Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The session that should not have been.. and translation woes

The work seemed to be piling up and suddenly we had a day on which we were to spend the entire day at the University. Ms LL.. .a faculty audience at out first session had requested us to ‘attend’ one of her regular lectures so that her students of International Business could see ‘different types of people’ in the class room and perhaps compare skin tones. So at an unearthly early hour, in peak traffic, Andrea and I reached the University to attend a session and actually not conduct one. I – the ever diligent student – took my notepad with me determined to take notes and participate.
Ms. LL (leading to our 'overtime' session)
Ms. LL began with an introduction to us and then mentioned that this was going to be an HR lecture and that the guests in the room (i.e. we) were going to be guest speakers!! So much for my notebook and back-to-school feeling. This was a sneaky session added into our already choked schedule. And what about the preparation we should have made?  

She flashed a slide which had the following contents (in English) in pretty colorful boxes:
HR Interventions Topics:
  • Recruitment and Resourcing
  • Training and Development
  • Performance Appraisals
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Labor Regulation
  • Use of carbon nano-technology for deep space travel
  • Non surgical interventions in the cure of cancer
  • The Freudian paradox as applied to psychosomatic disorders.
Okay, I’m exaggerating. The last three bullets were not really there, but could well have been. For a Financial Analyst and a Business Development guy, the first 5 were as bad as the last three. I could have taken the wife on teleconference and had her talk for two days on these HR topics but my wife is not really a morning person and getting her up at 5:30 AM (India time), would have seriously led to long-term implications.

But guess what; to use a registered trademark “I’m an MBA”© and while I’ve been basically good at BS throughout my life, the MBA gives me the unique capability to get ‘More BS in Articulation’ (i.e .MBA). I realized that I could grab the keywords and speak impromptu and get the necessary audience response.

Mr. Su Ri: The HR Expert
 Later in the day was our second formal session on ‘Getting ready for a Job Search’. While the number of students in the room was always limited by room capacity (i.e. extremely high attendance), what was particularly interesting was the way in which the number of translators for each successive session were following the Chinese population growth rate. This time around we had 5… the good professor Z, the ever dependable Lucy, and three student forced-volunteers. At this rate the last session is probably going to have over 50 translators and that might be an issue

This picture just keeps growing: Prof Z, Prof W, Dean X, Andrea and me
 Sometimes more is not always good. We had a few tricky moments where  (mostly when I was the one presenting), all the interpreters looked at each other and seemingly wanted to ask for a breakout session to reach a common Chinese understanding to what I was saying. More often than not Lucy would bail us out. One interesting exchange was during Andrea’s explanation of the ‘Elevator Pitch’, the Chinese student interpreter kept urging his peer audience to seek the use of lifts to get to the interview session rather than using the stairs and use elevators regardless of which floor the interview was on. Lucy was fortunately pretty attentive and caught on the puzzled distress on elevatorphobic members of the audience and set right the understanding.

Our extended Interpreter set: Looks like a punishment? It was!
We could have well started a nationwide trend in elevator abuse in the country.

The most I've been at the center of attraction


  1. Superb!!!. If it's China which makes you blog so regularly, i advice u stay there only (i heard a sister shouting!!!)...Your blogs really act as stress busters...N i hav really got hooked to them...

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