Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Leadership Needs No Title, It Needs Attitude, A Certain Attribute

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The saying ‘Work Hard, Party Harder’ is of special significance to those students who succeed in getting admission to prestigious institutes after years of hard work and sacrifices. They complete their education at top institutes in India and land a good job in a foreign country such as the USA and start enjoying the life of their dreams.

This story is about an individual who graduated from IIT Madras, went on to get his Master’s and PhD degrees from the North Carolina State University in the United States, and landed a job as researcher with two premium research institutions—The Los Alamos National Lab and The Oak Ridge National Labs. But instead of going out on weekends and enjoying life in the States, he spent his time in finding a Vedas’ teacher and learnt to recite the Vedas with all the proper intonations. The individual is today the CEO of Syrma Technology.

Hailing from a famous temple-town in Tamil Nadu and growing up mostly in the North and in Vizag (known as Visakhapatnam today), Sreeram Srinivasan decided to leave the United States and fly back to India in the early 1990s to be with his parents, just when his career was starting to take off in the dream land of the USA. Sreeram got a job with Sundaram Fasteners as senior manager, and everything that happened afterwards never made him want to go back to the States. This is Sreeram’s Story!

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There are few people who live on a shoestring budget but still manage to make the best of the choices. Sreeram is one such person. Born in a family of five siblings, he is the youngest of them all. Despite his father working for the Railways, the family lived on a tight budget. Sreeram’s father got his children the best of education available back then and at the same time saved enough to get his three daughters married.

Dr Sreeram Srinivasan, CEO, Syrma Technology
Dr Sreeram Srinivasan, CEO, Syrma Technology

“It was a shoestring budget that we lived on. I used to walk a few kilometres every day just to reach the bus stop for catching a rough ten-kilometre ride to the school in a crowded public bus and had to walk back the same distance in the evening every day and still catch up on the studies and homework. Sometimes, the afternoons got unpleasantly warm but going to school was one of the things that I looked forward to each day,” recalls Sreeram.

He was accompanied to the bus stand by a schoolmate who was three years senior to him, and his company was one of the reasons Sreeram wanted to study in an IIT from the start. The senior got admitted to IIT Kanpur and this ignited the desire in Sreeram also to make it to an IIT.

“He remains to be one of my best friends till date. If not for him, I would have never understood the true potential and power of getting into an IIT and the life that follows after it. He continuously kept motivating me during his visits back to town about IIT and how much fun it was,” says Sreeram.

Sreeram completed his schooling at Kendriya Vidyalayas. For those who do not know, Kendriya Vidyalayas are usually reserved for children whose parents are working in government jobs. He recalls that despite the frequent transfers his father had while working for the government, Kendriya Vidyalayas were the best thing that ever happened to him, because he got to interact and become friends with kids from all over the country.

“I was not at all a street smart kid growing up but studying in Kendriya Vidyalayas gave me an opportunity to interact with kids who belonged to different regions of the country,” recalls Sreeram.

A lot into studies, he explains summer vacations as the time that was mostly filled with heading to his native place in Tamil Nadu and wiling away time with his many cousins. It was almost a routine for his family to take him and other kids to their grandparents’ house during summer vacations. Spending time at the grandparents’ place has taught him how to find pleasure in a simple living.

“I would say I grew up quite a happy kid with elder siblings and grandparents to pamper me. If I look back, I feel quite blessed to have experienced happiness in my early life. The best part about my journey so far is that I am still in touch with a lot of friends from my childhood,” says Sreeram with a broad smile.

Into a lot of sports including cricket and football, Sreeram stopped playing as soon as he entered eleventh standard. He realised that making it to an IIT was his ticket to a larger arena and he knew the kind of tough work that goes into securing a seat there.

“I said to myself that I would trade one thing for the other. If I were to pursue my IIT dream, it was only through sacrificing sports that I was passionate about,” explains Sreeram.

But once Sreeram cleared the IIT entrance exam and made it to the institute, his love of sports returned—though it remained limited. He again found himself playing cricket, football, and hockey with new-found friends. As a matter of fact, Sreeram enrolled himself into the IIT hostel’s weight-lifting team and tried his hands at the sports for three years.

“I used to spend ten to twelve hours a week training with weights during my college. Weight training is one of the sports that I have enjoyed as it made me feel more confident of myself. But I had to give it up to pursue other dreams,” explains Sreeram.

New-found passion

Sreeram’s other favoured source of entertainment happens to be reading, right since his childhood. Though he enjoyed sports, as mentioned earlier, reading has remained close to his heart more than anything else. He still sometimes opens pages from classic cartoon series including the Asterix and TinTin. The latest habit that Sreeram has developed includes writing a lot. He came to know about his underlying talent for writing during the preparations for a school reunion get-together.

“It was the school reunion magazine that my friends were working on. I got a message asking if I would like to contribute anything for the same. That was the time when I wrote a poem,” recalls Sreeram.

Launching of book—Oh! So Magnifique—a collection of poems
Launching of book—Oh! So Magnifique—a collection of poems

Writing then became his new-found passion, a passion that has enabled him to write a book of poems on everyday life. This book contains around 53 pieces of poetry, all inspired by nature and everyday life.

“I had a book launch in 2012. Some of my old classmates came to that book launch and it was another event that reminded me how blessed I am to have such great people in my life,” explains Sreeram. Titled ‘Oh! So Magnifique’ the book is being sold on Amazon India.

“I have written on various subjects including education, beauty, womanhood, love, patriotism, environment, and a collection of naughty poems too!” Sreeram informs with some pride in his voice.

William Wordsworth has been one of the inspirations for Sreeram for the writing of poems. The poem titled ‘Daffodils’ is the one that is closest to his heart. Why? Because the theme of the poem is nature’s beauty with a mix of happiness and solitude. Wordsworth, in a pensive mood, often thinks of the daffodils swaying and dancing, portraying nature’s beauty, and feels happy and content.

Sreeram also happens to be a movie buff. His blogs somehow uncannily have references of movies and scenes that have inspired him. He was a blogger before he started writing poems. He says, he started blogging in the year 2007 and wrote about what was happening around him. One of his latest blogs (posted on LinkedIn) tries to define perfection, taking cue from the Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Matrix.’

In a meeting with former chief minister Ms. Jayalalitha
In a meeting with former chief minister Ms. Jayalalitha

“Many of us simply want to be perfect, or at least strive for perfection, only to grandly fail while several others, equally if not more perfectionist in their thinking and in their own personal lives, seem to move on, take things in stride and even progress in their life unaffected and unstressed,” Sreeram writes in that blog that ends with the lines inspired by The Matrix, “at what cost perfectionism when a lesser mind or a mind less bound by the parameters of perfection might perfectly do…”


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