Every year at Symbiosis Institute of International Business, they organize an event for fellow students to interact with leaders of various industries – SIIB Leadership Series. Under this fancy name is a day of series of lectures, panel discussions and Q-A sessions with 6 to 8 such leaders and students eagerly wait for this day of the year.
Leadership Series 2010 was a little different from previous years’ in terms of theme for discussion, big names associated and the way it was conducted. Before the official dates for the event could be announced, people on twitter, facebook and linkedin were talking about it. Since, it is a unique event in its form, the name itself has been enough to create a buzz before the event, every year. This year, social networking played a role in getting the auditorium packed with students sitting on the floor and media too covered the event.
The speakers were:
Mr Sachin Pilot – Minister of state, Communications and IT.
Mr Rajiv Bajaj – MD, Bajaj Auto.
Ms Anu Aga- Director, Thermax.
Ms Meher Pudumjee – Chairperson, Thermax.
Dr Parag Sancheti – Chairman, Sancheti Hospital.
and the rest were usuals.
With the combination of speakers adding glamor to the event, it was the theme of “Taking over the mantle”, which was as attractive for audience as it was for the great speakers. Each speaker had a story to tell, close to their heart and winning the ovarian lottery (lol, as said by Mr Sachin Pilot) by getting born in a family where they got everything without struggling.
Mr Sachin Pilot was very diplomatic and made each point in a go-around way, making it very interesting for all (Because of media reporters around). He being a young leader of the country, was bombarded with loads of questions. Some of his words…
“In Indian Parliament, 2/3rd of MPs do not get re-elected the second time. Perhaps the Indian electorate is impatient. If one does not show results, one will not be re-elected.”
“A call for Bengal package, a Maharashtra package, a Bihar package…what about an India package ? The country expects a lot from this generation.”
“A lot of young MPs with no famous surname are also doing well, but don’t get mentioned enough. The bar is perhaps higher for successors with famous surnames.”
“Nothing pleases one who wants the successor to do even better than the past incumbent. The second generation have to prove beyond doubt that one can grow. The competitive environment changes, one has to strive. In the political side, if one does not deliver, one will be eased out. Not every son and daughter is capable of taking on the mantle, I respect the people who bulldoze their way and do something different.It takes a lot of guts to acknowledge what one has and what one has not. Focus on one’s strengths.”
“The “license” for being a MP has to be renewed every 5 years. Therefore, the mantle once overtaken does ensure permanent relief”.
Ms Anu Aga and Ms Meher Pudumjee took the stage together and were so chrizmatic and charming that it was difficult to take eyes off them. They spoke the elegant way and leadership was seen in each word they uttered. Some of their words…
“My husband is on the board and I am the chairperson; as a woman there is a delicate balance which needs to be maintained.”
“After my brother’s demise, the TOI headlines said:”Thermax loses its future CEO”. Men are seen as the next in line, and women take over if they default. Me and my brother were treated equally. We had shares in the company, but we were told by my parents that we did not have necessarily manage the company,we were to bring in the best.”
“Women, are treated sometimes equal and sometimes unequal to men – and so happens with men. The corporate ladder is a pyramid, therefore fewer people get promoted as you go up – Do not blame it on men by saying “they didn’t promoted me because I am a woman”"
Mr Parag Sancheti MD, Sancheti hospital is a doctor and was talking to management grads for the first time. Taking over the mantle wasn’t just taking over for him, it involved a lot of fights, quarrels and disagreements on various stages of business with his father. (This happens every where, damn, no exceptions!). Some of his words…
“Heard during my MS comments like ‘Your dad does this operation in 14 minutes and you take 44 minutes.. i was compared with my father which was very irritating’.
“I changed the floor in which my office was(initially my office was beside my father’s).People used to visit me, and then my father to see if I was right.”
“We used to have arguments, but they were in closed rooms. Usually they were about which departments need to be started. Results started showing up, and my father and people started accepting me more. My books and research was getting published, patients were showing results in shorter spans of time…”
“I now feel more responsible now. Ultimately being second generation, I had everything on platter. But without hard work, one will not succeed. Being rich orpoor is not counted by what you have but what you are. No shortcut other than hard work.”
Mr Rajiv Bajaj was just amazing, he was the man of the show! I personally loved him for he was in news everywhere from last few weeks about his fights with his father over new business strategies and he did not shy away from answering questions relating to same. During his speech he mentioned nothing about his overtaking the mantle from the father, rather he talked about the business and how he made his company survive in turbulent waters. When he was asked by the panel moderator to through some light on taking over the mantle (which was a sensitive issue for him) he said, “why are we emphasizing too much on ‘taking over’, when I believe ‘the mantle’ is more important. One has to take care of the mantle no matter how one takes over” and hence gave a new direction to rest of the discussion.
He said, he worked for TATA motors for a year and learned what should NOT be done. Later when he joined Bajaj, he saw it was no different. It was full of inefficiencies and mistakes. After Bajaj Chetak (Superhit in India) when people stopped buying scooters and the two wheelers culture changed, they stopped making money. And no one was ready to buy a bikes (Discover, Pulsar etc) from Bajaj. Every one loved the bikes, however they were not ready to pay 50,000 Rs for a bike made by Bajaj which was famous for making cheap scooters.This was a challenge, as in the year the bikes were launched, not a unit was sold.
He disassociated Pulsar with Bajaj and the communication from various mediums did not have the “Hamara Bajaj” image. It took years to reach the position where Pulsar is now a brand on its own. Brand image, as against books, he said could not be chage in limited time. Its like a whole in the ground, you can expand it, but cannot shift its position. Today, Pulsar 220 CC is sold for over a lakh with Bajaj image changing over years and its not yet the time when bajaj will enter into niche market of bikes.
He also plans to stay in Bike segment and not shift to small or big cars coz he wants to maintain Bajaj’s competitive advantage. “When in General Motors,the “general” becomes larger than the “motors”, it is of no use”. Bajaj would not become general.
There is nothing special in different models of bikes you purchase of different companies. No bike in last several years came with great shift in technology. We all make the same bikes, with no major difference. It sells on perception and perceived difference! and some more marketing fundas followed…
When asked how he took over..
Rajiv Bajaj: I have a good and a bad news for you.
Father: Tell me the good news first, as you always come with a bad news!
Rajiv Bajaj: I will rescue the company and will not let it go down.
Father: Whats the bad news?
Rajiv Bajaj: I will rescue it from you!