Australian MBA and Migrating?

“Bogus Colleges in UK to be Screen Out” read a recent news article.

There is this 23 year old who has an MBA and she worked with me in her first ever proper job. When I heard that she never worked before, I couldn’t help but wonder how could she be a “Master” in Business Administration, when she has NEVER set foot in a business organisation before!

The islanders of Paradise are crazy about their higher education. Almost everyone I know in the Paradise has a professional qualification – a CIM, CIMA, BA, BSc, BCS, MBBS, MBA or an XYZ. We think it makes our life easier if we have those big capital letters at the end of our name, especially if they came from the US, UK or Australia.

Well, they certainly help: to secure a job in Sri Lanka.

Once we find a job here, we are very likely to get caught in the system, get married or get buried under a career. Marriage and kids could kill the aspirations and dreams; family, house, car, loans etc could easily tie one down for good, clipping the wings. Without realising, one would be reaching the 40’s, making it harder for one to chase the American Dream or its British or Aussie equivalent.

The current state of affairs and the global financial crisis has got everyone looking for greener pastures, resulting in a mini ‘exodus’ and considerable brain-drain.

This post is meant for those who are thinking of escaping – specifically to Australia – chasing their dream:

  • The Aussie economy is not doing well, just like most other countries. Its a great time to transfer your funds – the dollar has depreciated around 30%; but not a good time for job-hunting in the kangaroo land.
  • A professional qualification – even from Monash – does not guarantee a job. Australia, like most countries, have a labour force of average qualifications; you might be “over qualified” for the job, if you have too many capital letters at the end of the name.
  • Experience counts. Even more so than the paper qualifications. No one cares about the Sri Lankan experience, unless you happen to have gathered it at a multinational organisation, or an international bank.
  • Be a specialist. Portray a focus in your career. Jack of all trades is not a ‘qualification’ – master of something, is.
  • If one doesn’t possess the ‘local’ experience, it would be hard to find a ‘suitable’ job. Its impossible to gain local experience if one doesn’t have a local job. Catch 22?
  • Its easy to find a job at waiting tables. My advise: don’t, unless you are 18.
    The early Sri Lankan migrants with their capital letters have done that and spoilt the market for the rest of the intellectuals – please don’t feed the trend.
  • Aussies are scared if you have too many qualifications. They feel threatened, or they think you would leave for better prospects. Makes it much harder for the migrants with a wealth of experience to find a position on par with what they deserve.
  • Even though the migration process is extremely well managed and well executed, CentreLink cannot do much for you. Its the headhunters (employment agencies) that find placements, and most headhunters have no idea what the actual job description entails. In summary, don’t expect much from headhunters or CentreLink.
  • Have a focussed, but simple resumé that’s easy to digest. Something like, “Wijitha – the bus driver.”
    “So what did you do, Mr Wijitha?”
    “Well, I drove a bus, for 3 years.”
    End of conversation. Everybody understands. “Wijitha – Head of Creative - Activation” is far too complicated for the average recruitment specialist’s mind.
  • Most job applications are made online; if your profile fits the excel sheet at the headhunters, you will be called for an interview. If not, you wander in the limboland. Very few has the common courtesy to respond to your emails.
  • Be ready to do what Indians do all over the world: to downgrade your CV and customise to fit. Leave out all what’s unnecessary, make the CV fit the vacancy you see and you are on the fast-track to employment. Starting a step below is sometimes better than not starting at all.
  • Try to find a job before you pack your bags. Line up a few interviews or prospects through your friends, family or associates. Fellow islanders from Paradise look out for one another (most of the time), they would be more fruitful than the headhunters, for sure.
  • Its easier to find, and most jobs are available, at the entry level. Best is to migrate as early in your life as possible – so that starting at the bottom of the ladder is not a step (or a few steps) down. Ideal age, 20+. You are willing to start at the bottom and prove yourself, plus you have no excess baggage. No wives or kids, only virtual women in your bed.
  • Professional Migration sounds romantic, but that’s where it stops. Securing a job through international placement agencies before arriving in Australia is a good thing, but its almost impossible with a silly lankan passport, whilst in silly lanka.
  • Don’t wait until you are a senior manager to migrate. Its almost impossible to break in at the senior level for a Sri Lankan who has no international experience.
  • There are some areas where there is potential: shipping, finance and IT for example. But remember, it’s not only you aiming for the job – there are Indians, Philipinos, Chinese and people from all over the world eying the same seat.
Bottom line: migration these days is not a dream come true. Its more like a dream with a nightmare in the middle. Expect a lot of hard work and effort once you arrive in Australia, things aren’t as easy as they used to be. Besides, the laws are getting tougher and tougher, the processing is getting tighter and tighter – its becoming increasingly difficult to migrate these days.

That said, there are also a few great attractions that Australia offers. A fabulously laid-back lifestyle that fits our “islander” attitude (in comparison to the rest of the West), the kangaroo passport and great schools for the kids. Most of all, its worth paying 1/3 or more of your income as taxes – the social care system will keep you alive when you are old and lonely, and too weak to fetch a glass of water for yourself.


Thank you, Your Holiness. Awesome Speech!

The world is going to miss the classic statements that came out of the mouth of the Ex-American President George W Bush. From reading a nursery book upside down and peeping through a telescope the other way around to the Easter Egg Hunt in Ei-raaq, he single-handedly kept the entire world entertained. Here’s a bit of the legacy – some of his more notable malaprops and mangled statements – he left behind, courtesy News 24 and my friend Fareed:

“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.”
September 2000, explaining his energy policies at an event in Michigan.

“They misunderestimated the compassion of our country. I think they misunderestimated the will and determination of the commander-in-chief, too.”
September 26, 2001, in Langley, Virginia. Bush was referring to the terrorists who carried out the September 11 attacks.

“There’s no doubt in my mind, not one doubt in my mind, that we will fail.”
October 4, 2001, in Washington. Bush was remarking on a back-to-work plan after the terrorist attacks.

“It would be a mistake for the United States Senate to allow any kind of human cloning to come out of that chamber.”
April 10, 2002, at the White House, as Bush urged Senate passage of a broad ban on cloning.

“I want to thank the dozens of welfare-to-work stories, the actual examples of people who made the firm and solemn commitment to work hard to embetter themselves.”
April 18, 2002, at the White House.

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee - I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can’t get fooled again.”
September 17, 2002, in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
August 5, 2004, at the signing ceremony for a defence spending bill.

“Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.”
September 6, 2004, at a rally in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

“Our most abundant energy source is coal. We have enough coal to last for 250 years, yet coal also prevents an environmental challenge.”
April 20, 2005, in Washington.

“We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job.”
September 20, 2005, in Gulfport, Mississippi.

“I can’t wait to join you in the joy of welcoming neighbours back into neighbourhoods, and small businesses up and running, and cutting those ribbons that somebody is creating new jobs.”
September 5, 2005, when Bush met with residents of Poplarville, Mississippi, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

“It was not always a given that the United States and America would have a close relationship. After all, 60 years we were at war 60 years ago we were at war.”
June 29, 2006, at the White House, where Bush met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

“Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to families who die.”
December 7, 2006, in a joint appearance with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“These are big achievements for this country, and the people of Bulgaria ought to be proud of the achievements that they have achieved.”
June 11, 2007, in Sofia, Bulgaria.

“Mr Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the Opec summit.”
September 2007, in Sydney, Australia, where Bush was attending an Apec summit.

“Thank you, Your Holiness. Awesome speech.”
April 16, 2008, at a ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to the White House.

“The fact that they purchased the machine meant somebody had to make the machine. And when somebody makes a machine, it means there’s jobs at the machine-making place.”
May 27, 2008, in Mesa, Arizona.

“And they have no disregard for human life.”
July 15, 2008, at the White House. Bush was referring to enemy fighters in Afghanistan.

“I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office.”
June 26, 2008, during a Rose Garden news briefing.

“Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. These immigrants have helped transform 13 small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 people.”
July 4, 2008 in Virginia.

“The people in Louisiana must know that all across our country there’s a lot of prayer - prayer for those whose lives have been turned upside down. And I’m one of them. It’s good to come down here.”
September 3, 2008, at an emergency operations centre in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast.

“This thaw - took a while to thaw, it’s going to take a while to unthaw.”
October 20, 2008, in Alexandria, Louisiana, as he discussed the economy and frozen credit markets.


Flying into the Night

I’ve always contemplated capturing the view from the heavens, but then, when I finally make an effort, Sachintha beats me to something similar – he wakes up to watch the sunrise, 35,000 feet above sea level.

Here’s my journey into the night, on board our national carrier:


Naked Madonna and the 15,000 dollars

I’ve admired Madonna always – her music, her attitude and of course her sultry looks. Not necessarily in that order though. The Queen of Pop has teased us since we were school kids in blue-shorts and still continues to do so with a shock every once in a while. There was the infamous “lesbian” kiss not so long ago and now there she is, hitting the news with the sale of her full-frontal nude photograph.

An original photograph of Madonna taken by Lee Friedlander in 1979 is going to be auctioned off at Christies on the 12th February, and is expected to fetch between US$ 10,000 to 15,000, according to reports. However, when the photograph was taken in 1979, Madonna was just a dancer who answered an ad for a nude model. The photographer has sold six more pictures of Madonna to Playboy in 1985 and this one, too, has her in the raw.

I’ve cropped the naughty bits here, please visit the Christies site, to discover the rest and zoom in on the details – you would be amazed at how much more hair you could get for 15 thousand bucks.


Believing in Second Chances...

So I have been quiet for two weeks. Missing from the blogsphere, away from the digital life. I was back in Paradise, sipping a few beers and tasting Arrack on the fabulous beaches of Koggala; I was busy shopping for my wedding ring in Singapore; and, yes, I was busy getting married.

As I promised myself in the latter part of last year, I got married – to the pretty neighbour who walked in to the next apartment – and in to my life. Getting married was the natural and obvious progression – and for some strange reason, it felt very right from the beginning, and still does. It feels like I have found my arcadia, finally.

The wedding wasn’t a grand do, since both of us are playing the second innings. Besides, inviting the extended family meant a mammoth task – gathering a good few hundreds under one roof isn’t that easy. Instead, we opted for a quiet gathering of the immediate family, with a treat of traditional Lankan sweet-meats and kiribath (milk-rice) at home. I wished I hadn’t gained the extra layer of fat around my waist, and, wished my trouser was still loose when I saw the katta-sambal (chilli paste) and kiribath; but then again, one has to be on his best behaviour at least on his wedding day, I suppose. Plus, there was another sumptuous lunch being prepared at my sister’s; so I had to keep that in mind too. Living abroad makes one appreciate the little things that we take for granted every day – a typical Lankan meal has never looked so yum in my entire life..!

After failing miserably in the first innings, we both decided to play it the ‘proper’ way this time around. We let our parents take over the affairs at the appropriate time, but of course didn’t forget to give things a little nudge in the desired direction! Matched the horoscopes (I knew that they were matching, so wasn’t worried about it much); got the auspicious times sorted; and followed the tradition with blessings from our parents and the families.

We lit the oil-lamp, said our prayers and signed on the dotted line. As we said our I do’s, the two mothers signed as witnesses to this historic event in our life. I could sense a certain relief in my mother’s face, she was happy her black-sheep was marrying a Sinhala Kella, finally!

Updated my status on FB, and my buddies were shocked and pleasantly surprised. Those who know me well know that this kid never learns. But I, on the other hand, believe in second chances, and things have never been this good in my life.


Life-cycle of Banda and the Mexican Fisherman

Banda is born in a beautiful village in the paradise, in a traditional home overlooking the paddy-fields and the mountains in the distance.

Banda attends school in the nearby town.

He comes to Colombo for higher education.

A few years later, he finds himself in the West, chasing the “American” dream or its equivalent.

A yuppie, with a great job, caught-up in the rat-race.

Passport. Family. House. Car. Kids.

And the time passes by. Kids grow up and they leave home as Banda retires.

He’s tired of the hustle and bustle and comes back home to Sri Lanka seeking serendipity in his old-age.

And decides to spend a quiet, retired life, away from it all.

Banda spends his hard-earned dollars to buy a plot of land in a beautiful village and builds a traditional house, overlooking the paddy-fields and the mountains in the distance.


Palestine needs a Gandhi, Murdoch and a good Ad Agency

Israel invades Palestine and the whole world watches. 75% of the country plunges in to darkness – there is no electricity, no running water and there is no medicine. Tanks roll in, screams of agony fill the air, silencing the Israeli air attacks. Blood splatters paint the landscape while the tears of women and children soak the land. No one sees and no one hears the cries for help. No one seems to hear the screams of pain. There are hundreds of innocent Palestine civilians killed everyday, but no one cares.

The World is quiet. The World is gone deaf and it’s gone blind. Deep within, it knows the bitter truth, but no-one utters a single word against Israel and it’s atrocities. In the heartland of the Arab World – Saudi Arabia – life goes on as usual and no one bothers. Sydney protests, Riyadh doesn’t. Wonder why?

Why Not?

“This is not an aggression or an invasion; this is democracy defeating terrorism. This is “peace-loving” Israel liberating innocent Palestine civilians from the grips of terror. This is Israel helping Palestine. This is Israel neutralising terror that ruins the peaceful daily life of Palestine and Israel. This is the beginning of the end of horror and violence.” Mark Regev tells the world on Al Jazeera and the world believes...

Israeli PR machinery has bent the world opinion and Tzipi Livni has charmed Hosny Mubarak.

I have always admired the Israelis in the PR Tactics, but this is a classic lesson in pure-and-simple Media Manipulation. Brain-washing the world, at its best. With careful scheming and manipulation, Israel has always preconditioned the world opinion to accept every forthcoming aggression – and they have always successfully managed to project themselves as the good-guys.

The World Opinion matters, and Palestinians should learn from the Israelis. Palestine – which is getting raped in its own bedroom while the parents are watching – needs to grow up and fight the war, Israeli style.

They need to win the fight.

Palestine, which is the rightful owner of the territory, is presented to the world by the Jewish PR Machine as a primitive, barbaric, stone-age community ruled by a group of terrorists that disturb the world peace. This image needs to be changed, and the change must begin now. Palestine should capitalise on its wealthy “refugees” who are running some successful businesses around the world, they must begin to fight the media battle. Average Palestinians should do what the average Jews do – invade the digital frontier – Facebook, flickr and Blogger style.

Change the perception, and the world will be on your side.

Palestine has one strength that Israel doesn’t possess: resilience. But they lack the most important ingredient: strategy.

Palestine needs a good advertising agency on their side. To define the brand (starting from, err, is Palestine a country?), to set the objectives and to come up with a strategy and a communication plan that includes important lessons learnt from Israel.

They need to believe in the power of PR and Advertising. They need to believe that the ‘image’ is everything.

They need to push Hamas to the back-seat – if not out of the car altogether – and get a Gandhi in the driving seat. They need a Rupert Murdoch to build the image and get the world on their side – so that they could fight their fight, fair and square – and dream of a free Palestine.


Top 100 Global Brands of 2008 and their Slogans

Here’s a look at the Top 100 Global Brands last year. Compiled by BusinessWeek and Interbrand, the Top 100 includes only brands, not parent companies – unlike the Sri Lankan way of doing things. Procter & Gamble does not show up on the list, but Gillette does – something our marketing guru’s could take a note of, when they think of naming “Lowe LDB” or “BOI” a Superbrand next time.
“When ranking the value of the Best Global Brands, Interbrand evaluates brand value in the same way any other corporate asset is valued – on the basis of how much it is likely to earn for the company in the future. Interbrand uses a combination of analysts’ projections, company financial documents, and its own qualitative and quantitative analysis to arrive at a net present value of those earnings. The brand values are based on data collected during the 12 months prior to June 30, 2008. This means that more recent developments, including the troubles at Merrill Lynch and AIG, are not factored into the brand valuations...” explains the BusinessWeek website.
Interestingly, Apple has become a bigger brand than Sony, Pepsi and Nescafé. Google rises while Yahoo falls even behind Amazon, some of the big brands such as Pizza Hut, Kraft, Kodak, Nissan, LG and Levis fall out of the Top 100 list altogether. H&M, the Swedish purveyor of affordable chic continues to climb just like Apple, Google and Nintendo in 2008.
I have done a bit of research to add their marketing slogans to the list – but one must keep in mind that the slogans may change from market to market, or from time to time. IBM, for example, no longer has a slogan, but, they used “Solutions for a Small Planet” at the time I was handling their brand in the Middle East. Starbucks still does not have one, and they do not need one since they have very little, or almost zero, visibility in advertising. The big fashion brands and sports car brands such as Prada and Ferrari could make a statement without speaking a word – that’s why I couldn’t find a slogan I suppose.
I have also had the good fortune to creatively contribute to at least 20 out of the 100 Best Global Brands at one time or the other in my advertising career, a fact that brings a smile to my face.

Rank, Brand, Brand Value in US$ Millions, Country of Origin and Most Common/Most Recent Slogan.

1Coca-Cola66,667USLive on the Coke Side of Life.
2IBM59,031USSolutions for a Small Planet.
3Microsoft59,007USYour potential. Our passion.
4GE53,086USImagination at Work.
5Nokia35,942FinlandConnecting People.
6Toyota34,050JapanMoving Forward.
7Intel31,261USLeap Ahead.
8McDonald's31,049USI’m lovin’ it.
9Disney29,251USWhere Dreams Come True.
11Mercedes-Benz25,577GermanyThe Future of the Automobile.
13BMW23,298GermanyThe Ultimate Driving Machine.
14Gillette22,069USThe Best a Man Can Get.
15American Express21,940USDo More.
16Louis Vuitton21,602FranceThe Spirit of Travel. (Epileather)
17Cisco21,306USThis is the power of the network. Now.
18Marlboro21,300USCome to Marlboro Country.
19Citi20,174USThe Citi Never Sleeps.
20Honda19,079JapanThe Power of Dreams.
21Samsung17,689S. KoreaEveryone’s Invited.
23Oracle13,831USCan’t Break It, Can’t Break In.
24Apple13,724USThink Different.
25Sony13,583JapanIt’s a Sony.
26Pepsi13,249USThe Choice of the New Generation.
27HSBC13,143UKThe World’s Local Bank.
28Nescafé13,055SwitzerlandAwaken Your Senses.
29Nike12,672USJust Do It.
30UPS12,621USDeliver More.
31SAP12,228GermanyThe Best-run e-Businesses Run SAP.
32Dell11,695USPurely You.
33Budweiser11,438USThe King of Beers. (Budweiser. True)
34Merrill Lynch11,399USis Bullish on America/Ask Merrill.
35Ikea10,913USMake a House a Home.
36Canon10,876JapanImage Anywhere.
37JPMorgan10,773USYour Choice. Your Chase.
38Goldman Sachs10,331USOur Client’s Interest Always Comes First.
39Kellogg’s9,710USThey’re Great!
40Nintendo8,772JapanWho are you?
41UBS8,740SwitzerlandYou & Us.
42Morgan Stanley8,696USOne Client at a Time.
43Philips8,325NetherlandsSense and Simplicity.
44Thompson Reuters8,313UKFor People in the Know.
45Gucci8,254ItalyQuality is Remembered Long After the Price is Forgotten.
46eBay7,991USThe Power of All of Us.
47Accenture7,948BermudaHigh Performance, Delivered.
48Siemens7,943GermanyBe Inspired.
49Ford7,896USFord. Drive One.
50Harley-Davidson7,609USThe Legend Rolls On…
51L’Oreal7,508FranceBecause you’re worth it.
52MTV7,193USThink MTV.
53Volkswagen7,047GermanyDrivers wanted.
54AIG7,022USThe Strength to Be There.
55AXA7,001FranceBe Life Confident.
56Heinz6,646US57 Varieties. (Mine’s gotta have Heinz.)
57Colgate6,437USThe Colgate Ring of Confidence.
58Amazon.com6,434USA Real Company in a Virtual World.
59Xerox6,393USThe Digital Document Company.
60Chanel6,355FranceShare the Fantasy.
61Wrigley’s6,105USDouble Your Pleasure.
62Zara5,955SpainWe Have a Dream.
63Nestle5,592SwitzerlandGood Food. Good Life.
64KFC5,582USFinger Lickin’ Good.
65Yahoo!5,496USDo you Yahoo?
66Danone5,408FranceA Little Everyday Goes a Long, Long Way.
67Audi5,407GermanyVorsprung Durch Technik.
68Caterpillar5,288USEarthmoving Solutions for Today’s Challenges.
69Avon5,264USLet’s Talk.
70adidas5,072GermanyImpossible is Nothing.
71Rolex4,956SwitzerlandPerpetual spirit.
72Hyundai4,846S. KoreaDrive your way.
73BlackBerry4,802CanadaLife on BlackBerry.
74Kleenex4,636USIt’s time to Let it Out.
75Porsche4,603GermanyThere is No Substitute.
77Gap4,357USFor Every Generation, There is a GAP.
78Panasonic4,281JapanJust Slightly Ahead of Our Time.
79Cartier4,236FranceThe Jeweller of Kings.
80Tiffany & Co.4,208USAmerica’s House of Design since 1837.
81Pizza Hut4,097USGreat Pizzas. Great Times.
82Allianz4,033FranceFinancial Solutions from A to Z.
83Moet & Chandon3,951FranceL’esprit Mo? & Chandon.
84BP3,911UKBeyond Petroleum.
86ING3,768NetherlandsSaving Feels Good.
87Motorola3,721USIntelligence Everywhere.
88Duracell3,682USLasts Longer, Much Longer.
89Smirnoff3,590UKThere’s Vodka and Then There’s Smirnoff.
90Lexus3,588JapanPursuit of Perfection.
92Johnson & Johnson3,582US
94Armani3,526ItalyDesigns for the Face.
95Hennessy3,513FranceThe World’s largest stock of Eaux-de-vie.
97Shell3,471NetherlandsYou can be Sure of Shell.
98Nivea3,401GermanyBeauty is…
99FedEx3,359USThe World On Time.
100Visa3,338USLife Takes Visa.

Data: Interbrand, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, BusinessWeek