Saturday, February 19, 2011

And an era comes to end....

I resigned from my organization or "put down my papers" on 4th Feb. Two weeks more and I will be officially be unemployed for two months before I join my coveted employer, Teach for India on 29th April!

Lot of mixed feelings are pouring in. I see my workstation and miss it already.Have I ever told you guys, my workstation is just adjacent to window pane overlooking the water fountain and greenery around office building. I have stared outside for several hours over the years and drafted essays, dreamt of an admit, evaluated algorithms developed for yet another project, said Hi to friends strolling down after lunch time, thought to quit and join a non-for-profit institution, drank the vending machine coffee and enjoyed it!

Oh and there are those meeting rooms where I had heated arguments with teammates to what went wrong with the project and what should have been the correct database model. Oh! None of us got ever convinced. And there are those breakout area discussions where I sat with the same teammates and discussed issues from reasons of  marriage failures to weekend outings, from boss bashing to latest crush in the office.

And the evening meetings, the tiring conference calls, sometimes annoying when people talk beyond agenda ,sometime surprising how much beyond the obvious they think! On Thursday one of my clients pinged on IM to say "I hate you but I am gonna miss you! You have done some good work here". When I told my teammates they said in unison "See that's even what we are saying! Why you going? Stay right here!" There is so much bonding and so many good memories

Yet its already decided who will shift on my workstation after I leave! Life moves on, Poeple get replaced. Seats get reallocated and an era in someone's life comes to an end just like that.......

Friday, February 11, 2011

Reaching my Mukaam –Part 2

Lets continue to talk about my thought process during the Yatra and how I finally reached to the decision of Teach for India.

I always heard Rochester Dean Mark Zupan is very responsive. After letting Simon know that I have decided to join Teach for India, I received an email from Mark wishing me good luck for my future. I received few emails from Admission Director as well if I wish to set up some time with them to discuss about Simon. I never encouraged having a meeting. I have already decided and I knew these kind of conversations will not go anywhere. However, receiving a personal email from Mark startled me. I replied him back with the following response:

Hello Mark,

Its great to see your email. Its really an honor to be accepted at Simon School of Business.

Honestly, I would have loved to come to Rochester. One of my close friend, XXX is in his first year and I know what a transformational experience it has been for him. Personally, it was a difficult decision for me to choose Teach for India over Simon. My family is still trying to accept my decision.

What I have figured about myself is that in the end, I want to return to India in the not-for-profit sector. My decision for Teach for India is derived out of that. I also considered that I will not have any debt to pay after two years at Teach for India. I wanted a platform that can help me transition into a non-profit sector. Simon MBA would have been an excellent choice for this and so is Teach for India. The dilemma was to choose between the two. In the end, Teach for India has turned out to be more practical choice. It is where I will execute and not just learn. My decisions will impact lives of 40-children and their families right away. There will be no time to experiment with my leadership skills and I will be in the sector immediately.

I wanted to share this with you because I hope that you will let me know your thoughts on my thought process. Your stupendous experience may see what I am seeing/not seeing.
Thanks for you email. Its really an honor to get in touch with you.


He gave me an amazing response. He said that in big decisions like these he goes with his gut feeling and that’s what he thinks I have done! He added that I can choose to join Simon later!

Lot of people at my workplace tells me that it’s a very brave decision. It requires lot of courage to do something like this. My answer is right above. I think it’s a very practical decision. I wanted to end up where I am ending now. It’s just that I was taking an MBA route earlier! I needed a career transition through an MBA, needed to build on my leadership skills and that’s what I am going to do through Teach for India. I wanted network through MBA. After Yatra, I am definite I can build an amazing network at Teach for India.

What do you say guys? I think I have reached my Mukaam!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lets talk about the Yatra!

Hello guys, today is the last day for replying to Rochester with my decision. I wonder an email can makes so much difference. Earlier, I was at the receiving end of the decisions by business schools and now I have to respond with my decision. Anyways, Let’s go back to yesterday’s post. I was telling you about my dilemmas about myself during the journey. Before continuing about that I want to let you know, the yatra itself has made a lasting impact on my decision making process so its important that I talk about it as well.

TATA JAGRITI YATRA is about people. I shall tell you few stories. On first day, we had an induction program when we had polished English speaking speakers – few smart Indian women. - introducing norms and guidelines about the Yatra to us. Suddenly, a guy called Swapnil, introduced to us as the Operation Head, walks on the stage. His first statement was this Yatra is all about ambiguity.

We were given a train diagram earlier that depicted the purspose of each coach of the train. Swapnil when came to that slide said – “Your train doesn’t look like this at all”. For the yatra, we were traveling to chilliest parts of India in later days. Swapnil’s response was “Hot water might not  be available!”. He said “If you are found smoking or taking alcohol, you will be detrained right away!”. The dialogues aren’t important. More important is that out of polished speakers and Swapnil’s Hindi, I remember distinctly what Swapnil said. Shall I tell you why? His way of speaking had a conviction. He knew what he was talking about! Damn! He was running the entire show. He wasn’t a thinker. He was executing! Throwing an open challenge that this is the best we can be provided in the current situations! And if you think there are better ways, come over and he will make sure that he incorporates. His role required that everything remains intact and functional. Ever wondered how on a continuous 18 days journey, fresh food was served to us and that too wherever we follow – on the platform, on the moving train, in a village? Everytime! Right Time! Ever wondered how for different parts of India cooperation was seeked from different Railways departments to help ensure that train is always on schedule? Obviously this was not a one man’s job. It can never be. The motivation of people who were ensuring our smooth journey was commendable but Swapnil stood out for all of us. He is an IITian who left his job, apparently on 1/3rd salary of his market value and motivated enough to run this train every year to awaken the spirits of Indian Youths! A great leader not by textbooks or case studies but by execution!

Let me tell you about one more guy, Gijs, currently an Ashoka fellow and founder of Zameen Organics. Gosh! What a guy he is! He is an agricultural engineer from Netherlands, came to India because he thinks in his field he can get better employment opportunities in India than in Europe, one thing us Indians clearly ignores! He believes in organic farming, a social entrepreneur by profession and prefers speaking in Hindi than English. Man! It has been a long time since I heard the words “Sansthan” and “Vikas”, let alone from a foreigner. Remember the character Sue from Rang De Basanti? Double it! That’s what this guy is. It made me insanely happy to listen to his Hindi. Somebody asked him why he doesn’t work on a solution to a particular social problem in agriculture. His response was “Aap Social Entrepreneur hain na? Aap kyun nahi karte” (you are social entrepreneur? Why don’t you do it?)

There are many more inspiring individuals I can talk about, Lets do that tomorrow!