Thursday, November 10, 2005

Them disastrous SIPs

Instead of talking about how the companies present themselves well in their Special Interest Presentations at Fuqua, I thought it would be more interesting to talk about companies who didn't quite do a great job at presenting themselves. It is surprising how many companies do a not-so-great job of presenting themselves, much less selling themselves in these SIPs! Believe me, you would be surprised!

Well, there is an argument that I might be a total jerk and picking on small things, or plain simple arrogant, judgmental, opinionated prick to be writing about companies this way and laying too much emphasis on something as simple as an information session by perfectly good companies eager to hire us. I accept this argument and that might be the case. However, I have spoken to my classmates around and many people seem to notice these things and I thought it might be an interesting thing to write about. For reasons of keeping this nice and only indicative, I will not take company names, but will only give some idea of what these companies are.

To be picky, out of the million or so SIPs that I have attended so far, I have found that maybe 10% of companies really do a good job of reaching out to students and being informative. Considering that these two are the primary purpose of SIP, it is indeed amazing! These are the companies whose SIPs you come out of learning about the work, their culture, values, history, a typical day in a life of an MBA, the role and work involved, priorities, competitive advantage, their strategy, important functions that drive them etc. Considering the breadth of information that I am talking about here, maybe it is not that amazing after all that only so few companies do really well. It's not an easy job by any stretch of imagination. So, let's stop being nitpicky and categorizing them into small brackets and run straight into the really worst company presentations!

In my opinion, about 1 in every 5 SIP that I attend is simply unbearable and you can't just wait until the thing is over and you hit the door! Here are some examples:

1. Bad presenter: One leading pharma company had a smart ass of a presenter who seemed more interested in cracking jokes, and not just jokes, but cracking some really obnoxious ones about topless women, ridiculing his own companies slides. Jokes might be a great way to connect, but one a slide gets a bit too much!

2. Plain simple uninformative: Some SIPs you come out of learning absolutely nothing about the company or its people. You come out of it gaining no understanding of even the work, why they want an MBA and what they do with an MBA! As it happens, I am just coming from a presentation of a reputed Indian company, and this company pissed so many people off with their mumbo-jumbo of a presentation, that it promptly prompted me to write this post! "We add value to customers by giving them a competitive advantage in their market place... (and then a little later) this work might seem like a very mundane job against some of the exciting strategy stuff out there, but at the end of the day, this is where the value generation is..." yada yada yada. You get the idea!

3. Cluttered slides: I come from a technical background, so I can perfectly understand the tendency to fill your slides with jargons, paragraph long bullet points, hard-to-read texts and pictures that make no sense, explaining the technology and industry instead of the management priorities and other stuff that I wrote above. Overall, consumer good companies do a great job presenting themselves and some of their marketing SIPs are a treat to watch with really fantastic stuff out there! That's what they do best: Targetted marketing in a tough, competitive and commoditized market, so I can perfectly understand why some of the technical companies would find it hard to match them. However, even if we don't factor that in, I think technical companies can do a much better job with their content if they are a little more considerate of the audience. Business schools are so diverse that it's almost unforgivable to not do this! By the way, out of the 10% that I said really did a great job, I can think of only Microsoft among the tech. companies that made it to that list! Apple is coming soon to campus and I have high expectations of them! I am sure they will do a good job. They have to! Finger crossed, they will.. I know they will... fingers crossed, there's no way they can't. OK that's enough, I'm rambling here!

This is probably one of my only strongly opinionated post so far, but it is indeed surprising to see how things are not all as 'slick' as you think they would be before you made your way to the hotshot world of a business school. I have much more appreciation for marketing, advertising, PR etc. after these experience and it is high time tech. companies started having some real fun (not just the geeky fun that I was fortunate enough to see in the good ol' days!) I must say I can't wait for this tech. industry to get all 'slick'! Microsoft and Apple would maybe lead the way, I am sure. (I would be the most disappointed person on this planet if Apple does not live up to its reputation! What about all my investments into the iBook and iPod! :-O)!


Death Spiral said...

Wow, don't you see a "opportunity" when you get into one of the businesses? I do agree with you...One of my favorite companies "IFC" (world bank's investment wing for the uninitiated) sent 2 of their most pathetic people and Guess what? I chose not to apply because they obviously don't see what is expected of them here which means chances are they don't know what is expected of an MBA either !!!!

I have generally noticed this problem more in "Industry" / "NGO" recruiters in comparison with Consulting / IBanking. Most consulting companies / I Bankers seem to have dedicated "same school alumni" responsible for recruitments.

Anonymous said...

I think you do make a lot of sense becos personally I havent been able to admire many companies after seeing their SIPs.. Did u manage the Yahoo! They should have been interesting.. Wish Google was making its way here.. that would be awesome too!

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