Test Testy

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.