We are continuing the interview with Mr. Suraj in this blog post. The part 1 of the interview can be found here
Me: So what after Manifesh Technologies?
SS: I joined Jain College in Bangalore for doing my BCA. I was living without pocket money.. My parents gave only as much as i needed.. I got Rs 25 per day.. 25 * 30 = 750.. included everything.. My father’s argument was go eat at Aunts place.. go in bus.. why u want money..
My dad is a highly disciplined man.. He always had a fixed schedule.. He wakes up at 4:45 in the morning.. If I had any stains of discipline.. it is only because of him.. He sleeps at 9:30 in the night sharp come what may! He always told me that If I do things on time.. I will be already half successful.. I started incorporating what he said and I saw changes.. After that I have been doing things on time.. Even now.. I reach office first.. It worked wonders for me.. If there is one message I would like to tell even today.. it is “Work on time”
So, to make up for the pocket money, my friend & I decided to work in the night.. I joined AOL.. I had a very interesting interview there.. I was reasonably at good english.. They asked me What I was doing.. I told full time graduation.. Later they come & tell us.. that they cant take full timers.. I asked the HR what if I tell correspondence.. The HR told.. correspondance is ok.. So We went again.. to the SAME PERSON. He recognized..
We were laughing.. He was very serious.. Actually interviews get recorded and interviewers are also assessed for their skills.. So he cant laugh I guess.. I told him that I did my graduation by correspondence.. A BLATANT LIE.. Finally HR came & told that both of us were selected.. The friend the same day.. I joined a week later. He is now doing his MBA in Australia..
AOL was an amazing place.. We had great training.. We also got 2 hours in play station.. etc.. AOL had lots of games.. so we must know the products well to support the customer requests.. to tell the good things about the product etc
Work was very cool… Office was in ITPL and it was a big thing for us to be at ITPL.. I was earning 6000 a month..
At AOL.. I was put in a dept called SAVES – Whenever a customer calls for cancellation, we have to retain them.. Hence the name SAVES.. Actual AOL model is like this.. they give a CD for free trial for 21 days.. And you have to cancel before 21st day.. Else on 22nd day you get automatically charged.. Only then customers would call to cancel.. It was also very expensive.. 23.95$ per month.. lot of money.. compared to 6-7$ per month provided by others. And We had saves target of 80%..
Before I left .. i was at 90%.. So, I was promoted to join Platnium club based on my performance.. But people in Platnium club worked day shifts only.. Majority of Irate customers.. called in US night i.e., day time in India.. But obviously I had college and So I couldnt continue.. Hence I left AOL give some fake reason… you see my manager doesnt know that I was studying..
Me: Cool.. So after AOL.. what next?
SS: After AOL, I was dabbling with a few things before the next big thing happened.. It is called the UTHBLIGHT.. It was a network of jain college students.. Those were the days when orkut/facebook were not there.. UTHBLIGHT was a common platform to talk anything.. science.. culture. debates.. It was a Get together sort of a thing.. It expanded quite soon and we had a student rep in every college.. jain.. jnc.. mcc.. We had editors to make articles of the meets.. We soon had a formal body.. We had election & I won the election and was made the President.. That is where I met Rohit (Partner at Dream Gains)..
We grew UTHBLIGHT a 8000 student body from various colleges.. Infosys started coming to us & sponsored some part.. We got around 10,000 – 15,000/- and called people for internships.. That is when one of the big mistakes we committed as a group.. There was some personal misunderstanding due to 1 girl and 3 or 4 guys.. Someone proposed the girl and the girl accepted.. And there was some politics etc.. We lost in the mess.. And we shut down UTHBLIGHT.. That is when we learnt what big mistake we committed.. Things shouldnt depend on individuals.. And I learnt that next time I build something, it must be built to last.. beyond the individuals..
Me: That was a lesson learnt the hard way I guess! What after this?
SS: Yes, we learnt it the hard way.. and it was big network and we let it disintegrate due to personal reasons.
Then I joined as a HR traine in LYCAS.. My work was to type resumes for candidates who come.. We used to recruit till 1 or 2 in the night.. They wanted me to relocate to Chennai… As usual, I couldnt. So I Quit..
Then I applied for DELL for job.. I went to final round of the Interview.. But I did get through.. I asked the HR Why didnt get through.. HR didnt give reason.. The interviewer there was a senior manager..
I asked them how do I apply again.. They told apply after 6 months later.. I did well in the interview.. I wanted to get into Dell because it was a more of a challenge..
Me: Ok.. But you did join Dell right!
SS: Yes, that was much later. After this incident, I applied to Transworks.. I used to be in credit card sales experience.. I was working for Canada.. Basically had to make a lot of Cold calls… It was one of the best learning experience..
I was doing 1 sales per hour. We were having targets in the range of o.7-0.8 sales per hour.. That was the first time I saw how a process in place.. How process shapes the sales behaviour.. The role of a good team leader etc.. Infact, I have incorporated some of the practices of these process here in Dream Gains.
In between all these.. Jain college principal calls our gang.. We were a group of 3 girls & 3 guys.. we were like “which movie what time” gang..We always had a Gala time..laughing at the foolishness of people who are attending college.. :-) 1 girl is daugther of Kuberan silks owner.. Another one is a model.. One guy’s father was a health minister in Mauritius.. He is now a professor in Mauritius. We take a dig at him even today..
our TOTAL ATTENDANCE was also < 75%
We had 68% put together.. They asked us to leave.. It was becoming a pain.. In other colleges.. we just had to only pay fine.. But Jain was not giving TC
We wanted to go..
We just had one semester left.. I joined Venkateshwara College..
I told them strictly… “I am not going to come”
This principal asked.. “Can you atleast come to the lab.” I said.. No way.. I have work.. I will pay full year’s fees.. You cant expect me to come college I said & paid fees.. I still worked with Transworks..
Me: Can anyone’s life be more eventful than this?
SS: Oh.. There is more to come.. Check this out..
I had a girlfriend when I was there in Transworks.. She was in microsoft.. She was my friends’s wife’s friend.. She got fired for some random error.. They took her back after 2 days.. One evening I got a call from her telling that she is going back home.. I spoke to my manager in the cafeteria.. I wanted to go back.. My manager told that it was the last 2 days of month.. he told “I am seeing u in the floor..”.. I went & took the lift & I went home.. That was my last day at Transworks.. As I said.. 2 days later.. she got job… she was called back.. But I didnt want to go back..
Me: So.. what did you do after that?
SS: Well nothing..
I spent 3 – 4 months.. idle.. My only work was to watch friends.. order food.. sleep.. go out.. one day she got bugged.. She said.. “what are u doing with your life” I also decided enough is enough.. I thought I should apply.. I applied after 6 months to dell & got through.. The interview started at 5 in the evening.. and it ended at 12.. I almost walked away.. I was upset that they made me wait soo long..
In the end.. they asked “do you have any questions” I said.. “Will I atleast go home now..” The interviewer was a director.. she told sorry and asked Will you take the job if I ask you stay for 1 hour more.. Thats when I told her about my past story.. and I badly want to talk to that guy.. and I will take this job come what may!
Me: You wont leave that poor guy! Will you :-)?
SS: No way! After joining dell.. in 1 week I searched for him and I asked him.. obviously he couldnt locate..He finally gave the reason that in my resume, I had mentioned objective as Customer service.. and didnt mention sales… he told sorry..
I got the Rookie of the quarter.. I went to him..
I got the best sales performer.. I went to him & showed him.. Some 5-6 times I told him..
But in all these… I learnt a lot at DELL.. I learnt what “Superior cusotomer service” is all about.. They value customer experience.. I learnt the way they teach.. They taught us to put the customer first.. Every banner spoke of customer.. Today my customer focus comes only because of dell. Even the way the organization is structured here in DG is based on the model followed at Dell..
Me: In your whole career was there anyone who influenced you the most?
SS: Yes! After Dell, I started looking out to move on in my career. I got a job in Google & Strategic Outsourcing. I chose strategic outsouring because I got a people management role. There I had a manager by name Enok. He is one of the best managers I have ever had.. Under him, I learnt the team management skills & people management skills.. Infact, I called him recently told him about the feedback which I got from my team… I owe it completely to him. He was very friendly.. He was the only manager.. who used to hang out with his team.. when most of the managers used to hang out with other managers.. He supported us a lot and gave us a lot of motivation..
Me: People say that you dont leave job.. You leave managers.. You had a great manager.. but you didnt stick to this job for a long time.. why was that so?
SS: I didnt belong there.. somehow.. I was working only for 3 days a month.. The systems work like this.. as long as your hitting ur targets.. you can do whatever you want.. I even used to take 9 hour breaks.. Today the productivity management software which we have now at dream gains.. are some of the ideas which we were discussing in the coffee table discussions over there.. about on how to track our coffee breaks..
Also.. Night shifts was taking a hit on me.. It was 4 years of less sleep also I track markets in the day.. So it started affecting my health and I needed a break.
Me: Oh so you moved on to a new job?
SS: Yes! Then PTC happened.. Interview was good.. Manager was good.. Role was good.. they gave me “Strategic accounts”..
The company had 3 sets of teams… One of them focussing on sales at the bottom pyramid with reseller & channel partner… Another set of team for middle of the pyramid.. dealing with only one channel partner.. The third set of team focussed on top clients.. Only direct sales handled by PTC..
I was a completely new world for me.. I was learning about sales by relationship.. sales in a B2B space.. How to startegize sales.. how to sell after 6 months.. We also had a number of case studies on strategic sales of PTC which was an incredible learning experience… I got an exposure to how to build value and more importantly how to sell services.. It was a hard core b2b space..
When dealing with Indian customer.. one should know the purchase guy very well.. It is difficult to get money of Indians.. You need to build good rapport with them.. You shouldnt just treat them as purchase guys.. give them respect.. You may have to do some exception for them.. like one month trial extended to 3 month etc.. But it is like investing in a long term relationship.. When you are in a cruch.. He will certainly give you orders.. It was amazing amazing learning..
Me: Oh wow! That seems to be a second innings in sales for you… So when did DG happen?
SS: True it was a second innings in sales especially in B2B space.. But at the end of the day basics of sales is the same…
1 year into PTC.. 3 of us were in UB city.. I was telling them that we should profile customers for a sister concern.. We were only targeting only low values players.. We should do something to focus on high end traders who trade more than x lakh rupees everyday.. We must also bring in processes.. One process can change a lot of things.. That is when rohith said.. I knw you dont have much information on stock market.. but why dont you look after Dream Gains.
Me: And thus began Dream Gains How were your early days?
SS: It was very interesting.. I was on my own.. Setting up the a new business from scratch.. Setting up a whole new team.. It was exciting..
Me: So what are plans hence forth..
SS: I am inclined to the vision of the group.. which is to create employment & to make a difference.. I am working towards that.. It is my small but sure contribution to the Indian economy..
Personally at some point I want to get into training.. We have a lot of entrepreneurship courses etc.. But there are very few TRAINERS. I want to get into that.. It could be as trivial as discussing issues on difficult it is to find an office space to how to build a pitch book.. I want to share my learnings.. Lets when the time comes.. Right now I want to grow Dream Gains..
Me: Sure Suraj! Any final message that you would like to share..
SS: I would like to share an incident today.. I was interviewing a candidate who was a district level football player.. he had applied for sales job.. I asked him why he discontinued his football to study further.. He said.. his parents wanted him to quit football to pursue MBA.. Today he is now looking for sales job after his studies. I think he would have been much better footballer..
Formal education is a just one way of reaching your dreams.. It is not the only way to accomplishing it!
Me: Thank you Suraj! That was an amazing interview with an amazing message! Good luck for Dream Gains!
SS: Thanks Sundar! I hope CWS audience will find it useful!
Me: Readers, hope you enjoyed this edition of coffee with experts!