Saturday, 30 November 2013

Recession in Technology Industry

We know that the Industries worst  by the Global phenomenon of Recession are Aviation, Hospitality, Real Estate, Banking along with IT (Information Technology).

I will talk here of the Industry which was the starting Point of this Disease. The IT and ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) Industry.

The World Economy gets hugely impacted by whatever happens in the USA. The reason being that around 20% of it is represented by the United States. That means the rest of the World's combined Economy is 80%. Hence, the World Economy gets affected by the happenings in US’ Economy. Needless to say, the problems in IT Industry and others too started in the US and later engulfed the whole World.

Earlier in 2008, when Recession had its first entered India, many Industries were getting affected by the Financial Crisis. But still, the IT Industry was immune to its effect and the general feeling was that though people will cut on other daily Expenses but will still buy Mobile Phones, Laptops, and other similar Gadgets. It was assumed that the Credit Crunch will not affect the Spending habits on Technology and related Products.

However, the Industry began to take a hit by the end of 2008. By then, Recession had enveloped almost everyone and the assumptions of people about the immunity of IT Industry to it were proved wrong. The Technology Industry was also not Recession-proof. Many big Names in the IT Space started losing a major Percentage of their Net Worth. The Shares were taking a 10-Year - 13-Year low hit and Companies began laying off many of their Workers.

Though some Firms who were good financially remained unaffected in the start, but by the middle of 2009, the situation was the same for everybody.

One major challenge for the IT Industry was the shortage of available Funding. Since the Banking Sector also came under the effect of Recession, the Funding of various Innovative ideas was halted. The Demand for basic IT Services was intact, but that for more developed Applications was coming down. IT and ITES Companies came under great Pressure to cut Costs, which they did by reducing Headcounts and by Infrastructure-sharing.

Many Clients began shelving many long-term Projects. More-and-more staff was on-desk which affected their monthly earnings. The Supply of IT Professionals was more in comparison to the Work available. In simple language, the Demand was less than the Supply which resulted in huge number of Job cuts.

Many Employees also started leaving the Companies and switched to Industries which were better Recession-resistant.

This situation was common and widespread in the IT Industry worldwide and was visible till the start of 2011 when things started looking up. But, again after two years, as 2013 is coming to an end, Recession is raising its Head.

We have a very good Example before us of the happenings in 2008 & thereafter. The Industry must learn from it and should build up ways to fight the coming Season of Recession in better ways. Hope this time when Recession strikes, we will not see many IT Professionals jobless.


Pragya Banerjee
MBA (Finance); 7+ years of work experience

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

What is 'Mystery Shopping'?

We all love and enjoy Shopping. But, have you ever done ‘Mystery Shopping'? I know most would have not. But, those in Retail & Hospitality Industry must have heard the Term, I am sure.

The Term is also known as ‘Secret Shopping’ or ‘Mystery Consumer’. It is a way devised by various Companies to get to know the Performance of their Store Staff on the factors other than Sales. Some of the factors are:

        a) Normal Etiquette
        b) Appearance and Language
        c) Greeting the Customer
        d) Placing the Signage
        e) Cleanliness of the Store along with Washroom
        f)  Knowledge of the Products in the Shop
        g) Ability to close the Sale
        h) Ability to make the Customer a repeated one

The Process runs like this: The Client Company hires a Mystery Shopping or Market Research Company which in turn hires ‘Shoppers’ or uses its own Research Staff for the Job.

The Shoppers are given Guidelines and Questions to ask the Staff and other factors to Observe and Record. The most important thing here is that they have to disguise as actual Shoppers and in no way the Staff should come to know that they are dealing with a Mystery Shopper else they will become cautious and will give false impression which will not serve any purpose.

After this Process, the Shoppers have to give a Report to their Company which, in turn, does various Quantitative and Qualitative Studies on the Findings and gives a detailed Report to the Client Company.

The other way is sometimes the Brands themselves hire the Shoppers or use their Staff for the Job.

The ‘Mystery Shopping’ Industry in India is growing with the opening up of the Market and expansion of Local as-well-as entry of various Foreign Companies/Brands. More-and-more people are coming in its purview and the Term is becoming a rage among Retailers. It is a very Cost-effective way of getting to know the Performance of their Stores on Soft Skills, which are as important as generating Money. Apart from Retailing and Hospitality, this Practice is being taken by Hospitals, Resturants, Pubs etc. wherever Stores are involved and Companies are not able to Track them directly.

Though nascent at this Stage but this Industry is opening lot of Part-time Job Opportunities for people to become Shoppers and Research on the Companies’ behalf and get Paid for the same!!! They even get to keep the Products/Services they buy on the Job and get Reimbursed for the same. 

So, it comes out as a very very interesting and enjoyable Part-time Work option for people especially College-goers and Housewives. The Pay in India is not much though but still the Experience and the Incentives (in the form of Free Shopping on the Job) are quite worth. Besides it provides a good On-ground Experience especially to Students who are just on the verge of starting their Careers.

To become a good Mystery Shopper, you need to have a few important Skills:

        a) Good Observer
        b) Good Listener
        c) Should ask relevant Questions
        d) Good Memory
        e) Above all, a good Actor….. Lol J

Like all other Corporate Jobs, there are some Ethics involved in this Job also. For Example, the Client Companies should not give punishments or Fire their Staff on the basis of the Report given by the Researcher Company. But, like many other Corporate Ethics, this particular one is being flouted commonly.

I have been fortunate of having got an Opportunity to become a ‘Mystery Shopper’ for one of my previous Companies. The Experience was really good and I discovered a totally new aspect of Retailing Business. 

I am sure in the next few Years, ‘Mystery Shopping’ will attain Momentum and will gain the Status of a full-fledged Industry in India and will attract a lot of Trained Talent. 


Pragya Banerjee
MBA (Finance); 7+ years of work experience
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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Book Review: Cabin Crew Career Guide

Teacher asked us in the classroom, “Child, what do you want to become when you grow up?” About half of the class said ‘Engineer’, close to the other half said ‘Doctor’; those who were little more adventurous said ‘Pilot’ or ‘Cricketer’ or ‘like some esteemed politician for e.g. Pandit Nehru or Indira Gandhi’. 

Some of us also said ‘like Kiran Bedi’. We were given loud applauds by the teacher and everybody around us for thinking big and were encouraged to keep our goal in front and work towards that by scoring good marks in class. No doubt, we also filled with pride and looked forward to a great future.

How many of us, in 90s, ever thought in our wildest dreams to make a career as a ‘Cabin Crew’ (or ‘Air Hostess’ in common language)? I would say may be 0-1 in a class of 30. This career was not ever thought of forget any kind of coaching in it. The reasons were many. 

First, there were not many Airlines in India. 

Secondly, those that were, recruited ladies with way too much experience in terms of age and the work, more-or-less, had the impression of a kind of a government job where-in you enter and then retire at the age of 60 or near. 

Thirdly, the Career was not looked up in good spirit and many had an impression that it is not a career for girls from good families and cabin crew are mostly brainless girls. Last but not the least, the career was certainly not meant for boys.

I know, the above are bitter but facts. You and I have listened to most of the above and have also nodded in acceptance, willingly or unwillingly. So, if anybody had even a little sparkle in her/his heart to pursue this career, it was cruelly crushed in the bud. That was the time back in 90s.

Well, times have changed now almost 180 degrees, and surprisingly, within a span of 10 years. Thanks to the opening up of the Aviation sector and mushrooming of various Private Airlines, we see now a lot of Young Girls and Boys joining them and enjoying a great career. Working in an Airline as a Cabin Crew is no longer considered a taboo but a career of Glamour, Dignity and Respect. Moreover, the best part is though the job can recruit you just after your school life but it gives a chance to finish your education while working, thanks to its flexible work schedule. It is open for boys who are termed ‘Flight Stewards’ in the same role and what more, gives you a chance to travel the world and meet various celebrities!!!

I am proud to say that a kid from my family, my own Sister, Pragati Srivastava, has made us all proud by Flying for a famous Airline in India for many years and what’s best was that she joined after class 12th and is now an MBA. She completed her education while pursuing her passion.

In connection with her profession and for the extreme love of it, she has come out with a book Cabin Crew Career Guide in association with Capt. Shekhar Gupta, CEO of AeroSoft Corp., where-in she has given step-by-step explanation for the budding enthusiasts to make a career in this field. The book is a training manual in itself and covers all the aspects at a nominal price. I am again proud to say that this is the first attempt by anybody in this field to come out with a full-fledged career guide.

So, boys and girls, think high, aim high and then only you will be able to Fly High. I am sure this book will be a good information guide to you and will help you prepare for a successful future. It will be a mentor, a coach and a friend in your journey to 50,000 ft above the Earth.

To know more and order a copy, please check this link: 

Pragya Banerjee [ MBA (Finance); 7+ years of work experience ] 

Pragya Banerjee

Pragya Banerjee [ MBA (Finance); 7+ years of work experience ]