July 28, 2006

Hiring season!

Yesterday was a long day. Primarily because I had got up really early in my mission to rationalise my waking and sleeping hours. Secondly, because Unnati and Monetrix both had their interviews for the incoming junior teams. However, not all was lost coz at the end of the day I realised that I actually liked interviewing people.

I remember numerous times when I was on the disadvantaged side of the hallowed table; nervous, sweaty and wondering whether the interviewer would devour me. But shifting sides to the advantaged side ;) suddenly brings in a lot of clarity. You can see the trembling hands, the nervous voice, etc; not that I'm sadist or anything, just that you suddenly feel a quantum leap in your observational skills.

I think there are somethings we need to keep in mind when we are evaluating people. One, make the candidate comfortable. A lot more can be discussed and much more fruitfully at that when the candidate is in his natural state. I dislike stress interviews. They put people on the backfoot, make them defensive and in the end nothing is achieved. The use of stress interviews may seem to counter my view, but still i'd like to stick to my point.

Two, treat people with respect. I guess this is plain manners.

Three, make a plan of what you want to test and test those aspects first.

On a personal level, taking an interview gives you a first hand experience of the errors that are most commonly committed. Its a good way to prepare for an interview. Also, very very surprisingly I discovered the need to be well dressed. Shabby dressing sticks out like a sore thumb. Grooming is important too. Uncombed hair, unpolished shoes, etc. definitely make a difference, it builds a positive perception of the candidate; atleast when the differentiating factor between a group is low.

Pretty interesting thought this. As I have mentioned time and again, it reinforces my beliefs about the importance of people and the need to manage relationships. Guess thats the biggest learning that I have got from this place so far.

July 21, 2006

Meaningless numbers

The first year verdict has been passed. I have secured a cumulative grade point average which classifies my performance as between 'fair' to 'good'. well it could have been between 'good' and 'very good' had the Operations Management (OM) faculty set his papers in a way befitting a management degree examination. Not that I'm cribbing about my grades. Agreed I didn't put in the effort that merited something better, but that was primarily because I had done the stuff before in engineering. Plus too much of math bugs me. All the questions in the OM paper were based on math. It might as well have been a paper on machine design. No decision taking. No practical application of concepts.

So I received a 'C-' in OM for my lack of interest and apathy towards the kind of learning. It's literally like rubbing salt in open wounds considering the fact that I'm a Mechanical engineer with a year of experience on the Siemens shop floor. Does it in any way undermine my capacities or skills as an Ops guy? I dont think so. Does it in any way say that the guy / gal at the top of the class in OM is a genius at Ops? Again I dont think so. If I present any of the top 10 rankers in OM with a shop floor problem, to be solved in a dusty environment at temperatures of 40+ degrees, with a union rep over his shoulder, workers at his heels and a boss on his head will he get an 'A+'? Having been there and done that, I may or may not get an A+ but will definitely not land at C-.

Grades like these are used to rank students. Many people actually use these numbers as a measure of ones worth. Though not explicitly stated, phrases in employment ads like 'exceptional academic record' make you believe otherwise. End result? You have to prove yourself more than what is required on the job, all because of some meaningless numbers. Crazy world this....

July 14, 2006

Stud boy Verghese

Pradeep Verghese (my roomie) is a stud. Let me start by giving you the context.

We have a visiting professor; lets call him TPG; who teaches a course called 'International Corporate Finance'. Since he is a visiting faculty he can take classes only on Saturdays and Sundays. And so, we have back to back classes either on Saturday mornings or Sunday mornings depending on the workload Mr. TPG has the night before.

Now TPG has a funny accent and he rambles on and on. Listening to him for 90 minutes (the normal lecture duration) is acceptable. But even making an effort to sustain the drone for 180 minutes is asking too much. It doesnt help matters that its the weekend and that its 8:30AM, with most probably a hangover from tasting spirits the previous night. (Our lucky friends who do not have lectures on weekends are the culprits who entice us). In short, the weekend lectures are dreaded. We consider the weekend sacred because its the only day on which you have the liberty to get up and walk for lunch.

Now the interesting part. Over the past one and half month Verghese who sleeps for an average of 12 hours a day, has been getting up early on Saturday mornings and attending TPG lectures. Its a different thing that he leaves after roughly 45 minutes and asks the benevolent class representative to mark him present for the day. He 'lost' his reading and study material on the very first day of the term, but that din't stop him. After all currency futures and hedging strategies were his areas of interest once upon a time. He even appeared for a coupla tests.

A few days back, the Dean sent his ritual e-mail reminding students to submit their feedback for the mid-term. Yesterday Verghese submitted his feedback for all courses that he signed up for, except International Corporate Finance (ICF). He was told that he has not signed up for the course.

Realisation then dawned that he forgot which electives he had signed up for and 'thought' that he had registered for ICF. Also, he did not receive any material from the office, but 'thought' that he lost it. Such 'dedication' to the cause of academics will go down in the annals of history of MDI. Pradeep Verghese, tusi great ho! *bow*