Category Archives: Business
Career – center piece of life!
I was in two minds till the previous evening - but then, considering i was yet to try Rappelling I decided to go for the one day adventure trip………..and I was the first one in the start point the next morning!!
The place of choice was Ramagiri(Ramadeverabetta) in Ramanagaram, around 5o km and the plan was a day long session of trekking, rappelling and zip line. Ramanagaram is famous from the film industry perspective also - Hindi movie “Sholay“ and English movie “A passage to India” was filmed in this location. We were guided by Adventureworx, a professional company specializing on outdoor adventures.
The rocks are visible from the Bangalore-Mysore road on the right side (when you drive from Bangalore), beyond Ramanagaram town. We had a leisurely breakfast and chose the tough route (interesting route as per the guide!). It was a tough climb, though we made it in couple of hours. We reached the top and then came around to the Ram temple. The water from the small water body near the temple was so fresh and refreshingly cool. From the temple, we took the steps downs. As always, the trek was refreshing, stretching the muscles and made my day. It was very unique experience to have a dog from the village following us and making sure that the last person of the group has crossed the tough stretch of the climb. The guide said that the dog always ensures that the climbers are escorted - it was some sort of a spiritual experience to look at the dog’s eyes and see that determination to accompany the trekkers. With beautiful sights on the way (it was very unique to see the tree growing on the rock top), it was a well spent morning.
Post lunch, we tried zip line and rappelling. It was first time experience. While zip line was more of a fun, rappelling was a test of one’s mental strength, confidence and focus. The trick was -breaking away from the mental fear and taking the first step in rappelling - believe that you are completely protected (ofcourse, the critical thing for any rock climbing is the high quality safety gears - these were provided by adventureworx to us, I saw all of them were imported gears, mostly from Italy).
It was well spent day and it was worth the decision to go!!
Ramanagaram is recognized as an international rock climbing site and we spotted many foreigners trying their rock climbing skills here. Grades here are between 5.8-5.11 American is what I learnt later (you can read about rock climbing grades here).
How to get from Rome to Rio is an interesting site - try it as an alternate for google map and you will see multiple options for the mode of transport and it makes it very interesting……
This site is established by a technology startup based out of Melbourne, Australia. The current version searches worldwide flight schedules, European, North American, Indian and Chinese trains, North American inter-city buses, driving and ferry routes. The public beta version was launched in April 2011.
Being in a profession where people are the investments, I am lucky that I love to interact with people - I always feel that the people I meet are the ones who have shaped me to a better human being than what I was in the past……
It was one such meeting yesterday - he is in his early thirties and has been in IT industry for twelve years now and is moving out to purse his management education in IIM C - relocating with his wife and two little kids to a new city, leaving the plum IT job he had!! Knowing his background, I was so happy for him….Happy that he is making the right decision and moving towards his goal in life!!
He shared that his greatest concern about people are about the CAPACITY LEAKAGE they are going through and not even aware of that - CAPACITY LEAKAGE is a new word!! When I was looking puzzled….he explained - everyone in this world gets only 24 hours a day, but then….how we are using it makes the difference. He said in the IT industry, there are millions of youngsters who are spending loads of time on things which are not a priority - they have so much capacity to do so many things, but because of their mindset, they merely exist !! The enormous amount of capacity which gets leaked from each individual is un imaginable and if used well can help this society! I can not disagree with him…how many times we have heard the young IT crowd talking about being stressed, not having enough time, etc… How many times do we think that we can improve every day on our time management skills, while most of the time we end up giving excuses like “am so busy…i hardly have time!”
He left me with a thought - if it is possible for him….why not for all? - what is that I can do to influence my circle to ensure that they are aware of their capacity? Lot to think and implement!! …….
Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out - Covey.
When you see Covey principles in action, especially meticulously implemented at large-scale, we have to commend!! It was time for cataract surgery for dad - while I can call myself decently educated, when it comes to medical field, I am as novice as anyone can get….rather, I get psyched by how the medical field operate - I still struggle to comprehend on the fact that doctors are also human beings and their individual skills make or break a life (not a program unlike a software engineer!!)
So, when we went to the Vasan Eye Care center in Vadapalani, Chennai - I was not expecting to see Covey in action!! Starting from the security, receptionist, ward nurse and doctors - all I saw was the focus - CARE team in action….they have analyzed the psyche of patients, the psyche of attendants and established the processes…….!!
The experience was very unique for me - while I have seen the multinational hospitals, system and process - what was unique here was the human touch to everything - while the scale of operations is much smaller compared to a huge hospital, the focus to ensure the implementation of their USP - “WE CARE” was amazing!!
Later I learnt about Dr.A.M.Arun and read through their vision, mission and values….nothing so unique for the story of a successful entrepreneur. What was unique was the business model which they implemented across this chain of hospitals.
To put it simply - a business model of a business is the one which converts the technical inputs to revenue outputs. While I look at the most generic components of a business model and see how Vasan fairs, this is how it looks
Value proposition - establishing the CARE TEAM, which also doubles up as their USP. I feel there are probably excess staff - but may be very specifically trained to do specific jobs - in an average eye clinic, I have mostly see ophthalmologist handling the sensitive testing instruments, but in Vasan I saw trained technicians doing that work - while it is a guess, I think Vasan gets to have more staff on their roles at probably low-cost as they are only trained on specific functions.
Market Segment - Vasan seems to target the upper middle class market segment - who are affluent enough to spend money, but want to ensure that there are no frills - spend enough for the necessity!! Look at the location of the hospital chains they have picked….their ambience is something which is not of a five-star status, but of a decent well-kept hospital.
Position in Value Network - Vasan probably is feeding the need for a neighbourhood eye clinic and hospital - replacing the individual eye clinics and the super-speciality huge eye hospitals. In the value chain, they are probably all over – adding value as a one time eye clinic visit, to the high-end of cosmetic eye treatments!!
Revenue generation and margins – proof is in the pudding!! they are planning their IPO!
As part of our team’s 2011 annual goal setting/team bonding sessions in Bangalore, we had a trekking session in Maaribetta day before yesterday (Saturday). It was a team of 22 who came from all over India for the two-day sessions!
Maaribetta or Banathamaaribetta is a little known adventure destination, near Bangalore. We took the help of Woody Adventure Inc, an adventure event management company (Thank you, Raj! You referred the right organizers) in Bangalore. The hill is located 55 km from Bangalore near Kanakapura and 6 km on the Ramnagar road. The trek through the rocky slopes, thorny bushes made the trip very challenging and interesting. This place is also an ideal destination for photography – actually couple of eligible bachelors ensured that they captured their pictures in Maaribetta background for their matrimonial picture portfolio !!!
The group was a mix of male/female and young/old. While couple in this group had experienced trekking earlier, for most of the participants, this was the first time trekking experience. Mr.Muniraj was our guide from Woody Adventure, and was ably supported by Sangeeth, a 3rd year electrical engineering student from BMS engineering college, Bangalore (he said, it was his part-time job!!). Through the entire trip, Mr. Muniraj was giving us lot of instructions and I found that there were many management lessons in them to remember and implement - read them below!
We reached the foothills of Marribetta at around 9.45 am (I have to commend the skills of the driver who drove through those muddy village narrow roads). Mr. Muniraj requested us to form a small circle and addressed us - “ We have two options for this trek. One - easy but takes longer time and the second one is moderately difficult but takes less time. I will suggest the second one. We have taken even 5th grade school children on this and they made it easily. Let me know your choice”. There was hustle and bustle with the team, when three of us opted for the second moderately difficult option, there was a sudden wave and everyone (even the ones who was skeptical about the whole concept of trek) opted for it.
- Lesson 1 - Give the options to the team. Set expectations – state the real scenario.
- Lesson 2 - When the leaders make the decision and set an example, it becomes easier for the team to follow.
Once our guide saw that the team is up for the trek, he went on with the instructions. “We need very minimal things with us - just water and some light snacks, caps and coolers. Avoid all fancy bags – if you have a small light backpack, take it.”
- Lesson 3: If your goal is on something high, keep your requirements minimal. Less baggage, more comfort.
We started walking and it was indeed a memorable one. Mr.Muniraj was so knowledgable and kept the team motivated through the trek with his instructions. While we did not spot any wild animals, he did show us the droppings/footprints of elephant, bear, panther, rabbits, porcupine, antlions. He also showed us the trees which are dangerous (itchy trees) and the antiseptic plants. He insisted that nature is beyond us and if we understand it, we will become very humble.
- Lesson 4 - Understand the big picture. You will know who you are.
- Lesson 5 - Take Small steps - one step at a time
- Lesson 6 – When you need support, ask for help
- Lesson 7 – Lead, follow or get out-of-the-way
- Lesson 8 – In a team, the leader leads the way and everyone has a part to play
At one point, I was almost stuck - perching on a steep rock, not sure of my next step. The guide saw me and said - “Feel the rock and focus on your steps”. It just hit me…….how true…..all I need to do is to focus on my next step and not on anything else.
- Lesson 9 - Focus on your next steps.
We had a wonderful time and came back as a satisfied team with more learnings to operate as a team!!
I continue to go through my own share of doubts - what is next Gen India going to do? As part of parenting a teenager, there are times where I continue to compare my teenage days with the current teenagers - current Gen X has a lot of options and they have more access to anything they want - INTERNET is a big power……! I sometimes have detested their ‘know-all’ attitude, but I also acknowledge that they know more than what I knew at their age – but, still there are doubts on how they are going to fair in life!
When I listened to the two presentations by startup entrepreneurs, I was pretty convinced to give a Thumps up to Next Gen India!!
Yeah, it may sound crazy…but it feels like Oscar! I am referring to the long service award which I got from my employer - 10 years in the same organization is indeed a milestone.
Yes, what is striking is that all these long service awardees have put in the best of their career years into this organization – this is amazing!! I am sure if any of the long service awardees get their biographies done, this period in our life time will definitely be a focused coverage!. All have been together, learnt many things, grown, been loyal, dedicated, etc……..
Professionally and personally I have matured a lot in these last 10 years and my organization has a very big role to play in my growth - when i say organization, it goes without saying it is the people who make the organization.
Coming back to the ”feeling like Oscar”, it is ARR’s Oscar award acceptance speech which crosses my mind – the famous quote ‘Ella Pugazhum Irayvanuke (All praise be to God)’ - probably it is true in my case, but just that for me the God is in the people around me - ” my parents - who instilled the value of life into me, my spouse and kids – who understand me and relentlessly support me to handle and balance my work load and personal life, my sibling – who inspires me to face and live my life, my friends – who shape my thoughts and make me better every day, my mentors -who put their faith in my potential and give responsibilities which help me grow professionally, my colleagues - who bring in those moments of happiness and belongingness to keep me going , my team – who actually make it possible for me to deliver the expectations - so, it is people, people, people………..probably, my note should go like ” Ella Pugazhum Irayvanuke - Ennai Sutri Manithanai irrukum Irayvanuke” (All praise be to God who is in the form of People around me!)
To close, i quote these lines from ttrangarajan -” Happiness is in small things! Success is in big things” and these 10 long years in this organization gave the opportunities for small things and big things!!
God bless! Makes me feel wonderful about this milestone!
It was 12.40 am…. i get a feeling that all the teams at work are lost in galaxy!!…….probably this feeling is the after effect of two consecutive 13-14 hour grueling work days and my hurting throat infection…handling tiring telecons, (mis)communications, egos!!…….
and then suddenly i am gushing to list these four liners….. honestly, at the end of this listing exercise, I felt more positive about work….i could see the fun part of it……..all functions indeed knew what needs to improve(in other functions) for them to perform !!! Probably we are on the right track!!
whoever handles these functions, these four lines last ever…they keep coming back in different flavors through different media …notice that all functions are 100% dependent on other functions to reach 100% !!
- Finance has to do better revenue recognition and better reporting
- Delivery teams have to keep all projects in GREEN
- Resourcing team must provide experienced high end resources with no lead time and forecast
- Management must invest more to improve customer relationship
- Sales team to have all clean agreements with customer with good rates
- Delivery teams must ensure that all timesheets are filled on time to enable timely revenue recognition
- Resourcing team need to allocate only cheaper resources so that Gross Margin for all deals will be good
- HR team to provide timely inputs for processing on time salary processing
- Sales to sell a better estimation
- Resourcing team to get capable resources and provide additional non billing resources
- Client management should shy away from over committing and handle customer expectation
- HR team to give promotions and salaries for all the team members every quarter
- Sales team to provide accurate forecast and enough lead time
- Delivery team will accept near fit candidates
- All the resource requirement are only for plain vanilla skills (no niche skills which are not available in market)
- Management to approve larger bench so that resources are available to allocate in short lead time
- Delivery to manage projects well so that they do not stretch people
- Sales to get good rates for projects to provide a better salary
- Delivery teams to handle resources like HR teams and keep the individuals always motivated to avoid any HR issues
- Management to approve new projects and larger budgets to energize all – through various FUN at WORK programs