Inquisitive Interviews : Kishor Raj – Senior Planner

Inquisitive Interviews is back, and this time it is an engineer, I know that a lot of you will be saying that it was not part of the plan to introduce many engineer’s and doctors. However, I have decided to do so, as this is a very specialist role. Kishor is a Senior Planner. Engineering is just the base on which his profession is based on. Keeping that in mind, I think we should go ahead and have the chat with Kishor on life, job and career.

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.)

My name is Kishor. I’m a civil engineer with over 9 years of work experience in the construction industry both within and outside India. I’m an entrepreneur as well, involved with the start-up of a few companies back in India.

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

I’m working at present as a Senior Planner with one of the leading construction companies in U.A.E.

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

Not really. I didn’t have much of an expectation about a dream job.  My career got shifted to planning due to an unexpected event when I was working in India. But now, I do enjoy my job.

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

As I said earlier, I didn’t have any expectation about what I should earn at any point of time in future. I believe that my present salary is enough for me to sustain my present life style.

[Q] What is your average day like ?

Every single day in my life starts with a prayer. I spend most of the time in front of my computer. Most of my working hours are consumed by meeting deadlines and attending meetings with subcontractors and management.  Sometimes, I spend hours studying project drawings and specifications. I may have to visit construction sites at times.

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

The most interesting part is the brainstorming sessions with the management on how to execute upcoming projects. As a planner, I’m the one to advise the management about the various methods of project execution.

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

The most important job of a planner is to develop a construction program. For starters, a construction program is a detailed description of construction activities sequenced the way it should actually be carried out at site. Planners use software such as Primavera or MS Project to develop such programs. The challenging part in my job is to visualize the project from the two dimensional drawings and description available, and come up with an economic and time saving plan. A minute unaccounted detail can sometimes result in a huge loss for the company.

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

Explaining the logic of the program and convincing the management about its feasibility is the part which I find to be most difficult to deal with.

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

Repetitive type of work is a big boredom for me.

[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 tendering contracts manager. As for me, everything about my job depends on him.

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

Obviously not. But I think, the knowledge we acquired during our academic years always play a role in every point of work. I have to undergo various project management trainings to sharpen my skills.

 [Q] What’s your Alumni? Where did you study ??

 My pre-university was done in SB College, Changanassery in Kerala, India.

 Engineering was done in M.S. Bidve Engineering College, Latur, Maharashtra, India.

Currently, I secured an admission for MBA in Hult International Business School in Dubai campus.

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

Sure. I suggest that civil engineering graduates should start thinking of any type of specialization when they are in still in college. Having a good logical mind is very much essential to become a successful planner. I believe a left dominant brain is more suitable for a planner.

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

Getting a good site experience is essential for all specialization. Even if you plan to specialize in any particular civil engineering job, my advice is to gain around 5 years hardcore site experience before you start moving into office.

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

For civil engineers, while you are studying, it is advisable to visit some construction sites whenever possible. Civil engineering is a blue collar job. So, you should be prepared to deal with the dust and dirt at the site after graduating.  Getting some exposure to daily job activities at construction site can help you to get used to this reality.

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

www.planningplanet.com

www.oracle.com/primavera

You can check out Kishor’s Facebook profiles and other contact information below where you can get in touch with him.

Facebook Profile    http://www.facebook.com/kishoru

Linked in : http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=71816506

Not a man of many words, however Kishor has a really interesting job. I did not really get into the entrepreneurship of Kishor this time, maybe another time, for information in the mean time Kishor has his hands full on an online website in India, and a few other ventures like a hospital and construction. Yes it is something we will get back on, in the mean time, keep reading and 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 : Sowmya Suryanarayanan – Research Analyst

After a bit of a break, for this feature Inquisitive Interviews is back. This week we feature one of the most interesting professions yet, Research Analyst, specially someone that will have a bearing on the outcome of the bilateral ties of two countries. Someone in fact that can help definitely make a change. A research analyst would quite literally do the ground work and research and come up with relevant policies that help in the formation of a new agreement in between 2 countries.

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…?

I work with a policy think tank called Strategic Foresight Group, which is based in Mumbai, India.  I write in-depth research reports on various development-related issues in South Asian countries, more specifically on Bangladesh and India.

Interests include reading, trekking, exploring new places and watching cricket.

[Q] What is your average day like at work?

My average day at work consists of reading opinion pieces and news reports on Bangladesh and India. Monitoring and analyzing emerging trends in both the countries. There are no daily deadlines to meet but there are project specific deadlines.

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

Yes, most definitely.

After I completed my Masters, it took me three years of whining, two odd jobs and a dear friend’s nudge to get here.

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

The most interesting part of my job is to study how similar issues affect poor people across South Asia and to identify different approaches to study a specific problem.

Hmmm..actually, I don’t get bored at my work place. I enjoy doing my job. And I work with a dynamic team and there is constant interaction and discussion taking place.

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

Not to have bias while analyzing issues.

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

Yes, I do report to the Executive Director of my organization. Her opinion has a direct bearing on my work.

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

I have a background in Economics, and that has definitely helped in doing my job better. No, I did not take up any specific courses. I developed my analytical skills on the job.

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

At the entry level, the salary could be low, especially in India. So you must pursue it only if you are interested in research. And it is a long term commitment.

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

Keep yourself updated with current events. Read editorial and analytical pieces in newspapers to start with. Develop a basic writing skill. A social science degree will definitely increase your prospects of getting a job in the industry. But it is not a must.

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

In terms of ‘job search’, you can check out http://www.devnetjobs.org/

There is no specific online material that you can read to get a job in this sector. However, there are various journal articles available online. You can read them based on your area of interest.

You can get in touch with Sowmya through :

Facebook: facebook.com/sowmya.suryanarayanan

Thank you Soumya for an interesting Interview. I need to note that Sowmya has been really busy with work, and I am thankful that she could really help out with some time of her’s. Thanks again Sowmya.

Be Inquisitive.

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.