As a student, I used to wonder why the graduation speeches are called commencement speeches. After working very hard and earning the graduation, the feeling we had was that it’s finally over. So what’s this commencement all about? But the word is used at the right place since you are now going to be commencing your careers. While most of you will start your corporate life, some of you may choose to chart your own path and start as an entrepreneur. Today, you will be entering the corporate world or market that is slightly different than when I entered it around 17 years back. To some, this time-span may sound short. For some, it will sound like a generation gap.
And for those who think it’s a generation gap, I’m with you on that. The pace at which the world is changing around us, it is not difficult to understand that if we don’t keep pace with the change, we will be obsolete. Unfortunately, many of you will face a lot more challenges in the corporate world today than your earlier generation did. I intend to touch upon these aspects today. Today, we are living in an exponential world!
Many of you must have watched the videos on YouTube. For those who haven’t, let me give you a glimpse of it so that you will have an idea about the pace of life in which we live today: · Every second, as we speak, 5 iPhones are purchased worldwide. · 5000 YouTube videos are watched and 50,000 Facebook posts are made. · Similarly there are astonishing number of babies born in India and China per second!
Google published the statistics on number of searches. In 2007, it was at the rate of 2.7 Billion per month and in 2010, it had already crossed 31 Billion. Over 10 fold growth in merely 3 years! I wonder if people have so many questions, where those questions were directed before Google. So you may ask: what’s the significance of these numbers?
It’s all about how our world is changing and how the market is responding to it. How companies are reaching out and touching the lives of their customers. Let us see what time different things took to reach out to 50 Million people worldwide: · In sixties, it took 30 years for the Radio
· By late eighties, TV reached 50 million homes in 13 years · Nineties saw internet reaching 50 million users in just 4 years · And now, iPod took 3 and Facebook took just 2 years. What these stats show is a growing means of reaching out to as many users and as quickly as possible. This has significance in garnering attention and generating interest about your product in the society. This makes the products successful in a much bigger way and by traditional means of supply chain it wouldn’t have been possible for Facebook or twitter, You tube and Google+ to reach the lives of so many people. Or, it would have taken them many many more years to do so.
Today, Facebook has over 800 Million users worldwide and if it’s user community was to form a country, it would be the third largest country by population! Let us look at the significance of the changing world on education and business: According to the US secretary of education Richard Riley, in an interview in 2010 he said, Top 10 jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004.
Education is preparing the students today for the jobs that do not exist yet Jobs you land up with will use technologies that have not been invented On the business front, technology has significantly changed the way we do business. The Generation Y or Millennial Generation already makes up fourth of the global workforce today. Most of you Millennials are in many ways different than the previous generations. You are more confident, you are opportunity seekers, you are more socially active, Tech savvy, you are connected, yet wireless (at times, clueless as well) and most importantly, you are a Global Citizen. I would encourage you to have this image for yourself (of a Global citizen) in mind. Everything today is becoming more and more global. As a result of this change, middle management layer is thinning. More and more organizations have realized the merits of being “flat”. Thankfully, today, the technology has helped us to operate that way keeping a lean and mean management structure. This also means, you may not have well defined Roles and Responsibilities like we used to have earlier.
This also means, there is more freedom for you to perform! Make the most of this opportunity. When the organization is built with loose structure, it provides immense scope for true leaders and they do emerge from any corner of the organization and from all levels. In essence, what this means is that we need to be quickly adapting to this change. Coming back to our Exponential world, if we have to extrapolate this phenomenon of exponential growth, world would have been a different place between the time students begin their 3 or 4 year graduation course and by the time they graduate. Which means, almost half of the education is obsolete at the time of graduation!
Well, while you are graduating from a business school today, you are commencing your corporate career. But for most, do you know what problems you will be hired to solve? Today, the opportunities are far beyond what we once dreamt of. 25% of India’s population with highest IQ is greater than the population of United States. Which means India has more brighter people than US has people! But where are we today?
We rank no. 2 in population as well as rate of GDP growth in the world following China on both accounts. This makes us feel proud about our country! One can always conclude that we are lucky to be in the right place at the right time since our country is full of opportunities! The future looks nothing but great. But hold your breath! The dichotomy is, we are World #91 on unemployment rate!!! Aren’t these two facts diametrically opposite or contrasting? Why does this happen? Earlier this month, the 3rd Indian Management Conclave was held. The topic was: “Is MBA losing it’s sheen?” The panel involved leaders from the industry – from ICICI, Hero Honda, Deloitte, and so on. They all shared their experiences on how MBA grads lack necessary skills the industry is looking for. There are plenty of opportunities and job openings in the market. However, in a recently conducted survey, out of 500 odd recruiters interviewed, 61% said they face talent crunch!
Some 43% of them expressed that they find it hard to get the right talent in the 4-8 year experience bracket. Yet, our country has over 9% qualified jobless people!! To me, this looks like the issue of a lot of quantity and lack of quality. I have here with me my friend and mentor, Wing Commander (Retd.) Ramesh Jog. We along with two of our other friends have worked on this issue and did our own research talking to a lot of people in industry to look at possible causes of this gap. We also presented a paper at VIM last year and those who are interested can visit my blog and go through it. We would love to have your opinions on it. Many leaders we talked to and also panelists in this conclave also pointed to several possible reasons for this, such as, outdated syllabus, too generic course not meeting industry needs or expectations, not having industry specific curriculum, professors lacking the industry experience. Some cited that there is too much theory and lack of practice. The case studies discussed are at least a decade old and so on and so forth. These are some of the possible factors that attribute to this gap.
However, everyone agreed that industry-academia should work together more closely. This step alone will help resolve a lot of the issues. National Business Summit is certainly a step towards that and I applaud the efforts of Balaji institute for that. Let me give you a recent example. We all heard about successful landing of curiosity on Mars. Anyone would assume that the robot was designed by NASA. Actually, the SUV sized robot was designed by JPL. JPL is Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is part of the California Institute of Technology. This is an example of what Industry-Academia can achieve working together! We stand at a moment where business education has to regain society’s trust and build a confidence that we are educating leaders who have both – the competence and the character and will be working to ensure society’s growth and prosperity.
This is more relevant today since we live in a globalized world and the problems are not limited only to a few countries or public or private spheres. No single person or leader has a monopoly on Intellectual Capital and your actions as a business leader are not limited to just you. We have seen umpteen number of cases recently where the business leaders made a mistake of thinking only about themselves and Satyam and other scams happened. Consequences of the actions are always public! So what you should keep in mind as tomorrow’s leaders?
1. First of all, keep in mind that because you have done your MBA, you will not be straight away getting into a management position. Some may be lucky, but remember, the management position has to be earned – just like trust needs to be earned. 2. A leader must be able to lead at workplace. In order to be a successful leader, you must take efforts to understand your team well. You should drop “I” and use “we” in your behavior and operations. Every leader needs followers. Your followers may not necessarily be your reportees, to begin with, you may not have any! But you should (positively) influence others, take people along and build faith and trust. Lead yourself and also your team towards achievement of stated goals. Always remember the 4 “I”s: a. Inquire (always learn and acquire newer skills)
b. Inspire (self and others ),
c. Initiate (action to be ahead) and
d. Internalize all the three “I”s (so using three “I”s becomes a habit)
3. Develop a sense of purpose, passion and mission – also take efforts to explain why we are doing what we are doing. If you don’t know where you are leading us, why would I want to follow you? On the other hand, if you are genuine, with a genuine sense of purpose, you will find many followers.
4. Leading is not just about being in the commanding position or setting a purpose. It is a lot about being a role model. The most important aspect of all is the human connection. This is a must for motivation. Have empathy. Ability to build 360 degree relationships – with your colleagues – (bosses, peers and subordinates) and most importantly, with your customers goes a long way in achieving success.
What should be our goal?
According to the UN world rankings, we are world # 113 on Gender equality, 128 on Human development index, 135 on healthy life expectancy, 140 on water footprint, 91 on quality of infrastructure. Five of our cities rank in top 20 of world’s most polluted cities. We are world number 1 on road traffic deaths. Our Corruption Perception Index is 3.1 on the scale of 0 to 10. 0 being the most corrupt. We are very much aware of this monster and there is a movement which seems to be developing roots against it.
The corruption has even reached from politics to our judiciary systems, police department, defense and even education! Our country is being talked about having a great advantage of demographic dividend. But then what explains that less than 3% of our people pay income tax??? So this means the things are not hunky dory as the government would like us to believe. But it’s not a hopeless situation either!
Alexander Hamilton once said, “All that is necessary for the evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, those who stand for nothing and fall for anything”. As tomorrow’s leaders, you should look at all these challenges as opportunities and actively work on fixing these issues in every little way possible and use your leadership skills to influence and persuade those around us to contribute towards that. Only then, we will truly help build India into a superpower of tomorrow. Thank you!
Are today’s children leaders of tomorrow?I think yes children of today will be the leaders of tomorrow simply because the leaders of today will grow old and die someday, which means that the children of today will be given the responsibility to lead their people their people. Just like the English monarchy the reason why queen Elizabeth is queen is because king Edward who was before her died, the same thing will happen with her when she dies, prince William will become king after that and so on and so on. So again yes I believe that the children of today will be the leaders of tomorrow. But the real question should be are they going to be good leaders. Well with that question we need to look at a lot of things. First in my point of view I would say there is 50/50 chance of getting a good leader the reason being pressure of being different.
I have seen a lot of trends here and there and every single one of them the people I know have tried them at least once, no matter how stupid or pointless the trends were the reason for doing them was that “everyone else is doing it”. Also another point you need to look at is the courage of giving an opinion, by that I mean a different opinion from others. And lately there has been a controversial story going on about a man taking someone’s else’s jokes without giving the person credit which made him seem as he was stealing, the reason why this relates is a lot of people who were his fans when they found out they were angry at him nothing but mean comment where posted on that video, but then later the person posted a video explaining why he did what he did which was stealing, on this video nothing but supportive comments were posted and it seemed no one wanted to point out that he shouldn’t defend himself on something he did wrong the reason being that they were scared to be judged by the fans of that person even on the internet. That on itself shows that some people are not courageous enough to oppose the crowd.