Sunday, October 30, 2011

The F1 Mania --- oops --- Manager

Now that the India F1 is done and dusted, time for me to give my non-expert comments. And I challenge any one to be as much of a non-expert as I am. I am truly un-challenged in this arena.

I frankly don’t get the fascination with the F1 race. I mean; these guys, who you cannot see, just go round and round the circuit making a lot of noise and polluting the environment.

There might be some deeper meaning to it, but given my non-expert status I can only comment on what I noticed today while watching it at my good friend and boss’s house. Yeah today was my first!!! Here it goes….

First up was the tedious pre-race program on TV. God! They just went on and on putting even the pre-cricket match program on the assorted Sports channels to shame. And that needs some doing!!! But what really struck me was the asinine, almost fawning, question that was put to all the drivers, “How do you find India?” And, boy, did the drivers struggle to be nice. The effort was really showing. Nice, warm, chaotic but different, poor but happy blah blah blah… one guy, I don’t know his name (I told you, today was my first) did have something like ‘I don’t like spicy food’ pop out of his mouth but the rest of his statement was edited out. I am sure that would have been good.

Give them a break. Don’t put them in a spot like that. They have no option but to be nice about us. Can’t afford to piss of Bernie who is looking at making money here in India. It almost reminded me of a boring and rather painful neighbor whose dinner I regretfully attended and was ambushed into stating that the dinner was oh! Gosh, something to die for.

The second thing that I noticed was Mallya saab in a T-shirt… with a humoungous paunch… hmmm underneath all those uber cool suits… :p And of course how could I forget that the Sahara boss was also there. Pssst…. How and where do these guys get their money from? But who am I to try and figure out? Even the RBI has not been able to do so. Anyway these two worthies with Sachin is what I noticed.

Now what else did I notice? Hmmm … The race started and after about 5 seconds it ended for one of the blokes. Again, no names please I have no bloody clue. This was hilarious. Spending all that kind of money, flying in all that equipment, hiring so many people. All of this to spend 5 seconds on the track. Hehehehe… It would have been like my walking out of the CAT after attempting the first two questions.

So is this a rant against the F1? Not really. It is just that I don’t see it being fun.

But yeah I did find one thing fascinating. I would probably love to just watch a montage of that. And that was the Pit Stop. Boy, I was super impressed. The actual activity was done in less than 5 seconds. WOW… That was something. If I had been responsible for changing a tyre in under 5 seconds, let me assure you that the same tyre would have come off in under 3. It was a supreme display of, Out of this world co-ordination and a Fantastic team effort. Focus. Dedication. Concentration. Technical Knowledge. Nerves of steel. And above all, an all consuming passion to be part of this circus.

In fact I am so impressed by it all that suddenly I am surprised that no hot-shot Management Consultancy has put together the Pit Stop Strategy of Management. Or the Two Second Lesson in Management or some such crappy management crap that would be lapped up by corporate India. After all it was quite well represented there….

Wait ……. Wait ….. Wait…. What am I doing???? WTF am I doing??? I think I know just the right person who can create something like this. Meeee…. I mean I know nothing about F1 and I sure as hell know nothing about management (just ask the faculty at my Bschool and my boss). What more is required to create a Management Paradigm a la the famed Management Consultants of the world…..?

The 2 Second Manager… here it comes…. And … er… um… now F1 suddenly, for some strange reason, does not seem sooo uninteresting after all… It is indeed a wonderful exhibition of .. um…. something. I will think up some shit.

And now for the first chapter.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gone in 16 seconds

Aah! how the mighty have fallen. Rajat Gupta, the poster boy of the Indian media, the corporate world and also the rarified world of the Indian MBA has been charged with insider trading in the US.

The bare bones of the case are that Guptaji misused his position as a member of the Goldman Sachs and P&G Board of Directors. As a Director on the Boards of these two companies Guptaji was in the know of certain confidential information that was, obviously, not in the public domain at that moment. He was under obligation to maintain the confidentiality of the information provided to him and not give that information to others for securities trading.

The accusation is that Guptaji passed on the information that he received due to his position on these Boards to his dear friend and business partner Raj Rajaratnam who then proceeded to transact in these securities and profit from the same.

An incident quoted in the chargesheet filed by the District Court in New York is how Guptaji participated in a special meeting of the Goldman Sachs Board on 23rd September, 2008. This he attended via telephone. This meeting was called to approve the 5 billion dollar investment by Berkshire Hathway in Goldman Sachs. Given the financial state of affairs at that time, Lehmann Brothers had just filed for bankruptcy, this was indeed big news. The public announcement of this deal came after the 4 pm close of the NYSE on 23rd September.

Now for the juicy part of the charges, 16 seconds after Guptaji disconnected his call from the Board meeting (at about 3.54 pm) his assistant connected him to Raj bhaiyya. And Raj bhaiyya purchased about 3,50,000 shares at about 3.58 pm. Now if this is not a ‘DO IT NOW’ method of living ones life I do not know what is. I mean this explains why he achieved so much success. If I was in his position I would have thought seriously about calling my friend and would have continued thinking about it. No action. Which explains why he is where he is and I am where I am…. Er… um… actually as of now that is super news, but then I digress.

There are other accusations listed in the Indictment that has been filed. There is another one about Goldman Sachs and the loss that it reported for the first time in its history as a public company. Raj bhaiyya received this information from Guptaji within 23 seconds of the meeting having ended. Information that helped him stave off losses by selling the stock that it had.

There was another incident where Guptaji as a member of the Board of Directors got information about P&G’s less than impressive organic sales growth. He was in Switzerland at that time, probably participating in the Davos circus, but found time to call Raj Bhaiyya who immediately sold short approximately 1,80,000 shares.

Now these as I have said are accusations that have been leveled against Gupatji. They have yet to be proven. Guptaji has denied these charges and is out on bail.

Is he guilty? Or is he not? I do not know. And it is always prudent to presume a man innocent until proven guilty.

I really am not concerned about whether he is guilty or he is not. I am interested in seeing how the Indian media and the corporate sector react to this news. I missed out on what they had to say yesterday. What with Diwali and all the sweets that needed to be dealt with.

I am interested in understanding how we treat his fall from grace. We rejoiced in his elevation claiming that it showed that Indians are taking over the world or some such crap. How are we going to deal with these accusations?

Are we going to hyper-ventilate and go over the top and call this action a racist one by the American judiciary against one of our own? Or are we going to go hammer and tongs at him and hurl insults at him for letting us down so badly? After all, some sections did live vicariously off his success. Or better still are we just going to pretend that this did not happen and get on with life. I mean we do have so many other crooks to think about that we may not have time for this guy who, let’s face it, is accused of activities that resulted in gains of about 4 cr in one transaction and some unspecified millions in the other two. I mean, what is 4 cr in relation to 1.76 lakh cr. No competition.

So, this is what I am interested in – the reaction of all and sundry to this issue, rather than the issue itself. Watch this space.

Ps: I wonder if we are going to transfer all our adulation to Preet Bharara who is the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and responsible for the mess Guptaji is in.

Addendum: This is what Guptaji had to say in his Graduation Day address to the students of the Indian School of Business (ISB) on April 8, 2006

".... The third lesson I learnt was an interesting one, which is not always obvious. You will work with lots of other people. Try to make them successful. Don’t try to make yourself successful necessarily. Obviously you should work hard, but in life you have to work through others. No matter how brilliant, no matter how good you are, you can through your own merits, only succeed so much. But if you make other people successful, help them do their best, they in turn, will help you succeed and with the power of everybody helping you succeed, you will succeed beyond your dreams....."..... Looks like he took his advice rather seriously. I mean he really did try to help Raj Bhaiyya. A lot. And I am sure these charges are beyond Guptaji's dreams too...