Ever wondered what a Chief Fun Officer does for a living? Or for that matter a Brand Custodian or a Director of First Impressions?
In the brave new world of corporate India, top-notch salaries and luxury perks aren’t always enough. It’s the words that matter.
Enter a new motivational lexicon where companies weave words to make their employees feel that they are valued and respected.
So a Chief Fun Officer is an employee found in many business processing outsourcing (BPO) companies. The job involves ensuring that everybody in the company has, well, fun through such events as picnics and Christmas parties.
A Brand Custodian works in public relations and handles a company’s accounts. And no prizes for guessing that the Director of First Impressions is a receptionist.
But what is in a name? "These fancy designations not only make employees feel special but are also more specific about the job profile," said Quorum Consulting Group Managing Partner Nikhil Garg.
Innovative designations have been around for a while and the trend only gained momentum when Bill Gates handed out business cards that described him as a Chief Software Architect and Infosys’ Narayan Murthy became the Chief Mentor.
This month global consulting firm Sapient appointed what it calls a Chief Creativity Officer. Gaston Legorburu who is Sapient’s head of Experience Marketing Practice – a fancy enough designation – said: "This is the most exciting job in the industry right now."
Cisco Systems just this week added a new chief to the line of Chief Learning Officer, Chief Knowledge Officer and Chief Operating Officer that have by now become mainstream It brought in Wim Elfrink as the Chief Globalisation Officer to drive global strategy out of India.
Today many traditional companies are introducing titles like Chief Idea Manager for an employee who would conventionally fit into a strategy and planning role. But it’s the BPOs that really set the trend of wacky titles like Chief Fun Officers and Idea Managers. "These are people who are responsible for organising events from family get-togethers, midnight parties and Christmas feasts," said Puja Bhatia who works with a Bangalore-based BPO.
Public relations firms have started calling their executives Image Managers and some have gone to the extent of calling them Image Doctors.
Not everybody is impressed by the jargon. When the founder of placement portal Monster Worldwide, Jeff Taylor - a man also known as Chief Monster - quit, his replacement opted for a safer Chief Executive Officer.
Infosys used to have a CFO, Chief Fun Officer, until a few years ago. "The company has since discontinued the practice," informed a company spokesperson. These days the CFO refers to the somewhat more staid Chief Financial Officer.