Sunday, 25 December, 2011

Need your help

Summer of 2004 was an unforgettable one for me. It was the hottest summer, as I saw the sun more than in any other summer. Times when I thought I am on a verge of something,either i am gonna be very successful or utter failure, times when i thought my life was more like a lottery. Yes, I was searching for a job. The general thought is that "if you have the talent, you should get a job easily". If India's 1990s had BComs and BScs storming the job market, 2000s had BEs. I agree that hiring was on its high in 2004s. Even then we(most of my friends and yours truly) weren't 'fully qualified' to be readily hired by the 'Indian biggies' in IT, even by the smaller companies, forget those MNCs like IBM.

I came from a college where campus interviews were unheard of. A college which is located just outside Madurai. Those days, we didn't even know what kind of work is done in IT companies. When we all set ourselves to start job search, it was more like how you will search a house for rent. Nothing planned, no definite path setup. We knew one thing, we should get a job before next time we go to our town or village. We all had good scores in colleges and a little bit of technical brilliance in us. We knew C and C++ better than English. We thought to work in Indian IT that is what is needed, right? My father works in postal department where language of communication is English. So we thought a little more English that my father had should work. Little we know that we are almost disqualified moment someone hears our English.We didn't even think about other options like higher education. Even within IT, we had less knowledge on areas like Testing where many of us would have shined easily.

Again and again many of us failed in interviews and came home with a dropped head. The entire room will brainstorm on what went wrong in that Interview, but we could never come out with definitive answer. Because we simply didn't have the understanding of what was the selection criterion were. We answered that our hobby was reading(because that sounded decent than cooking or gardening, which was the real hobby). When the interviewer started asking about "What exactly you read", the only answer we had was "Kumudam and Aananda Vikatan". We declared ourselves as sportsperson without even knowing to play any other game other than cricket. Even in Cricket, which was supposed to be our passion as per the resume, we didn't know to point out the "square leg" or a "point" position on a cricket ground picture. Looking back, I feel it was a sheer luck and that my peer community didn't have better standards than me that got my first job. The interviewer most probably thought Senthil's analytical ability was good enough to hire him in spite of his bad body languages/communication skills and everything else that was going against him.

So where am I getting here? Yes summer of 2012 is 8 years ahead of 2004. But little has changed in colleges around Madurai. We still have students who don't understand IT companies and who don't have confidence/communication skills/data points to face the Interviews. I wanted to help them out. With the little experience I have on this Industry, with a lot of help from others like you. There are already people who are working for this cause, we can talk to them, learn from their experiences and do our part. I wanted to something about this in 2009, but I was in USA and didn't pursue this. was the triggering point that time.

So what are the next few steps I am planning?

1. Talk to the placement officers of few colleges around Madurai.
2. Try to get a weekend session organized in these colleges and meet the students first. Talk to them about their plans and take couple of sessions(totally unorganized sessions, no ppt) on resumes and Interviews.
3. Understand what they want and then try to organize more people who have that kind of capability to help them out.
4. Follow up with them as they start this summer with job search.
5. If possible forward some of those resumes to HR of the companies where we work/where we have friends.

I know that this is more of open ended idea than something which is fully formed. But my past experience says that when I close out an idea with all the ends decided, it is usually ends up in a dead end with not much of support. So this time I will listen to all the other ideas. I want to start it somewhere around Pongal, so that we have enough time before the educational year comes to an end.

Why Madurai? The first set of people who said OK to me for this idea are from my college and from Madurai. So if you want to do this in other areas, we can do it and learn as a group.

Why is this post in English instead of in Tamil? I am hoping that people who are non-tamilians who are in TN   will also participate.

Thanks for reading. Shoot your ideas in comments section or at reachsenthilnathan @ gmail dot com

Saturday, 15 October, 2011

Thank You - My Turtle Neck CEO

It was a morning that I will remember for a long time. Woke up to my tweets as any day and saw one tag occupying more than 50% of tweets, #RIPSteveJobs. Steve has made a big impact on me in the last few years. This will be my tribute to Steve including some instances where I thought he should have done it differently.
Steve Jobs was someone who kept most of the things about him in private. For someone who was well known for his stage presence, we don't have many videos of him on this digital age except for the famous Stanford speech of 2005. He told his biographer that he was doing the biography for his children to understand how much he loved them. Imagine you understanding your father through a book. So what we are left with is just perceptions about him. Many of his fans believe that his biography will come out with the message that Steve wanted to give to this world, I don't think so. He preserved details about him in private for the time he lived and he was not going to leave that to fall apart after he is gone. This big disclaimer para is because, some of his fans may not agree with some stuff mentioned here.

Steve was a great example of how your passion for work can take you to heights. I don't think he even considered his life at Apple as work. He lived through it. You can argue on how lucky he was in 2007 for the technology to improve to get a phone that can be a mini-computer. But life has been tough on him than it was easy on him. Being fired out of the company he founded, getting back into the company when it was in worst phase of its entire life and then his cancer. He fought all of them and he did come out as the most successful (i)CEO of the last few decades. Steve will always be remembered for making Personal computer & Mobiles accessible to the common person who didn't understand what programming is. Yes, he didn't sell as many Macs as PCs or as of today his iPhones don't sell as much as Androids, but both Google/Microsoft did learn a lot from Apple products. Nothing to deny on that. (Same way he has taken notes from them as well).

Thank you Steve for those perfect products.
Steve means perfection in tech world. A product from Apple may be costly, but it will be perfect based on the technology available at that time. Every Apple product was an apple with the first bite consumed by Steve. And he always wanted the best. Anything lesser than that will go to trash. I thank Steve for leaping ahead with iDevices. I do think Google/Microsoft would have done it, but he pushed everyone years ahead to come up with new technology. There are stories around Internet how hard he was on his employees. He didn't even think his customers know what they want. He did have the intuition of what will sell/what will be in need. He just saw the future as clear as we see the past. I think there would be few decisions that he regretted in his professional life. (I am not talking about his family life, as none of us will ever know how much he loved them & stories on Internet about someone's family are the last one's you should believe).

Thank you Steve for setting the standards high for entire Industry.
Steve was one person who had instincts of future. He did know to create an ecosystem that so many liked(though I have different thoughts on that ecosystem). He did Innovate on hardware/Software/iTunes/Retail model/App Ecosystem and many more. Many articles have been written on other Innovations he did, but less on the Retail outlets. Retail outlet is one for which he is credited less. But he was so bold to put Apple retail shops on towns & cities of US, with so much of risk attached to it. On hindsight it looks like the perfect move, getting those Apple products on the hands of people. It did make them realize that it just works. :)Apple didn't pay dividends for shareholders in the last decade. Apple has taken risks that would have reduced shareholder value to nothing. Steve did practice different type of capitalism where he didn't run to show quarterly results. His shareholders just have to believe him like his customers believed him. And as his customers always got a product that works, his shareholders saw their share value go up as years passed by. Apple was valued at $ 7Billion in 1998 to $ 340Billion today. That talks about the confidence of his investors on him and Apple. Steve had Eric Schmidt of Google on Apple's board even when both the companies started building capabilities in overlapping areas. So either Steve believed Eric completely not to use the info that Eric learned as board member to use against Apple or he did not even share many of his visions with the board as well.

Steve has been criticized for his lack of philanthropic activities when compared to Gates.(Though I don't buy it. Give a break. He earned every dollar of it).

Steve was a good CEO. Steve created a cult culture for digital products. Steve was good in marketing. He was known to sell things. Even though I have said above that Apple products of high standards, there are cases where Steve did hold on to a feature because of various business reasons. Apple has a closed ecosystem of apps which has hurted app developers sometimes. (Lead times/Rejections with no reasons/Censorship). I also think Apple as a company didn't help much to the entire ecosystem of digital world. In most cases, Apple either wanted to use the standard that it says or just won't support it. Flash is an example. When there were millions of pages on Flash, Steve strictly said no to Adobe flash. I am sure he had his own reasons like battery life, HTML5 is way forward and so on. But it did hurt so many flash game developers. 30% cut that he wanted on everything that is sold through iDevices just shows his business skills. He acted like a shrewd businessman in many a times than as a Innovator who brings the world the magic of his innovation. Ideally he should be the case study of Harvard Business school than of digital innovation world. To me his legacy after all the dust settles after many years will be his talent as a CEO than as a digital icon. He recruited good talent, did know how to get work done from them, had an intuition for the future, did know to market his products and did know to build a business model on top of it. Mostly they are CEO thing, not a techie thing. Hopefully you will understand that I don't add him as just another person, but he is also not someone who is like super hero. There are lot of things that he would have done in a better way. Still,

Thank you again Steve.

If you know tamil, please read on, else thanks for reading till here.. :)

ஆப்பிளின் சீனா மூலமான உழைப்புச் சுரண்டல் குறித்து ரோசாவசந்த் கீச்சுக்களை மறுடுவிட் செய்த பொழுது, "இன்று இதை பற்றி வேண்டாமே" என்று பதில் தந்தேன்.. அதை மதித்து இந்த பதிவில் அதைப்பற்றி குறிப்பிட்டு இருப்பது கண்டு மகிழ்ச்சி. நன்றி ரோசாவசந்த். அவரின் பதிவு 'நுகர்வு கலாச்சாரம்' பற்றி அற்புதமாக பேசுகிறது.

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