Sunday, February 18, 2007

Generalised worker types in the software industry

Generalised note on different set of people types I worked with.

Well what can I say of the reverse culture shock....

to begin with, let me tell a note of few contrasting work cultures -

USA = value for time and money, family first principle. There is always fear of the fear of pink slip, so you are not as good as you think, until you have the job next day!
UK = value for money, time and family. Get paid for 8 hours, working for 10 hours.
UAE = value for good food, nice clothes etc., work, family and money. Work for 4 days and get paid for 6 days with special yearly vacations, but low salaries.
India = value for money (=time! suck them more!), family last... Job security is getting diluted as good as US, with pittance as salary. (personal experience, with inflation adjustments)

Noteworthy in the above is USA and India, to compare with my own experiences.

First in India, (I will not tell the company names for the sake of confidentiality of their nuances)

Stickler for times - Sundararaman, my senior was very keen on punctuality etc. One day I was late by 5 minutes to work, and he was rampant with his huge body, with strict time measures and work ethics. I said sorry and continued my work on supporting few lakhs worth software order (3 persons effort). The office timing was 9 AM to 5.30 PM, with 30 minutes break (official!). So when the clock struck 5.35PM, I looked my watch in front of S, and made my move to home. Nothing come's extra to work. At 7 in the evening, i had an unexpected guest in the house, even with his huge body, S had climbed up 3 flights of stairs and had come to meet me. I thought I was in joepardy (even though I had few offers in hand, but waiting on the bonus). He didnt say anything, he just asked me to come out for a dinner (chat). The dinner went fine, and when I was about to hire the auto back to home, he said - I am sorry, you proved a point and handed me a letter. With a smile on his face he said, you are promoted, so please stay back.

Party mongers - It so happens that in those days, with a salary of Rs 3000/-, having about 300 to 400 rs in the purse was princely sum. my friends, knew all the time and made me pay, and even though they are obligated to pay for/share for what they eat, it used to be on me and I never used to go back around to collect. I remember one guy telling me, " I just had one roti and little kurma, why should I pay!". In fact one other guy even shouted back to me, I am not going to run away giving back your money, while he was actually packing to leave abroad the very next day! Oxymorons. what they owed me those days would have been 10% of their networth, and today I would expect them to part with me 10% of their current networth!

Work life love interests - (This is not mine) There was this nice eyed, buck toothed girl, who was so interested in a guy, of the exceptional model qualities. She came with an idea, out of the blue moon and walked to this fellow and says, "Look my family is looking for alliance, but I like you, so if you are keen, do talk to my Dad!". The guy was bamboozled, and didnt know what to do, he cant complain, of the reverse discrimination, nor, tell anyone about it (except me, of course :-) ). He started crying! The girl was startled and ran away, never to return back to work. I am told she was helped by another colleague of mine, to get married to a US based person later. I did see a picture of her later, with a good smile! (nice dentist work, I think so!).

Friends - friendship and parties apart, there was none to help out in terms of career. Of course people were very keen on getting the short cut to go abroad. A friend of mine, who never told anyone, that his visa was processed and he was moving abroad, but used to take help of others and learn as much as he can and also pass certain comments like "I hate working abroad" etc. When the chance came, he was the first to take a flight. He is living with his family in his palatial house at upstate New York.

I also remember swollen faces and hangovers, but good careers of certain friends. Hardly I can comprehend how they pulled it off! Something was always worked on the backend.

There was a friend of mine, who liked to stay alone and zip-zap in a bike, but was never a contender for a girl in the work place. One fine day, she was to leave for her Masters away, so this guy, goes and hands over a card. She started crying.... Atleast, they liked that time, and when the train was moving she and she proposed, and they were married - one year after she finished the course. Now they live happily in Michigan.

There is a friend of mine, who was so worried that even with being 4 years elder and also with 2.5 years work experience, he was making only Rs 20/- more per month, in basic salary. What logic? (he didnt get the idea that performance pays!)

Rotten minds - a colleague of mine, lately I saw him in the streets of Chennai, with dirty unkempt clothes and looks, un-combed .... begging on the street very recently. Probably he was out of his mind for want of money. He had joined the job with fake provisional certificate. Companies do hire without check those days unlike now. He got caught into bad friends, drink and drug stuff I think and being the only son of the widowed mother, he had his says in life. Best clothes, parties, fun, girls etc. He couldnt clear one paper, and never got his degree. He went and joined another co., and never made it. I saw him in the central station, 8 years ago, sleeping on the lengthy cement chairs (now replaced). He saw me, recognised me and didnt know what to do. My brother was with me then. He walked to me and asked my brother," do you have matches!". My brother doesnt smoke, so he said, "sorry, dont have.". So he went back and slept again. To make this stroy short. If he had had the stable mind he could have made it!

Friends who Steal Ideas. I was bitten twice. (If "you" read and get offended, I dont care!). When I made up my mind to return to India, I was very keen on starting something of my own. So I was talking to this friend of mine, about a certain idea, where his experience would suit and pull something off together and go the venture way. We met in India, and I delayed taking my fulltime job,. to earn little more, till I get a VC. I set him with a friend of mine, who had a SW co. and got him space. Nothing was in writing. I used to meet quite often once in a month and give more ideas etc. One day, another friend of his comes into the picture, who had a VC commitment, and walked away with this idea and my friend. He was sold. I ended up with nothing for the hard effort (on the side though!). The same friend fell out of terms with the other guy, and he walks out with the sell of share (few milions I guess!). I met him later, by chance, while he was struggling to start something on his own, without any ideas. I was feverishly making picthes this time, to different VC on my 'Voice, Click and Send" Voice SMS product idea (created by my wife), after my first venture failed and I was back in mainstream. He spoke to me, at one such VC place, and I fell for his guile again. One bitten twice shy, did not strike me. Nor did i ask about the failed previous venture idea, where he walked away. I explained him my new venture, and once again talked of my wife taking an active role than me, as I had to earn little more as I had flunked in another venture of my own (I will write about it separately). He agreed to give 50% stake, in the new venture and left. The idea, was gone (I slipped again!) 18 months later, I see the same idea, as a Malaysian funded VC co. and now in news again with a product. Few millions in the drain for me. Third strike, You are out, they say in USA (baseball terminlogy). I am going to go back with a vengeance in the third time, if he tries to trick me again. Now I am working on the mobile blogging idea, and let me see how that works out. (where I dont see a penny coming along).

There was another friend of mine, who wanted to start something for his brother, in India, and I helped in getting space in the SEZ park. The verbal agreement, was, my wife would be a stakeholder. Nothing signed with friends, and you are not expected to do it. They were also looking for alliance for the brother. So I work with a product idea of catalogs, and presented. I was in India, my buddy was in US, and his brother in India. His brother came to me and sort of begged, as the investment was "few lakhs only" (not realising the venture returns), he would like to show this co. as his own, to get a good healthy dowry and match. My parents were are spoken to on this and they forced me, and I being bitten twice earlier, had to give away the few lakhs opportunity for the want of a stable income. Down in drains, 2 million USD again. Now that brother, a non engineer, is a product development manager, in the co acquired that acquired them in 2 years.

There is another friend of mine, in the same city where am now, whom I had helped with ideas of running a software co., now works for his manager in the other co. That manager, cannot go back to gulf, as his boss, as he claims, that he was forced to borrow 100 K AED from a UAE bank, for business and never returned and ran-off as his boss closed shop. So this manager, joins another software co., after floundering the co. of my friend and did a deed of hiring him. On the personal front, my friend had lost family wealth owing to fire, even though his father is a rags to riches story couldnt save for him.

Ugly bosses (mind though!) - there was one manager of mine, always keen on talking about investments (he knows that I have decent chunk in the market), and so he used to always pull and push me to give him ideas. One day he walked to me and asked to come in to a conf room. I was worried, as I had just started with a new project and didnt get the hang of it, due to very good co-operation of the team. He sort of told me in a hush hush tone, "look, I know your team problems - I can solve it, but you have to help me (pause) fix my investments for better returns, or else...". I walked to the HR manager, the same evening and pulled some strings and next day onwards I never worked with him again. I cannot take black-mailers as bosses.

In the USA, I always had great fun with workers, mostly being a contractor. You cannot lie in work, and they expect trustworthiness.

Friendly boss - I was stunned, to find out, a deal was worked out with another analyst, to keep him on the project, with a promise that, he could move to another consulting co, which was charging about 20% less rate, than the current co. supplier. Never I heard of it in USA. The deal, he saves 20% cost, and keeps the same person on board, flouting ethics... still both are employed there fulltime.

There was also another boss, who was making contractors to work, promising to give compensatory time off, and never stood by his words. I lost 3 weeks of pricely vacation!

No comments: