Monday, December 31, 2018

Corporate Politricks - 2 (chapter 1)

A recap of the main characters who have appeared till this episode:
  • Vignesh (Vicky) - 6 years IT experience. Hoping for promotion
  • Bob - Vicky's client

(THE PAST continued)

            The MegaSoft campus had five buildings with four of them used as development centres (DC) and the central one being the canteen. In the canteen, Gokul patted Merv’s head and exclaimed, “Ouch. It’s sharper today.”

Gokul and Merv had contrasting features; Gokul was on the shorter side with ruffled hair while Merv was lanky with short spiky hair that always stood up as if electrified. Gokul wore a gold ring on his right hand while Merv didn’t even wear a watch. Gokul didn’t like the ring but his wife was adamant. He would remove the ring when he came to office and put it back before he entered home but one day he forgot. The result was a big lecture by his wife in her shrill voice that hurt his ear. The more angry she got, the more shrill her voice became. After that he never removed the ring from his hand. The same was the case with his hair – he combed it by hand but she would force him to use a comb. The breeze in the morning bus ride would ruffle his hair and in office he would use his hand to comb. Marriage had truly brought changes in him

All of them bought lunch from the SnackHere counter except the two girls.
“What’s up Gokul? Fight at home?”

He usually brought food from home that the others would pounce on. “No, just for a change.” It was true that he wanted a change. But the fallout was a fight with his wife who pestered him asking if her cooking wasn’t good.

“That’s what she told you to tell us?” Merv teased him.

Gokul didn’t respond and hoped to change the topic. Being in February, the most talked about topic was promotions and Gokul commented, “Sir Karthick’s performance was bad in today’s meeting. Basically only 18 times.”

Merv replied, “Come on; not so many times for sure. All of us use fillers. He uses basically.”
Gokul laughed, “Basically since he interviewed you, you have basically selective amnesia to his basically. But good news for you is that Sir Karthick will basically get promoted this time.”

The promotions in MegaSoft happened a couple of months prior to the appraisal cycle.

Merv asked, “What happened to the army Colonel?”

The two people in their lunch gang who were from different teams were lost in the conversation.

Gokul explained the situation, “Our team has one PM, the manager. But there is no PL in our team. The contenders for PL are the army Colonel, Vignesh and Sir Karthick... the 3 TLs.”
PM was Project Manager, PL for Project Lead and TL for Team Lead in decreasing order of authority.

Merv said, “Yeah. Colonel is a high rank in the army. English is a funny language; they spell it c-o-l-o-n-e-l but pronounce it k-u-r-n-e-l. Anyway, our Colonel is a disciplinarian. Story goes that he missed getting into the army because of some politics in the final interview. We also have a cadet in the team.”
“A cadet?”
Gokul replied, “Ya. Cadets are the junior level in the army. The one person our Colonel loves is the cadet. And our Colonel is the most experienced TL in our team.”
Merv said, “But in our last all-hands meeting they talked of rewarding talent and not experience.”
“That’s nonsense. We’re like any other industry – experience matters like everywhere else.”
“So the Colonel will get promoted?”
“No. He’s quitting. That’s the rumour.”
“But why quit if he’s in line for promotion?”
“He’s not first in line. He has experience but he’s the disciplinarian. Who do you think will support him? He can’t adjust with nonsense. So he’s quitting.”

Merv was not convinced but he knew that was the only explanation. He summarised, “One TL eliminated, so it’s Vignesh versus Karthick.”
“Sir Karthick is the clear winner.”
Merv liked both of them; Karthick recruited him and Vignesh was a good friend and guide. He didn’t like people teasing Karthick by using the Sir prefix. “But Vignesh adjusts with people really well. And he is the same experience.”
“No, he has more.”
“So why can’t he be the chosen one?”
“That’s where there’s another twist. What you expect is not what happens. You need talent.”
“Vignesh doesn’t have talent? He’s very good.”

Everyone was enjoying the conversation between the experienced Gokul, a Senior Software Engineer (SSE), and the naive Merv, an Associate Software Engineer (ASE).

“Very good maybe technically. Who do you think is more visible to senior management?”
“Karthick,” Merv replied without second thoughts.
“There’s your man. The one and only Sir Karthick.”

Merv found it hard to digest that visibility was the differentiating factor. He himself was due for a promotion this time; and he wondered about visibility.

Gokul reassured him, "Don't worry about your case. ASE to SE is based only on experience. You will surely get it. After SSE is when you need talent." He laughed when he said the word talent.

            Vignesh bunked office for the rest of the day before lunch. “I’m not feeling well. Head is hurting badly,” he lied to his manager.
It triggered a mini-debate.

“What about the status call today?”
“It’s not today. It’s on Monday.”
“Oh. What about the deliverable you have?”
“Today’s deliverable Gokul is doing.”
Only when I ask for a vacation will he care about what I’m working on.
“What about the presentation deck?”
“I’ve sent it already.”
“And the metrics report is pending? Have you finished it? We need it for the all-hands meeting.”

Uh; finally he found something to torture me. Damn; he will start his lecture.

“I’ll send it on Monday.”
“But that is very important. Using your data only can I complete the report for our team. So you need to do ….”

The report is pending for long but only now when I ask for a leave does he remember it.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Corporate Politricks - 1 (chapter 1)

I'm publishing a novel (Corporate Politricks) in the form of short episodes daily in this blog - should take about 5 minutes reading time. Just experimenting with this form. I promise not to drag this out into a mega-serial! Will post 1 episode a day (by 8am Indian Standard Time/2:30am GMT) and we should be done soon. For those of you who dread the thought of reading a book, perhaps this format feels more convenient. The novel doesn't have too many characters; from the 2nd episode I'll list the characters at the top so that you don't need to dig around to recollect who was what.

Note: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Feel free to share this for non-commercial purposes. For commercial purposes (my wishful thinking!), reach out to me via email.

You can reach me at: 

Chapter 1 - Who is the one?


While Vignesh was winding up for the day, he received a strange email from their client asking for a quick call immediately.

“Hiya Vignesh. Goood evenin.”
“Good morning Bob.”
"Surry for the late request and keeping you up late. I wanted to inform you first before sending the meeting invite.”
“We are reviewing our security protocols. I wanted you in the loop.”

Vignesh found it odd that the client wanted to discuss security with him; why didn’t Bob approach the manager?

“This will be late night for you but do attend the meeting. Come in late. It runs our noon time. I have forwarded you the meeting invite now.”

In India that was midnight but Vignesh didn’t mind. Lately he was spending most of his days and even nights in office.

Vignesh thought Bob had disconnected but he suddenly heard him say, “There’s been a breach.”

It took a while to sink in. He recollected hearing about security protocols a few months ago from his manager; it was a day and a weekend that he couldn't forget because that’s when his misery began.


The manager drew an imaginary triangle in the air. 
“Unfortunately we need to be within the pyramid structure. The industry is not like ten years ago.”

Today was Vignesh’s sixth year in the IT industry and third in MegaSoft Solutions. He asked surprised, “So I won’t get promoted this time?”
His manager spontaneously replied, “Yes.” He then realised his mistake and added, “Promotions are not easy.” 

Always show a way, never show a dead-end.

The manager could easily have passed off as someone two grades higher; his large body frame and patches of hair gave him the air of authority.

“I have the experience.” Vignesh was shocked. Till now he assumed that he was going to get promoted.
“Yes. Maybe,” the manager paused as if he were counting the years of Vignesh’s experience. “But there are others also.”

Is he referring to the army Colonel? But even then they could promote another person. Or was it Sir Karthick they were considering? But that’s not possible; surely it’s not him.

“What’s my career path?”
“You need to perform the higher role. Create an impact at higher levels; be visible. They need to know who Vicky is. Go out of the box; think innovation; creativity; own the system. I can’t keep telling how it’s to be done. You should find out.”

Vignesh hated being called Vicky as if he were his boss’ pet. 
Visibility was a term the manager heard often and he passed it on to his team. 

When in tough conversations, use jargon.

“So I won’t get promoted now.”
It wasn’t a question but his manager felt that it was and responded, “Don’t focus on the short term Vicky. Becoming a PL now or a few months later won’t make a difference in the long run. You’re doing great work. Great work on the regional stock exchange project.”

PL was the Project Lead designation. Vignesh never worked on the regional stock exchange project. He shook his head without saying anything; at least his boss believed he had done great work in some project.

“Along with great work create visibility. There are many ways to do it. The Art of War says that though we have only a few notes in music, we still have so many tunes. You have to find your tune,” his manager advised.

The Art of War was their CEO’s favourite book and everyone in senior management quoted and misquoted it whenever they had an opportunity. Vignesh had read about their CEO’s interview in a magazine; he had quit his job in his sixth year and started MegaSoft Solutions from home. The CEO encouraged the readers to follow their dreams. Vignesh was also in his sixth year and for the time being there were only two dreams for him: promotion from Team Lead to PL and clearing the home loan.

“Anything else Vicky?”
“No.” The way one of his dreams was headed was clear.
“I forgot to ask you Vicky. Did you hear anything from Bob or anyone on the client side about security protocols?”

The regional stock exchange project! Damn, he doesn’t even know what I do. 

Vignesh returned to his cubicle which could accommodate four people. A few minutes later Sir Karthick proudly walked to the prestigious last row single-seater cubicle beside the window. Many people envied these seats because of privacy; you could browse any website, do personal work, admire celebrity pictures but never get caught embarrassed. Vignesh was infuriated on seeing Sir Karthick.

I slog and he will get promoted. Damn.