Friday, September 07, 2007

"Experience" in Indian IT industry

Someone said that "experience is a comb that nature gives to us when we become bald". This quote automatically becomes true for a FEW of the middle managers/senior managers in Indian IT industry.

Every manager/leader in the Indian IT industry need to spend time on talent acquisition as that is the primary driver for this people driven industry- That is the core for delivering software projects. Given this backdrop, I spend almost 30% of my time on talent acquisition meeting a wide variety of "experienced" knowledge workers/managers!

In a week, I spend time on meeting atleast 4-5 senior people who are either shortlisted or come for the first round. Usually I learn a lot during those interviews and I am always very OPEN for a discussion as I strongly believe that interviews are an equal footing forums! I have had my best debates with some of the best people whereby we both get enlightened on some of the traditional stuff and ofcourse I love that! There have been very RARE occasions whereby flukes come in and it becomes hilarious to write a blog on them! This is one such occasion whereby I was really tempted to pen down my conversation!

So I happened to meet one of the so called highly "experienced" general manager- He had 18 years of experience in the IT industry. His resume was flawless except for his track record as in his 18 years he has JUST jumped over 13 companies! When I reviewed his resume, his track record completely struck me - I mean how can a person in a senior position do this? Nevertheless I was very OPEN and asked him to explain on this?

Let me change this in a dialogue fashion:

I : Your track record seems to show disturbing trend and in senior roles you have never stayed beyond a year? Why is that? Could you please explain?
18 years general manager- Prospective Candidate (PE): Oh that’s not a big deal! I was always head hunted from day one! Since it’s a capitalistic market, I always got an opportunity to move on and see different companies which actually helped me to learn a lot!

I: What can you really learn if you have moved on every 9-12 months?
PE: Well! That’s always the challenge. I was fortunate enough to do something within a short timeframe and complete my tasks and take new tasks in new companies.

By this time I realized that there is no point in getting in depth with this point. I decided to move on!

I: You have mentioned in your resume in one of your roles that living in India was one of your achievements? Does that sound illogical?
PE: Its great that you caught it because I thought about this when I wrote the resume. Its basically a role whereby I was expected to do sales and marketing for US but I practically ended up doing the same job in India.

I: How is that considered as an achievement?
PE: Hmmm… deep pause…basically I was good at sales in India itself which my bosses did not know and then they retained me here rather than relocating me to US.

They seemed to be wise- I kept this thought to myself. Okay- again no point in digging this deep! Lets move on was my approach!

Suddenly the PE was proactive- He started off this time!!

PE: Since I have 18 years of experience I know the IT industry landscape and the metrics and everything. So I can really contribute at the executive management level leave alone senior management!

To myself, I started thinking- How can people dig their own hole?

I: Well that’s interesting- What is the average net margin in the Indian IT industry?
PE: That’s 40% (his tone was super confident)

I: Aha- so whats gross margin?
PE: Well both are same. Its 40%- I know this very well.

I: Hmmm. Okay! Hypothetically speaking if your topline is 100 crore and your bottomline is 50 crores- What is your margin? Is that NET or GROSS?
PE: That’s really complicated! Can you repeat this question?

I am like- Dude- You do not know what you are talking about? Get your basics right and then we will talk but you don’t know anything?

Immediately the PE said that he missed out CMMi implementation which was another one of his achievement.

I: Okay (with depression). Which level were you implementing? Level 5?
PE: It is Level 3. Only when you implement Level 3 you can go to Level 5.

I: Okay. How many KPAs are there in Level 3 since you were leading the effort?
PE: There are so many KPA’s in general. We have to take the relevant ones and just implement it. This is a very easy process.

This was the point that brought the end of the discussion! Period!

I was polite to him and said that we will get back shortly! Frankly I felt really sad because of the state of affairs! I had nothing to comment on as some Project Managers come in with the same degree of knowledge sometimes except for the fact that they don’t know how to do an MPP!