My story with ZAIN – Part 1

I have such a story with this so-called company Zain that goes back to 2005 – when it was known at that time with “mtc Vodafone” before the latest re-branding in 2007 that made it called what it is called.

Zain in Arabic means “good”. But my experience with them is far from zain and close to mo-zain (unfortunate) than any other phrase that can describe such thing.

In 2005 while I was taking my Bachelor’s in Mobile Phone Technology & Computing, our University decided to send some of its best – but mainly specialized in such field – to take an internship in mtc Vodafone to complete their B.Sc requirements, and it happened that I was one of 3 along with two other girls to get training there. I was the only “technical” personal in the time the one of the girls were placed in the Accounting Department & the other one in the Human Resources.

In the induction session the presenter was astonished by my specialization and told me immediately “that I will be taken after I graduate at once” due to their need, but informed him that I had 2 years to go until then. In the NOC (Network Operation Center) in MSC-02 (Mobile Switching Center 2) I spent 2 months side by side with the technical team that was “monitoring” all mobile activities in the Kingdom of mtc Vodafone with over 9 42” Plasma screens showing all alerts & warnings of any outage in any location with many other monitoring tools on the workers screens & machines. I was there along with another girl taking a B.Sc in BIS (Business Information Technology) & another in statistics.

The head of the NOC turned out to know my cousin – who at that time was a Marketing Office, known by many of the staff there – and recognize me through that, although I did not disclose to anyone my relation to any employee in mtc Vodafone. There was another lady who was Egyptian and was responsible for us – the trainees – and our assessment although none was reported back to our University by a certain person from the University itself according to a schedule set by Zain themselves but not implemented as well.

That Egyptian lady was kind of strict with me, but she wasn’t bad at all, but she got a girl in our little group recognized more than the rest because her sister was an executive secretary for one of the directors there. I remember her getting shocked when I went to say hi to my cousin in the very last day of the training in the cafeteria – in which was a Wednesday and at that time Wednesdays were the last days of the week before they were changed to Thursdays – where there was a big breakfast and had me asked… “Where did you know her from?!?!??!!!”… “She’s my cousin” with exclamation marks all over everyone else!

I remember during my traineeship period there when I was asked for my contacts by that Egyptian lady and I started mentioning a 3 then a 9 I heard her saying in whisper “traitor…”. Of course she was kidding as she was referring to my Batelco number and she said to me in a clear phrase “Boy, if you want to stay here get yourself a number from us!” surely that was all acceptable as that time the fierce competition between mtc Vodafone and Batelco lead to bone-breaking stages where mtc Vodafone was able to get a 30% market share after 2 years of establishment in Bahrain! My cousin later on helped me get a nice number from them & I am still using it as my primary phone number till this very day.

Anyways, that was my joyful 2005 experience, but the nice things simply stop here.
After completing my Bachelor’s subjects & having my final project as the only requirement left for me to get my full B.Sc in Mobile Phone Technology & Computing I decided to work for Ahlia University for all the good things they did for me for all these years, but surly working in the Admission & Registration Office was NOT my proposed career path as I decided to stay for a few month for help & spending time till I get myself a proper job in my field. Few days later I received a phone call – right after the rebranding to “Zain” & moving the HQ from Kuwait to Bahrain – from a girl working there telling me that there is an urgent vacant for a “NOC Technician” that I am eligible to apply for & that I should attend the interview for such position next day at 12 pm.

Unfortunately, I have already booked tickets, made reservations and confirmed with my family days & days before that – and struggled with management personals to get such vacation that I needed badly as I started working right after the graduation ceremony day – but she insisted that I must attend tomorrow’s interview or I won’t get the job. I told her if you called me some days before that I would arrange it, but now it’s almost impossible! I hanged up the phone to get another call from my cousin who insisted that I should cancel my trip tomorrow & take the interview instead!

I explained to her how complex the situation is and that I need to cancel many other things and get embarrassed with the family averting such commitment. When she insisted more I told her that I will deliver such thing to my parents & have things discussed. Surly they had a negative response, therefore I went to the Airport next day boarding the plane at 10 am right before something happens to the airplane itself where we were asked to move to the transit hall and wait “until further comment”. When I turned on my mobile phone – with little charge left – she called & told me that I should cease such chance & come! That moment I was thinking in my head “am I this terribly wanted…!?!??!? I mean, why can’t they wait a little?! I’ll be back in less than 10 days!!!” Dad spoke to her this time & asked her to stop calling & call back after 9 days, so that what happened 9 more days, back to Bahrain & a phone call was made to me from Zain. “Mr. Qasim, tomorrow at 10 is fine for you?” This time it was surly fine, as I was able to prepare myself mentally & physically for the interview.

Interview’s day was nice, beautiful with birds singing over some trees outside the building, me wearing a nice suite with high spirits. I reached the room of the interview, and once I placed my “right” foot in the room the NOC manager (not the same dude I spoke of in the first part of my story, but another Palestinian guy I saw once or twice in 2005, forgot his name) simply stood up, pointed his finger on me, and said with a quit loud voice “THIS is the person who would rather take a vocation than attending the interview” and unleashing Armageddon on me from then on…

“What did they teach you in college? What is the Mobile System is made of??? Did they teach you IPv4 Protocol or the OSI Model? (in the time we were taught the OSI Model) What is the structure of the IPv4??? See! His capabilities are not adequate for us and he is not qualified to work in such position! You’ll have to do many reports & work shift-based hours some would be long until sunrise, you will be alone with the Security guard only outside the building… Son, do you know what position are you applying for?? (At that moment with all the confusion of the his altitude & the harness of the situation I was mixed up and said a different but somehow similar position) Look people! He doesn’t know what position he’s applying for!” In the silence of the IT Director – who seemed like a nice person – and the poor HR (different than the one who called me, my cousin’s friend who was the only one holding a colored copy of my CV with a nice framed drew with her pen on my picture – looking down most of the time in shame of what is happening, who asked me whether I am interested in a Business oriented (none technical) job in Zain in which I told her that I prefer an IT-related position rather than a business oriented one.

I got a hint that I will be rejected by what would-be my boss (The NOC manager), and after a week of shaking their hands in the interview right after short-answering my questions and thanking them for their “valuable time”, I received a rejection letter from her explaining the rejection with “finding someone better than me.” I didn’t tell my parents about the letter, but let things move smooth & have such experience forgotten. Somehow I felt that the NOC manager had someone else to get, maybe a relative or so to have him hired in Zain. But all-in-all, literally, it was the most humiliating, not interview but situation I ever got in the whole 22 years of my life back then! By then, I was not able to recall a worse situation not due to what was said by that person, but because I was not able to confront him with the type & way of questions he was asking due to the nature of “corporate interviews” and didn’t want to seem as the impolite person in the room, having my rejection decision justified. I thought that if my major and therefore my job type would necessitate me working with that guy & having him as my boss I would better NOT to work with Zain at all. I really lost all respect to that person since then due to what he made me go through.

Part 2 is to follow. Next, what happened to me when I decided to forget the past & start all over again!