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Monday, June 27, 2011

Productivity: Three top daily time wasters

What are your top 3 time wasters and what's the solution / recommendation to limit the wastage?
  1. E-Mail: Do this in 30 min time-bursts 2 or max 3 times a day. I have experimented this and it works like a charm. Just need to get more disciplined and do this more regularly.
  2. Social Media: Stick to specific times a week (say 2-3 times) when you spend a max 30 mins connecting with friends and family on Facebook, LinkedIn and other Social Media channels.
  3. Meetings: When you get an invite, see what is the worst thing that can happen if you skip it. My super-boss made this recommendation last week. You should attend a meeting only if you are chairing the meeting or are going to talk in the meeting (for more than 10% of the time)? If the answer to both is no, you can probably skip it 90% of the time. Additional Rules: Can you avoid the meeting by sending out an e-mail with your thoughts or talking to the meeting co-ordinator for 5 mins after the meeting. How important is your role there? Use these above guidelines to skip a meeting today and gain 30 mins of your life back.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why MBA?

I get this question (or a variant such as Why did you go for an MBA, Why HKUST, Why after 6 years in the industry, etc). I thought I'll take a stab at that question in this post.

Here are a few reasons (in my order of priority) for why I went into an MBA and now that I am done with the MBA and spent some time in the industry, feel that doing my MBA when I did was the right decision.

  1. Increase your salary (over and above the opportunity cost lost): Over a lifetime or even 5-7 years post an MBA, if you do an NPV calculation, am sure the returns of the money spent on an MBA are quite good.I have to admit this was one of my top reasons, but post my MBA has gone down lower in priority. There's a lot more to life than money and a lot more to a job than just how much you make from it.
  2. Skills enhancement (Negotiations, Financial Modeling, Investment Management, XL, Deck prep, Problem Solving Skills, Business Plan Preparation) - These would be relevant in both your personal and professional life and some of the things I've learnt, I apply on a day-to-day basis (esp. Problem Solving, XL and Consulting style deck prep).
  3. General Management Capabilities (Frameworks / Concepts in Marketing, Finance, HR, Ops among others): You may or may not apply all of them unless you are in Management Consulting. But you would be the one sought after in a cross-functional project and will be able to provide a more holistic solution. I have been sought after for several key projects in my current company and I would like to think my MBA played a big role here.
  4. Career Change Opportunity (Opportunity to step back, try multiple career / industry options via internships / projects and finally make the call): I don't think I would have got into analytics and been as effective (I hate to say successful - still early days) if not for my MBA. I did consider alternative career paths such as Finance, Marketing and Consulting and made a conscious decision not to go in there for various reasons.
  5. Increase your brand value (:-)): Of course, an MBA itself helps and an MBA from a school such as HKUST and LBS definitely helps. Let HKUST/LBS stay in the Top 10 in FT and other rankings and keep doing the right things and along with the HKUST Brand, my personal brand value should also go up.
  6. Network (The Network that your school gives you automatic access to), network (Learn the do's and don'ts of Networking), network (All of the Networking Practice opportunities you get to strengthen your skills): I am an introvert by nature and found the networking sessions during school quite painful at times. But over time, soon mastered my own style of networking.
  7. Ability to think through life/career situations through the various models/frameworks you've been exposed to (This is the topic of another post I am planning in which I'll expand with examples)
Depending on where you end up post your MBA, some of these may not be relevant or at least as relevant. My MBA Network is weak in India - so the obvious bitch is that it is not as useful. But I still made great friends and have had multiple people from my class reach out to me (when they were in India or had an India question), have friends I have sought help from when I am in Thailand or UK or China on work and vacation and some day when I move to HK or Singapore, it is going to become relevant again. And who is to say the HKUST Alumni Network in India will remain weak for long (I recently had a junior reach out to me seeking help in getting into a previous company I worked for.). 

What was/is your reason for doing an MBA and do you think it worked for you? I would love to hear your story via the comments section of this blog or on Facebook/Twitter.
You might also want to read:
Ahead of the Curve - Book Review and comparison of B-School
My HKUST Interview
My First Semester at HKUST

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You can also follow me on twitter @rhebbar to get frequent updates on this and my blogs and talk to me on anything under the sun

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Snapdeal.com Nagar - Why it is a PR Stunt?

Excellent PR (did you say CSR?) initiative by Snapdeal.com. They adopt a village in UP and promise to take care of all their basic needs. Lo and behold, Snapdeal.com is a trending topic on twitter for the last two days. A few reasons why I don't believe it is less CSR and more PR.

  1. A company so early in its lifecycle (started in 2008-09 and became big in the last few months). Would they get into CSR this early?
  2. Most big players get into CSR when they have no other option. Why would a small player do it now?
  3. If they had to do CSR, they might have tried to help in markets where their customers come from (a village or a government school near Bangalore or even within Bangalore for example) I really doubt anyone in Shiv Nagar would have even heard about Snapdeal leave alone buy anything in Snapdeal.
  4. If indeed it was about CSR, how did the word get out and how did it spread like wildfire. Here I can give the benefit of doubt to Snapdeal, but it is a little fishy.
  5. It is a small company (around 500 people) with around $20 mil in revenue. Why would they get into CSR this early?
  6. The Snapdeal painted on the handpumps and on the board above is in the exact colour of their logo and makes it obvious that even if they were not aware of the naming of Snapdeal.com nagar, they took full mileage out of it by painting it all over the village so that when the press comes there to click photos, they get some really good PR juice. :-)
I am therefore inclined to believe this is more PR than CSR. If it is indeed CSR, kudos to the Snapdeal.com Team for thinking big and getting lucky with all the PR that they got. Anyway, even if the villagers themselves came up with the idea of renaming their village from Shiv Nagar to Snapdeal.com Nagar, its a smart move to make sure Snapdeal.com continues to back them and help them (atleast while they are in business :-)) and I hope they remain in business for some time since I've got my fair share of deals from them (A Holiday, A Dental Checkup, A Team Lunch, A massage package gift, a few other products as gifts and a whole lot more). :-)

Read more here and the Snapdeal.com point of view on this here

Monday, June 13, 2011

Free Trial! Why not?

This is the most popular and effective sales weapon that is so rarely used that it's crazy. The context is a couple of fresh grads I met recently and had to inspire into getting a job (give gyaan and help out with leads of course). I gave them all the usual gyaan of polishing their resume, adding skills, adding certifications, how to prepare for interviews and how to handle key questions in interviews. When I finally said, you should offer to take on projects/jobs for free, to gain experience, I got a weird look that said "Why would I work for free?" / "Doesn't it mean that they are using me?" / "Would I want to work in such a cheap company"? and other similar looks.

Considering some of the world's largest internet companies are based on the "Try me for free" concept and the fact that in this case you are actually going to gain so much more in terms of experience and possibly a brand-name on the CV, I can't see why this is so difficult to fathom.

I myself have not yet tried this successfully. When I did offer to work for a few companies for free in the recession of 2001 when my Infy joining date got postponed and Lucent Bell Labs withdrew their campus offer, there were enough competition in the job market for the companies to refuse the "Free Offer".

Have any of you tried this option and has it worked for you? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.


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You can also follow me on twitter @rhebbar to get frequent updates on this and my blogs and talk to me on anything under the sun 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blog moves to a new location

With help from my friend Sridhar, I moved my blog to a domain I had registered earlier this year.

I was starting to feel bad about not using the domain I had registered earlier this week and started pestering Sridhar to help get this move done (since he helped me get the domain registered, had done this in the past with his blogspot blog and is the best expert I know on this). He was not feeling well earlier this week and promised to do this over the weekend. He finally made some changes on the host side and I made some changes on Blogger and voila http://hebbarr.blogspot.com has now moved to http://blog.randhir.net with all previous links continuing to work exactly as before and all Google Search links still taking a user to the new URL. Will need to still see if I need to make changes to the RSS Feed or if this feeds through as before. Mini-objective of this post. :-)

Next Step: Adding some default content to randhir.net website such as details about me, links to different social media handles (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Slideshare) and Picasa Photo Albums should be a good start for now.