I am a proud treasure hunter. I always search for jewels in everyone I meet.
Without any safety gears except for a headlamp, I brave dark mines, anticipating to uncover loads of precious stones. I persistently dig and dig deeper in every surface I can reach and put my hands on, not minding the dirt I acquire all over my face and body in the process. Big or small, a lot or just a few, it doesn’t matter to me for they all yield the same rewarding feeling upon discovery.
What’s interesting is each mine is different. Some almost readily give me the stones I am looking for a few minutes after I enter and begin my work, some with proper timing, while there are those that take longer and are more frustrating to excavate.
I dig and dig and dig. I find satisfaction in doing it. And with the latter type, concerned people oftentimes shout at me from the outside, advising me to stop ’cause they see how my quarrying is getting futile. But the stubborn optimist in me still go on.
Truth is, I become worn out in this kind of mines, yet conceding is not an option. I am already inside and I have started exerting efforts. I dig and find mere pebbles. I dig more and unearth rocks. Then I dig deeper with more force only to reveal useless boulders. And when I reach this point, I’m already close to tears, but my mind keeps on telling me that just a few more and I’ll finally see what I’m searching for. Because when I do, I’ll blissfully get out of the site and brag to everybody my interesting finds. Never mind how messy I am from all my hard work inside.
That’s the best part for me, when I persevere in times when others have already given up, then I luckily succeed. But there are depressing cases when no matter what I do, all I expose is filth.
Then when I realize I’ve done my best and I’ve already spent too much time inside the dark with no anything valuable yet, I start feeling stupid and wasted. I pity myself as I look at my blistered hands and it’s what I abhor most. So my temper rises, and there’s nothing else I can think of but plant bombs all over the site, go out, and blow it up.
A big explosion.
I watch as the fire eats up the place. And when nothing’s left but a ruin and black smokes, I silently leave without wiping the stains on me.
Sad and disappointing, but that’s how it is for me. So as much as possible, I avoid that moment.
It was only at the middle of this year when I realized that I’m this kind of person. Then recently, I remembered writing a profile article for the business magazine I worked at before about somebody like me, but he’s an expert and knows how to handle frustrating situations best.
My former boss and I met him during his company’s event. He was friendly and there was nothing on his aura that made me feel uncomfortable. Then the interview afterward, which was set right that very moment when we were introduced to him, was smooth and light that I instantly admired his interpersonal skills. I think he influenced me in becoming the treasure hunter that I am today.
He is a role model and he is the kind of boss I am yearning to have. If you also want to get to know him, I have posted my article about him below this entry. It was published in the September 2010 issue of China Business-Philippines magazine and was also posted online for the netizens to read.
Spare some time reading it and get inspired, too! 🙂
Dell’s Varinderjit Singh is a treasure hunter. But he doesn’t go searching for gems in mines, he finds them in the people he works with
“I’ve always believed that everybody has a gem in them,” says Varinderjit Singh, or Varin, South Asia developing markets managing director for IT company Dell Inc. “It’s up to the leader to take this and pull it out.”
With two decades of experience working with people, he knows what he is saying. A gem himself, Varin is considered one of the most important and valued leaders in Dell South Asia for constantly receiving the highest employee feedback scores.
With such stature, he has been given the task of managing Dell offices in 21 developing countries in South Asia region in the past one and a half years. One of his roles is managing country managers and in-country teams to boost sales in enterprise and client service and solutions. He is also in charge of gathering distributors and partners “while developing partner strategies and skills in the region” for the company.
Varin got started in the computer industry after he graduating from New Hampshire College with a degree in Computer Information Systems in 1990. He moved to Malaysia to work with IBM, then back to the United States when he transferred to networking company 3COM Corporation as chief strategic marketing engineer for worldwide customer communications.
After six years of working in America, Varin decided to move back to Malaysia thinking Asia is the best place to be. “[The] US is very nice. [Its] worldwide market is very good,” he says. “But Malaysia is [a part of] Asia. This is the place where growth level [of the market] is fast proceeding.”
Once back in Malaysia, he worked for NEC Computers Asia Pacific as marketing director for a year. It was five years ago when he finally worked with Dell South Asia.
He was hired by Dell as software and peripherals manager. A year later, he was moved to managing the inside sales of the call center for same region. He describes managing a call center as ‘good times’ because he was given the opportunity to head a call center with 100 to 200 people. He was, after all, a people person. For about a year and a half, Varin has been with Dell as the managing director for the region’s developing market.
Varin has more or less worked in every aspect of the IT industry. From programming, technical networking, then product and PR marketing, to sales, and a management, he can confidently say he knows business in and out.
But when asked what he likes most in all those areas he has been, he confesses that he has no favorite. “What I like best is not really any of those areas,” he says, “It’s more working with people.” And this is the reason he describes managing a call center good times.
Varin is naturally a people person. In fact, he believes it’s one of his skills. “I like working with different kinds of people, different kinds of cultures, and getting the best out of everyone,” he says.
Having met all sorts of people has led him to believe that everyone has a gem or a strong point within them, and he says it’s up to the leader to dig it up for the world to see. As a person experienced in the business industry, he knows what can come out from people in the best way. “That’s something I’ve been very successful at,” he admits.
He says that it’s by managing people the right way and letting them shine that results will come. Once you succeed in doing that, everything will follow. “The marketing goes well, the sales go well, [you put] the right products in the market,” he says.
But digging for gems is not easy. Aside from seeking strengths, spotting people’s weaknesses is also vital in the process.
So what Varin does is to sit down with each person. “I really identify their weakness and strength, I actually have it documented,” he says, “It’s part of Dell’s internal development program.”
This is done because, he says, many people do not know their strength or they may be aware what it is but don’t spend time on developing it. But by learning what they’re good at through the results gathered by Varin, people will do something to leverage it. “I identify the one or two things that need to be done so that they can further develop,” he says.
The process of taking a strength to a higher level, he says, includes linking a person with someone weak in that area. Then one who has the skills becomes the mentor of the one lacking it. In the end, the ‘weaker’ employee learns, and the other learns more from sharing what he has.
Not Much Counting Backwards
Varin says he doesn’t lose many people in his team, and if he does lose some, it’s often because those people are moved to better roles. His secret: whenever there’s a problem, he tells it straight to the people involved. “I’m an open book,” he says, “And my entire team knows this.”
He gives everyone honest feedback. “If it’s good news, I tell them straight. I don’t hide things. So when there’s an issue, I’m direct,” he adds. What’s more, he doesn’t only tell the people what their problem is, he also tries to help them by giving them mentors. But there are times when his method just doesn’t work. And when that happens, he has no choice but to let the problem employee go.
He believes that not everyone that the company lets go is unskilled, it’s just that they’re not for the job. “I look at it [and ask myself], ‘Is it job fit’?” He says many see people who do not perform as problem employees but he says 70% of the time it’s job fit. According to him, out of 20 employees, only one in six who don’t perform may have to be let go. The other five can sometimes be moved to other roles to become stronger.
Being a gem himself means someone else dug that treasure within him too. And just like any leader who wouldn’t be able to get where they are without anyone to look up to, Varin also has his role models and he regards them as the “few people that really touched me in my life, definitely.”
Karl Hess, the global director for customer communications when Varin was still at 3COM Corporation is one of them. Aside from moving him to the US, Hess also helped to bring out the people-person aspect in him. “I definitely attribute a lot of things to him,” he says. Another is Paul-Henri Ferrand, Dell’s vice president for global marketing. Varin describes him as a superb and assertive man.
Sunny Side Up
In the 20 years he has been in the business, Varin has learned one thing: Enjoy life. And because he is a people person, he lets everyone get their share of enjoyment. “My philosophy is to make sure that everybody is enjoying what they do,” he says. Whenever he sees someone not having fun on the job, he turns the atmosphere around and tries to brighten the situation.
Though he may seem nice, he’s strict about his team’s performance. “You need to enjoy what you’re doing. But results must be there,” he says. It is, after all, a two way street. The miner digs the gems, in turn, the miner should also get something out of it.