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Men of Honor
Bjorn Krylander
Tuesday, February 1, 2005
In the early 90s, ‘The Economist’ (Article titled: The Caged Tiger), fretted that India’s enormous potential was being strangled by protected economy. The economy was protected so much that the Government knew for one that if it were to open up then the entry of foreign companies would kill the domestic industry.

Why did the Government think so? It knew Indian companies lacked global competitiveness, ambition and managerial qualities that would prevent it from the onslaught of foreign companies who had money, think tanks (management) and edge to succeed in India.

If one lives in the industrialized world and knows how business is done globally, they would have surely come across and heard about a few Indian companies that have stood up to their global competitors. A great achievement for a nation that opened up its economy, a decade and half ago, to pave way for global companies to explore the untapped Indian market. While the government restricted its interference, to facilitate smooth transition of a protected economy to an open economy, it knew that the stronger ones would survive and weaker ones will fade into oblivion.

Since then a lot has changed. We have seen a great many Indian companies rising to the occasion and making a mark in the world of business and economy. How did Indian companies, particularly those in the technology arena, do a turnaround to be heard and spoken about with awe?

Well, it was the technological innovation and management maturity that helped Indian companies walk abreast with their foreign counterparts.

Lets not speak about technological innovation as everyone knows about India’s technical prowess. But it is really worthwhile to speak about the management maturity that has helped Indian companies negotiate with clients and produce products for the world market.

Residing in India for three years now, and setting up our offshore center in Bangalore, I would say the Indian management is still beset with the traditional thinking that does not permit them to think ahead or even take risks when compared to British management that has a modern worldview and futuristic thinking.

British companies have good and experienced management who are open to new ideas of building companies, which was earlier unexplored and demanded risk taking. They also do not hesitate if they fail or withdraw from failure. They attempt till they succeed. The management in UK has learnt very clearly as to what it takes to create a successful company as they climb the ladder of success.

A person who joins a company as a junior man dreams of being in the management or starting his own firms and strive towards that. But it in India it is otherwise. A junior employee in India restricts himself to being in that position because he lacks confidence, has no ambition, and above all unwilling to give up a technical career to get a management career.

People in U.K start companies at a very young age, most of them soon after completing education, which they see a part of career advancement. They learn from mistakes and solve issues confronting them before making it big. They have direct interaction with the management. And learn from their failures and successes.

But here in India it’s the maturity issue that matters. People are unwilling to let themselves get off their keyboards. There is no direct engagement with the management and have limited experience with individuals whom they can emulate. They have very few role models to compare with, unlike UK where every person can think and speak of a role model.

Of late the trend is reversing and some success stories are seen, like Indians who have worked abroad, acquired the management skills and knowledge. In the last few years they have made it through the management hierarchy that an average Indian engineer can look forward to as role models leaving the technical and direct jobs behind.

There is so much apprehension that can be of disadvantage unless we have maturity in the area of engineers looking at management. Clearly I find difficulty in finding people taking the role of the management in India.

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