fruits and vegetables here. With the help of another telugu guy I have been able to find almost everything that I need.

It took me a month to find a decent house in Delhi despite the fact that there are so many real estate agents and almost all the renting happens through them. One surprising fact is that the trust levels are very low here. In Hyderabad one doesn't need anything excpet being able to pay two months rent in advance and convince the owner that you are a decent guy. But in Delhi you have to show your appointment letter, your identity card and even get your employer to lease the house on your behalf. I had two sour experiences before I met my current house owner who happened to be a very nice guy. One complaint that I have with ISB brand is not working that well with House owners in Delhi, hehehe, in fact even IIMs wouldn't matter too in this case. Due to the love of Indian employers for expats wherein an Indian gets paid lesser than an expat, which would be the opposite in US, living costs are rising in Delhi. Both house ownners and rental agents seem to be thrilled with white-skin and would serve an Indian only if he happens to belong to the elite group. I also found that there are few organized local firms in Delhi that are quite good and one that is worth mentioning is Gulshan properties. If you go to magicbricks.com you will find that most of the ads are placed by them and they have a very good model.

There are too many cars in Delhi and the cause could be anything ranging from lack of public transport, lower fuel costs, lesser taxes on automobiles, wide spread geography of Delhi etc etc. Surely the number of vehicles per person in Delhi would be the highest in the country.Urban agglomeration is not working well in case of Delhi Transport due to distortions created by the system.

Nothing great is happening at work so I am able to spend time on settling. Thanks to BRT corridor, I still have few more minutes to complete this blogpost. At ISB it seems that there are some changes happening with ELP and PAEV. Surely Sarmaji is making things happen. Quite a few ELP projects are sponsored by ISB alum entreprenuers and few have been pushed by alums working in senior positions. One big advantage of having experienced guys in a batch is that they move into senior positions, they understand the benefits of tools well and contribute to the school in a different way.

Finally I managed to finish this post 4 hours after getting down from the auto so I can't call this fully auto blogging but it is only partial-auto-blogpost. Cheers

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Life after B-School

The biggest challenge after B-School is handling reality of the corporate world. While I can't speak for others, the key challenge is to manage the gap between your expectations about work and what exactly is offered to you. The next challenge is handling different species that one gets to see at office. While there are as many complex species at B-school because of the intense focus, competition and time pressure you don't get to see all the different attributes of everyone. But at work there is so much time that they people get into their comfort zone and start displaying exotic attributes.

Another important that everyone looks forward after B-school is the first paycheck day. Despite this being the happiest day of the month, there will be some shocking reactions when people get to see the bottom line, which is the net pay, as there will be so many deductions under complicated heads and one of the monsters being Income Tax.

Things that I miss the most after ISB are Rec center and ISB spam.Things are looking up in the external world and this may be the time to hold on and use a wait and watch approach. One big question for ISBians and all other B-school students would be about the impact of the current Macro-economic scenario on placements

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Comparison of cities and My take on Real Estate in India

While I am settling in Delhi, I keep comparing it with Mumbai and Hyderabad. While Hyderabad is my hometown, Mumbai is a city I liked a lot. I have spent first week of June at Mumbai and then moved to Delhi, so I've some recent Mumbai experience that I can use for comparison.

If I have to say it in short, it will be like this - Delhi is comparable to Hyderabad in terms of weather, locality, attitude of people etc and is comparable to Mumbai (atleast Navi Mumbai) in terms of cost of living, diversity of people, footpath business etc. What Delhi lacks is the attitude of Mumbaikars. Despite having smaller roads, heavy rains and many other problems, Mumbai people live on and are very nice. You would see innovation in everything at Mumbai and the quality of things is much better in Mumbai. People are quite aggressive and proud in Delhi but they are not better in anyway when compared to people in Hyderabad. You can observe these things with the Autowallahs, rentals agents, house owners, craftsmen, bank employees, bus conductors and drivers. Mumbai people are highly efficient and always focus on getting things done quickly while Delhi guys talk big but do little.

I have been disappointed by the service I get despite paying premium, which is comparable to what I would pay in Mumbai. At this cost I get much better service in Mumbai. Hyderabad, on the other hand, is slowly moving towards Delhi in the sense that all the service providers started demanding premium without improving the service in anyway. In Mumbai you atleast get better service. Hyderbadis are known to be laid back people but because of IT and ITes boom, things are getting expensive in Hyderabad.

One unrelated but nevertheless serious one is about the real estate scenario in India. I was going through the Knowledge at Wharton's latest article and felt that Indian Real estate has gone through very similar cycle with certain minor exceptions and excesses. While the Indian financial sector has not gone as far as US guys did due to various reasons including market not being fully developed, they followed their US counterparts in many things. They have been overlending beyond the normal limit of 80% but inflating the property value. The cap rate in India is quite high compared to any other similar market making it vulnerable for a fall. But there is a significant difference between US and Indian cultures that would not allow a big crisis to happen here. First Indians believe in lifetime employment and generally wouldn't leave jobs in difficult time. Though most of the service sector jobs are dependent on global market, predominantly US, these firms are trying hard to diversify and they are still competitive despite talks about US recession and weak dollar. Indian non-services sector has also been going global particularly non-US, which can insulate it to certain extent from US recession.

But as the interest rates go up, and new job creation slowing down, there will be pressure on rentals and new real estate purchases, which would lead to drop in property prices. While most of the deals that are underway may sail safely, some may have to face rough weather. New deals would be delayed and may not happen at previously projected figures and this would be first indication of the change.

I have been an investor in the real estate and though I see property rates coming down, I don't foresee loosing much as I have entered it 3 years back. But those entering now or have entered in the last two years will see some erosion in value.

While most of India will be able to manage slight slowdown and would be happy inflation coming down, there is a limit to what it can handle.

All these developments hint at a grim situation, which can only change if the political forces join hands with the intellectuals and don't get carried away into any one path too deep. Patience, prudence and judgment are required. I hope the Man of India comes up with some magic and save us all.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Random thoughts about Politics, Economics, and Society

Finally the last major party in AP that was not supporting Telangana has a rift. Devender Goud decided to resign and come out of TDP and pursue telangana on his own. This puts a big question on Naidu's hope to come back in the next elections. While Devender Goud is not a big crowd puller, he can get all the telangana guys in TDP and weaken the party. Devender Goud must be fancying his chances after KCR's TRS failed miserably in the recent bye elections.

One question that occurred to me while thinking about this issue is - How are these politicians able to get so many supporters. I guess the reason is totally economical and then sociological in nature. One side of India's story is that more and more youngsters are getting educated and getting good jobs. On the other hand there are many others for whom life has not changed in any way, in fact it becoming worse for them. While democracy provides the biggest intangible benefit of "freedom" though curtailed due to different forces, tangibles are becoming a problem. The free market economy that is talked about is non-existent in its ideal state anywhere in the world. Even the so-called free market proponent's - UK and US, are not allowing free market fully. The social objectives are not being met by Democracy fully due to the individual indiscipline.

Think about a middle-aged guy who studied till high school and couldn't further it due to various issues - self, family, society etc etc. What can he do in today's economic scenario? Many times his life is stagnant and he is looking for something that he can do enthusiastically, something that can give him social and economic benefits and participation in political action seems to fit the bill accurately. This exactly works in the opposite for a young and educated person in India, which is why we don't see any smart guys entering politics. As the economic divide is becoming bigger and bigger, there will be different forces that try to reduce the disparity, some of them are quite crude. The form of these forces include corruption, theft, cheating, mafia, terrorism, corrupted and self serving politicians etc and etc. Only after the scenario becomes worse by which time the loss from these forces is more than the benefit of ignoring them, educated people would take action to eliminate these forces.

While corruption, theft, crime, mafia, terrorism, naxalism are all viewed negatively, one must keep in mind that all these are due to the failure of political system in achieving social objectives that they are entrusted with.

End of the day what does every human being living wants? They want a happy life, while the "happy" word has different definitions and meanings to different people but broadly everyone should be able to lead a life that he/she would like to as long as their actions do not harm others. Others should not only include human beings but also all other things on earth. The word "Survival" generally indicates a short-termness in nature but similar to "life" it is continuous in nature. One survives or lives every moment, so there is no short-term or long-term to it, it is only our limited knowledge and thinking capabilities that make it short-term or long-term.

There is so much that we human beings have no clue about - including the environment about which there is so much of "green talk" happening, that our ability to take decisions that are good for Earth can be questioned.

As a race we have moved so much away from "basic living" that we have forgot why we are doing all these things. One side is the inquisitive nature of ours that keeps pushing us to explore and understand everything, on the other side we have the pleasure seeking nature that keeps us at work and trying to improve things of comfort. The pleasure seeking nature is the main fuel behind the business world and therefore the search is endless.

Sometimes I wonder that we are forgetting what we need basically need and instead take things for granted. For some reason, human race has chosen to live together and thus created the "Society," which is constantly evolving and the increasing population is a proof that it has been successful so far but the miseries of so many human beings alive is also an indication of its shortcomings. In earlier days, religion attempted to correct the social shortcomings but now religion seems to have lost this capability due to overuse and increasing knowledge.

Looks like it's time for us to cool down a bit and think why we are doing what we are doing and then take a call about what to do next. I know that one person thinking wouldn't make a difference but it can make a beginning. Let's think about this and do something that makes sense.

I know that this post is quite long, complicated and intertwined but I would greatly appreciate thoughts from the readers. Have fun

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Random thoughts - mergers, synergy, markstrat etc

The key reason given by business leaders and consultants for acquisitions is "Synergy." Synergy could be in different areas - operations, marketing, financial, value chain, strategic, competitive scenario and so on. One question that I have is, who actually gains from the Synergy - Shareholders of the acquiring firm, shareholders of the acquired firm? If the findings support that no one is worse off, then there is a case for supporting acquisitions and developing specific competence.

CEO's constantly strive to see that they are not a target and spend lot of resources towards this. Consultants keep coming up with different strategies to keep big firms away. But my question is - is it worth all this effort? If higher value is being created overall, then isn't it fine to be get acquired or go and acquire someone else. Yeah, some individuals loose every time an acquisition gets through, so what? Aren't we more bothered about collective welfare than individual welfare

Information asymmetry, integration blues, overestimations that make most of the merger proposals questionable but if more effort is put in this area, it may improve the overall welfare surely.

It must be Markstrat time at ISB and I know that people would be aggressively searching for solutions. My advise is not to search for solutions but search for information and come up with solutions. After one year your job would be to come up with solutions than cookie-cutting. There will be lot information but identifying what is useful and what is not and then taking decisions sensibly is all Markstrat about. Our group was going down steadily during the first three quarters but then we made a turnaround and stood at the top by the end. Good luck for all those trying to sell Sonites and Vodites.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Say bye bye to Incandescent lamps

It's high time that we say good-bye to incandescent lamps and replace them either with CFL or a tube light. Whoever is reading this blog post, I request them to see that if they find any incandescent lamp in use and ensure that they are replaced with a CFL or a tube light, whichever is suitable.

And to ensure that it is done 100%, I think it would be great if the government mandates this by making:
1. Ban usage of incandescent lamps and restrict sales only to medical and measuring devices. It may be useful to levy high tax on these lamps and see that they are not available in the market easily
2. Reduce sales tax on CFL's
3. Provide incentives for incandescent lamp manufacturer's to set up CFL manufacturing by providing them replacement incentive

One question I always had about government's role is about the usage of tax collected. While there is certain level of income distribution/leveling is happening, many times tax is not being used properly. For example huge amount of tax is collected on Oil and other petro product sales however government spends nothing on efforts that will lead to re-creation of these natural resources. While it is fine to utilize some portion of taxes towards welfare, it also important to maintain a ecological balance. You can't keep on drawing like this forever.

10 days in Delhi - House search, guest house, movies, rain, spam etc

I landed here on 8th June and it is ten days in Delhi now. As the title says my time is divided between house search, guest house, movies, rain, spam etc. Looks like there will be no respite for me for another 10 days or so.

I managed to push myself into a movie theater this Sunday to watch Sarkar Raj. The previews were good and it appeared quite neat. After Aag, lot of people started thinking that RMV has lost the touch. After hearing such comments my expectations were quite low from the film. The movie is well made drama and is a good watch. Background music and photography are good and incidentally sub-plot of this movie happens to be about a power plant in Maharastra. Suddenly everything around me seems to be linked to power in some way.

Monsoon has arrived early in Delhi and it rained quite heavily on Sunday and Monday. After the movie when I stepped out, I was in the feeling that I am in Mumbai. Hang over from the one-week induction and the plot being in Maharastra seems to have affected me.

There was an excellent article on CSR in ET yesterday. I was surprised to see lot of MBA's talking about CSR in a way that is contrary to economical rationale. This article is a must read for all the MBA's without work ex. Here's quote from the article:
The real meaning of CSR
"The corporate social responsibility must aim at achieving the targets for which companies were set up, without incurring cost and time overruns" - R C Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.

Yesterday night I watched "Scent of a woman" and was quite impressed. I have been saving this movie for a day when I totally bored day and yesterday happened to be the day. I regret not having watched this movie long back. It's an amazing movie and a must watch. I must thank my ISB classmate Sasi who is currently in Egypt for introducing me to English Classic movies. Thank you buddy.

After the hectic one-year it's time to learn how to live life fully. Lot of things have changed and things are becoming more and more interesting. Many of classmates including me have started feeling that MBA sets lot of expectations but in reality things move very slow and all is not what it appears to be from a B- School lens. Welcome to reality.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Using Solar Power in business world

One of the key limitations to use solar energy apart from availability is the requirement of batteries to store energy. I was thinking on these lines and suddenly it occurred to me that there is a low hanging fruit.

Today almost all the offices, small or big, have UPSs and they all have batteries attached to them. These batteries are always connected to power and will be on trickle charge all the time. They would surely be ticking the energy meter.

If one uses solar panels to keep the batteries on trickle charge and use grid power only when needed, then you can reduce the energy consumption. If you do a cost-benefit analysis based on this set up, I'm sure solar would be more viable. I am gonna get in touch with my old colleagues who are in maintenance and the new colleagues in the infratel business to prepare a viability report shortly on this.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

First week at work

Despite strong attempt to get immersed in work, ISB still is occupying majority of conversations. I think this is one experience that will play a dominant role in my life from now, not just academics but friends, life and everything else.

ISB's website has been redone and it is looking quite beautiful now and here's link to the Graduation ceremony coverage.
ISB Scholar's of excellence. I'm happy to see my name in print.

Now that my induction is over, I have moved to Delhi. Delhi while appearing to be a different place from Hyderabad it shares lots of similar characteristics. More about them later. I'm now on the net most of the time using my mobile to connect through bluetooth. I am liking this technology.

It's time now to get ready for office. Will come back shortly

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Number changed

One of the most difficult things these days is updating your mobile number everytime you relocate or change your service provider and I am facing this challenge now.

Those of you who want my new number, request you to mail me - I'm sure you have my mail id

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hyderabad, Mera pyaara Hyderabad

My association with Hyderabad has been a long one. I started my schooling here but had to go back to my native place due to a unfortunate event. But I came back again in 1983 to Hyderabad and joined United High School, which is non-existent today. I studied in that school till 8th class and then moved to Unique Public School now known as Unique High School.

Hyderabad was quite different in those days. It used to be dry and hot during summers but rains came pretty quickly. Whenever there used to be a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal it used to rain continuously for a week or so but it was more of a drizzle rather than heavy downpour. There used to be few kirana and general stores and one or two medical shops in the IDPL colony area. Ration Shop or the Fair Price Distribution Shop was an important part of life apart from the lending library that I used to visit almost everyday.

We used to play cricket everywhere as there was so much open space. My travel into the city was either to the railway station at secunderabad or to the bus station at gowliguda to travel to my native place and that usually happened in the summer. But then after I finished my schooling things took a dramatic turn. The student general bus pass was such a boon in those days. You pay about 32 bucks and you can travel on any bus at any time free of cost. It was during this time that I explored Hyderabad as much as possible. Me and my friends used to go to Afzalgunj or Chikkadpally to visit the Central Library. Books always were my good friends and always gave hope that there are great things somewhere and you will get to experience them someday.

Many times when we had no classes we used to stand in the bus stop and based on the route of the bus that comes first we used to choose between a movie or library. I managed to see all the bond movies during this time. Telugu movies were considered only they were big hits or were directed by Ramgopal Varma, Maniratnam etc or were of heroes like Chiru and Nag. Hindi movies were rare and of the few I remember Khalnayak and Baazigar were the best.

Life suddenly changed with job and the routine changed totally. I got into the book collection hobby in a big way during the first two years of my career. I even got myself photographed with the books standing on my side - hehehe. My first visit outside Andhra Pradesh was to Mumbai. My good friend Jeelani Basha was with me and we enjoyed that trip so much. We were attending a training program at Voltas, Thane and we stayed in a hotel near VT, which is now known as CST. I liked Mumbai so much for everything it is, it's such an interesting place but I liked Hyderabad much more. Hyderabad is a relaxed, warm, calm and laid back city but Mumbai is a place where everything and everyone is in some urgency. It's about 3 years since I went to Mumbai and I am sure nothing much have changed in the main city.

There are lot of things that are quite Hyderabadi, which you can find only in Hyderabad, in my profile - My school and college, Bakelite Hylam, Middle Earth, Ivy Comptech and Sierra and finally ISB. If ISB opens second campus at Mohali then it is a different story but as of now ISB still is exclusive to Hyderabad.

This move is the most significant one but I'm looking forward to it mainly because two of my good friends are in Delhi

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Predicting career progression using multiple regression

If my stats Professors - Bob Stine or Richard Waterman happens to read this blog, I'm sure they will be amused about how people like me misuse statistical methods. The title of the post is quite misleading as my intention behind post is not to come up with a regression equation that can predict one's salary after ISB based on some variables.

Swami Vivekananda talked a bit about comparison and the grief attached to it in the book "What Religion is." In that book he says that the most common reason for sadness among people is that they are not better than others in comparison and not that they are doing well. This is the same with almost everyone who is doing this comparison thing. I too have spent many hours in grief by comparing myself with others but slowly realized that comparison is useful only when the subjects are manmade but not men themselves; a little philosophical thought.

But then after finishing MBA and having been exposed to stats and other concepts along with the MBA jargon, I felt that I can do a little better. While there is no change in my opinion that "Comparing oneself with others" is powerful enough to take away all the happiness and confidence in you and in its place fill you either with frustration or overconfidence, which surely will lead to more problems.

Yesterday during the gyan session while people were asking about the roles and salaries, I suddenly realized that each person was trying to compare himself with someone similar and then predict their future based on that. At that point it occurred to me that if we plot the results each student got at ISB after few years, the dots will be all over the place. Not just in two dimensions that we can see but in huge number of dimensions. If we attempt to fit a line through these results we will come up with numbers that are like the average salary, highest domestic salary etc etc. Even to come up with something like that we need to use so many variables and I doubt if any of the factors that we can think of can significantly explain the differences.

Each of us is unique and it is not quite possible to compare us with others. Just look at the stars in the sky. Each one of them is unique; while you may compare them with some simple dimensions such as size, distance from earth, if one considers the fact that the light we are seeing is not the present but surely the past and it is at different time frames, you will understand how silly it is to compare the stars. I think comparing yourself with others or others with you is equally silly and stupid. There are so many variables and some about which we have no clue about and any attempt to fit a line would be in vain.

Only message I want to pass on through this post is, whoever you are, whatever you are and whatever your goals are - you are unique and you cannot measure your happiness and success in comparison with others, you should measure it in your own terms and one's conscience is the best scale that will say it all without even asking. So friends, next time when you say you're doing good/bad/ok etc, ask your conscience what would it say. Only thing you need to do is to know about yourself to gain some meaning from what your conscience says.

I'm not sure if my idea is clear enough and would definitely like to hear what you think

Cheers

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Few more days of freedom

Another 4 days and I'm going to thrown back into the corporate world once again. Due to my past HR experience I know that as a campus recruit, I will be treated better and have some breathing space initially. I'm not expecting anything great in the first one month to happen. Campus recruitment team at ADAG seems to be quite efficient in terms of follow up and I hope it would be the same with other departments.

Few guys from Co 09 have requested me to give some gyan about general management and I will be on campus tomorrow at 9 pm. Giving gyan as an alum is different from conducting soft-skills training program. All these efforts are to reduce the information asymmetry and make people ready for tomorrow. I think this "trying to be ready/prepared for tomorrow" is a universal phenomenon with human beings. But many times I have observed that we overdo this preparation and end up spend up today completely waiting for tomorrow and tomorrow never comes because it becomes today as soon as it comes. We end up putting ourselves on the treadmill without even realizing it. I have done this mistake many times and one the most important learning I'm carrying with me from ISB is about living in the current.

Another thing I have realized during the last one year is about balance between short-term and long-term. In the past I have sacrificed short-term for long-term but now I have realized that if I am not happy and doing well in the short term there is no way I would do well in the long-term. We've got certain amount of time on this earth and we ought to do what we want to and what we can best and have fun. It's all about happiness and one must enjoy present as much as you invest for future happiness.

Before I close I must admit that initially I thought it will be difficult to survive without work for two months but surprisingly I seemed to have adapted to this nicely and now I am wondering how would work be after such a long break of 14 months. Adios

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Friends, friends and friends

Last two weeks I have spent meeting all my friends. Friends from school, from college, from my village, ex-colleagues, ex-bosses. This whole thing proved one important thing - world is small and circular and that "6 degrees of separation" is quite practical.

Read more about "Six degrees of separation" From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
It also bought back all the memories and highlighted the changes that I had seen in last 18 years. I passed SSC (or Xth) in 1990 from a school named Unique Public School, which was established in 1988, located at Suryanagar, near Chintal in Hyderabad. That school was pretty small then but now it is doing very good. It was setup by a set of teachers and I heard that it is the best school in that area.

And yesterday I met my colleagues from Middle Earth Consultants. We had so much fun.

Every time I meet someone new I am able to find some connection almost always and it reinforces the world is small notion every time. And I expect the same in Delhi now and this makes Delhi more familiar that it is.

After a break of 50 odd days, I'm looking forward to some work and some money too :). I hope things would be smooth at Mumbai and then at Delhi. While there is so much to do, it is important that the basic things are taken care.

Having nothing to do, I started reading Chronicles of Narnia and I am quite enjoying the stories. The stories are definitely better than the movie. When you are reading such kind of stories, your imagination is much more powerful than what could be created on film. While the efforts of bringing such stories to movie screens is quite commendable, it never matches one's imagination. This is what I like about reading.

Friday, May 23, 2008

What happens if price of oil hits $200 a barrel?

This is an interesting question. While the $200 may sound an alarm, I feel that it will potentially change the automobile game. All the renewable energy based projects would become viable and would increase investments in that area and the stock prices of organizations working in that area. It may also reduce business travel and may lead to more people working from home.

Adaptation seems to be name of the game and I'm sure all of us will adapt to the increasing prices in different ways

ISB info sessions for 2009-10 admission

This year the admissions department of the ISB plans to conduct over 50 information sessions across India.


To register click on http://www.isb.edu/pgp/AdmissionEvents.Shtml?menuid=109


City Venue Date Timings
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 30-May-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Kolkata Taj Bengal 1-Jun-08 10:00 AM - 12 noon
Kolkata Taj Bengal 1-Jun-08 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Pune Taj Blue Diamond 1-Jun-08 10:00 AM - 12Noon
Pune Taj Blue Diamond 1-Jun-08 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 6-Jun-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Chandigarh Reliance Web World @ Sector 9 D 7-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Indore Reliance Web World @ MG Road 7-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Jamshedpur Reliance Web World @ Jamshedpur 7-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Ludhiana Reliance Web World @ Chaura Bazaar 7-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Raipur Reliance Web World @ Krishna Complex 7-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 13-Jun-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Chandigarh Reliance Web World @ Sector 9 D 14-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Amritsar Reliance Web World @ Mall 14-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Bhopal Reliance Web World @ Bhopal Bitten Market 14-Jun-08 5:30 PM-7:00PM
Nagpur Reliance Web World @ CA Road 14-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Lucknow Reliance Web World @ Faizadabad Road 14-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 20-Jun-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Coimbatore Reliance Web World @ Gandhipuram 21-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Madurai Reliance Web World @ Annanagar 21-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Pondicherry Reliance Web World @ Kamraj Salai 21-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Visakhapatnam Reliance Web World @ Dwaraka nagar 21-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 27-Jun-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Allahabad Reliance Web World @ Balson 28-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Gwalior Reliance Web World @ Gwalior 28-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Agra Reliance Web World @ Kamla Nagar 28-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Patna Reliance Web World @ Fraser Road 28-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Ranchi Reliance Web World @ Club Complex 28-Jun-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 4-Jul-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Kolhapur Reliance Web World @ Kolhapur 5-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Aurangabad Reliance Web World @ Aurangabad City 5-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Nasik Reliance Web World @ Nasik Road 5-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Belgaum Reliance Web World @ Belgaum 5-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Sholapur Reliance Web World @ Sholapur 5-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 11-Jul-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Ahmadabad Reliance Web World @ CG Road 12-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Vadodara(Baroda)Reliance Web World @ Fatehgunj Baroda 12-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Surat Reliance Web World @ Parle Point 12-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Rajkot Reliance Web World @ Neptune Towers 12-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Jaipur Reliance Web World @ City Center 12-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 18-Jul-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Cochin Reliance Web World @ Alwaye 19-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Trivandrum Reliance Web World @ Vazhutacaud 19-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Mangalore Reliance Web World @ Bunts Hostel Circle19-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Mysore Reliance Web World @ Devraj Urs Road 19-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Bhubaneswar Reliance Web World @ Fortune Towers 19-Jul-08 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 25-Jul-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 1-Aug-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 8-Aug-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 22-Aug-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 29-Aug-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 5-Sep-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 19-Sep-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 26-Sep-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 3-Oct-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 10-Oct-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 17-Oct-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 24-Oct-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 31-Oct-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 7-Nov-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 14-Nov-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 21-Nov-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 28-Nov-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM

Monday, May 19, 2008

For ISB aspirants who woke up just now

Yesterday I received a call from a guy based out of Warangal, my hometown. After speaking to him, I have decided to write this post so that all those with basic questions about ISB admission can benefit.

ISB has been in Media recently for FT ranking and then after that about the graduation ceremony and all the telugu channels decided to telecast the same with vengeance. This led to high levels of recognition and awareness among people in Andhra. Lot of people who approach me think that if they can get into ISB their life is made. I can't say whether it is correct or not as I believe that ISB is just a vehicle and one needs to know how to drive that vehicle to achieve career goals.

Anyways let me get back to the topic at hand. For all the aspirants, if you want to get basic information, don't call people instead do your research first, join isb-pgp yahoo group and then if you have specific queries about your profile and about opportunities after ISB and life at ISB etc, you can approach ISB alums. That way you will get a better picture. Let's look at the resources that you have:

1. First of all visit www.isb.edu and got the PGP program details link, which is isb.edu/pgp. You will get all the basic details that you would want about the program in the FAQs section.

2. The next big question is about GMAT. To know more about GMAT, you should start with the official site www.mba.com. Register yourself as you need not pay any fees at the beginning, in fact until you decide the date you need not pay any money. In the site you will find all the basic information about GMAT and you can download "Free GMATPrep Test-Preparation Software." This software gives you all the necessary details about GMAT sections and it even has couple of sample tests that are greatly helpful. Once you go through this software, then you can decided for yourself whether you need coaching or not. There are ample number of groups and resources both free and paid available on the internet to begin with. While GMAT score is not the most important factor, it acts as an entry barrier. As far as I know one should target 720+, while 720+ doesn't assure interview call, it increases your chances. Don't panic, there are students with scores in the range of 650 but they do have extraordinary achievements behind them.

3. ISB Application: ISB opens its online application sometime in July. Initial registration is free and you need to pay application fee only when you are ready to submit it. THe process is same for R1 and R2, so register at the earliest and access the form. You will have some work to do in the form of essays and getting evaluation letters apart from filling all the forms. It would be nice to have at least one month between GMAT and application deadline, so plan accordingly.

4. While you are doing all this, get on to the isb-pgp yahoo group and keep posing your questions. But remember, do your research and don't ask questions like "What is GMAT" or "When is R1 deadline" etc. Use the group for discussions about profile and to meet up with other applicants from your city who may be able to help you. You can pose questions specifically related to ISB and there will be alums who would answer them.

Once you submit the application, all you can do is wait for interview and after interview wait for the result. But before I close, I strongly recommend that "don't start with ISB as the only option," there are excellent schools around the world and some of them may be more suitable to you than ISB. ISB is better placed in terms of location, fees, FT ranking, infrastructure etc but by studying abroad you will learn outside the school too. ISB offers a one-year program and needs atleast 2-years work experience, while work experience is necessary to get maximum benefit from MBA, one year duration does put constraints on you and increases the work load tremendously. Make an informed decision and I'm sure your career will be transformed. Good luck

Thursday, May 15, 2008

PAEV opportunity

According to Prof. Ram at ISB, every new business idea has to solve a pain and the higher the pain, better the chances of success.

After getting placed and deciding to relocate from Hyd to Delhi, I went through one such pain and it gave me a very good business idea. It is quite early for the Co 09 to think about PaEV (or Planning an Entrepreneurial Venture), which happens only after core terms, I decided to share my idea to all those who read this blog.

I don't want any credits or equity or anything from whoever decides to follow up on this business idea, in fact I would be more than happy to provide support for such enthusiast. Let's get back to the pain and the business opportunity related to it.

From the second para you must have been able to guess that it must be something related to relocation. Yes, I am referring to the pains that I had to go through while relocating from Hyderabad to Delhi. There is a strong need for a service that can assist working population in the private sector in relocating. In fact companies today are paying more than required price for hiring employees from other locations and if a reliable service is available that has pan-India presence (international can come a little later), everyone would benefit from the same.

The service can solve issues that arise mainly due to:
1. Lack of information
2. Lack of reliable service providers
3. Lack of expertise

Working population today in India is quite mobile and people are changing jobs left and right. In IT and ITeS sectors, from what I have heard, average tenure is anywhere between 6 months to 2 years. Not that everyone is moving from city to city but may be they are moving from city to city because there is no "Relocation Assistance Service" available currently. This absence is today reducing the choices of working public in private sector (public sector seems to have some support in this area) and is creating inefficiencies in the system. Companies can definitely reduce their salary costs by at least 10% as they can hire talented people from smaller cities and towns and help them move easily into the metros. Even individuals can earn more (they may have to spend a little more) and definitely save more. A unfilled position is a negative NPV both for the firm and for the nation and the effect is magnified when it comes to metros.

While writing this blog post, the idea became far more clear now than it was earlier and I think I am inspired to pick some suitable guy in Delhi and get this started shortly. Next year if you are relocating to Delhi, I think you will find it easy - you may where to knock and whom to call.

Let's see

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Can ISB transform you?

Since I got admission to ISB, several people have been requesting me to guide them about getting admission into ISB. Before going into the title subject, let me draw out the admission cycles of ISB. ISB has two application rounds - R1 and R2. R1 deadline for 2009-10 is 15th Sept and R2 deadline is 1st December. If one has not taken GMAT, I suggest that you finish it before August, so that you have enough time to write your essays and get the evaluation letters.

Now let's come back to the main topic. The common motive of all those who bug about getting into ISB is to get transformed, to be taken care for life. This perception of people about ISB resurfaced again yesterday when I met a old colleague of mine and she asked me "is your career transformed" and I had to say "Yes." I couldn't tell her that I still have to go work and face the same challenges any other person would face at work and I am yet to test my newly acquired knowledge and skills.

This whole thing brought back the question - Can ISB transform you? My answer would be may be Yes, may be No, it depends! Yeah, actually it depends on no one else but you. The difference is actually not made at ISB but it happens long before when you made that decision to get into a reputed B-School. The opportunity is open to everyone but only few take that decision to pursue it seriously and give their best. Every decision you take and the follow up effort you make, transforms you bit by bit. It's like hatching of the egg, during the 21 days of hatching, one doesn't see any change from outside but the transformation is happening inside and it shows up on one final day. Similarly transformation is happening every moment; whether you would follow it up till the time it shows up externally is a different matter and that's the big issue. We keep initiating so many things but don't follow up on them till we get the result that we want.

I would like to conclude that there is nothing in the world that can transform you, except "you." ISb does indeed open lots of new doors but it's up to you which one to take and what to do next. So next time when you ask me, "Did ISB transform you?," you know the answer.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Back with a bang

After taking a long break from active blogging, I have realized its time to get back.

I had been to Delhi twice during this time searched for a 2-bedroom flat in South Delhi successfully. I roamed around in the buses of Delhi on the Rapid Transit system and also in the expensive Delhi Autos apart from cabs.

Some things that I learned during this one month :
1. Why information has value
2. Ego is negative NPV
3. Brands are positive NPV and convey lot of hidden information. But there could be large gap between what your ad campaign says and what happens at ground zero.
4.

I am attempting to see if individuals like you and me can yield the corporate processes for everyone's benefit.

All in all Delhi was a mixed experience and I hope to see the better part of it when I move there in June.

I have been regularly going to ISB whenever I am in Hyd. Everytime I enter the campus, I feel I am entering a different world and after the Delhi trip more so. Class of 2009 is totally different from our batch.

Lots to write but nothing solid, anyways I made a restart and I hope to be regular.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Student to Alum

The transformation from being a student to an alum has been quite a difficult one. You are stripped of all your privileges at ISB and you are just like another visitor. But there is an advantage of being a "local" and I am taking advantage of that fully by landing in the campus every other day and I managed to play squash after about three months.

I have lot of stuff to write but limited net access, which I will get in a day or two. Meanwhile I am re-reading Deathly Hollows and spending my time.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The day before graduation

This might be my last post from ISB. The whole thing seems to have reached the end too quickly. Most people are reluctant to pack and move but some have already got out of this place. 2007 would be a year that I wouldn't forget for a longtime to come. It has been a tremendous experience.

I have been reading JK and it definitely disoriented my thought process. I am planning to go to Delhi next week to do some pre-shifting prep work.

Another amazing thing that this student community has successfully done is the Year Book. They have put in excellent effort and Savio Barretto Wesley must be appreciated for it; I should also thank Maria George from Sec E for pushing all of us to do the necessary work. Even this blog managed to grab some space in the year book.

Latest addition to ISB campus is the events lounge and Class of 2008 will be remembered for this. Nidhi Reddy, in particular, has to be appreciated for the SLC initiatives, I can definitely say that we had so much fun because of Nidhi - three cheers to Nidhi.

ISB is getting ready for Co 09 and it's going to be their time. I'm planning to drop in during the orientation week and may be do couple of sessions on "Coping with studies," "How to make it to the Dean's list even though it may not be useful" etc :) and may be something like "What I couldn't do but you should definitely try" type of stuff. There is so much to give gyaan about - hehehe.

That's all for now. I have two months of free time and I am going to chill off completely and try visiting few places during this time. Cheers

Friday, March 28, 2008

Last exam to go

Yesterday was the last day of classes for Co 08 and by tomorrow evening we will be done with our exams too and all related academic work. On one hand we are going to miss this place on the other hand we are all looking forward to get in to real business world.

Currently we are in the middle of exchanging personal ids and expecting to be in touch in future. I don't know how many would actually be in touch. One advantage I had seen with gtalk is that whenever you see someone online you feel you are in touch with that person and I think this is the basic level of online presence while facebook, linkedin etc are enhancements.

Last week we have celebrated Holi and I must mention that it was the best Holi I had ever celebrated and I would remember it for years to come. It was a crazy crazy day. I could see what's the power of a community. I feel this is one thing that is missing in urban life these days as people are not spending enough time to build trust and relationships and constantly trying to outdo others and win the endless race. You live life now not in the past or in the future. You must live each moment for that moment and stop worrying about past or waiting for future.

In term 8, I liked Microfinance and PRFI courses and the other two subjects appeared to be a little drag though there was some learning. All the professors were excellent but I think there is a lack of motivation from my side not because I am already placed but because there is no space left in my mind. Prof. Shamika Ravi who taught MFIN has lots of passion and interest towards the subject.

Lots of people have been asking me if it was worth it and the response from me would be a resounding Yes - ISB is worth it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Two more weeks to go

We are slowly drifting towards the last day of studies and then graduation day. I really need a break from studies, reading and assignments but there seems to be no respite for another two weeks.

Lots of parties, movie screenings and outings are happening in campus but I would say it is quite silent here. People are really chilling out enjoying the evening breeze in Hyderabad. Temperature during the day is increasing everyday. While lot of people have been warning me of Delhi's weather, I am not concerned so much, after all there are enough people living there and I am no worse than them in terms of adapting to new weather. Next five years, I am planning to finish exploring north completely while I am in Delhi and then head southwards (all this is ex-ante though!).
Placements stats are being released by different B-schools and raising aspirations. Going to B-school is like inorganic growth these days; while everyone is fully aware and bullish about the upside, they are fully ignoring the downside of inorganic growth. There are many things in career apart from money, brands and fancy roles. Career is a small part of life and one should understand how much it matters to him.

Recently while speaking to a senior colleague of mine, he suggested that I become a career consultant considering the number of switches I have made in my career. While the principles behind career planning are simple they are not easy to fully understand. It takes years before an individual realizes what he/she is passionate about. Best way to start is by giving your best to any opportunity that comes across to you. Once you make your mark you will be in a better position to judge whether that particular track is for you or not. Many people decide that a particular line is not for them if they are not making progress. But I would say that one is always in a better position only after you do well in that position. Also it would be easy for others to bet on you if you've been successful in something already and your abilities are proven. Think about it.

As I mentioned in one of the mails earlier, people are going through different emotions about their jobs but everyone is unanimous about one thing - no more assignments please.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Things that I didn't try at ISB

While I tried to do as many things as possible at ISB, there are few things that I didn't touch at all during the last one year at ISB. Here's the list of those things:
1. Be at LRC till 2 am in the night
2. Contest for some election - clubs or gsb
3. Feature in media photos or videos
4. Go for a Goa trip in any of the breaks (This is one thing, I wanted to do)
5. Try fishing in the ISB lake (I'm not sure if there are any fish in the lake though)
6. Bunk a class
7. Explore the wild forest (I still have time for this and I am going to do this surely)

I will post more such trivia in the coming days. Have fun.