Scenes from corporate life

Sushmita Jha
Saturday, 18 August 2018

Chatting up Rishi Piparaiya, who was in the city, to launch his second book, Job be Damned

Written by Rishi Piparaiya and published by Harper Collins, Job be Damned is an amalgamation of corporate job life experience from a subordinate to the authority stage. This book recognises that you are an average employee and makes sure that by the time you finish reading it, you feel the best about the average employee within you. Excerpts...  

Tell us about the book and its quirky title?

Job Be Damned is a satirical book on corporate life. The stated premise of the book is that everyone is average and over the next 20 chapters, I go on to write about every possible situation and scenario from corporate life and point out what we, our colleagues, and our bosses have been doing all this while. I make fun of every department, every kind of employee, boss. Behind all that humour is a strong element of truth, which exists in organisations and workplaces the world over. 

The quirky title builds on my first book, Aisle Be Damned, which was a hilarious look at the world of air travel. I was on a flight and I  just jotted down my observations and they got converted into an unlikely bestseller. 
Job Be Damned follows a similar concept with my observations of corporate life. And my mouthpiece satire platform, Damned.com, does this for the world at large.

Coming from a corporate background, why did you switch to writing?

I had spent over 15 years in financial services and achieved the level of success that I had aspired for. But I was tired of doing more of the same and was yearning to do something which was more aligned to my creative passions. It was a reasonably well planned switch.  

I took a three month sabbatical in 2014 to travel and write. I came back, convinced that I want to switch tracks and a year later, left to focus on my passions of writing and mentoring students and start-ups. Over the past few years, I have published my second book, Job Be Damned, travelled extensively around the world, and been associated with various start-ups and a few academic institutions.

What kind of a boss are you? And what kind of an employee were you?

I think my bosses and direct reports are better suited to answer this question! But as an employee, I considered myself extremely driven, independent and result-oriented. I did not like to be micro managed. Equally, I found myself stagnating pretty quickly and every few years, I needed a change of role. 

As a boss, I think I adopt the same management style that I appreciated as an employee. I like to give people a lot of space and flexibility in how they approach their work and step in only when they need guidance or problems solved.

What makes a team?

I joke in the book that the most effective teams are those where everyone does his or her own thing. On a serious note, the best team comprises people with complementary skills and who have an implicit faith in each other. If you are secure in your skill-set, trust your co-workers enough to accept whatever it is that they are contributing to the task at hand. 

How are corporate jobs different than govt jobs?

It is a very good question. Government jobs bring with them a certain level of job security, prestige and perks, but at the cost of compensation which is usually significantly lower than the corporate sector. In corporate jobs, one sacrifices some of this balance for higher compensation and the ability to be more flexible with one’s career. People in government jobs are working the multiple levels of the economy, efficiency, legal system. Those in corporate jobs are more profit oriented. But both kind of jobs have similarities —  those in corporate jobs are influenced by their immediate supervisors, those in government jobs by political direction.

What do you think about the current employment situation of in India?

The concept of employment is going to undergo a radical shift over the next few decades. Millennial and the generations to come will be valuing variables such as time, development, passion and purpose more than they do money and status. They will therefore make many more different career choices than we do. 

Employees will get a lot more specialised in their areas of interest. A lot of the mundane jobs will get taken over by technology and there will be a demand for creativity. 

So I think corporates across all economies, not just India, need to be prepared for these changes that are going to take place over the next few decades.

Do you think Indian entrepreneurs do not get enough exposure?

Over the past decade, a vibrant community has emerged in India which is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start up and flourish. Whether angel investors, incubators, accelerators, or providers such as co-working spaces etc, entrepreneurs today have access to a lot more resources than they did in the past. 

That said, while a lot of focus is given to entrepreneurs once they have achieved a certain level of traction, they need the most attention at the nascent stages — from developing an excellent idea into a business plan to the prototype. It is here where they are most neglected and providing them with the guidance at this stage would be very beneficial for the entire eco system.

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