Archive for April, 2011

UK Tourism displaces Banks in Carary Wharf

I listened with interest a feature on BBC Radio over the Easter holiday talking about how tourism should, be the UK’s main focus and make the UK the world’s leading holiday destination. The Royal Wedding, The Queen’s Jubilee and of course the London Olympics all expect to generate huge revenue from foreign and domestic tourism.

But it was not just events such as the Olympics that are highlighted as the main draws of tourist pounds. London, country houses and castles, the lakes and all parts of the UK were also mentioned in plans to make the UK a primary holiday destination.

UK tourist industry can’t relocate
One of the comments I particularly liked was, “The UK tourist industry can’t threaten to relocate their Head office abroad”. I chuckled at a vision of tourist boss’s taking over the top floor of One Canada Square to look over the jewel in the tourist crown (London) whilst displaced bankers roam the poorer parts on London with their posessions in a black bin liners looking for cheaper office space. 

Business focus changes
I wonder if this represents the discussion, in some quarters, that perhaps the UK could cope with a less influential finance sector and that like past changes in the UK’s business such as the woolen industry, coal, steel, shipping and so on that, like nature, business abhors a vacuum and something would replace it, and why not tourism!

On the other hand instead on focussing on an either or solution perhaps the Banks and the Tourist Boards could share the top floor of Canada Square?

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Ridiculous Job interview questions

I read with facination Anne Fisher’s article in Fortune magazine  The Most Ridiculous Job Interview Questions asked by some leading companies to job candidates. She does defend them on the basis that the interviewers weren’t looking for correct answers but how the candidate responded to the question. So I asked some of my network how they might answer the questions.

Interview questions mentioned in Fortune include,

“Using a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on how weird you are.” — Capital One (COF)

“How many bricks are there in Shanghai? Consider only residential buildings.” –Deloitte Consulting

“You have three boxes. One contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled so that no label accurately identifies the contents of any of the boxes. Opening just one box, and without looking inside, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?” — Apple (AAPL)

Lack of expertise to anaylse answer

Most people thought the questions silly and was another “fad” that would probably not last. The reason being is that one has to be quite expert to analyse people’s reactions to situations to deterime “norm of behaviour” and most interviewers will not have that expertise.

Candidate’s rections

I’ve asked some friends of mine what their reactions would be to being asked such questions and here are some of the answers.

a) I would assume that the interviewer was “barking” and probably be impossible to work with.

b) To the bricks question from Deloitte I’d answer “Three” and then add “Red, Grey and Brown”
but my favourite answer was:

C) Answering the “weird” question I’d say “How weird do I have to be to get the job?”

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Is it OK to search the internet for information on job candidates?

A couple of people have asked me recently if it’s acceptable to search the internet for information on potential job candidates.

Information on the public platform
I think that it’s inevitable that potential recruiters will search the internet for details of their candidates. The information is in the public platform and often uploaded by the individual themselves. As such I think that it’s a good indication of personality, behaviour and the lifestyle of a potential candidate.

It would also give an indication of the candidate’s ability to use IT and to utilise correct grammar and good design. The hiring company then have another source of informationand on the candidate.

Reader’s Prejudices
The main problem, I think, is potentially the “prejudices” of the person reading the material. Pictures of the candidate drinking at parties or on holiday and might be mininterpreted. I have heard of candidates that have lost out on jobs as a result and this must be an extension of the “Horns & Halo effect” we are all used to in the interview process.

Andrew Lloyd Webber
What is interesting is those sites that are professionally managed for people. Let’s give an example. Andrew Lloyd Webber admits to not answering email, nor having a mobile phone nor, it seems, has the ability to open up a computer (See Piers Morgan’s interview on ITV) yet he has a superb website with updates on him, his work and his music. Obviously managed by others and very well it is too.

The question I have here is:
If a bad site produced by the job holder could be destructive in gaining a job, would paying someone to manage your profile on-line give someone an “unfair advantage” in the job selection stakes even if they were IT illiterate?

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Arrogance ends up being expensive!

Some months ago I was contacted by someone saying that a friend had given them my name and contact details and, after hearing all the positive things said about me, would love to meet me. Well what would you have done… Delighted, I said “of course”.

“Something’s come up…”

Meeting was a bit difficult as we lived over a three hour journey from each other and so a one hour SKYPE call was arranged. On the day scheduled for the call I received an email saying that “something had come up” and could we rearrange. Something coming up happens to the best people and naturally I agreed.

Second appointment
After I had juggled my diary a little bit we diarised a time for the second SKYPE appointment and another hour was set aside . Now, let’s agree that video conference meetings are appointments. Just that they are over the computer screen. Then a few hours before the time I received another email, “Sorry, I’m up to my eyes, can we reappoint. I’ll call you”

Would I be desperate to try to meet for a third time?
I was staggered by the arrogance that not once, but twice my time was seen as being unimportant, that her obvious inability to manage her time should inconvenience me and that I would be desperate to try a third time to meet with her! Since then I’ve received newsletters and various other updates about her business with offers to purchase products but no aplogy.

It ended very expensively
Yesterday I had a meeting in The City of London and her name came up in conversation. I related the story of the failed SKYPE Calls and within a flash, that even surprised me, her involvement in any future projects was rejected. It just shows that arrogant rudeness can end up being very expensive!

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Change that costs too much!

It never ceases to amaze me how often business change fails and how many change initiatives end up costing huge amounts on money in lost opportunities.

BETFAIR parts with Chief Executive
For intance yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph business section reported that BETFAIR has parted company with their Chief Executive just three months after the online trading platform had been launched. “In recent months analysts have questioned how successful the roll-out has been” of the LMAX platform and the shares have fallen 25% in less than six months.

Another example I observed last weeek was a sales team that had restructured to allow the team to concentrate on “High net worth clients”. Those clients not lucky enough to be categorised in the high net worth category would, in future, be dealt with from a call centre. Sales have subsequently fallen dramatically as the majority of sales came from small purchases. Now categorised as “insignificant” these customers reacted badly to being advised by people who did not have the experience to advise them properly. Result reduced sales and lost clients.

Executive Paralysis
Too often a contributory mistake is “Executive Paralysis” in identifying and accepting that initial thinking and planning could be flawed and to have a back-up plan. This rejection of potential failure creates a position that when fallback options are needed they are introduced with a sense of panic, adding more to the “costs of lost opportunity”

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