Success Story of Sminu Jindal, MD, Jindal Saw Ltd.

You might be excused if you gape at Sminu Jindal. She is quite used to it. Busy shuffling around in her wheelchair as she goes about her office work, it takes a while to realise that she is paralyzed waist downwards. She makes multitasking on a wheelchair look so simple. As the managing director of Jindal Saw, one of the flagship companies of USD 12 million of OP Jindal Group, Sminu has been instrumental in the diversification for pipe manufacturer to one with interest in infrastructure, transportation, logistics and fabrication.. .Sminu Jindal is the first lady entrant in the country to do her gender proud by breaking the glass ceiling in the steel, oil and gas sector in India. She is a woman of steely resolve. Sminu Jindal broke the stereotypical Marwari family mould and stormed the corporate boardroom that too in a wheelchair.

In spite of being confined to the wheelchair due to an accident at the age of 11, she has not allowed her spirit to be chained. On the contrary, it has added wheels to her determination to take life head on.

After completing her elementary schooling in Delhi, Sminu had joined the boarding at the prestigious Maharani Gayatri Devi School in Jaipur with a view to acquire holistic quality education. It was on one of those drives back home from Jaipur to Delhi that she met with a near fatal accident.

It was while she was returning to Delhi from her school, Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ School in Jaipur, that her car met with a terrible accident in which she lost movement of her lower body. “It took me a long time to realise what had happened to me, but my parents stood rock solid in helping me cope with the repercussions of the accident.

She was fortunate to survive but sustained a severe spinal cord injury and brain hemorrhage. The spinal injury left the lower half of her body paralysed. The next few years were very difficult and traumatic for her. She was just a young child of eleven in class six. As she woke up to the reality facing her, she shuddered at the thought that it would no longer remain the playful carefree life she had known. What hurt her most was the realization that she would no longer be able to dance. She was a talented Kathak dancer and a distinction holder at Bhartiya Kala Kendra at the age of nine.

Sminu does not flinch a bit while talking to me about this agonizing phase of her life and recalls with serene equanimity that it was indeed a period of complete personal mess. It was her family that became a deep source of emotional and psychological support for her in those moments. Her parents, especially her mother Arti, instilled the confidence in her that she would be able to go to a normal school and continue the day-to-day activities. They would encourage her to do the small routine things on her own without seeking anyone’s sympathy or support. She would carry her bag to school, go for tuitions outside home like her sisters did and later joined a regular co-ed college after studying in a convent. Thus she ‘was cared for but was not pampered’. This significant training at home toughened her mind and made her self-reliant so that she could face the life ahead with courage.

View her inspiring video by clicking this link.

They never treated me differently from my sisters. My two younger sisters were also very sweet. When we would fight, I would call out to them to come and get thrashed by me and they would come! So it was a very normal upbringing for me where I was never given any special consideration, be it organizing my cupboard or getting stuff from the kitchen. What is great is that once my parents accepted my condition, they educated themselves about it and found out the best possible treatments that would help me grow up the normal way.

They got me a machine that would make me stand up for a few hours everyday, so that I would be able to grow proportionately. I was at a growing age when the accident happened, and being confined to a wheelchair could have hampered the normal growth of my legs.”

And all this does not come out of quivering lips. Sminu is jovial and jests all along. She talks about her condition in the most matter-of-fact way. There is no hesitation or reluctance. She has no problem in accepting her condition, and neither has her husband, Indresh Batra, found it an issue.

They met at a friend’s party where the two got along over “nonsensical banter”. After which one thing led to another and they got married. They have two sons aged six and three. Incidentally, Sminu had a natural conception, after which she went to the US where experts tracked her pregnancy.

“We have a normal family life. Just like my parents, my husband too doesn’t give me any special treatment. We fight like every other husband and wife and indulge our children like other parents.”

Her message is simple: “What makes a person special is her work, her compassion and not her condition.”. It is easy to get impressed by her, since Sminu Jindal is an exceptional and exemplary woman of substance who does not shy away from challenges in all walks of life.

Her organisation ‘Svayam’ (an initiative of S J Charitable Trust) has been working closely with NDMC, ASI, DTC and the Education Ministry of Delhi to make public conveniences units, historical monuments like the Qutub Minar and Jalianwala Bagh, bus queue shelters and government schools accessible to all those with reduced mobility. Next on her agenda is to sensitize tourism in India – to help people with reduced mobility enjoy the splendour of our country.,english/

Leave a comment

100 yr old Fauja Singh becomes oldest in World to complete a marathon

A 100-year-old runner Fauja Singh became the first centenarian and, therefore, oldest person to complete a marathon when he finished the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Born in India in 1911, Mr Singh was a farmer in the Punjab but moved to Britain in the 1960s.

Singh, who is a British citizen, finished the race in a dashing time of 8 hours, 11 minutes and 5.9 seconds and became the world’s oldest marathon runner.

Fauja Singh’s translator and coach Harmander Singh said that Fauja Singh had targeted nine hours as his finish-time goal. He definitely exceeded that goal. No matter. The media was there to greet the man who, apparently, is “affectionately known as the Turbaned Tornado.”

The record-holder “hit the wall” at 22 miles but soldiered on for another two hours and finished in 3,850th place, ahead of five other competitors.

Mr Singh, who took up running 11 years ago after his wife and son died, trains every day by running 10 miles.

Harmandar Singh: ”Running has given him a new focus in life”. “He’s achieved his life-long wish “.

According to the race’s Web site, Singh took up running at the “ripe old age of 89.
He holds the world record for the over-90 category after running the 2003 Toronto marathon in five hours and 40 minutes. His latest feat earns him another spot in Guinness World Records.

Singh jogs or walks an average of eight to 10 miles per day. And he plans to keep running for what he considers a simple reason.

Visit the link given below to know secrets of his health.


“I will carry on running,” he told the marathon’s Web site, “as it is keeping me alive.”
He puts his stamina down to ginger curry, tea and “being happy”.

Mr Singh said: “The secret to a long and healthy life is to be stress-free. Be grateful for everything you have, stay away from people who are negative, stay smiling and keep running.”

As for Singh, he will participate in the torch relay for the 2012 Olympics in London. And he plans to keep running and trying to break records, all of which he does for charity.

Fauja singh has etched his name in history and redefined the words inspiration and endurance.

( 1 ) Comment

Success stories of School Dropouts – Part II

Michael Dell
Position: Founder/CEO, Dell
Market Cap: $30 billion

Most 19 year olds would spend a thousand dollars on a spring break weekend, or a put it toward buying a new car, but Michael Dell spent his $1,000 founding Dell .

The founder and CEO of Dell expanded his company with the idea that ‘technology is about enabling human potential.’ In 1992, he became the youngest chief executive to earn a ranking on Fortune magazine’s ‘Fortune 500′ list. His staff also grew from a one-man operation to 100,000 employees in just eight years.

Today, the company provides information-technology services for global corporations, governments, health care providers, small and medium businesses, education institutions, and home computing users.

Dell is not the only company this CEO has had a hand in creating. Dell founded MSD Capital in 1998 and a year later launched the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, a philanthropic organization for global issues.

Mark Zuckerberg

Position: Founder/CEO, Facebook
Company Value: $100 billion (Recent estimate)

Although Facebook isn’t publicly traded, we can’t leave this chief executive out of a successful college-dropout list-besides you are probably on his site everyday.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, showed an early interest in computers. As a child, he created early communication tools and games from his bedroom. In high school, he created an MP3 program and soon received offers from AOL and Microsoft , which he ignored.

After being accepted at Harvard University, Zuckerberg built a program called Facemash, which showed pictures of students and allowed their peers to vote on who was more attractive.

Eventually, word of Zuckerberg’s talent spread and fellow Harvard students Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss asked him to work on an idea for a social networking site called Harvard Connection. Zuckerberg decided to drop out of the project soon after and began work on a different social networking site, which he originally named

Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard before graduating to put all of his focus on the social networking site, which could be worth as much as $100 billion if Zuckerberg ever takes the company public.

Paul Allen
Position: Co-Founder, Microsoft
Market Cap: $226.2 billion

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, his childhood friend, is another chief executive who never got a college degree.

According to Allen’s memoir, ‘Idea Man,’ Allen was inspired to write a coding language when he saw the Altair 8800 computer on the cover of a Popular Electronics magazine. Allen knew Gates and he both had the skills to code a programming language for the Altair and after convincing his friend to collaborate, the pair ushered in a new technological era.

Today, Allen has a multibillion-dollar investment portfolio, which includes multiple technology and media companies, along with a major real estate redevelopment in Seattle.

Allen also owns the Seattle Seahawks football team, the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team, and is part of the primary ownership group for the soccer team Seattle Sounders Football Club. Allen has given away more than $1 billion toward his philanthropic efforts and has said he plans to leave the majority of his estate to charities.

Bill Gates
Position: Co-Founder/Chairman, Microsoft
Market Cap: $226.2 billion

College dropouts such as Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz are not the only successful business founders who attended, and then left, Harvard University. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft , enrolled at Harvard as a freshman in 1973. Gates, who lived down the hall from Microsoft’s current chief executive, Steve Ballmer, created BASIC, a programming language for the first microcomputer, during his first year of college.

Gates dropped out of Harvard in his junior year to concentrate all his efforts on a company he called Micro-soft with his childhood friend Paul Allen. As if founding Microsoft wasn’t enough, Gates went on to found Corbis , one of the world largest resources of visual information. He also earned a seat on the board of directors for Berkshire Hathaway , an investment company engaged in diverse business activity.

Steve Jobs
Position: Founder/CEO, Apple
Market Cap: $362.4 billion

As a young boy, this college dropout showed an early interest in computers. When he was 12, Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple , called Bill Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett Packard , after finding his number in the phonebook. When Hewlett answered, Jobs said, ‘Hi I’m Steve Jobs. I’m twelve years old and I’m a student in high school. I want to make a frequency counter. I was wondering if you had any spare parts I can have?’

Hewlett gave Jobs the spare parts and hired him that summer to work on the assembly line at his company. During this time, Jobs formed a friendship with Stephen Wozniak, a soon-to-be dropout from the University of California at Berkley.
Jobs enrolled at Reed College after high school, but he later dropped out. He connected once again with Wozniak and the pair quit their jobs to start production on a computer in Jobs’ garage.

There are different versions of how the pair came up with the name for Apple. The best-known story comes from Jobs summer spent working on an apple orchard and his love for the fruit. The bite in the side of the apple is said to be a play on the computer term ‘byte.’

In a biography, Jobs said he was worth more than $1 million when he was 23, $10 million when he was 24, and $100 million when he was 25. Apple went from a garage-based operation to a multi billion-dollar, worldwide corporation, and it all started with two college dropouts tinkering in a garage.

( 2 ) Comments

Inspirational quotes by Steve Jobs

Here are some key quotes from Steve Jobs, the legendary co-founder and former chief executive of Apple Inc, who died after a years-long battle with cancer.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do”

“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

“Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.”

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

“There’s nothing that makes my day more than getting an e-mail from some random person in the universe who just bought an iPad over in the UK and tells me the story about how it’s the coolest product they’ve ever brought home in their lives.

That’s what keeps me going. It’s what kept me five years ago, it’s what kept me going 10 years ago when the doors were almost closed. And it’s what will keep me going five years from now whatever happens.

Leave a comment

Indra Nooyi’s Management Mantras for Success

Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi, Chairman, PepsiCo is one of the world’s 100 most influential people. Here are some words of wisdom from a business woman whom Time magazine has described as a ‘world class leader.’ Read on.

• You give a team of people a set of objectives and goals and get them all to buy into it, and they can move mountains•Aim high and put your heart into it.

• What’s important is trying to be the best and working to get there. And that’s how you fulfill your potential.

• I’m putting my hand up and saying, ‘Able body, ready to work. I can scrub floors to address big issues.

• Work for the right person. Work for a company that wants you to succeed. Don’t play politics and just focus on the job at hand

•Take a stand. Be known for your courage and confidence.

• Success isn’t money, prestige or power because net worth can never define self-worth. True success is being happy with yourself, is being fulfilled. And that comes from devoting your time, your life, to doing what you love the most.

• At the end of the day if I stand back and have regrets, it is never going to work. You just look forward and get on with life.

• What you know is more important than who you know because that’s what gets you ‘who you know.’

• Don’t think of the difficult journey. Think, instead, of the wonderful destination.

• We are too attached to the known security of the past and too wary of the challenging promises of the future. This often leads to complacency or inertia.

• You’ve got to say, at every point in your life, if you were to drop dead, would your epitaph be something that you could be proud of? Is your legacy something that would linger long after you?

• If there is (a glass ceiling), remember it is made of glass and it can be easily broken. All you have to do is try.

• The best test is that I wake up every morning dying to come to work.

• My parents and my grandfather taught me that when you do a job, you got to do it better than everybody else. Simple. You cannot let anybody down.

• When you don’t have a safety net, when you don’t have money to buy clothes for interviews and you are going to a summer job in saris, all of a sudden life gives you a wakeup call and you realise that you have got to work extremely hard to make it happen for you.

• I grew up with a mother who said, ‘I’ll arrange a marriage for you at 18,’ but she also said that we could achieve anything we put our minds to and encouraged us to dream of becoming prime minister or president. She made me learn Indian classical music because that’s what good Indian girls did, but she also let me be in a rock band. ‘You’ve got to be a good Indian woman first,’ she said, ‘but go ahead and dream.’

• As a child in India, my mother would ask a simple but compelling question: ‘What would you do to change the world?’ Today, my answer would be that I want to lead a company that is a force for good in the world.

• We say someone is good company when we enjoy being with them. A good company creates that kind of enjoyment. In the process, it creates a strong sense of identity. People come together in pursuit of the same goals. A team is formed.

• Being a good business starts with being a good employer.

• Good candidates can pick and choose more between companies who make similar offers to them. The deciding factor is the kind of company that they want to work for. They are comfortable in societies with many cultures, they want to work flexibly. They are both more demanding and more in demand. They want success, but not at any price. They want to do some good in the world.

• To be successful in foreign countries, you got to walk a mile in the shoes of those people; while in Rome, do as the Romans do. You retain your Indianness, but you also have to adapt to what that country needs. If you remain too isolated, you will never be successful.

• The toughest thing about transformation is letting your best friends and people you worked with for years leave and go off on their own.

• To attract the best people, we have got to create an environment where people can actually balance life.

• In every change agenda, there is always going to be a percentage of people — like 10% or something — that are not going to agree to the new agenda. They are the casualties of the change. If they have to go, they have to go.

• A good company offers employees a career, not just a job. To describe it as a career shows that we have an enduring interest in someone. They are not here today, gone tomorrow and thanks for what we could take from you.

• You should never wait until somebody is ready to say goodbye to tell them how much you value them.

• Today’s is a war for talent. People don’t come into the company and stay for reasons other than compensation

• Ever since I have been in the work life, I have always used a simple rule: Whatever I did, I had to produce an output that was so much better than what somebody else did. So I would work extra hard at it. More hours, yes. More sacrifices and trade-offs, yes. This is the only journey I know. I don’t know what it is to have the cushy life and go home to watch the 6.00 news.

• Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader.

• I have a five Cs model for leadership: competence (damn good at getting results); confidence to have the courage to make the tough calls; communication skills, to convey your vision and direction; compass pointed north to your true values; compassion — empathy, not sympathy

• As a leader, I am tough on myself and I raise the standard for everybody; however, I am very caring because I want people to excel at what they are doing so that they can aspire to be me in the future.

• To be a CEO is a calling. You should not do it because it is a job. It is a calling and you have got to be involved in it with your head, heart and hands. Your heart has got to be in the job, you got to love what you do, it consumes you. And if you are not willing to get into the CEO job that way, there is no point getting into it.

‘Click to listen Indra Nooyi’s talk on ‘Follow Your Dreams’

One of the most important things for a leader is to identify their own core competency. In my case, my core competency is my ability to be able to demystify any complicated problem. I continuously strive to enhance that core competency.

• A leader must have the courage and confidence to stand up and defend his/ her ideas.

• Effective communication is the key to success. Clarity and conciseness are critical for effective communication. I urge you to read speeches of great leaders like Abraham Lincoln or John F Kennedy to see how they were able inspire people.

• Consistency is an important aspect of leadership since it helps build trust in those that follow you.

Be honest in appraisals. If people aren’t performing well, help them ‘cross the bridge’ and get where they need to go by examining why they aren’t performing. Raise the bar as the boss.

• Coaches or mentors are very important. They could be anyone — your husband, other family members or your boss. But you cannot pick them. They will pick you.

• Don’t expect to be on the same promotional track as someone who works five days a week if you work three days a week. In less than ideal situations tough it out, try to change it and then leave even if it means not working for some time.

• The minute you’ve developed a new business model, it’s extinct, because somebody is going to copy it.

Leave a comment

Success stories of School Dropouts – Part I

Ever wonder where the chief executives of some of the world’s most successful companies went to college? Well, don’t tell your kids, but some CEOs never graduated college-and some never even bothered to apply.

From computers to cruise lines, these 10 CEOs made it to the top without a college degree and defied the idea that to be successful you have to have a diploma.

Alfred Taubman
Position: Founder, Taubman Centers
Market Cap: $3.3 billion

Alfred Taubman, the founder and former chief executive of Taubman Centers , began his career in retail at age 11 at a Sims department store, where he continued to work through high school. After Taubman graduated, he attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for less than a year, when he was called to military service during World War II. After his service was complete, Taubman returned to the University of Michigan to study art and architecture. Soon after, he proposed to his college sweetheart and transferred to night school.

Instead of finishing college and receiving a degree, Taubman saw opportunity in the real estate business. According to his book, ‘Threshold Resistance,’ Taubman recognized the immense expansion of the middle class after the war and decided to cash in by starting Taubman Centers, a realty company. Over a period of about 50 years, Taubman continued to expand his company and took the company public in 1992. Today, the company’s CEO is Robert Taubman, Alfred oldest son and, yes, he did graduate college.

Richard Schultz
Position: Founder/Former CEO, Best Buy
Market Cap: $10.1 billion

Richard Schultz, the former CEO and founder of Best Buy , started working as a paperboy at age 11 and had a series of jobs throughout high school. He had planned to go to the University of St. Thomas, but military service in the Minnesota Air National Guard stopped him from fulfilling his college-bound dream.
After his service in the military, Schultz worked for his father selling electronic components. A few years later, he founded his own company, The Sound of Music , which sold audio components, sheet music, records, tapes, and instruments.
In the 1980s, Schultz realized that a small business was not going to survive in a widely evolving industry, so he changed the name of his company to Best Buy and expanded his product line. Schultz felt that consumers would be drawn to his stores if they could see the products they were buying on shelves, instead of keeping them in the back room. This technique helped create a new experience for shoppers.

Although Schultz relinquished his duties as CEO, he still serves as chairman of the board for Best Buy. Shultz may not have attended the College of St. Thomas, but he was awarded with an honorary doctorate of law degree.

Ralph Lauren
Position: CEO, Polo Ralph Lauren
Market Cap: $11.9 billion

Ralph Lauren, the chief executive of Polo Ralph Lauren , established his company in 1967 as a line of men’s ties and developed the company into a global fashion empire. Lauren’s successful clothing line came from his unique, classic style that went against conventional fashion of the time.

According to the Ralph Lauren website, Lauren said, ‘I never went to fashion school-I was a young guy who had some style. I never imagined Polo would become what it is. I just followed my instincts.’

With only a high school diploma in hand, Lauren followed his instincts. His decision to ditch college and focus on running his business lead to a series of breakthroughs in the fashion world, including the first shop-within-a-shop designer boutique for men in Bloomingdale’s department store in 1969. Lauren continued to build his empire, expanding it to include women and children’s fashion, fragrances, and home furnishings. Today, Polo Ralph Lauren is one of the most successful fashion companies in the world.

Richard Branson
Position: CEO, Virgin Group
Company Worth: $18 billion
Virgin Media Market Cap: $8.1 billion

Forget graduating from college, this chief executive didn’t even finish high school. Richard Branson, the current CEO of Virgin Group , dropped out of high school at age 16 to start Student Magazine . Four years later, Branson founded Virgin Group as a mail-order retailer. He opened his first record shop in London and two years later built Virgin’s first recording studio. In 1977, Branson signed his first big name group, the Sex Pistols, and continued to sign popular artists such as the Rolling Stones and Culture Club.

In 1984, Branson developed Virgin Atlantic and the brand began to grow. Today, Virgin Group provides mobile, broadband, TV, radio, finance, health, tourism, leisure, and travel services.

Micky Arison
Position: CEO, Carnival
Market Cap: $19.6 billion
Instead of spending four years in college, this chief executive spent time working his way up the chain of command at Carnival .

Micky Arison, the CEO of Carnival, started in the sales department and was promoted to reservations manager in 1974. He was later promoted to vice president of passenger traffic and just three years later he was named president of the company.

Arison helped acquire Holland America Line, Windstar Cruises and Westours, allowing Carnival to become one of the leading cruise lines in the industry.

In 1987, he was appointed chairman of the board and in 2003 he reached the highest position in the company as CEO. Arison showed that it’s possible to work your way from an entry-level position to CEO without a college degree.

Leave a comment

Lesssons to Learn from Steve Jobs

One company and one man had transcended all possible economic, geographic and demographic boundaries and become relevant to the entire world! The entire world, but almost! That’s huge, by any standards. And what a journey it has been… Travelling this disruptive road, Steve has also taught us many valuable lessons . While I’m sure experts will have a long list of those, I personally find three learnings most relevant to all business leaders.

The first of which being the courage to take the “leap” – Sometime back I read this interview of John Sculley, ex-CEO of Apple, who provided some great insights on Jobs.

Steve, he says, did not believe in consumer research. The reason is simple; he was going to create a product so new and innovative that the consumers would have no reference to react in foresight. “How can I possibly ask somebody what a graphics-based computer ought to be when they have no idea what a graphic based computer is? No one has ever seen one before.” He once said.

Jobs believed that showing someone a calculator, for example, would not give them any indication as to where the computer was going to go because it was just too big a leap. The rules of the game were made very simple with that one maverick thought, the winners of tomorrow would be the products who take us on a big leap, the one never seen, never heard before! I am also tempted to ponder here briefly on the biggest question that is on everyone’s lips today – would this obsession with breakthrough innovation continue to be Apple’s calling? I seriously hope so. After all, we need many more of the ‘never befores’.

Coming back to the learnings, the second lesson has been the need to focus on powerful ideas. As he once famously said, “You have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best idea must win, not the ‘best person’ with the most power or seniority”. No wonder Apple was able to churn out one powerful product after another. Structures aligned to collaboration, innovation and human intellect is also a concept very close to my heart and I’m sure somewhere Mr Jobs has been an indirect influence on this thought process.

The third lesson, however is the one most people tend to miss. We must never forget that Jobs introduced us to the merit of ‘experience’. One almost forgets that Jobs built a phenomenally successful chain of retail stores, which became a benchmark for consumer experience. All of us who have bought Apple products will remember forever the experience of amazement we felt the first time we walked into an Apple store or simply the experience of the very user-friendly Apple devices.

Vineet Nayar – The author is Vice chairman & CEO, HCL Technologies and wrote this piece for ET while on a flight from London to Munich).

Leave a comment

Leadership lessons from Infosys Narayana Murthy

NR Narayana Murthy, who steps down as Infosys chairman on August 20, is a role model for not just what he achieved but also how he did it. Here are 30 lessons from Murthy, one for each year he spent at company.

1-Seize Your Gandhi Moment

Murthy, a self proclaimed socialist in the mid ’70s was jailed for 72 hours in Bulgaria. The experience taught him that entrepreneurship and job creation is the way to alleviate poverty.

2-You might fail, but get started. Learn from mistakes and move on.

In 1976, Murthy founded Softronics, a company that lasted a year and a half. When he realised that his first venture wasn’t taking off, he moved on.

3-Think Big. Don’t Hesitate to Start Small

In 1981, a determined Murthy started Infosys with Rs 10,000 he borrowed from his wife. In few years, Infosys went on to become one of the largest wealth creators in the country.

4-Cut Yourself a Slice, Not a Large One Always

When Infosys was set up, Murthy took a pay cut while salaries of other co-founder’s were increased by 10 percent. According to Murthy, a leader needs to show his or her sacrifice and commitment

.5-Lend a Hand and Throw in a Foot Too.

After Murthy convinced seven of his colleagues, there was a problem. Nandan’s future inlaws were not sure about him. Murthy met Nandan’s uncle and convinced him.

6-Own Up, and Then Clean Up

In the ’80s Infosys developed an application for a German client. Murthy noticed a single character error and informed the client immediately.

7-Trust in God, But Verify with Data

In God we trust, the rest must come with data, is perhaps Murthy’s favourite statement. When confronted with difficult decisions, he tends to rely on data.

8-Keep the Faith

Infosys almost wound up in 1990. Murthy did not want to sell the company. He asked co-founders if they wanted out and offered to buy their shares. All of them stuck together.

9-Get Involved

Infosys won a contract from Reebok in the early ’90s. Seeing the founders involvement, the software, was nick named ‘Dinesh, Murthy and Prahlad.’ Infy veterans still recall those days.

10-Sharing is Caring

After the IPO, Infosys decided to share a portion of its equity with employees. This helped them retain talent and gave employees a sense of ownership. Murthy is proud of having given away stocks worth over Rs 50,000 crore to employees.

11-Treat your People Good, but Your Best Better

Murthy always had a thing for good performers. And he rewarded them well. When Infosys decided to give its employees stock options, Murthy insisted that some shares be given to good performers through the ‘Chairman’s quota.’

12-Hire a Good Accountant, Even if he is Argumentative

A young, argumentative Indian, was asking too many questions at an annual general body meeting of Infosys. More impressed than irritated, he hired Mohandas Pai, who went on to help Infosys list on Nasdaq.

13-When in Doubt, Disclose

Keep your books clean and leave the cooking to the chef. Murthy’s philosophy about being open and transparent has given the company a lot of credibility. He often says, “When in doubt, please disclose.”

14-Leave the Family Out

Murthy told his wife that only one of them could be with the company. Murthy, along with other founders, said that none of their children would work for Infosys. This left no room for nepotism at Infosys.

15-Don’t be a Push over

In 1994, when General Electric wanted to re-negotiate rates, Murthy said no to selling services any cheaper. This helped Infosys not to be overly dependent on any one client.

16-Make hay While the Sun Shines

In late 90′s, India’s tech companies made use of the Y2K opportunity to make themselves known in the global market. For Infosys, it was a great opportunity to enter into long-term relationships with their customers.

17-Brand-aid First, Get Clinical

When the sexual harassment case against Infosys’ top sales guy Phaneesh Murthy threatened to tarnish the company’s brand, Murthy decided to quickly react. He let go of Phaneesh, and settled the case out of court despite Phaneesh wanting to fight it out.

18-Mind your Business, you’ll See Things Coming

Murthy carries and updates a mental model of Infosys’ business all the time. According to him, every leader must have a model, consisting of six to seven parameters that might affect business.

19-Keep it Simple, Not Silly

Keep your life simple and straight. That way, you get to work more and worry less. Murthy is known to be frugal with money. Despite being one of the richest Indians, he leads a simple life. However, he does not cut corners on buying books or brushing up on literature.

20-Founders Keepers, but Not Forever

Murthy’s decision to not allow founders to continue with the company after the age of 65 set another standard for the company. This way, younger leaders at Infosys had a greater chance at the top positions.

21-Talent Spotting and Division of Labour

Murthy is known to have an eye for talent and a talent for dividing labour. Nandan was given sales responsibilities while Kris and Shibu did the tech stuff. N S Raghavan was asked to handle people and Dinesh was assigned quality.

22-Hold on to Your People but don’t Cling

Letting go is never easy but its not good to cling on to your colleagues either. Amongst the founders, Ashok Arora, Nandan Nilekani and K Dinesh have quit Infosys. Infy veteran Mohandas Pai has also left Infosys.

23-Give, it only gets you more

In 2010, the Murthy’s donated $ 5.2 million USD to Harvard University Press for a project that aims to make India’s classical heritage available for generations to come. He is also supporter of the Akshaya Patra Foundation.

24-Do it First and Do it Right

Infosys did many things first. And most things right. For example, it was the first Indian company to list on Nasdaq. It was the first Indian company to make it to the Nasdaq 100 list and it was the first Indian company to attain the highest level of quality certification.

25-Perils of Being a Poster Child

Being the poster child of Indian IT industry, Infosys and Murthy have been at the receiving end of many criticisms. The company has been accused of taking away American jobs and been called a “chop shop.”

26-Get Rich. Honestly

Rich businesses were considered to be dirty in the days when the country had a socialist bent. Infy was a company which got rid of this sentiment. Murthy, with his ‘no compromise’ policy on greasing palms and doing ethical business, set the standards.

27-Do Not be Afraid to Court Controversy

Ever since Infosys became a success, Murthy was under constant public glare. This did not deter the straight talking Murthy from courting controversy or voicing his opinions openly.

28-Invest in Learning

With big investments in training, development and building facilities, India’s IT bell-weather has always been keen on grooming the younger generation. Murthy drove the culture of learning in the company in its early days.

29-Never Lose the Common Touch

The big man of Indian IT kept his personal life simple. He lives in a simple, middle class house and flies economy till date. Murthy has always been accessible to people around him.

30-Do Good, Look Good

Murthy knew the importance of creating an image for Infosys. He invested in creating a sprawling, world class campuses early on, bigger than any other company’s headquarters in the country, that would make his global customers feel like they were in a global office.

Leave a comment

Suresh Reddy becomes First Visually impaired student to join IIM

A 26-year-old 100 per cent visually impaired student from Kolkata has battled all odds to make it to the prestigious management school – IIM.

The IIM dream, chased by many but realised by few. 26-year-old Suresh Reddy from IIM Calcutta belongs to the select club. He was 13 years old when he lost his vision. His parents asked him to quit studies, but Reddy fought on. Armed with new technology and helped by friends, he cracked the IIM entrance – the first person with 100 per cent visual impairment to get admission into the elite management school.

“My credibility of carrying an IIM tag should compensate. If I say I am from x school people just walk off. If I am from IIM, people will pay at least one second attention. It is that one second that I am looking for,” said Suresh Reddy.

In an intensely competitive world, Suresh spends his every waking hour on studies just to be at par. For many at IIM, he is an inspiration.

“Lots of people have told me that they find Suresh’s story very inspiring and I agree, we thought we were the smart ones getting through IIM but look at this guy, he has achieved something,” said Sri Vatsavan.

But it’s not just the students of IIM Calcutta who see Suresh both as an inspiration, the institute too thinks he is both a challenge as well as an opportunity.

From scanners to e-books to giving extra attention, the institute too is finding ways to help Reddy.

“He has been also exemplary in his efforts to study and learn things,” said Professor Prashant Mishra, Chairman, Post Gradutate Programme.

But above all,it’s hope and self-belief that drives Reddy.

“I have no other choice but to be optimistic and at least to follow if not to lead,” he said.

Leave a comment

Chandrasekar, 17, is youngest to ace MTech from IIT

Two years ago, at 15, S Chandrasekar was the youngest engineering graduate in the country. On July 25, he will be the youngest postgraduate from IIT Madras when he receives his degree at the convocation. The teenager has also topped his class.

Born on September 25, 1990, Chandrasekar was a precocious child, according to his parents. “His teachers used to complain that he would finish his work quickly and disturb other children, so we asked them to give him some books to read after he finishes work so he doesn’t trouble the other children,” says Chandrasekar’s father R Subramanian, an auditor.

A family friend, who noticed that the boy was inquisitive and picking up things very quickly, thought it would be interesting to put him in an international certificate programme.That is how Chandrasekar became the youngest Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Cisco Certified Network Associate at 11 years.

Chandrasekar was appointed an honorary director of the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council – Center of Relevance and Excellence in network engineering in August 2002.

In 2002, an Anna University committee, headed by the then vice-chancellor Dr Balaguruswamy, assessed the boy’s capabilities and decided to admit him into the BE programme, which he cleared when he was 15.

He then took the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering and scored 99.32 percentile, which left no room for academics at IIT-M to have second thoughts about admitting him into the MTech course.

“The best thing about him is his consistent performance. When he is interested in something, he pursues it with great commitment and purpose,” says Subramanian.

“BE was academically not very hard. In the first semester the environment was new, so I had a little difficulty both academically and psychologically. But Dr Thangaraj, now vice-chancellor of Kalasalingam University, gave me a nice home-like atmosphere, and after the first four or five months there was never a problem,” says Sekar, as his close acquaintances call him.

Prof Pandurangan of IIT, under whose guidance Sekar works, says, “It’s a pleasure to teach and do research with him. He has showed mastery and mathematical maturity ahead of his age.”

Sekar attributes his success to Bell’s Matriculation School in Tirunelveli, which never put any academic pressure on him and allowed him to grow in his own time, Covansys, Dr Thangaraj of Kalasalingam University, Anna University, which bent rules to accommodate his genius, and TCS for extending its resources for his development.

“I want to continue as a researcher in TCS RMD in Chennai for some more time. I would also like to get a management degree at some point in my career so I won’t just have theoretical knowledge. Best of both worlds, you know,” Chandrasekar says.

( 1 ) Comment