I have been managing companies since I embarked on the path of entrepreneurship 13 years ago in 1992 after I returned from the US. For the most part, these have been small companies. IndiaWorld was all of 20 people. Netcore has only now grown to about 60+. These are still small numbers. Even though I have to manage these companies, I have known for some time that my strength does not lie in day-to-day operations. I like the thinking part, putting a coherent strategy together from the various jigsaw pieces that one can see (or imagine), and then being the evangelist of tomorrows world that wed like to go out and create. [In May this year, Girish joined as COO of Netcore so that has been a big help for me.]
I tend to live in the future. I read an incredible amount of stuff mostly around technology. In fact, the world of new and emerging technologies fascinates me. The challenge lies in taking all of these new technologies and putting them together to build compelling services that make a 10x difference to the way of life. I like to focus on the emerging markets because I live in one (India) and therefore I understand it better than other markets. In addition, I believe that the emerging technologies can have the greatest difference on life in our kind of markets because we have missed so many of the previous revolutions and our limited legacy which can potentially make adoption of appropriate new solutions easier.
My dream is to use the ideas to build an ecosystem of large, successful companies (I think of these as Googles for Emerging Markets), generate significant wealth, and then use some of that capital go about building the New India. Bringing about change in India across various sectors (education, healthcare, energy, rural) requires money. While the government has the money, they cannot get themselves to spend it right relying on handouts rather than building scalable institutions and organisations which can bring about exponential change which amplifies itself over time. I believe that the entities that we build have to be based not on philanthropy but profit. Change has to happen in India in years, not generations. We are amongst the lucky ones, having been blessed with opportunities aplenty. We owe it to others to provide them similar opportunities in their lifetime by leveraging our ideas, experience, and capital.
These were some of my big picture thoughts as I found myself at a gathering of CEOs of IIT-Madras Tenet group companies. The topic for discussion was on what are the worries that each one had as CEO of their company or on a personal level. The job of a CEO can be a lonely one; so the idea was to share insights and learnings in a group with others who perhaps may have faced similar situations.
It was an interesting evening in the sense that the discussion did not focus only on the business issues that every CEO faced. People delved into personal challenges also. I did the same. In this weeks Tech Talk, I will write about what I spoke that evening and add to it some more thinking from after the event.
Tomorrow: Work-Life Balance