Q & A: Sriram Iyer, Musings Of A Corporate Voyeur

Musings of a Corporate Voyeur

  • How would you introduce yourself to our Facebook friends?

Sriram Iyer (SI): I would introduce myself as a person who is fascinated by the uniqueness of each person with whom I come into contact with, whether at work, socially or fortuitously. Every person, one meets in life is either eccentric or downright dotty and the joy in discovering that and then enjoying their uniqueness is immense. Given that I have been writing about people in the work place, I would like to add that colleagues at work can give a big incentive to the tedium and dullness that at times tend to accompany chores at work.

  • What inspired you to write ‘Musings of a Corporate Voyeur’?

SI: Scott Adams in his very popular comic strip “Dilbert” has written about stereotypes at work. What is missing is the ‘lived’ experience of dealing with people at work who let their perceptions of their role and importance dictate how they behave.

I have tried to bring the “lived” experience to this collection from my associations of over two decades in the corporate sector in different parts of the world. To simply put, the book is a collection of stories of people at work. Every person at work puts on a mask that is meant to hide what their real self are or who they really are. We are all a bundle of aspirations, contradictions, fears and fantasies and we all behave like we would subsume them gladly for the larger good of the organization. The plots, all perfectly plausible, are intended to portray stereotypes in an entertaining and thought-provoking manner and ultimately get to the real person behind the mask which could easily be you or me or any person you interact with at work.

  • How would you define a ‘corporate voyeur’ and how did you come up with the title?

SI: A corporate voyeur is in some ways like R.K. Laxman’s common man, meaning he is where the action is. But unlike the common man who many a times is a mute spectator to all the duplicity and downright fraud around him, the corporate voyeur seeks to understand behaviour and benefit where possible. In that sense, he is very much part of the intrigue that defines the dynamics at work and if he could, would like all those around, use this understanding to advance his aspirations and fantasies. As I was thinking about the name for this collection, my brother suggested this title which I think very appropriately binds it together.

  • You have dedicated the book to your father. How important a role did he play in your life and career?

SI: My father is my hero. He is no longer around but he gave me the courage to live life. In the three decades that I knew him, not once did he appear disenchanted with his own life. I am sure that he had his own set of issues to deal with in life but to insulate the lives of those around from ones own struggles is the biggest gift one can give, particularly to one’s own children. If I can be that for my son, I would view myself as a success.

  • Which Alchemy titles have you liked? Which others would you like to read?

SI: The Director’s Mind was fascinating. Being a cricket lover I am looking forward to reading “Howzzat”.

  • Could you name some favourite books of yours, books which have influenced you in some way?

SI: When it comes to humour, my favorite author is Tom Sharpe. I like all his books particularly the Wilt Series. In each of these books he has let himself go and his love for the idiosyncrasies of his characters is very apparent. I hope that I have been able to give the same kind of love to each of the characters in my writings. I like Wodehouse too.

As far as short stories go, I like the writings of Tolstoy, Chekhov, O’Henry, Maupassant, Camus among others.

  • Sriram, what do think of work-life balance? We would love to know how you unwind.

SI: I think work-life balance is critical for an enjoyable life. There will be times when ones work pressures keep one away from having that balance. But if the pressure is sustained over a long period of time or keeps happening too often, look for something else to do. Either you are not right for that organization or the organization is not right for you. I have been fortunate to be blessed with a set of very good friends who I meet with every weekend. A couple of single malts, good food and music is how I unwind. Sometimes it may be a movie with family and at least one vacation a year.

  • Which among the eleven stories in your book is your favourite and why?

SI: I like every story in the book. If I had to pick one, it would be, “Faith and Math.” This story deals with an attempt by junior folks in the organization to unravel the personalities of their leaders. In reality, people looking to move up in an organization spend a lot of time trying to understand their leaders if not downright mimicking them. Senior leaders for their part like to convey an aura of inscrutability while associating themselves with only results that are positive. The story while irreverent truly depicts human frailties and our need to make legends out of mere mortals.

  • Would you like to share some excerpts from the book with our readers?

SI: Rather than share an excerpt from a story, I would like to share an excerpt from the foreword to this book written by Pritish Nandy as I believe it captures the essence of the book and my attempt.

And I quote, “Some days you are the pigeon, some days the statue. Or so Dilbert claimed. Here, in this book, in some stories you are the reader; in some, you are the character. But whatever you are, on whichever day you choose to read them, cloudy or cloudless, this is one book you will have a lot of fun reading. Iyer sidesteps all moral lessons and sticks to simple story- telling. And every story is artfully told. Some will go back home at night. Some may even change your life. And some will just stay back at the office and hear the whooshing sound of deadlines going by.”

  • If you weren’t finance professional what would you have been?

SI: I would have loved to have played cricket for India. Clearly I did not have the talent to play even for my college. And there are several other passions I would have happily flirted with, had I not been a finance professional. Having said that, finance and the organizations that I have been associated with have given me the opportunity to meet a number of very wonderful people along the way and I cannot say that there was a very strong calling that I have missed out on.

  • Who is your role model?

SI: I would not be able to call any single individual my role model, though my father would come closest to it for reasons I have already mentioned. Many other folks have had a significant influence on my life and they possess qualities that I wish I could imbibe. These would certainly include my mother, siblings, wife and son, a few dear friends and at work some leaders who regardless of the pressure appear to possess a zen like countenance.

  • On a different note, what would you like to write next?

SI: My second book too will be a collection of short stories on the work place. I am creating a bunch of characters who will move from one story to the other in much the same way that Wodehouse did decades ago. In time, I am hopeful that we will see them in a setting outside of work as well. But for now, the second book too, will be on the work place.

  • Do you have a blog? Where can our readers connect with you?

SI: I do not maintain a blog. I would love to connect with readers at sriramster@gmail.com. You can also visit the Facebook page of “Musings of a Corporate Voyeur” and leave any comments. I would love to hear from you.

  • Who would you rate higher – Sriram, the corporate go-getter or Sriram, the dependable family guy?

SI: I think that both are really the same person. I am not sure that I could be one without the other. If I did not have a job, I am not sure my family would call me dependable. And without a family (that hopefully finds me a dependable guy) there would be no motivation to go and achieve. So, to me, the two are related and also emphasize the need for balance in life.

  • Lastly, would you like to say anything to our readers and other aspiring authors?

SI: I hope the readers enjoy reading the book and are able to relate to the situations in the book. This is my first book and I would really like to get some feedback; the good and the bad. So, please send your comments to sriramster@gmail.com and I promise to respond to your comments where you have asked for a response.

To any aspiring author, I would say, “what are you waiting for?” We all have a story to tell and there are people who are willing to listen or read. And if I may, the editor has a very important role to play in the quality of the book. So work with them as they understand the reader better than you or I.

 

Musings Of A Corporate Voyeur‘ by Sriram Iyer is a fiction published by Alchemy Publishers is now available on Flipkart,  Amazon and Infibeam

Leave a Reply