Last week, a simple "how do you do" call to reconnect with an old acquaintance led to a humbling opportunity to share my working experience with her students at Universitas Tarumanagara.
Given, my background both in academic and professional lives have been focused around IT area, I was piqued to learn what motivated these students to choose IE as their field of study. A quick random 'sampling' on answers were varied, from 'providing good employment opportunity' to 'possibility to learn various subjects or discipline of studies'. I suppose the motivations are major-agnostic.
Prior to the lecture, I have prepared some materials that would essentially cover my own 'journey' starting from college/university up to the point where I am now, being part of Infinity Solutions. I hope what I share would provide a bit of view (and at least one perspective) as to how a student would and could move on in the 'real world'. It's going to be a bit of challenge as my so called 'expertise' is not directly aligned with their major of study.
The fist part of the 'lecture' was to recap academic and professional stops. The students seem to take a keen interest in understanding the buzz word 'consulting', right at the point when I was sharing my work at Accenture. They don't seem to have a grasp of what it is. To me, Consulting, is just a container (baca: istilah). A generic one. The term can be used to cover many types of activities, for example redesign or re-engineer business process of an organization, mapping organization structure and their roles and responsibilities, advising technology platform or solution to use, etc.
At the heart of 'consulting', we provide a service 'product' with an end goal of fulfilling a problem statement by the client. Much like manufacturing a tangible product, delivering a service (under a consulting arrangement or project) also benefit from following through a prescribed and tested approach. That approach in the consulting industry is commonly coined as 'Methodology'. Methodology essentially is a guideline or a blueprint of what to do, when to do it, how to do it, why do it. Mind you that the application or use of a methodology is going be different from project to project. One must avoid a 'one size fits all' strategy.
Some of the questions from the students caught me off-guard, to say the least. I remember one asked how consulting would solve problem of blue collar worker, in a factory setting, would not engage in protest or demo. How would YOU respond that question? 😉
The second part of the lecture was to introduce the company, Infinity Solutions. We conversed about what we do, our adoption of open source technology and why we believed in it. As part of our service offering, we have been focusing on implementing OpenERP solution for our clients. The topic of ERP also piqued quite a bit of interests from the audience.
Most of the students don't really have a sense of what ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is. It's just another jargon to them. I attempted to explain what is ERP by bringing in an illustration of what we do, say with a garment factory, when we implement an ERP system. How ERP is designed to handle multi facets of an organization functions (such as finance, accounting, purchasing, production, sales, HR, etc.)
IE students typically should be familiar with production or production process. Starting from there, where traditionally there is a need to know and track inventory (raw materials, WIP and finished goods), we can see how a system such as ERP can provide that functionality or support. Once we have known the position of the inventory in the factory, it's reasonable to assume that the Accounting function would like to know how to 'value' the inventory. Here we see the connection or the 'integration' between production and accounting functions, where both are served by ERP system. We can show that other functions and processes in the company will somehow also need or can be 'integrated' hence enriching the functions or supports that must be made available in an ERP system. I used this opportunity to also quickly show the actual OpenERP application itself.
The sense of entrepreneurship seems to be alive in that group, as a few inquired how one goes about setting up a company. How to fund it? Starting since when? It led to explanations about investor, capex and opex. My own take of entrepreneurship is that it's always 'sexy' in concept, but one must have the grit and gut to actually endure it.
At Infinity Solutions, we have been running internship programs for almost 4 years already, and I and the rest of the company believe in some ways, it is our ways of contributing back to the society, by way of educating and mentoring our future generation. I am certainly ecstatic to offer the same opportunity to these group of students. As the lecture came to a close, probably around 3pm, I really have to thank Ibu Lina Gozali for making this happen....and my appreciation to the young students for allowing me to bore them for about 1.5 hours.