Speech of Chief Guest

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Fourth Annual Convocation 2015

Speech of Chief Guest

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IIM Rohtak
Fourth Annual Convocation 2015
Speech of Chief Guest

Dr. Janmejaya Kumar Sinha, Chairman – Asia Pacific, The Boston Consulting Group

Chairman of the Board, Mr Ravi Kant, Director of the Institute, Dr Ghosh, Members of the Board of Governors, ladies and gentlemen.

I have five degrees, but I have never managed to receive one in a convocation, so you guys are luckier than I am! Today, I want to begin by talking about a world that you grew up in. I guess most of you would have been 10 years old in the year 2000. The world that we came into, and the one that we are living in now are remarkably different. If you take a few statistics, it will show you just how different.

In 2000 the GDP of China was 1.2 trillion dollars, the GDP of India was 400 billion dollars, that of United States was 10.3 trillion dollars and of Germany was 2 trillion dollars; so, China was 60% of Germany and India was less than 25% of Germany. What do you think these numbers are in 2015? The GDP of China is 10.5 trillion dollars, growing nearly 10 times in 15 years while the GDP of Germany is 3.3 trillion dollars; so Germany is 30% of China, and India is now 2 trillion dollars. Just imagine what that means.  In 15 years China has grown nearly 10 times and India grown about 5 times. When you grow to be 40 years old, what do you think these numbers will be? Who knows? But, using the same rates of growth India will be a 10 trillion dollar economy and China will be a 100 trillion dollar economy. Even if China halves its growth rate it will still be 50 trillion dollar economy and you know India will be 10 to 20 trillion. Even US may be only 35 trillion dollars, but many of the rest of the OECD will not count.  At that time you will be in the prime of your career. So, you have been lucky to choose the right time to be born.  Even though you didn’t have anything to do with it!

When you were 10 years old, India had 4 billionaires, it had 19 companies with revenues of over a billion dollars. Today we have 190 companies with revenues of over a billion dollars and we have 90 billionaires. I wonder how many there will be in 2030?  I hope one or two of you will be billionaires. But this is a big time, this is an important time, and not only are you lucky, but luck alone will not be enough. There are a lot of expectations of you.  India needs you to lead. What do you need to do to prepare yourself to lead? How should you think? How should you be? Today, what I want to do is to share 5 lessons from my career, but before that, let me narrate an incident, in the overall context of making you ready.

When I was coming in, I saw the picture of the last convocation Chief Guest and he was a former colleague and an earlier boss of mine. Mr Arun Maira was here last year. Back in 2001, he told me a very important story which was a very big lesson and that is the first lesson I want to begin with, but as a story.

Don’t be a victim

I was a very young partner; I may not have been that young, but, still, a fresh partner and I was travelling with him from the Airport in Mumbai, to our office and he asked me how I was doing? I said, “You know, not very well, I am quite unhappy with the firm, I feel I get the worst staff, I don’t feel people help me in my work. I get the worst locations to go to, so I am actually quite unhappy.” After this conversation went on for 10 minutes, he said something, which was very powerful. He told me, “You know I have to disabuse you of one notion. You just aren’t important enough for people to get up in the morning and say, today we will fix Janmejaya. They don’t think about you, when they get up in the morning they think about themselves and of things they want to do and what will make them succeed or do better. So when you have these problems go and talk to people. Take control, don’t be a victim, decide what you want to do and you will find that people are not so unhelpful. They will help you and even if they don’t, you will know the reason why you were treated the way you were.” It was a very important lesson and it’s a lesson I offer you to embrace, ‘don’t be a victim’. Just promise yourself that you will not be a victim, you will take control of your life and your destiny.

I want now to tell you the five lessons that I learned.  I think they work pretty well in almost any job that you might do.

Be secure but hungry

The first lesson I offer you is to be secure, but hungry. Yes, secure, but hungry. What do I mean by that? I think insecurity is a very toxic emotion; it does make you do things in a wrong way. What you need is hunger, not insecurity, what you need is passion, what you need is the desire to do something meaningful, not because you are scared, but because you are passionate. If you do it well it will last, you will build the right types of relationships and people will remember you as a person, who was one who was passionate and hungry to do something. If you are insecure, you tend to do bad things sometimes. So fight insecurity, but cultivate hunger and passion; that’s my lesson number one.

Understand short term pressure but keep a long term perspective

Lesson number two, which, again will apply to almost any company you may join is to work under short term pressure but retain a long term perspective. Every month is important, every quarter is important, every year is important. Don’t crib about it, accept it. You know if you had a cricket team where a batsman said, “I will score every six months”, he wouldn’t be in that cricket team. You have to earn your spot and you do that by doing good every month, every quarter, every year. But, just focusing on the short term is never enough; you need to have a long term perspective, while you deal with the short term pressure. A long term perspective requires you to steal time away from the present, towards whatever you want to truly achieve.  Steal time for yourself. The one thing you will not have is time; you need to make time for yourself and think about your long term. Whichever job you may be in, find out what you are about? Where do you want to go? What you want to achieve? Not in terms of promotion but in terms of impact. I hear too many people saying, I want to be CEO. That is not a satisfactory answer. You must tell answer what will you do as CEO?  What will be the impact you will leave as CEO?  It’s important to be active in the short term to deal with the short term pressure, but steal some time and keep it for the long term; 10%, 15% – that’s a lot, but you must do it.

Be humble but self-confident

The third lesson I want to give you is one which I have found very useful and it comes actually I think from Gandhi himself. We need to be humble, but self-confident. These qualities are not at odds with each other. Humility is great, it encourages learning.  Most people like people who are humble. Do we really want our best friend to be the most arrogant person? You don’t. Self-confidence is important.  Self-confidence which comes from your knowledge, from your facts, from your work. Every time you need to combine humility with self-confidence; it will do you good, it will make you both hungry and learning.

Act like Doctors but think like Patients

The fourth thing that I will tell you is again something that I have found very important. Often we need to act like doctors, but we need to think like patients. What do I mean by that? If you go to a doctor after an accident and he says, “I have to amputate your arm,” how will you feel?  It’s your arm and you don’t feel good about it. When you work in companies, you will want to fix things and you want to do things to others. You must know how others feel. When you can develop true empathy, when you can sit in another person’s chair, it’s a lesson built and created for success. So, it’s important to act like doctors because if you don’t do, the body will die; but, you need to think like patients. This might change the way you do some of these things and that’s important. So learning true and real empathy, I think is very useful.

Be politically astute but not political

You need to be politically astute, but you don’t have to be political. Gandhi was politically astute, he got the British to leave India; but, he was not political. There is no honour in just being political. This makes one scheming and often trying to only focus on self-advancement.  People will be able to see and tell the difference and it’s very important to keep that distinction- you need to understand the machinations of others but you do not need to react in the same way. You need to get the impact but for a larger purpose which you support. Everything that you all said today, the oath that you took today, was meaningful, and when you are 40 and when India is really the core and centre of the world, if you adhere to some of these principles and values, you will be better prepared for it.

My five simple lessons, not complicated, not difficult, may ones that you weren’t taught in your Business School; but, I found it important for myself. When you go into your jobs with the energy and enthusiasm of your degree, every day you will wonder what is out there? What am I missing? Where is the better job?  But I will give you one advice, the grass is, typically, equally brown, the grass is not greener on the other side. So instead of just “seeking”, “find” and commit and make it big.

I want to end by telling you another story, a story that relates to my School when I was passing out. There was a Rector of my School, a gentleman called James W Cox- we used to call him Father Cox. I was doing literature with him and he used to teach me literature during extra class because I wasn’t allowed to take it. He called me just when the school was getting over and when we got our grades; he said, “You know when you leave [your school] and go out with your batch, there will be many people [who] will say they went to St. Michael’s, and, then, [when] you are going to St. Stephen’s, there will be many who will say they went to St. Stephen’s; but, for a few of you, St. Michael’s will say they were from St. Michael’s and, for a few of you, St. Stephen’s will say they were from St. Stephen’s. You got to choose, [whether] you want to be the first [type] or do you want to be the second.” [It’s] simple, but, powerful [statement].  Do you want [your] IIM to say they were from IIM Rohtak, or do you want to say I am from IIM Rohtak?

Be worthy of yourself, have a good life!

Thank you.