Part I of the Interview can be accessed here . Link to Part I
Interview with Abhishek Kumar and Subrata Dass of Novartis – Contd.
In this freewheeling chat we try to get their views on some important aspects like how they prepare, what they read, what are their views on the role of Internet and social media, corporate sponsorships, company culture etc.
Corporate sponsorship and patronage for Business quizzing
IBQ : What is your assessment of Corporate sponsorship for Business Quizzing ?
Subrata Dass (SD): It is actually coming down …not sure why, if you look at it Brand Equity as a quiz has closed. Even the Crucible sponsorship is down.
IBQ: How has your employer supported you ?
SD: Novartis has been very supportive in quizzing ….especially, because of the work-life balance it offers
IBQ: Does your company have an internal quizzing culture ?
SD: Yes. Abhishek and I run the internal quiz club in Novartis …we regularly have quizzes internally and they are encouraged
IBQ: Like TCS has been producing Crucible champions , do you expect Novartis also to be producing more winners like you ?
SD: sure why not ……Novartis already had Viraj Bake earlier, who has been a Crucible winner and who knows, may be we will have new winners.
Quizzing culture in various cities
SD: I have quizzed in many cities. People in Kolkata are of a classical bent of mind. The quizzing there is more of a hobby ……people in general, read a lot and not because they want to quiz
IBQ: Competitors from which city would you be wary of ?
SD: Hyderabad and Chennai because they really prepare for quizzes. Preparing there is more attuned to a particular quiz …its QM …the kind of questions he can ask etc. Naveen and JK have really taken preparation to a different level, but thanks to them quizzing is now more competitive than ever before and they have the record to speak for them. Thankfully, they don’t quiz together in Crucible ! 🙂
IBQ: Now with all the information that is available online easily, has quiz become esoteric and less of an audience event?
SD: I believe it is the other way round. Information has become democratized. Earlier, it was more about information asymmetry and access to information was important. The Metro cities with better libraries and books flourished but now with internet you see people from Tier II cities also doing equally well. It is almost like the Dhoni effect
IBQ: If quizzing is knowledge is on one end and entertainment on another, where would you place current day Business Quizzing events like Tata Crucible ?
SD: I believe that Tata Crucible has been very important in the spread of knowledge in our country. I have been participating in Crucible, religiously, for the past 14 years
IBQ: Just because better news collection and reportage is available about global business, mainly American companies, are there more questions on global business ?
SD: It is not just about availability of better news reports . If you look, broadly, Indians are bad at creating and maintaining their own history. Just look at the ‘About’ section of most Indian websites and you will see that they are clearly lacking. They have no information or they are hagiographies ….apart from the Tatas, no Indian companies have proper information about them in their own websites. On the other hand look at the foreign websites …the difference is telling
IBQ : Coming back to the emphasis on preparation, did you prepare with clearly demarcated areas for each other ?
SD: Yes. It is very important that one does that.
Abhishek Kumar ( AK) : Yes in a way. We have our own parts to prepare. So we distribute the sites with each other
IBQ: If you can share, between the two of you, who is strong in what areas ?
SD : I guess Abhishek is strong in remembering facts and Names and I am strong at deriving answers which are not very evident. I am bad at remembering names but I remember fundae and facts. Abhishek is superb with names and a lot of facts as well
AK: Visuals, I am good with
Essential reading – Books and magazines
SD: I have a Business Standard account …a Hindu online account and a Guardian account …plus, I get WSJ free from office. For deep research, I usually prefer the LiveMint deep research articles. I also read the ET physical version.
IBQ: What do you think about the quality of Indian books on corporates like on companies and biographies of business people ?
SD: I quite like the Penguin history series and the Business Maharajas book but I prefer the Ad history books like AdKatha , Pandeymonium , Double Life and others. I actually like reading ads a lot, because, it tells you a lot about the history behind them books like Adland and those by Martin Lindstorm
IBQ: What has been the social media impact on quizzing?
SD: Oh, it has helped a lot. Although, I believe we are in more of an information overload phase now . Knowing what to read and what to avoid is very important
IBQ: If someone is new to the business quizzing genre, how should he or she start?
SD: I guess by reading the daily news and researching on them. Making notes about the brands that they come across and keep adding to those notes. I , personally, spend an hour everyday reading the news come what may and I think most quizzers do that as well
IBQ: Would you say that quizzers avoid reading analysis and opinion pieces because that does not have quizzing material?
SD: but why ……is reading only for quizzing ? My favorite pieces for example is the Mr. Mathrubootham articles in Hindu , earlier, it used to be the Jug Suraiyya articles when I was in Kolkata
IBQ: Do you think Business Quizzing is just a sub-set of General Quizzing or it is different ?
SD: Personally , I feel that Quizzing is not about mugging of facts ….for my preparations I usually read up all facts on a particular business news item of interest and then basically delve into the general aspects of the news so for example when Thomas Cook crash happened . I did not just read up about Thomas Cook and its history, but also about the Operation Matterhorn and also about the WWII case where Operation Matterhorn was used by the US to attack Japan and voila it came up in Finals
IBQ: Is IndiaBusinessQuiz a part of your preparation sites ?
AK: Obviously. First of all, it is a very clean site and very informative. We never miss to look at it, before any quiz.
SD: 100% ….and its part of both Abhishek and my preparations
AK: And thanks for all the effort which you put
SD: Yeah, thanks to both you and Vishnu these days
AK: I used to have a site called Quiz Curry. For 3-4 years, we ran it regularly
SD: Yeah, when in TCS I used to run the TCS Quiz club blog. Now I help Avinash ( Mudaliar) run the Moneycontrol quiz Blog
AK: So I can understand the dedication and commitment required
IBQ: Thanks for the kind words. We are flattered. You have been guest quiz masters for IBQ. Hope you post more often for us. Thanks for the freewheeling chat and sharing with us.. It sure will give a good insight for our readers.
- The Interview was conducted by G.Mohan and B Vishnu of IBQ over Whatsapp spread over 2 evenings. The chat has been edited for brevity and readability.
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