Saturday, 9 December 2017

Standing upto Bosses

We receive numerous forward messages on Whatsapp and email. Most of them can be ignored but once in a while one receives a message which sets you thinking. Here is one such article which struck a chord within me and left me admiring Mr. R. K. Talwar.
Frankly, I had not heard about him before this message. Hence, it is being shared as it shows what a fine example of Chairman he was - standing up for his conviction and also standing upto his political bosses. We hardly hear of such people these days ... Read on
*The Talwar Amendment*
by Mr. N. Vaghul
R.K. Talwar was a highly respected banker who was the Chairman of State Bank of India from 1959 to 1974. He was removed from his office for his principled stand against an unjust and unethical interference by the Government in the functioning of the Bank. The government had to amend the laws in the parliament in order to get rid of Talwar, which became well known in banking circles as the "Talwar Amendment." In this article, a close confidant of Talwar describes the episode, which can be an inspiring example of professional courage to young people.
There was no doubt whatsoever that the Amendment was introduced with a single purpose of removing Talwar from the office of the Chairman, even though the bill was clothed in general terms and included several other provisions which were not quite significant. What did Talwar do to merit this extreme measure?
The problem in one sense was relatively simple and possibly an everyday occurrence in a banker's life. One of the borrowers of the Bank, a cement company, became sick with mounting losses and approached the Bank for restructuring assistance. The economy was undoubtedly passing through a difficult phase at that time. The 1971 war with Pakistan on the issue of Bangladesh had left many scars and several marginal companies were facing considerable difficulties. The State Bank of India, being the largest Bank was involved with most such enterprises and was always ready and willing to give a helping hand to rescue these companies. What made the problem difficult with respect to this specific company was the strong assessment by the Bank that much of the difficulties of the company were brought about due to gross mismanagement, and given this assessment, the Bank insisted that as a condition precedent to implementing the restructuring package, the Chairman of the company who was also the CEO should step down from the management and a professional management should take over the Company's management.
This was a standard prescription by the Bank in similar circumstances, and it was invariably resisted by the promoters till they reached a stage when it was difficult for them to carry on without the Bank's help. In this specific case also the promoter strongly resisted any attempt to dislodge him from the management position but the Bank held its ground.
But then this promoter turned out to be different. He was a friend of Sanjay Gandhi, son of then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and decided to take his case directly to him. To Sanjay Gandhi who was grappling with more serious affairs of the country, this turned out to be a minor irritant. He called the Finance Minister and asked him to direct the Bank to waive this requirement. As far as he was concerned he had given his decision and that should have seen the end of the matter. But the problem was the Government was dealing with a different person, Talwar who was not used to taking orders from the Government.
The Finance Minister telephoned Talwar and asked him not to insist on a change in management as a condition precedent to restructuring. Talwar called for the details from the department and having satisfied himself with the merits of the case, informed the Finance Minister that it would be difficult for the Bank to waive the requirement of change in management. The Finance Minister sent for Talwar and told him that he had received instructions from "the highest authority" in the country who expected him to carry out the orders without demur. Talwar stood his ground and told the Finance Minister in no uncertain terms that there was no way for him to waive this requirement and the Bank's position would remain unchanged. When this was communicated to Sanjay Gandhi, he must have been quite amused. During the period of about a little more than a year since the Emergency was declared, he had never met anybody who either disagreed with him or refused to carry out his orders. He decided to send for Talwar to personally talk to him and was shocked to hear from his intermediaries that Talwar refused to come and see him on the ground that he held no constitutional authority and he was accountable only to the Finance Minister. Sanjay Gandhi's response was swift and clear. He told the Finance Minister to sack Talwar.
But the Finance Minister faced two sets of problems. Talwar, during the seven years he was the Chairman of the Bank, had achieved a high sense of personal reputation and his removal from the office for what could be called a trivial issue would send shock waves in the industry.
The Finance Minister could, however, manage this, because this was a period of emergency and what could have caused a stir in the normal times, would pass off as not unusual in the extraordinary circumstances prevailing in the country. The second problem was much more intractable. When the matter was referred to the Legal department, the Legal department pointed out to the specific provision in the State Bank of India Act which guaranteed the Chairman the special protection against removal without sufficient cause. The Finance Minister, therefore, felt that a better course of action would be to offer Talwar a different assignment or seek his resignation. He sent for Talwar again and told him that the Government was planning to set up a Banking Commission to make recommendations with regard to the restructuring of the functioning of the banking system and whether he would be willing to accept the Chairmanship of the Commission.
Without batting an eyelid, Talwar told the Finance Minister that he would indeed be happy to head the Commission and he could carry out this job simultaneous with his existing assignment as Chairman of State Bank. When the Finance Minister looked somewhat uncomfortable with this suggestion, Talwar very calmly looked the Finance Minister in his eyes and told him "Mr. Minister you seem to be very particular that I should not continue as the Chairman of the State Bank of India, is that correct?" The Finance Minister replied. "Yes Mr. Talwar, you know what the problem is. We all have the highest regard for your abilities but unfortunately you do not seem to be very flexible on this one issue which is of great importance to the highest authority in the country. If you do not want to accept any other position, I may have no option but to seek your resignation or in the alternative, to dismiss you from service. This would be extremely painful to me but I would be left with no other option." Talwar replied, "Mr. Minister I have no intention of resigning from my position. It is entirely up to you to decide whether you want to dismiss me. In any case, I have just about a little more than a year left in my second term and I see no reason why you should not allow me to complete it." The Finance Minister looked pained and miserable.
He terminated the interview and hoped that some solution would be found. He reported the matter to Sanjay Gandhi who was infuriated and asked the CBI to investigate Talwar to find out whether there were any grounds on which he could be dismissed in terms of Talwar's personal reputation for honesty and integrity was quite well known and in the normal course it would have been virtually impossible for any investigating agency to charge him with any misconduct. He, however, had two chinks in his armour. One was his almost monthly visits to Pondicherry which attracted widespread attention both within the Bank and in the political circles. His attachment to the Mother and the Aurobindo Ashram was well known and he made it clear to the Government when this issue once came up for discussion that he needed these visits for what he called "recharging his batteries" and that if as a condition of his employment he were to stop these visits, he would as well step down from the Bank. In any case, this could not be construed as a sufficient cause for his dismissal in terms of the Act. The second one was a little more serious. Talwar had sent appeals on behalf of the Ashram to a large number of industrialists, many of whom were clients of the Bank, seeking donations for the Auroville project. Those of us who were close to him, feared that the Central Investigative Agency could focus on this issue and charge him with abuse of authority. While Talwar himself was completely unperturbed by the reported investigation, we came to know from several sources that the Agency was meeting several industrialists who had given donation to the project with a view to taking from them a statement that they were coerced into giving this donation at the instance of Talwar.
At the end of the investigation, two things became very clear to the Agency. One was that not a single industrialist was willing to say that Talwar either spoke to them or in any way tried to persuade them to make the donation. The second was what all Talwar did was to forward to these clients an appeal signed by Prime Minister, Ms. Gandhi and the Secretary General of the United Nations, U Thant commending the Auroville project for support.
The Agency found that under these circumstances, there was no way in which they could charge Talwar with abuse of his position. While the CBI closed the case, as far as the Finance Minister was concerned, it was back to square one and he faced the unpleasant task of reporting back to his political master his failure to carry out his diktat. Sanjay Gandhi lost his patience. He directed the Finance Minister to amend the State Bank of India Act to provide for a summary dismissal of the Chairman.
The Legislation amending the State Bank of India Act was passed in record time and received the assent of the President without any delay. Armed with the new provision in the Act, the finance Minister summoned Talwar once again and told him that if he did not resign from the service, there was no alternative but to remove him in terms of the new provision. But, Talwar was defiant. He told the Finance Minister that he had no intention of resigning and the Finance Minister could take whatever action he deemed appropriate. On the evening of the 4th of August, 1976 Talwar received a fax message from the Finance Minister sanctioning him 13 months leave and asking him to hand over charge to the Managing Director. It is amazing that with all the powers in their hands, the Government could not summon up enough courage to dismiss Talwar, but instead gave him leave preparatory to retirement for as long as 13 months, which he did not ask for!! This was the respect he commanded in the industry.
Talwar left the Bank promptly ‪at 5.30 p.m. which was his usual time of departure. There was hardly anybody to see him off. Everyone was scared even to be seen to be associated with him. I had by then left the Bank service and joined the National Institute of Bank Management.
The residence of the Chairman of the State Bank was just across the road and as soon as I received intimation that he had reached his home, I walked across to meet him. I found him smiling and cheerful. Extending his hand to greet me on my birthday (which by a curious coincidence happened to be 4th August) he said, "Vaghul, look at the Divine will. What a pleasure it is to be gifted with His blessings."
I did not know what to say. I mumbled something to the effect that the Divine always tested His true bhaktasand every such test would only serve to reinforce the faith. He looked me at my eyes and said "How can you call this a test? As far as I am concerned, I am only an instrument of the Divine and His Will is the only thing that is important to me. If you see this as a suffering, it only shows your ignorance. We cannot sit in judgment over the Divine will." I then said, "I agree, Sir that we have to accept the Divine Will with humility." But he was not finished with his lesson. "Where is the question of accepting or not accepting? You have to learn to enjoy all the time the Divine play. The work in the Bank is over. What the Divine has in store for me I do not know. Whatever it is, I will serve the Divine with devotion and always enjoy being His instrument." I could only think of one example when I looked at him – the picture of Rama when he was told by Kaikeyi that he was not to be crowned as the King but had to go to the forest for 14 years. The Tamil poet Kamban says that when he heard this pronouncement from Kaikeyi, Rama's face resembled that of a lotus with a full bloom. He was happy to carry out the behest of his father. In the case of Talwar, it was the behest of the Divine. That was the only difference.
*Narayanan Vaghul*
The author is the Former Chairman of ICICI Bank Limited. He is widely recognized in India for his role in pioneering the concept of the Universal Banking Model that laid the foundation for a new era in Indian Banking. He was mentored by Late Mr. R.K. Talwar during his tenure at State Bank of India and one of the few whom Shri Talwar confided in.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Top 10 Skills in Demand in 2017

This is a very trying time for IT Companies and as well as for the workforce. A large number of workforce is gradually growing old and finding that their skills are no longer relevant.
Seeing the writing on the wall, some people have quickly moved onto emerging skills that are short of manpower and hence there is growing demand in those skills.
A word of caution is warranted. One needs to understand that these are not based on any methodology and do not have solid numbers to back them up. That is the reason, you will find multiple such lists floating around in the internet. One needs to read them carefully and understand their implications and take an informed decision based on one's own situation and career ambitions.
Below is a reproduction based on 'Economic Times' article. There is another list published by Linkedin which can be found on this site as well.

Skills that will help you stay relevant in the job market
It’s a fact that no one is indispensable. Enterprises and individuals will always find a way to survive and thrive if your services are no longer available. Here's a list of top 10 skills that can help you stay relevant in job market.

1. User Interface (UI) design
JOBS AVAILABLE: User experience designer, user interface designer, user interface designer (computer software applications), creative director

2. Mobile development
JOBS AVAILABLE: Android and iOS developers, technical architect, lead software engineer, project manager (IT).

3. Web architecture & development framework
JOBS AVAILABLE: Web developer, software engineer, programmer, project manager.

4. Automation Testing using tools like Selenium, Appium, JMeter etc.

Testing is a critical function in any application development methodology. Companies are cutting down on costs and one way is to reduce headcount and work using open source tools. But Testing is an area where companies cannot afford to cut back costs. Hence they are adopting Open Source Automation tools like Selenium which have become very popular and are considered hot skills in the market.
JOBS AVAILABLE: Tester, Senior Testing, Testing Architect

5. Cloud Computing
JOBS AVAILABLE: IT architect, cloud software engineer, software architect, technical consultant.

6. Storage systems and management
JOBS AVAILABLE: IT consultant, principal software engineer, test engineer, system engineer, system administrator.

7. Network and information security
JOBS AVAILABLE BASED: Network security engineer, network security analyst, information security analyst, information security officer

8. Algorithm design /coding
JOBS AVAILABLE: Software development engineer, lead software engineer, software developer.

9. Statistical analysis & data mining
JOBS AVAILABLE: Data scientist, senior business analyst, data analyst, statistician data scientist.

10. Digital, SEO/SEM marketing
JOBS AVAILABLE: Digital marketing manager, online marketing manager, SEO marketing strategist, SEO manager, SEO analyst

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Value of Certifications - ITIL, Prince2, PMP, Scrum and others

Ask a working professional about the value of certification and most likely he or she will tell you that it is useless. Then the question arises why are top companies paying to get their employees certified?
Let us try to understand the value of certification.

Popular Certifications
The popular certifications in the market are PMP Preparation TrainingPrince2,   ITIL v3 Foundation, , TOGAF9.1, Devops besides certification from software companies like Microsoft, Oracle , Cisco  and many others. 

What critics say
Critics often say that certification is only a test of how well one knows a certain set of questions. Ask a certified person any question beyond that set and most likely they will not be able to answer. But a person with real work experience knows the nitty gritty which a certified newbee can never know.

Some other critics say it is only a way of making money for the certifying bodies, training institutes and software companies. Most of these certifications are quite expensive and so these companies and vendors make quite a bit of money on certifications. Naturally they have an interest in promoting certification.

Importance of Certification
But all said and done, certifications do have some value. Infact it is due to the indirect value that companies are investing in their employees. The reason certification is important is that it is a test of an individual on how well he knows the particular subject. Most of these subjects are not taught in any college or university. So  how do you ensure basic knowledge is impart against a uniform syllabus and uniform method of evaluation? The answer is through certification. That is the true value of certification and the reason why companies are paying to get their employees certified. This enhances their valuation in the eyes of their customers and helps to pitch them ahead of competition. But then certification really helps professionals with several years of experience under their belt as it shows experience backed by certification.

Besides, it is very important for corporates to deliver the best service to their customers. So one of the ways to deliver good service is to have quality employees serving customers and the best way to have quality and knowledgeable customers is to get them certified. This will ensure that employees and service providers have a minimum level of knowledge on the technology or the service domain. This will enhance the quality of service and drive customer satisfaction.

Another aspect that we need to consider is that these certifications are not like licenses like those for trade skills like Electrician, Plumbers and others. The trade skills are easier to measure and test unlike IT Skills or qualitative skills like PMP or ITIL. Naturally, one has to rely on such certifications to ensure employees have basic skills.

From an employee point of view, it is important because they serve to distinguish them from rest of the crowd. When there are thousands of employees with the same qualification and skills then how do you differentiate yourself? The answer is again through certifications.

We provide experienced trainers who can conduct online and classroom training on various certification topics like ITIL v3 Foundation, PMP Preparation TrainingTOGAF9.1, Prince2 Certification, OCA, OCP, MCSA, MCSE . 

If you have query on any aspect of certification then feel free to send us an email at and we will be happy to respond!

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Comparison of Scrum Certifications ...

Scrum Master Certification program is conducted by several bodies like Scrum Alliance,, Scrum Institute, ScrumStudy, Exin, PMI etc. and also called by different names.
Each body claims its certification to be the best and most valued in the market. However as with any certification, the most important thing is knowledge and real experience which can only be achieved by doing a training from an experienced trainer followed up with real life work experience in Scrum over several years.
Here is a summary comparing the different options:
Summary of Training Cost:
There is difference in the price of certifications as well –
Certification body
Name of Certification
Certification Only
Training Only Cost
Certification Plus Training
Scrum Institute
Scrum Master Accredited Certification
USD 39
Rs. 8,000
USD 150
EXIN Agile Scrum Master
USD 200

INR 22,000 to 24000
Scrum Alliance
Certified ScrumMaster®
Not available
Not available
INR 26,000 to 29,000
Scrum Master Certified
USD 300
Rs. 8,000
INR 20,000 to 24000
Professional Scrum Master I
USD 150
USD 300
PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (It goes beyond just Scrum)
USD 435
INR 12,000

Which certification is legitimate?
If one were to browse the internet then one will come across several posts bad-mouthing the certification bodies. Read for yourself …
Against ScrumAlliance
Against ScrumStudy

Fair Synopsis
ScrumAlliance is the oldest body offering Scrum Certification. It is an alliance of trainers known as ‘Certified Scrum Trainers’. Although ScrumAlliance is a not-for-profit body, their trainings are prohibitively costly.
They are now seeing themselves being challenged by ‘newbees’ like ScrumStudy and others which can potentially upset the ‘applecart’ and cutting into their pie. Hence, founders of SrumAlliance are furious at ScrumStudy and are going hammer and tongs against them.
Another comparison point is the amount of training materials made available on the net from ScrumStudy is much more than that available from ScrumAlliance. One can do the comparison by visiting their respective websites.
In all fairness, it is a free market and there are several bodies offering similar certification. So ScrumAlliance is as legitimate as ScrumStudy or any other body offering the certification. There are many corporate bodies who have got their employees certified through ScrumStudy to avoid the ‘Big Boy’s Club’.
Since there is no official regulating body for scrum certifications, like PMP, CPA, etc. It seems one is as good as the other! Unless you have actual experience managing scrum projects the only thing that certification represents is a base level of knowledge at best. Employers would be smart to require hands on experience over the CSM certification if their goal is to hire resources who will know what they are doing!