Listening to Industry Leaders

It was great listening to industry leaders in this year’s NASSCOM India Leadership Forum. One of the sessions I enjoyed was listening to Vineet Nayar and R Gopalakrishnan. While the session was titled Cross Border Leadership, the discussion was not limited to that.

Vineet Nayar is Vice Chairman and Joint Managing Director of HCL Technologies Ltd., a $4.3 billion global information technology services company and author of the highly acclaimed management book “Employees First, Customers Second”. 

R Gopalakrishnan is an Executive Director with one of the largest Indian business groups – Tata Sons, a holding company to one of the largest Indian business groups The Tata Group.
The session was lively and racy. My notes from the session:
  • I learned that there is thing like Upmarket FDI. That’s when India invests in developed countries.
  • While companies are going global, nations are becoming more border conscious.
  • An interesting reflection about entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur have to deal with ambiguity. If they cannot, they would be bureaucrats.
  • We should not be too critical about India. All countries have challenges. Nothing unique about India.
  • In the context of effect of cultures in managing cross border organizations, one point of view was  that footballers don’t think of cultural differences while playing in a club game. Why should we worry about cultures when running a business? Focus on business goals and strategies to achieve them.
  • Indians are the only managers who think in English but act in Indian. We are very self aware and can adapt easily.
  • The younger generation doesn’t think about cultural differences much. This is the connected generation using social media.
  • Unions are becoming obsolete to protect rights of workers. Social media is a lot more powerful to protect the interests of the workforce. Reputations can be destroyed in seconds on social media.
  • Cash is plenty and human capital scarce. HR is going to be central to business. Finest leaders will be the ones who are people motivators.
  • Corporations should act out of their own will rather than being mandated, e.g. CSR mandate by govt.
  • Why do people work for you? Why do people go to temple or mosque on Sunday, spend money and feel happy. And yet they feel troubled coming to office on Monday and get paid for it. How can leaders build vision for something larger?
  • Make managements appraisal done by employees and make results public.
  • We are moving into an age of conscience in business.