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May - 2006 - issue > Sage Speak
Make Excellence a Habit
si Team
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Thoughts of Aristotle had created a deep impact on D R Seetharaman, Director, IP & Design Services, Synopsys India. Firmly believing in what Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit,” Seetharaman says, “Excellence is the result of: caring more than others think is wise; risking more than others think is safe; dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.”

And he made this possible by continuously updating his knowledge base. “Normally, one needs time to grow and become a mature professional. In the current era, though there are plenty of job opportunities, one must not take decisions in a hurry.” Hasty decisions in terms of sudden career change would derail one’s focus from learning the intricacies of work and gaining experience. In the 24 years of his work life, Seetharaman made three switches, prior to settle at Synopsys India. Though he worked with various organizations, he remained largely in Design & Product development domain and maintained the consistency.

A growing professional also need to understand the concept of team work - while one is expected to excel in his or her task assignments as an individual in the team, he/she also need to contribute to the collective success of the team. An unhealthy competition within a team can adversely affect the overall output of the team. “There is a lot of difference between a soldier for himself and a battalion soldier,” says Seetharaman. Only when the whole team succeeds, the individual who has performed well would be able to get the best reward. In this age of meritocracy, where pay for performance is the norm in the industry, to reap the benefit, every employee needs to be mature enough to understand the importance of teamwork, inter-dependency and to excel in one's individual contributions.

No pain, No gain

Success never comes to anyone on a platter, one has to strive for it and that is what I learnt from my father, says Ram Pazhayannur, Associate Vice-President, Business Development, Persistent Systems. “I have seen him struggling in his career but he never gave up. He believes that if you are dedicated towards your work then one day success will knock at your doorstep,” says Pazhayannur proudly.

That was the mantra, which he never forgot, and the result is 11 successful years of a technical career. Believing in striving hard, having a high level of commitment, and keeping up consistent delivery, Pazhayannur stepped into the corporate world in 1995. Prior to joining Persistent Systems, he began the journey of his work life from Seagate Technology, Minneapolis where he was responsible for Seagate's strategic planning activities. Pazhayannur, an avid squash player and distance runner, always believed in setting the bar high. “The moment you set the bar high and start achieving it, that will create an aura around you and people will start emulating you,” says Pazhayannur.

However that depends upon what is your contribution towards the organization and the team. He feels, people learn while working, but in today's scenario the working environment should have a backup of constant training programs and other business principals. That was not the situation years ago, “We used to roll back our sleeves and do the grunt work. However the current generation believes in bypassing the basics. They should remember that there is no shortcut for success,” adds Pazhayannur.

Never crib about the sacrifices one has had to make in order to climb the professional ladder. Pazhayannur says, “It’s a part of growth and learning process. There is no point to fuss over things that one forgoes to evolve in professional life.”

Treat your job like how an artist treats his work, not like a mundane routine - you will then naturally get more creative ideas,” says Vinay Shenoy, Director of Philips Innovation Campus, Bangalore. If you criticize your own work then you can generate more passion towards your work and that is what Shenoy learnt in his 16 years of hardware life. He stepped into the corporate world through Texas Instruments (TI). Over a period of six years at TI, he developed and led teams developing Electronic Design Automation (EDA) Tools. However his curiosity to understand the differences in organizational culture between European and American multinationals made him to join Philips to startup the Philips Semiconductor VLSI operations in Bangalore.

Looking back at a decade at Philips Shenoy realizes that “it is useful early in the career to explore and experiment with different roles and technologies. However, one should make a choice by the fifth year and stay focused from then on.” In his opinion, anyone in the first three years of his or her career can only develop an awareness of their field and cannot have learnt it all.

To get a deep understanding and contribute significantly one needs much longer exposure in a role or with technology. That needs continuous learning about business and technology via informal networks. It is essential to keep abreast of trends, forces and competitive landscape in the business environment. The reason behind this is “Our industry is driven by innovation and will offer a premium for specialists and ‘Gurus’, not for the ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’,” quips Shenoy.
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