Through a friend’s reference, I went to meet a director of some MBA college here in Mumbai. The purpose was to deliver a 3 hour lecture on career planning to their students. The director insisted that he will interview me before he can let me take this opportunity. I said fine and I went to meet him today. This is what happened.
After reading through my resume back and forth for some time, he asked me just three questions.
1) (in Hindi) Son, tell me about yourself… but in English.
Me: Sir, my name is Mayur Pathak. I have close to 6 years of industry experience, mostly in managerial roles. I have led teams as well as been in teams to know what exactly a management aspirant should look for from a corporate world. I have conducted such trainings in the past. So I feel I have the right experience to guide your students.
(Pause) (I guess he was expecting some thing else) Is it done?
Me: Yes. Can you tell me what else are you looking for apart from what is written in my resume and what I just said?
2) Err… Ah no. Thank you! What is your objective?
Me: Sorry? Are you asking my life’s objective?
D: Yes. Life career… I’m asking in general.
Me: (I didn’t understand what he meant by ‘in general’. But since he asked, I had to answer.) I can define two objectives for myself. The first one is more philosophical and rather egoistical. But I have grown up believing that it is only the larger than life aim that keeps you going when the time is not so good. The second option is more realistic.
(1) “I’d like to die as a person whose death will be mourned by the whole world, at least by the fraternity I will belong to. I want to contribute some good in a manner that my death be a loss to the community.”
(2) “I want to start and run one of the most successful management consulting companies in the world.”
The second objective has again come from a belief that India hasn’t been able to achieve the world dominion in industries and trade not because of lack of technical or financial know how but because of bad decision making. I want to help all the small companies to shape up their business so that at least few of them go on to become big.
(The answer baffled him. He was expecting a ‘I want to be Ratan Tata‘ kind of objective. He was obviously disappointed.)
3) Okay tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.
Me: A SWOT analysis? (He nodded). Well, doing a generic SWOT analysis of a person, in my opinion, will return a very subjective result. The reason is our inability to qualify and quantify our strengths and weaknesses. How can I be sure of what is good and how good is good for me? For example, I may be able to type fast, but that does not necessarily become my strength. At the same time I can not run like Usain Bolt and that again is not my weakness.
To be a world class consultant, I need to be a good teacher, preacher and an exceptional orator. So in that context, I can say that my communication skill, both written and oral is my strength. However I also understand that to be a teacher, guide and visionary, my communication skills will have to be backed by strong knowledge and expertise in my fields. Gathering knowledge is an ongoing process. So lack of in depth knowledge will always remain my weakness.
He pondered over my answer as if I had sent him a legal notice and was looking for a response. Then he peeped back into my resume before extending his hand towards me. Then he thanked me for sparing time to meet him but said sorry that he will not be able to allow my lecture. He said the questions he asked me were important from a career perspective. And I answered them with too much attitude. He said he didn’t want any of his students to follow me or my advice. Otherwise they will be spoilt with attitude.
Huh? Attitude? What the…