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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top 7 Resume Blunders

Randhir.net launched the Resume Improvement Service in a big way on Resume2Jobs.net in August and followed it up with a Snapdeal.com offer of doing a Basic Critique and Feedback. This received an overwhelming response and kept our team busy all of this month. With this post, we are sharing the Top 7 Mistakes that we found across 80-90% of the CVs that we reviewed.
  1. No Consistency: Stay consistent on the Font (Style & Size) you use, the spacing between paragraphs and lines, the tone and tenor of your voice across content and the amount of text you bold and what you bold. This makes your CV look professional & doesn't distract the reader away from the actual content. Pure hygiene factor, but important nonetheless.
  2. Not doing a Spell-Check: How long does it take to open your resume in Word and fix the obvious spelling, grammar and punctuation errors? This is criminal and really says that you are not very quality-conscious and that you are satisfied with mediocrity.
  3. Incorrect Tense and Incorrect Person Usage: Use past tense (except for maybe the present position) and use abbreviated third person (Randhir managed a team of  ... is replaced by Managed a team of ). More importantly, make sure that you stay consistent on this across your CV. Not following this can be very distracting to a Reader and makes you appear as someone who is not strong in English.
  4. Missing (Contact) Information: I found CVs that had missing dates (on Jobs), missing role/title and one of the best (Missing Contact Information). Whatever you do, make sure that your Phone Number and E-mail are accurate and bold/clear at the Top of your CV (Preferably on every page  if you have a multi-page CV).
  5. Not having a Professional Summary: CVs are looked at for a split second. If you can't give your 10 sec story at the top of your CV, you are losing a big opportunity for sure. This one is more relevant for someone with 5+ years of diverse experience. But for everyone, this is a way to highlight the most important things about you that you want the Hiring Manager to know.
  6. Writing about your Roles and Responsibilities: 90% of the content of most CVs I reviewed could have been pulled out of a Job Description directly. This again is criminal because if you are like any other Java Developer or Sales Professional, you are not telling me why I should hire you and not the 100 other people that have applied for this same job.
  7. Missing Specifics: This one's related to Point 6 above. Make sure you get very specific in what you did at your job and what you achieved/accomplished. e.g. Replace "made a business impact" by "saved US$ 3 MM" and "Appreciated by Client" by "Appreciated by multiple Senior Client Execs for the innovative solution that saved over US$ 1.5mn".
If you can make sure you avoid these, your CV is probably better than at least 50-70% of your competition depending on your industry/sector. This is what I saw from my experience over the past 3 months. Take a look at your current CV and let me know which of these are mistakes you have made. If you feel, there are others that belong here, please do post your feedback/comments either in the comments section below or on our Facebook Page.

Bio: Randhir Hebbar is a seasoned Resume Development Expert (Website: Resume2Jobs.net) and Hiring Manager with 10 years of experience in IT/ITES/Analytics Consulting. For any of your resume development needs, he can be reached at cv2randhir@gmail.com or on the phone at +91.9945.254742. We are also on Facebook (here and here) and on LinkedIN.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Mysore Calling ... Day 2

The next morning started off with a guided tour of the farm where we saw Ripe Guavas, Lemons, Tangerines, Chickoos, Mangoes (Not too many considering the season has ended) and a few other fruits I was seeing for the first time and pretty much every vegetable one might need for day-to-day cooking. It was really nice to pluck some ripe Guavas (with the red core) and almost instantaneously bite into them. Yummm!!! Around 11am, got ready and decided to do some sightseeing. Since we were quite close to Infy, decide to go down memory lane and see how Infy had changed (if at all). We obviously couldn't get in but we did stop over at the Gate and ask the Security Guard at the Infosys Gate (for random directions which we didn't need) as we got a peek past the gate at some of the Buildings. We drove around the compound looking at some of the other buildings and facilities and decided to head off towards the city before one of the security guards posted at a height near the 4 corners of Infosys Campus shoots at us assuming we are terrorist doing recee. :-)

We then went straight to the Mysore Palace got tickets and went around watching in astonishment the Palace and the Life of the Maharajah and the poor dude(s) (Wodeyar and his children/grandchildren) who missed out on all the fun because India gained Freedom and became a Democratic Republic. I had of course been there a few times, but was surprisingly the first time for Bhagya (someone who had studied in Tiptur for 4 years and probably visited Bangalore tons of times). Some minor shopping (Sandal scented Incense Sticks, Perfumes, Soaps, etc) later, we headed off to the Jaganmohan Palace. This included an Art Gallery and a Museum which had all of the utensils, weapons, dresses and portraits of all the Kings and their History. I also learnt on this visit that the fifth King of the Wodeyar Dynasty was actually (Ranadhira Kantheerava) Narasaraja Wodeyar I (1638–1659). For some weird unknown reason, this made me happy. :-) A little more shopping and we decided to take a break and head back home (to the farmhouse) but not before we stopped over to have some pastries. Did I mention that before the plans for the trip got finalized, we were actually on the GM Diet. :-( Need to start afresh or maybe screw the diet and get back to some workouts.

Before we reached home, I saw a sign-board that read Kalidasa Road and this again brought back nostalgic memories of the 3-4 months spent at our Apartment on KD Road (It is Bangalore’s MG Road equivalent in Mysore). Decided to drive around and find our old Apartment and get a pic or two. We finally found it after asking a couple of people for directions. Since it had started drizzling, we managed with pics from the car and headed on to the farmhouse.

Since it was Ganesha, Periyaswami had cooked Ganesha's favorite sweet - Modak. Had a couple over lunch and hogged the other dishes he had cooked. We were also warned to keep enough space for the evening's special - Persian Veg Pulao. After lunch, had some nice filter coffee (yummm!!!) and after a lot of thought decided that Brindavan Gardens and the Musical Fountain was not to be missed (especially since KRS was not too far from Mohan Uncle's farmhouse). Started around 5ish and we were at Brindavan after some bumper to bumper traffic around a kilometer from the entrance to KRS where the Parking Fee was being collected. The parking lot was packed to the core and with great difficulty managed to find what was a suspect parking slot. Even though I was a little worried that my new car might get nicked by someone trying to sneak in the gap between my car and the next line, decided to take a chance since there didn't seem any better options. 

We got lucky with a new line that got formed at the Ticket Counter and rushed to enter Brindavan Gardens. It was better than I had memories off from my last visit (Of course Bhagya wasn't with me the last time round ;-) so she does get some credit) and around 7ish, we decided to head off to the North Block of Brindavan where the Musical Fountain was showing. We were shocked to see the bridge packed with people trying to get to the other end. But left with no choice, we decided to join the rush and after about 15mins of struggling through and guarding our purses & camera from pickpocketeers, we finally got to the Musical Fountain area. It was pretty impressive but for some weird reason, there was a 10 min gap between every set of 2-3 songs. After watching a couple of sets, we decided to sneak out midway through a set so that we don't get caught in the rush again. It was a great decision because we were back at the parking lot in 5 mins. Had a couple of Sugar Cane juices and started back towards the farmhouse. It was a nice short drive back as well with lot of overtaking maneuvers that would have made a Schumacher happy. Yummy Persian Pulao and lot of home-grown fruits later, we were ready to crash.

Coming Up ... Mysore Calling ... Day 3 & Some Pics

Mysore calling ... Day 1

Long weekend and plans of a Ooty+Kerala Trip cut short due to Bhagya's needing to go to Hyderabad on Saturday meant that we had to come up with a quick plan for Wed-Thu. Wed morning as we start typing in Google "Places to see near", the first Auto Suggest option that comes up is Bangalore and then comes Mysore. That's how we make plans in the Internet or Google Era.

Even before I could pick Bangalore and hit enter, we are both like "Purrrrfecttt!!!". We had been talking about visiting Mohan Uncle's Farmhouse in Mysore for quite some time now (He had moved in around 5 years back when I was in the US and somehow everytime there was a family trip to Mysore, I had been out of the country). I had been talking about giving my new i10 some work (I had done around 400kms in 2 months considering that my office is 10mins from home). Bhagya had not been to Mysore really except for a trip with friends to Balamuri Falls a few years back. We decided within minutes to go for it, asked Mom and Dad if they wanted to join (Mom agreed since she wanted to catch up on loads of gossip with her bro - Mohan Uncle and Dad decided to pass considering his coming in will mean finding a security guy and that is such a pain at such short notice.

Started off around noon after a call to Mohan Uncle to confirm he was going to be in town and had the most painful 1km on the Mysore Road Flyover (Eid celebrations and people coming out of / going into the Mosque there combined with Metro work) meant that getting out of Bangalore took a good 2 hours and the last 100m of the Mysore Road Flyover took 45mins. Once out of Bangalore, it was the most amazing driving experience (going at  80-100kmph consistently) and switching back and forth between 4th and 5th gear through most of the journey and by around 4:30ish was near the outskirts of Mysore. A 30-45min break for lunch at Kamat Lokaruchi (Just after Channapatna) meant that I had done about 140kms in under 2 hours. 

A couple of calls for directions later was at Mohan Uncle's Farmhouse in Emerald Enclave just behind Infosys (My former company and the campus where I spent the most fun 3 months of my career during Infy Training). Since it was around 5:30 by the time we got in, had some snacks & coffee, we decided not to do any sightseeing and went for a long romantic :-) walk around Emerald Enclave. Bhagya said that it would have been more romantic if we had gone out with one Umbrella instead of two or better still without Umbrellas and got drenched/danced in the rain. I decided that with the small size of the umbrella and the fact that one of them was broken slightly, we were safer from catching a cold and spoiling the weekend with one each instead of one for both of us. How unromantic eh!!! :-(

We came back to some hot food cooked by Mohan Uncle's cook Mr. Periyaswami. We obviously weren't very hungry at 8:30pm considering we'd had a full North Karnataka Meal at 3pm and Snacks at 5:30pm. But we ate enough to ensure we didn't hurt the hosts' feelings. :-)

Please read ... Mysore Calling ... Day 2
Coming Up ...
Mysore Calling ... Day 3 & Pics

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Strategic Project with London Business School

I just worked on an interesting academic project to assess Dell's Analytics Maturity completed by 5 highly professional exec-MBA students from my alma-mater, the London Business School. I am happy that I initiated this project a few weeks ago after seeing a mail from a LBS Faculty seeking support from LBS Alumni for what really is an elective course. This is an course that involves students with a professor come in to a company in a developing country such as India and work on a strategic project for a week learning about the challenges of working in India as well as providing an outside-in perspective to the company on a key problem they identify. A month later, they present a more detailed report and recommendations on the problem or question posed.

While there was nothing path-breaking that came out (at least not yet) in terms of findings/recommendations, the glimpses of what we saw in the preliminary report impressed me with how well they had understood our business (Not one of them had a background in Analytics or working in India) and what they put together in terms of preliminary recommendations in 4 days of talking to people across the floor and reading Tom Davenport's "Competing on Analytics". In addition, this was a good outlet for the floor and some good recommendations came out. The leadership team of DGA now look forward to the final presentation and also agreed to work together with the school and the faculty on certain areas of their expertise (e.g. Research on Innovation).

A photo we took at the end of the presentation with the students, Pankaj Rai - Head of Dell Global Analytics and Alok Agarwal, Director of Marketing Analytics, a couple of my colleagues (Santosh and Praveen) who helped drive this project and a few Managers who attended the preliminary presentation.

L-R Standing (Praveen, Puneet, Sanjay, Pradeep Menon, Niraj, Pankaj, Viktor, Wael, Santosh, I and Alok)
L-R Sitting (Angeli and Kamila)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

My New Website and the FUTURE of this Blog

Based on the feedback I received from friends offline and my audience online (as a result of my previous post), I learnt that the audience for this blog largely consists of friends and family interested in hearing about my life and my experiences. I will continue writing about the same on this blog and I will move my more technical content (On Analytics, Investment Management and Start-ups) to other blogs or websites including my very own web-site which I put some time into last weekend and got it up and running. The end result is probably going to be less frequent updates on this blog (since my time is limited) but more focused and richer content on the other blogs (without limitations of catering to the audience of my blog).

Please feel free to browse www.randhir.net and pass your feedback/inputs on content, design and anything else on the site. Also, please let me know by e-mail / Facebook / Twitter if this approach is the right one and what topics you would be interested in so I can loop you into the new blogs as and when I start adding content.


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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

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wanted: Feedback on my Blog

Over the last one week, I received strong feedback from 3-4 people very close to me around the content and style of writing in recent posts which got me thinking.

I totally enjoy writing (just for the heck of it) and I'd write most of these posts even if my blog had no readers (There are more unpublished posts than published posts on my blog :-)). This blog has had nearly as many visitors/page-views/comments in the last 6 months as it had seen since its inception (back in 2005) to start of this year. This has helped inflate my already inflated ego :-).

I am seeking feedback from you - the esteemed readers of my blog to get me back to level-ground and validate the feedback received. Please click here to provide your feedback on how you want this blog to shape up. It won't take you more than 2-3 mins to do so (I promise!!!) and I also promise to act on your feedback.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

6 Worst Presentation Mistakes you must avoid

I got this in the mail today as a follow-up of a webinar recommended to us. While I do consider myself a Powerpoint & Presentation Expert of sorts, this is still a good checklist of mistakes to avoid. Paste it infront of your desk and look at it when you are putting your next deck together or going into your next live presentation.

Preliminary work before you start creating content… focus on avoiding mistakes #1 & #2.  To do this, design your deck outside of powerpoint, maybe OneNote or a whiteboard, and then use that to create the deck. If there was one great habit I took away from Mu Sigma (in the early days), this was it.

Mistake #1 - Failure to learn about your audience.
Tip - focus your time on your audience/customer and not about your ideas. Actually answering this question will help make sure the deck has an impact. This will also help you decide if a deck or a meeting is worth your time. 

Questions to ask...research prior to building your deck
1 - Who will attend?
2 - What do they really want?
3 - Why are they participating?
·         The learner, here to learn.
·         The vacationer, good hour to burn/hang out.
·         Prisoner of wars, someone else made them come so they have to be here.
4 - Do you need to establish credibility?
5 - How much time?
6 - Specific measureable benefit?
7 - Likely objections?

Mistake #2 - Lack of a clearly defined objective. (very, very hard)
Tip - if you don't know what you want other's won't know either
Tip - state your objective first & include reasons for meeting.

Possible reasons…
What do you want - what will you ask for?
What's in it for the listener - what do they get?
Example, 'By purchasing this software your company will save $1.3M a year'.

Mistake #3 - Too much data (and I am guilty of this when time with the client is limited and am trying to communicate a lot of good work we have done: Note to Self: Break those into two separate presentations if you have to, don't mix them up and of course synthesize key messages and communicate)
Tip - all presentations should be built around max 3 things only - THREE (or 4,5 … you get it.)  These TALKING POINTS are the pillars/framework for the presentation.

Why 3 things and nothing more?
Memory & Impact.
Distill many into few (Summarize)
Lead with your best stuff!

Mistake #4 - Failing to excite.
Tip - script out what you want to say in the beginning and end (especially), and rehearse it

Excite by …
A gee-whiz fact, a powerful story.
Focus attention on key issues
Grab their attention

Mistake #5 - Death by PowerPoint (put as little as possible - no more than 6 words across, 6 lines down).
Tip - three things to use PPT for … HINT the preso isn't the deck you ARE the preso, otherwise just email.

Main things to remember about powerpoint...
1 - visualize ideas (it's a visual aide) … use imagery and not words
2 - used to highlight key points only;  it's not a data dump
3 - impress people since lots of decks are pathetic (so, why don't you just email to your audience?)
4 - never use powerpoint in a handout?  If so, why are you presenting it?

Example - how big is an acre of land?  Visualize with an image vs. just stating a metric, etc.

Mistake #6 - Ending with inspirational deficit.
Tip - end presentation with a simple question aligned with objective.  Ask someone to agree with you, make a decision, to do something. A presentation/meeting/deck that doesn't get acted upon is a real waste of your time and theirs. This is a great way to ensure action.

Example - what, if anything, would prevent you from going with my recommendation?

While I did attend the webinar, thanks to my colleague Kevin C for putting this great summary together (italicized content above) and saving me the work of putting this together from memory.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What are the documents required before buying a plot in a Community?

I am currently doing some research on the real estate market in Bangalore and some good sources tell me that there's a good 15% drop in recent times in Market Prices. The two developers I spoke to over the weekend totally denied it and said their sales were going better than ever. Anyway, ss I start looking for plots, here is a quick check-list I put together of documents required before parting with the cheque/cash.

These are the list of documents required to make sure that a plot you are buying (from a Gated Community) is a good deal (No potential litigation or cheating involved):
  1. Sale Agreement between You and Developer (Verify Developer Name and Signatory)
  2. Flow of Title should be clear / Mother Deed
  3. Sale Agreement of Property (Note Survey No.) from Original Owner to Current Owner
  4. Family Tree (If it is an ancestral property)
  5. No Litigation / Best to issue a paper notification
  6. Joint Development Agreement between Owner and Developer (Make sure developer name in JDA and Sale Agreement) - Make sure it is registered and the signatory is correct
  7. RTC - Record of Rights (for 30 Years upto date)
  8. Up to date Tax Paid Receipt both on the original land (before the developer bought it and your plot)
  9. Mutation Registry (MR) Extract Copy (Latest)
  10. Latest EC / Encumbrance Certificate (Runabaara Rahitya Patra in Kannada)
  11. DC Conversion Approval (Mentioning Survey Nos where the approval is valid and note conditions under which the approval is given) - Approval to convert agricultural land to residential land
  12. LSR (Legal Scrutiny Report) - A report where a lawyer looks at all the documents and confirms that everything is in order. This is a must and should even if you are going to get your own lawyer to look at it.
  13. Approval from Competent Authority with Layout Plan (Note Survey Nos and Plot Nos - Preferably should be one of DTCP or BMRDA)
  14. Bank Approval Documents - Some proof that the Bank has agreed to provide loans
  15. Talk to a few customers of previous properties to get the credentials of the developer verified and last but not the least
  16. Like I mentioned in my previous post, do a basic check online for the builder (name), developer company and property name as well to see if you find any history of cheating / not living upto promises / etc
Is there anything else that is required to be verified? If yes, let me know either on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments section below and I'll update this post so it remains a quick checklist for me and of course anyone else looking to buy a plot.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why I bought an i10?

After a lot of thought, research, seeking opinion from friends (on this blog too) and tons of test-drives, I finally decided on an i10. I made the payment and took delivery last weekend. Here she is in all her splendor outside the showroom.

My reasons for doing so as against a bigger car such as a SX4 Diesel which I had almost decided upon a few days back:

  • Easier Driving: I can't tell you how much easier it is to drive this car when compared to my brother's Swift Dzire which really is not as big as the SX4 I was considering. I still can't sneak through gaps as I used to with my bike. But this is probably gets me as close to that as I probably can with a car.
  • Will be a lot easier for Bhagya to start driving as and when she does start doing so.
  • Lower Cost: At 5.5L (On-Road), it is at half the 10L that the SX4 would have cost.
  • Two other big cars at home: My brother's SX4 and my dad's Ford Ikon are still there for me to use whenever we need a bigger car. The choice for me was between this one and probably a SUV.
  • Easier Maintenance: Lower the cost of the car, I was hoping lower the maintenance expenses. I did consider other small cars but decided to go with Hyundai for just service promise being better.
  • Petrol vs. Diesel: The lower promised maintenance of Petrol Engines along with of course the fact that the premium charged for Diesel cars being too high for me considering the number of miles I will probably drive in a year because of my short commute to work. 12k miles (max) translates to 800liters and 24k INR in savings per year. The diesel options I considered were 7L+ atleast meaning that it wasn't that great a saving considering the supposed increased maintenance costs.
  • Last but not the least, this is not going to be my last car. Let's start small and move up rather than start big and move down was the philosophy!! 
I am sorry if I disappointed friends who'd suggested other options on my previous request for suggestions. Did I?

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Google plus plus

Google Plus is up!! While its still lonely out there right now, there are some cool features of Google+. Better integration with my other Google Apps (Chat, Picasa, Youtube, etc), Circles, Hangout and most importantly Sparks makes sure you don't leave Google+ ever. 

If someone can do an update FB and update Google + plug-in soon, we can probably start having some activity in Google Plus and a real fight might just take place in the Social Networking Place. Here's what Hitler thinks of Google Plus. He wants an invite and he wants one real bad. 

 Do you need one too? Ping me if you haven't already got one. :-)

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

To ensure you don't miss any of my blog posts, please click on subscribe to add my blog in your favorite RSS Feed Reader.

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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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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Linkedin Inmaps

I thought I'd use an illustration of my connections on LinkedIn Inmaps to emphasize both the power of Visual Analytics (A picture is worth a thousand words. Let's see if this blog-post reaches 1000 words :p) as well as talk further about what differentiates an analysis from a report.

Before I get into what this image reveals, I wanted to highlight a couple of things. This image is a unique way to represent very complex and large n-dimensional dataset. In the age of Visual Analytics and the popularity of various VA tools such as Tableau, Qlikview, Microstrategy and JMP, this is a neat neat way of representing really complex multi-dimensional data (All people who you are connected to and everyone they are connected to is probably going to become a Million rows x Million columns dataset. I am not sure if this visualization has looked at second level connections in which case the data becomes even more complex). Another key insight from this is the fact that Color is one weapon that we don't use often enough in projecting charts to represent multi-dimensional complex data.

This representation captures quite a few things and projects these insights in a simplistic fashion:

  1. What are the various social/professional/educational networks you are a part off?
    1. Big Clusters in different colors
    2. I had 4 major clusters (HKUST/LBS on the West representing the global network largely based in HK and London , Mu Sigma and Dell on the East representing analytics in Bangalore and UVCE and Infosys/Gap on the South and North respectively representing the IT side of Me)
  2. How well-connected are these networks?
    1. Size of the clusters
    2. HKUST is a large well-connected cluster and so is Mu Sigma. UVCE is much smaller and less well-connected.
  3. Who are the people who are connectors across networks?
    1. Dots that are between two clusters and of a reasonable size
    2. Santosh Atre, Tapan and Navin D connects Infosys and Mu Sigma and Bharath Murali connects Bethany and Mu Sigma networks. Deepak GD connects PESIT Gang and HKUST.
  4. Who are the key people in your network?
    1. Size of the bubble indicates how well connected they are.
    2. If you can identify 4-5 people in each network spread across different networks and stay in touch with them, it might be more efficient than trying to be in touch with everyone in your network. This does have a materialistic angle to connecting to people. But all I am saying is if you had to choose 3 people to get in touch with to get the scoop on what's happening in your school gang, this map probably gives you a good idea.
  5. Who will be most useful when you have a unique need?
    1. Possibly someone who is not very well-connected to any of your networks who appears to have a good network (Big Bubble).
    2. Reasoning: They have good exposure to multiple people in possibly a different field or atleast a different network and will be able to connect you to a unique network of people that you don't have access to. This could be a distant cousin in the real estate broking space who can connect you to a builder friend who will help with building your next house.
Now that I've given you some key questions that get answered with that one image, is the image a report or is it analytics. It depends on who's talking about it (I guess). LinkedIn would call it the best analytics ever whereas someone who saw it but did not get enough context to what this was about or why it is important to him/her thought it was a useless report. While this definitely fits the bill of a Visual Analytics representation of complex data, it would be good analytics only if backed by reason why this is useful to the viewer, what the key insights are and what actions he should take based on the insights. Does this blog-post then qualify as good analytics? ;-) I'll let the readers of the blog decide.


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What really is Analytics?

I get this question so so often. I finally decided to dedicate a blog post to this oh so often asked question. I sometimes try and make an honest effort to make people understand and more often than not, give in and say yes to everything they describe analytics as just so that I don't need to give an hour long explanation and still not be able to make people understand. 

This reminds me about how when we first got into the IT industry, everyone assumed IT was all about Y2K and how we would all be jobless post 2000. I used to get tired of explaining that the industry wasn't going to close down so soon. It didn't help that the dot com bust happened exactly around that time making it even tougher for us to defend the IT industry and our reputations as IT professionals.

Coming back to the topic of this post, let's start off with what Analytics is not. 

  1. Analytics is not BI even though there's nothing less intelligent about Business Intelligence practitioners/experts. 
  2. Analytics is not Data Warehousing even though it was the most cutting edge technology/phrase a few years back and we all (including yours truly) aspired to be part of the DW brigade purely because of the demand in the job-market. 
  3. Analytics is not Reporting even though it has a very critical place in the data-driven decision making space. They provide some really important data to analytics practitioners that if used well can save tons of effort for us.
  4. Analytics is not about OLAP Cubes nor is it about Databases even though OLAP cubes are super-cool tools and can really help you do analytics. 

Now that we know what it is not, what is Analytics really? 

  1. Analytics is making sense of raw data, identifying trends and recommending actions to people who either don't have access to the data, don't have the time/ability to make sense of the data or need help thinking of clear actions that can be taken based on the trends. 
  2. Analytics is as close as one can get to Management Consulting without getting into BS land or Tell me what you want want to hear and I'll do so land (I know I'll have a few people ready to throw stones at me for this statement. But I'll still stand by it. For a long long time, Management Consulting has been about a few standard frameworks and making sure you use the frameworks to arrive at a solution that the customer wants to hear). Don't get me wrong the frameworks have its advantages and being in a nascent industry as analytics, we do have a fair share of opportunity to define some  useful frameworks.
  3. Analytics is about using all of the existing reports to get a story and also drilling down further when required to identify the Whys of the trends. 
  4. Analytics is about using every tool in the book (SAS, Omniture Sitecatalyst/Insights, Tableau, R, MS SSAS, Microstrategy and a million others) and every data source (Behavioral Data, Survey Data, Sec Research, Competitive Analysis among others), but with the intention to identify trends and make recommendations to leverage/overcome a trend. 
  5. Analytics is about recommendations/insights that Change the Business (CTB) and rarely about Run the Business (RTB). 
  6. Analytics is in short about enabling customer insights and data-driven decision making instead of gut based decision making.
These are my 2 cents on what I feel is the best way to define/describe Analytics. Have suggestions on a simpler/better way to explain what analytics is. Please feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments section or connect to me on Twitter @rhebbar or on Facebook.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sitting is killing you

Received this on my office e-mail and thought this was really relevant and worth sharing with you all. The thought is around how you can change your life, improve your health, lose weight, live longer by just sitting a little less and standing a little more as was the habit a few decades and a lot more a few centuries ago.
Sitting is Killing You

Via: Medical Billing And Coding

Friday, April 15, 2011

Amazon comes to India

I have been a big fan of Amazon since I first shopped with them in 2004 (a week after reaching US). Now that I am into Online Analytics, I am a bigger fan obviously for their very great website (great design, personalization, recommendation engine, testing and optimization et al) which along with their supply chain is probably the two assets they have.

If you didn't already know, they now ship free to India (interestingly right now only from Amazon UK) - so lets get shopping. The only question in my mind is why did they take so long? http://www.labnol.org/india/amazon-free-shipping/19116/

Monday, April 04, 2011

SL - Don't deserve to be the champions anyways!!!

Not trying to kill a dead goose here, but still SL - the eternal cheaters!!! Remember Randiv bowling a No-Ball to ensure Sehwag doesn't get to a hundred a few months back. Technically not cheating. :-) It was just one example of unsportsmanlike behavior or cheapness or an act unbecoming of a champion team.

Promoting the chuckers - Malinga, Murali and Randiv through the years is another example. Anyway, maybe he's now thinking if only I had not cheated, what might have happened? Maybe we would have done better, maybe we would have won.

Dhoni's shake of the head after the second toss tells us how shocked and disappointed he is with the act.They surely didn't deserve to win the WC.

I think this is what happened from 0:32 Ravi Shastri - Now MS will spin the coin; Sangakkara - Tails; Crowe (reconfirming with Sangakkara) - Tails?; Sangakkara nodding; Crowe (points his hand to dhoni) - Its heads; Ravi Shastri - Heads it is; MS to Sangakkara - We will bat; (Sangakkara doesn't react); MS to Sangakkara - You said "Tails" right; (still no reaction from Sangakkara or maybe he said I didn't call at all like he was dreaming about the WC and forgot to call); This is outright cheating !!

What a Game?

Yaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy!! We are the champions, we are the champions, we are the champions of the world!!!

While the victory and the fact that we are world champions is just sinking in, the bounty that the players are being offered is crazy. I can understand most of the others where CMs are rewarding their state players, Yediyurappa not wanting to be left behind and considering the upcoming by-elections, decided to come forward and offer residential plots for all 15 players (irrespective of the state). How magnanimous? Like he's offering something from his own pocket.

My take on the GAME itself: While Gambhir, Dhoni and Kohli (in that order) batted sensibly, my take is that the game was won in the first 10 overs. On a pitch that was as flat as can be with no movement of any kind, restricting Sri Lanka to 29/1 instead of probably something like 70/0 or 80/1 was the difference between the two sides. Zaheer Khan was the difference between the two teams. The fielding too made a difference in that we probably saved 15-20 more runs than Lanka and looking at how the pitch played and the dew towards the end, India would probably have even chased down 300-310 in probably what would have been a closer game.

Having seen the game and the post-game analysis on different news channels till 2am, we decided to catch up on a movie early on Sunday. In the spirit of the World Cup, the movie was what else, "Game" whose title song was "What a Gaaammmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeee". Of course, the Game wasn't cricket but a pretty complex murder mystery set in Greece revolving around Neil Menon a Casino Magnate (played by Jr AB). While at a high-level, the plot was too good to be original (my cynicism about Bollywood scripts coming out), the movie is a good one with Abhishek putting in a decent performance.

Surprisingly, partly due to the World-Cup hangover I guess, the entire movie theater had a total of 10 people in the audience. Who releases movies during the World Cup? They could probably have replayed a World Cup match between Kenya and Canada and got a bigger audience. What say?


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Monday, March 21, 2011

New Sr. CRM Consultant Opening in DELL

Dell is looking aggressively to fill this role. Please let me know if this interests you. You can contact me at +91.9945.254.742 or arhebbar (at) gmail or @rhebbar on Twitter.


Senior Consultant, Customer Relationship Management
India (Medium Business)

With focus on the Medium Business segment, this person will act as a CRM/Database Marketing subject matter expert to drive the evolution of targeted marketing within the India team to improve revenue & margin growth.

This person will work within the Dell APJ CRM team and work closely with the local country sales & marketing teams, particularly the India team, to ensure that the medium business segmentation & analytics, customer contact strategy & marketing programs, database coverage & quality are best in class.

The candidate will act as champion on CRM strategy/database marketing execution & measurement.  It is critical that the person has a strong background in database marketing strategy, program planning, test design, forecasting, program execution, measurement and analysis, and can clearly link program performance to show P&L improvements.

The position requires competencies including command skills, problem solving, organization agility, customer focus, outstanding verbal and oral presentation skills, ability to work within team and strong process orientation.  Proven functional / technical ability and project management skills required.  A good understanding of the India business dynamics would be preferred.

Key Responsibilities
  • CRM leadership / database marketing for India owning the relationship with the Country Sales GM, Marketing Director, Sales Operations and marketing team to ensure cross-functional alignment.
  • Develop multi-channel contact strategies for the India Medium Business segment that optimize marcom spend and maximize customer migration and share of wallet growth.
  • Ensure all contact strategies are effectively integrated across sales (SFDC, lead nurturing and management), online (email, global subscription center, white papers, case studies, product offers), direct mail and lead programs.
  • Engage local marketing, brand and sales teams to ensure successful execution of initiatives with internal marketing teams, agency providers & database vendors to improve response rates & ROI through the lifecycle of database marketing/CRM campaigns.
  • Manage quarterly database marketing planning process for CRM programs to build plan for database quality enhancement, segmentation & targeting, contact strategy & programs, test & measures with local stakeholders.
  • Manage Medium Business database marketing measurement methodology & reporting in partnership via external partner providers to show the positive impact of CRM programs on the business performance.
  • Manage the Medium Business data quality to ensure good market coverage & completeness of key fields required for effective targeted programs.  
  • Leverage regional / global best practices and adapt for in-country roll-out.
  • To ensure that all work conforms to the agreed business processes and that compliance and best practice are met at all times.
  • To act as cross APJ functional mentor for marketing teams on database marketing/CRM best practices.

Key Relationships
  • Global and APJ CRM team members
  • Strategy & Planning: Local Sales GM, Marketing Director, Sales/Marketing teams, APJ CRM team
  • Program development:  Global creative team & local marketing team
  • Improved targeting: APJ customer selections team, CRM program managers.
  • Better data quality: Global & APJ database quality teams, D&B and other local vendors
  • Program measurement: Global/regional analytics team, APJ reporting team (outsource)
  • Functional mentor to CRM team & local Marketing Managers for performance measurement
About Dell Inc.:
Want to work in an environment where each day is focused on delivering solutions that make a real difference in people’s lives?  Where teams are constantly curious and different perspectives and experiences are valued?  At Dell, we believe technology is essential for human success and that it should be accessible to everyone.  We are constantly evolving to better serve our customers, seize new opportunities and drive growth.  Together we can change the world.  Come join us.
Dell offers a competitive salary and bonus plan as well as a great benefit package.  For more information, visit us on the web at www.dell.com.

  • 10+ years of experience in CRM / Direct Marketing/ Database Marketing with a track record of delivering measurable results. Exposure to multiple DM media such as catalogue, direct mail, email is ideal.
  • In-depth experience in database marketing/CRM strategy, circulation planning, contact strategy, test design, program measurement and analysis, and CRM system deployment.
  • Excellent spoken and written skills, outstanding presentation skills. Exposure to present in a senior management environment.
  • Good understanding of CRM databases, targeting models and customer segmentation.
  • Strong project management skills to manage a wide range of programs and thrive in a fast-paced and demanding environment, proactively setting the business direction + managing daily deliverables.
  • Proven track record of working within a geographically dispersed, multi-functional team.
  • Good organizational agility, command skills and interpersonal skills to work effectively across functions and lines of business in a global virtual organization.
  • Other success attributes include being analytical, mature, results-oriented, meticulous and customer focused.
  • Proficient with MS Office: MS Excel, MS PowerPoint and MS Word. MS Visio is a plus.
  • Experience with Campaign Management tools such as SFDC preferred,
  • Good knowledge of Medium Business (100-499 employees) segment in India, the market dynamics & effective marketing strategies to IT decision makers.
  • IT industry experience preferred but not absolutely required.
  • Proven track record of choosing and managing 3rd party vendors for business critical deliveries.

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