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Community > Balaji Parthasarathy
Balaji Parthasarathy

Balaji Parthasarathy

Managing Director

HP

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Balaji Parthasarathy's Advice

Extreme focus and passion to excel

I'll only highlight the four qualities I've seen in the most successful leaders: 1. Passion 2. Extreme focus on generating a profit 3... more>>
How I continue to Grow
I am my worst critic and every week, I look back and think what I've done wrong. And that frequently entails apologizing to others even though saying, "I screwed up". Sometimes, success is your worst enemy as it tends to reinforce the feeling that it's all due to your own super-human skills while the truth involves a good bit of luck and timing. We as humans are wired to avoid pain and confronting your own flaws always involves pain.

In short, acknowledging your mistakes is the best first step which opens you up to take inputs from others and grow. But that's just my style and I think there are several other valid approaches.
Current Job description
I am a Managing Partner in Angelprime. Angelprime is a Bangalore-based incubator that focuses on creating startups targeting large opportunities in India and other emerging markets. Taking a hands-on approach, Angelprime provides seed capital and works with entrepreneurs from a very early stage in refining the concept, building teams and bringing products to market in an accelerated time frame.
Essential skills required for leaders
The cliches you can read in every management book say that great leadership is about being a good listener, not-micro-managing, rewarding talent, etc. Obviously, these are good traits. But if you define successful leaders as someone who actually makes a business wildly successful and a failed leader as the opposite, you'll find they are all over the map - great guys don't always end up creating successful businesses and some micro-managing bullies create amazing companies.

Ultimately, the single most important leader must possess the ability to attract, coax, cajole or threaten exceptional people to follow his or her vision for a huge business. Whether they're flashy, tyrannical or humble is a matter or style.
Taking Important career decision
The most best decisions I've made have been "jumps". From an engineer to an entrepreneur-engineer; from an entrepreneur-engineer to a entrepreneur-engineering CTO; from CTO to Marketing and being a GM; from GM to now being a entrepreneur-investor; moving from India to USA and then back to Bangalore.

Most of these jumps were made even when things were going good. Which made them hard. I think the most important career decisions were to change tracks and sometimes move to new geographies.
Handling Grievances
Nipping grievance in the bud is absolutely essential instead of letting things drag on. Not all grievances are genuine and not all genuine ones are solvable. But perception is reality and having a bunch of grumbling employees dramatically reduces productivity. There is are no black and white answers here. My most amazing engineers were the most cynical ones and keeping them on the constructive side of things was a huge task but worthwhile. But a leader has to have a good pulse on all of this and not delay culling the bad apples when needed.
Advice to upcoming leaders
I'll only highlight the four qualities I've seen in the most successful leaders:

1. Passion
2. Extreme focus on generating a profit
3. Ability to attract and drive an extremely talented team
4. Understand the micro and macro - as a leader, you should be able to stay close to the ground and understand (not delegate) every aspect of the business though you don't need to be an expert in it; and at the same time constantly look at the big picture
My views on India Technical development
In order to produce great technical products, a lot of things have to come together besides technical talent, which of course is necessary. Access to big markets where you can sell your tech product and make a lot of money is another factor. Risk Capital (Venture for example) is critical as it took a lot of investment for some of the great products we use to be what it is today. With a few exceptions, most of the great tech products come from the Silicon Valley (not even other parts of the US) because all of these factors have come together there.

Here in India, we are also seeing this start to happen. The local market, though still small, is starting to show strength. Capital is definitely here for great products and we have talent. We already have some great products. For instance, one of our companies EZEtap is a fully made-in-India technology solution for payments that has been judged world-class by Mastercard. You will start to see more.
My family background
I grew up in a modest middle-class family where my Dad was a government employee and Mom was a house-wife. But they taught me great values and I owe everything I've done to great upbringing and only hope I do the same for my kids.
Influenced by
Though I'm an avid reader of biographies, I generally don't have role models. I admire Warren Buffet for his ability to distill the timeless essentials of running any business into simple words that you don't need a fancy MBA to understand.
At the risk of sounding sycophantic, on a personal level, I worked with Mr. Nandan Nilekani at the UID project in India and got to see his leadership skills in close quarters. His ability to have a vision for the long term and not let any short-term issue deter him, ability to digest an incredible amount of details, 18-hour-work ethic that would put any startup to shame were truly inspiring.
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