Many years ago I was part of a brand team in a media house. I was a good quizzer and was asked to author quizzes in the paper, says Giri Balasubramaniam.
Giri Balasubramaniam, better known by his pseudonym Pickbrain, is a noted quizmaster and co-founder of Greycaps, Asia’s largest onstage quizzing and knowledge services company. He is also the brain behind the Global Awareness Program (GAP), the knowledge enhancement programme for schoolchildren. The notable quizzes he hosts are Tata Crucible (India’s biggest business quiz), RBI Quiz, Thomas Cook’s Travel Quest, and TCS IT Wiz (the biggest inter-school IT quiz in India for students of classes 8-12, for which the rounds this year were based on emerging technologies like blockchain, IoT, data science and data analytics). “A quiz is a learning platform,” he says. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that a quiz can be used to assess your standing, your strengths and weaknesses amongst competitors. Excerpts:
Why is the relevance of a quiz?
Be it a corporate or an individual, we are all part of continuous learning. How do you enable that continuous learning is the question? Conferences, seminars are one way. And then there are initiatives such as quizzes and interactive sessions. By nature, Tata Crucible is a quiz that operates around what’s happening in the world. It helps develops your business quotient.
Should a quiz be used in the assessment of employees?
A corporate quiz has many aspects. One, it’s a learning platform; another is it can be used to assess your standing, your strengths and weaknesses amongst competitors. However, I believe it’s truly a learning platform. As far as assessment is concerned, a quiz is still better for assessing compared to the assessment processes we follow in India. More importantly, a quiz enables collective learning, which is probably one of the best ways to learn.
You must have asked thousands of questions over the years. How do you ensure no questions get repeated?
A lot of effort goes behind ensuring our questions are not repeated, and are relevant. When I started Tata Crucible, for instance, my research team was four people; today, it’s 44 people. Questions help you set a benchmark, differentiate a quiz. A quiz such as Tata Crucible is a trial not just for the participants, but for the quizmaster as well.
In addition, as a knowledge enthusiast, I believe that the core ingredient that brings people back to you is good content; great anchors will attract crowds initially, but if your questions are not engaging, people won’t come back to you.
Why are you called the Pickbrain?
Many years ago I was part of a brand team in a media house. I was a good quizzer and was asked to author quizzes in the paper. But since I was not part of the editorial department—editorial rules were very strict and bylines didn’t come easy—I wasn’t allowed to use my real name. Hence Pickbrain was born, and stayed.