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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Counsellor - 27


Right notes 

I am 20-year old girl from a middle class family. I have a good voice and want to become a singer like Sunidhi or Alka. Please tell me what should I do? What is the selection process for singing competitions? 
  Sabas Fernando

To begin with, keep an eye out for competitions like Antakshari, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Indian Idol etc on TV and other local/national music contests. Make sure you get invited to the audition. Also, grab every opportunity to perform on stage or radio and at public functions including campus talent hunts. Get in touch with good sound recording studios in your city. 
   It will be of help to record brief pieces of your repertoire on a CD to showcase your range and talent. Armed with this professional ‘introduction,’ you can now approach recording companies and music composers or even bands and pop groups to give you a break. 
   Remember, nothing helps a budding singer more than regular daily practice, even if it's for an hour. 
   Of course, training under the right teacher makes all the difference. I presume you are well-versed in classical music. It’s an absolute must to develop range and depth in your voice - even if you are interested in Indi pop. 
   Be disciplined: avoid overly greasy, spiced food and go easy on the ice cream to keep your voice in peak form. And lastly, wait for the right break. Don't be rash about your debut number. Working with a good composer will make all the difference. 
   And if you are easy on the eyes, you can move from the recording room to centrestage. 

Sound business 

I have been an English teacher for the last five years. Am I eligible to become a voice and accent trainer in the BPO sector? 
    Ila Bose


Yes, you are. Voice and accent trainers teach you how to roll your R's and soften your D's, fix your accent, spruce up your grammar to enable you to breeze through a five-minute conversation with an American or European. Their services range from hiring the suitable candidates to training them in the requisite voice and accent. This is a new breed of professionals who have come up as a result of the ever-increasing call centres in the country. 
   Whereas earlier, call centre executives needed to be trained to use a specific American or British accent, now neutral Global English is the acceptable norm. 
   A single call centre can hire between 20 to 60 voice and accent trainers who take training sessions with the executives, monitor calls and identify agents who need a refresher course. 
   Accent trainers are handpicked for the job because of their clarity of speech and fluency. Starting at approximately Rs 30,000 permonth your remuneration could go up to Rs 50,000 or more. Needless to say, the timings may be erratic and you may need to work night shifts. 
   To become a voice and accent trainer you need to have an excellent command over English which you must be having since you are an English teacher. Besides, you must have a passion for training, good people skills and oodles of patience and enthusiasm. A graduate/postgraduate degree in any discipline is a mandatory requirement. A certification in teaching English to adults would be a good add-on. It would go a long way if you have travelled abroad and are familiar with Western cultural nuances. 
   Many companies prefer to hire candidates with BPO experience. But anyone — be it a housewife, fresh graduate or even retired personnel — can join the industry if they have the requisite skill-set. 
   Most voice and accent trainers grow from the ranks after having worked for a few years in the BPO sector. 
   Besides call centres you can seek employment with ‘BPO finishing/training schools,’ which have sprung up all over. 

Managing careers 

I am a second year student of BTech. I want to continue my study from abroad. Please give me the right guidance for pursuing an MBA. 
    Sudesh Behal


Since this is a question I have been asked very frequently, let me give you a reasoned and detailed answer. 
   First of all, lets get the fundas right. What exactly do you want out of a foreign MBA? With thousands of MBA programmes available globally and more than 1,000 in India, you first need to be very clear about what you expect out of studying abroad. Also ‘abroad’ is too vague a term. Which specific country - US, UK, Australia or Canada - are you looking at? Do you want to work abroad or come back to India armed with a foreign degree? Are you looking at a fast-track one-year executive programme or a regular two-year programme? 
   And buddy, if getting into a good B-school in India is tough, making it to the top-50 B-schools in the US or even UK is no cakewalk - considering the procedural hassles, time and costs involved. So do give it a serious thought. 
   Spaced over 11-18 months with no breaks between semesters, the one-year programme is typically developed around one specific functional niche. It is ideal for someone who has been working for a while and is looking at continuing in his functional area ie finance in which case an MS in finance or financial engineering may do just fine. 
   Unlike here, a good B-school in the West may even allow you the freedom to customise your courseware. 
   However, the one-year MBA, also called the executive MBA, typically demands stiff prerequisites of approximately five years of work experience and academic eligibility. As there are no breaks, there are no internship opportunities for overseas students. 
   On the other hand, the two-year MBA, quite like its Indian counterpart, spans over 18-20 months. While the first year covers the core curriculum in all functional areas, the second year focusses on chosen functional electives. You also get to intern with a company during the summer break/s and develop cross-functional skills. 
   Now consider whether you would prefer an integrated or non-integrated curriculum? Which is your cup of tea - the lecture or case study method? Are you looking for functional depth in a particular area or a general management overview? 
   No doubt a good foreign MBA broadens your horizon and gives you a global perspective. It also gives you an opportunity to develop contacts with people all over the world and can get you a job in any part of the world, thus making you a global citizen. 
   However, since a decent US MBA can cost you between Rs 35 lakh to one crore plus, do consider the return on investment too. Don’t expect industry to go gaga over your degree and offer you a fancy job at a fancy salary just because you have foreign degree. The reality may be quite the contrary. If you have done your foreign MBA or MS from a B-school that is not so well known back home, you may well have to do the rounds of placement agencies before you find a job. After all, there is no dearth of MBAs here, and don't forget Indian MBAs have the advantage of campus placement! 
   Besides excellent GMAT scores, good Bschools lay a great store by your work-experience, essay/statement of purpose (SOP). When drafting your statement, take care to highlight the things that distinguish you from others. Highlight your strengths while balancing your weakness without going overboard. Also, don’t take it casually or ask someone else to write it for you. They can sniff out a fake from a mile off. Be original. 
   Your undergraduate academic record, including your extra-curricular activities, matter as much as your scores and work experience. As for the latter, no decent Bschool, in the US or UK or Canada, Spain, France or Australia will take in fresh graduates. But it’s a myth that nothing less than 
three to four years (58-60 months) of industry experience is mandatory and some B-school websites and brochures do give you such an impression. While this may be true for average students, exceptions are always possible - even at the top schools. If you satisfy the rest of the conditions, there's no reason why you can’t apply.






Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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