Jobs, jobs, jobs!

Stardate: 11015.9

From day one in our respective offices, both President Obama and I have been obsessed with… jobs, jobs, jobs!  So, it is no wonder that I started my reading and analysis of the WEF report from the section on unemployment.

Key observations from the WEF Report:

  • Dramatic rise in unemployment over the last 18 months: reverberations from the recession still linger
  • Job creation is much slower than job evaporation (doesn’t take a genius to figure this one)
  • Despite incredible growth rates, India is enduring an unemployment rate (officially) of 7.2%
  • Here’s the kicker: some portion of jobless spike could be structural; remnants of the reverberations could transform into longer term underemployment
  • Oh and before the perpetually paranoid protectionists start building fences, please note that curtailing immigration may actually exacerbate the situation

So, what exactly is structural (vs. cyclical) unemployment?  During periods of economic growth, increased demand for goods and services drives up the demand for labor, leading to lower unemployment.  In recessionary times, the reverse is observed.  Nothing earth shattering here.  This is cyclical unemployment; tied to the business cycle.  In some cases, (consider US steel production) factors shift so drastically causing the underlying structure of the economy to change which precludes the spike in unemployment in a sector (or sectors) from reverting back to “normalcy”. This is structural unemployment; tied to the changed structure of the economy. Structural unemployment is generally more challenging (sometimes even futile) to combat.

And how does underemployment differ from unemployment?  Loosely put underemployment is the younger sibling of unemployment, where the reduction in demand for labor is distributed horizontally so that more people have less work rather than a few with work and others without.  However, underemployment could also imply underutilization of skills and talent or lower wages.

Finally, how do we get out of this mess?  Here are some strategies that I would like to offer – in no particular order:

1) Efficient placement processes.  Obviously, there are jobs out there, but the disproportionately large supply of labor is slowing (counter-intuitive as it may sound) the hiring process; for each open position, double or even triple digit resumes are being submitted. This flood of applications is simply clogging the pipeline and taxing the already overburdened HR personnel. What is exacerbating this even further is the narrow location-scope imposed by job applicants which in turn is rooted in the shift toward multi-generational housing arrangements (slowing of the economy is incentive enough for recent college graduates to move back in their parent’s houses).  If we are to tear through the unemployment doldrums, applicants need to go where the jobs are and make their job searches more focused in their areas of expertise and skill.

2) Education.  Which brings me to my next point.  If your skills are outdated or you find that the skills you possess do not seem to match the job opportunities out there (structural shift), acquire new skills; preferably those with better employment prospects.  No solution to unemployment or underemployment (particularly from a long-term perspective) would be complete without a heavy focus on continuous education.

3) Free flow of capital and labor.  There is a great big world out there.  Why limit your options?  Seek out regions and even countries of opportunity for your field of endeavor.  Having a hard time finding the right place for your skill set, this may be a good time to review #2 again.

4) Coming together.  The days of going at it alone are long gone. So, find a great network (like the Ismaili Professionals Network) and get involved.  Seek out others who are in the same profession or economic activity who can help you navigate through the maze of corporate hiring.  Or, consider launching a start-up!  The conditions may be ripe – particularly if you can seek out partners with complementary skills and/or venture funding ;-D  Jokes aside, this may be a very opportune time to explore entrepreneurial options specifically in regards to innovative ideas and new knowledge areas.

5) Innovation and new knowledge areas. At the RIPBC in Dallas, Chairman Amin concluded his presentation on Global Economy with “Leaders in innovation will continue to win in 21st century.”  I cannot agree more.  In fact, I believe the operative word here is “continue”.  Innovation leading to success is not a radically new or (forgive the pun) innovative notion, it is a time-tested phenomenon.

So, what are you waiting for?  Help me and President Obama fight this monstrous recessionary quagmire – you can start by helping connect just one prospect with a suitable opportunity!

Identifying and Managing Risk

Stardate: 11015.7

Notwithstanding all the pressing items on my to-do list, I resolved to review and comment on the Global Risks report for 2010 from the recent World Economic Forum by the end of this week.  With only 25 hours at hand and a daunting list of must-complete items still on that pesky list, it appears we may have a race against that thing called *time* once again.  Funny thing, this week has been unusually intense with back-to-back meetings; in person or on conference calls.  Now add to that logistical challenges of coordinating calls with team members spread in timezones across 4 continents; North America all timezones, Europe, Asia, and Australia!  As intense as it has been, I must admit, I am thoroughly enjoying it!! I guess that makes me a Workafrolic!!! (Richard St. John’s TED presentation)

In any case, while there are several risks identified in the report with varying levels of inter-connectedness, likelihoods of realization, and severity, my attention is drawn to:

1. continued unemployment and underemployment; echoes from the stalking recession
2. skewed, inadequate, or virtually non-existent infrastructure capacity; unsustainable development
3. energy myopia;

In Constantine (the movie), the angel Gabriel declares that humanity is at its best when faced with adversity (or something along those lines). However, I believe the archangel jumped to an incomplete conclusion. Humanity is at its best… tactically. In putting all our focus in the seemingly insurmountable challenges at hand, we sometimes tend to neglect the strategic view; the more severe the current issues, the more we tend to compromise on future think. And while this may be justified in many cases (for what good is the heavy bag of food if I am to drown), it is not always the prudent position (shed the weight of the bag of food to avoid drowning, only to be washed ashore starving).

In the little that I have reviewed, I have been pleased with the report’s balance in addressing short-term and long-term issues. In fact, a significant emphasis is on the long-term; I must say, I am impressed. So, between now and tomorrow nite, I will endeavor to review the report and supporting research particularly in the areas of the aforementioned 3 risks (or risk components) and share some comments with you 😀  Stay tuned…

Zervan Paused

Stardate: 11011.0

While we can move from point to point in space, why does it appear that we can only travel one-way in time? Is there an arrow of time, or can we travel back in time as well? The laws of physics do not prohibit the uncracking of an egg, however, observing this in practice is limited to experiments with apparatus capable of playing videos in reverse!  Perhaps, we are going about this all (forgive the expression) backwards.  Maybe, there is no arrow of time but an arrow of experience.  Take the uncracking egg for instance, even if we were able to successfully conduct that experiment, it would be a series of events culminating into the reformation of the egg.  Again an arrow moving forward from a state of high-entropy into one of lower-entropy – the direction remaining forward nonetheless!  So, maybe we can travel back and forth and sideways in time, however, our capacity to experience events is limited and constrains us to this forward facing arrow.  So, that’s the first point: there is ONLY a perceived arrow of time resulting from the arrow of experience.

Here is another mind-bender for you to consider should you have the time.  Einstein stopped at a 4-dimensional universe; 3 dimensions of space and 1 of time.  Subsequently, other theories (specifically, string theory) have proposed additional space dimensions – as many as 7 additional dimensions (at least in stable representations).  But, what I’m more interested in is additional dimensions in time.  What if time as we know it was simply one dimension of a 3D time?  For ease in visualization, let’s use familiar Euclidean notations to describe points in this 3D time; ( tx tk tz ). Where tx represents our familiar notion of time; the arrow of experience based time. So far, so good? For a second (like that means anything) don’t worry about what tk and tz represent – we will get to that later.

Now, hold up a piece of paper in your hand so that you can see full sheet with the bottom edge of the paper at eye-level. Next, rotate it so that the top edge of the paper moves away from you. At some point, instead of seeing the whole sheet, all you will see is a line. Apply this same logic to the temporal plan txtk. The angle at which our faculties can experience the plane txtk is so constrained that we can only perceive a flattened forward-only straight arrow of time! Now, imagine a whole stack of paper – infinitely tall – and you come face-to-face with Zervan!

More elaboration on tk (karma) and tz (Zervan) in a later post!

Leapfrogging TOAD

Stardate: 11011.2

Sometimes time-saving tools can be fairly time-consuming. TOAD claims this dubious distinction for its auto reformat feature. Our DBAs often use TOAD to apply packages and other PL/SQL code on Oracle databases. Now, TOAD has this feature where it can beautify your code. What that translates into is that PL/SQL on the database cannot be directly matched against (for parity checks) the PL/SQL in the version control system!  So, our challenge was to find some way to quickly but accurately compare these two versions.  Here is how our engineers leapfrogged TOAD:

Run the following 4 regular expression find-and-replace operations on both files (we used Visual Studio 2008 but the same can be accomplished by sed or any other utility)

  • Remove all newlines in the files so that we end up with one very long line of code.  Step 1: Replace ‘\n’ with ‘ ‘
  • Replace all tabs and other whitespace with a simple space.  Step 2: Replace ‘:b’ with ‘ ‘
  • Replace multiple consecutive spaces with a single space.  Step 3: Replace ‘:b+’ with ‘ ‘
  • Replace all semi-colons (PL/SQL statement terminator) with a semi-colon and newline.  Step 4: Replace ‘;’ with ‘;\n’

Voila!  Now we have two files that (although not very easily readable) can be compared for parity!

The Teflon Piece

A boon or a bane, to wax or to wane, a friend or a fiend – he knows it all, he is a teflon piece.
A symbol of certitude and not hubris, like many entrepreneurs are.
I am sure Schmidt, Sergey and Page would love to have him, to feel complete! (I just finished reading “Googled” :))
Well, if this feels like one of the social network’s testimony like thing, so be it.
I know he would be modest enough to tell me, Oh puhlease…..or just say nothing at all….but excuse me KB, I insist 🙂
Be it Stardate or anagrams or great coffee…..I have come to appreciate this natural knack of being able to do it all and yet look great 😉

Lunch time with our neighbors, most of them being beautiful ladies, actually all of them were ladies,
and KB was ready with the Italy’s-used-to and America’s-favorite – PIZZA!
Topped with beef, cheese, jalepenos, olives,…yummmmm.

No one but him, relished it, for others felt they could not exercise like he could, after a heavy meal, and so thought it better to resist.
Needless to mention, I am a vegetarian…so that “Yummmm” does not hold true when it comes from me 😉
And then, at their not so thankful look, he said eating the last chunk of pizza….”Third world citizens, you see….can not afford to waste food!”

Even our forefathers would be wonderstruck to see the younger generations with such lovely insight and heads-on-shoulder kinda approach towards life.
Was indeed a lesson learnt for me. This indeed gives me a good picture of what IPN holds.

And that is why I would love to contribute to this web-log.

The mission and ethics of KB’s enterprise and IPN may like this and hence, I share this today.

“The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough.
It takes up a lot of your time.
What do you get at the end of it?
A Death! Well,
I think life cycle should be all backwards.
You should die first, get death out of the way.
Then you go live in an old age home.
You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, then, when you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day.
You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement.
You drink alcohol, you party, and you get ready for high school.
You go to primary school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities,
you become a little baby, you go back,
you spend your last 9 months floating with luxuries like central heating, spa, room service on tap,

…and then you finish off as an orgasm.” AMEN! – Reverse Engineering at it’s best!