I have heard enough and more people speak of Mumbai with a fondness that I have found difficult to attach to any city – even my favorite delhi. And I cannot stop being puzzled at it now that I am here and experiencing its craziness first hand. What could someone possibly find alluring in a city that carries millions of people who gobble up your sense of identity as you hunt for walking space on the road? Or about a place where traffic deadloacks materialize in ten minutes but take hours to clear up?
And if the normal drama of everyday existence falls short, thousand different events come to rock the city from its mad pace into an even madder one. A week begins with incessant rains that engulf the excuse of roads that the city has, ends on a mindless riot by over-zealous members of a certain party – and leads to the next one into a series of bomb-blasts on its “lifeline” – the metro network.
And with each of this calamity, the city pauses, hesitates, suffers – and gets back on its feet again the next day. All mumbaikars show a brave face to the media or anyone who cares to listen, and dorn an exaggerated shrug of “life goes on..” And the whole world praises the exemplary spirit of Mumbai and its ability to brave all troubles.
Does this city really feel so good and confident? Is the Mumbai spirit really that strong? If it is, why does the smallest shower lead to frantic rush on the roads leading to deadlocks? Why do i see panic written large on the face of every passerby and my colleagues when they hear the news or when the clouds takeover? Why cant the average mumbaikar stop pretending and let the world know that he is as scared and as disturbed as every human elsewhere.
May be the pretense is what keeps the wheels rolling for this place, which an outsider like me finds crazy. May be you need the pretense to hold on to shreds of normalcy and not lose head as you struggle to find a foothold on a rushing train.
So here I am – finally right in the middle of the huge Indian outsourcing story, as I set foot in the backend office of a large & fashionable Investment Banking firm. Like any other outsourced office, the place is buzz with IP phones, conference rooms, and a lot of talk about late hours and long work weeks. And most people seem to be proud to belong here.
So, are we a race that feels proud of ‘supporting’ businesses? Many people have done analysis on why India is the hot target for most outsourcing. Is it only because we are too many people in this country and are willing to work cheaper? But why have so many of us decided to acquire skills and develop ourselves along the lines where we can ‘support’ some external businesses? I think a lot of it has to do with our ingrained humility. Perhaps it is the long history of foreign rule that has made us habitual to respond to foreign command (after all, ‘request’ as they call most assignments, is just a camoflagued order).
In my personal opinion, a job is a job and whatever you do has to fit somewhere.If it fits in an international arena, 10,000 km away from u, so be it. The primary thing is that you and your role be treated at par with the rest of the jig-saw pieces. Also that you have ownership of the task and are not simply given directions to follow. And finally it has to fit your intellectual capability.
As for the skills, I do think selling is not our USP. Collectively, Indians are more comfortable solving a numerical enigma than weave a lucrative speech in front of a corporate audience. Hence we should probably leave the sales to our global counterparts and take from them what we do better. Of course it doesn’t mean that we dont gain those skills, but we do not need to treat them at a higher echelon simply because someone has chosen to keep that job to themselves.
Its the day next to the one when placements ended. It was a jubiliant moment for the batch. To complete placements in three slots is an achievment, and perhaps unprecendented here at L. Everyone is relieved and happy. Yet overall the placements left a slightly bitter taste in some mouths. There are many Finance enthusiasts who believe that the process is slightly skewed in the favor of those who can ‘globe’ endlessly, and therefore puts them at a disadvantage. It is perhaps especially true in our campuses, where GDs and personal HR interviews remain a very prominent mode of selection. Of course the fact remains that hard core finance companies do not even come to the campus except for some who come with minimal packages and little less established brand names. (at least in the global arena).
Sometimes I believe the whole HR systems are designed around promoting very vocal people, even if it is for roles like equity research and/or fund management. May be HRs should be banned from conducting the process and be responsible only for supporting the same (which surprisingly was what happened at IIT). You would like to believe that systems should get more involved and complicated for Management schools, but companies happily let their HR personnels conduct some meaningless useless interviews since they do not understand the business models/functional requirements too well.
And GDs. One would like to beleive that the useful(less)ness of GDs should be apparent to all and sundry except for companies where the role specifically involves aggression. Because in my limited exposures at GDs in this place has only established one fact for me (without Type I or Type II errors), that people who hog the most airtime end up being the ones who get to the interview rounds.
Anyways, I guess perfect processes can never be designed. All we ask is for the placement personnels to be more selective in choosing processes for the roles they are hiring for. And ofcourse it is helpful if they are honest and straightforward.