Q. What are the skill sets needed for such a role?
A. Scaling technology innovations into valuable, scalable business is a big challenge. Studies show that only 1 out of 400 technology innovations becomes a thriving business. It is a multi-dimensional challenge. Careful balancing of technology, business and financial aspects are essential. We also need to employ the wide spectrum of methods for helping and developing others—teaching, training, consulting, mentoring and coaching. We also need access to a wide range of highly talented and experienced people to help depending on the specific needs of the tech innovator.
Q. Is keeping up-to-date with the latest technologies and their applications—a challenge for you? If yes, how do you handle the same?
A. Of course, it is a challenge to keep up with the fast-changing technology space. Throughout my career over three decades, I have continuously learned as much and as fast as I can. Unless one is passionate and excited about the very process of learning, it will be hard to keep up the pace. It is a matter of natural talent to engage actively with the streams of knowledge, wherever they come from.
Q. What are the growth options (career) from here onwards?
A. Building a few deep technology companies with tech innovators will be the career growth option for me.
Q. For youngsters dreaming to fill in your shoes—what would be your advice to them? What aspects should they work on to reach here?
A. Commit to keep up with technology as it changes and discover ways to solve real customer problems—improving the lives of our fellow beings. Find mentors and coaches who can guide you towards your accomplishments. Learning alone may not be efficient and effective for you to realize your potential.
Q. What are the key mistakes that you made that you think you should have avoided in hindsight? Any learnings?
A. I should have prepared better for my entrepreneurship as a technologist. I should have listened better to my advisors. I should have realized the multi-dimensional complexity in building deep technology companies. I should have discovered my deep talents and developed them into world-class strengths, early in life.
Q. Any bad leaders (need not name them)? Any learnings from them?
A. The way I assess the Managers under whom I worked is to assess how much positive impact I could create, realizing my potential in their team. In that sense, I did have a few Managers with whom my impact was relatively low. As I progressed through my career, I started perceiving managers and leaders differently. Leaders can be seen at all levels, while manager is a position in the organization. Someone is a leader because we follow them. We “fall in line” with managers because they have authority. The best thing that can happen to you is to get a Manager who also leads and inspires you for engagement. As John Zenger, a world-class coach points out, “Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths.” Now, “bad leaders” are those who inspire you to engage them, but only to fulfil their ulterior goals. The most important insight I developed is the realization that it is near impossible to know them in advance. That is their strength.
Q. What is your leadership style in terms of managing your people? Any mantras that you have developed/follow to lead your team?
A. Every individual is gifted with great talents. As their leader, I strive to discover those talents and help them develop strengths and competencies. Let them blossom in their own ways and aligned with their own aspirations. Fine-tune myself to get the best possible impedance matching for maximum transfer. Build interdependent teams to win the games of our life. Keep respecting others. Try not to manage them or only as little as practically required.
Q. How do you balance time between work and personal life?
A. Pretty badly.
Q. If you were in college right now—what would you wanna be in the next 5 years?
A. Same thing—to be the best scientist/technologist that I can be! But, I will look for a few coaches like me to help me.
Q. What are the three things you’d like people to say at your retirement party?
A. He was genuine, authentic and caring.
Q. Which are your three favourite books or movies, and why?
A. Limit of three books is too restrictive for me. Here are my top-3 choices (and a bonus.)
- Stephen Covey, “7-habits of Highly Effective People” (I am still working on it)
- Frederick brooks, “Mythical Man-month: Essays on Software Engineering” (industry is still working on this.)
- Marcus Buckingham and Donald O Clifton, “Now, Discover Your Strengths” (I wish everyone worked on this.)
- Benjamin Graham, “The Intelligent Investor” (I wish I read this when I was in my twenties.)
Q. Which is the most exciting challenge (or accomplishment) of your professional journey? How did you tackle it? Any key lessons?
A. Most exciting challenge of my professional journey was aspiring and attempting to build a deep technology, Indian company. I put everything I had into realizing this vision but lost the game ultimately. The cause remained and continued to drive me to pursue it working with others. Learned several lessons that I spread now through my engagements. Key lesson I learned is that the business of deep technology has very little to do with technology itself.