Sunday, October 27, 2013

Almoayed Group's Hat Trick: Winners of Bahrain Marathon Relay 2013 (IT Segment)

Pictures soon

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gulf News Article on one of my mentors: Mr. Ramesh Mahalingam

Developing a ‘fuzzy’ business like consulting

IdealMC is an independent consulting and advisory firm
  • By Manoj Nakra, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 21:00 October 18, 2013
  • Gulf News
  • Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News
  • Ramesh S. Mahalingam, Managing Director - Ideal Management Consultants, at this office in Al Rostamani Tower B.
Ramesh started Ideal Management Consultants (IdealMC), a consulting / advisory company, after acquiring diverse experience as a CFO and in investment banking. The value offering of IdealMC has evolved and morphed over time. Ramesh ‘crafted’ the service offering to the needs of the market. IdealMC now has 10 employees.
What does IdealMC do?
R: IdealMC is an independent consulting and advisory firm. Dubai has had a number of consulting firms that were off-shoots of auditing companies. Very few companies offered consulting and advisory services to the SME sector. I saw a niche, and set up a boutique firm to occupy this space. In due course two things happened: we moved up the ladder to serve mid- to large clients, and we added training to our offerings.
Where was entrepreneurship in you?
R: After becoming a CA at 21, I imagined I would set up my own firm one day. Since then, I worked in diverse business sectors to gain diverse experience – in FMCG, shipping, oil & gas and investment banking. Working with top names in each of these sectors gave me a solid foundation and exposure to global best practices.
Years later, when my father retired after 38 years of service with a single employer, I felt his loss of identity, his feeling of being unemployed and unsought. This made me decide that my “retirement” should be in my hands. This, in a sense, rekindled the thought of entrepreneurship in me.
Your first assignment?
An HR job that came from a large retailer – to advise and implement the HR integration of a mid-sized service company they had just acquired. Our challenge lay in integrating two diverse companies with no commonalities in business or staffing. Since the office was not yet ready, the three of us operated from home and had meetings across the dinner table. Our need to deliver on the assignment was greater than readying the office.
When did you know the company had started?
From the very first assignment. I had an instinct that this would work. Our clients liked what we did, and referred us to others. We built our service offerings assignment by assignment, all based on client requirements. Gradually we saw it fall into three broad verticals: management consulting, advisory and training.
When did you need additional people?
We started off as a team of three, all of us highly driven to create a name for the firm. My initial concerns were “as a small firm would we be able to hire more such committed talent?”
Fortunately, we were able to find intelligent, talented and highly dedicated people relatively quickly, within the first few months.
Was it a cost issue?
Set up costs were not big. Around AED 350k got us the license, office space, visas, and furniture. The challenge was to manage the cash flows till we received our first payment.
Any surprises?
While I had envisaged the firm to focus on finance and cost management, our first assignment was in the HR area! Since then we have undertaken several HR assignment for diverse clients. Another unexpected green pasture was training which we entered into in response to a client’s request.
Any challenges in recruiting?
On average we hired a person every month after our first assignment till we reached 10.
I believe that every team member is an entrepreneur and stakeholder in the firm – an ‘emptreneur’. Our HR policy is designed to reward each person for business originated and mandates delivered.
Have you been recruiting from the beginning?
Recruitment is an ongoing exercise since I believe in getting the right people on board when they are available. We have been recruiting right through the recession in the belief that assignments would follow. Fortunately they have.
Any tense moments?
Yes, every time we send out a proposal and the client is close to decision-making. It’s a positive tension. Most of our clients have been good with paying for services provided, sparing us from unproductive stress.
You are a little uncomfortable soliciting business. How did you overcome this?
I don’t think I have overcome it! Rather than soliciting business, we try to promote ourselves as a firm, hoping our work speaks for itself. We love referrals – and have landed several assignments in this manner.
Is this your customer acquisition strategy?
Our primary strategy is to let our work speak for itself; and to follow it up with a thorough conversion process. Our proposals are detailed and comprehensive. They inspire confidence in our ability to execute.
Why do clients choose you? Is it a balance of quality and price? Or they want a boutique guy to do the work - specialization? Or they feel that big guys don’t pay attention?
I think it is because clients like our “solutions” approach; our commitment to the “spirit” of the assignment and the passion we exhibit shows in our work. We want to be the best regarded consulting firm.
My exposure to multiple industries and the diverse roles I fulfilled in my career makes it possible for me to advise clients with practical solutions. Clients see our Directors engaging actively on each assignment and feel they are getting their money’s worth while hiring us.
How did you select this niche?
We work with a mix of small, medium and large clients. In some cases they gave us relatively low-risk work to see how we performed; before we were able to get strategic assignments from them.
Your customer focus changed?
For us every assignment is significant. The diversity of clients and the range of assignments have constantly tested our team’s versatility. We now have a critical mass of delivered work to be able to confidently take on larger assignments.
How did you evolve pricing for your services?
We learnt along the way. We now have a scientific system wherein we estimate the time required by each resource level to complete an assignment and price the work accordingly. We also have a set of tools that help us track our performance, time and cost for each team member.
What worries you today?
How to keep up the reputation built thus far. How to make that favorable first impression each time we engage with the client.
Would you walk away from a job or a company?
Yes. We have done that when we are not comfortable with the declared intent of the client. Integrity is all important to us.
How long does it take you to win a job?
Between 2 days and 9 months.
Have you changed as a person?
Yes, the buck stops with me - I now have to think of all possibilities and consequences before making a decision, whereas earlier the parameters were limited and defined. The plus side is that from being a functionary operating within specific limits, I now have a lot more latitude.
I now have the added responsibility of signing my own paycheck and approving my own leave application!
Did you have to unlearn something?
It’s been re-learning rather than unlearning. No stereotypes, no rigidities. If I have to meet a client at 11 at night I do it.
Manoj Nakra, currently with Apparel group, is a mentor to DubaiSME members.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

A past overtaken by a fast moving world

Gulf Daily News 8th August 2013 -

These days newspapers often have stories about the global recession, an increase in unemployment, gross domestic product, growth rates, crude oil prices or falling gold prices, but I sincerely doubt this makes any sense to the common man.
Generation after generation we hear older people saying "in our day" or "in those days" - and I have started saying the same. Is it just that we are aging, or has it been always the way the world has progressed?
Let me rewind to a time when I was comfortable carrying a BD20 note in my wallet and would be unable to spend the whole amount in a week. What has changed?
Well, to start with, the need for communications has increased. Earlier, the justification was that businesses needed to always be connected. Now, it's the same even for individuals. So the once non-existent cost of mobile phones, mobile Internet, home Internet, Internet dongles and WiFi charges have come into play.
Secondly, super malls have cropped up everywhere.Simple purchases of groceries, milk and yoghurt do not happen anymore. You take a shopping cart, start browsing through the stalls, pick up anything and everything (often required items and mostly non-essential items on offer or sale).Now the shopping experience is all the more different and of course, all the more expensive.
Thirdly, the food joints offering the world's cuisine all within driving distance have turned us into food explorers. If it's a one-time venture, fine! But it doesn't stop there. You then have to introduce your friends to the newly-discovered restaurant. "That particular cheese item, what was it, ah well, that was very authentic.""You must try this..." I'm not sure whether we can really figure out whether the Italian or Mexican dishes on offer are authentic or not. How good are we at judging the authenticity of a particular cuisine? Nevertheless, every trip costs you something - an unplanned and non-essential expense.
Four, there is the ever-growing need for home electronic gadgets. It's amazing. Remember the simple Yashica, with 36 photos a film roll? You had to wait until you finished the entire roll and then rush to the photo studio - and then wait till the guy developed it in a dark room. The expressions on your face to see a few of your photos that were overexposed or underexposed. Forget about the excitement and thrill of seeing the photos, it wasn't expensive then! Now you have flashy digital cameras, camcorders and mobile phone cameras. Terabytes of storage are required to store the photos. Will you ever find that "one day" to sort the photos, delete the bad ones and retain the good ones? Maybe take a few for printing? Nope! What used to be considered a small business is now available in most modern homes. And you keep buying these expensive portable hard disks to store those precious moments, which you are never going to view again! At least not frequently! The habit of showing your photo albums to guests is no longer to be seen.
Five, don't forget the days when we used to play merrily and return home by dusk. Inexpensive, eh? Now modern children are tuned to PlayStation and Xbox. If you can afford the capital expense of buying the consoles, what about the games? BD15 or BD20 for a game? Come on! That used to be my weekly expense before the dawn of this new era! What has changed?
Everything around except the people of my generation and, of course, most of you readers in sync with what I have written. Now, is it time to go shopping? It seems there is some special offer on digital cameras!
Mohan Krishnamurthy

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Article:Rumours at the speed of light

Rumours at the speed of light

By Mohan Krishnamurthy, Posted on » Sunday, May 21, 2006

I STILL remember the day when we got our first television set. It was a different experience. A 12-inch black and white television, with a huge towering antenna, we often use to rotate to get clear signals. One odd programme for children and the rest some stuff which we couldn't understand or follow those days. Parents didn't stop us from watching it.

On the contrary they found it a tool to keep us home. Yes, they were tired of seeing us playing on the streets, coming home with bruises and cuts. Our clothes needed a change after every street game adventure as we used to come home soaked in sweat. Radio never needed as much attention as television demanded. You can switch on the radio and keep doing your work. But television was a crowd puller. A fascination-turned-pain before we realised. It got into our drawing room and slowly started controlling our thoughts and minds.

Unknown people started entering our home to watch programmes that were aired only between 6pm and 10pm. People used to gate-crash to watch poll results, movies or cricket scores. My mother enjoyed the recognition she got among the group as a first television owner. After the initial hospitality, my mother realised that it was going to be a Herculean task to extend the hospitality almost on a daily basis. But it was fine. We started having more unknown guests through the television itself. People were airing their views on dramas, songs, movies and debates.

With the Internet, paging, mobile and thousands of television channels, we, the public face a challenge. What to believe and what not to. What to follow and what not to. While the Internet and information technology innovation holds millions of pages of information, often we find facts are distorted, misrepresented or the truth totally blacked-out. For anything there are hundreds of views. Even scientific facts are denied, questioned or rejected altogether. Often the website reflects the owners' views and sometimes very aggressive efforts to force them on to readers. Rumours now travel at the speed of light with mobile voice, SMS and MMS. More misuse of technology rather than right use of it.

The younger generation spends time on books at schools, televisions and computers at home, hence giving birth to a new species - the couch potato. Reading books, watching television and sitting on computers for hours together negate any scope of physical exercises, handicraft, arts and literature.

Information availability is effortless nowadays, at the "click of a mouse-button" as they say. No need to discuss with elders and learned men, no peer discussion, no debate and no research by reading books from the library. In fact, if you seek any information from your friends, please do not be surprised to receive a standard answer - "Search on the Internet". But what is the accuracy of such easily available information. Is the right amount of information with accuracy reaching our children?

Creativity and innovation that existed among previous generations are scarcely found in the present one. We should not forget the growth in information technology, communications, space; aviation and automation are the fruits of man's creativity. The desire to discover, the fire to invent and curiosity to share the success have made us to see the 21st century of the world.

We must not let this creative fuel run out, particularly from our children. Schools, colleges and universities need to develop curricula that includes physical exercise, outdoor games, drawing, painting, carpentry, pottery and other handicraft courses. Parents need to spend more time with their children and help them balance between television, computers and other activities.

Yes, the older generation has a challenging task to pass on not only its technology and inventions, but also the phenomenon behind these inventions - creative thinking

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nature of Gudibande

Technology Books: CompTIA Network+ Certification Study Guide

CompTIA Network+ Certification Study Guide by Mohan Krishnamurthy; Michael Cross; Dustin Fritz

CompTIA's Network+ certification is a globally-recognized, vendor neutral exam that has helped over 235,000 IT professionals reach further and higher in their careers. The 2009 Network+ exam (N10-004) is a major update with more focus on security and wireless aspects of networking. Our new study guide has been updated accordingly with focus on network, systems, and WAN security and complete coverage of today's wireless networking standards. As always this companion covers the core Network+ material including basic design principles, management and operation of a network infrastructure, and testing tools. After reading this book not only will you be able to ace the exam but you will be able to maintain, troubleshoot, and install computer networks.
New to this edition are: Intensified focus on network securityTwo NEW practice exams to help eliminate test-day jittersTiered chapter ending quesitons that allow gradual learning 
New to this edition in accordance with the newly revised exam is an intensified focus on network securityTwo NEW practice exams to help eliminate test-day jittersTiered chapter ending questions that allow for graduated learningCovers everything from test taking techniques to advanced topics - keeping the beginner and intermediate IT professional in mindLayout of the guide parallels the Network+ N10-004 objectives for ease of study

This item is Non-Returnable.

  • ISBN-13: 9781597494298
  • ISBN-10: 1597494291
  • Publisher: Syngress Publishing
  • Publish Date: July 2009
  • Page Count: 776

Technology Books: How to Cheat at Administering Office Communications Server 2007

Technology Books: How to Cheat at Securing Linux

Technology Books: Designing & Building Enterprise DMZs

Technology Books: Microsoft Forefront Security Administration Guide

Technology Books: CompTIA Security+ Certification Study Guide

Technology Books:The Real MCTS/MCITP Windows Server 2008 Configuring Application Infrastructure Exam 70-643

Technology Books: Configuring Juniper Networks NetScreen & SSG Firewalls

Article: Wanted Stick No Bill

Wanted Stick No Bill

We have seen Stick No Bills written on private buildings, compounds of government buildings and so many other places. Simply it means don’t put posters. However, how often we see some posters pasted on top of it? What is the government regulation on such actions? The person who pasted the notices, is he liable for punishment by law? What if he is employed by a company that wants to promote their products? Is that company liable to be prosecuted? Well, let’s imagine a scenario when company X wants to put the company Y in trouble, and stick their bills on the walls. Who will monitor who actually mounted these posters? Is it possible to monitor the entire area with CCTV cameras? Well, ummh, possibly, no and hence we are calling for troubles.

Now Internet seems to require “Stick No Bills” everywhere. Sophisticated communication mechanism, a place for expressing oneself and a high reach has created a platform for such a measure.

You can express yourself on the Internet in the following methods:

· A Static Website, through free web hosting sites such as Tripod

· Through a forum such as phpBB, bulletin boards

· Through a blog offered by blog hosting such as Blogger

· Through social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Orkut

· Through free articles publishing sites

· -And so on .....

Of course, the convention means of mass mailing is always there. People often use these sophisticated communication means to reach out to mass audience in spreading religious, racial, sectarian hatred campaigns. Often targeted individual attacks are also carried out.

Apart from attacking people in politics, movie and music world in public lives and are prepared to face such attack, sometimes they go further to locate sites owned by individuals who are not in public life, but have posted an opinion that is not in favor of such people.

They identify such sites, through social book marking sites, or tags and hunt down these sites by posting anonymous remarks, obscene comments and subjecting them to individual attack.

While Internet predominantly western has many views that are acceptable to be posted, without any interference from the hosting sites, often such allowed views hurt the sentiments and values of Middle East and East.

While it often makes conventional people to keep themselves away from visiting such forums, community sites or active participation in the Internet development, there is a definite need for some regulation that is broadly acceptable by the Internet community at large in the interest of protecting global interest, privacy of Internet surfers, and protection of religious and regional values.

Does Internet require Stick No Bills everywhere, governed by a common law, applicable to the Internet world and hence protecting the Netizen? Your views please!

~Mohan Krishnamurthy

Article:Taking You Closer to Your Home

Taking You Closer to Your Home

For a change, a lighter article from me. Better way to utilize your Eid holidays.

Computing itself is considered to be English. However, a first year electronics engineer graduate can tell you that it’s all about 0s and 1s. However, English has become the default language of computing. But there are several initiatives taken by the language lovers all over the world to move computing from English to their native languages.

Now Windows interfaces are available in the language of your choice, increasing the personalization to your mother tongue. Office tools can have non-English interfaces. You can send and receive mails in your language, chat in your language, design websites in your language and send SMS in your language. Search for Microsoft Language Interface Pack (LIP) and it shall take you to the right site.

Unicode technology has made it possible to have standardization across the technology.

All you need to do is to go to Control Panel, Regional Language and Settings, Add support for Asian Languages, Click on details and add the keyboard of the preferred language. Now open Word or any application and start typing in your language. Do search on the websites on your language. Numerous language dictionaries, computing dictionaries and websites are available in several languages. It’s bigger than the English Internet. It’s closer to your heart now.

Now there is a problem though! How am I going to learn typing in my language? It’s very easy. It just takes 15 minutes. Or you have another choice. Microsoft has introduced a Phonetic tool. Just type it in English with the phonetics of your language, and bingo! You get your Unicode characters in your language on the screen.

It’s really a dramatic experience and a memorable one when I learnt to type in my mother tongue. When I wrote a mail to my mom in the language she can read and understand, I realized the impact of introducing our languages into the world of computing.

Do you want to experience the same? Get started!

~Mohan Krishnamurthy

Article: Measuring Yourself in An Organization - The GYRO Way

Measuring Yourself in An Organization - The GYRO Way

Gyro is a device used for measuring changes in direction. Leaving that aside, GYRO here simply means Green, Yellow, Red and Orange. If Management is Y-Axis, and Employee is X-Axis, what this GYRO graph explains us is the matter for the discussion in this article.

As you are aware, every axis has the +, the positive side and -, the negative side. So the Management has positive and negative sides, and so does every Employee.

GREEN box covers the coordinates of positive X and Y axes. Management is positive about the Employee and the Employee is positive about the Management. Perfect harmony, ideal and preferred condition to exist.

In this scenario, Employee has an opportunity to prove, he or she has proved and the Management is happy about this performance. Employee thinks that Management has given the right opportunity, exposure and compensation.

YELLOW box covers the coordinates of negative Y and positive X axes. Management is negative about the Employee, but the Employee is positive about the Management.

In this scenario, Management thinks that it has provided adequate opportunity, exposure, training and standard compensation, but the Employee is still not proving himself/herself. Employee is neither aware of Management’s view nor he/she ignores the fact and is still positive about the Management.

RED box covers the coordinates of negative X and Y axes. Management is negative about the Employee. Employee is negative about the Management.

In this scenario, Management thinks that it has provided adequate opportunity, exposure, training and standard compensation, but the Employee is still not proving himself/herself. Employee thinks the opposite and hence is negative about the Management.

ORANGE box covers the coordinates of positive Y and negative X axes. Management is positive about the Employee, but the Employee is negative about the Management.

In this scenario, Management thinks that it has provided sufficient opportunities for the Employee to prove him or herself. Employee thinks that he has failed in the opportunity, or he/she was not provided adequate exposure, training or support to prove or he/she is not compensated well.

Employees of all the companies in the world fall under one of these categories. And every Management of the companies in the world falls under one of these categories. Of course, new Employees, who have just joined and haven’t got an opportunity to prove; and the Management is neutral can be classified out of this. May be we can place them in a Blue box and bring them under one of these categories as they progress later.

What is the key challenge for every Employee is to remain in the Green box. The key challenge for every Management is to remain in the Green box. This continued presence in the Green box is often challenging and sometimes seems impossible. However, a true two-way communication between an Employee and the Management can make things easier. A successful organization has majority of the people in the Green box.

People in Red box should leave their jobs. They should look for better opportunities. Being in the Red box is harmful for their individual careers as well as for the welfare of the organization. Management should quickly react and give golden handshakes to those Employees who have reached the Red box. They might have been in the Green boxes in the past. But as of now, their status is Red.

People in the Orange box should list down their concerns and grievances and interact with the Management either directly or through the human resources department and should work hard to get back into the Green box. The threat of going to the Red box means losing the job. On the Management’s part they have to reiterate their positive attitude towards such Employees and help them to come out of the Orange box. They may have to provide necessary tools, support, and guidance or may be a package revision if they think that is the reason for his or her being in the Orange box.

People in the Yellow box are primarily due to the fact that in spite of them being positive, Management is negative towards them. This is a dangerous situation to be in. Why because, the Employees are happy about what they are doing, but the Management is not positive about them. Management should invite such people individually and convey them in unequivocal terms that why they are unhappy about the Employee and what they expect from him or her. On the Employee’s part, he or she has to seek constant feedback from the Management to self-assure that he or she is in the Green box and not dropping to the Yellow box. Leaving open ends will push the Employee from the Yellow box to Red box, though they have the potential to prove.

In other words, success of an organization relies on happy Management and happy Employees. Employees need to make sure that they are happy with the Management and make all attempts to eliminate anything that could possibly make them unhappy. Management in return has to provide right opportunities, tools, support, guidance and compensation to ensure their Employees are happy.

In summary, keep measuring yourselves, in the GYRO way. And keep the environment GREEN.

~Mohan Krishnamurthy