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Third guest on the Play to Potential Podcast series is Captain Raghu Raman. Raghu spent eleven years as an officer in the Indian Armed Forces, followed by another eleven years in the corporate sector before joining the Government as CEO of the National Intelligence Grid.

Raghu started his career with the Indian Army. During his stint, he was in active combat in Punjab battling terrorists and in Siachen Glacier facing Pakistani troops. He has served as a UN peacekeeper, as well as been an instructor teaching leadership and strategy to officers at the prestigious School of Armoured Warfare.

After leaving the Indian Army, Raghu joined the Mahindra Group in 1998 and helped set up Mahindra United World College. Over the next ten years he led various companies, including First Choice, Mahindra SSG and finally DLSI, a Mahindra joint venture with British Aerospace before being handpicked to create and head the National Intelligence Grid, Ministry of Home Affairs in the Government of India. After his five year stint as the founding CEO of NATGRID, Raman joined Reliance Industries as Group President, Risk, Security & New Ventures.

Raghu is a Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a frequent guest faculty in business schools, keynote speaker and columnist on National Security Strategy and Leadership in leading publications. He is also the author of “Everyman’s War” - a book published by Random House.

This conversation was published around January 2017.

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!

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.

Transitioning across Cultures

Having moved from the army setup to the corporate world then onto a government organization and back to the corporate world, Raghu has worn many hats in his professional life. All of these shifts have involved transitioning across cultures- some well established, others being established and yet others, desperately needing a change in culture! Hear Raghu talk about how he navigated these transitions to integrate into the organization he joined.

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.

Establishing a common language in the Army

What is common to radio, sonar and the internet? All these technological innovations, like many others, have their origin in war or conflict. Most have been researched and developed at military labs and then scaled up. Start-ups therefore, can benefit immensely from this experience. Hear Raghu talk about the need for a common vocabulary in order to achieve this. Hint: there is also a valuable tip about the ‘How’ question.

Z-KITBAG: Communication lessons from the Army

Become privy to one of the army’s most efficient framework approaches: the Z-KITBAG! Raghu elaborates on this acronym and talks about how this structured approach can be used in any scenario- whether you are preparing for a talk or mobilizing your team for a launch.

Transmitting intent down the chain

The chain of communication in an organization – from the CEO to the salesperson on the streets- is one of the main factors for its success or failure. What steps can a leader take to ensure this chain of communication is seamless? Listen as Raghu talks about this and also shares an interesting anecdote about why cheaper phones in India have dual SIM facility!

Building culture – Lessons from the Army

Numbers occupy a large part of our mind space when we think of organizations- sales figures, trend lines, market share – the list is endless and often clinical. But what about the stories behind the companies? These legends, usually ignored, are crucial for culture building. Hear Raghu talk about how the army utilizes this powerful tool to build its cultural identity and motivate its people.

Building Grit

Grit can be defined as ‘courage and resolve; strength of character’- something we all need to live our lives and face successes and failures. Raghu says, “We all have the DNA to create that reservoir of strength.” Hear him talk about the elements of grit and how an organization can create an environment to foster it.

Driving Mindfulness and Deep Work

Distraction is all around us. Our screens are becoming smarter and our attention spans shorter. Engulfed with this tsunami of data in a world that worships multitasking, how does one develop mindfulness? Raghu shares some invaluable tips practiced by corporate leaders. You will be amazed to hear how simple tweaks (no need for any props! Just your time) can improve your mental well being.

In Summary

Feel like you are not using your potential to the fullest? Thinking about taking a new course or certification to harness this potential? Wait! Hear what Raghu says about the ‘journey of your full potential’ and how you might already know what you need to know! Intrigued? Hear on!

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