Monday, July 27, 2015

Corporate Horror Stories - Part 3

A person I have known for some time retired recently. With a good package, may I add? He was a loader in a public sector oil company. His job was to climb on oil tankers and fill them. He received three million as retirement benefits and has a pension for life. I was contemptuous of the job he did, “loader, loader, government free loader,” I used to think. Not anymore. The government has taken good care of him, he boasts. The government loved him even though the company he worked for was making losses in billions, even though the tax payers were being squeezed to run the oil company. He hasn’t passed SSC, can’t read or write, he has very basic skills. He is a happy man. I am retired, but from the private sector. What did I get? Zilch. Nada.

My blood boils; my judgement is hampered as I write this. My laughter curdles in my throat into a suppressed scream. I weep silent tears. So many years working in the private sector and nothing? The man mentioned above has exchanged his car for a high-end Scorpio, worth more than a million, he has bought gold, and, adding insult to injury, he goes on holiday. I am a bit jealous of him, not a bit, a lot. Now he will sit and enjoy his life, going for long holidays, unlike me, working at bits and odds.

I remember those years I slogged in low-paying jobs. Oh, how those days come back in rush, as if in a bad dream. He also had a low-paying job but he had security. He bargained and got a better deal; whereas I was a sucker for thinking the private sector had more opportunities for advancements. I should have known better, the banyans and the marsupials (no allusion to any caste here, hehe!) I worked for don’t care a zilch for talent. They paid their employees the absolute minimum and wanted world-standard work done.

A big hee... hee... to all that crap.

However, the danger for those like me is that in the hallowed private sector – where I assumed talent was appreciated – more and more smart operators who know a little bit of everything are taking over. I was replaced as copywriter of a construction company by a man who said he knew how to write and design also. I found that he was being paid more than twice what I was paid. Dank. I had to leave and find another job. The new guy took over. He had a few elementary skills which he lied about when hired, but when it came to designing an advertisement he was helpless, which was soon found out.  Did the company want experience or glamour? Was it going to sacrifice my experience for the misplaced promise shown by the new recruit? I resigned when I found another job, which paid me more. The company lost a skilled hard working guy (me) who handled their advertising and public relations and gained a worker who was, basically, incompetent. This is happening with disturbing regularity in the corporate world.

Thinking about it, it seems like a trap which I have fallen into, unwittingly. I was swept away by the feeling that all will be alright, good paying jobs would come. But today, in India, the private sector is squeezing every drop of blood from their employees while, at the same time, working them to death. My typical work-week consisted of 60 hours of work with only a day – Sunday – off. On the other hand the government is paying its employees and public sector workers much more than they deserve to be paid, plus, a pension. That’s what happened in Greece. The country’s pension liability billowed from paying government servants. Greece spends 17.5 per cent of its income on pensions, more than any EU country. India spends around 6 per cent but this is estimated to rise to 19 per cent in 2050. Where will this money come from?

Meanwhile the man is enjoying life. Now, he is laughing I me, I suspect. He goes for multiple vacations, flaunts his wealth, throws lavish parties, wants to get his sons married, and is having the good life. Let him enjoy. He has worked hard for it, climbing those trucks in rain and hail, and filling those umpteen tanks. Thinking back that would have been a better job by far.

Monday, July 06, 2015


 This is a corporate horror story right from the bottom of my basket of tales. You have heard about how software companies pay their employees so well and they have a gym and cafeteria – food for free - in their office itself. Well, I have never had any of those amenities in the companies I worked, hm, slaved rather. Hey, but the story here is different. You will see how these companies can afford the abovementioned gyms and cafeterias.

I was working then with the company sales of which was around 2000 crores. A real biggie. The company was listed on the stock exchange and had good projects in various parts of the country. Then the chairman decided that we must computerise the whole operations as accounting for all the projects was getting out of hand. So we had experts suggesting to us whether we needed SAP or Microsoft. Microsoft was favoured because it was cheap. The chairman agreed to give the contract to a company who would do the development of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for the company. Meanwhile the chairman also became friendly with the boss of the company doing the ERP system. It was usual for the chairman to have breakfast and lunch with the owner of the ERP company at his home.

I was in the ERP department to implement their Sharepoint system, which is a software that linked all the knowledge resources of the company, so that information was available to all when needed. The ERP manager chosen was a retired army Colonel who knew next to nothing about ERP or computers. The Colonel spent time chatting with his girlfriends on the computer and we pretended to work.

So when the chairman was merrily having breakfast with the ERP company boss, he assumed the Colonel was doing his job. The chairman was also cheerfully signing the completion-related documents which entitled the ERP company to claim their payments. Meanwhile the Colonel who thought ERP was some sort of caper which they played in the united services club went about addressing his staff in stentorian voice about duty and responsibility. He didn’t know what was happening behind his back. He was having long meetings with the ERP company in which he didn’t understand much of what was said, but kept nodding his head.

The chairman signed the last of the phased out payment cheques, a large cheque this time. The entire contract was paid out without much being done. When it came to a demonstration, nothing worked, because the basics of an enterprise resource planning system were not in place. This made the chairman livid with rage. He raved and ranted at the Colonel, who raved at his staff. The staff went home and raved at their poor wives. Crores of rupees had gone down the drain already and then somebody in the staff pointed out that the ERP company had never done any projects whatsoever because it was recently set up by a disgruntled employee of another software company.

The ERP company got rich, Microsoft got rich but the company I worked for was poorer by a few crores. Then the decision was taken to implement SAP. I only know the story thus far because by that time I had left.