Nuggets from Nandan Nilekani
Re-inventing self and playing to potential
Given the VUCA world we live in, re-inventing oneself every now and then has become a necessity. Nandan talks about the mindset with which he has approached the various transitions he has had in his career and shares his perspective on what it takes for people to play to their potential.
Infosys to UIDAI - a 3D transition
Leadership Transitions can be a period of significant anxiety for several executives who are transitioning across contexts and domains. Nandan shares his insights around what he kept and what he changed when he transitioned across 3 dimensions when he moved from Infosys to UIDAI. He also talks about the power of commitment in such situations.
Staying relevant over the long-term
We live in a world where professions are being threatened and jobs that existed yesterday may not exist tomorrow. Atul talks about how the world of photography has been democratized with the penetration of mobile phones with good cameras. He shares his insights on how one could think about being relevant in these changing times.
Entrepreneurial pursuits beyond photography
We often have to reinvent ourselves along the way as we go through our career. There are variuos trigger points where our priorities change and market opportunities change. Atul shares his perspectives around how he has managed to go beyond Photography to venture into new domains. He shares a piece of feedback that one of his friends provides which paved the way to a new possibility.
In Summary - Playing to Potential
Where to go and How to grow are two questions leaders ask all the time as they navigate their career. Vinita talks about the need for conviction in direction, coupled with abundant curiosity to grow as the key elements of playing to your potential.
In Summary - Playing to potential
For people to play to their potential, people should have clarity around what they have potential for. Karthik talks about the importance of the process of reflection and self-awareness that could significantly increase the odds of people playing to their potential over the long run.
In Summary - Playing to Potential
Pramath talks about his perspectives on how people could play to their potential. He highlights how helping others realize their potential often leads to all kinds of benefits that often enable your success.
Transitioning from Engineering to Photography
A lot of us "go with the flow" either because we want to conform to expectations, minimize risk or don’t listen to our inner voice. Atul talks about how he was an exceptional student in school and ended up in UDCT - one of the most prestigious places to study Chemical Engineering. He talks about the disconnect he experienced at that point and how he moved forward from there.
Being tenacious through the transition
Transitioning from one path to another is not easy. We often celebrate individuals after they have demonstrated success. But we often miss the iceberg that is below the sea surface. Atul talks about how he persisted through multiple hurdles when he transitioned from studying Chemical Engineering to pursue photography.
Reflections on Politics as a career
All of us have had situations where we step way out of our comfort zone. Nandan talks about his experience from contesting the elections in Bangalore and why he moved on from Politics after that experience.
Current portfolio of time spent
Nandan talks about how he organizes his time currently and more importantly, the design principle behind how he prioritizes his time. He also talks about his journey through Infosys and Aadhaar to the current portfolio of initiatives that includes India Stack evangelization, EkStep, Philanthropy and investing in & mentoring select start-ups.
Early childhood wiring
The first few years often shape a big part of who we are. Nandan talks about the significance of having spent 6 years in a small town in shaping his independence and cultural adaptability. He also refers to the role of his family in terms of shaping his choices around social service.
Selecting the right co-founder(s)
Nandan talks about one of the seminal choices that entrepreneurs often have to make - Selecting a Co-Founder. He provides his thoughts around what they should bear in mind in this process. He also talks about what it takes to make the relationship work over a prolonged period of time.
Scale-up and transitions at Infosys
As an entrepreneur, staying relevant as the company goes through turbo-charged growth can be a challenge. Nandan talks about how he had to reinvent himself and his style at various points as Infosys grew from a start up to IPO, to listing on the NASDAQ and when it hit USD 1 Billion in revenues.
Setting a goalpost at UIDAI
In a start-up, how do you think about setting a goal post? It is a tricky question when there are several unknown unknowns. Nandan talks about how he thought about "What good would look like" in 5 years for the Aadhaar project.
Running a start-up inside the Govt.
Nandan talks about how the Government is fundamentally different from the Private sector in terms of how financial and human capital decisions are made. He talks about he thought about navigating those constraints to drive to the outcomes he had committed. He also talks about a couple of mistakes leaders often make in transitions.
In Summary - Playing to Potential
How do individuals stay relevant amidst all the change and opportunity around them? Atul shares his perspective around how individuals should think about their future when the current education system is preparing children for jobs that possibly don’t even exist today.
In Summary - Playing to Potential
In the world with growing complexity in terms of emerging business models and career paths, how does one play to potential. Vedika shares her perspectives on how one could play to potential.
Current portfolio of initiatives
Pramath talks about the portfolio of initiatives that he has today. More importantly, he talks about the underlying principle behind how he has assembled this portfolio together. He gives us a peek into how he thinks about success using internal and external metrics.
Consulting (McKinsey) as a career option
Pramath talks about how he ended up joining McKinsey in Canada instead of pursuing a career in academics which he had originally intended when he completed his PhD. He also talks about how students should think about evaluating consulting as a potential career option including the common mistakes people make when they consider a career in consulting.
Building leadership capability in entrepreneurs
Staying relevant is one of the key challenges that is facing the leaders of this generation. A few decades back, they could check into a career on graduation and check-out at retirement. Pramath talks about how leaders (entrepreneurs and otherwise) should think about scaling up their capability as they go through their journey.
Career planning 2.0 for graduates
In this rapidly changing world, Ravi has three main nuggets of wisdom for graduates who are thinking about their careers and professional life ahead. How has the view of a ‘career’ changed over time and what is the best way to think about it today? What qualities should one spend time cultivating and nurturing? Hear on.
Consumer Goods (FMCG) as a career option
Vinita talks about how she got into a career in Consumer Goods and reflects on what elements of it have been rewarding for her. She also talks about the key questions people should ask themselves before embarking on a career in a Products company.
Armed Forces as a career option
Capt. Raghu Raman, shares his perspectives on a career in the armed forces. Listen to the three main reasons he gives you as to why the army can prepare you to tackle the battlefield of business and life!
Committing to sports as a career
Getting into professional sport can be a “low odds” decision often. If one doesn’t have the financial buffer, it is often tempting to go towards the safer option to pursue education and get a job. Viren talks candidly about how he comes from a family with no prior sports background and how he navigated some of these questions during the points of inflection when he had to take a call.
Career Planning 2.0
Thinking about a career has moved away from a linear notion – educate, work, retire. Also the idea of working in one company for the rest of your life has become obsolete. So how should one think about their career in this digital age? How can people stay relevant? Abhijit believes that skills will become obsolete quicker and gives tips about how to navigate their careers.
Navigating the sea of career options
"What should I do with my life" is often a question that we grapple with at different inflection points in our life. Vinita talks about the various dimensions along which she evaluates opportunities that have come her way at different points in her journey.
Where the seeds of transition were sown
How did Amish Tripathi go from being a banker to a bestselling author? You might think that making this transition would have involved a life altering event. But sometimes, unknown to you, the seeds of transition might be nurtured in your life, through your lifestyle, habits, hobbies or the even the milieu around you.
Transitioning from Financial Services to Writing
So you have found your passion but undecided when and how to take the plunge? Hear Amish talk about how he transitioned to being a full time author from a banker. Discover how ‘pragmatism and positive vibes’ guided this transformation.
Harsh realities of Writing
For every famous sportsperson, there are hundreds who didn’t make it big. For every published author, there are hundreds who met rejection after rejection. How does one deal with being in a profession where a few “winners take it all”? Hear Amish talk about the reality of being an author and how his initial rejections made him go against the grain and market his books innovatively.
Transitioning from the Army to the Corporate world
Raghu talks about how we could think about leveraging the pool of leadership talent that the army produces. He compares India to markets such as US, where there have been generations of Corporate Leaders who spent their early years in the Armed Forces. This is not just about providing an education around some of the elements of business. It is a complete rewiring that needs to happen.
Son of a tea planter, Papa CJ took the predictable path through school and college. Hear him walk us through his early struggles which led to him maneuvering into the challenging and non trivial transition from Oxford, to consulting, to doing 250 standup comedy shows in his first 10 months! Look out for tips on leveraging the asset of relationships that we all have.
Plunging into Stand-Up
“If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.” Hear how Papa CJ took the plunge into the gruelling yet satisfying world of stand-up comedy. A mix of conviction, grit, pragmatism, sacrifice and passion helped him make this journey. This nugget gives us an insight into planning and being prepared for transitions.
Playing hockey to MBA@ISB
We often find ourselves in situations where the circumstances at work and on the personal front have changed significantly over time and there is a need to move onto the next innings. These are uncomfortable phases where there are no easy answers or approaches. Viren talks about how he took stock of life when he was playing hockey for India and the circumstances which led him to pursue an MBA at ISB.
Joining OGQ – Role of serendipity
Viren shares his insights around how he joined OGQ after ISB. When I graduated from IIMA, a lot of us including me, didn’t have a clear framework to make a considered choice in terms of direction. Viren talks about the role of serendipity in how he ended up joining OGQ. He actually talks about how he almost ended up joining a corporate role before he joined OGQ. He also talks about how he has “taken the plunge” at crucial junctures in his life.
Transitioning from Cummins to Microsoft
Having worked in Cummins and moved up the ladder, Ravi took up the challenge of being the CEO of Microsoft India at just 40 years of age and against the advice of family and friends. This was an industry he knew nothing about and a culture his friends thought he wouldn’t adapt to. How did he make this transition successful? What did he pay attention to? Hint: The anecdote of his interview with Bill Gates is very interesting.
Gig economy and careers
Ravi has had two long stints in Cummins and then Microsoft, after which he switched to a portfolio of opportunities. He talks about evaluating this deep root vs. wide branches approach to structuring your career. He also has important tips for organizations looking to attract good performers. Tune in!
Marrying passion with pragmatism
Follow your passion is bad advice says Cal Newport in his book 'So good they cannot ignore you'. How does one think about options and decisions when passion and pragmatism point in different directions. Atul talks about how one could look at adjacencies and be pragmatic about a career decision by looking at supply-demand trends in an industry that one is trying to enter.
Investment Banking as a career and key transitions
Vedika discusses her perspectives on Investment Banking as a career and how B-School students should think about the option. On a related note, she talks about the wrong reasons for which people often end up joining Banking. She also lays out the key inflection points in the journey.
About Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)
Vinita talks about how the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) works with various stakeholders across the world to deliver outcomes to improve nutrition. She also talks about how Corporate Social Responsibility cannot be treated as a separate function but should be embedded in whatever a company does.
Early childhood wiring
A lot of who we are often gets formed in the context of our childhood. Vinita reflects on her upbringing, her parents’ influence and her passion for extracurricular activities and links it to how that has played a key role in her growth as a leader over time.
Transitioning roles in a large MNC
Navigating your career in a large, complex MNC can often be challenging and confusing. Vinita talks about how she navigated her career across different roles in Cadbury's and the Coca Cola company.
Navigating the first 3-6 months
The first few months in a new organization can be a nervous passage of play for the incoming leader and for the hiring manager. If not handled carefully, the organizational antibodies could eject the new entrant. Vinita shares her insights on how the incoming leader and the hiring leader could navigate this phase effectively.
Functional Leadership to General Management
Moving from a functional leadership role to a general management role is a big shift and Vinita argues that it is possibly the biggest transition that a leader often makes. She talks about how people should think about success in a General Management role and the need for an adaptive leadership style.
Transitioning back to India in a leadership role
Vinita transitioned from an American MNC in their Latin American division to Britannia in India. It was a transition across multiple dimensions. She talks about her reflections around settling into the new context. She also talks about the role of the hiring leader in setting the incoming individual for success.
Being an effective Board member
Vinita talks about how she evaluates Board opportunities that come her way and how they are a part of her Learning and Development plan. She also talks about her thoughts on the opportunities for Indian boards to get more effective in the way they are staffed and run.
Spotting Long Term Potential
Vijay talks about the role of effort in the context of long-term growth and development. People often get into a debate about whether it is nature or nurture and he makes a strong case for hard work through which people can often make up for significant deficiencies in talent. This is arguably all the more relevant in the world we live in where the half-life of the relevant of talent in a certain area is diminishing with the velocity of change around.
How Army looks for Potential
Anyone who wants to join the Indian Armed Forces as an officer has to go through the Service Selection Board (SSB). The ultimate goal is to select people with Officer Like Qualities (OLQs). Thus, the focus is on hiring based solely on potential rather than experience or academic qualifications. Our digital world is also moving towards potential-based hiring. Hear how the corporate world can learn some lessons from the SSB.
Judging potential can be a very tricky thing to do in companies. While outcomes are very visible but markers of potential are often buried deep within and one has to look for them with a keen eye. OGQ’s youngest athlete is 8 years old, an indication of how much they are betting on future potential. Viren talks about how they use a combination of metrics and elements of judgment to figure out which athletes to back.
Unlocking the potential
Prakash talks about what sometimes comes in the way of people achieving their full potential. He talks about the importance of hard work (however clichéd it may sound) but also talks about the key element of enlisting others on the “bus”
Hiring for the Digital World
Unlike the analog world, employees and customers in the digital world are at the centre and the organization and processes are built around them. This makes the hiring of employees a very significant task. How does a leader go about hiring someone and what are their markers for potential? Don’t miss the insightful anecdote about The Knowledge test that the London cab drivers have to take and how that is relevant to this nugget.