Sumer Johal : An enigma

Sumer Johal is like a puzzle. If I didn’t know about his MIT background, and based my conclusions just on my observations on him at Xamplify, I would say he was a fraud.

From my limited viewpoint all I thought that he didn’t know statistics and numbers, and lied a lot to important customers.

Simple explanation.

But it does not explain his MIT experience, getting an undergraduate and graduate degree from one of the best schools. Moreover, Prof. Elwyn Berlekamp, a noted world-famous mathematics professor at University of California at Berkeley, awarded him a scholarship at MIT. Prof. Bob Oliver, professor at UC, Berkeley processed his scholarship process. He was awarded Class of 62 award. Oliver was head of Fair Isaac for decades. Fair Isaac was known for credit scoring. In short, these gentlemen, thought of Sumer Johal as some sort of ‘Ramanujan’, the Indian genius.

Moreover, he got the money for the company Xamplify in timely manner. I remember when Andrew Rudd, sat with him in a room for an hour or so, and after that Sumer Johal emerged with a $1 million check. Andrew Rudd was Bob Oliver’s student when he was doing PhD at Berkeley, that explains?

Much later, Partha Saha, PhD in physics from MIT, work colleague at Apollo, told me that I was wrong about Sumer Johal. He had checked with his contacts at MIT, and all were praises for Sumer.

In contrast I had spent 5 years with Nandan Nilekani, solving crosswords puzzles mostly, was impressed. And there was Narendra Karmarkar, in my batch, whom I worked with in a few assignments. And in Japan there was Dr. Shinya Fushimi of Tokyo University I have worked with. All of them were different from Sumer Johal. Sumer Johal was singular, reminded me of a pretender. Like a village idiot who memorized a few words and was anstalled as a village head.

What makes me so qualified to judge Sumer Johal? Because my mother told me so?

I have a sixth sense. Here I see it like this:

Sumer Johal got admission to MIT based on his story he had created for his background. Super brilliant kid, born to a poor Punjabi farmer family. Unfortunately, the hostile Indians made life miserable for him. Somehow he managed to escape to America, the land of the free. Bitter past memories create mental blocks for his mind and as a result he performs poorly on those tests like the GRE. He scored a 50%ile on the quantitative section, while in tear about his past. To forget his past he does uplisting Bhangra, Kae-Quon-Do to fight those evil spirits, and learnt to cook Tandoori chicken in ancient Punjabi spices. He wants to serve those chicken as offering to God.

His story was so moving that the entire admissions staff of MIT, who have read horror stories during admission process, had not read anything so moving in their lives, the admissions office was closed for a week, so that the staff could recover. Special merit scholarship awarded to poor geniuses was awarded. Berlekamp awarded him the scholarship. And so on.

This is my story and I am going to stand by it.

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