Sunday, December 19, 2010

Do we really need Ivy League champions to manage our businesses in Kuwait?

It amuses me when I read about how companies in Kuwait are looking specifically for certain type of candidates to fill certain positions. Candidates that have graduated out of prestigious Ivy league schools. Some of you might ask me why?

Simply because I don't see any improvements in the way business is done in Kuwait on the whole. There are no seemingly noticeable improvements in the way these businesses are run and more importantly, there is no improvement in service! Why then do these companies insist on hiring candidates that have graduated out the Harvards, Stanfords, Oxfords, Enseads and IIMs of the world? Do they really plan on utilizing the talents of these individuals or is it just a way for CEOs to brag...

"I've got 3 Harvard graduates in my BD team"

"That's nothing, I've got 2 guys from Stanford, a guy from Wharton and 4 from IIM."

Let's face it, Kuwait is a small country. As much as I don't like Dubai, if someone told me they were looking for these kind of people, I'd believe it. Simply because, financial/real estate crisis or not, you can see the big developments in the emirate. You can see that they have a penchant for hiring talented people and getting the best out of them. You see old and new companies taking risks, building brands and engaging customers. You see new projects on the horizon all the time; the world's tallest, fattest, shortest, widest, coolest....arrgh!! The point is, we see developments taking place every now and then. So the need for these people is almost autonomously justified.

This is more than I can say for their counterparts in Kuwait. Apart from a handful of companies here, I can't seem to fathom the idea that a fresh Kellogg or IIM grad can do a better job at managing a brand in Kuwait than a guy with hardcore experience. Business ideas lack creativity, overall treatment of employees is below par with the rest of the world and again, customer service in Kuwait is appalling. How then are these companies utilizing the talents of these people positively? Do we see any developments on the horizon?

Personally, I think instead of hiring these "Ivy league champions", companies would do better if they just spent their money on training their customer service staff on better (or should I daresay - basic) customer service ideologies; that would be money well spent! Which once again brings me to my question, why hire ONLY graduates from these colleges when you've got talented people waiting for opportunities?

Frankly, I think it's a scam to make their companies look good to the outside world. I know there will be a few naysayers that want to diss this blogpost thinking quality people equals quality output. I'd almost agree with that except for the fact that: it only takes a good mechanic to fix a car, not an automobile engineer!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

How about a 4sim?

I had stopped posting about tech stuff since I figured there are a ton of other people that seem to know more about tech stuff that I do. Besides, we’d be talking about the same thing anyway so what’s the point right? This post however isn’t about the technology. Well at least not entirely. It’s about the preposterousness (I think that’s a word) and the absurdity of the idea. Read on.

Have you ever seen guys with more than 2 mobile phones? I have. In fact I know someone with 4 mobile phones although he doesn’t carry more than 2 phones at a time. One of the numbers is always carried while he picks and chooses which of the remaining three he’ll carry with him. Of course, he’s got a Blackberry, an iPhone, a Samsung and another one I can’t seem to remember. The only reason I remember so much is because I was fascinated with this guy’s obsession of being so “in touch” with his network that he had to get 4 phones. I was also curious about his sanity. My guess is he needs just one phone and the others are to keep track of his girlfriends/mistresses! Or maybe they’re for different business? Bah….who knows!!!

Eiher way, enter – Dody, a Chinese mobile manufacturer that has taken into accounts dweebs like this guy and made a phone just for the likes of him. Here’s a phone that has slots for 4 SIM chips and what’s even better, the e-flyer attached says you can use them all at once! (If you can't view the flyer, visit: )
What will the come up with next? Seriously, this isn’t a rhetorical question. What WILL they come up with next?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

STOP getting ripped off by Kuwaiti Mobile Phone companies!!!

For years now we have been getting swindled by mobile phone operators in Kuwait. We paid the heftiest charges among all the countries in the Middle East despite having more than one operator for the most part of 10 years. Coverage was at best average which in my book is very appalling considering the size of Kuwait and the straightforward topography. After a decade of paying for incoming calls, the arrival of VIVA saw the rest of the bunch allow incoming calls for free.

We thought this was the start of something new; a price war between the cell phone companies that would ultimately benefit the subscribers. But after a year for some reason there seems to be no fairness OR logic in the various promotions or schemes announced by either of these companies. To be honest, I don't count VIVA in this because they haven't been in the market long enough for me to commend or berate them. SO it's between Zain and Wataniya that we need to choose from. Which is the devil and which si the deep blue sea?

How does logic come into effect when their marketing team plans their strategy? I say this because I am a marketer myself and before I revise pricing, the first thing I would look at is the company's existing subscribers. How do they fit in the new pricing scheme? How will they benefit from it? I've had an eGo subscription for almost 2 years now and I bought the line when there was no special offer or anything of that sort on neither the device nor the subscription. On top of that, I paid a hefty amount for the device itself. After two years of being a loyal subscriber, I find out that they're doing promotions for new subscribers where they get a free device if they subscribe for one year. When I asked one of their customer services reps if I would get a special price on a new device and a reduction in my rate (since the new rates are KD 1.5 less than what I’m paying) the answer I got was a firm “I’m sorry sit but I can’t do that. It’s against the rule. You have to pay full price for the new device.”

Bastards! I would like to know who the freaking hell designs their promotion campaigs and who plans their marketing strategy. It’s insanely and cruelly absurd! Cell phone companies in the rest of the world reward you for being a long term customer and give you stuff either at discounted prices or for FREE. Here, I am being charged as though I am a newbie. Why would I want to stay a loyal customer? Are the mobile companies going to make any concessions that make sense in future or are they going to continue ripping us off?

Someone please make sense of this for me?!?!?!?!?!?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Calling all you Authority Abusers: do you think you're better than the rest of us?

Thanks to my job, I get to meet a lot of people in influential positions in Kuwait and although that is not always a good thing I can cope with it most of the time. However the one thing that annoys the living crap out of me is people who abuse their authority and more specifically, people who THINK they have authority.

Have you ever worked or dealt with people at the British or American Embassies in Kuwait? I mean local recruits, mainly counter staff or lower level staff that aren’t British or American in any way; mainly Lebanese, Egyptians, Syrians, Indians, Pilipino etc.? These people think just because they work for the Embassy, they’re as good as the people of that country. Now I’m not saying the British or Americans are better than the rest of us lot, but sadly this is how people in this part of the world think. And this is exactly how these ignoramuses think as well. To make matters worse, these people are rude, arrogant and condescending and thoroughly unprofessional!

Just to educate the rest of you folk who don’t know this; most lower level embassy jobs are cut and dry and as easy as pie….or maybe easier! It’s mainly filling & checking forms, accepting applications, filing, placing orders for supplies, talkling to people that call for information (that is mostly read from a book of ready answers because the nit-wits don't know to handle exceptions) releasing purchase orders etc. You don’t even need to be a brain surgeon’s ass-wipe to get those things done! The nerve of some of those people, pretending that they are more important (and busier) than the ambassadors themselves?

The funny thing is I know some real Brits and Americans that work at these embassies and they’re not even half as arrogant as their wannabe colleagues. Maybe the embassies in question need to evaluate their positions on this. Or perhaps they’re happy with employing morons because they accept to work for less? Damn shame!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Would you "Crowdsource"?

For those of you who are not in the know, I work as the Head of Sales & Marketing at a leading ground handling services provider. In a bid to infuse some new energy into our brand, I was doing some research on creating a strong branding image to sort of…clean house and re-create our brand vision; something that is not often done in this part of the world. While I was doing my research, I chanced upon a whole new concept called “Crowdsourcing”, an idea based on a company outsourcing tasks usually performed by an employee or a supplier/agency to a group of people or a community that do not have a direct vested interest in the company. The outsourcing is usually done over the web and the company uses the collaborative results or finding to reach its objective.

This is the latest trend that companies in North America and Europe are following for their marketing needs although it can be used for much more than marketing requirements/problem solving. How it works is: the company broadcasts the problem on to a group of problem solvers or “the crowd” though a medium (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc.). The crowd then sends in its version of solutions. In some advanced online communities the crowd may sort through the solutions, finding the better ones and submitting them to the company. The best solutions are then registered as property of the company and the winners get a reward from the company.

The concept itself existed as early as the 40s and 50s but presumably, the internet and web technologies do make it a whole lot imaginable …and cheaper!

Although I don’t completely agree with this ideology, I think it is new, it’s innovative and does end up bringing new ideas to the table. After all, once you’ve worked in a company for a few years you tend to get a bit stale in your thinking process and a group of people that don’t work for your company may actually have better dieas than you sometimes. That doesn’t make them better than you, it just means their minds are fresher than yours in this regard. Perhaps you can use this opportunity to take a vacation!?!?!?!

The bad side of crowdsourcing is the informality and lack of precedures. More importantly lack of monetery motivation for the people involved or "the crowd". Additionally, competitors can plant their own people in these communities to give wrong feedback and ruin the program and in some cases the reputation of your company.

Either way, it is an interesting concept and I just thought I’d share it with you guys! What do you think?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Will we ever live as ONE!

The other day I was thinking about how different countries have different defence, military and development programs that it can benefit from. Some countries even go to the extent of setting up bases and platforms in other countries or territories to get the upper hand on their neighbours and rivals. Then I chanced upon watching an episode of “V” a TV show that airs on MBC Action that revolves around a species of aliens that have come to earth from a galaxy far far away. They claim to want to live in peace with the people of earth and exchange knowledge and technology etc.but it turns out they lied and just want to conquer earth. It’s a remake of a popular 80s TV mini series that I watched as a kid. However, the plot of the storyline isn’t the point here. The point is in one of the episodes, their commander or leader tells the people of Earth that from where she comes from, there are no countries and everyone on their planet acts in the interest of the planet.

That got me thinking, when will we act like that? For centuries we have fought against one another. Different human configurations have always fought for supremacy and the reasons were manifold; racial, political, geographical and technological superiority. When, if ever, do you think will we ever begin to start thinking as citizens of the world instead of nationals of a particular country? When will we unite as one race? A race of humans! Do we have to wait for a few centuries before we start traveling in spaceships and have no more earth to conquer after the ravages of war? It is definitely something to think about. Either way, John Lennon surmises this best in his unforgettable song, Imagine. Here’s one verse for you to ponder upon!

Imagine there's no countries,

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Liberation & National Day to my Kuwaiti friends!

I must admit, I feel for the Kuwaiti population during the Liberation and National day holidays. I am not saying this just because of the traffic during this time, I say this because I really feel for them.

Ok, I don't really love the country to pieces but I do have a certain connection to the place. I was born here and have spent half my life here. I have had many memorable childhood memories growing up watching Knight Rider & Chart Attack on KTV2, collecting Galactica cards and hanging out at Arby's, Pizza Italia and Hungry Bunny in the old Salmiya Souq area as a kid!
But what saddens me is that while the country celebrates the National & Liberation day holidays (in more ghastly ways that one can imagine) the people seem to lack a proper sense of belonging to a nation. For a country that is extremely young, there doesnt seem to be anything to look forward to. Apart for the old-timers who used to be proud citizens, apart from a few people we read about in local magazines, the younger generation does not seem to understand the true meaning of being liberated. For them it is about going to the "west" getting an American or British education and coming back to flaunt their degrees to get better paying jobs as opposed to giving back to the country. Physically it may tbe the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq in 1991 that we celebrate but metaphorically to me, it's being liberated from the shackles of complacency and looking forward o a bright future.

It's not about spraying cars with foam or not about dancing on the streets of Kuwait with face paint and colorful flags. And it's certainly not about checking out the women through a smokescreen of red, white and green tassles and waterguns. If only these people understood the true meaning of being liberated, there wouldn't be 11 deaths in 65 road accidents in a span of 4 days as reported in the newspapers. Perhaps the country should work towards giving these people what they deserve to realize the meaning of liberation and the true meaning of belonging to a country.

Taming the beast on the Kuwait roads

I just got back from a crazy day driving on the streets of Kuwait City. I must admit, while Kuwait has a decent set of roads; the people on them don't seem to be half as decent. In my 15 minute drive from Kuwait City to the Airport, I got cut off by 4 fancy sports cars (2 Porsches, a Massarati and a Nissan Z350).

Of course, other people driving other cars also cut of me off but my bitch for the day is the people with the fancy roadsters specifically the Porches, Ferraris, the Lambos and the Masseratis. Albeit the fact that over 90% of the people that own these cars in Kuwait buy them because of upholding their status is true. What pisses me off is that most of the people that drive these machines don't have the slightest idea how to drive them.

My friend Q8 Apothecary (whose blog seems to have gone into hibernation) has summed it best on one of his posts a few years ago. It's not about how many horsepower your car has, it's about the guy or girl behind the wheel (in our case, the moron) behind the wheel that matters. Super cars specifically the Ferraris and Porches need to be driven specifically. They are not your every day commuter vehicles, they are not drag racing cars and most of all, they are to be driven with skill and precision. This is one of the main reasons we see rash and negligent driving on the streets that results in injuries and death. And we wonder why Kuwait has one of the highest accident rates in this part of the world?

Who might I ask is to be blamed for this? Is it the dealers who do not bother to offer basic drivers training to new buyers? Is it the parents who indulge their kids with luxuries for fear of being called insufficient providers? Or is it the fault of the drivers themselves who neglect all road sense and sensibility for want of fame and an adrenalin rush?

Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't buy a Porchse. In fact, if you can afford it, go ahead and buy one right away. But before you take to the wheel, try and understand how the machine responds to your touch. A super car is like a beast that needs taming. And until you understand how to be one with your machine, please don't take to crazy antics on the streets or think for one minute that you are licensed to thrill by performing meaningless stunts on the streets and endangering the lives of the other commuters that use them.

PS – I love the Mercedes McLaren SLR but the day I hopefully buy one, I’m going to sign up for a crash course in performance driving.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Give generously...and meaningfully!

We all know about the disaster that took place in Haiti in January when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the country killing 200,000 people and rendering at least a million people homeless. I must really commend the people that are on the ground in Haiti right now helping out with reconstruction, tending to the injured and needy etc. I firmly believe in humanity and that people come through for you in the time of need. In cases like the Haiti disaster, nuances of human empathy and generosity were clearly evident with online and offline NGOs reporting a record a number of donations worldwide.

Of course, for every right, there is a wrong as I like to remind people some times. In this case, there are a certain bunch of people who exploit the situation to make the most of it. My gripe in Kuwait is that although many organizations across the country have volunteered to help the Haitians by collection/donation drives etc, it appears that most of the organizations are doing this solely because it is the "in" thing to do. They're doing it because George Clooney and his friends are doing it and they think it's cool if Hollywood stars do it. They’re doing it because corporate social responsibility is a big thing nowadays especially among the corporate elite and it is compulsory for large companies to adopt CSR practices.

The point I am trying to make is; it's easy to lose sight of the big picture when you think of petty gain. What's more important is that the people who really need the money and aid get it before it is too late.

So I say to all you people who want to have a fancy looking collection box outside your reception areas, do not do it because it may impress visitors to your company; do it because someone, somewhere needs your help! Make sure you announce the drive within the company and your network of contacts. Make sure someone monitors what is collected and finally make sure that the collections no matter how large or meager are sent to the NGO you’re dealing with.

After all, what good is the effort if the end benefactors don’t benefit?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Annoying Online Promotion

Have you received an email from "President Nelson Mandela" at "S.A. 2010 WORLD CUP PROMOTION" saying you won their promotion or lottery promo and to contact "MR.OWEN DOUGLAS" to collect your winnings? It is a scam. And don't get too excited if the names are different; the scammers make many versions of this scam!
It is actually a very simple scam. They claim you won a promotion, which is giving away millions of dollars based on a randomly selected email address. The scam is obvious: it's simply preposterous to think that any company would randomly give away money to encourage you to buy their product. That would be self-defeating.
There are many other signs that this is a fraud that we have highlighted in the email below, not the least of which are:
- Email address ballot: There is no such thing as a "computer ballot system" or "computer email draw". No one, not even Microsoft has a database of email addresses of the type or magnitude they suggest.
- Terrible spelling, punctuation, syntax and grammar - Scammers apparently don't know how to use spell checkers. I assume they dropped out of school before that class. They use almost random CapItaLiZAtion and often can't even spell "February" or know that "22th" ought to be "22nd". These scammers usually write at the 3rd grade level.
- Using a free email account: The scammer is writing to you from a FREE email account (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.). Don't you think a real organization would use its own email, its own domain and website? Wouldn't they want to promote that?
- What are they promoting? No one promotes "world peace" or "use of the internet" by handing out millions to random strangers. And if they are promoting a product, then this must be the world's worst promotion, because no one has heard of it, outside of the email you just received.
- Pay a fee to collect the prize: Nope, it is illegal for free sweepstakes and promotions to charge you ANYTHING! Of course, in a scam, that is the whole point: to get you to send money to the scammer

So if any one of you receives this kind of email asking them to be a part of the promotion, you know what to do.