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Ask Rajesh Purushottam Kelvalkar for Advice
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Rajesh Purushottam Kelvalkar
Rajesh Purushottam Kelvalkar

Rajesh Purushottam Kelvalkar

Vice President OTI International

Organization Transformation Internationa

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Rajesh Purushottam Kelvalkar is a member of:

Ensuring Growth

In order to continue to sharpen Leadership skills, I ensure I am involved in formal training along with non-formal education (Books, Articles) to successively build knowledge, skills and most importantly attitude (KSA).

It does not just involve learning management skills but also keeping abreast of the last advances (with a priority on those in your immediate field). Thishelps communicate higher conviction and provide guidance &direction to reporting teams to follow your vision.Eg recent examples in 2011 New Selling concept and Spend Management and in 2012 New Leadership Concepts and Analytics & Risk Management which also included a couple of our potential leaders.

Seminars / Journals on Industries are also important source of information which can have a direct effect on business areas you deal in and helps lend higher credibility as a leader to the customer as well.

Interacting with other leaders in various forums and actively discussing and sharing experiences helps a lot to learn from other’s experiences.
Current work profile
Currently I am the Vice President heading IT Business Unit (SBU) for Organization Transformation International. My prime responsibility includes planning & achieving the Revenue and Profitability Targets for my Business Unit.
• On a Strategic Level this includes setting the Performance Targets for the SBU with CEO covering the approval of the SBU’s planned Revenue targets and Cost investments/allocation for Resources in terms of Consultants, IT, Infrastructure and Administration support requirements for the SBU. The role also includes identification of new business opportunities/trends and forming strategic alliance with Partners (with Corporate) with a view toward maximizing benefit to both organizations.

• On an Operational level (as per Strategic Plan), this includes Market planning &execution; Setting Sales Targets for Sales Team across our offerings and Planning for Key Accounts; Regular Performance Monitoring; Ensure Project commitments billing & delivery as per Contracts with SBU Project Managers, SBU Consulting Resources Recruitment& Training, Costs & Cash Flow Planning;Ensuring other Resources are in place, Monitoring commitments to sub-contractors (if utilized on any projects) & Maintain relationships with Business Principals/Partners.


Essential skills required for leaders
Ultimately leadership is about leading people and his/her ability to be able to identify potential contributors and optimize the team’s contributions to achieve Organization objectives&ensure success. Hence communication is a key-factor.
With effective communication, a successful leader needs to be capable to ensure timely set of actionsare taken by himself and his team while ensuring resources are made available as per plan (/contingency)to achieve those Corporate / Department / Personal objectives.
Every leader also needs to recognize that as a responsible person he/she has customers/partners (whether external or internal), needs to achieve financial objectives (Revenue, cash flow / budgets based), manage & develop resources efficiently whether people, processes or IT and continuously plan for contingencies.
Balancing personal and professional life
Connecting the dots / avoiding mistakes or more so having the ability to “identify-the-patterns” is a critical part of leading and just reports cannot help achieve this.

Firstly, a proper plan needs to be in place with follow up with formal / informal performance checks. In OTI, we utilize Balanced Scorecard framework which lends a high level of visibility on multiple objectives and clearly provides us the cause-effect to enable all-round performance.

This is further strengthened through regular formal / informal meetings to determine progress and plan actions or strategic initiatives.The feedback for our model is obtained through various formal and non-formal communications coming from your superiors, peers, subordinates, customers, business partners, friends, family and associates. This helps in the overall leadership, provides credibility & consistency and supports decision making.

In personal life too a person plays multiple roles so plan as per expectations and keep up the communication.
Advice to upcoming leaders
Basic traits necessary to be an aspiring leader is to be credible, flexible and adaptable to build trust within his team, organization and customers (external / internal). Regular communication will ensure the leader provides the direction enabling teamwork and also to obtain the feedback necessary to keep taking corrective actions. Especially when dealing with cross-cultural or cross-national teams, it is most important to be approachable and have the consistency in your dealings (within your organization culture).

As mentioned above continuous learning is important and the aspiring leader should also regularly stay ahead and sharpen his KSA through formal programs (preferably formally planned & agreed with the organization he works for / leads) for himself and his teams.
Handling Grievances
Frankly, as we know, there is no standard way to be able to deal such situations. Sometimes it is just a simple case of being heard that helps resolve a misunderstanding but conversation is most important while dealing with grievances. In other cases these could be large grievances and needs involvement of other personnel. The underlying principle is always that “Grievance needs to be resolved quickly” else the situation will result in build-up results in high levels of demotivation for the person and may start affecting others too if unresolved.
For me, a one-to-one meeting or conversation with the person is most advisable either with me or a neutral representative (HR). Also, in order to deal with grievance we should look at multiple aspects of the grievance which is the situation itself and players in the situation. With regards to the situation one needs to look whether it is one-time or repeatable situation happening with the same or variety of personnel. This will help point out and classify whether it is Value-related, Organization-related, Customer-specific, Culture-specific or Job/Person-specific situation. This makes it easier to plan the specific action required. Despite this, we finally need to accept / understand the resolution may not happen to the satisfaction of the parties and better to plan for contingencies.
I also make sure that, depending on the scale & impact of grievance, I escalate to the right authorized person from the company to avoid getting involved in unrelated grievance situations.

Taking Important career decision
There are 3 critical decisions which have impacted my career.
1. Deciding to continue to do MBA: Even though I had admissions to MS (Computer Science), in USA after my B Engg, I continued with MBA especially when I started getting exposure to multiple aspects of the Organization management. I would highly recommend readers to get an MBA since it completely opens up a person’s perspective on how organizations run. The combined structured and unstructured learning will help you (or at least increased the chances) as a first step in being a successful business leader. My MBA research (including my Final paper) on the growth of IT in India & globally and its potential to outshine other exports very quickly cemented by confidence to stick with IT field.
2. Deciding to move overseas :Despite seeming a risky proposition, I decided to move from a 200-people Mafatlal Consulting Services (AMG Group) in Mumbai where I was managing several regions to a 10-People SDI Technologies based in Jakarta. Indonesia was a growing Tiger-economy and I was sure that this International exposure would give a great career boost. Considering the small organization size, this also meant that I was to handle Business Development as well as Managing / Consulting on project. The MBA background and IT Development experience helped a lot in getting into the groove very quickly.
Indonesia being open to foreign investment was already an open economy when I reached here. This international exposure has given me a great exposure to managing the business requirements of culturally different multinational, regional and local customers with varied value-proposition expectations and with people across multiple nationalities across Asia, Europe, US and Australia. There was huge amount of exciting dynamism with cross roles in being able to be involved directly in creating new partnerships, working out go-to-market plans, create the teams and deliver projects while ensuring revenue flow.
3. Deciding to move into Transformation Management Consulting with OTI: Eventually when I left the organization after 13 years to join 30-people OTI, SDI had become a 700 people company with office in 16 countries and was headquartered in Singapore. However, the IT space was getting quite saturated with multiple players resulting in falling net revenue per Consultant, a typical scenario of a mature market segment (especially for various ERP products and services being offered by SDI).
At SDI / Soltius, while we were introducing some new exciting solutions such as Demand Planning, the opportunity to work with OTI was interesting due to complete paradigm shift to different value-offerings and the way in which Business-Value can be delivered. At OTI we have a great deal of excitement in bringing practical high value-add Consulting Services with IT Solution for Strategic feedback. These do not require a high level of Change Management / Complex deployment to bring the business benefit. At OTI, we are always on the look-out for new ideas while being mindful of our core competencies and organization sustainability (Revenue, Cash Flow, Cost, etc) which makes things very exciting. We’ve introduced several new ideas over a past few years with a great deal of success.
My inspiration
There are a host of personalities such as Narayan Murthy, Abdul Kalam, Bill Gates who I admire and have amazed, inspired and provided direction. Basic values have been inculcated by parents and various superiors / peers across the years.
• Quality & Credibility:A most interesting experience I had was regarding Narayan Murthy’s teams credibility while I was meeting Punjab National Bank (PNB) in 1996. During the meeting with PNB, the CIO told me that they had invited Infosys to present their Banking product. They were highly impressed when they were told that Infosys being busy with Canara Bank requested postponement of meeting until the time they were ready to commit to PNB and hence were willing to wait Infosys before a decision was to be taken.
• Strengthen yourself :My father narrated an incident where when he was a junior Textile Manager at Tata’s, the supervisor did not head his instruction to work on a spinning machine which had a critical breakdown. When my father rolled up his sleeves and started working on the breakdown, the supervisor finally joined in and they got it up and running. While they have been good acquaintances since that day, it was important to demonstrate that his ability to perform and thus get accepted as a leader.
• Build a great team & delivery quality :As a superintendent of all schools in Bombay, my mother had a team of extremely high performing individuals. With this team empowered by her, the amount of tasks which they were able to execute as a team won them several government awards and promotions. It is very important to support and work together with an aim to do quality work. Even post retirement, the quality work and leadership demonstrated has resulted in her being invited to lead and consult for some organizations.
• Plan well:I did have quick successes immediately after my induction especially since I had made it point to explore the Banking product allocated in details prior to commencing its business development activity. However, in Business development environment successes and failures are part of the story and to adapt to a account lost after considerable efforts is never easy for a new person. During the early course of my career, Superior & Peers as mentors helped guide how to face challenges by focusing on right prospects and mitigate revenue target risk through pipeline management, involvement of senior management at the right time and involvement of estimation experts early on to convey value expectations and ensuring team-work with cross-teams such purchasing & finance. This encouraged me to be a mentor to the next batches coming in. At OTI, I’ve seen the results of high quality delivery work where we’ve had customers come back to us after 3-5 years to work with us on various projects.

Family background
I come from a family of professionals wherein my father and his brothers (like my grandfather) are professionals working in various industries. My father is an Engineer by profession with Licentiate in Textile Engg (LTM) with additional Diploma in Mechanical Engg (DME). He has worked for Tata Swadeshi Textile for last 25 Years and retired as Head of their Spinning & Weaving Departments.

My mother began as a school teacher with a BA degree. With encouragement from family she further obtained BEd, MA and MEd degrees and retired as a Superintendent of Schools in Mumbai. Currently she also consults for some organizations especially for community-related and women-empowerment work. She also runs a small fine-arts workshop for small children.

My wife has a BA degree with Diploma in Management & Education and is currently a school teacher in an International School in Jakarta while my son is studying in an International school in Jakarta.

As a family, we have been encouraged to obtain as much education as possible. Though not being a true joint family, we’ve had the blessings of our grandmother always staying with us besides my aunt, maternal uncle and maternal aunt building up our sense of responsibility.
My prospective towards India Technological development
Investment Requirements: As I understand, we do have some great products but not real multinational reach as a Microsoft / Oracle / SAP / Oracle. Productisation (especially for global market) requires investment in market understanding with market planning, product regionalization / localization bolt-on, roadmap commitment backed with a support services infrastructure. Additionally investments are required to ensure IPR protections, escrows, SLA contracts with chosen local players and EULA’s with local customers in the targeted countries to name a few. Besides high investment requirements, one of the main reasons for India not being able to go on that path, I believe, is the ‘comfort-factor’ namely locally in being able to service product customers easily and globally to work on turnkey / subcontracted projects where there is very limited liability after delivery.

Sustainability globally requires investment and time commitments. Having sad this performance targets are a must to ensure that we don’t dwell on unsustainable markets.
Attitude : A general experience in India with a leading local Indian private bank may illustrate. The staff, generally, seems to be busy interacting with each other and appear efficient but the empathy seems missing. Walk into a multinational organization like Citibank or a SQ and even the reception onwards “How can I help you?” attitude shows. Efficiency is no substitute for lack of empathy. Multinational are quick to latch on customer’s service expectations in Asia. This attitude needs to inculcated in support staff for global markets.At the moment, I do understand BPO’s supporting various global customers areable to do this.
Image-building : Branding is another critical factor. Unlike US and Europe where productization opportunities are limited, markets especially SEA provides opportunity for all kinds of products / solution positioning whether customized, high-value or low-cost. One needs to make sure that all necessary preparations are in place for long term sustainability & success. Currently India’s image is as a Low-cost Development base / Body-Shopper in First World countries but SEA carries a very positive perception of India’s abilities. Body Shoppingoffering will continue to be highly competitive (especially with inward-looking crisis-driven First world for people-based services and increased competition from Philippines, Israel and even China) but companies can leverage their existing relationships / learning / industry-understanding to up-sell

Going Forward:We do have strong ability but the infrastructure for ideas to flourish is required. A simple requirement such as government support for faster company formations is extremely critical to allow individuals the channel to start-up easily (several countries eg Singapore, Canada take not more than a day). VC support for start-ups is on an increase and Internet-based multiple delivery channels will be available in future even in SEA to be able to deliver products more easily. The time is now…Else India will always be a base for sub-contracted development work for First-World markets.
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