Finding a match

Just before being unemployed for four months last year, I was primarily involved in hiring the middle and top management. The Job was assigned as an additional responsibility courtesy having known and understood the business needs and culture for 5 years then. 

Multiple iterations were involved in defining the job and recruitment consultants were assigned the task of shortlisting. Sample profiles being circulated amongst the members of the hiring committee. Timelines were defined. Someone had put across a JD as well.

 But by the time the first few shortlists were called for the interview, the JD was long forgotten. What remained in memory was few words describing the JD i.e. may be just the job title. For e.g. CFO with manufacturing experience.
Later, when I was myself a potential recruit, the experience still did not change. I applied for a job descriptions that seemed utopian, roles that only a super human or God would qualify for.

Hiring is not easy. It’s like a match-making for courtship. If it lasts, it will not for meeting the expectations but adjusting to the needs and priorities that evolve with passage of time. Learning this trait costs time and money. If successful it would still be a random event.

A research published in HBR outlines the top skills that professionals intend to possess. People management skills were rated far lower then technical skills that robots are likely to replace soon. With quants in hands of robots, the world will be simple again – we would need humans who come together for tasks that no robot may perform for centuries together. 

So coming back on criticality of JD, it is important to:

A. Define a JD that is realistic

B. Not forgotten when transitioning into the hiring process

C. Spread the process over a few months atleast in case of senior recruits

D. Keep JD realistic. Re-confirm whether the requirements being listed can be defined as skills. If not, then please keep them out of the JD.

Back to Basics

I was asked “Why did you leave your last Company?” I could have been more refined when I blurted out the truth. But I said, “keeda hai” (urge to change even if for sake of it).

Today, when I face the same usual challenges that I had faced earlier, I feel like going back to basics. I wonder if changing jobs is actually helping me “cross the chasm” as felt by the professional inside me. 

The urge to deliver, to make-it-happen, to do it for ‘self’ and not only for the employer, to be sincere, to make an impact, to focus and deliver ONLY results is something that gives me sleepless nights. 
But then I am always back to basics and I may keep doing so in future as well. 
May be basics here are the basic traits that I outlined above.

 I wonder?

Picking up a sport

Monica is overwhelmed by the fact that she is back in Chandigarh and can now easily get our daughters to pick sport of their liking. 

My elder daughter does have a strong built but she may not be very regular with any of the sports she is pursuing. But its a different story with regards to my younger daughter.

Within first 10 days of skating in a ring under the supervision of a trained coach, she is gaining the confidence and getting adept at speed skating. Coach has words of appreciation for her and sees a lot of promise in her.

When we were in Delhi, my daughter was doing great at Karate, Bharatnatyam and drawing. Here in Chandigarh, I as her father wants her to continue with Bharatnatyam and Karate. I believe Karate will help her maintain the flexibility and agility she has gained while being in Delhi. Also, I believe her ability to use her drawing skills will keep the creative quotient at peak.

All of these expectations as parents is most likely to build a pressure on our daughter. “Ensure that you do not get carried away by the importance of sport and let her studies suffer”, is my remark to Monica.

I realise that studies no longer guaranttee a future but nor does sports. So we as parents have to be extra careful to find a balance and not burden our angel with multiple activities.

Second thought


Contrary to my impulsiveness, I have begun learning about my second thoughts as well. I have quite a few of them, usually. 
Second thoughts are welcome but the moment they curb my feelings of independence or make me insecure, I desist from encouraging them further. As a consequence, I may have taken decisions that turn out to be wrong but then as a second thought I can take pride to dare taking those.

I had a second thought on whether the decision to move to a smaller city will work. I had a second thought on whether my elder daughter should comtinue for one more year at a boarding school. I had a second thought everytime I wanted to change my job. I had a second thought to be an entrepreneur instead. 

I was critiqued in past for being open about my second thoughts. In hindi I was said, “Thali ka baigan” which means akin to a brinjal in a plate that can swing on either side. One of my friend rates me as an individual who can argue both ‘for’ and ‘against’. 

As a second thought, I realized that this may be a trait that world fails to reckon with. I read Karl Popper on ‘Logic on Scientific Discovery’ and Nassim Nicholas Taleb on ‘Fooled by Randomness’. 

As a second thought I am a special one to be living…

Nostalgic on a ride


The morning chill in air was blowing straight on my face. The grass smelled fresh with dew drops on them. The roads were as smooth and flat as they were 23 years back. 
I had just begun my cycle ride on the 4 km circuit we use to follow as Chandigarh cycling team. I was alone today and was riding quite comfortably at 29-30km/hr. My lungs were inhaling air that was fresh as it was before. I could feel the difference compared to air I inhaled during my workouts in Delhi. 

I was lost in my thoughts – recalling, recollecting, analysing and talking to myself about those years when I was just 17 years old. 

I recalled the stretch on the circuit where I was overtaken during a competition ride. I recalled how a fellow rider was upset when I rode faster than him. I felt that I could not afford a decent bike those years.

I critiqued about my inability to excel and do better in cycling. I wished if my coach, Mr Pyara Singh knew that I had performance anxiety. If I can realize this today as a 40 year old, why did he failed to know himself as a 40-year old in those years? This and many more questions kept popping out every now and then.

At times I took pride that I am special and may be the only one amongst my fellow riders to be still riding. At other times, I felt sad that actually I had lived 23 years with memories of those years fading fast. I was feeling sad that I had grown old. I regretted to not know then that every moment in life mattered. Had I known, I would have done a still better job in ‘living’. 

By the time I finished 30 km ride for the day, I had relived those years of my life in a single ride. Those years when my cousin had to be coaxed to be ready for the training regime in morning. My dependence, selfless, innocent approach towards my room mates. 

I reheard sounds of ‘Palli’ as I was called by all in Chandigarh then. I recalled my weeping while parting my father to stay in hostel for my education. It was a transition so difficult that my father did not hesitate to get my hair cut as a Sikh. I was literally ordered to use drycleaning services if I could not wash my clothes. 

I took a deep breath while recalling the weeping on a landline phone while talking to parents. There use to be a long que after 10 pm at all the calling booths when the calling rates were one-fourth the daytime calling charges. It was a luxury to own a landline phone connection in those years in India.

I have moved on and survived by a loving spouse and two angels as daughters. I am back in Chandigarh with a purpose may be. I am here to relive and realize. I am back may be to help my fellow riders to relate and cherish the great time we had together.

Yes, I am nostalgic and continue to be so..

I AM

 I am starting to accept the reality with regards to “uncertainty”.  This realization is making me less possessive about events in my life and to decisions I take.  

I am able to priortize easily. I can define goals and attune my efforts towards achieving them. I regret less and rather move on with ease. I do worry but remain thoughful. I am anxious but not stressed. I am concerned but focused on solutions to problems.

I am evolving. I am maturing.

Omni Channel distribution structure

The rhetoric on the GMV (Gross Merchandize Value) seems to be replaced with “Net Sales” as a more relevant metric for the online retailers in India. This is in a perfect sync with constraints on raising fresh equity. Further, Omni-channel distribution structure is also getting a re-consideration both by pure brick-mortar and online marketplace retailers. Put simply, the forward and backward distribution structure in Omni-channel structure will have DCs, Retail stores, End-users with options of:

a. Online ordering/return with direct to home delivery

b. Online ordering/return with Store pick-up/drop

c. Store ordering with home delivery/return

There is a dearth of empirical evidence to validate the efficacy of Omni-channel in terms of its commercial viability. The complexity of managing the logistics and inventory levels at different points of supply chain warrants higher cost and may even erode the ‘cost-effective’ value proposition of online retailing. Tata Cliq is one such retailer (as per my knowledge) to launch an Omni-channel retail structure in India.

In retrospective, I feel, just like in the case of a relevant performance metric, the organized retailers have missed out on the Omni-channel structure from the start. My reasons to believe so are:

  1. Unlike some of the developed countries from where most of the platform-based/marketplace business models have been adopted, the share of unorganized retail in India is far higher i.e. greater than 90%. This means a supply chain structure is already in place. With ownership wide-spread across the stakeholders in the supply chain, the ‘efficiency’ at each stage has addressed several challenges pertaining to distribution structure, inventory levels etc.
  2. The scope for organized retail is well represented with a chart but the interpretation of this chart has been misplaced. It has been used to highlight the scope of retailing in India under the premise that the unorganized market share will fall and be replaced with organized retail market. Pls see below chart. (Source: ibef.org)

The other key reading of this chart is that 92% of USD 400 bn retail market in India has been operating and has existed only because it has been profitable. We have these retail outlets well spread across any city at locations that are accessible for in-store purchases. Instead of attempting to replace this with online marketplace model, the Omni-channel structure will allow leveraging these retail outlets that over the time could serve as decentralized inventory centers facilitating quicker forward and backward distribution easily and most importantly, the ‘localization’ is achieved.

There are tech start-ups that are attempting to better the distribution structure operating in the unorganized retail space. So there is a need for the organized retailers to revisit their business models when evaluating the Omni-channel structure.