My interview on Penn State E-newsletter ( old one)

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Other than my Business World written interview, there was another one given to Penn State E-newsletter. Although it started out as an interview of “diversity student”, I talked mostly about MBA experiences, and it got featured as “International MBA Student Profile”.

Here is the interview and the original link:

Click on the image for a readable version.

Click for full version
International MBA Student Profile

I had covered many things in detail and it was a 45 minute talk in which I had managed to entertain, tell stories, throw quotes etc and felt good talking about myself ! One page article does a good summary, but I feel I was more entertaining in person 🙂

One of the biggest complaints about this write-up was that, despite my request, the editor decided to refer to me by my patronymic name and not by given/first name. When I pressed further, I was told that the editorial rules allowed only the last names to be used. But in my case, my last name is not my family name. It is no biggie, but is just inaccurate and culturally insensitive. I just wondered at the intention to cover a diversity student’s profile but not really understand the ‘diversity’. In all fairness, the interviewer offered to remove the article completely, and I felt it was unfair to both of our time and effort investment. (yeah, 45+30 commute minutes during a busy day-schedule of MBA was big!).

South Indian names especially have followed different conventions, including the city/caste/occupation name forming the last name. I am already miffed that the computer systems moved my “initial” from front to end, and the “last name systems” forced a last name in lieu of “initial”. Again, no biggie, but systems forcing something onto me is discomforting.

Anyways, the article was fairly accurate, but would like to note some differences:

* I had described in good detail, in a fun way, how MBA is like “Big Boss” (or Big Brother, depending upon where you are from) – in that, how ‘different people’ would be put in a very stressful environment, with tight deadlines, inter-dependency and party environment due to which MBA students spend virtually all the time in the company of other MBA students. That I believe, strips people to their basic qualities – you can no longer hide, or fake – if you are genuinely good, it comes out. True for any quality – weakness, strength, positive attitude, jealousy, support, friendship, intelligence, hard-working, communication – basically every aspect of you comes out in one way or other. The worst part is that, the news (or gossip) spreads through the entire class. No one is spared; nothing goes unnoticed or unobserved & a judgement made in favor or against. Sometimes it is cruel but I hope it teaches lessons to those who are eager to learn. The drama, the stories, politics, back stabbing, one-upmanship games everything one-ups the reality show, and thus for the first time I found some respect and saw Big Boss in a different light !

* She wrote “environmental global business” – not sure what that means. I may have vaguely said “global business environment” – but I meant US business practices (and nothing to do with environment).

* I also talked in great detail about how my engineering education and my corporate experience helped me cope with pressure. It was very specific to me and did not speak for others. Also, nothing against people with other backgrounds.

First, my engineering student experience included, sometimes totally unreliable faculty or non-existent for practical purposes, combined with very smart friends. I am thankful to both of them in more ways than one. In particular, it set up a mindset to not depend on faculty or anyone else – and given the text, anything could be understood. Some of the subjects seemed beyond logic, but at the end, they always made sense – in our own imagination, approximations and extensions. Also, frequent exams over four years literally eliminated all exam fears or pressures.

Second, during my work, I have had to deal with extreme pressure from clients, sometimes unreasonable demands, sometimes problems seemed impossible to track – but everything used to get done. The stake in those situations were far higher (team, manager, client, other dependent timelines, appraisal ) than I felt in academic setting – where mostly it has an effect on an individual’s grade, for which I never cared anyways, and it is so hard to mess up the grades in MBA. I just made sure to give my best to team deliverables, but when it came to my individual performances, I took it easy. (Neglecting individual work is not the right approach, but hey, one has to prioritize – satisficing is a great word I learned in MBA).

* Community theater – that should have been in past tense. I am pretty sure I said, I used to do it before I came to US

* “well known movie blog, honors and rewards” This is definitely artistic freedom by the interviewer 🙂 The blog was true, but well known only to few of us ! Honors and rewards – just singular, my buddy (who was my partner in the blog writing) won a national level competition of movie reviews. The blog may have kept his creative juices flowing but beyond that, has no direct contribution in getting the reward.

* Chile – I am sure I took the opportunity to colorfully describe my experiences in Chile during the interview ! “Country affected by natural disaster” – to be frank, I didn’t have much exposure to that except the airport encounters twice. Santiago, thankfully, was quite unaffected.

* “Community business that serves everyone” – What I probably meant and said was, that I would ultimately be interested to work in a social enterprise in India, and that “ultimate” is not in near future or not full time. I don’t want to make the tall claims of “managing” it myself or to serve “everyone”.

Nothing against the interviewer, she did a good job summarizing my long, tangential, unconnected, thought streams. I actually felt good after the interview, because during the busy MBA schedule I never had time to introspect or think about myself. So it was a good feeling. However, I never felt comfortable posting this interview without the above clarifications. They are not big deals, but I am particular about how every word is used or communicated, and exaggerations is something I am very uncomfortable with.


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