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I feel less relevant now than ever before, says Subroto Bagchi

Source | Forbes India : By Debojyoti Ghosh

In January, Mindtree announced Executive Chairman Subroto Bagchi’s exit from the company, effective April 1, 2016. Bagchi, who co-founded the $584 million IT services firm in 1999, will continue to be on its board as non-executive director. He tells Forbes India that this is the right time for him to step down from an executive role and take up social issues that are close to his heart. Edited excerpts from an interview:  

Q. When you became chairman in 2012, you said you had something unfinished for Mindtree. Could you finish that job?

An organisation is a living thing; to be done would mean the end, almost. In our earlier conversation, I had stressed that the core theme was a company for 2020 with four focus areas: Attaining critical mass; building sharp verticalisation and not leaving everything to everybody; making the company feel local to the area where it operates; and building a leadership pipeline that is well entrenched by 2020, so as to be able to think of 2025. Today, I can safely say we are well entrenched and well positioned. We will soon be a billion-dollar company, mostly through organic growth.

I’m also tremendously satisfied with our leadership pipeline, not just with Rostow (Ravanan) coming in as the new CEO and managing director, but also with the second and third levels. In recent times, we’ve got outstanding talent from outside. The biggest satisfaction for a leader is to realise that you are less relevant. I feel less relevant now than ever before.

Q. Are you content with the Mindtree you are leaving behind?
I would say yes. There couldn’t have been a better time. KK [Krishnakumar Natarajan, the incumbent CEO who has been named as the new executive chairman effective April 1] and I had a glorious relationship. Both of us were extremely lucky. We had the support of an outstanding board that shepherded and guided us. It is not an easy task if you have an executive chairman and a CEO to run the business. There has to be that understanding between them to not step on each others’ toes. We sometimes take this understanding for granted, but it is not a trivial thing. It’s one thing to be friends and another to be co-founders. It is one thing to be fellow professionals and something else to share power. Not just in any corporate sense, I see even not-for-profit organisations as well as governments struggle with it. It’s not easy.

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