Inquisitive Interviews : Simmy Mathew – Auditor

Hi all we are back this week again with Inquisitive Interviews, yes it’s not been on for a couple of weeks, and I am to blame completely. However, this week we are back with something inquisitive for you guys to look at. The profile that we will cover today is that of an Auditor. Yes Auditors, the very same people that can give a shiver to many. If at all you wondered what they do and why people seem to be scared of them, well here are probably some answers.

For the uninitiated, Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewees providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

 

[Q] Tell Us something about yourself (Things like Name, how many years you have been working and anything else you would like to add.)

 I am known as ‘Simmy Mathew’.

Lived in Dubai for the last 14 years and counting….

Work has been part of my life since the last 7 years.

[Q] What do you Do for a living and Where?

I work as an auditor for Ernst and Young, Dubai

[Q] Is the job what you had expected it to be?

Yes, and maybe a little more…I always wanted to be an auditor and I still remember when I was 16, telling my aunt that I wanted to be an auditor and work in the Big4.So, yes! I am living my dream! 😀

[Q] Is the salary what you had expected it to be?

Yes, I started off at the junior level and it was what I expected.

[Q] What is your average day like?

Well, being an auditor means you are never in office but at the clients – auditing their books.  So an average day is working in a team and trying to achieve deadlines. It varies – depending on the industry you are working in, the size of the entity you are auditing…They are times that I am at a client for months and they are times I am at the client for one-two weeks…. and no two days are the same.

 I work with different sets of people , which is a challenge in itself .

[Q] What’s the most interesting part of your job?

The exposure that I get is high and the learning curve is great. ..But I think the most interesting part of the job is multitasking – applying what you learned in different types of industry and getting your work done, supervising your junior staff work, being proactive and planning ahead.

[Q] What’s the most challenging part of your job?

People ….i guess in a country like UAE – you meet different types of people  – different upbringing, different cultures, different nationalities….so working with them…can be a challenge but I love challenges and embrace  them with open arms.

[Q] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like?

Actually nothing……Sometimes it can get monotonous hence maintaining a right mix of work is important.

[Q] Do you get bored at your workplace at all?

I have to say I don’t have time to get bored……so the answer to that would be no!

[Q] Do you report to someone? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job?

Yes, I do but that varies…it could be a senior/asst manager/ manager.  Basically they are there to review your work and sort out any issues you have while auditing .

[Q] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college? or where did you pick up the skills ?

well, I have to say what I studied in college as my degree was a bachelors in accounting and Finance definitely helped….Also. ACCA had been an added plus point on the growth path.

 Also, at Ernst & young, if you join as a graduate – they have the graduate development program which ensures you are up-to-date with the Ernst & Young methodology and the latest developments in the accounting world. So there are enough training to develop your career at Ernst & Young.

[Q] What are your Alumni? Where did you study?

School              : Our Own English High School, Dubai

University         : Middlesex University, Dubai campus

Currently pursuing my ACCA

[Q] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry?

Yes, I would. But it requires a little effort and being able to manage a lot of work in time pressure situations.

[Q] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry?

Plan ahead. I f you are an university student and want to try a career, decide where you want to get in and plan how you are going to go about it. Have a roadmap to where  you want to go …and that will help you plan your direction.

[Q] Anything else you want to tell the readers?

Love what you do…no matter what industry you are …then work is all fun…otherwise all work and no play will definitely make Jack a dull boy! 😀

[Q] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession?

ACCA website : http://www.accaglobal.com/ 

IAS plus : http://www.iasplus.com/

You can get in touch with Simmy on Facebook at here profile here: http://www.facebook.com/simmy.mathew

If at all you wondered what Auditors do, I hope this would have given you a better idea. Thank you Simmy for an insight into the world of the Auditors, hope you guys the readers are more aware of the work of Auditors. Until next time, Be Inquisitive.

Inquisitive Interviews : Vishal & Samir Bharadwaj – Graphic Designers (Freelance)

Another Sunday and I am proud to present another Inquisitive Interview for this week. Usually though I try to get the interview on  a single person. This week however we have 2 brothers at the interview together. I did think of splitting it, but somehow reading it over and over I thought I enjoyed it as being read together. Both are friends I have made in Dubai and I should tell you that I am more than happy to have got in touch with them for the interview. Right through to the end of the interview there are links to their blogs and personal and professional websites which do carry some really interesting posts in them, they are definitely worth a read as well. Witty, creative and awesomely interesting with the conversations, this is a must read even if you have been skipping on the previous interviews.

For the uninitiated, Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewees providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

[Q] Tell Us something about yourself (Things like Name, how many years you have been working and anything else you would like to add.)

Vishal: I’m Vishal Bharadwaj, but not that famous guy who makes those movies. I’ve been working since 2003 when I finally wrenched myself away from the clutches of Academia with most of my vital organs intact.

Samir: I’m Samir Bharadwaj, and I’m Vishal Bharadawaj’s brother. No, not the famous guy, the lesser know Academia wrestler. It’s sometimes difficult to make the distinction between when I wasn’t working and when I was, but I’d say since 1998 or so in various freelance capacities.

[Q] What do you Do for a living and Where ?

Vishal: I’m a graphic designer, mostly web & identity design, with a healthy side of illustration. I work from home, which means that, yes, I do not have to dress up and go to work. Pants, in fact, are optional.

Samir: Graphic Design is the official version of what I do, but it does vary from web design to more traditional print design, to illustration and even writing when the need arises. Generally, design covers all of it. I also wear pants, most of the time. I leave the well ventilated artistry to my esteemed colleague.

[Q] Is the job what you had expected it to be ?

Vishal: This is a hard question to answer since I rarely think of it as a job, more a craft that I sometimes use to make me money. I could say yes, because the kind of actual work I do and the skillset I bring to it is entirely what I envisioned using my brain & hands for. I could say no, because (at least initially) I thought I’d be doing the majority of my creative work for other people in a strict client-designer setup, rather than today, where most of the truly creative work I do is for myself, and the client work is just what pays the bills.

Samir: There’s an initial idealism which comes with getting into any field of work, especially in creative fields, when you imagine you will have the complete freedom to do what you want and produce the best work. You imagine you will not need to compromise with clients and other human creatures who don’t always know better but still have a say. Thankfully, I didn’t really have that phase of idealism, because I had my first client experience almost before I was doing any major projects for learning. It’s a useful lesson to learn. However, I’ve gained my idealism at a later date to make up, and am now more selective about what and who I will work with. It’s a choice to be made, to either do what you imagine doing or do what is required. What is required is always far from ideal, but it is easier.

[Q] Is the salary what you had expected it to be ?

Vishal: There’s a SALARY? Samir, you never told me!

Samir: I neither confirm nor deny the existence of a salary! Unless I’m asked by the authorities, in which case I’m paying myself handsomely and have a wonderful boss. Vishal is a CEO, you know? This is why he makes the big sacrifices. I get to pretend to have a bigger salary than he does, so that I feel wanted and nurtured by our design studio, Primordial Soop.

On a more serious note, being your own boss and being in a creative field without a “steady salary” is not for the light-hearted, or for the smart-phone-laden. Freedom comes at a price, especially as you try to build things up from scratch, and that price is often in the form of living a monkish existence. You sometimes even come to prefer it in some ways.

[Q] What is your average day like ?

Vishal: This is the part that sounds enviable; I wake up pretty-much whenever I want (unless I need to be somewhere, say a client meeting), and spend the better part of an hour sitting in front of a computer screen slowly caffeinating myself, and revving up my brain with idle tasks like twitter & checking mail. Then it’s onto the tasks at hand, be it client work or personal projects. Somewhere between then and 4am the next day some actual work may be done, as well as the rest of daily life. The downside of working for yourself is you often do not know when to quit, and concepts like ‘weekends’ and ‘quitting time’ become far-forgotten things. Honestly, if you asked me what day it is today, I’d have to look it up.

Samir: I concur with Vishal on all the above. Except for the caffeinating myself thing. I prefer using a slideshow of kitten images. When I can’t take it anymore, I force myself to work. Sometimes it works. Sometimes the kittens win.

Working for yourself can often mean doing everything for yourself, and this can be a huge variety of tasks from administrative paper work to making invoices, communicating with clients and doing the actual work you get paid for. All of these things are very different and require different schedules and mental disciples, so the days vary depending on the tasks at hand. But invariably, design today involves a lot of computer time, and pacing while you try to figure out an idea.

[Q] What’s the most interesting part of your job ?

Vishal: The design itself, and certainly in the broad ways we define it there’s enough to keep our interest. In a regular job the term ‘graphic design’ means something very narrow and is increasingly fragmented (identity, UX, UI, etc etc), but since it’s just me & Samir — and we like to work on everything — our job involves thinking of everything from aesthetics to technical aspects of, say, putting a website up, mucking about with HTML & CSS, choosing a proper light source when doing an ink drawing, user experience, getting a magazine to offset print correctly, making music for an animation, and so on. It’s the variety that truly keeps me going: in a single day, on a single project, I can and must bring several skills into play.

Samir: Yes, I agree, the variety is the most interesting part. Having said that, there is also a certain sharp focus that happens when you work for long on one aspect of a project, especially things like HTML/CSS coding or a series of illustrations, when you really get into the flow and issues get tackled with a natural comfort. Those are good moments too.

[Q] What’s the most challenging part of your job ?

Vishal: Deciding on what to do next. It isn’t so much a matter of ‘time management’ as seeing the big picture with regards to both the projects at hand & other projects down the road, and what you need to do now to make your life easier then. It takes a month to make a website from scratch, more if that site is for yourself and you need to create content too. Motion graphics take a lot of planning. And then there’s keeping your skills up, educating yourself in new techniques & technologies, and honing your skills with things like illustration — practice, practice, practice. It’s easy to neglect one or more aspects of your life and discover to your horror that you haven’t drawn anything for six months.

Samir: The balance between doing, dreaming and planning. These are all essential to our kind of work and to most visual and creative fields. Cutting out any one of the three will hamper your success, but the entangled nature of the three aspects of the work mean that it’s very difficult to consider them all and never get anything done. Keeping on track and on time is always challenging when there isn’t someone telling you exactly what to do every single hour of every single day. Add to that the fact that things can never be perfectly predicted, with each project being unique, and you have a lot of uncertainty that requires plenty of thinking on your toes.

[Q] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like ?

Vishal: Education. I don’t mean school or college, but the inherent gap — especially in this market — between what you’re offering a client and what they think they’re getting. It’s fair to say that most clients we’ve encountered don’t have a proper understanding of how graphic design or the internet works, how they can use it as a business tool, and ultimately how much they’re willing to pay for it. Let’s put it this way: if you think you want a website for your business ‘just because everyone has one’ that is the worst reason, and chances are the price we ask for the project is going to make you scream. We’re expensive, but not if you know what you’re getting and how to use it to make your business money.

Samir: As Vishal mentions, getting people to understand what they are getting is a big stumbling block. And there is also the issue of clients behaving as if they are buying a commodity. A service is not a product that can be bought per-kilo, or based on how many pieces there are. Designers charge based on time, effort, and often simply based on what the service is worth to the end-user. We’re constantly getting clients who want to get a break-up of what we are charging for each part of our service, and frankly that is usually a dead-end mode of thinking as far as we are concerned. You don’t buy a car based on how many kilos of steel there are in it, and we can’t really make a logo for you based on that measure either.

[Q] Do you get bored at your workplace at all ?

Vishal: Frequently. Not the actual physical desk, but certainly Dubai. All creative jobs require constant stimulation — it’s the fuel that runs your idea engine — and all the tall buildings and malls, or even browsing every design website in the world, is not a substitute for being plunged into someplace that keeps your interest.

Samir: Ditto. Garbage in, garbage out.

[Q] Do you report to someone ? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job ?

Vishal: I report to Samir, and Samir reports to me. We’re constantly communicating on the work we’re doing, be it client or personal. We either work together on a project or apart, and it’s pretty fluid as to how much we look to each other. In the initial stages of a design we tend to work alone on ideas each may have, and consult each other when there’s a first draft. By the end of a project we may be working together at the same station squashing bugs and fixing graphics, working through a checklist. It’s good to have someone right across the room I can call over for an opinion, a set of fresh eyes.

Samir: Nothing much to add to that, except that my boss is always drinking at work, coffee that is. Also, I don’t see why he gets to have the larger imaginary car.

[Q] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college ? or where did you pick up the skills ?

Vishal: My course was focused more on software than design theory, and in the initial few years it certainly helped just to get things done. Were I looking for a regular job, the skills may have gotten me in the door. But software goes out of date, design trends change, new technologies are introduced. The way we make a website today is almost completely different to the way I was taught, and this has been a gradual change over the years as new tech is introduced & assimilated into my workflow. My aesthetic sense has been honed by thousands of hours of looking at better work, seeing what I like, trying to emulate it, failing, trying again, failing better, and eventually making some leaps that lead to good, creative work.

Samir: Education can help but only to a point. I found that almost everything I actually use I learnt by reading and exploring things myself. I had no training in web design or HTML, but I taught myself as I was working on freelance web design projects. Ultimately, doing something for actual use is the best teacher. No amount of dummy projects and practice sessions can help. If you want to learn how to do something, do it. Where education can help is in putting you in touch with a variety of people (hopefully), with varying thoughts on the subject. The rest is up to you.

[Q] Whats your Alumni ? Where did you study ??

Schooling 

Vishal: Indian School Muscat, mostly. I spent a few months in Our Own English High School Dubai. I got my O-Levels from Grammar School Dubai.

Samir: Indian School Muscat was my school for almost all my schooling years.

Pre University College 

Vishal: I don’t have a Bachelor’s degree. I got a diploma in graphic design from a college in England (I did the course in Dubai) that I literally do not remember the name of off the top of my head. It was a piece of paper. I think it has my name on it. I hope. (See what I mean about wrenching myself away from the clutches of Academia?)

Samir: I did a year long technical course in general IT, databases and such which certainly gave me a good grounding in the technical aspects of computers. Again, I can’t say what I learnt there was of any specific use, especially since Windows 95 was a revolutionary new thing when I was there, but it helped me know what to learn and what to read up on when I need to.

Bachelor’s Degree 

Samir: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. I’ve been a fine bachelor ever since … What do you mean that’s not what it’s meant for?

Vishal: That is indeed what it’s meant for. I should add that you passed with distinction, which makes you a distinguished fine bachelor.

Master’s Degree

Samir: Study more? In a classroom? I don’t know if I’m ever going to be that bored.

Vishal: I’d rather invest the money in Victoria’s Secret futures.

[Q] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry ?

Vishal: Definitely. Even if all you’re interested in being a low-end art monkey in some ad agency, it sure beats digging coal for a living. I can complain about bad & lazy designers all I want, but the truth is it’s fun if you’ve got some creativity in your bones.

Samir: The levels you can work on vary wildly, and most people in the design field will always be doing low-end grunt work, but if you are the regular job kind of person and you can’t stand digging though spread sheets instead (I can’t promise you’ll be saved from Power Point, in fact I can guarantee you won’t), then there are a lot worse things to be doing that making layouts and editing photos and making websites. If you enjoy this sort of work, it can be extremely satisfying.

[Q] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry ?

Vishal: The internet is a vast resource that rewards deep research, but is also a death trap of productivity. Stay off it & a computer as much as possible, and never give up on a piece of paper & a pencil — it’s where the best designs will be born. As long as you keep picking up new techniques/software one at a time and discarding any that are outmoded, you’ll do okay — but ultimately what software you know is secondary to your aesthetic sense & ability to put out work of a high technical proficiency.

Samir: Read a lot, look at a lot of art and movies, try to find patterns. Try to experience as much nature as you can, because if there is a design idea, whether visual or otherwise, it’s a good bet nature already thought of it before you. Feel free to steal. Always go around with a small notebook and pen (or equivalent high-tech device if you absolutely must), and write down ideas and questions that come to you. Sketch things you see. You can’t imagine what a treasure trove your notebooks can be. Always be curious. Make things.

[Q] Anything else you want to tell the readers ?

Vishal: Working for yourself is not glamorous. Graphic design only sounds cool from the outside, to other people. Like everything else, it is a serious profession and 99% of the time you’re doing dull, tedious work. The good news is you can step back once the work is done and you might have made something truly good. And if you didn’t, learn and move on. The next great idea is always around the corner.

Samir: Not only is graphic design not glamorous, but it is a lot of hard work. Even in regular jobs, office hours can often be disregarded in this profession, so beware of that. The only way to improve you experience of it is to do better work and hence get into better positions based on your talent. When in doubt, ask someone whose work you admire for advice or pointers, but be polite and understanding about their time. Beyond their mad schedules, people are usually willing to share insights or provide guidance. Listen to what they all have to say, then do only what seems exactly right for you. Experiment, experiment, experiment.

[Q] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession ?

Vishal: There’s a million design resources out there, but specifically for freelancing, http://freelanceswitch.com/ is a nice portal.

Samir: This is a great talk on graphic design by a well experienced designer. It’s worth a listen: http://www.ted.com/talks/paula_scher_gets_serious.html

You can check out their Facebook profiles and other contact information below where you can get in touch with them.

Facebook Profile

Vishal: http://www.facebook.com/allVishal

Samir: http://www.facebook.com/samir.bharadwaj

Twitter Profile

Vishal: http://www.twitter.com/allVishal

Samir: http://www.twitter.com/SamirBharadwaj

Any Other Profiles?

http://www.allVishal.com

http://SamirBharadwaj.com

http://www.PrimordialSoop.com

I am sure that you guys enjoyed the Interview as much as I did when reading it, it has been an absolute pleasure working with both of you for this interview, am sure the readers really liked it. That’s it guys from the Inquisitive Interviews desk for this week, more interesting interviews coming soon, until then Be Inquisitive.

Inquisitive Interviews : Altaf Jasnaik – Corporate Brand and Learning Manager

Inquisitive Interviews is back this week with an interesting profession of sorts. This week I introduce you Altaf Jasnaik, who interestingly has two titles on his business card, one being Learning and Development manager and another Corporate Brand Manager. People all the time tend to write good at multi-tasking on their resume to make it look impressive, I guess there will be no guesses about the multi tasking capabilities of Altaf. Altaf in his interview decided to give weightage to the one profile of his work that really his mind is at, the brand management perspective. Although we have had a brand manager before, this interview gives an insight into what working with a multi national organization in the capacity he is in, would be like.

For the uninitiated, Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewees providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

[Q] Tell us something about yourself- where you live, work, your interests…? 

Hello, I’m Altaf Jasnaik. An Indian by origin, born and brought up in the UAE, I have lived most of my life outside India, with episodes of my life spent in the UK and parts of Europe due to work and education related travel.

An engineering student with an aptitude for design, it didn’t take me long to realize I was not cut for running machines or operations. Just not something I was good at. So I moved into the design and management side of technology and engineering organizations. After a masters in business and working for a couple of years in the UK, I returned to Dubai where I worked with a chain of Multi-National companies managing marketing, branding and innovation roles. After working with technology companies like JVC, Panasonic, Grundfos and now Sharp, over the past decade I have learnt that it is almost always not who you worked for, but what you did with the opportunities that came your way.

Good things don’t happen to good people. If you’re good, you will get stamped on. If you’re smart, you will be able to turn things around and make the most of any situation. Just remember to think on your feet and at least one step ahead. You see I hold two titles 1st “Corporate Brand Manager” and then “Learning and Development Manager”. Perhaps you have room only for one title so we can call it as “Corporate Brand and Learning Manager” for Sharp’s MEA operations.

[Q] Is the job what you expected it to be ? And is the compensation good enough ? 

Yes. I have been a brand ambassador for the brands I have worked for and have been managing Brand portfolios for MNCs in the region. It gives me an opportunity to leverage my engineering background along with the exposure to marketing for helping organizations run their marketing operations regionally and globally. To top it, my carefully crafted career path has always made room for me to follow my passion for innovation. Either directly involved with Innovation Platforms or towards discovery of new products and technologies.

If you’re doing what you love and the money is good, it can make you complacent. So if you’re in it for the money, look for a sales job.

[Q] What is your average day like at work? If possible a recent project or work that excited you enough as part of your job? 

As the custodian of a brand, work isn’t limited to the office floor. You try to share the story of the brand you represent at every step. But an average day would mean you’re in and out of meetings, mostly high-energy status-checks on the numerous projects going around the huge territory we look after. Since work isn’t life, I try to make room for myself with a fitness routine after sunrise, followed by a flexibly drafted day full of time to be with family before and after work. There isn’t a set formula, but the trick is in the balance you can conduct your days with.

I think there are several but maybe a good example would be one that reflects what working in a global MNC environment could be like. Sharp decided to participate at the region’s foremost Info. Tech show, GITEX. At the show Sharp wanted to create a big bang using its technologies and the product that was zeroed in on was a 60 inch 5.5 mm slim bezel (meaning the rectangular frame around the screen) LCD display monitor with LED backlight. A typical innovation which changes the game of professional display technology, but yet an ‘unsexy’, ‘how-will-it-change-my-average-middle-class-life’ product with little appeal to any normal exhibition visitor. So the challenge was to promote the product using impressive content and using the sheer size of the product.

So we decided to make the world’s largest 360 inch LCD video-wall at GITEX which would make it the largest ever single screen LCD display. While that first looked like a challenge in terms of the technical integration, it turned out to be an even bigger challenge in terms of content. “What do you show on such a large LCD?”. Faced with this challenge, a colleague and I were handed the responsibility of putting this show together. Using the vast network of professionals Sharp has globally, we collected relevant experiences and ideas from everyone in Sharp’s global network. We travelled to exhibitions in the Far East, Europe and America to understand how best to make this show a success.

Since it was the first time any Sharp company was doing this, we found that colleagues all over the world were excited to see what we would come up with. What began as a local challenge became a global case study for Sharp with all eyes on what we would create. After several hundred hours spent toying with concepts, we decided to go for the record braking LCD  screen size and also make specially designed video content that we could use and that could be shared globally. Once this was set in stone, we saw a sudden influx of more ideas and funds from all over the organization to support our mission.

What followed was some of the roughest creative surfing I have ever been involved in the uncharted-waters of ‘creating-globalized-content’. As we discovered it was not a piece of cake, and to think of suiting the needs of a global audience is not easy business. Anyhow, after several weeks of working with some of the best and most creative people from across the world, we came up with the final exhibition format, that included the 360 Inches LCD display and the video content that we fondly remember as DMAT – “Don’t Miss A thing”. Why DMAT, if you ask, well with a bezel so slim, unlike other video-walls, Sharp’s cutting edge LCD technology can create an almost seamless viewing experience for any type of application in any diversified environment.

Not all the work one does in a regional office is meant to take this course. Often you are left with the responsibilities of customizing global content locally, but this was the perfect example of taking local content global. A year into the project, and after replica shows in the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and all over Asia, DMAT has become a phenomenon of taking ideas from creative members of an international team seriously. Sharp HQ has more faith in our abilities and all of Sharp’s subsidiaries look forward to the next most creative exhibition solution that Sharp Middle East and Africa will come up with.

[Q] Is this job what you had pictured to be? If yes, then how long did you take to get here?

Frankly no. It is but a step or two short of where I want to be in life, at the forefront of an innovation team that is able to churn out one innovation after another. My aim is to use my marketing and branding background to be able to understand customer needs better. Then translate these needs into innovation platforms, which use company resources to develop real and meaningful innovations that change the way people live their lives. Call it a long shot, but this is where I aim to be. It took me 10 years to get here and I am giving myself another 5 to be in the role I wish to be at.

If my formula of taking every chance life throws at me works, I will continue to move spirally in my career to reach this place I want to be. If it isn’t meant to be, I will retire at 40 and take up teaching and consultation so that I can pursue a business model I have in mind for promoting innovation globally.

[Q] What’s the most interesting part of your job? Do you get bored at your workplace? 

The customer interaction, understanding their needs and translating them into products. Yes I do get bored. Sometimes things are too routine. But then right around the corner is a new challenge.

[Q]  What’s the most challenging part of your job? And whats the part you don’t like ?

If the word challenging were to be stripped of any negative connotations related that spell “problem”, the most challenging part of my job as the facilitator of learning and development is creating and sustaining an environment of mutual sharing that is based on long-term thinking. It is a challenge, and one that is related to people and their personalities. But this is exactly what I love doing, so I continue playing this duel.

The part that I don’t like is that, It involves a lot of travel. The worst has been over 150 days a year.

[Q] Do you report to someone? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job? 

Yes. Very little. I have the freedom to chart my days and plan my activities.

[Q] Whats your Alumni ? Where have you studied ? 

School : Sharjah Indian School, Sharjah, UAE

Pre University : Wilson College, Mumbai, UAE

Bachelors Degree: D.Y.Patil College, India

Masters Degree : University of Bedforshire, Luton, UK

[Q] Do you use skills that you learnt in school /college? Did you take up any specific training or courses? 

Yes, the basic math, logic and language skills learnt from school are what you use for 90 % of the time. So kids in school, pay attention. The remaining 10 % of the time, you are the expert that you are. Someone who knows how to use the skills at the right time, to the right degree to make the crucial operational bits work. These skills are gathered and sharpened over time.

[Q] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry? Meaning what are the limitations/ drawbacks of the industry? 

Yes, if you love people-and-technology interactions and travelling to far-distant places. No, if you want to make tons of money.

[Q] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry? And what do they need to watch out for ? 

Spend some time and effort understanding what you are good at first. Don’t join the band wagon, but don’t jump the boat. Know your strengths and then take some chances.

[Q] Anything else you want to tell the readers? 

Stay humbled, not grounded. Skip dinners, not breakfast. First learn to compete with yourself, if you can overcome your shortcomings you won’t need to compete with anyone else.

[Q] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession? In terms of General reading as well as Job Searches? 

The entire WWW (worldwideweb)

You can get in touch with Altaf at these links below :

http://www.facebook.com/altaf.jasnaik

http://ae.linkedin.com/in/discoveraltafjasnaik

 A hearty thanks to Altaf for a wonder insight into what goes on with a corporate Brand and Learning Manager. I hope you guys enjoyed this interview as much as I enjoyed presenting it to you, until next time Be Inquisitive.

Inquisitive Interviews : Priya Sethumadhavan – Physiotherapist (Freelance)

To all the folks following Inquisitive Interviews, apologies for the missed post last week. I just got back from my vacation and had a tough time getting the post additionally I have not really been scouting for new interviews. Anyway this week I present somewhat of an interesting profile of Priya, a good friend again but someone who is working as a freelance physiotherapist. Interested to learn more ? Read on.

Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewees providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

[ Q ] Tell us something about yourself ?

Hi I’m Priya,Indian in every aspect but born and brought in Dubai, I love yapping so thank you Melvin to giving me the opportunity to yap on his blog:) I hope through this interview i would be able to give a clear insight to what physiotherapy is all about.

[ Q ] What do you Do for a living and Where ?

I’m a Physiotherapist, freelancing handling children with special needs.

[ Q ] Is your job what you expected it to be ?

I was a person who always wanted to do everything in a different way.Having taken science in 11th and 12th, I had people branding me as the next doctor and engineer or even dentist, but i wanted to do something different.While I was studying my grandma had a hip fracture and my home town being a small one she had to travel 80 kms to the closest city to get her treatment done, but she would never miss it cause the relief she felt was very nice,so that inspired me why not study physiotherapy and then be of use to people, cause pain is to be gotten rid of and not sustained.Finished college and like all fresh graduates expecting a job to be on a platter,but soon realized your either not qualified enough to get into big hospitals and the rules in this part of the world is very strict when it comes to the medical field.A couple months of frustration down the line I got an opportunity to work for special needs school, I was heart-broken when i got through the interview,coz it definitely wasnt my field of choice. Initially I dint enjoy it, but then my attachment with special needs kids grew and I learnt to appreciate so many trivial things in life thanks to all these kids that today I would proudly say im doing my dream job

[ Q ] Is your salary what you expected it to be ?

I doubt if there would be anyone who would be completely satisfied with their salary and not seek for more :) When I worked in the special needs center the salary was literally peanuts,but ever since I have started freelancing I think I make enough to suffice my needs for daily living.

[ Q ] What is your average day like ?

my average day starts with worshipping God followed by my stomach, then the start of my sessions.The schedules of my sessions are subject to change since I deal with kids.I usually drive about 200 kms in a day going from one point to the other,but since the destination is what I look forward to the drive is enjoyable and the day ends with an awesome time with my friends either having chai or playing badminton!

[ Q ] What’s the most interesting part of your job ?

My kiddies, its amazing to hear their talks its amazing the see how a teeny weeny progress in them gives immense joy to the parents and sense of achievement to oneself. my job teaches me to find joy in the silliest of things and feel blessed everyday.

[ Q ] What’s the most challenging part of your job ?

Handling the emotions, of the parents, the kids i see and myself when u get stuck with the progress and then don’t know what you should be doing next.Emotions need not be the sentimental stuff,even sometimes you need to control your anger when your handling paranoid parents.

[ Q ] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like ?

When the kids take a break from therapy, it could be due to illness, school exams,functions, a break of just 1 weeke is more than enough for them to regress back, so then it irritates.

[ Q ] Do you get bored at your workplace at all ?

NEVER, I have lots of workplaces:) i go to the child’s house and offer therapy in the home surroundings, so in a day i kind of visit 5-6 houses :)

[ Q ] Do you report to someone ? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job ?

I report to the kids I treat, they are my boss. They have a huge impact on the job, coz if they decide not to cooperate there is nothing much I can do.

[ Q ] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college ? or where did you pick up the skills ?

Physiotherapy treatments for children with special needs evolves everyday. We need to be as creative as possible to achieve our targets.

[ Q ] What’s your Alumni ? Where have you studied ?

Schooling                     : Grammar school Dubai, Our Own English high School,Dubai

Pre University               : Our own English high School,Dubai

Bachelor’s Degree        : Laxmi Memorial College of Physiotherapy,Mangalore

 

[ Q ] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry ?

definitely, you may or may not make much money, but you definitely will feel nice about yourself when you turn out to be a vital part of society.

[ Q ] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry ?

Work hard, have a lot of patience, nothing is easy in this world. But your hard work and sincerity will definitely pay off and the satisfaction achieved is here to stay!

[ Q ] Anything else you want to tell the readers ?

Enjoy life, always take up a career only what you enjoy doing not what you have been forced upon! Once in your lifetime spend a day with a special needs and feel how blessed you are!

[ Q ] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession ?

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Physiotherapy/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://www.physioguru.com/

You can get in touch with Priya at the link below :

On Facebook : Priya Sethumadhavan

I would like to thank Priya for some very good advice and some interesting insight into being a freelance Physiotherapist. For the time being this is Priya and Me signing off, and as always Be Inquisitive.

Inquisitive Interviews : Adithya Suvarna – Advertising

Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewee providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

[ Q ] Tell us something about yourself ?

My name is Adhitya Suvarna.  I have been working for over 10 years in the mass communications field, namely TV, Online News, Corporate Documentary Film making and Advertising.

[ Q ] What do you Do for a living and Where ?

I live in Dubai and work in a mid-level advertising agency.

[ Q ] Is your job what you expected it to be ?

Yes and no. Yes in terms of the industry I wanted to be in (media) and no in terms of seniority and responsibility that I currently have. Yes in terms of a wonderful office environment with lots of freedom and comfortable working relationships built over the last 5 years. No in terms of almost reaching a point of stagnation and the dreaded blank wall.

[ Q ] Is your salary what you expected it to be ?

The honest answer is no. But that would be a blinkered vision. I did not get a good start in terms of salary since passing out of my masters programme. I never fought for ensuring i get paid for what I am worth. Now, I earn a decent income but it could have been really comfortable if in the initial years of my career, I had stood my ground and been a little more informed.

[ Q ] What is your average day like ?

Office begins with checking emails that my client would have sent the previous evening as I leave office earlier than they do. Then briefing the creative department for new jobs or designs that the client wanted. I also follow up with artworkers in the studio for jobs undergoing minor revisions and sending the same to the client.  Meanwhile, client’s call up to check on jobs status, discuss new jobs or request media plans or rates and other sundry items. I also sit with my junior to discuss jobs that I have handed over to him to do.

[ Q ] What’s the most interesting part of your job ?

Thinking of new and innovative ways to communicate the same message in a new way to the audience. Also, no day is the same as the other as the adverts, the communications differ each day.

[ Q ] What’s the most challenging part of your job ?

Trying to understand what the client  actually means in their vague emails or telephone conversations. Also to try and coordinate with suppliers to meet with the really tough deadlines for delivery of jobs for the clients.

[ Q ] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like ?

When after days and months of us doing a lot of work to create something, it is dismissed in one email by the client as not required.

[ Q ] Do you get bored at your workplace at all ?

Yes and it is normal for when you are bored, the really rush days look very interesting and exiting.

[ Q ] Do you report to someone ? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job ?

I report to my Senior Account Director and the Managing Director. Both have direct and tremendous impact on my job since the amount of freedom and trust they place on me helps me do my job better and more professionally.

[ Q ] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college ? or where did you pick up the skills ?

I use some of the skills I picked up in my masters programme. The rest of the skills have been on the job. I did not pick up anything in my college or school that is has helped or is helping in my career in any point of time.

[ Q ] What’s your Alumni ? Where have you studied ?

Schooling                     : Bangalore, Panjim, Cuttack, Patna and Kolkatta

Pre University               : R S Krishnan, Trichy

Bachelor’s Degree        : Canara College

Master’s Degree           :  Manipal Institute of Communication

[ Q ] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry ?

Absolutely. There is no better reward than promoting a brand and making sure people know about it and in the right way. It is also a great field for learning a lot about every other industry without actually having to be in that field.

[ Q ] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry ?

My advice to the young crowd is to join when you are young and not wait for a masters degree. Get the hang of the advertising world and after a couple of years, you will be ready to know whether you want to stick around or continue and if the latter, then you will also know exactly which masters programme to do. This industry requires a lot of passion for what you do, whether creative or servicing clients. The rewards come only after a couple of years, so don’t expect to be greatly rewarded on joining. Also, when joining an ad world, try and join a very reputed one, preferably the top 20 agencies that have tied up in your home country. Make sure when you join, you are working for a known brand. That helps lay the foundation, so even after a few years you get an unknown brand, you will be in a position to take charge and give the best to make that brand know.

[ Q ] Anything else you want to tell the readers ?

Always remember to try and chart where you want to be in 10 years time. It is difficult, but a vague idea really helps. In the first few years of your career, don’t stick to a job that does not make you happy doing it or if it is underpaying you. Once you have a few years as a work experience, then try and stick on in jobs for at least a couple of years before leaving as the older you get the more stable your CV should look. Employers won;t look at CV’s that look like you have been hopping more than a rabbit.

[ Q ] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession ?

www.adsoftheworld.com

www.ihaveanidea.org

www.adage.com

You can get in touch with Adithya at the link below :

On LinkedIn    : http://ae.linkedin.com/pub/adhitya-suvarna/7/87/9a4

On Twitter        : www.twitter.com/adkutz

As always I would like to thank Adithya for some very good advice and some interesting insight into the career of Advertising. So next time you have an innovative idea to implement you might want to run it through someone like Adithya just to make sure its not been over used. For the time being this is Adithya and Me signing off, and as always Be Inquisitive.

Inquisitive Interviews : Sinatra Menezes – Brand Manager

More Interviews from the creative side of work. This week we talk to the Brand Manager for one of the most famous brands, Ponds. Here is my interview with Sinatra about her work and career. Please let me know what you guys think of the interview, add to it, please drop in requests of Interviews if you want to see some specific ones.

Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewee providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

[ Q ] Tell us something about yourself ?

I’m Sinatra, a second generation Indian, born and brought up in Dubai. I completed high school from The Indian High School. Post 10th grade I was faced with a life altering decision, would I opt for Science or Commerce. Finally I choose Commerce with Mathematics, thinking that it would allow me a wider range of job options. One semester through the first year, I realized that Math just wasn’t for me, and was shoved into commerce with Marketing. And this Ladies and Gentlemen, was the best thing that ever happened for my career!! I absolutely loved it and knew that i finally found an area that i could relate to and my gut feeling told me that I’d be good at it.

[ Q ] What do you Do for a living and Where ?

Ponds Brand Manager, Unilever Gulf

[ Q ] Is your job what you expected it to be ?

Everything and more!! I could live and breathe Brand Building for long time to come….the bit that keeps me going is that I’m part of this big project, big idea right from inception till it reaches the hands of consumers.I’m not the best with rountine work, I need something different and challenging happening at all times, to be able to keep my interest levels up.It’s been 8 months since I’ve joined the company, and i can surely say that no two days have been alike.

[ Q ] Is your salary what you expected it to be ?

I know that I’d get paid a lot more in another company. However the stuff that I learn here is invaluable. It’s like my Marketing Director mentioned to me, “if a single month goes by when you can’t add a new line to your resume, that means you are not learning anything new, it’s time to move!”. Unilever is my dream company, and I am very happy to be working here. Every time i walk into the office I can’t help but smile, cuz not too long ago i used to drive by the building wondering if i’d ever get the chance.

 

[ Q ] What is your average day like ?

At any given time I would be working on 5-6 different projects, in addition to ensuring that everyone else does their bit when it comes to the brand Pond’s. Reason being that as Brand Manager, I am responsible for delivering sales numbers, profitability and share growth versus competition. And hence every department needs to be aligned.

[ Q ] What’s the most interesting part of your job ?

The amount of resources that I have on hand! When working on a project, be it the launch of a new product, planning a customer event, or even a press event, I have access to people with specialized skills in various fields. Hence I don’t have to do it myself, I just need to get the work done.

[ Q ] What’s the most challenging part of your job ?

The amount of resources that I have on hand! Like my boss says, think of the company as a ship, you turn the wheel and only 10 minutes later will you see the impact. Similarly when you work with a big company with many people, it takes a long time to ensure that all elements of your plan are aligned.

[ Q ] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like ?

Updating various softwares that are in place, and any job that involves manual data entry……..(hate, hate, hate).

[ Q ] Do you get bored at your workplace at all ?

as of now the only thing that gets be bored is useless meetings. Especially when there is no clear agenda, or no outcome, or even worse, neither of the two!

[ Q ] Do you report to someone ? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job ?

I report to the Marketing Manager of Face category. The direct boss has a lot of impact on me. Right from the time you join the company, this person takes you through your first induction course, to your first project and then yes, the all important Performance appraisal at year end. As they say people change jobs, not because of the company, but due to the boss.

[ Q ] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college ? or where did you pick up the skills ?

Everything you learn in school comes to use. Even the subjects that you hate. Personally, I hated statistics (high school, college and even during university), but guess what I NEED it at work. I would say that most of the skills that I picked up during my Masters and my work experience have helped shape me as a marketer.

[ Q ] What’s your Alumni ? Where have you studied ?

Schooling                     : The Indian High School, Dubai

Pre University               : The Indian High School, Dubai

Bachelor’s Degree        : Pondicherry University

Master’s Degree           :  University of Southern Queensland, Australia

 

[ Q ] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry ?

Yes, for sure. If you have a natural tendency to observe and analyze people, the constant need to know what makes people ‘tick’, then this industry is for you. That put together with making products to meet the needs of these people / consumers, gives you perfect training on starting your own business sometime down the lane.

[ Q ] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry ?

Start young! It helps to know what you are good at and what your natural strengths are. Nothing like getting a head start in this really rigorous race.

You can get in touch with Sinatra at the link below :

On Facebook    : www.facebook.com/sinatracarneiro

Sinatra has been more than helpful with this initiative referring some friends as well. We will have mor interviews from the creative side in the coming few weeks. Your views as always are greatly appreciated. A big thanks to Sinatra for her insights and her time for the interview.

Inquisitive Interviews : Jobby Mathews Rajan – Market Research Manager

First of all thanks a lot for the overwhelming response to the feature Inquisitive Interviews. I am attempting to bring as many different professions into the interviews to give a better idea of what the jobs are like and if you would be able to work in that field, an interesting person to talk to. This week is the Interview of a person who is well known in Dubai, however his profession isn’t, today we talk to a Market Research Manager.

Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewee providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

[ Q ] Tell us something about yourself ?

Yello Peeps, My name is Jobby Mathews Rajan, been converting sweat into money for 7+ years. Typically a Dubai boy and not at all confused about my Indian roots-actually I am so proud of it!! When I saw the first interview for the initiative been taken by Melvin to be able to guide the younger generation to a path less thorny, I was quite impressed. But not in a hundred years did I think I would in anyway be able to help, or to put it in a better way, never thought that I would be interviewed by this inquisitive lad. Anyways, here is a disclaimer: Anything mentioned here if by chance offends anybody, it was done with pure intentions in mind or intentionally. :P.

[ Q ] What do you Do for a living and Where ?

I work as the Market Research Manager for Gulf Warranties.

[ Q ] Is your job what you expected it to be ?

To be frank, I was just about confused like any other “normal” kid on what to do with my life after school. While there were the “ultra normal’ ones who used to start coaching themselves for the various entrance exams from 8th grade, unbelievable huh!!. However, since i had these complete set of ‘ultra normal’ friends and they knew what they wanted, I followed suit and decided to try my hand in Engineering. Days to months to years and I just saw myself such a misfit to the hard core techy side of things. I knew i had the caliber to speak and think out of the box, but not necessarily design a nuclear plant! To cut a long story short, I stumbled onto research and never looked back, and till this day hold no regret for change!

[ Q ] Is your salary what you expected it to be ?

Initially it is not the salary that drives you to a certain profession; it is the challenge that is right around the corner of the profession that pumps the adrenaline in you. But seriously, how many of us follow that, unfortunately not many. If you get into a job that is satisfying mentally you eventually end up acing at it, which follows up with the right remuneration. On the other hand you take a job just looking at the remuneration, I can guarantee it would not take much time for you to lose interest and finally suffer at work. And the answer to the question is ‘Yes’!

[ Q ] What is your average day like ?

Average day at work, would include drinking tons of tea, responding to emails based on priority and definitely catching up with my colleagues on “what’s up” in their lives. Did I hear a smirk, seriously if you do not know your colleagues there is no way you could work under the same roof. You could be the head of the company but having a personal interface with each of the staff is a quality acquired by the greatest of leaders. However a cautionary warning, out of the supposedly 8 hour work regulation an hour to catch up is good enough. Anything more than that, you should try just sitting at home.

[ Q ] What’s the most interesting part of your job ?

I handle the non-warranty side of the business for the company, which includes markets research, mystery shopping, brand awareness, customer satisfaction surveys etc. Majority of the work other than client servicing is recruiting serious mystery shoppers that too around 29 cities across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. My team and I are quite trained now to gauge which shoppers would meet our client requirement from the onset of our conversation. So in effect, you need to be as talkative as possible; if you need to fit into this role…Yea people do usually say I got a BIG mouth-in the positive sense.

[ Q ] What’s the most challenging part of your job ?

Since we work across countries and various nationalities during the course of the work, it is difficult to keep a track on what exactly is going around in their particular city. For example, if my client has an urgent requirement on 1st of May, since UAE does not follow it, we end up working on the day, but other markets especially in Africa and Asia, they remain closed. Thus, not being able to deliver based on our client needs. And of course there are other common challenges like trying to ensure the budget never gets overshot, overwork with limited resources, come in on time yet leave late!!

[ Q ] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like ?

I still remember my folks working a straight 8 hour shift and then they have enough time to be back with family. However, nowadays the competition is so stiff, that if an employee does not put in at least 15+ hours a day (keep in mind no-overtime!) they might just not impress the management. And our social networking sites definitely help us in ensuring we work 15+ hours everyday, Right? I hate it, when certain people thing, a person who puts more than 8 hours of work is far more productive. I would say unless you are under resourced (which the management can see clearly), 8 hours is way enough if you plan your work schedule. Distractions like FB, Twitter, personal mails etc. are definitely deterrents that stops you from working within those 8 hours. FYI, I do work more than 8 hours, but I would blame it on being under resourced.

[ Q ] Do you get bored at your workplace at all ?

Humm, very rarely, that is when work is less. However, I am in love with Google, and would not know what to do, if it was not invented. A research person’s bible is the Google. For anything and everything we head to Google, to keep us updated on any new methodology, analysis, sourcing of facts and figures. As long as Google is around, there is no chance in the world anybody would be bored.

[ Q ] Do you report to someone ? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job ?

I report to the GM of the company. The GM is there to ensure I do not cross the budget allocated and stick to my budget commitments for the year.

[ Q ] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college ? or where did you pick up the skills ?

I would say 40% of the skills sets are picked up in Schools and Colleges which is related to Academia.  While 30% would be skill sets picked with your interaction with people around you and finally the rest 30% within your work atmosphere. No one is born with skills, you hone it as you grow.

[ Q ] What’s your Alumni ? Where have you studied ?

Schooling                     : The Indian High School, Dubai

Pre University               : The Indian High School, Dubai

Bachelor’s Degree        : Bachelor of Engg. (Electronics & Comm) Banagalore University, Bangalore, Karnataka

[ Q ] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry ?

Definitely, it is an industry, that makes all other industry stop and listen to you. It requires an analytical head and enough creative juices to think out of the box. MR(Market Research) is the base for anything that exist in this world. Without proper research, no new product would be launched, no one would understand the feasibility of any service, basically only people who are ignorant would not undertake MR before commencing with any decision that requires investment.

[ Q ] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry ?

A basic commerce or business degree would suffice to start with. Market research can only be learnt and understood in detail once you work with a reputable MR agency. Reading from books and online sites holds good when you can implement what you did academically on to the real world.

[ Q ] Anything else you want to tell the readers ?

Google is your bible and Wikipedia your cheat sheet, use it extensively. It might be simple, but if you can master the art of searching on Google, you have completed 50% of your skills sets. The only time I have taken a pen in my hand is for signatures, therefore being computer literate especially MS-office literate is quite important, if you ace in it, you have crossed another 25%. A good active lifestyle and eagerness to learn and know more would have just topped you into a 100% MR person.  All the best and do contact me for any consultation.

[ Q ] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_research

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystery_shopping

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing_research

(this details the different kind of methodologies in MR)

You can get in touch with Jobby at the link below :

On Linked In    : http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=44939812&trk=tab_pro

A big thanks to Jobby for this interview. I have to let you in on a secret, ever since this section has started, Jobby’s interview has been requested by a few readers. So well this is for all you guys, you know who you are.

Inquisitive Interviews : Megha Abraham – Writer

Another Edition of the Inquisitive Interviews is due today and this time we have a really creative person in the field of Advertising, PR and creative writing. The response on the previous 3 Interviews has been overwhelming and I thank all the readers who are making this an interesting segment to read through.

Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewee providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

[ Q ] Tell us something about yourself ?

My name is Megha Abraham and I have been working for over 10 years in corporate communications, advertising, PR and now writing.

[ Q ] What do you Do for a living and Where ?

Currently I live and work in Dubai and am a senior writer with a magazine.

[ Q ] Is your salary what you expected it to be ?

Writing jobs don’t really tend to pay much, unless you get to the senior management level. Alternatively, if you’ve specialised in reporting or writing from University, and you score a job with a reputed publishing company / title, then there is a difference. But when starting out, it’s always good to keep a realistic expectation of what to expect when it comes to money versus experience. For me, the salary is a nosedive from what I was earning before, but my priorities and present lifestyle allows me to accomodate a lower paying job. So, I wasn’t surprised. Is it what I expected? Hell no! But I roll with it.

[ Q ] What is your average day like ?

It starts out with an hour’s drive to work, since the office is pretty far from where I live. Once in, I check my line-up for the month and start work on either the stories I have assigned or chalked out for myself. In addition we get a lot of PR material, which we use for our compilation pages. Getting that sorted during the first half of the delivery timeline is what I focus on most. Once done, I then focus all my energy on the features or articles. In between the week, some events or conferences might need attending, so we plan those in and attend them.

[ Q ] What’s the most interesting part of your job ?

Definitely the varied subjects, information and types of people one meets. Otherwise writing can be quite mundane, unless you really love it so much, that you’re willing to schlep a bit and do meaningless work until the right gig comes up.

[ Q ] What’s the most challenging part of your job ?

Sometimes the compromises you have make. Especially when you’re working in an organisation, where sales and ad revenue mean keeping a magazine alive. If you’re working for certain titles who really don’t care, that’s a whole different ballgame. It’s important to know what you want, where you are when it comes to life and circumstances and what you want your career to do for or for itself. Some days time management and on others lack of response. Especially in this part of the world, response rates can be quite infuriating.

[ Q ] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like ?

Routine. I’m not a routine person. Although sometimes one does crave it when you’re not up to it on somedays and just need the comfort of the familiar. I also don’t like beting jolted out my cruise control and like to plan ahead. Sometimes, being a writer for a publication can spring a few surprises on you because at the end of the day you’re working with people, and we aren’t a homogenous group when it comes to habits, work ethic or time management. So that part of it annoys me sometimes. Another thing I don’t like is meaningless work, which sometimes you have to do, it’s part of the process. But you asked what I don’t like, so yeah, I don’t like it, but I get it out the way, when I have to.

[ Q ] Do you get bored at your workplace at all ?

Sometimes, it’s natural. I work in an office which isn’t very big, it doesn’t have a huge team and we sit in office that is almost cut off from the rest of the city for an average of 8 hours. So, the office is all you get. If you need to go out somewhere that’s half an hour at least and unless you have an event to go to, or an interview to get done, you don’t step out, because if you do, you won’t be coming back, so again, time management is key here.

Sometimes research on silly/mundane/inconsequential topics (yes, you will get your fair share when writing for a mass reading target group) is extremely boring, and I do go cross-eyed when faced with the inevitable task of looking up colour swatches for a decor story or finding the latest updates from the celebrity world. Boring.

[ Q ] Do you report to someone ? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job ?

Yes, I report to the Editor of the magazine in terms of hierchy. The impact is pretty straightforward, she/he runs the magazine and we ensure that there is relevant and enough content to go in. The editor oversees the entire outlook and the way the magazine is run and sometimes does oversee the content direction. So the impact is pretty meaingful.

[ Q ] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college ? or where did you pick up the skills ?

Yes, I do, I specialised in communications, which also involved a course in writing. However, some of the most successful writers come from varied backgrounds as well, which means you need to really like writing or have some sort of specialisation that you can write about. I picked up my skills with practice and pure interest in as well. I’ve always loved books, writing and anything to do with the written word so that helps.

It depends on what kind of writer you want to be really, there are several types: technical, features, copy, novelist, blogger, freelance, project, and many more. So your background no matter what it is can be turned into a writing gig, if you have the interest and the wherewithal to get into it part or full time.

[ Q ] What’s your Alumni ? Where have you studied ?

Schooling                     : Bangalore, India

Pre University               : Bangalore, India

Bachelor’s Degree        : Bangalore, India

Master’s Degree           :  Manipal, India

[ Q ] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry ?

Sure, if they love it, and know it in their gut then, yes. I would also advise this, that if you’re getting into it for the money, then don’t bother. The money comes much later. Much, much later. You definitely need to like it, like a little bit (or a lot of, depending on where you start your writing career) of imbalance when it comes to timing, money, schedules and fulfillment. It comes and goes like waves, once you master that rhythm you’ll be fine.

[ Q ] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry ?

If you’re already working or interning somewhere, try and freelance or send in work to magazines, newspapers, websites who commission work. See what the response is like from the editors or writers and keep practicing as much as you can. The more you write, the better you get at it. Also read up a lot, it helps with vocabulary, knowledge, other points of view and writing styles. Keep yourself updated as much as possible, it helps.

[ Q ] Anything else you want to tell the readers ?

If you’re young, try everything you can before you choose a career or a way of making a living. A lot of people will have opinions on what is good and what isn’t. I personally think it’s important to make your mind up for yourself.

If you’re mid-career and still not sure what you want to do and writing comes up as an option, try it while you’re still working and see if you like it. Weekends, free time, or a break from work can help you get started, and if you do and it’s what you’ve been looking for, then sure, quit and take it up. If it isn’t writing, then what ever else seems to be playing in your mind, try it first and see what it makes you feel like – happy, curious, maybe skeptical; it doesn’t matter – the thing is to try. Forget what the folks / peers / industry / general viewpoints said. It’s hard, yes. But if you do try, it works wonders.

[ Q ] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession ?

I don’t have any online resources that I could recommend. However, I used to actively contribute to www.wordquotient.com who are always on the lookout for writers for varied feilds (if you’re a subject expert, freelance enthusiast, or want to find out where to start).

Otherwise, the really effective way is to do your own research, that’s when you find what you’re looking for.

You can get in touch with Megha at the link below :

On Linked In    : http://ae.linkedin.com/in/meghaabraham

A big thanks to Megha for this insight into what a writer at a magazine would actually be working on. I am sure we will read more of what she writes in the future. Hope this interview is as useful to all the students reading this.

Inquisitive Interviews : Ruth Pereira – Cabin Crew

Back again this week with Inquisitive Interviews, after the really good response this week for the feature as well as the comments received for Jason for the Interview, this week I would like to feature another Pereira, Ruth. Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewee providing them with some online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier. Without further delay I present to you Ruth, and here she is in her own words.

Good Morning Ladies and Gentleman, My name is Ruth Aurelia Pereira, and I have the pleasure of welcoming you onboard Melvin’s Inquisitive Mind! 😀

[ Q ] Tell us something about yourself ?

Born in Mangalore , INDIA. Raised and studied partly in Muscat, Oman but mostly in Mangalore, completed my Graduation in Travel n Tourism certified by the Delhi board and Diploma in IATA certified from Montreal, Canada and moved back to the Middle East, this time to Dubai. Been here 5 years and going strong.

[ Q ] What do you Do for a living and Where ?

I am working for Emirates Airline as a cabin crew based in Dubai.

[ Q ] Is the job what you had pictured it to be ?

Yes & No. Yes to a point that I knew what my job profile would hold and the perks that came along with it. No, because like many others I misconceived it to be a job that mainly involved hospitality.

[ Q ] Is your salary what you expected it to be ?

It was. But i was surprised to know that there are many other industries that pay much better, for example, media industry.

[ Q ] What is your average day like ?

Every day is different, be it at work or on a day off and that’s what keeps me going. I have tried a 9 -5 job on field and at desk. I couldn’t live the monotonous life, even though I knew the one thing I would have to give up was a good night’s sleep.

On a day off, I would try and spend most of my time catching up on my sleep lost over a long night’s flight, especially one of those deadly departures that leave at 3.00 am in the morning! If not sleep, then run errands for groceries (well I rarely cook so that’s out), drive around, meet my friends during the day – subject to their day off, go shopping(home n decor) something I can do for hours, watch a movie (never alone) or just laze at home and order in.

[ Q ] What’s the most interesting part of your job ?

Layovers! To those who do not know the airline lingo, layovers are those flights that we stay 24 hours or over / under at a destination.

Yes, not every destination we stay at is exotic, but I have seen places I would otherwise never go on a holiday to. I would rather spend my money going to more exotic and popular places than go to remote destinations like Dhaka, Entebbe, Accra, Dakar etc… so it’s good that I got to see these places and the life out there with this job and I didn’t even have to pay for it!

Apart from the perks that we get offered as a part of our contract, I enjoy the benefits I discovered later with this job. Special rates for stay at hotels worldwide, our Airline has a club called the FACE club and the activities that are organised and discounts we get at restaurants, spa & salons and shopping are pretty awesome.

[ Q ] What’s the most challenging part of your job ?

I have a few to list. Firstly, as I reiterate the 3.00 am turnaround flights! Explaining the term ‘turnarounds’ are those flights where we do not stay at a particular destination, instead do a quick turn back bringing the next set of passengers, giving an hour or sometimes more on ground for caterers, cleaners and refuelling. It is challenging because if we look at how our sleep pattern works the level of sleep one reaches at 3 am apprx is at its peak, while I have to push myself and stay alert for the critical phases (take off and landing) of the flight at that hour!

Secondly would be a fire situation while on cruise. I know this should top my list of challenges, but how any fires have I fought against the early morning departures I have done? Coming back to fire threatened situations we are taught how to fight a fire, be it a lavatory, galley, ovens, toxic liquid spillages and many more. So, on a tough flight I still “have to have” a presence of mind to act accordingly and not use an oxygen bottle instead of a halon to extinguish the fire! Or use water on classified dangerous fumes!

Thirdly to clear one of the major misconceptions, flight attendant’s main responsibility is the safety of everyone on that flight. Serving food and drinks to the passengers is just an added bonus for the passengers. If safety was not a big issue or concern, there wouldn’t be many of us on flights. So during our intensive training for this job what we learn most is the safety of the aircraft and passengers, rendering First Aid and then comes service. So on a flight what challenges me is having a First Aid situation, be it hypo/hyperglycaemia, Angina, cardiac arrest, Birth on board ( yes we even know that), CPR, trauma, the list is endless. We have to know each of its signs and symptoms and treat the casualty accordingly.

[ Q ] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like ?

Working in the First class cabin I love my job! This is why I have delayed my upgrade for a senior post. Which is wrong, I agree. This job is pretty challenging as it is, and being a senior means handling the crew, passengers, service and being responsible for something that wouldn’t even be my mistake perhaps. Yes, what I would love to hate is the standby month we have once in 7 months (which is coming up next month)! I detest them! Everyone does! The wait for that one phone call to know where I am off to could be quite an ordeal. Or wait for hours in the standby lounge to get pulled out when some crew rostered for that flight calls in sick or other reasons. They are not bad, sometimes one can be pleasantly surprised to get pulled out to their favourite destination or perhaps even their hometown! It’s just that I love being mentally prepared for a flight and not get last minute surprises.

[ Q ] Do you get bored at your workplace at all ?

Never! My office is my aircraft and every flight is a different aircraft, sometimes I fly on the airbus and other times the Boeing Which I love flying on. Like they say, I aint going if it aint Boeing!

Every crew is rostered for a flight and its always new faces I see when I sign in for the flight. In general, we very rarely fly with the same crew any given time. It’s all about meeting new people, making friends, sometimes we get along exceptionally well, and sometimes the mindset is a far cry from. Once we reach a destination there is always something different to do.

[ Q ] Do you report to someone ? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job ?

Yes, we follow a chain of command when onboard a flight. The Captain heads the team, followed by the First officer, the Purser whom I directly report to and the two Senior Flight steward/stewardess each one in charge of business class and economy class respectively.

When we are on ground we have our cabin crew managers who, when needed we report to. Mostly for me I liaise with my manager only through emails.

Otherwise the good thing of this job is, once you have finished your flight and signed out you go home! If you don’t like the senior or another crewmember you worked with, chances are you might never see them again. If you do, there is always another flight you can swap it for! No back logs or no reporting to after flights to anyone. I love that!

[ Q ] What would you say are the growth aspects in this Industry are like ?

Initial growth is slow. But once you gain like 10 years of experience, you are king! You can command whatever you want with respect! But of course, it is hard to generalize. It differs from industry to industry.

[ Q ] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college ? or where did you pick up the skills ?

I have picked up my skills along the way. In the Customer service industry, all you need are good social skills and an ability to maintain a calm state of mind, no matter who you’re dealing with.

[ Q ] What’s your Alumni ? Where have you studied ?

Schooling                     : Indian High School, Muscat

Pre University               : St. Agnes College, Mangalore

Bachelor’s Degree        : St. Aloysius College, Mangalore

Master’s Degree           :  –

[ Q ] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry ?

I wouldn’t push anyone to pursue this as a career, but if you want to explore the world in $0.00 this is the best way to do it! If you like what you’re doing stick on as long as you like or you must take another career path before it gets too late to change careers. And another advantage of being in this job is you can simultaneously do your higher studies.  For one, Emirates has its own aviation college and we get good benefits being a part of the group.

Of course so with any other job, but the time you would have here and the freedom to travel is pretty awesome!

[ Q ] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry ?

You don’t have to be a genius to get here. Just be wise! And never let that smile on your face diminish even on a difficult day or because of a harrowing customer. That is the first impression you create, and trust me the smile is the weapon I arm myself with when I have to face a sticky wicket. Do good researches before you get into the airline of your preference. So far hands down Emirates Airline is the best 😀

[ Q ] Anything else you want to tell the readers ?

Flying is not all about service; remember it’s just an add-on frill. Safety & security is our priority. To those who preconceive cabin crew to be all about chicken or beef, or double ending trolleys, because that is the only thing you see once you are on board, you will be pleasantly shocked and at ease to know that you are in safe hands with the amount of knowledge we have on each of the aircraft type we own, its survival & rescue, restraining a disruptive passenger, being First responders to a medical situation so on and so forth! You can breathe a sigh of relief now 😀

Secondly, do keep logging into Melvin’s blog and even bookmark it! You would be amazed how much knowledge you will gain out of here!

[ Q ] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession ?

If you do find online computer based courses on customer skills you should do them. Apart from that you do not need to join any of the many Institutes that offer cabin crew training. But if you feel that it can help you in any way, by all means do it. I applied directly on the company’s website and on joining I went through an intense training for 5 weeks. And time to time we are given online courses to complete pertaining to our job.

You can get in touch with Ruth here :

On Facebook    : http://www.facebook.com/AureliaRuth
On Linked In    : http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=114232733

Thanks Ruth, for all your help and support, I am sure the readers like me would learn something new with this interview. And yes I was surprised to know that the Cabin crew on flights are not just there to look pretty, although it does help. :)