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The weblog of Abhilash Ravishankar, India.

Here I blog about my personal experiences [posting rarely]

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Yahoo! BeYond - Cheap publicity stunt

First I get a mail from Amitansu about Yahoo! BeYond, a session (June 1, 2007) supposed to be a refreshing mix of business and play, and with a tagline which went:

All that you wanted to learn at B-School. But didn't know whom to ask.
It boasted of 2 high-profile speakers:
  • Pranesh Anthapur, COO, Yahoo! India R&D [Keynote]
  • Phil Quigley, Head, Learning & Development, Yahoo! Bangalore [Business Games Session]
On the topic: An Organization in the 21st Century: How do we succeed?
Best of all, it was in the Leela Palace, Bangalore.

Seemed perfect. (Except for the topic)

Then, I call up to RSVP for the event. The person on the phone tells me that she's busy and asks me to call me up after sometime. Holy Cow! Never mind. I call up after sometime and I tell her that I am a web entrepreneur, and an engineer from BITS Pilani. She tells me that I need to have a Management Background to be eligible for this event. What? I tell her that I am an entrepreneur and if that's not enough ... blah blah. She agrees, and asks me to send a mail. I do that, only to find a reply from her the next morning that I have to call her up again. She's panting over the phone and tells me to call her after sometime. Sheesh! OK. After an hour, she confirms me for the event, and apologizes saying that she's just an intern at Yahoo! and she's extremely taxed.

I had a good laugh. Dragged Chinmay along, and went to the session in the evening.

Good news. Bad news.
Pranesh starts off saying that he has both good news and bad news. He has a 47-slides presentation. Period. Wow! Ever heard anyone say 47 slides are good?

The Torture:
47 slides rolled. I so wished he had fought the bull. He started talking about what organizations needed to succeed in the 21st century. Flexibility, Speed etc etc. More jargon. More bullfighting needed. Then he tells us important qualities in leaders - Teamwork, ethics etc etc. How enlightening! These days kids are taught to be team players when in kindergarten! A couple of sentences with a good dash of humor, and a couple of them with good insight. But, 90 minutes of torture! Thanks to my lovely cell-phone ringing, I went outside for a 15 minute breather.

The Game:
Phil comes in. Amazing energy for a man of his age. Cool sense of humor. He is an instant hit with the almost sleeping crowd. But wait! He starts off on a 30-minute presentation on what to do and what not to do in an interview. Hello! The whole crowd consists of B-School students and a couple of engineers like me. Did we come on a weekday taking two hours off to learn how to handle ourself in an interview? I mean, we've been through all this when we didn't have moustaches! And the best part, there was NO business game as claimed in the brochure!

Pranesh was good. Except for statements like 'The vectors are converging'. Cut it, mate! The MBA students pose stupid questions like 'How does a new brand take on an entrenched brand?' What did they teach you in B-School, mate?


Pranesh calls on Yahoo! Interns to come on stage(including that female who I had RSVPed to). They are asked to say one good thing about Yahoo! People are asked to give them a big hand. Huh! What next? A standing ovation?

  • Great snacks served at the Leela. High point of the evening.
  • I catch three groups of MBA students drooling over the apparently great time they had in the session. Ticked me of to wonder how could have any Management student withstood the same old drivel? Haven't people been taught this. I'm an engineer and I found the session pointless. Absolutely no value-addition!
  • Pick up a conversation with a couple of MBA students, and realized that I am better off at BarCamp. I leave.

Connecting the dots:
Intern organizes event. They talk age-old management jargon found in textbooks. They teach us how to prepare for an interview. They ask us to clap for the Yahoo! Interns.
Message at EOD: Join Yahoo! We are cool. At least intern at Yahoo!

For the folks at Yahoo!: There are better ways to publicize Yahoo! Food at the Leela is not enough.
For all other engineers like me: Be happy. Seriously! (I never was until that day)
Note to self: Never go to such events again. Even if they offer a grand luncheon in the Leela.

1 Comment:

  1. Anonymous said...
    Dude, it's Yahoo. Expect incompetence at every turn.

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