Archive for July, 2014

From Expectation To Disappointment

“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~Alan Watts

At 6 am she lays in bed, awake, thinking. Well, thinking is too generous a word for what she’s up to. She is in fact perseverating! She has to buy a new cellphone and she could not decide which one. She tries to visualize the cellphone and imagines how it would feel and look like in her hand. She couldn’t decide on the color as there are three colors to it.

What to expect and what not to!

What to expect and what not to!

She’d already gone online numerous times to look at the phone, read reviews and commentaries, even interrupting her important work during the day. She’d also gone to the mobile phone shops couple of times more to check it out herself. She’d asks countless people whether she should get it, and gets all their pearls of wisdom on the phone – some unexpectedly good and others shockingly bad! She was utterly confused!

She is embarrassed about this. She should be more productive. She should be more confident! But there she is, wasting time, asking other people to help her in choosing what she could do best. This is not who she wants to be.

But, this is who she is, literally. Much as she’d like to deny it, she is indecisive and insecure.

That would be hard for her to admit though, so she tries to avoid facing it.

She blames others: Maybe it’s her parents’ fault — they have made so many decisions for her that she never really learned to have confidence in her own choices. Or maybe it is the fault with today’s cellphone vendors – they come up with so many features and colors, making the whole task of choosing so complex! After all, research has proved that the more alternatives one has, the harder it is to choose.

She thinks, thinks and thinks… A week later, she’s back to square one, still not decided what phone to buy.

Then one night as she lays awake feeling the shame of her ineptness, she thinks her expectations of everyone, including herself, is becoming counter-productively high.

She had read, high expectations can undoubtedly have a positive effect, but up to a point. It becomes just the opposite when taken too far. She feels she slips so easily into criticisms of herself and those around her that she gets back nothing but pain and remorse in return.

She wants to change. There’s something she thinks can make her a better person. She should have the much needed quality that most others lack – Compassion. She realizes this can reduce the suffering that accompanies weakness.

Eventually, she buys a cellphone. She is happy with the model – its features and the color suit her just right. Then, the next day, she wakes up at six in the morning; again, second-guessing her decision, thinking she should have bought a different phone. She berates herself momentarily and remembers: This is who she is. She is not perfect. She hates to be even closer to it. But that’s the best she can do. She thinks again, finds no answer to her debacle and leaves it at that!


Why This Messi-ness People… Can We Stop Now?

Social media went berserk when Lionel Messi was awarded the Golden Ball winner of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil over some others. Millions took to Twitter and Facebook to express the good many reasons why Messi’s consolation prize was undeserved; some went as far as stating it was a marketing ploy by Adidas, who signed the footballer as their brand ambassador. All the while, Messi was a demigod. Minutes after Messi had lost what was touted as “the most important game of his lifetime”, the 27-year-old received an honour only to be faded away into obscurity!

While the best team in this World Cup got its due, the best player did not

While the best team in this World Cup got its due, the best player did not…

How ironical it is that the player who created the maximum ‘buzz’ during the World Cup 2014 didn’t even merit an award according to those who flooded social media websites outraged and that includes his one-time coach and Mentor Diego Maradona who endured the 1986 final but had forgotten his subsequent failures and moreover the shambolic events and drug controversies that followed. (I apologize to Maradona fans and him as I am one amongst them and a crazy one, but I need to be objective here) and let’s also face the truth: The Germans were far superior as a team and they deserved the win! And so, why blame Messi?

An article that came up in Washington Post made an interesting observation: “Irrespective of the records Messi breaks and sets, or the trophies he wins at the club level, Messi will never eclipse the legacy that his former coach Maradona or Pele created. He will forever live in their shadows… It’s not that Messi hasn’t already done so, or is incapable of exceeding the illustrious greats of the past; it’s the fact that we won’t allow it…”

Of course, this reaction of the mob against Messi is not quite surprising in an age where we live to analyze and criticize… that’s what we’re good at after all. We set insurmountable goals for some, and ridicule them when they fail to deliver.

Unfortunately, people must have forgotten that The World Cup winners of the past and the present (consider Germany) thrived due to a collective effort opposed to just a one-man brilliance. But that was not the case with Messi. One cannot say, Argentina had players who were fit enough, and who actually showed an outstanding performance in the game. Even top performers like Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero could not match up to the level they should have.

“Messi’s greatness is undisputed, even preternatural,” points out sports journalist Terry William. Playing for Spain’s Barcelona, he scored 91 goals in 69 games in 2012. FIFA has named Messi the best player in the world in four of the last five years. His gifts combine speed and intuition, doggedness and finesse. Put simply: he scores. All the time, believes William.

While some in Argentina now voice Messi was never Argentine enough as he left the country long ago and always played for Spain, Messi, however, could never shake his nationality. A dual citizen, he could have played for Spain in the World Cup. But he didn’t. He chose Argentina. “My style of playing is Argentine, not Spanish,” he once said in an interview.

At the end of the World Cup final, as I looked at the incredibly distraught Messi, holding the Golden Ball, an award which meant “absolutely nothing” to him, I felt SAD… well that’s the only word I can think of right now. He didn’t smile. He didn’t look at anyone. He didn’t break down like some of his team-mates. He didn’t speak a word… just erected a silent wall around himself….this moment no one knows better than Messi. Our only sorrow remains, while the best team in this World Cup got its due, the best player did not!

Yes, Messi missed his chance to win this World Cup! He missed a goal. But his statistics after the final were still among the best in the World Cup: 7 matches, 573 minutes, 4 goals, 1 assist, 23 chances created, 46 dribbles completed (Source: New York Times).

And still those who thought the genius did not deserve the Golden Ball (the best player of the World Cup award) should wake up, stop this Mess… He’s no God, he never was, but for once, pay respect to the hero and stop this nonsense! As a football critic from Bengal rightly points out, “Cherish Messi while you can, because you may never see a player of his stature in your lifetime.”



Where Are The Women In Tech?

While Sheryl Sandberg, Marrisa Mayer, Meg Whitman and Padmasree Warrior, are some of the names floating around when we talk about successful women in the IT industry, recent data reveals that most women employees are yet to make their presence felt in this sector, especially in tech roles. So, where are the women in tech?

women in tech

women in tech

According to data, women make up 25-40% of the total workforce at all these companies, globally as well as in Indian IT services providers, but the fact remains that less than 50% perform the core tech functions. For instance, a Gartner report reveals that despite female tech leaders showing similar or even better performance than men, especially when it comes to deploying digital strategies in their organizations, the percentage of women tech executives are relatively few. The percentage of women CIOs, for example, has remained largely static since 2004, when Gartner first analyzed the CIO Agenda Survey data by gender.

Researcher Tina Nunno believes it is disappointing that the overall percentage of women in the role has not grown significantly in the last 10 years. Take for example a specific domain like IT security, where there is an acute shortage of women workforce, as a Frost & Sullivan report indicates that women represent about 11% of the current IT security workforce.

Michael Suby, Senior Researcher at Frost & Sullivan mentions that the IT security industry requires more women workforce because the nature of work in this sector involves greater aligning their goals with business, improved communication skills and excelling at diverse tasks and these skills and attributes are most common in women professionals. Yet there is a shortage in the supply of women workforce.

However, in some of the largest tech firms as far as percentage of women workforce is concerned, figures are good enough. For example, at Facebook, women make up 31% of the workforce in the organization. Yahoo on the other hand has 37% of women in its total workforce with over 12000 employees. The other tech major Google too has over 30% women in its workforce.

The India figures are even better, especially for the big companies. The country’s largest IT services provider, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), for instance, has almost 100,000 women professionals, which is 33% of its total workforce. Similarly, Infosys and Wipro has 34% and 30% women workforce in their organizations respectively. The large number of women in the workforce can be attributed to the nature of the outsourcing work done in these companies.

But fact remains that in these companies, most women are hired in non-technology roles. For instance, only 15% of women employees at Facebook and Yahoo work in the tech space and for Google its 17%. TCS too has no woman board member and in other firms too the numbers are negligible.

Powerful women leaders in tech like Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg have been vocal about the need for more women in tech and for a corporate environment where they can succeed. Others in IT too say they are aware of the problem and are doing their bit to address the concern.

Facebook is reportedly finding qualified but under-represented candidates” and “partnering with other organizations working to achieve the same goal. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, a non-profit organization that was launched in March 2013, is a platform to encourage women to continue to be active and ambitious in their careers even as they start families. She has also authored a book, titled Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

TCS too has iExcel, a specialized executive education program for women employees, grooming women managers for leadership roles.” The company also has interactive forums, mentors and women discussion circles that address the aspirations and needs of the women employees”. Wipro also launched the “Women of Wipro” programme in 2008 with its CEO T.K. Kurien being recognized as a recipient of the 2014 Women’s Empowerment Principles Leadership Award for the company’s commitment to gender equality. Meanwhile, the “Infosys Women’s Inclusivity Network” program says that it “works towards creating a gender-sensitive and inclusive work environment for women employees and trains them for managerial and leadership roles.”

However, these are just the tip of the iceberg and the scene in the “privileged IT companies. Reality continues to bite. As the same cannot be said about hundreds of others, where huge disparity exists. As a recent Catalyst study reveals that gender gap results in stunted career growth for women in the IT sector.While women kickstart their career as equals with men, expecting career growth, they tend to receive fewer opportunities that lead to advancement, as a result of which, very few women progress to a critical senior-level position. The study shows that even after 12 years into their careers, women lag behind men by approximately Rs.3.8 lakhs in terms of pay.

“In today’s growing economy, with high job mobility and the corresponding high demand for talent, organizations must do everything they can to attract and retain women—who, the study shows, are amongst their most committed employees,” says Shachi Irde, Executive Director, Catalyst India WRC.

Women should also be encouraged and trained in emerging technology, especially in the digital age where social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) is the norm and more women engineers should be encouraged, ensuring pay equity, equal access to developmental opportunities, and flexible and inclusive environments to get more women in technology.

I believe education, opportunity, and visibility— having all three in place will go a long way to expanding the presence of women in the tech industry and will answer “Where are the women in tech?” once and for all.