B.Tech Degree Shops (aka engineering colleges) – Who will clean the mess?

Recently I met a 3rd year student of a private engineering college in Greater Noida. To avoid problems for me and the college, let’s call the College Best Standard Institute of Technology (BS-IT). Here is the profile of the student I met (let’s call him Sam), so that you can decide for yourself if this is a representative sample of students going to normal private engineering colleges in the hope of good education and degree:

Class XII – No name school in a no name place with average marks because he was preparing for IIT-JEE in Kota for 2 years

Class X – Top notch school in an industrial township, average marks

Decent performance in school level Maths and Science Olympiads (the ones that start from Grade 2-3), very good at logical and memory-related skills

Middle-class family, father a PSU employee Continue reading

IIT Mania – Can kids be kids?

Recently, I read the news about JEE (Advanced) Delhi topper (who is also JEE 4 nationally), who said

I have been preparing for five years for this exam

Wow! This means he started when he was in Class VIII, aged 13-14 years. He goes on to say

When I had school, I usually could put in about four or five hours of study every day, but as soon as the holidays begin, I usually put in about nine hours minimum

So when was he doing things 14 year old kids are supposed to do – like playing with friends, net surfing, reading non-textbook books, watching TV, playing pranks, socializing, etc.? Continue reading

Is your manager killing your career aspiration?

I have been talking to a friend who has impeccable credentials as far as resume of an Indian engineer goes: IIT + IIM, about 15 years of work experience working in various big and small software companies in US. Such a resume attracts amazing amount of offers at incredible salary points. However, my conversations with him repeatedly bring up a point: he thinks he is no good, his experience is not useful to any company, he doesn’t do anything that deserves a grand salary, etc. etc. This is an insane view of the world, and when I prod him, I realize what is happening: his current company and his managers have been conspiring against him and using every performance review to tell and show him that he needs to improve in his current work, that he is just an average contributor who is found dime a dozen in this world.

Such an atrocious lie! Such a waste of talent! Such an underutilization of human resource! Continue reading

Happiness and Career Success

It is obviously true that success will bring happiness, any kind of success will. However, is the reverse true – will happiness bring success? There is lots of research available that suggest that happiness indeed brings success. Here are a few references:

  1. Happiness brings success, not the other way round‘ (the paper) – Scientists reviewed 225 studies involving 275,000 people and found that chronically happy people are in general more successful in their personal and professional lives. Happy people are more likely than their less happy peers to have fulfilling marriages and relationships, high incomes, superior work performance, community involvement, robust health and even a long life.
  2. Happiness leads to Career Success‘ talks about the book (The Happiness Advantage) from Shawn Achor that suggest that when we are happy our brain works better and we end up working harder which then leads to success.
  3. People who are unhappy in life are unlikely to find satisfaction at work
  4. Wall Street Journal (‘Is Happiness Overrated’) distinguishes between ‘hedonic well-being’ (immediate pleasure) and ‘eudemonic well-being’ (long term sense of fulfillment) and suggests that latter type of happiness brings the benefits of happiness (health and longevity).
  5. Happiness Lengthens life‘ suggests that ‘Happiness does not heal, but happiness protects against falling ill. As a result, happy people live longer. The size of the effect on longevity is comparable to that of smoking or not’.

If this is true, why have I found so many unhappy people at workplace? Continue reading

Career Lessons from Indian Movies – Taare Zameen Par and 3 Idiots

Over last few months, I watched 2 Hindi movies, both by Amir Khan, which reminded me of some of the career lessons I have found useful to follow and to pass-around via my blogs and discussions. The 2 movies are Taare Zameen Par (movie review here) and 3 Idiots (movie review here). While Taare Zameen Par talks about a dyslexic kid totally misunderstood by his parents and finally salvaged by an art teacher in a boarding school, 3 Idiots is the story of 3 college students and friends as they navigate their college days and adult life with different aspirations and different interpretations of what learning and success mean.

These have been commercial successes (3 Idiots is now the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all-time), and they are great films to watch for their entertainment and inspirational values (typical Hindi movies J).

However, here are some of the lessons about career and life that these films depict very beautifully (much better than the ways I have been saying them in my blogs! J): Continue reading

Managing conflict at workplace – I

I would like to talk about one of the topics about work relationships that come up very often (and came up again very recently).

Scenario

A is a smart guy, well-established and on track to be promoted to next level. He is admired by others in his group and he is proud of himself.

B is a new hire in the team, equally smart (maybe more), who is trying to establish himself in this team. He has better skills than A in some areas and his hiring manager had mentioned he could be the next lead of this team.

Expected result

A and B work together to improve the performance of the team manifold because now the team has two smart guys to leverage.

Actual

A and B get into conflicts way too often and these conflicts drag down their performance as well as performance of the team. Net result is that team is less productive than when only A was around.

Sounds familiar? This is a very frequent occurrence in growing organizations where smart existing people have to work with smart new people and the result is not always on the expected lines. Continue reading