Sampath Iyengar – CEO, Blue Tiger – Part 2
Today we have the part 2 of interview with Mr. Sampath Iyengar. Please find the part 1 here.
Me: In KCS.. As a COO.. You were instrumental in handling operations & initiating functions of the organization from scratch.. Setting up an operational unit would involve working with various other organizations.. Can you share some of those experiences..
SI: Setting up and running a large international operation is a complex one. Starting from recruitment, where a good% of them are young girls to arrange safe & efficient transport system, making sure that the technology works all the time and more so in the night, which are your peak hours, takes a lot of effort. If you notice, I didn’t even talk about the performance so far! Dealing with young people with half or no maturity is another challenge and the personnel issues that one would come up with 1000+ young boys & girls are unimaginable and many of them can’t be published.
Me: What were some of the key learnings’ which helped your to reach a C Level position..
SI: No escape from hard work.
Me: Can you please elaborate more on this?
SI: A lot of people think that smart work is essential.. One has to be lucky.. One needs to be this.. needs to be that etc.. All those attributes are required.. But only after hard work.. if there is no hard work.. then nothing will work… It is a strong pillar.. Similarly have a purpose.. to drive you to do what you do.. You need purpose in life.. to keep you motivated.. keep you energized..
Me: You moved from KCS BPO to Mphasis to become a Site Director.. What was the role here.. What were your key challenges and achievements in this role..
SI: My role as Site Director helped me to test my limits after a long time. The team size grew so fast from nearly 1000 to 4000 within a year or so, no one could notice and difficult to believe if I look back now. It is a tier 2 city, no BPO culture in town, people of all age believe a family function, far off relatives marriage, a pooja even at neighbour’s house or any festival, the first preference to stay away from work & enjoy!!. The centre became one of the biggest & most profitable. I consider it as a highlight in my career, as I could keep most people happy whether they are from client side or corporate side or from the Team members.
Me: From your 25 years of corporate experience, I am sure you would agree that people handling skills are one of the most important skills.. Can you share some of your learning and anecdotes about the same..
SI: If you have to be a leader, you have to have followers. People will follow you, only if they find it is beneficial to them than you or any other. My mantra is ‘your success depends on your direct reports successs’ and do everything to make them successful and then inculcate that habit in them in order to develop that culture within the organization. Your boss is important but your DR’s make all the difference to your success.
Of course, there is no substitute to some fundamentals like …hardwork, being honest & sincere, no politics, simple is most effective, they are absolute truths in my life as well.
Me: Sir, I see that mentoring is one of your passion.. Can you talk about some of your experiences here..
SI: Coaching & mentoring are my passion and it gives me immense joy & satisfaction. I could inspire number of people (mostly youngsters though there are others too) to change their belief and give their best shot to achieve what they thought impossible. So many of them have reached very good positions in their career & life and makes time to call me or mail me to greet & acknowledge the learning they had from me inspires me further to continue to do so.
Me: What is your view on changing jobs. You gained a lot out of it. But today people are willing to change too quickly. What is your thought on this?
SI: Some times I changed after a number of years, some times, I changed in few months. The interview lasts between 15 mins to 2 hour and you might not get the real picture – either way. It is only after the honeymoon period, does the real mar real life actually starts.. so, there have been examples when I have changed early.. But one thing which I maintain is that I left the company in such a note that I can walk back in.. on any day if I want.
Me: Sir.. What are your future plans..
SI: After 25 years of working for various companies of all size & shape in multiple locations within and outside India, I have decided to start on my own in my passion zone. Along with couple of friends, we are starting a finishing school called BlueTiger (www.bluetiger.in) that makes a whole lot of difference to struggling corporates to hire resources on one end and millions of Educated youth to find a job that matches with their strengths. Today, at least in India, the gap between the output of an institute and the input criteria of an industry is too much and hopefully, we will do significant work in that space.
Me: Thank you very much for your time and wish you a great luck for your new initiative at Blue Tiger.
Readers, hope you enjoyed this edition of coffee with experts. Previous interview with Mr. Vijay from poetry in stone can be found here.