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Dr Sudhish Ramakrishna Shetty
Dr Sudhish Ramakrishna Shetty

Dr Sudhish Ramakrishna Shetty

Vice President - Operations

Meredith India Services Private Limited

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Dr Sudhish Ramakrishna Shetty is a member of:

Current job profile
I am the Director of Digitial Ad-Operations and Supply Chain for TAS Analytic Services – A Time Warner Company. Apart from facilitating technical and Ad Operations services, my role involves directing the efforts of my team in achieving of the strategic and operational objectives of the organization. I provide direction and guidance for operations, administration and results for the business units I handle. My role also involves developing plans and objectives and participate in cross-functional projects and business initiatives to improve operational performance for the entire organization. I direct, manage and provide thought leadership to next level leaders that lead cross-functional teams. I also work with executive leadership, develop, direct and drive key business strategies that provide the highest level of improvement to business processes and customer service delivery.
Qualities of a good leader
In Peter Drucker’s words "The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say "I". And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say "I". They don't think "I". They think "we"; they think "team". They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but "we" gets the credit.... This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done."

I strongly believe that as a leader, one needs to take ownership and take responsibility of not just his/her actions, but that of the entire team. One needs to be approachable, should be open to challenges and should take into account the opinions of the team while taking decisions. The mistake most of us make, is as we grow up the hierarchy in an organization, we get distanced from the day to day operations and thus our view of the problems is at a macro level. In today’s working environment, your task force plays a very important role in how your business and services are perceived by your end customer. In most organization, these are the people who closely interact with your end customers and thus are best suited to understand the needs and problems of the customer. Thus, it is all the more important for a leader to empower and equip his team to help him make the decisions that matters most to the customer. With your task force playing a crucial role in this decision making process as one of the data providers, any action or decision you take as a leader will be well respected by your task force.  A happy and motivated team produces better results, which in turn results in better customer service and customer experience. For one to be a successful leader, and for ones initiatives and decisions to make an impact both to the team and the organization in a healthy way and in a way that is mutually acceptable, issues at root levels need to be solved.

As a leader, you also need to motivate and push your teams to achieve better benchmarks and foster a culture of innovation and healthy completion. You as a leader can be a success when each member of your team believes that he/she is a leader in his/her own right. My aim as a leader is not building a team of hard working individuals, but that of smart working individuals.
Ensuring growth
As a leader I cannot be resting on past laurels. Today work environment is dynamic. New technologies and market needs push customer requirements to new heights. My team is thus constantly challenged in terms of the expectations set. I as a leader of my team need to mindful of this fact and should be continually upgrading my skills to meet with the ever changing needs of both my internal and external stakeholders. Just knowing how to run machinery will no longer help in today’s competitive environment. You need to oil your machinery quite frequently. I am aware that my learning and skills need to be constantly upgraded. Rule #1 says I don’t know it all. I need to learn. Learn from my customers, my team from everyone around me. I need to evolve.
My advice
   I am what I am because of the mistakes I made. Make mistakes. Unless you are smart enough to learn from others mistakes. But don’t make the same mistake twice.
Doing things right
Everybody makes mistakes. It’s a part of your learning and growing as a leader. Having said that, it is important that you don’t make the same mistake twice. I see mistakes as a way of learning. It makes you realize that you still have a lot to learn and a long way to go. It is a necessary evil in that it ensures that you don’t get complacent. It’s these mistakes and failures that equip you to be better prepared you for handling future situations. The mistakes I have done both professionally and personally has taught me that the decisions I make should be based on data from all possible sources and should be aimed at improvising something that you currently have in hand. These improvements need to be beneficial not just to you, but to others connected to you.
Influenced by
I might be flawed when I say that I have been influenced by only a select few people. In me resides a bit of every person I have interacted with, dealt with or read about. Everybody has something to learn from everybody else. My qualities, my actions today are the result of the learning and experience I have gained from every single wonderful personality I have been connected with. Having said that, I would attribute a large chunk of my learning to my dad. He has had the strongest influence on me. He is my best critic and strongest advisor.
Handling Gravience
While dealing with employee grievances, I approach it with a mindset that there is no one fit all solution. I also understand and make sure that the stakeholders involved understand that there is always two sides to anything; be it a problem, a grievance or a mistake. In my experience, most grievances are a result of lack of proper communication or mismanaged expectations. No grievance is treated as trivial. Employees need to feel that they are an important asset. I generally follow a three step approach to solving grievances. Listen, Identify, Resolve. I ensure that I listen to the grievance intently and while doing so I don’t jump to conclusions nor do I try give quick fix solutions. I keep the loop open while setting realistic expectations on the time I would need to resolve. I however make it clear to the employee that my resolution will be based on facts and data points and I will make it a point to communicate to the employee during the resolution. As part of identifying the actual problem, I speak to all the parties involved, trying to understand various view points and gather as much data to assist me in isolating the issue. All this while I would keep the employee warm in that I would keep him updated about the progress. This works wonders. As leaders we most often take our employees for granted. We forget that our employees are our biggest assets and they need to be made felt that you care for their needs. Cultivating this culture brings in a sense of belonging. Once I have the relevant data points, I follow up with the employee and close the loop with my findings. It is very important that you explain your findings to the employee and the resulting resolution. Your resolution may or may not be in favor of the employee who warranted the grievance. But with the sound approach towards resolving it, your employee will see the reasoning.
Most Important Decision
I have in my 16+ years of professional experience asked a number of my employees to leave for various performance related issues. This is tough especially since you put an equal amount of effort towards every employee in your team. The employee on their part too are sincere in their efforts and a lot of times it turns out to be fitment issues either in terms of the skills required or culture. With experience you tend to filter such candidates while interviewing. However if you were to inherit a team, you inherit the legacies with the team. However, as a leader it is important that you understand that certain decisions when taken are keeping the best interest of both the organization and the employee in mind. As for the organization your decision helps in ensuring you have the right team to do the right job. As for the employee, his skills would be out to better use in a different environment. Like they say, you cannot judge a fish by its ability to fly. He would be the next rock star of a different organization. As for the other members in your team, they would not be let down because of a weak-link in the system. You ensure better load balancing and people motivation because that.

A large chuck of my career has been with startups that have become sizable organizations now. I was in a sweet spot in that very early in my career I was able to understand the nuances of a startup organization (mostly entrepreneurial in nature), the pains of such an organization metamorphosing into a process driven corporate and the highly process and protocol driven corporate. In at least two jobs I have been involved with organizations going through this entire cycle. As a part of the growth, which many startups aren’t well prepared for (yes the flood gates just open up); you are left with a need to vertically build your organization’s hierarchy. You don’t have a lot of time to build leaders. The approach most organizations take is to hire senior level leaders from outside the organization (which creates a certain level of discord for home grown wanna be leaders) or to promote people with exceptional talent internally. Note the “exceptional talent”. Most startups have such resources that are “exceptionally talented”. That’s because your employees feel noticed, there is a personal interest in them and the employees themselves want to go the extra mile with the expectation of being recognized as someone who made a difference to the organization. However what startups don’t realize is that the needs of the organization are changing and thus the entrepreneurial approach starts getting less relevant as more processes and protocols are put in place. Existing leaders have a unique challenge in identifying one out of the many exceptional talent pool available. The one that can adapt to the changing needs. As leaders you need to be mindful of the fact that the next level leaders you choose need to be trained and skilled to equip them to cope with the new changing demands of the organization. You don’t want to set up one of your employees for failure nor do you want discord within your teams because everyone in the team thought they could be better leaders than the chosen one. These existing leaders need to realize that who they choose to be the next level leaders sets the foundation of the organization as it grows. The decisions you make can make or break the team during this transition. I was fortunate to have handled such transitions twice.
My view on India technological development
Without doubt India has a large talent pool catering to literally any technology one can think about. A part of this talent pool seeks greener pastures in foreign shores. In spite of this there is absolutely no dearth of availability in India. There are shining examples of Indians abroad setting up companies churning world class products. Sridhar Vembu, founder of AdventNet is one such example. More than 7 million users work online on his Zoho suite of applications. Home grown companies however have had dismal rates when it comes to building world class platforms. Most companies in India have a follow the herd mindset. Innovation is confined to the protocols laid by the organization. Leaders need to understand that most brilliant ideas come from bottom up. It is these employees that identify a real problem and try to solve it. Leaders in the organization need to be able to identify such grass root level ideas/products/automations/platforms and build a business case around it. Organizations need to facilitate a platform for such business ideas to be incubated and eventually productized and monetized.

While organizations and leaders talk about innovation all the time, little has been done to foster that culture at the grass root levels. How many companies in India would allow for a share of its employees time to be dedicated to materializing a product of a concept that he has thought about? Even if an employee where to develop a prototype of the product, how many companies would invest in enhancing it so as to make it commercially viable? As such most such innovation remains confined to the business process.

Most organizations in India are today in a competitive mode fighting for a share of pie in the same market. The focus being to make their share of the pie bigger. Very few organizations if any even invest creating new markets. Creation of such markets not only ensures zero competition but also allows you to set the ground rules. Take the tablets for instance. It was not a market a few years back because tablets never existed. Who would have thought it would have so many takers till Apple launched its iPad. Mircosoft however had failed in its earlier attempt at launching the Microsoft Tablet PC, but that’s because it was too heavy to be held with one hand.

Indian organizations need to think out of the box in creating such new areas of opportunities and most of its ideations begin at the grass root levels. They need to foster a bottom-up platform for cultivating a culture where the germ of the idea originates from the people in the organization best suited to understand what the customer’s needs most.

Most employees on the other hand during their initial stages in career only look at how fat their pay check is. In an immature job market such as now, employees change jobs for a few thousand hike unmindful of the fact that their learning gets. They don’t allow themselves time to settle down and understand the big picture in terms of market needs. They end up just being order takers and while they upgrade themselves continually with the latest technology skills, they would be impaired to ideate independently and put their skills to good use. This mind set needs to change. When employees understand where they fit and how their work impacts the larger picture is when they see value for themselves. This in turn helps them put their minds in improving the efficiency of at least the part they involved with. On a larger scale, when all stakeholders come together – the employee, the leader and the organization, ground breaking products are a natural fall out.
Family background
I am the eldest of two siblings in the family. My dad Ramakrishna B Shetty is an ex-indian air force personnel and that in itself has brought a lot of discipline to the family. My mother Sunila has been a quite a support to me. It was she that thought me to be resilient. I was born in Mangalore before travelling north to Assam and Delhi due to my father’s frequent transfers. It was in Bangalore that he decided to settle down and quit from the air force. As such all of my schooling was done in Bangalore. My brother Suhas is a mechanical engineer and works for BFW. I am married to Priya an advocate by profession. She decided to quit her practice and become a home maker when we had our angel Samriddhi two years into our marriage.
Connect with Dr Sudhish Ramakrishna Shetty on Linkedin
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