Kidakaka, or Prasad Ajinkya is known to me through CE. The title of this post is how he describes himself. He has kept his introduction on his blog relatively short. So even I’d not say too many things about him. Enjoy the interview… and do read his blog. It is interesting!
Q. Prasad, frankly I’m a bit scared of the IIT/IIM brand of people. I’m a little apprehensive of them and some how find them difficult to handle. However you have been a nice guy all through out. Tell me, how it feels like being an IIMite.
A. When I was a student, it used to be an exhilarating feeling … to be counted as the creme-de-la-creme of the nation’s talent. However, as time went by and with some years of experience – working with other IIM grads and even managing some of them, I realized that this identity of being an IIM grad can often manifest itself in the form of arrogance. That path can lead to some pretty unpleasant bends. I try not to tread this path.
Q. Would you prefer working with a startup or an established brand (irrespective of roles, either technology or management)? I guess you have worked with both. So what was your experience?
A. Whoa, this is a long question. Lets take it apart and answer it bit by bit.
I always prefer working with a startup – primarily because of the energy enthused in a startup, but also because of the amount of value that can be created by and for the startup. My experience with established brands has been mediocre at best – It was a good life, yes; but on an individual level, I was not doing any great work. Sure I helped in winning millions of dollars for the organization, but I found that my work was not awe-inspiring. I could do so much more than make copy-paste presentations.
With startups, this whole thing changes … startups requires people who can function as all-rounders. As people who can create more value than what they are paid for. As individual giants instead of being just another face in the milieu. Secondly, start ups do not suffer from bureaucracy.
Q: Today I’m qualified both as an engineer as well as a manager (on account of my education). So are you. My present role allows me to dabble both with technology and management. Yet it does not bring out the best of either of me. I’m sure this happens with most of us. Do you think the roles offered by the Indian IT industry today are not well cut out as per our qualifications? I feel we need to encourage growth of evangelists. But we are not doing it right now.
A. As for the second part of your question, I tend to think on a very different line. Being someone who understands technology and someone who also understands business processes, I feel that people like us are uniquely positioned to help organizations bridge the digital divide. Business should drive the technology and not the other way round. Hence, when any organization is bound for a technology upgradation, people like us are the pillars of that initiative. I have seen very few engineers who are sensitive to the needs of the business, and this is precisely the place were we can really make a difference. The Indian IT industry has roles for our qualifications, but often I see that these roles are so narrowly defined that the individual does not get a chance to make a difference without bending a rule or two. However, I feel that the Indian IT industry norms and regulations are created on the Kantian philosophy of catering to the mediocre (since that is the majority of the talent pool available to them). I do not particularly blame the industry since this is the only way to make it scale … making it idiot-proof. If you find it brain numbing, then go find organizations where you are needed more.
Q. Imagine you are invited to SP Jain School of management on their graduation day. You are asked to give a 5min speech to the latest batch of Executive (1yr) MBAs, 75% of them being engineers. What’d you give them in those 5 minutes? Advice? Word of Caution? Encouragement? (Considering the world economy as it is today)
A. Focus on adding value, look at personal excellence, do not be bothered by external circumstances.
Success will come.
Q. If there is one movie you’d like to work in or one role you’d like to play, what will that be and why?
A. Gandalf in LOTR. He had a big picture view of the chaotic Middle Earth add to that his critical thinking abilities and voila!! A force to be reckoned with.
Q. Thank you for your time Prasad. Could you please recommend some one I can interview here?
A. Amit Grover from NurtureTalent