Ever since the new batch of students (Gladiators – Class 2011) joined Great Lakes, the institute has hosted talks by many eminent leaders from the corporate World. One among them was this session by Mr. Pratik Kumar, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, WIPRO Limited on 13th May; he spoke on the uncertainty that prevails in the market; its repercussions; and ways to deal with it. Professor Sriram, Executive Director of the institute welcomed Mr. Pratik and briefed the student- community on his association with the institute, which has come a long way since its inception. This post has some excerpts from the lecture that had a lot to offer for future managers.
Mr. Pratik, who is also part of the business advisory council of Great Lakes heaped praises for the accomplishments achieved by the institute in such a short span of time. Starting the lecture, he recounted a perfect example that is still fresh in our minds – the recession, the world went through recently and how until then managers were alien to the “language of consolidation, constraints and conserving”. Most organizations reacted in a knee-jerk fashion since they were used to the growth story and hadn’t foreseen the mortgage tsunami that hit them hard.
There were a lot of lessons learnt from the period though. We know that humankind has the propensity to draw lessons only from hindsight. Mr. Pratik put it beautifully when he remarked, “Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment”. While valuing optimism, he said that it has to be married with realism. Managers, he felt, should understand that “not everything is in our hands”; he said that the market is a tread mill and managers have to foresee its change and run fast enough to stay in it.
Speaking on the future, he said that agility will be more important than accuracy in reducing risk and we need to find a way to balance the speed of response with the quality of response in a rapidly changing environment. Continually redesigning work systems to maximise flexibility, viewing the long term as a series of short terms and responding to the surge of social media will hold the key.
Even in times of uncertainty, every organization should make sure that the core values, (the non-negotiable values) they stand for remain undiluted. The centrality of customers and their needs should always remain the focal point. For this, a consistency of character is a pre-requisite. Mr. Pratik Kumar aptly concluded his lecture by leaving us with a question – “Would you like to be somebody who hankers after fleeting short term rewards or an institution builder in the long run?” That is something to think long and hard on!
The session came to an end with Mr. Pratik sharing his perspective on an array of topics ranging from the HR nomenclature to the growth prospects of IT industry while patiently responding to questions from the Gladiators. All of us had something to take back from the lecture and look forward to more such lectures in the days ahead!
– Sivaraman Natarajan