Saturday, April 28, 2012

Recruitment Event

I had gone to Oakland University to recruit recent graduates for our Training and Placement program.  It is amazing to me how naive most students are.  They had those Q & A sessions and they had the head of DTE Human Resources and the CEO's of 2 other recruitment companies. 

There was those usual questions from students:

How can I get my resume to stand out?

What extracurricular activities can I do to get a job?

On and on, kind of boring, because most of the answers do not reflect the marketplace, but reflect the ideal. 

Do any of you students ask yourselves, how do Indian Students excel in IT and get IT jobs that pay so well right out of college?

I will tell you why.  They know the reality of the marketplace.  I get kids that have terrible writing skills and terrible communication skills, but still I am able to train and place them into Fortune 500 companies.  Sometimes I feel like taking these kids I meet at college (Non-Indian) by the collar and yelling: WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?  HOW DUMB CAN YOU BE? If you see all these Indian kids doing so well, don't you wonder how they are doing it?

Each and every one of you average kids needs to come to a consulting company like mine that can train  you and place you into good jobs.  There are still millions of unfilled jobs at Fortune 500 companies.  The simple reason is that there are not enough qualified job seekers with the required skill sets to fill those jobs. 

In the old days a company would hire a recent college graduate and then train them to fill that job.  But let me give you a financial example of why companies do not do that any more.  Let us say you are BCBS and you are looking for a NASCO developer, you hire a recent college graduate, send them to NASCO for training or train in-house, and usually a recently trained student will usually take 2-3 months in addition to the training time before they truly become effective on the job.  This entire process will take 6 months at a cost of about about $30,000 on average.  A company could spend all this money and get a great employee, but in the end most of them will leave, because the marketplace will dictate a higher salary.  I have seen this happen at BCBS over and over and companies will realize this and then start advertising for experienced NASCO developers only.  They will let someone else take the trouble to train them and then hire them after they get some experience.

That is the current market place.  I can guarantee you that there are no jobs out there for generalized skill sets, every company wants someone with a technology focus and can demonstrate exceptional skills in that technology. 

So the choice is clear, stay unemployed or underemployed or come to a consulting company like mine and learn real skills and be working in 90 days.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Will Die of Heartache

Heartache, what does it mean?  What does it feel like?

Heartache to me is simply the knowledge of something that hurts you in your core and this causes unpleasant sensations and sleepless nights.

When a student joins a college and spends tens of thousands of dollars, there is an expectation that they will gain knowledge and that this knowledge will lead to a job.

When a student joins our training center and spends anywhere from $0 up to $2500 for a class, there is an expectation that I will get them a job.

I am sure that the college trusties and presidents do not have sleepless nights, because very few of them know their students and their dreams and expectations of what their life should be.  I know my student, each and every one them.  I know the ones that are in financial trouble and are desperate, I know the ones that are spending their parents money for training and do not take the training we offer seriously, I know the houswifes that have good intentions but do not have the time to study, yes I know my students.

When I succeed with a student and am able to get one of my students a job, it is great feeling.  But the problem with that is that I also have the students that I know will not succeed with us, and I feel their pain, I feel sadness, I feel inside what they feel, and this is what causes me heartache.

I am sure that I will never get to a point of 100% success with what I do, and this heartache will always be with me.  I am actually very distant emotionally and you will never find me too happy or too sad in real life, but inside I have tremendous emotions that I am able to control (Klingon like almost).

I have chosen what I do and I am great at what do, much better than my competition, but I am sure I will continue to have heartache, that will never disappear.  I am sure that I will continue to wake up at 4am, because I worry for each and every student that comes to me.  My wife always asks me what is wrong when I suddenly wake up at 4am, well I have heartache.

Core Philosophical Change

I have always been about the success of my students in the long term, and I always did everything with the thought process of their long term success.

But I have come across a huge conundrum, and here it is:

I currently have found a few fantastic teachers in:

SQL Server
Healthcare Software

Any student that takes a class with one of these teachers will surely be successful, but everything is a matter of time frame.

1 Week - Healthcare Software

We teach a healthcare software that takes only 1 week to learn and we can place you in a job with 2 weeks.  Pay will be $50,000 a year with very little chance for pay increases over the first 2 years.

4 weeks - SQL Server

We teach Data Warehousing, SQL Server, T-SQL, SSIS, SSRS, SSAS, TFS in this class and our teacher has placed 50-60 students in this technology over the last 2 years.  Pay rate starting will be $56,000 with pay increases up to $70,000 in second year and up to $80,000 in your third year.

5 Months - Other Niche Technologies
We teach other technologies that takes 3 months to learn well and now to get job will require an additional 2 months of live project training to really learn enough for you to get the job and survive on the job.  Pay rate will be $56,000 first year, $100,000 second year and $120,000 third year.

As you can see, the longer the training, the higher income in the long run.   But I get mostly recent graduates and everybody wants a job right away, and even if I explain to people that in the long run it is in their best interest to learn the tougher technologies because of the high bill rates, most students will choose to get a job as quick as possible.

I have a few bullet points here:

Niche Technologies Companies are always looking for other giant technology companies to partner with.  So they will partner with someone like Infosys or Wipro, before they give small companies in USA a path to partnership.

Companies like IBM and Microsoft both have a defined path to partnership with levels that are clearly defined and encourage small companies like ours to grow together.

I am obsessed with quality in almost everything I do and will spend any amount of money and time to become the very best in the field that I choose to dominate.

One of my teachers pointed out yesterday, why Microsoft SQL Server will dominate the market place, he said when a customer buys SQL Server, you get SSIS, SSRS, SSAS etc.. and other things from Microsoft for free.  Enterprise customers will save huge money when they buy SQL Server and that is why Microsoft will go on to dominate the market place.

So with all this in mind, from Monday April 16, 2012 our entire company focus will change to concentrate on:

1) Microsoft Technologies  - Because of the availability of partnership and time to market of students that come for training.

2) IBM Technologies - Because of the availability of partnership and time to market of students that come for training.

3) SAP - Various Modules - Because I have an SAP license and we can train our own consultants, and we have some of the best teachers in the entire USA for this technology.

That is all that we will teach going forward.  I will not teach any other technology except for the core focus that our company will concentrate on.

I would much rather emulate a company like Miracle Soft then a company like CCSI.  They are both successful, but I want a company that will last the test of time and have a core focus with established partnerships.  It is one thing to make money and another to build a great company, and I choose to build a great company.

I have targets for each year that are defined on January 1st so each employee understands what our goals are for that year.   Our new goals for 2012 are:

1) 10 Certified employees in SQL Server
2) 5 Certified employees in WebSphere
3) 5 Certified Employees in Lombardi Teamworks
4) Level 1 Partnership with Microsoft
5) Lever 1 Partnership with IBM

I know we lost 4.5 month of this year to achieve our goals and this makes it much harder to achieve our goals.  But sometimes an epiphany causes dramatic shifts and this is one of those times.  If I was to die within a few years, I want to know that I have used my time towards building a great company and not simply making money.  Money has never been important to me, but I believe that this shift in focus will cause us to make more money in the long run but sacrifice profits in the short run.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Subject - 1 Week Training

Here was the pitch.  Give me 1 week with your students and we will train them in an IT subject and by the second week we will place you in a job paying you $50,000/yr for the first year. 

The job will be in downtown Detroit.

That was the pitch that was posed to me.  I am highly skeptical of anything that sounds too good to be true but I tired out these new teachers, figuring that 1 week of my students times was worth it, if this really worked.

What Happened:

I gave them 2 students and they were able to place both students in the job and 1 has lasted for 2 months now and the 2nd one was fired after 3 weeks.  Not bad for 1 week of training.

With this background I have assigned a new batch of students to these 2 teachers and we are in the process of training a group of 6 students.  The week of  April 16-21 we will start placing these students.  If this second test group works out also, I will be recruiting heavily for this training.  So when you call me, ask about our 1 week training program.

3 New Teachers at VXL

It is rare that I get excited, but over the last 2 months I have found 3 fabulous teachers. 

My SAP SD teacher, Sekhar,  has been teaching for me for 3 batches now and almost universally everyone agrees that he is the simply one of the best teachers VXL has ever had.  He is very knowledgeable and patient.  You can ask almost any question about SAP SD and he will have an answer for you.  Our SAP SD class is a minimum of 2 months long and covers almost the entire breadth of SAP SD.  It is hard to describe in words what a great teacher we have for this class.

I have not taught SAP BI since Kiran left to start his own company, only because no one has even come close to comparing to Kiran as far as knowledge or commitment.  I am happy to announce that we will be starting SAP BI again.  Our teacher Vinod is at least as good as Kiran if not better.  So I am happy to announce that VXL is teaching SAP BI again and our first class will be starting on May 12th.  Welcome to our team Vinod.

We have a great new .NET teacher, Soumya.  She is only 4 years out of her college with her masters degree, but she is so passionate about .NET and is willing to train new students from the very basics up to the most advanced components in .NET.  She just loves .NET and it shows when she talks so passionately about her subject.  If you have been thinking about .NET I cannot imagine that there is a better teacher you will find then Soumya.

Welcome all three of my new teachers to VXL.