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   W14030 AMISHA GUPTA’S FIRST YEAR AT WORK Srinivasan Tatachari wrote this case solely to provide material for class discussion. The author does not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The author may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality. This publication may not be transmitted, photocopied, digitized or otherwise reproduced in any form or by any means without the permission of the copyright holder. Reproduction of this material is not covered under authorization by any reproduction rights organization. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, contact Ivey Publishing, Ivey Business School, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada, N6G 0N1; (t) 519.661.3208; (e); Copyright © 2014, Richard Ivey School of Business Foundation Version: 2014-03-07 In the summer of 2010, 22-year-old Amisha Gupta had just completed her undergraduate degree in engineering in the electronics and communications stream from a reputable college in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India. The previous year’s engineering student batch had seen one of the worst periods of recession for the Indian information technology (IT) sector, with students sometimes waiting for a year before getting jobs, though they had received job-offer letters much earlier. Gupta’s cohort was spared that pain, though she did spend an anxious four months waiting for the results of her campus interview with Xciting. It was one of India’s top IT and IT-enabled services companies, with offices in many locations across the world, including some in India. With revenues in excess of $6 billion in 2010 and a global headcount of around 100,000, Xciting was a company that many in India aspired to work for. Gupta was therefore overjoyed when she was called to join the company and report to its office in Bangalore in September 2010 for her training. A year later, it was time for her first yearly review, which pushed her to reflect on her experiences. In September 2011, Gupta re-read the diary in which she loved to put her deepest thoughts. She read about her journey at Xciting and realized that a lot had changed, both with her and the way she saw Xciting as a place to work. Was she an Xciter? Was she an IT professional? Was she in the right place? THE EARLY, LIFE-CHANGING DAYS Large Indian IT companies hired fresh undergraduates in engineering in huge numbers and, due to their lack of quality programming skills, put these newcomers through very structured and in-depth training. This was further supplemented by specific domain-related training where they learnt about the particular service areas in which they would handle software projects, like enterprise applications or telecommunications. Xciting followed a similar model of newcomer induction and training. Given the large numbers being hired, the first day typically involved a lot of administrative work for the newcomers to complete. For the exclusive use of F. LAMAN, 2018. This document is authorized for use only by FUAD LAMAN in Organizational Behavior taught by ED HIGGINS, University of the Cumberlands from May 2018 to Nov 2018.  Page 2 9B14C002   In her first diary entry, Gupta reflected on this: Joining an organization is a bit of a culture shock. A highly unorganized life turns into a highly organized one. All those rules, things to do, overload. Reporting day was a little boring — paperwork, signatures, submitting documents, etc. At the end of this day, I’m thinking, “Is it going to be this boring every day?” In a way, it is really exciting. You’re finally employed. The entry into Xciting was just the beginning of the journey, and the newcomers had to prove themselves worthy of the organization by passing examinations at the end of their training. Those not achieving a predetermined minimum level would not become Xciters. God, how tough is this going to be? Cannot afford to burn out. . . . Will I survive? Girl, you’re here because they think you’re worthy of the position. You can do it. A part of the training was about orienting the newcomers to the corporate world in general and the organization in particular. The sessions were packed with presentations from different departments of Xciting, and included administrative information, values, culture, the journey of Xciting and interactive games. Will I be able to sit through it?… It was amazing. Everyone is so passionate about what they do. They are proud to work for such a big organization. Then I remind myself, “You’re a part of it now!” Chest swells up with pride. Will give my best. Suddenly, the uncontrolled mind says, “What if you don’t?” It was interesting to learn the extent to which this organization sticks to the values they say they are built on… “Winners,” it’s not a fight to the finish. . . . It was a game, if you look at everything so seriously, you’ll burn out! TECHNICAL TRAINING After the orientation week, the newcomers underwent technical training over the next three months . Still learning the ways of the organization. When faced with a problem, however stupid it is, the tension mounts. It would be nice if I had company. . . problems are easier to deal with when someone’s with you. Half the time the problem turns out to be the silliest of things. Take one step at a time. . .made new friends — it’s interesting to see how alike everyone is and yet unique. The trainers are super awesome! They are passionate about their work and teach from experience and encourage you to ask questions. It’s clearly liberating when you do something you love. I’m finally learning something. . . . I really enjoyed the classes, learnt a lot. And also noticed that the Xciter identity grows on you over the training. You are being observed. Your every move, the way you talk, interact with people, EVERYTHING! A certain code of conduct is expected. We are not students anymore… we’ve got to play by the rules. The newcomers had to face three examinations over the course of the training. For the exclusive use of F. LAMAN, 2018. This document is authorized for use only by FUAD LAMAN in Organizational Behavior taught by ED HIGGINS, University of the Cumberlands from May 2018 to Nov 2018.  Page 3 9B14C002   It is time for an important test, and along with it, yes, the tension! I know I should have just glanced through the stuff at least once while classes were still going on. This reminds me of college — where we would complete the whole semester’s syllabus in one week before the exam. During placements, we revised the whole engineering syllabus in one night! Result: Cleared the test. Double phew! Huge relief :) A period of waiting followed where the batch of new hires was to be allocated to specific work domains. Based on the allotted domains, they would undergo different training paths and thereafter potentially relocate to various offices across the country. It’s interesting how you find things to do even in places where, well, you can’t really do much. So what is it that makes this harsh life so bearable? Friends. If it wasn’t for these guys, I don’t really know what I would have done… we forged a bond between us that will never break. Wherever we went, whatever we did — we did it all in a group. We are crossing our fingers we will all be in the same domain. Worst case — HAD to happen. Four of us are thrown into three domains. I was alone in my domain. First day of domain-related training — I felt so out of place, for the first two days — I dreaded attending classes. Seeing my friends at tea and lunch gave me the strength to go back to class. Day three… an amazing, awesome teacher — filled with enthusiasm. A little bit of motivation goes a long way in the life of a student. A newfound enthusiasm, confidence — interest — made me want to learn more. Domain test time… I cleared it. Phew. Two down, one more to go to finish training. I can’t wait to rock the world — feel like I’m unstoppable. BECOMING A PROFESSIONAL Part of the training also involved sessions on reorienting the newcomers to professional work culture and behaviours. Our trainer asked us what we expected from the training. The big, fat unstoppable me opens her big mouth, “A little fun, along with the learning.” I got a lecture, one I will never forget, on how I shouldn’t expect “fun” in anything I do. Fun may  be there. I am open to being corrected — but I didn’t expect anyone to scream — yell out, laugh hysterically — and then tell me, “You’re wrong.” I do wish she had said it in a better way. Lesson: Now I know how NOT to speak as well. Learned a lot of things about myself, which I never imagined — not even in my wildest dreams — shocking traits. All activities are group activities… time-bound — 10 minutes, 5 minutes — it sucks to be unorganized. Confusion? I scream out, and try to work towards a goal. Oops. Stop being so bossy. So I try to involve everyone. Didn’t expect the group to become quiet and do what I say. I make a note mentally — stop bossing people around. I didn’t like it, but I still did it. I hoped to find in these events whether someone was taking charge or all of us were pitching in with ideas. For the exclusive use of F. LAMAN, 2018. This document is authorized for use only by FUAD LAMAN in Organizational Behavior taught by ED HIGGINS, University of the Cumberlands from May 2018 to Nov 2018.  Page 4 9B14C002   There was a session on what kind of personality you are. I thought of myself as a strategic person. When I told my trainer that, she laughed at me. “Yeah, right.” Then it flashed in my mind — I kept taking charge — not letting others try to lead — was I a dominant personality? Or an influential one? It feels like I am two different people. I am these two different people — under different circumstances. When left alone with a task, I’m a strategic person. But when I’m in a group that’s heading nowhere, I somehow feel responsible that I should do what I can to help. Which brings me to the question. Who exactly am I? What is my purpose? What should my career path be? DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE Towards the end of the training, the newcomers had to complete a simulated mini-project which replicated a real-life project, including realistic deadlines and development phases. This was to be done in groups of two. Out of nowhere, someone sitting behind me asks if he can do the project with me. Phew, I thought. I got a taste of what a real project would be like. The initial stage of cluelessness, then confusion; left by myself, I guess I would have figured something out eventually, but seeing my classmates discuss stuff I would have never thought of kind of made me question my abilities. In the midst of all this chaos, time’s running out — as the project is only for six days. And the documentation was dumped entirely on my head. My partner didn’t offer to do anything. When I asked him why he didn’t make an effort, he gave me two reasons, which made me feel like a fool — “you didn’t insist” and “I’m too lazy for all that.” Somehow, that nightmare ended, I passed. And the rest is history. LOCATION ANXIETY At the end of the training, those newcomers who had cleared the examinations were posted to various cities in India to take up their projects. In the last week, results were out, postings were due. We were from Bangalore and we wanted to be in Bangalore. Those were a scary few days. It was scary when the staffing personnel said that there are not many opportunities here and to be ready to go to other cities. One of our friends got a posting outside the city. She is the life of our gang. This is life and distance makes the heart grow fonder! Then it was our turn — I get the news that I’m in the city (yay!) but in the other office (boo!). STARTING ON PROJECT WORK After being allocated to their respective supervisors in various departments and cities, the newcomers reported to their project offices for further briefing. For the exclusive use of F. LAMAN, 2018. This document is authorized for use only by FUAD LAMAN in Organizational Behavior taught by ED HIGGINS, University of the Cumberlands from May 2018 to Nov 2018.  Page 5 9B14C002   This training office feels like home — I’m so going to miss it. I now need to start all over again with a new office and new people. The person I’m supposed to report to is not responding to my calls. What on earth was I supposed to do? Since I had no news on where I was expected to report, I was back at the training office the next day. I finally get the news that my manager’s office is in the same campus as the training office! I was here, with my friends, my strength. The two others in my gang got posted here too. No access permission to the wing, so I call my manager. He comes to open the door. A familiar face. He asks me a few questions, I answer. Then he tells me about the project. What did I take away? The name of the customer and the name of the product we’re working on — and a host of terms that I never knew could be used as technical jargon. Then I go running to meet my trainer… I hear the pros and cons of being in that project… pros were too many :) Some relief. Got introduced to my team. At first they looked so “I mean business,” “no messing around,” etc. Turns out that they are really friendly, down to earth, approachable. I had so many questions, no one to ask. What I didn’t realize was that I was asking only one person all my queries. Is it a good thing to say “thank you” when someone goes out of their way to help you? Turns out — you’re supposed to say it when you don’t need to. And not supposed to when you do. No! “Expressions” not allowed! We’re professionals. (Read: People with no life.) I make an effort to greet EVERYONE as they’re coming in (cos I arrive at work earlier and leave early too!) — not a slacker. Leave by the bus — but cos I leave early, they look at me as though I did nothing all day! (Which I did. But that was cos I was reading, and there was no work!) I thought that if the team has tea together, it would be a great opportunity to get to know them better. I had some hopes! It appears as though they don’t have stomachs! No tea, no lunch, and no dinner! One of the days, I was sitting in the corner, minding my own business, and my project lead walks up to me and politely asks where I live. Then, like it didn’t matter, he tells me I have to stay late every Thursday, cos of the client conference call at 7 p.m. I nod, saying, “Yes, sir!” Once he leaves, I’m planning my life. Work for a few years, then go teach! By this time, another classmate of mine had joined the same team, so I had company in being clueless! So, we are overloaded with documents to read, things not making sense, and what did I expect? Took me a while to say, “It’s okay not to know!” Huge relief. Had presentations for my project, didn’t see why I had to teach ABCs to people who were writing essays. But, turns out, they understood that I didn’t know stuff, made many mistakes, which they pointed out politely, to help me grow. Phew! Everyone is not out there to bite your head off. I should be my best — and leave the rest. So far, change has been coming in small quantities. THE SCRAPPED PROJECT The software services business was heavily project-based, with project durations ranging from a few weeks to a few years. These projects were driven by the client’s requirements and timelines. Therefore, depending on the market imperatives of the client, the projects could get terminated prematurely or extended beyond the initially planned schedules. When such termination happened, the employees working on those projects became free resources and were “on bench,” as per industry parlance. Being on For the exclusive use of F. LAMAN, 2018. This document is authorized for use only by FUAD LAMAN in Organizational Behavior taught by ED HIGGINS, University of the Cumberlands from May 2018 to Nov 2018.
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