Thursday, September 18, 2014

Email chains

Whenever my manager or anyone sends me an email that effectively asks me to forward it to someone else to ask a question, I usually remove any reference to that part of the chain mail before sending the email forward. Apparently, not everyone does.

So here's what happened to C, a friend:

X needed some data from C, so she sent Y to ask C for said data.
C needed more information on why this data was needed, so she sent X an email asking for said information before she could provide the data.
X forwarded this email to her manager, Z, with the comment "OMG this is so frustrating why can't we get anything done?"
How do I know this? Because Z forwarded the email from X, without bothering to remove the comment above, back to C, asking for the same data, without adding any new information.

If you can make sense of this, good on you.

I don't understand people.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Back in the days when I used to be a consultant, I used to run assessment centers for a client that was the BPO for an American company, and so most of their employees worked evening or night shifts. So my centers would be scheduled to run till 10 or 11 PM, but of course would more often than not end up going on till 1 or 2 AM. Because when has an assessment center ever run exactly as scheduled?

The cab agency my firm used to use had a couple of drivers we trusted more than others, so when it came to these super late nights, we'd ask them to come pick us up, especially I was going home by myself. One night, while driving me home, Kishan Bhaiya suddenly asked me if I was paid overtime for these long days, and was utterly outraged when I said I wasn't.

"Aap toh subah subah office aa jaate ho, aur phir puri raat yaha pe hote ho. Humein toh raat ko gaadi chalane ke liye overtime milta hain, app logo ko milta hai ki nahi? Milna chahiye."

Last night, I told my mother I'm wouldn't be home before 10 PM all of this week, because there were work events I had to attend - this time as a client. Her second question - the first, of course, being about what I would be doing for dinner - was if I would be paid overtime.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Where I take stock, a year into the job

When I started this job, one week short of a year ago, I came into a role that had just been created, because a need was felt for a focus on the area I would be responsible for. In the year since, I've felt extremely frustrated at how little progress I feel I've made, simply because this role is like that - there's very little data available, the key stakeholders who need to do stuff to start providing data aren't willing to do anything, and a variety of reasons that I can only be vague about, and therefore will not talk about.

The manager who hired me tells me I've contributed a fair amount, even if I don't feel that way, because there was literally nothing when I came on board, and I've managed to create some dashboards and build some visibility for my area. I'm not sure the manager I'm now under sees things the same way, since he wasn't around when there really was nothing, and so I'm not sure he sees the value of my role the way the previous manager does.

I'm moving into a new role in the next couple of weeks. I knew I wasn't going to grow much in this role, and I wanted to try other things, and so I went and networked and interviewed and got another job. Same company, entirely different group and role. So I'm in that weird transition phase where I'm doing my old job, but also beginning to have meetings for the new job; learning what my new job will be, and also put together transition documents for whoever replaces me.

I was chatting with my current manager this morning, and among other things, we talked about the transition. My current team has someone new joining in a couple of weeks, so I asked if she would be taking over my role. Her response left me more than a little stunned.
I'm not sure, to be honest. Your role is so vague and ambiguous, and there's so little to work with - I'm not sure I want that to be the first impression a new employee gets. 
Given that things are actually much better now than they were when I joined, wtf do you think I went through? And is this actually something to be taken into consideration when you assign roles and responsibilities?

And if this becomes the reason this current role ends up vanishing again, it's going be a great pity, as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My badge and I

I'm working again. God, it feels good to say that. Granted, this is only for the next couple of months (because I'm almost done with the first - w00t!), and then it's back to the stress of studying and recruiting, but I'm working again. There is actually a tiny sum of money in my bank account right now that never has to be paid back to anyone. EVER.

However, I wouldn't be me if I didn't find something to whine about. So indulge me for a while.

Having worked in a tiny boutique/start-up/mom 'n' pop set-up for three years, getting used to all these processes in a huge global organization can be... bewildering. I mean, I may have rolled my eyes and torn my hair a gazillion times in those three years because people didn't seem to comprehend the point of any processes at all, but these many? Really?

For instance, there is the matter of this employee badge they gave me. Which hangs around my neck all the time. And I have to use it to open every door I go through. Which would be fine, except not being used to having mundane things such as employee badges, I keep forgetting what I'm supposed to do with it. So I do intelligent things like banging into glass doors because I forgot to wave the badge first, and then waving it over the elevator button and wondering why it's not lighting up. And then, when I went to my hotel's front desk to ask for a replacement key to my room (because y'know, I'd managed to demagnetize mine for the gazillionth time) and they asked me to show some ID, I spent five minutes rummaging through my handbag till the dude cleared his throat and pointed to my employee badge. Which was around my neck. Which has my name and photo on it. And is therefore perfectly acceptable as ID.


Now all this happened in the first two weeks of my internship. Since then, we seem to have got used to each other, and learned to work together.

And then for some reason, yesterday, it started acting like it has a mind of its own. It won't let me into the building. Sure, it'd turn the light green, but then the door wouldn't open. Security fixed it for me yesterday afternoon, but then this morning again, bam! same problem.

It's almost like the damn thing doesn't want me to work.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Please, tell me what to do.

If you're not recruiting at all, you don't get to me tell me I'm recruiting for too any things.

If you already have a guaranteed job to go back to after school, you don't get to tell me how focusing on academics is so important because we're here to learn.

If you're from this country, you don't get to tell me I need to chill out, everything will work out.

Hell yeah I'm recruiting for too many things. My Outlook calendar for the past two weeks has not had any free slots longer than 15 minutes.

I need to improve my grades, but I don't have time to look at any of my course packs before 11 PM on any given night, by which point I am usually too exhausted to do anything at all.

The things I want to recruit for don't hire internationals, and the things that do hire internationals need you to schmooze and suck up like nobody's business. And that's just a tiny chink in my long list of concerns.

I spend every evening in some networking event or the other, where some moron always asks the recruiter about how important social impact is for their firm, or what initiatives are run for women. Can I please crib about how sick I am of these two questions? What is the recruiter going to say, we don't think these issues are important? Really?

I am sick and tired of people telling me to relax, because dammit, I need a job. And I'm doing what I gotta do to get a job. Stop annoying me and get out of my way.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The power of the crowd

Well. This accounting assignment doesn't seem to be getting done anytime soon, so I might as well rant a bit. Someone told me this morning it's cathartic.

I'd like to think that I've never really given in to peer pressure much, be it in terms of career, lifestyle, relationships, or most notably, as several of my friends would tell you, fashion choices. It's strange then, that the immense pressure to give in and run with the pack has finally caught up with me now, at business school, in my mid-20s.

I came to B-school with three years of consulting experience behind me, with the aim of going into general management after school. That was the plan, right from when I wrote my essays to when I received my offers, to when I accepted the offer from this school. Then I received these mails about pre-workshops to learn more about consulting; all my peers travelling India were arriving early to attend this, so I figured, why not? And spent the rest of the summer thinking I would look at both management consulting and general management as career options.

After the workshop, however, I simply wasn't sure if this was what I wanted. And the more I go to information events or company presentations about consulting, the more my discomfort increases. The more I become convinced that this is really not what I want.

But saying that, and simply going after general management, isn't so easy. I'd like to say I don't give into peer pressure, but when you see everyone around you dressed in formals because some consultants are coming to give a company presentation, and you're sitting in your jeans and a sweatshirt, you can't help but wonder if you're missing out on something. I told a Second Year student I'm dithering between the two, and his instinctive reaction was "Trust me, you'll end up in consulting. Never underestimate the power of the crowd."

Part of me also wonders if I'm being an escapist, if I'm trying to take the easy route, if I'm giving up something I should be doing. But then I go to a general management event, and I'm excited by what they say, and I know why I want to be there. I go to a consulting event, and I have no idea why I'm there. Maybe I should trust my gut instinct a bit more.

But it's not easy running against the pack.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Goin' a lil' crazy

If you follow me on twitter and/or my other blog (which I'm sure you do, because I don't see how else you could know this blog existed), you would know that two months ago, I moved half a world away from everything I knew and everyone I love to join B-school.

During Orientation, I was gullible enough to sign up for something called a Izzy Dizzy relay, a fascinating activity where a team of 4 or 5 people essentially run a relay where they have to take turns to place their head on a baseball bat held to the ground, walk around it ten times, and then run to a point and back. Everyone thinks, as as they watch others walk around the bat, and then sway to the other end of the field, that they'll be able to do it just fine - there's no way they'll get so dizzy that they fall to the ground. Then it's their turn and you see them fall to the ground almost as soon as they straighten up from that cursed baseball bat.

It's the same with business school I think. You hear from all your Second Years how crazy and intense it gets, and you believe them, but a part of you is always sure that you'll cope just fine. You did consulting after all, or you worked for a start-up, or you did banking - you know what it's like to have long hours and crazy schedules.

But you don't. Not the way business school makes you learn. There are classes, and there are career events, and there are clubs that you must sign up for because prospective employers must see you as a holistic personality, and there are social events where everyone thinks they're back at a college frat party, and there are people to get to know, and teams to learn to work with, and an apartment to clean, and meals to be cooked, and just SO MUCH TO DO and not enough hours in a day.

You speak to your family, and they tell you what's happening back home, and they tell you not to worry, and you can't explain to them that you will forget what they told you two seconds after you end the call, because that deadline two hours away must be met. You want desperately to speak to your friends back home, but when you do, you have no idea what to say, because it's hard to explain the intensity of what you're going through without sounding like a whiner. Your fellow FYs ask you how's it going, and invariably the answer is "it's going" or "swimming" or "so far so good" or just something that indicates you're surviving. 

Then a SY you bump into in the corridor asks you if you regret quitting your job, taking that huge loan, and joining school again yet, and you look at him and realise that you know what, you don't. Because while this is intense, and you're going to have no sleep whatsoever for the next four months at the very least, if then, you're also learning a lot - about people, about subjects you've never studied, about what you need to do to get that dream job, and about yourself. And you wouldn't give up that experience for the world.

And then it strikes you that damn, this is just the second week of school. How am I ever going to get through this?

And now I really must go work on that presentation.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Learnings and Take-aways

This blog never really took off, did it? And now it's become even more redundant. Because you see, as of 6 PM last Friday evening, I am officially jobless. That's right, I left the job. The job that was my life for nearly three years, the job that drove me crazy, the job which made me collapse to the point of illness, the job where the people irritated the hell out of me with their pettiness, the job I slowly began to get fairly detached from, the job I loved doing till my very last day.

To celebrate my joblessness, I am going to share with you what I learnt in three years of HR consulting:
  1. Clients are either smart, nice or sensible. Rarely two of these together. Almost never all three. Usually none of the above.
  2. Human resources, to the world at large, is where the world's most incompetent people work. I have gathered this from both employees of various client organizations, as well as the HR bashing that crops up on my twitter timeline from time to time. The only reason I have never bothered to defend HR much is because as a consultant, I tend to agree that most line HR folks are idiots. Most.
  3. The best clients/ HR people are those who either moved from a operational role to HR or those who moved from consulting to line HR. The former have a better sense of what is needed and what will work in the organizational context, and the latter have slightly more brains.
  4. Colleagues, by and large, suck. They're petty, and political, and often very frustrating if you're the type for whom commitment to the job comes first. I was that type.
  5. On the other hand, the odd colleague who feels the same way about work can be an absolute delight to work.
  6. Having two bosses can be both exhilarating and exasperating. Exhilarating because both had very different styles, working with both was extremely exciting and useful, and I got to do different kinds of projects as a result. Exasperating because you how when the mother and the father both ask you to do something, and you don't know which way to turn? Imagine going through that in the office too, almost daily? Yeah.
  7. Almost nothing of what you learn in grad school gets applied in the workplace. Statistics, sure. A bit of jargon about psychometrics, okay. But all those boring theories of motivation? Zilch use.
  8. Men are creeps. I got hit on by an ancient one-foot-in-the-grave type HR head, who happens to be one of the big wigs in HR circles. Sundry colleagues have got weird texts and compliments from men they met in BD meetings. Utterly grossing out.
  9. Certain meetings, you need to take a male colleague along. Certain clients, you have wear saris. Certain cities, stick to Indian wear. You have to decide how to dress depending on who you're meeting that day.
  10. Most HR Heads - male ones, that is - tend to have a PYT as an assistant or an HR Executive. I don't mean this to be denigrating in any way, but it's true. Occassionally, they'll be bright and doing good work, but more often than not, you kinda wonder what they're there for.
  11. Even if your office lets you wear jeans to work on Fridays, keep a change of clothes with you. You never known when that painful client will call and say a meeting got fixed up.
  12. If it's been an easy day, with not much happening, all hell is certain to break loose at precisely 5.56 PM, just when you're thinking you can go home early-ish for a change.
  13. Some clients are just never going to trust you. They will call you only if your boss is not taking their calls, and as soon as is possible, they will call your boss to update them on exactly what they told you. Even though you've already updated your boss because you know, she sits in the next room.
  14. The number of people who have no idea how to use MS Word and MS Excel properly is astounding.
  15. The world would be a much happier place if people just stopped using Power Point for everything.
  16. The two words in the title of this post are the most overused and abused words in HR consulting. And they're not even real words.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So. many. mails.

There's a client who loves to call at 6 PM in the evening with an urgent requirement that needs to go live as of yesterday. He'll chase you night and day till you close stuff and send it for him to take a look. And then he goes silent.

His subordinate tells you that if he hasn't responded, he must be okay with it, so go ahead and put it live. So you do, and feel very proud of your awesome TAT. But then the client calls, and says that you need to make changes. And you ask him, "but didn't you see it when we sent it to you for your approval?"

And he replies, "I get so many mails from you. I don't read all of them."


Wednesday, June 2, 2010


This blog is on an indefinite hiatus till the author feels she can ramble about her job in a more mature and discrete manner. Seriously.

Meanwhile, plizz to visit the author's other blog, where she doesn't feel the need to worry about such mundane things as maturity and discretion: Meandering thoughts...