Life from a saint's perspective

Friday, January 26, 2007

Excellence, the stepping stone to Social Responsibility

There are certain milestones in life, where you are better off on one side rather than the other... 40 years is one of them. On the healthier side, you are a middle aged man who can still date women divorced twice. But cross that, and you are an uncle with a receding hairline.

For a bschool student, this purpose of the all important milestone is served by a CGPA of 5.00. Even the most unenviable career prospects like selling soaps and colored water demand a minimum level of IQ. It is a different matter that companies measure this using a number dished out to you by people like the bearded lunatic raving about urns and balls.

Readers note that understandably, I tend to exaggerate the qualities of people I mention in my blog. It is a product of my 4.93 CGPA and a reluctance to shoulder the blame for the same.

Anyways, circumstances maketh the man. And when my FMK grades hit me, I was a changed man. For the first time, the gods of luck had bestowed upon me a B+. Translated in verbal terms, that meant“the student can effectively apply the concepts learned in the course in practical situations”.That was just a notch below “the student can take up research and teaching assignments in the course”. For the first time, I experienced the thrill that jacko gets every single time he logs in ais… and I resolved to request pandu (the prof) for a grade hike.

Ok, go on. Be mean and call me a loser. But losing out on a grade by 0.5 marks and the prospect of crossing over to a CGPA of 5 and an exciting career revolving around selling LUX to women in rural Chattisgarh overpowered my self esteem. As I was walking to his room, I searched for things I had done in his course that would have given him a favorable opinion of me.

Lecture # 6: “Ok, you there in the back bench. Would you like to say something in your debut class?”

Lecture # 8: “why rishi, walking up to the last row? Used to sitting on top of the Himalayas, eh?”

Mid Term Exam (open book): “why rishi? You are supposed to read the book and come. Not read it here in the exam. Spend more time writing….”

Lecture # 13: “it is ok to refer to the internet. But at least remove the links before you make the power point presentation……”

Lecture # 16: I was determined to listen in this lecture. So went out to wash my face after dozing off… when I returned, “Yes rishi, sneaking in after 40 mins eh? Should I give you attendance?”

Lecture # 18: I resolved to redeem my esteem and pride and made myself do some CP… the prof acknowledged my efforts with, “As usual, we have heard the layman’s views on mutual funds. Ravi, as a mutual fund manager, how would you react to them?”

End Term Exam: “how is the paper rishi? And I’m not asking you if it is white….”

I knocked and entered… “rishi, it is ok to be naughty in class. But you are studying for MBA.. be more responsible… I have not penalized you for anything. Havent I been generous to even students like you?” your honour, kindly note the emphasis on the word "even" in the just concluded monologue.

I swallowed hard, not being able to utter the words I had come to. Finally, “Sir, I heard your wife is a doctor. I’d like to donate a kidney….” kindly find the asking rate these days so that I can pay my EMI…

Excellence is the stepping stone to Social Responsibility


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Victim of Leadership

The past week has caused me to rethink the popular dictum, “leaders are born, not made”. To start with an introduction for the uninitiated, marketing fair is a research tool devised by our bschool to solve problems for companies.

It is touted as the most involved event on campus!

§ The companies participate because they are naïve enough to assume that 22 year olds can solve problems they cant!

§ The marketing association organizes it bcos it is the only work they do in the entire year.. and it is a great opportunity for them to make money. Charge a lakh from the company and pass on peanuts to each team for their expenses.. this is probably the business with the highest margins in India today!

§ People turn up for the freebies and gifts, with zero interest in playing the games

§ The profs agree to the whole nautanki because they are just glad the students are finally taking some initiative for an activity, albeit archaic and irrelevant!

§ Juniors put up with all the torture because they are told it is part of the college culture.

§ And the average senior (yours truly) takes up the elective so that he doesn’t have to sit through 20 lectures…

All the trouble started five days ago….i was grinning at having pulled off yet another triumph at making others work and lazing around myself…my team leader summons me… My devilish craving to hear others complain about work load when i had all the free time in the world caused me to reply… mistake number 1.

TL: “rishi… I have to tell you something…”

Aaha.. working yer ass off, aren’t u? how sad!!! Heh heh…

Me: “yeah, tell me yaar.. sorry I dint come for the meeting ….was caught up in traffic”

I mean I was chatting with a zillion people on the way to my room after dinner

TL: “rishi, can you be team leader?”

Today is april 1????

Me: “er….excuse moi???? What are you saying?”

Mad woman!!! Do the work and stop acting crazy!

TL: “I have a shortlist from a consult company. Interview is just 3 days after the fair…”

Who studies for 3 whole days???? Well, I guess that’s why you are the topper…

Me: “ok.. how about the others?”

Let someone else be the scapegoat…

TL: “no… 1 is in student association.. 3-4 have their lateral recruitment interviews…1 has found a new girlfriend… you are the only one….”

Only one what? Jobless guy around??? HEY!!! the other guy has a girl AND is let free....

Me: “ok.. I agree having a girlfriend is a 24 hour job.. ask one of the others”

This argument is not workin… gotta play to her fear…tell her about my abysmal CGPA

TL: “I’ve talked to the faculty….”

Aaha.. hez never gonna agree.. TLs have to be toppers.. no compromise there

TL: “….. he has agreed”

@#$%!!!! You convinced him, didn’t you?

To cut a long story short, an electrical engineer doing majors in finance in the bottom quarter of his class was anointed team leader for marketing fair! I don’t have to talk about how the story spread like wildfire, how the senior team members who initially assumed the topper would work galvanized into action on hearing about the restructuring in organizational structure. The student association member designed the games, the guy with the new girlfriend ran around for the façade. The faculty began to be impressed by the presence of all the senior team members at interim presentations (a significant deviation from the college tradition) and attributed it to the new team leader’s effectiveness… whereas I did what I did best – be dumb and clueless and nod intelligently to the endless amount of brainstorming and discussions happening!

Time passes by, the fair draws near… The organizers start panicking. “dude, your team hasn’t set up the stall yet. Other teams have gone to sleep.. should we help you?”

Mark of a great leader is to get resources for his team.. here I am, getting free labour!!!

The day didn’t go too well either… a guy comes running from another team, “dude, what morons do you have in ur team? This guy is putting the seal on the person’s hand. You are supposed to seal the ticket!!! This is not a disc…” I go repeat the same dialogue to the chap and he gives me a thou-art-holier-than-christ look…

A leader should command respect from his subordinates…

I know my games are long and complicated.. so how do i solve the problem of long queues outside my stall? Simple... use the external factors to my advantage, like a true leader.. "arre bhai sahab... lambi queue hai, itni garmi mein aap kitni der idhar rukoge? kisi aur stall mein jayiye, udhar bhi aapko gifts milenge" Use this to inspire your people.. "guys, fewest people came to our stall! thank me because i made you work so less"

And today, it’s all done… everyone thinks I’m a hard worker… juniors are glad all the seniors in our team helped them out a lot (none of them know why, though) and I have a CV-point to show my finance companies… team leader, marketing fair… Oh yeah, that reminds me i've to throw a team party with a difference (2 bottles of booze and music on the terrace instead of a dinner at the most expensive hotel in the city)... First of all, my team deserves a different party.. and more importantly it'll put a smaller hole in my bank account. I wonder whether leadership is the most redundant position in any organization….


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

90 minutes: Face to face with a modelling career

Before you start fantasizing me in those Armani outfits and wear that ridiculous look on your face as though the whole idea were preposterous, stop right there! I wasn’t referring to the idea of parading my ugly face with a couple of hairs peeping out of my unshaven chin to the umpteen flashbulbs clicking away at the ramp. Oh boy, I knew I wouldn’t fit there the moment I was born. I’m just talking about the junk that our pot bellied finance professor has been teaching us; or trying to, at any rate.

The subject is literally greek and latin, with beta, lemma, gamma etc occupying most of the discussion. Only the bespectacled boy in the front row gets anything that comes out of the prof’s mouth, or at least pretends to. Turn around and you’d get the impression that here is a bunch of 60 odd sincere students with grave faces working on excel sheets trying out the modeling examples. But what is really going on is hearts, solitaire and pinball. I myself have been caught nodding a little too intelligently, and the prof in his eagerness to showcase the most interested student to the class called upon me to supplement his point. I almost never have more than, "sir, i dint get the last point you made there" to blurt out. Well, if you thought that was sad, once this guy walks up to me in the last row under the impression that I was calling him. Now, how do i explain to him that i was just finding it difficult to balance my head while nodding off????

The PMIR students (the bschool’s special HR programme) wouldn’t know any of this. Why? They have already finished studying whatever is there to be done in HR in the first year itself. They are free to take other electives in the second year. Aren’t they? Yes, but the college wouldn’t allow them to choose finance or marketing electives. Arre stupid, the classes are already overflowing with BM students (the bschool’s general stream MBA, in short the class full of students who have no clue what they want). 99% of BM is doing specialization in finance-marketing… Look at the systems professors, busy swatting mosquitoes. They need some work, at least some half empty classes to go to. So open systems electives for PMIR students. Timepass for both the professors and the students. Ditto with strategy. As for operations, well that is so looked down upon that it doesn’t even fit in as ‘timepass for HR junta”.

The last five terms have graciously presented some of the highest value addition ever encountered in my student life (read subjects I fucked up in grades, but am trying to justify this way..). Take emotional intelligence, for example. The only good thing that ever happened to my life by reading Daniel Goleman’s book was longer sleeping hours. In case you are under the misconception that it was because of some zen-like tranquility that my mind experienced by keeping my emotions in control, let me assure that it certainly wasn’t the case. And if you are wondering why I ever bothered to read it in the first place, it is because our professor devoutly believed in the XXX philosophy even more than the bible he swore by: Thrice the number of lectures, three end terms, three projects….

I look for the silver lining in every cloud. But justifying my bschool stint will be sort of a challenge even for my fiercely optimistic demeanour. Bschool sucks. But I still love it!