Fairly Longish... but then brevity was never my strong point...
‘Tis Placements Season in b-schools, and I have been attending a lot of Company presentations. Now, there are good companies and bad companies, MNCs, Indian giants, small start-ups and what not… they may be banks, i-banks, consults… they may be bitter rivals or they may never have heard of each other… but their presentations are so similar that you can’t tell one from the other…
Let’s discuss the recipe for a typical company presentation:
One HR chick (seductively dressed), who has come b’coz she has nothing else to do;
Two business heads (properly suited-booted), who have been forced to come in spite of their tight schedules;
One or two alumni from the same institute (preferably seniors who have just joined and hence recognizable to the current batch);
One Windows Power point presentation and One Windows Media File.
Call the students at 7.00 in the evening (most preferable time since most b-schoolers wake up at 2.00 pm and hence are at their most active phase), but arrive at 7.30. If you are on time, you are not good enough. The HR has to come in first (she is the ‘face’ of the company), while the business heads make a grand entry a few minutes later. There has to be an urgent meeting which got delayed and hence one of your business heads couldn’t make it on time. There has to be a meeting in an exotic foreign locale (Mauritius, Cayman Islands et al), and hence another senior person who was supposed to come had to rush to save the world. Make the perfunctory excuses about bad traffic which delayed the team. Quotes like “Even a Merc can’t reach you on time in this bloody traffic” subtly convey that the gullible students can dream on about owning Mercs once they join in.
After the customary introductions by the harried Placement Committee members (who sometimes manage to forget the names!!!), you are ready to go. The HR steps out to fiddle with the computer, and the projector decides to do a Murphy. Make a joke about how technology is more an irritant than any help. The already tense Placom member hurries to fetch the Computer expert, while you carry on a light conversation with the group of assembled students. This is an ideal opportunity for the senior business heads to scan the room and pick the most ‘attractive’ faces whom they would like to boss over.
Computer expert comes and points out that the projector is not plugged in. Pity the room full of ‘thought leaders’ couldn’t make that connection. Anyways, now the stage is set.
Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, the presentation has to start with a ‘son et luminaire’ (audio visual for the idiots). The video has a husky voice explaining how the great company came into existence (“We have been in India since 1800, but we actually started serious operations last year”), how it has grown over the years (“Our profit has grown by 1500%, from 100 bucks to 1600 bucks"), what its businesses are (“we are a full service company and offer end-to-end solutions, to end all our clients’ businesses") and how it is one up on the competition (“we have the largest bank network in Chembur East”, and “we did the largest coffee company in Karnataka acquisition deal”, and “we led the largest cross-border debt syndication of a company in Ouagadougou”… you get the hint).
Thankfully, the lights are dimmed during this ego trip, and hence the poor b-schoolers catch up on lost sleep. But the Act-II of this video wakes them up and how!
Yes, Act-II has to have the recently joined Management Ass-ociates speak out on their wonderful experiences since joining this dream company. Forget the fact that those buggers joined this b’coz this was the only company that would even look at them. It is their chance to be ‘on camera’ and they will have their say. They talk about the wonderful training programs (“The best in the industry”), the foreign trips to interact with colleagues across the world (“they took us to Sri Lanka”), the responsibilities that they got on Day One of the job (“I got to draft an email for my boss”) and so on. When you put bad actors, and cheesy punch lines, the result is as appetizing as the beetroot-sambhar that yours truly once made…
Anyways, after this extended video, we come to the actual presentation. A small repetition of the company history, businesses and a bashing of the competition has to be there. Then, we come to the second most important slide – the skill sets. It has always amazed me that all companies want team players (“but look at the individual CGPA”), want ethically sound people, ambitious and self driven and competitive and customer-focused, with a service orientation… in short, superman and spiderman and he-man and all other X-men rolled into one.
Then, the business head steps forward. He goes on and on and on and on about his experiences with this wonderful company and what can we expect once we join his team. Thankfully, this guy happens to be the most sensible part of the entire presenting team, and hence is atleast bearable.
Then, the alumni of our own institute step forward, to resounding applause. They also deliver well-rehearsed lines about the great experience, the wonderful pay, the work culture and how the decision to join XYZ Company was the best they ever made. If the HR had asked them to bend over and pull down their pants, they would have gladly done that (and to think I might be doing the same thing next year, sob sob).
Then, slowly, the HR steps forward again. Ah, the beautiful HR lady… this is the company’s brahma-astra… after all this crap, if you were ever having any doubts as to whether to join this company or not, one look into her eyes and you are on your knees begging for a job.
But, then, she has not come up to let you ogle at her. Because there is a set of figures much more attractive behind her… yes, my friends, the all-important, the one part of the presentation which makes every TDH sit up and rub his eyes – the SALARY SLIDE. Now, Einstein might have wrote about Theory of Relativity, and Hawkins about black-holes, but even the greatest minds in the history of this universe cannot decipher the black-hole called CTC. It is the one number that can make an MBA stop dead in his tracks and shiver in nervous confusion. Anyways, after displaying the magic table for half a millisecond, the HR moves to the next slide – “ANY QUESTIONS???”
Now, for Act-III in this wonderful play… the Q&A round… this is a treat in itself…
“What is the career progression?” (i.e. “How long before I can hand out cards that say, “VP-Kurla East Branch?”)
“We have a flat structure, and so, u will cover the eighty levels to become head of business within the next thirty years.” (“you know and we know that you are gonna jump jobs in six months, so why bother with this crap?”)
“What is the mobility, i.e. to shift from one function to another?” (i.e. “I want to do exotic derivatives and you are giving me cheque clearance. How soon before I start gambling the banks’ money in the forex market?”)
“We encourage our employees to shift roles, but you must understand that you must have the necessary skills and a vacancy must arise in the specific department.” (i.e. “You know zilch about Black Scholes and do you think we are mad to trust you with a million dollar throw of dice? The vacancy will arise just 2 weeks after you have been assigned a project from which you cannot be shifted.”)
“What is the selection process?” (i.e. “How many crap GDs and interviews do I have to go through before I land up at your door?”)
“We have a fairly simple process. We invite CVs, ask you to apply online, take a psychometric test, fill up an application form and then we might have a few rounds of interviews.”
(i.e. CVs for our records to know who we are hiring, psycho test so that we can select a few through random number simulation and reply to the others saying, “You do not fit into the profile that we are looking for”, application form full of essays so that we might read and chuckle at your funny responses to strengths, weaknesses and career aspirations, and interviews so that it all looks authentic).
“Can you throw some more light on the job profile?” (i.e. “Er, all this is ok, but what the hell am I supposed to do once I come on board?”)
“The job will be challenging and motivating enough. You will be given a lot of responsibilities.” (i.e. “if we knew what your job is, don’t you think we would be doing it. Come and figure out for yourself.”)
“Please elaborate on the variable compensation package.” (i.e. “Is that CTC all that I get, or do I have a chance to pocket some more?”)
“Well, the variable pay will be entirely performance based. It ranges from a minimum of 10% to upwards of 50%. (i.e. “Our star performer got 50% ten years back. He has since left and we haven’t paid such bonuses for the last decade.”)
And so on and on it goes. And then, suddenly, some Placom member remembers that this company had promised pizzas and cold drinks for all those who attended. So, the presentation is declared closed and the crowd rushes to get its free pizzas. Only to find that a few smarter souls are already in line because they chose to miss the presentation.