Followup on LUMS…

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Wow. This is a first for me.

I write a post with a few claims … people respond with attacks … but they all prove those claims.

Yesterday I wrote that I had heard from a number of reputable IT companies — whose names I will not disclose as a professional — that they had found the LUMS people they hired to be hotheaded, living in utopia about their worth, looking down at companies and refusing to fit into organizational goals.

The commenters gave a first hand demonstration of all of those traits!

It may be great to think that ‘I choose my own path’ and ‘I have vision, that’s why I dont stick into any company longer than 3 months’ and ‘no company can afford to sustain me’ but really, kids, the world doesn’t accept those types of professional ethics.

What’s more, most of the same companies that cannot afford to hire LUMS grads find a justification to hire people from Stanford. I wonder why….

I must say I am sorely disappointed with the professionalism and constructive behavior demonstrated in the comments. Rather than denying and challenging the basic fact — why not sit down over coffee to figure out a plan? That too with someone who’s been an Operations Consultant with IT firms and could probably influence them more than rants would?

Why not find out who this coffee person is in the first place — maybe he is the decision maker in the hiring process of 3 companies?! [companies that have not yet banned LUMS]

I personally really had higher standards from the professional graduates from LUMS.

All of you is what our industry is looking towards to be the visionaries that bring social welfare and change to our society. Taking that responsibility should be your utmost priority.

I sincerely hope you take this advice, that a good mentor gave me a long time ago:

Dont live your life assuming the world owes you a favor. Nay, it is you — with your superior education and privileged experiences — you owe the world and your society your dedication to the betterment of their lives.

Comments Closed


  • I think the companies hiring and not hiring LUMs graduates are separable by the presence or absence of a distinct management layer in the company which is also reasonably accomplished in IT/CS. Companies in Lahore which require business analysts or business executives hire LUMS grads actively, but the ones working without do not feature us LUMS students too much.
    Take this cute example: In Netsol there are two divisions, one makes insurance software for foreign companies and the other works for strategic local market. The former actively hires LUMs grads, the latter no!
    Ayesha Suleman

  • That’s interesting Ayesha. Thanks for the tip — appreciate it.

  • Can you disclose the “number” of IT companies you heard this from, if not the names? I believe the job-hopping perception among LUMS CS grads is exaggerated based on anecdoatal evidence. I was at LUMS recruiting for a US based company in January (Google was there a day before) and I do echo the sentiment shared by many commentators that LUMS grads are more inclined towards jobs that offer exposure to end-to-end SDLC, and not just coding. I was a graduate of the Class of ’98 and some of my classfellows are now directors and hiring managers at a “number” of software houses in PK and have not shared any particular concerns apart from the standard retention/turnover issues managers face with all employees.

    As for the quality of the CS education and whether it has declined or not is an entirely separate debate. But you have seen this, right:

  • Trekker,

    You are still incorrectly attributing these claims to be my own.

    The number of companies is 6 so far that I know of — since I only work with known companies, they have sufficient market presence.

    I never claimed that the majority of companies are doing this — I said this is a growing trend, and 6 companies is certainly a trend, especially since all of them have seen the same issues with multiple LUMS candidates.

    In case you are wondering, I have seen some of their operations and there isn’t anything evidently wrong with the companies themselves. I believe it might just be what one commenter said that he had seen — most people leave and go abroad. I will also add that most of these problems were faced with fresh grads.

    I also never claimed that the grievance is that LUMS people are poor coders.

    In fact, it is the exact opposite — that perhaps they should infact stay with companies long enough to (1) come to realise their profession and place in the industry and (2) understand the precise role of the Engineering Dept in professional organizations.

    Most companies just need professional engineers much moreso than coders. They need people who will later grow to become Business Analysts, Product Designers / Managers, Product Lifecycle Planners, Directors and VPs and CTOs. For the companies that I can influence, I would never hire someone in any of those roles until he or she has actually gone through the trenches to experience the SDLC first hand. I would argue that it is healthy for every fresh grad to spend 1-2 years “coding” and going through 1-2 complete lifecycles to appreciate the complex conflicting interests of stakeholders and the differing priorities of different industries. Only then will they be able to create higher-end value.

    If you look at the commenters, they demonstrate the exact opposite desire — that job hopping is a justified result of not receiving the immediate success and gratification they perceive for themselves.

    All professionals know that they have to start at some place and work their way up — very few people, even from US univs who return to PK, demand high-end positions based on education alone.

    Think about it: Your worth and credibility in the market is only because of what you have created — if you are a product manager, or product designer, or usability expert, or whatever, the actual products of your intellect and their reception in their respective markets will decide whether you are really good.

    That makes business sense — a “good” engineer can create direct business value on the projects he / she is responsible for by influencing their success in the market. He/she deserves an exceptional salary because the ROI brought back to the company because of that person is huge.

    Getting to that point has very little to do with the specific institute you went to, and a lot to do with the results you have personally created in your career.

    Name one of the commenters who actually said they are interested in joining one firm after graduation and proving the worth with results. Name one that didn’t expect respect and gratification based on education alone.

    I am still willing to believe that these commenters dont represent the majority either, hence the fact that the companies I influence continue to carefully evaluate LUMS candidates.

    However, Im afraid the commenters aren’t really doing their part to make a good impression for any other company’s CEO and manager who happen to read Green & White.

  • Trekker,
    just to add what Osama said. No body wants to turn down excellent graduates if they are willing to work in our company we have graduates from Purdue and McGill along with handful of foreign qualified and foreign experience graduates. but every time we sit an interview with a LUMS graduate (bear in mind we always call people from LUMS to interview) during the interview they will say that they have plans to go abroad in a year some already applying to universities while they are applying for jobs in the market. I know all of the software houses face retention issues as more and more software people are leaving for overseas no one can stop that. but concern is that if a candidate is mentioning in his interview that he is leaving then most of people in hiring prefer to let go even if the candidate is the best because, you will agree that to make any fresh graduate productive takes some time (involving some seniors time for training) that spans from 6 months to 1 year depending on the technology you work in, and i believe people are not willing to invest such time on a graduate who already has plans to go out.

    I recognize LUMS as one of the best institutes and best faculty (My self doing Masters from there ) and this trend is mostly in LUMS CS graduates LUMS Masters i guess are more stable. My opinion is that LUMS Faculty and the Carrer Development Office work with the industry to remove this insecurities and educate students on benefit of putting in more experience in bag before going abroad for studies and have a follow up on graduates after they join the market. and in my opinion LUMS with its Excellent Job placement cell and very strong network of Alumini has all the resources to make LUMS the choice university for All the organization including business and engineering(with them starting an engineering school)

  • Well, I’m a working in a large IT multinational in Pakistan. We do a lot of outsourcing work. We hire from all kinds of universities, and we have found a lot of good talent even in places like Islamic International University. LUMS has no monopoly on talent. It’s all over the place.

    However, LUMS makes it easier to hire, by having a higher percentage of talented/skilled people. It is easier to find good people there, but we know that you cannot hire a LUMS CS grad with your eyes closed. There are people of less-than-average abilities who graduate from LUMS as well.

    I have seen LUMS CS grads who worked for 4 years at a job, and I’ve seen those who stuck on for 3-4 months. Generalising about “trends” is not an effective guide to decision-making. I am responsible for hiring in my department, and I would not make a decision based on a trend of 6, without knowing who those 6 firms were. Perhaps 6 companies have chosen to stop hiring from LUMS. I’m sure that was based on their own context. Companies that will continue to hire from LUMS are the ones that will want good communicators, active learners, a hunger for achievement, and can provide an environment where obedience is not prioritized over contribution to the business.

    Companies that expect a certain amount of greatfulness, or servility from their employees, and can get by with basic-coding skills are not going to have a good experience with LUMS graduates.

    I am NOT saying these kinds of companies are not important to the local industry. They will probably employ more graduates (in total) than the MNCs. The question is not about what kind of graduate/company is “right” or “the best”. The question is one of a “fit” between the environment and the expectations of the graduate. I am sure there is a poor fit between the skills/expectations of basic coders graduating from XYZ Institute of Computer Science, and needs of companies that require their IT graduates to face international customers.

    The question is this: What kind of graduates SHOULD LUMS be producing: Those that fit with local needs, or those that fit with international needs? If we accept that the best option (i.e. both) is not feasible, then obviously, there are plenty of places to produce graduates for local firms, but very few universities that produce CS graduates capable of working in high-pressure and demanding jobs that require far more customer interaction and soft-skills.

    The market is the best judge of many things. As long as LUMS CS grads continue to earn more than graduates from other institutes, and as long as they continue to find employers willing to take them on, despite all the job-hops, the arguments for LUMS to change the attitude of their students will remain the “pet gripe” of the those who cannot employ LUMS graduates to begin with, i.e. those who do not matter to LUMS graduates.

    I have hired LUMS graduates, and I’m very happy.

  • Olorin,

    That was a fantastic and insightful comment. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

    Actually the motivation of the original post that was perhaps lost in the reactions was that I wonder if this is a trend that will continue to grow. However small the number of companies, if they are important companies in the market, any professional organization should (as I’m sure LUMS would) immediately take note of ANY evident trend before it starts trickling and becoming larger.

    You are right in saying that the market will be the ultimate judge for this, and also that it is very different on a company to company case.

    However, as I just said, it is also prudent to recognize that there is a trend, no matter how small.

  • Salaam,

    The comment from Olorin beautifully sums up the whole issue. As long as there are high-paying IT positions available, these graduates will grab them asap, or job-hop till they get one. Job-hopping, though understandably annoying for the employer, is sometimes necessary for an individual and enables him/her to find his/her place in the industry. Also, job-hopping is not something only LUMS graduates do.

    But the steadily growing category of grads who are only looking for a year’s worth of “buffer” experience (and/or salary) before leaving for their Masters is what we’re talking about in most cases, and this is the group – apart from the occasional chronic job-hopper – I feel Osman is largely referring to. This issue (if it exists at all) isn’t going to go anywhere without either side agreeing to look at it from the other’s perspective.

    The facts are simple to start with (I’m talking about SW houses here):
    – all employers want highly skilled coders
    – all employers would love it if these coders were also strong team players, good communicators, well-rounded individuals
    – all employers want all employees to give the job a 100% and not leave strings untied
    – all graduates (from the leading tech institutes) are aiming for high-paying jobs
    – most graduates are willing to go for a Masters in order to get a high-paying job
    – most of these grads will have a “gap” year after they graduate and before they leave for their Masters
    – they want to utilize this time and gain as much tech experience (and/or money) as possible

    Half a solution could be employers who are willing to go the extra mile (as opposed to imposing unrealistic “bans”) in order to utilize these one-year bursts of fresh grad energy and skill, and do this separately from their regular hiring cycle. The other half would be gap-year grads willing to work for relatively lower salaries at relatively lower-end jobs (coding) with an attitude geared more towards learning than leading.

    But this isn’t as simple as it sounds. Software houses here have to improve their standards in order to be competitive at the global level; this will automatically mean better, more atractive opportunities for both categories: long-term employees and gap-year grads who are in it for gaining short-term experience in burst-mode. But this in-turn will require the higher quality grads to return to the country after their Masters; it’s not about owing anyone anything, it’s about necessity for change and how to go about initiating change.

    The original article was too stereotypical (regardless of what the author’s intent was) to generate a healthy debate on what is not a problem with LUMS graduates, but really an issue the entire IT community – employers, employees, and grads alike – should be concerned about.


  • Muhammad Aurangzeb

    Don’t say grapes are soar…If you can’t afford BMW then dont say its not comfortable :D..Regarding LUMS grad..
    If you say u r hiring just a labour / work force that obey every thing u say code code code (copy paste from net make redundent use cases after use cases) a.k.a Coder then LUMS grad is not a person w/o brain you are looking for.

    Offcourse challenge thrills, and company(Large Company) making abt 12-20$ / hour from the resource and they hardly pay the above amount for one day of service.

    Bro only Mgmt is not sitting in the market, developers are too and they know how much in demand there services are….!

    Regarding EGO…If someone is my friend (s)he is GREAT but someone don’t talk to me or professional jelously in place I just start spreading rumour (s)he is RUDE!!!!.

    Regarding Switching Jobs… Only minute # of Softweare Houses are working on technologies which provide u vertical growth.. unlike many Software houses (whom i ll not mention) have stupid project contracts on Grand Pa technologies like vb 6 etc and they want some ppl to sit nad provide support around the clock under 20k a month and they can charge a company for support 3000$ a month.

    LUMS produce quality Research Material, LUMS produce industry specific case studies, LUMS produce individuals which are industry force.

    Repute of institution was not built on a inviduals behaviour … its the brand that gurantees quality.. there is hell a lot diference between Nokia and some chineese replica..

    LUMS FAST IBA GIKI NED drives the market value of fresh grads so employers try to discourage them so that 2nd tier discourages more that xyz from abc univeristy is getting this much so u from pqr university lie here.

    offcouses there are better unis then lums MIT

  • Muhammad Aurangzeb


    offcouses there are better unis then lums MIT

  • Aurangzeb, i agree with you. lums has the resources and excellent professors who teach these young people excellent skills. I my self am a student of LUMS MS program. now here is a dilema. the rumors of job hopping though applicable to every one are more comonly seen in lums graduate. i give you an example i know a big multinational software house (multinational in true sense name withheld) which when formed had majority of lums people working for them, they are working on most cutting edge technologies their testing equipment costs some where 5000$ a piece and each engineer has one (just to give you a context of work being done their) they have very close collaboration with lums for research

    but they are not able to find any suitable candidate from the university they have all the support they need, but the problem is a typical engineer takes 6-8 months to become productive for the company and people who switch after 1 year are useless for them. this s/w house is a 75+ people company which has graduates from purdue, mcGill, caltech working for them on very good pays people who have stuck around with the company are reaching 100k rs salaries with the benefits you can dream off. an ideal job every thing available still not one of those 75+ people is from lums,

    i am all up for people of lums taking lead as i said i am from lums and am proud to be associated with this institution, but we together need to see why some one is saying this instead of attacking him. this example i gave above is a testimonial of what is said above. we need to identify where the impression is being built what are we doing wrong.

  • @Qazi, I know who you are talking about and I know what incident you are mentioning :)

    @Aurengzeb, basically you are exemplifying what the article basically talks about i.e. egoistic LUMS graduate with his own opinion on what’s “great high value” work and what work is “donkey” work … vb6 coding as you put it.

    Having said that, I am a Lums grat, a software engineers and have worked with vb6, c, c++, java, php, rails, c#, etc., just to give you an idea. There is no such thing as low-quality vb6 work. For one, vb6, is just a tool to achieve aims. Secondly, if you are not ready to work on simply projects chances are that you cannot work on any projects. Probably you are one of those LUMS grats who’ve worked on dubba research projects and havent ever produced anything useful (this is provocative, and utter generalization, and i admit that I am trying to provoke you !:P).

    I recently met a 2007 lums grat who was so much full rhetoric that I couldn’t believe myself. I am sure thare are others out there and as much as I hate to admit it, Osama is right. May be people are begining to generalize how immature a regular under grat from LUMS really is.

    My personal opinion is that LUMS grats are much more workaholics, and dedicated than from other universities and this is because of the 4yr training we go thru. However, there are some people who are there getting their assignments done by others, and some how passing by and graduating. These people are apparently full of empty egos and that’s what create the bad impression.

    By the way, Qazi is right about lums grat. This organization once hired around 7 LUMS under-grats while they were studying (i think i was 2001 or 2002) and all but a few of these started doing their assignments in office and then just left! On the brighter side, one of them later became one of the brightest team leads in the organization and was sent to the US office but all the others just dropped out. – not because work wasnt challenging or salaries werent good. But because they were not professional enough – sadly this is how you can generalize LUMS ‘under’ grats, unprofessional, full of empty egos!

    On the other side, some of the LUMS grats will really outshine everyone else in the industry – no offense to everyone but LUMS does have one of the best undergrat programs in the country and some of the brightest students in the country.

    A LUMS graduate :)

  • Asim,

    Why do you hate to admit it? :)

    Nicely put. From a company’s perspective, all we really want are engineers who can take the responsibility of architecting, designing and SUPPORTING the work they do.

    Supporting can include documentation, testing, debugging, training and helping anyone who touches what you do, and to do this in a way that gives the least costs to that company.

    Companies want people with the potential to become architects that can write maintainable code, extensible code, scalable code etc. etc. A lot of ppl claim (or maybe demand) that the only work that is worth their time is design and architecture but most choke when the task is actually given to them.

    LUMS aside, no person should work with double-standards — that he’ll stick around only for the design and architecture part and then be up and off as soon as things get tough or boring. Boring in terms of the support tasks, or tough because they *thought* they were smart but *feel* that they wont be able to do the current job effectively (both are incorrect because these are emotional decisions — professional work is a process and every person has to learn how to handle challenges systematically)

    In my career I’ve seen people leave just when integration testing begins (2-3 months before golive) and this makes huge damages to companies downstream. Huge. Since the legal structures of the country are finicky and because most companies dont bother, those people get away with it too.

    However, if you are able to do all the tasks mentioned effectively, then wherever you’re from you’re likely to get high pays.

  • Another point that I’ve said many times before — PLEASE dont think that you deserve architecture or design positions if you’ve JUST graduated from the BACHELORS level.

    Not unless you’re one of the top-10 programmers in PK, or have been working with professional companies part-time throughout your education.

    Design and Arch just comes with experience — you have to fail a hundred times before you know what works — you have to draw a thousand design options before you start to really understand when to apply patterns. That’s just how it is.

    You have to go through atleast two FULL project or product lifecycles and iterations to understand the long-term impact of one bad design decision in terms of maintenance, feature changes, revisions etc.

    The troubling sign of this industry is that many of the kids coming out of BS programs dont have the patience to learn through time — this generation just wants the rewards immediately without the hard-work that goes behind it.

  • there is also a flip side to the whole argument.. which companies should any graduates apply to.. if a company is not providing its employees a challenging, meritocratic environment where the employees feels that his work is making a difference.. then no person worth his salt should work there.. it is a simple natural selection problem.. bad employers attract second-grade employees and remain bad/small firms.. a case in example being the bureacracy… while good companies which provide their employees an environment where they can contribute from day 1, no matter how young/without experience they are.. retain and attract bright employees and in turn the companies grow.

    This is exactly why companies like Google spend so much resources on making sure they remain flat organization and can provide their employees the creative and entrepeneurial zeal.

    and this is exactly what seperates the “complainers” from the “retainers”.

    Businesses need self introspection… are they good enough?

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