Friday, May 29, 2009

From Pink Champagne to Pink Slip

This is a story of Shah who worked in a large global bank

Year 2006, Date 10 August: Shah was busy giving instructions to his team when he received a call from his mentor asking him to pack up and leave for Dubai within a week

Reason, the big boss moved to a large global bank as a regional chief and he was hand picked for a regional marketing role

Heart in heart though he is happy he was nervous of the prospect of handling regional role as he knows his inherent weakness. His basics in banking are questionable let alone leading a team his knowledge on banking is quite basic. However, his strength always has been his faithfulness to his mentor and doing every thing blind folded. He survived for so long because of his mentors blessings and all the work associated blunders were ignored because he is the blue eyed boy of Mr. Ali.

He thought of this offer and after a long thought picked the phone to call Ali Saab in Dubai. “You will have a team working under you and all you need is to delegate and control them. The whole world is at your call and you will be handling 20 odd emerging markets. Budgets, head counts, you name it you will have them. I will instruct the HR to chose a good working team for you” Reassured Ali Saab

Year 2006, Date 2 September: Shah moved to Dubai in a new swanky office. As assured he managed to get the best team in the city and within six months they launched the banks operations in the country. Success, fame and appreciations flooded Shah from all over. He moved from one country to another and managed to launch operations.

The bank took great care of Shah. He flew only Business and only in select few for air miles, drove a 7 series luxury car, preferred only Pink Champagne. Hype and pompous treatment to senior heads was his mantra of success

Year 2008, Date 20 October: Ali saab and the big boss were given ten minutes to vacate the offices. Within two weeks Shah was given the pink slip as well

Morale: Road to success is a long drive and short cuts and god fathers may lead you to pink but is short term. Dedication, hard work and knowledge will endure. God Bless!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gonga – A Short Story

Last week was in India for a short three day visit and was travelling from Mumbai to a small dusty village in south east part of Maharashtra. The journey was long but thank fully we had company of relatives along with their kids so everyone was occupied.

We stopped by a small restaurant for lunch. Being vegans most of the Indians prefer home food and we are one of them. We requested the restaurant owner to permit us to use their space and maybe it’s the good Samaritan in him or the winning congress for the federal elections that day he was happy to accommodate.

We requested for water and kids and women had their set of tantrums at the restaurant. We happened to be served by Gonga – a very happy smiling young lad who could not speak or could not understand our requests and hence we relied on sign language for water and spoons etc.,

What is remarkable is at the 2:45 pm on a hot summer day without the so called air conditioners and fans; Gonga was sporting his trade mark smile. He was yet to have his lunch too. Cheerful at every request he ensured there was no room for complaint. He was entertaining our kids and was serving us with passion – he lives across the road with his family and he supports his parents.

What is remarkable is the passion with which he was at his work under difficult work environments and sporting a positive smile and serving patrons who vary from a truck driver to a farmer to uninvited guests like us.

Most of the consumer research points out to service as a key differentiator and attribute for consumer behavior in service industry and Gonga’s dedication and his passion at work would definitely be a good case study for many of us who complain about everything from operations to sales to competition for our very own lack of service

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Expatriate Life

Like most of my friends around me I am also an expatriate living out of my native country and making a living here. We all come to this place planning over a three year window and making promises to ourselves that we will return once we are done with the contract. But then contracts and jobs change and we get used to the unbearable summer (sometimes touching 50 degrees) and the hostile neighborhood. Our kids grow here and we realize as they grow up that we are missing our roots back home.

There are many reports across global media screaming that Dubai is all but, over but then as a marketer I believe publicity is a price which every nation pays. Dubai and UAE has witnessed tremendous growth over the years in the region and the land scape changes once every year. New flyovers, new roads and new transport systems are planned and executed for greater comfort of people working here. This is one country which I strongly believe should be an ideal role model. The leaders work towards the development of their country, patriotism is high amongst the citizens of this place coupled with hands on rulers who drive this country. What we lack as a country in terms of good governance and human resources development turns out to be their key focus. Because of the strategic location this country is also the Middle East Shangri-La.

As an expat we get the opportunity of working on greater landscape and looking at countries across the region. The working culture differs from our native countries, we tend be putting on more working hours to ensure we deliver on our objectives. Since the economy is tax free the conversion of our local currency to our native currency is what drives all of us to stay here apart from convenience and a better life style.

What we miss would be our families get together, weddings, functions et al., we miss connecting with our relatives and friends and spending weekends with them. Our kids miss their grandparents love and warmth apart from getting connected to our roots. They also miss the hard ships we went through like catching a city bus to go to our school, or cycling to schools and also they miss the freedom we had while we were kids – we were left almost un attended in a large play ground but here due to paucity of space and traffic around the number of parks and play grounds are limited. They also miss our unofficial national sport – Cricket which is played in every nook and corner of our country they also miss the flavor of our country – different climates, different languages, many festivals and many holidays too.
We get entangled in this vicious loop of better life style, greater comforts, money conversions and post some time it’s the kids who resist the idea of going back since they consider this place more of their home.

When is a right time to go back? Interesting though but even after nine years of my stay here I have no answer – (unless I am made redundant now in my current job)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Kitty Parties

Continuation of a passion is indeed time consuming and also needs extra bit of resources in terms of generating new stories. I am referring to my passion of blogging and I realized last month my blog counter was just one.

I can attribute it to two reasons was busy at home and hence couldn’t devote the time and the second being I was running out of ideas.

Like an investigative journalist I looked around and stumbled upon this topic.

By definition kitties are meant for women from all walks of life who get together at a common place once a month and often it does involve old system of a monthly draw where the winner takes the kitty (money saved – where each member contributes a fixed amount to the kitty and one winner takes it all once a month, or week subject to the quantum of people)

It is important though to note this group of people have exhibit DNA of trust - something very critical for any bank They trust in each other and save money – they even have a treasurer, they have their own entertainment expenses and also they seek avenues to detox themselves.

I believe the corporate world should pick a lesson or two from this. The women here speak their heart and there is no protocols involved, there is always an open channel of communication and they are transparent in their communication.

Blings exist but this can be perceived as special promotion in a corporate life. They wish to showcase their and their spouse’s success and they also are a useful network for marketers who spend millions to get their buy in. One endorsement from one of the women on a specific product or service and the rest follow suit.

These women are quite articulate and also they are even successful entrepreneurs. Enterprism the
Art of creating opportunities and developing them is high on their radar.

It is a myth that women form opinions and they refuse to accept logical facts. They are shrewd when it comes to professional / personal associations and I had an opportunity of working with a women entrepreneur who had her own successful advertising agency in Dubai.

She was intelligent, very shrewd had strong business acumen, good at delegating and developing some successful advertising campaigns. She still handles some big brands communication needs

Often it was frustrating working as some times in a client meeting the topics suddenly divert but I believe this is a very good management technique of handling difficult clients. To gain faith and trust you need to open up the channels of communication (or say the Johari Window*)

Most of the today’s management issues revolve around interpersonal communication and the best technique is to adopt the kitty style – network, meet once a month in a non work environment and open up. It does help

( * Johari Window - Johari window is a cognitive psychological tool created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955 in the United States, used to help people better understand their interpersonal communication and relationships. It is used primarily in self-help groups and corporate settings as a heuristic exercise.)