Leadership mantra today is perform and transform, says Volvo India’s MD at visionary leadership summit at IIMB

Students of the Post Graduate Programme in Enterprise Management (PGPEM) at IIM Bangalore hosted new economy leaders and entrepreneurs at ‘Drishti’ – a Visionary Leadership Summit and Alumni event, on February 11 (Sunday).

Drishti 2018 is also special as it marks the 20th year of the Post Graduate Programme in Enterprise Management (PGPEM) at IIM Bangalore. Former chairs of the programmes and Administrative Officers were felicitated on the occasion.

The ceremonial lamp was lit by Professor G. Raghuram, Director, IIMB, Kamal Bali, President and Managing Director, Volvo India, and Siddharth, President, Student Affairs Council, PGPEM at IIMB to inaugurate Drishti 2018, the day-long event.

“Volvo also has just completed 20 years of incorporation in India, and the coincidence of IIMB’s PGPEM also completing 20 years resonates with me,” remarked Bali, in his opening address.

Drawing lessons from his career spanning 36 years, the head of Volvo India, in his 20-minute talk, said: “Almost 40 per cent of what our Class 12 students are studying will not be relevant 10 years from now when they begin working because they will be working at jobs that are yet to be imagined or created.” The solution, he declared, was in disruption. “From asset-led businesses of the past, we have moved to idea-led businesses that are asset light like Uber and Air BnB.”

Technology, digitization and changing demographics, he explained, have been creating a fundamental shift in the way businesses are run. “Organizational arrogance is passe; we have to take the way of collaboration and partnership. Iconic brands like Kodak and Nokia have learnt this, the hard way,” he added.

In India, Bali said, growth drivers include internet adoption, rapid urbanization, emerging markets and the rise of the start-up culture. “Youngsters, between 31-35 years of age, in metro cities in India, comprise our start-up ecosystem. Aggregators and e-Commerce have matured; education, healthcare and fintech are emerging, and AI is the next big thing. Almost 325 new starts-ups are working at addressing India’s challenges in education, healthcare and energy.”

Describing these drivers as a “huge opportunity”, he urged entrepreneurs as well as policy makers to address fundamental issues like providing right education and skills, delivering public services digitally, empowering rural areas and farm incomes, providing sustainable mobility and infrastructure, and building ‘Brand India’ and encouraging MSME sector in order to create jobs. “When people say India, they should think ‘value’,” he remarked, saying Indian MSMEs should occupy the space between Germany – the brand that brings to mind hi-tech precision and China – the brand that most associate with ‘mass-production’.

Listing start-ups from across the world, from Africa to the UK, that Indian start-ups can draw inspiration from, Bali spent a few minutes on disruption in the automotive sector and shared the recipe for entrepreneurial leadership in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world. “Identify what sets you apart, balance the culture-structure steering systems, empower, excite and galvanize teams, develop a mindset of trust, transparency and collaboration, nurture diversity and the habit of innovation and experimentation, and stay relevant to your customer and enhance value creation by co-creation.”

In his welcome address, Professor G. Raghuram, Director, IIMB, spoke of the impending review of the PGPEM and invited alumni feedback. “Group togetherness must be emphasized in a programme like the PGPEM which is for working professionals, but we will look at structuring the programme in such a way that we can leverage technology-led distance courses without sacrificing the value of human interaction.”

Moderating a panel on Big Data and AI at Drishti 2018, the visionary leadership summit at IIMB, today (Feb 11), Professor U Dinesh Kumar, faculty and Chair, Data Analytics Lab at IIMB, offered a brief overview of the growing opportunities for application of AI in enhancing business revenues.

The first panellist, Sairam Krishnan, Director BAI and Insights, Microsoft, spoke on how Artificial Intelligence transforms business with data and AI, using case studies from Rolls-Royce, thyssenkrupp, and Deschutes Brewery.

“AI can add value – almost $ 1.2 trillion in revenue in the next three years – by augmenting businesses’ reasoning, understanding and interacting abilities,” he observed, explaining that start-ups should leverage digital transformation and AI to deliver rich customer experiences by optimizing operations, anticipating customer needs, enabling employees and transforming products.

The second panellist, Prakash Palanisamy, Country MD, Thorogood Associates, and IIMB alumnus (PGPEM 2016), spoke on Technology Disruptions and IT Services and the entrepreneurial opportunity that AI provides.

“In a VUCA world, we are all in muddy waters – we do not know what will happen in our businesses in the long term. We need direction. IT service providers can give this direction by providing agility to businesses and helping them keep an eye on the future. Tech entrepreneurs can contribute by understanding business goals, defining technical possibilities and understanding the opportunities,” he said, urging them to build niche services organizations, which, he said, would become profitable and sustainable.

The panel discussion on Big Data and AI was followed by brief ‘Entrepreneur Speaks’, where the PGPEM students invited two successful entrepreneurs.

Adhil Shetty, CEO, Bank Bazar, spoke about a paperless future, and highlighted his firm’s initiatives in enabling such a scenario. Amuleek Singh, CEO, Chai Point, described the evolution of the tea business and his venture’s journey, and said the chai market would reach $4.5 billion in the next five years.   

The second panel discussion of the day was on ‘New Venture Funding & its Landscape’, and was moderated by Professor G. Sabarinathan, faculty from the Finance & Accounting area at IIMB. The panel comprised Srikrishna Ramamoorthy, Partner, Unitus Seed Fund, Srikanth Narasimhan, Director, Veda Corporate Advisors, and Sunil Kolangara, Director, Ascent Capital. They offered an overview of venture capitalism in the new era, the nuances that venture capital companies look for in start-ups and how it is important to demonstrate the ‘idea’ to investors.

The panel was followed by a special address by Subramanian Swamy, Rajya Sabha MP, who spoke about innovation in entrepreneurship. Addressing a packed auditorium, he defined innovation as “invention which is marketable”. Calling for encouragement to those with an appetite for risk-taking, he said, “Failure does not mean the end of the world. This should be taught in our schools and colleges. One cannot develop the entrepreneurial mindset without having an appetite for risk.” Declaring that India was bursting with talent and potential, he said the country could become “a real economic power” by nurturing innovation. 

The post-lunch session started with a panel discussion on Banking, Financial Services & Insurance.

Sachin Maheshwari, Religare Health Insurance Co. Ltd, spoke on Innovation, Disruption and Opportunities in Fintech, and focussed his talk on the future of insurance and the disruption it brings with technology. He remarked that vast opportunities in the area of insurance lie in the bottom of the Indian economic pyramid. “Customer, process, partner, product and employee are key elements in the disruption chain. Mobile devices and internet have instrumented disruption. Technology will bring you closer to the customer.”

The other panellist, Shankara Vaddadi, Founder at i.lend, spoke about Peer-to-Peer Lending or Alternative Lending and said that P2P Lending is here to stay. “There are a lot of opportunities in India for informal lending as formal lending modes have failed to address many segments. Inclusion is imperative when it comes to lending, otherwise socio-economic development will be hindered. Inclusiveness will bring several sections of the population in the formal system. P2P Lending and Social Lending will bring in responsible credit. There are operational and regulatory constraints for inclusion. But P2P Lending will bridge the gap between formal and informal credit. P2P Lending encourages disintermediating the borrowing and lending experience.” Regarding what will bring competitive advantage in P2P Lending, Shankar listed performance, credibility, transparency, and borrower/lender profile.

This was followed by a panel discussion on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, moderated by Sunil Maheshwari, Co-founder at Triumb Tech, Mango Technologies Pvt. Ltd. The speakers were Abhishek Gupta, CEO GreyKernel, Gamer, Full Stack Learner, Abhijit Kabra, Managing Director, Accenture Digital, Global Head – Vertical Industry Solutions – Industry X.0, IIoT, Global Head – Mobile Applications Practice, Divyanshu Chuchra, Group Engineering Manager – Graphics Part Leader, Samsung, and Sriram Ganesh, Founder & CEO, Whodat. Abhijit Kabra pointed out that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are “here and now” and that at the core of these is enhanced customer experience. “No one is immune to the innovation wave in the digital world,” he said. Sriram Ganesh stated that it was important to democratize and bring technology to a maximum number of customers. Divyanshu Chuchra listed Samsung’s contributions in this area and Abhishek Gupta remarked that the speed of innovation and disruption have been key growth factors for the economy in the last few years.

Next was an energizing session conducted by AK Abhinav Kumar, Founder & MD of Namma CrossFit, which focusses on strength and sports conditioning, and designs workouts pertaining to specific sport. He said that his inspiration in setting up CrossFit was to do something for the future of Indian sports, to provide training to even such people who were not aspiring for high profile sports careers. “We focus on keeping people fit and enhancing their quality of life. My goal is to ensure that we only use and not abuse technology, by changing human behavior. My gym is more like a training community”. He summed up exercise as exaggerated daily living, and said that both passion and organization are equally important in running a successful business venture.

The panel discussion on Sustainability was moderated by Naga Prakasam, mentor at the entrepreneurship and innovation hub of IIM Bangalore – the N. S. Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL). He set the tone of the discussion by stating that lack of sustainability would lead to disaster. “It is not about businesses only, individually, each one of us is responsible to ensure sustainability.”

Ravi Sundararajan, Director, Shell India Markets Private Limited & IH2 Market Lead India, discussed how his organization’s IH2 Technology contributes to reducing carbon footprint. “The technology turns waste to value while reducing pollution. It delivers on the mission of the Government of India.”

Krishna Mohan Puvvada, Director of HouseHold Care – Middle East, Africa & India, Novozymes, lamented that industrial revolution had resulted in depletion of natural resources. “Hence we need strong sustainable solutions, and the three pillars of sustainability are environment, society and economy.”

Shubha Ramachandran, Water Sustainability Consultant, Biome Environmental Solutions, while discussing the mission of Biome, said that her organization is working towards integrated water management through rainwater harvesting, groundwater management, water audits, and much more. They work with schools also to spread the word and educate. “Responsibility in water use and recycling are crucial. We are working on urban lakes too. We do voluntary work and training to build a culture of water conscience and water responsibility”.  

Anirudh Sharma of ‘35 Innovators Under 35’ fame, Tech/Innovations Lead at Graviky & Inventor of Lechal, spoke about his unique innovation that turns pollutants into air ink.

Rajlakshmi D Borthakur, Founder & CEO, TerraBlue XT, shared her own personal journey in setting up TerraBlue XT, the challenges she faced and how she overcame them. “I want to inspire you to start up and not give up.” About her mission she said, “Our goal is to make the world a safer place. Our research can help prevent mishaps and help people lead better lives.” She spoke about wearable devices from TerraBlue.

Saveen Hegde, Design Thinker and Business Storyteller, Unbox2learn.com, declared that it was not somebody else’s responsibility to make us more creative or better managers. Describing entrepreneurship as exciting, he said “It is important to identify what drives you. My passion is to make learning as interesting as going to a movie. I experiment daily, start new things. But true education is when you can question every answer around you. A magical balance between structure and chaos is needed.”

Saveen described Design Thinking as a merger of art and business. “We need creative and unstructured processes in the future. Make as many prototypes as possible to get closer to your idea. This mindset of Design Thinking is relevant for all. Give your idea a fair shot, unbox yourself, get away from the structure.”

The day came to an end with a vote of thanks, delivered by Siddharth Shrivastava, President – SAC, PGPEM.

To know more, visit: www.pgpem-drishti.com