We all have experienced the 9 to 5 work culture. Today, we are excited to have a conversation with Harish Rjhwani, author of the book 9 to 5 Cubicle Tales which has and will charm the audience with a hunger for reading realistic stories about life for sure.
1. It is indeed a happy moment to have a conversation with you. The first and foremost question is how you enjoy the multifaceted role of a Healthcare IT professional, a professor, a writer, an author, and a consultant.
I love it; I have been in the Healthcare IT space for twenty years, taught for ten years, and have been writing for four years. The best part is I can take the learnings of one area and apply them in the other. Of course, each role is a different profession altogether, but the amount of love, affection, and respect I have in the area of teaching is incomparable.
2. Can you take us through your first writing experience? How did the idea of writing a book start?
Technically speaking, my first writing experience was way back during my engineering days, wherein I was co-authoring the second edition of an electronics book with one of my professors. But that did not pan out as there were some delays from the publisher’s side. Beyond this, after entering the Healthcare IT space, I started writing blogs and articles sharing my knowledge in a small way.
Then, midway through my career, I began teaching as a visiting faculty, and after a long journey of 17 years in the industry, I thought of writing a book about healthcare IT. I recently even launched a course on Udemy around HealthIT, which aligns with my first book.
Get your copy of the book now from – Amazon
3. How did the transition of a writer from non-fiction to fiction happen? Did you face any challenges during this?
I have written three non-fiction books, each targeting a niche area. But I wanted to cater to a larger market; hence I thought of writing fiction. By the way, if you read any of my non-fiction books, you will notice a hint of fiction.
Coming to the second part of the question, Did I face any challenges? Yes, I definitely did. I wrote one chapter in Aug-Sep 2021 but couldn’t write beyond one page. I couldn’t write the story in detail because my mind was still thinking non-fiction. Post that, I decided to do a couple of creative writing courses from the British Council Library, which made me realize my writing was missing aspects like the use of dialogues, a plot, and the concept of “Show, don’t Tell.”
4. In the book 9 to 5 Cubicle Tales, the characters are true to life, and Hridaan, the protagonist, represents almost every Software (Corporate Company’s) Employee. What was the inspiration?
Simply put, the inspiration comes from the experience of having worked in the industry for twenty years. When I was learning creative writing, one of the aspects I understood was how to build a character sketch. That is when I realized every day, we meet so many different characters (don’t take the word in the literal sense), and that is what brings the corporate world to life. So, that’s where I got the inspiration to write a story about a typical corporate employee.
5. Now that your new book is a work of fiction, before writing the book, how did you plan the plot? Did you use any story-board mapping technique, or was it instinctive?
Well, I am an IT guy, and after a certain point in our career, we prefer using Microsoft Excel, Word, or Powerpoint to solve every problem 😊. So, before I did my creative writing course, I had listed down some possible chapters I wanted to write. But while pursuing the British Council course, I realized I needed to add a plot, so I started writing down pointers I wanted to cover in each listed chapter. I even used technology like google maps Street-View option to detail various aspects of specific locations.
6. Before knowing more about you as a person, a few words to our readers and why one should read your new book.
The book is an emotional journey covering various aspects of life, from sadness to happiness, and showcasing deep bonds of friendship. Above all, it teaches you to stay calm in any situation, not give up when facing a challenge, and find innovative ways to solve your problems.
7. How is Harish as a person? What are his likes and dislikes?
As a person, I am focused on what I want to achieve. Though I am a serious person by nature, I can lighten the environment by cracking some PJs. I love walking and cooking. My sister calls me “The experimental chef!!” or a “Dosa Maestro” as during my free time; I like to make healthy versions of a dish.
I am a movie buff, and even during my MBA college, right after my exams, I used to go and watch a movie in the theater. I have a variety of twenty-thirty Rubik’s cubes, from a 2x2x2 to a 9x9x9 which I have learned to solve. Dislikes: I don’t drink tea or even coffee, for that matter.
8. During your role as a Health Care IT professional, are there incidents that have been etched strongly in your memory? If you can, share one good and one bad with us!
I believe every memory (good/bad) is an experience that will teach you something. Let’s start with the one when I received an email “colored in red” and “All Caps” from my manager. The reason being we had gotten an escalation from the client. I had missed updating my manager about the same, and he heard it through someone else.
The learning was that if there is an ongoing issue/client escalation, don’t hesitate to inform your senior/reporting manager; else, it will be like a surprise. A good memory was when my team and I won five new Healthcare Provider accounts in one year; before this point, we hadn’t been able to crack a deal for the past couple of years. The learning was sometimes we need patience and perseverance.
9. Your profile also says teaching is also a passion. How did this happen?
I pursued a Part-Time MBA, meaning I went to college every day from seven in the evening. The course was for three years; we even had weekend sessions, including Sundays. During the course, we were taught by various professors, and many were visiting faculties from the industry. One such professor was Mr. Rahul Mirchandani, who was/is the CXO of his own company; he was pursuing his Ph. D. then and taught us in the evening or on weekends. I don’t consider myself a great orator, but his style of teaching/speaking/interacting/engaging with the class inspired me, and above all, his ability to manage time.
So, once I completed my MBA and my weekends freed up, I decided to look for teaching opportunities. It took me some time to get that opportunity to teach, but once I did the chance, I realized it was not easy to explain any concept to someone. Over the years, I have worked towards improving myself as a teacher since I get the privilege of teaching technology to doctors and other folks from medical backgrounds.
10. A general question keeping in view your work towards society: How do you visualize yourself and India in the next five years?
I see myself continuing to contribute to society by teaching/guiding students and sharing more experiences/learnings through my writing/books. Also, India, especially from a digital health perspective, is at a cornerstone. With new rules and regulations coming into the picture, I definitely see a lot of digitization happening in the healthcare space, which can only benefit patients.
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