Sunday, October 10, 2010

Insensitive Cultural Observations: The Chinese Quirky Quant

In the interest of equal opportunity, I'll focus my next cultural-insensitivity at India's top "strategic competitor" ... and ours.

You'd never believe it by the example of Victim Two: The Chinese Quirky Quant.

To stereotype, scientists the world over have quirky tendencies. And Chinese people, to stereotype, are particularly good at choosing a group and flawlessly conforming to its norms.

The Quirky Quant is no exception in that regard. At all hours of the day and night, he will be hunched over a massive PC in an undesirable cubicle of a large tech slash financial company. The famous-er the better. The cube will have reams of paper strewn about among books on fancy maths. Well-worn books. It will be decorated with something red, something growing, and/or something proclaiming what Chinese zodiac animal-year we find ourselves in. The PC will have multiple monitors upon which will be a plethora of windows of code and diagrams suggesting an incredibly active powerful multi-tasking brain. WARNING: DO NOT try to understand what's on these screens. Your head will explode.

The specimen, himself, will have large and squarish glasses. The distance between his belt buckle and the open throat of his light blue button-down will be no more than 6 inches. Yes, his socks will be showing. They will be athletic socks. Preferably white.

You may think to yourself "how does he get away with wearing white socks to work like that?" The answer is that he wore the same white socks to his interview. At which he flubbed the behavioral part of the questioning, sat through the case study, and made generally unintelligible comments which were one part macerated grammar, two parts technical jargon, and three parts baffling accent. At which point the interviewers, from peers to execs, said to themselves ... wow - he must be smarter than me ... I should frown and nod a lot ... and then hire this dude.

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