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Akshay Rao
Akshay Rao

Akshay Rao

Development and Engineering Manager

Alpha Design Technologies

Current job profile
I work as Development and Engineering Manager in Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd. This is one of the major private sector players in the Defence Industry  in India. We design, develop manufacture and supply Defence equipment such as Night vision devices, Sighting Systems, Military Communication systems as well as Weapon Systems . My role is to manage the Development and Engineering of all products in the product design / mechanical system domain

Leadership qualities
A leader needs to be young at heart, a good communicator and a sensitive person. The sensitivity is important because then the person can understand other people, other factors linked with work and thus be keen to understand problems and their solutions before they crop up.These things go into the "Vision" of a leader. A person good at heart alone can be a good leader. Someone who is a slave driver / a task master cannot share the vision of a true leader. A leader is made by the respect that he instills in his team members, that they stretch themselves to achieve more. A true leader does not need to shout at others. Respect comes automatically
Ensuring growth
One has to continue learning, keep abreast of technology, of the situation in the country and the factors which govern the market at any given time. This helps one understand the environment of business as well as that in which the team members live in. The leader has to make sure that he does not compare himself to others, but only to the man that he was yesterday. To endeavour to ensure that rise each morning a better man than i was when i went to sleep the previous night.

My advice
That management tools and techniques taught in institutes are good and are helpful, but do not make leaders by themselves. Those who have succeeded with these skills are those who were leaders in attitude and thought and those who would have succeeded otherwise in some way. The tools and techniques just helped them on their way. There is this misconception in the industry that those who study in Business schools become better leaders. The tools and techniques learnt in business schools just enhance the leadership and management qualities of someone who already has them. If there is a person who has these qualities

   Respect your seniors and learn from them. Always be receptive to their inputs. If they teach good things, learn them. When others make  mistakes, study the mistakes so that you don’t make the same yourself. Treat your juniors as your friends and be on the same level as them. Its very tempting to build walls of seniority, but then the relationship formed with the juniors are sometimes not able to scale these walls, and you become a “management guy” and not a “leader”.

Accept everyones point of view. Sometimes people even unrelated totally to the field of work can give good inputs. Listen to everyones input but finally do what you think is best.

The quality of a persons decisions also determine whether he is a leader or not.

Read the Arthashastra by Chanakya, the “Art of War” by Sun Tzu and the “Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli. These contain great life lessons in different contexts, which tell you how a leader should be and act. If you have read these and understood these, then you have learnt most management skills, the rest are mere techniques.
Doing things right
One has to always make sure that one is doing the right thing. Taking the right decision and treating people correctly. The best way is to keep learning and to keep up to date with all that is going on in profession as well as in the world.  Its very important to know the industry that one is working in, the factors internal and external which govern it. For example, some tax structure changes and some new rules of business formulated by the Government seriously influence business and industry. Sometimes global events also affect the same.
Influenced by
There have been many people who have influenced me. The most important influence has been my late grandfather Col. G.K. Rao. In his childhood in Burma, he had near vision, but no money to buy spectacles and got his first pair of shoes at the age of 14. From there he rose to being an illustrious Army Officer, the Director R&D of Bharat Electronics and remains a well known figure in this industry even ten years after his demise.  In addition, I have been very fortunate in working with some of the best minds in the Defence industry. There are so many good and great people, each person has something to teach, and in that, I have had many gurus.

Handling Gravience
The most important thing is to correct the employee without making them fall in everyones eyes. the idea is to show him the mistake and make him realise. this is sometimes not got by shouting. Sometimes leading by example is the best way to erase problems in others and in correcting others attitudes.
Important career decision
When I passed out of engineering in 2000, the mechanical engineering field was not lucrative. Most of my friends were moving  into software and other  fields not related to mechanical engineering. I did have many offers to do the same. It was challenging to stay in the mechanical engineering field at that time. But I stuck on though there were difficult times. However, today, on the basis of the experience I have gained in working in this field, I feel I took the right decision.

Secondly, the major decision was to stay in the Defence vertical and not move to other fields, as I started my career with the same. The private sector defence organizations were growing at that time and it was of course more economically lucrative to move to other sectors like automobiles or the consumer fields. But I stayed on as it interested me. Had I changed field, I would not have had the advantage of the domain expertise and experiences which I have gained by staying.
My view on India technical development
We have so much technical talent in our country, Then also we don't see any single tech product coming out. Where are we lacking and how can we make significant effort to improve our countries technical aspect.

In india, we have unfortunately not focused on technology, but on volume of service. As a result the high technology, or even normal technology has stayed out. We have been delighted doing services for the whole world. These services are most often lower end services which are outsourced, while the core technology / product development stayed abroad. We started being delighted in the huge amounts of money coming in through services, while not realizing that we are losing out in the long term. There are so many software companies which have tens of thousands of engineers, but hardly any products.

Instead of focusing on increasing numbers on the lower end services, we should have focused on moving up the product development chain to the top where the whole product is made in India.
Family background
I am a guitarist and poet in my spare time. Also am warden in the Govts Civil Defence program in my spare time. This is to try and give back something to the society which made me what I am. It’s a symbiotic relationship between each individual and the society he lives in. I respect that and am trying to do my best to give back .

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