Spreadsheet models, IIM grads and performance pressure

A recent study by a popular market research agency which shall be nameless (but whose name rhymes with Liam Neeson) has established that male south Indian IIM grads are highly sought after by marketing companies for overseas postings. The study went on to explain that let loose in a hostile office environment in a foreign country, these guys are prone to curling up into a foetus position and typing furiously at their laptops. Now, if they are IIM grads, some of those keyboard fiascos may actually turn up something productive, which can then be unleashed upon their unsuspecting colleagues. Like spreadsheet models.
Now, this wouldn’t be too bad, except that these models are then used by others to design company strategies. I usually try my best to avoid being suckered into designing any such models. Not that I have anything against spreadsheet models. I love my Playboy and FHM magazines as much as the next guy. However, I draw the line at looking at them. I do not mess with them. Nor do I mess with Excel.
The worst mishaps occur when you are invited to random meetings with the subject “RE: Fwd: FY 11-12 Y2K Dhobi Ghaut profit after tax”. Interns and fresh recruits attend such meetings blindly, while seasoned veterans steer clear of them. These are the meetings in which some senior member would suddenly turn to you and say, “So Sandeep, we seem to be having some problem with the consumer off take of white towels in Dhobi Ghaut. Why don’t you take a stab at solving it?  While you are at it, code it into a model, so that we can analyze the financial implications of the solution.” Faced with such random data overload, my usual response is to panic and accept everything.  The last time I tried to use an ATM in Singapore I accidently chose the Mandarin language setting and promptly transferred all of my savings to the Communist Party of China.
But Indians will be Indians. Especially South Indian IIM grads. If caught out, we don’t blame fate. We buckle up and try to deliver. The trick is to find the right forums on the web to scavenge modules from. Then you reshape those modules, fit them together with your marketing knowledge, and finally weld them tight with some flowery jargon and a colorful title.
It will all go smoothly until someone actually tries to use those models. For instance, my “Y2K Dhobi Ghaut – White Towel paper” marketing strategy still delivers a profit after tax of “about 12.5 kgs”. It’s not that I don’t know how to correct it. I could easily invest in an online course to develop my skills in excel programming. Unfortunately though, all my money is in China.