Sunday, November 28, 2010

Return In The Same Coin You Are Paid

Maybe in 1990 or so, my nephew suddenly appears at my doors of my farm house early in the morning. He came from Bangalore and was working as a sales engineer for Wipro. A workaholic, a hereditary trait running in his blood, did not want to bunk work. It was a Sunday. It was an 8 hours journey by night bus to Shimoga in those days.

If I remember correctly, IT industry was just in its budding stage in late eighties through early nineties before it suddenly galloped at an unbelievable pace. Infosys(software) was in nascent stage and Wipro, a big name in consumer products, had just entered computer hardware business. The trend of campus interview was yet to arrive on the stage. But my nephew was just lucky to get a job in Wipro (Computer Hardware) before he had got his engineering degree.

After putting in seven years service very successfully in Wipro in their Customer Support cell, he was offered a lucrative job in a multinational based in Malaysia, for which he did not apply. America was a far cry. Before blindly grabbing the job he made inquiries with his friends and college colleagues about the working environment in Malaysia. He was given to understand that even though the remuneration was very good, far higher than any Indian company in IT field, there was no respect for employees whatever be his position. They used very bad mouth irrespective of who you are. Bastard, son of a bitch and other choicest abusive words were very common. Ganesh was in a dilemma whether to accept the job and go to Malaysia or continue to work for Wipro. That day, he came to me seeking a kind of counseling, or advice. I counseled him, not to accept or reject the offer but guided him to a lead, a thread in his personality, from which he can make the right decision himself. He rejected the offer.

A few days back I came across a news article in the dailies. I remembered the above incident, while reading the article with awe. The reporting starts as 'The Indian IT Industry usually quietly accepts as a professional hazard the abusive and racist reactions by Americans who accuse it of stealing their jobs'. The article is all about one Sridhar Vembu, an IITian successfully carrying on his software company, Zoho. What is unique about this company is that, Vembu demonstrated his belief that intellect and college education has no connection at all. He selected his first batch of about ten people from High School drop outs with a poor social background, hailing from rural India! He trained them in software according to their intellectual abilities. Today Zoho has grown into a 1200 employee strong IT product company and 10% or 120 of these employees were picked from Govt. Schools with poor back ground. There, of course, are engineering graduates too. Vembu, the CEO of the company wishes to recruit 40 to 50% from Govt. schools in the near future. This fast growing company is only six years old.

So, what is special about this Sridhar Vembu of Chennai? and what is the connection between the incident I mentioned in the opening paragraphs? The newspaper story states " centre agents who are met with abusive customer are instructed to disconnect the call without even returning the fire...." But Vembu after his address to the gathering at the NESCOM Product Conclave in Bangalore recently replied to a question " ...if you don't like to deal with me because of the color of my skin, then fuck you!..." That was in full glare of public!

The news article goes on to discuss the significant change taking place in the IT industry - the departure from the rule book and its impact on the industry. I am not going to discuss that issue here, but as Vembu subsequently says, what it would be to ourselves in place of America, which is in a state of deep economic recession, with the trend of Vietnamese and Bangladeshis are 'stealing' our jobs and the process is on the increase?

Today, Ganesh my nephew is in Mphasis headquartered in Chicago and in charge of entire Europe operations, plying between the continents at least three to four times a month. He never believed in the use of abusive language! He is in his forties and I do don't think he should change his attitude, which brought him enormous professional success. Am I right Ganesh?

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