Thoughts of a Rookie

Yes, people are known to put their own foot in their mouth. But it is not often that we see prominent leaders doing such stuff in public domain.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is one business leader who is much respected in India. All of 53, she is the MD of Biocon, a biotechnology company in India. Her organisation has a revenue of approximately 560 Million USD, after being founded in 1978.

Over the years, she has earned respect throughout the country as a leading woman entrepreneur. In 2011, she earned the tag as one of the most powerful women in the Indian Business world - as can be read in this story in Business Today.

Her achievements notwithstanding, such glorious leaders are often judged by how they conduct themselves in public life. Off late, Twitter has been the microphone of the global elite. Disappointingly, they have regularly failed to use it judiciously.

Ms. Shaw joined the bandwagon a couple of days back. In my honest opinion, she exhibited a poor judgement by commenting the next line on her Twitter feed - "I am glad Infosys has set the stage for a salary freeze. Employees are being over paid n are under performing. Skills don't match up."

This was in response to Infosys, India's premier IT firm, indicating that it planned to keep the compensation review under suspension in FY13 after a difficult result in Q4FY12. It, however, promised to review the situation every quarter and pass on the benefit to the employees if the situation improved.

Ms. Shaw, however, had other things on her mind. By passing the above mentioned "loose" comment, she has set the blood boiling for employees across India.

I would just say a couple of point to Kiran.

Point 1
Madam, salary is frozen. Inflation isn't. Every employee yearns to earn better salary than his current pay structure, so that he can afford a better life style for himself and his family. This is true for a street vendor, for me and for you. 

Non-revision of salary does cause disappointment among employees. If you are not willing to accept this fact, I would say you are living in a Utopian world.

Point 2
This isn't the first time salary increments are frozen. It happened just 4 years back in 2008, it happened in 2001, and it will happen in future. We will work hard, earn our bread, and earn our salary. No need  for you to share your "so-called" pedestrian wisdom with us.

Just a question - How much do you pay your driver? If I understand your outlook, I think he would have his salary reducing every year. 

After all, driving on Bangalore roads is becoming cumbersome every passing day. Now instead of blaming it on the traffic and the poor road conditions, you can always blame your driver and say - "Hey, Your skills are not matching up to my expectations. Your salary is frozen." Try telling this to your driver tomorrow morning and see his reaction.

Point 3
"Employees are overpaid" or so you say. 

I have one question. 

What is your annual compensation? If I have the correct information at my disposal, your annual compensation is approximately 290000 USD, for running a company of 560 Million USD.

Have you heard about Facebook? Well, it has a revenue of 3.71 Billion USD. And Mark Zuckerberg, it's CEO, would be drawing a salary of 1 USD starting 2013.

Aren't you overpaid? Yes, you are. Compare 3.71 Billion USD against 560 Million USD, and 1 USD against 29000 USD. 

Does this light up any green signal in your mind??

Point 4
"Skills don't match up" or so you say.

Well, I am impressed by the parochial view. You studied B.Sc and did a PGD in Malting & Brewing. Did it set you up for founding Biocon? 

A MBA from the best college in India does not get any training of real world banking whilst studying for 2 years in college. Yet, he goes onto sell complex derivatives product in the UK and becomes an investment banker.

An Engineer from a reputed college in India does not learn any programming language apart from C. Yet, he creates a system which forms the backbone of banking in a country half way across the world. 

Let's not talk about skills. Any educational institute in India does not groom students in skills which they can apply in the real world. These very students, when they become professionals, learn these skills quickly and apply them effectively. These are the way organisations run.

And if you are doubting what I am saying, just cross check with any junior level employee in any organisation who has interacted with a client, and has seen the client repose his faith in his abilities. 

A skill is one which the client recognizes. And it is the skill of an employee which earns the money for the organisation.

Point 5
Finally, your comment, to say the least, was very very generic. It would have had a demoralizing effect on employees of your organisation before anyone else. 

When the times are tough, leaders motivate people. And you didn't. Just put 2 and 2 together.

Last Word
Well, I wouldn't debate much. With all due respects, I hope you would introspect and would understand the gravity of your piteous comments.

Lastly, next time you meet Warren Buffet, ask him to read out this quote for you again - "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently." Maybe, it will ring some bells.

All arguments and debates are done in the right spirit, and I hope you take it in the same manner.
Thoughts of a Rookie Thoughts of a Rookie Reviewed by Vyankatesh on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 Rating: 5

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