Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Teachers Day

Having accidentally bumped into each other I was fortunate enough to meet him a year back at Ahmedabad.

It was a moment of glory, a kind of celebration, a sense of achievement. I stood staring at him in disbelief, probably revering. I pinched myself hard and reiterated Is this the same gentlemen who ripped me apart way back in 1994 ?

Memories flashed immediately - I was studying my PG Diploma in Management Studies from Jamnalal Bajaj University of Management Studies. During the second semester we had a Professor who taught us a dreaded subject called as Marketing Management. He had given us a group project to study the impact of new launch of Soaps by two giants Evita by Godrej and Le Sancy by HLL.

Being our first major project and from a Professor having a Marketing background we did not want to leave any stone unturned. We wanted to prove ourselves that we are the best. At that time the Professor had served with big organisation like Blow Plast Ltd, Puma Ltd and were told that he had worked in product development closely with a few advertising agencies too.

We did our best in this project to study the desired impact of the new launch by designing a questionnaire. I still remember we filled majority of the questionnaire by standing in the Church gate sub-way opposite Eros Theatre and our target audience were young office goers who were to mention their individual experiences regarding the product usage post launch. This questionnaire were filled when they were returning back home from their offices in the evening.

Having worked harder and after making a detailed analysis we were to present the project in the class. At that time access to computers were at premium and only one classmate from our group was having a hands on experience on computers. For me computer usage was like climbing Mount Everest without any preparation.

The D-Day arrived, having submitted the hard copy to the professor we were to present our findings in front of the class. Our group was a bunch of youngsters who were vibrant but not confident enough to face the class (a classic case of stage fear). We huddled together to decide on who will bell the cat. With no consensus arriving, I probably because of over-enthusiasm dared to volunteer and present the case. During those times there were no television programmes like ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ else Akshay Kumar would have easily crowned me the winner and would have rewarded me for taking such a huge risk. I stood first in the race where no other person ran.

The presentation began, having no experience of stage and computers I started reading whatever was mentioned in the soft copy. The enthusiasm was there but the confidence was slightly drifting away the stage fright catching on me finally, at that time I only had one line of thinking -finish the presentation as early as possible.

Least realising that I am running in to an experienced marketing person my luck ran in to rough terrain as the Professor was not only vigilant but alert, true to his designation, qualification and his experience.

After reading out 2-3 slides he interrupted me and enquired whether our group has anything to say apart from what is mentioned in the hard-copy and when I answered in negative, he asked us to end the presentation abruptly and showering his choicest blessings on us asked us to leave the class and ripped us apart for wasting his time and making the process of presentation a mere joke.

We were in a state of disbelief; having worked hard on the project we never dreamt that we would falter at the end and thereby pouring cold water on all our exercise. But this experience changed my attitude; I had two choices on the treatment meted on us
a)Overcome stage fear and improve my presentation skills and be confident always
b)Feel insulted and keep sulking the whole life.

I am glad I choose the former and am very thankful to Professor Isaac Jacob because if he had not ripped me apart on that day I would not be penning this and would not have been what I am today.

Thank you Sir. I will never forget that day’s learning. I have learnt a lot in these 15 years. Also wherever/whenever I, have been provided an opportunity to address young turks who also experience the same feeling that they are not in a position to face an audience I, do mention my learning experience probably reiterating that its miles to go before I sleep.