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09 October 2012

My 'Attribution Effect'....

Was listening to an interview on CNBC. The interviewee was talking about 'Attribution Effect' in stock market.

"Attribution effect deals with how you attribute your success and failure in the stock market. If you buy a Stock and it tanks, you attribute it to market forces. However, if you buy a stock and it does well, you attribute the success to yourself. 'I identified the right stock', you will tell yourself'.

So if your decision is success, the credit is yours, if it fails, someone will have to take the blame. 

This is attribution effect." concluded the interviewee.

"Attribution Effect can happen even in our lives", he mentioned as an afterthought.

This interview took me back to the winter of year 2000. 

Just after graduation, I had joined the Durgapur Steel Plant of Steel Authority of India  (SAIL)  in the year 1987. I had graduated the previous year in Mechanical Engineer, and SAIL was considered to be a dream job at that time. 

I started my career in the Captive Power Plant of the company as a management trainee and went thru various roles including that of Plant Operations, Maintenance, Coal Handling, Water Treatment.... the works.

I worked at this job till the summer of '95 when I went to do a two year MBA at the Kolkata University. I took a two year Sabbatical from SAIL to do this program. 

Having completed the program, I went back to SAIL since I was on contract with the company. 

The one year that I did in the company post MBA was torture. I had done my MBA in Finance and had come to enjoy it. I found that I had a flair for Finance and enjoyed the subject. However, the year in which we completed was an year of recession and since I was over-experienced, none of the companies wanted to recruit me. 

Having gone back to SAIL, I ended up doing the same work that I was doing previously and like I said, I hated every minute of it.

In the winter of '98, I quit the job in sheer desperation having managed a very low-paying job as Faculty in Finance in a management institute in Bangalore. I was ready to clutch even the last straw. 

This was a period of self-doubt, uncertainty and frustration. I had no idea where my career was headed. Only consolation was that I was in Bangalore, the most happening city in India at that time and I was always positive that something good will come about. 

Very near my management institute, there was an Organization training people in IT. They launched a new program to teach Oracle Technology. The cost was whooping 40000 rupees. 

This was a large sum even in those days. Also when you consider that other institutes were offering programs at significantly lower rates, one should be mad to join this program.

I was mad. I joined this program.

The program lasted for about 6 months. By the end of the program I had become pretty good at Oracle. I also realized that I had a flair for programming languages. I got myself certified in Java from Sun Microsystems.

Having completed the program, I landed a Job in an IT Company as an ERP Consultant.

This was in winter of 2000, the period that I mentioned at the beginning.

Now I found that I was good at ERP implementation. I enjoyed the overall process of ERP implementation. The feeling of bringing business value to an Organization through the use of ERP was exhilarating  I also found that I had an edge in ERP implementation since I knew how to handle the Shop Floor worker (I had done that for 12 years, remember?) and the CFO (and had an MBA in Finance). I also enjoyed training the workers in the new technology and relished the look of gratitude in their eyes as I made them understand their potential.

ERP provided me with instant feedback. And most of them were positive.

I was proud of my achievements. I was proud that I had seamlessly made the transition from Shop Floor to Academia and then to IT. While most people hardly change their career directions ever in their lives, I was in my mid thirties and had already changed career direction twice.

I was filled with hubris. I was one great guy, I felt. 

I attributed my success to myself.


I started thinking. There were many like me in the previous generations also. Why did they not do what I did.?  Take my father, for example. He worked in the same company throughout his career. Joined as a trainee, retired as the HOD. He was very intelligent and responsible. He had a flair for story telling. He had interest in various things other than work.

Why he couldn't do what I did?

Because, in his time, there were hardly any opportunities. You were lucky if you got even one job.

So, that means, I was able to do what I did partly because of my competence. But more importantly, the changes initiated by Manmohan Singh in 1991 were bearing fruit, 10 years hence, and India needed talented and knowledgeable people to drive the growth.

I might be good. But I was in the right place at the right time. 

Did I become more humble after that? Well, may be a tad.

How I lost my arrogance? That is another story for a later post.

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