Focus on getting in-depth knowledge to stay relevant, says BVR Mohan Reddy of NASSCOMM.
The affable smile on his face belies the innumerable responsibilities BVR Mohan Reddy has shouldered over the years. The former chairman of National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOMM) and founder, Cyient, still finds time to sneak in a good read every once in a while. “Right from my school days, I have been a voracious reader,” he says enthusiastically. Excerpts from an interview where he reminisces about college, elaborates on the importance of entrepreneurship, experience at NASSCOMM, and more.
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering, Kakinada, in 1971. Those days, it was a five-year engineering degree, and for ranking, the aggregate marks of the final three years were considered. I obtained the first rank after having scored a mere seven marks more than a dear friend. That was one of my most memorable moments in college, especially as, while in school, my mother had harboured doubts of whether I would ever pass my class VII math exam. From that point in life to being first-ranked, was indeed memorable. I learnt that everything is possible as long as we focus on our goals and strive hard to achieve them.
Rapport with favoured mentor
Prof. Giri Rao, who taught me structural engineering, was my favourite mentor. While he was undeniably an outstanding teacher, what primarily learnt from him was the importance of values in one’s life. In his first class, instead of teaching us basics on structures, he taught us values. His quote continues to echo in my mind today — “if you lose money, you can always get it back. If you lose your health, it is difficult to get it back, but you can still get it back. But, if you lose your values, you will never get them back. They are gone forever.” Ever since, Prof. Rao has had a profound impact on my life.
As NASSCOM chairman
When I took over as the chairman, I laid out objectives:
Empowering councils: In the last 25 years, NASSCOM membership has increased considerably and members came from diverse fields within the broad purview of IT. They include IT Services, BPM, ER and D, Product, GIC, and Internet/e-Commerce. In order to ensure that all the constituents of NASSCOM are addressed, we created sectorial councils and empowered them by election/nomination of chair and members.
Engaging members: In order to improve the satisfaction of membership, we commissioned Membership Satisfaction Survey and took several actions to provide greater value to NASSCOM membership.
Diversity and inclusiveness: NASSCOM membership has over 90% of members from small and medium enterprises (SME). For various reasons, SME membership has not been elected to the Executive Council of NASSCOM. As a first step during my chairmanship, we had two permanent invitees from SME to the executive council, and subsequently, I was instrumental in creating an SME council whose chair had a place in the executive council of NASSCOM.I wanted to see entrepreneurial culture within NASSCOM and ensure its growth to the next level. This could come only by empowering and engaging the members and making the association more inclusive.
Education to you is…
Knowledge — we live in a knowledge economy. Countries with knowledgeable citizens will be the most powerful countries in the future. Financial wealth or defence arsenal does not determine the strength of the nation. The ability of a nation to innovate and provide cutting-edge technological breakthroughs makes them powerful. Knowledge will bring empowerment in the society, thereby leading to entrepreneurial growth and job creation.
Today’s entrepreneurs have a tremendous advantage compared to entrepreneurs of yore. The ease of doing business has improved considerably, infrastructure has become robust and stable, and most importantly, knowledge/information to start businesses is easily available. Opportunities are aplenty. While existing companies may find disruptive technologies challenging, it provides numerous opportunities for new enterprises.
Innovation is key. Only through an innovative ecosystem can new ideas be generated. Future entrepreneurs have to develop a mindset to challenge status quo, take risks, work in teams, look for ideas, and be persuasive of selling the idea irrespective of challenges. We need to provide the ecosystem which is supportive to the entrepreneur to face these challenges.
We live in an age and times when multiple factors are amplifying technological disruptions. Focus on attaining in-depth knowledge in multiple disciplines to be relevant in changing times. The skills of the future will be different from the skills of today. Technology led by the Internet and smart devices provides the opportunity for today’s students to learn anywhere, anytime — learning has become a journey with no destination. Ensure you develop an entrepreneurial spirit in any activity you involve yourself in. This will help you own the task and become more responsible, which will lead to enhanced learning. Students who continuously learn and have an entrepreneurial approach towards their goals will emerge winners.