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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

June - 2006 - issue > Leadership

Sammy's Situational Leadership Theory

Harish Revanna
Thursday, June 1, 2006
Harish Revanna
Alum of Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur), an erstwhile painter, and a nimble communicator, Soumitra (Sammy) Sana middlingly epitomizes his company’s motto: We’re scientists. We’re artists. Most of all, we are a global communications leader…
A Motorola egghead for the past 16 years, Sana relocated from Canada to India in 1997 to head Motorola’s Global Software Group as the Managing Director. “It was the heydays of technological advancements, things were all going boom,” he snaps his fingers to explain. Sana’s initial focus was to bring in a chummy atmosphere within the workplace. “Routine monotony was broken, a proportioned blend of structured and unstructured work styles was brought in,” he says.

Growth was quick, and complacency was setting in among the employees. “Add value to your work,” he emphasized (still does). “If you can do this for cheap, then there is someone else in the world who can do it cheaper.” For once, the employees realized that here is a man who not just has meetings in restaurants, but will make you work there as well.

In 2003 winds of change blew away some serious business at his parent company and the entire telecom industry—the tech bubble had burst, eventually there was a telecom meltdown. Sana, suddenly was in the midst of great technological, organizational and people change. While Motorola, Inc. was slashing large number of jobs in the U.S., mornings at its India center was glutted with employees’ truths, half-truths, lies and imaginative talks on company’s status. “Junior employees needed guidance, while the senior sensitive folks had suddenly lost their colleagues overseas,” he reminisces.

Ramping up the India center was perhaps the only inevitable thing for Motorola. However, for Sana it was challenges unlimited. “We had to handle the multiplying individuals, different teams, and umpteen technologies across India center,” he says. Intriguingly, there were times when Sana had little knowledge about what was happening at the other end. “We are 12000 miles away and to communicate any message takes a while. Also, initially, the parent company never realized the message was awaited on the other side of the globe,” he says. Balancing on a rope he was walking was hard, but Sana feels a leader should be disposed. “At the same time, one should know to extract information from your sources and pass it on succinctly, decoupling personal and professional issues,” he says.

Sana believes in the two Cs: Communication and Candor—the pivotal bridging-tools during uncertainties. “Getting them right would mean winning half the battle,” he says.

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