Sunday, 22 January 2017

INTERVIEW OF PROF. RISHIKESHA T. KRISHNAN


Prof. Rishikesh T. Krishnan is the Director and Professor of Strategy at Indian Institute of Management Indore. He was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania and at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. He was listed among the Thinkers50 of India, the most influential thinkers in management from India (2013) and he jointly received the special Thinkers50 India Innovation award (2013). He has more than 140 publications including two books on innovation: From Jugaad to Systematic Innovation: The Challenge for India (2010) and 8 Steps to Innnovation: Going from Jugaad to Excellence (co-authored with Vinay Dabholkar,2013). The latter won the Best Book Award 2013-14 from the Indian Society for Training and Development.  

Q. How has this first day of the HR Summit been for you?
A.It has been very good so far. Thank you.

Q.You were here earlier in January. How different is it now from then?
A. In January, my visit was really short. I had just come here for a couple of hours. I could not meet much people. But this time, I have been able to do something in the campus and interact with more people. In that way this might be a more fruitful visit.

Q. Tell us about your involvement in social works?
A.Overtime, I have been associated with many social organisations.But right now in my current job as director, I don't have so much time. So, I have reduced my involvement in other activities. But  I continue to be involved with one organisation called Foundation for Excellence. It basically is an organisation to provide scholarships for engineering and medical undergraduates. Those students who do well in their 12th boards but whose families don't have enough resources to provide them higher education are given scholarships. Currently the organisation gives around 10 crore worth of scholarships. We have a proper selection process and also provide them mentoring support and support to develop their communication skills. This is a nationwise program and I am one of the trustees of that trust.

Q. You have gone so far in the management and technology sector. With so much experience, suggest us some important things in order to achieve success.
A. To achieve success, one thing that we should do is that we should build our own strengths. We should have a subject in which we have interest and further go deeper into it. We should build our own own expertise so that people look to us as an expert in that area. What is important is to focus and to be distictive in our field.
Second thing is that you should be aware of what is going on. One thing that I find in managerial students is that they don't keep track.They dont visit those various business related websites. But when it comes to placements, companies particularly don't want to see a guy who has been immersed in textbook in all these years. Thay want to see a person who knows the current challenges and trends. They want to see the interest in you. If you have gone to the interview without any special interest, then it is very difficult to fake with them around.

Q. You have talked about urban upgradation and logistics. Could you please provide us more details?
A. If we look anywhere in the world, urban centres are often the most important part of economies. In India, most of the economic activities take place around big cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai,Pune etc. So urban areas are generally the core areas for industrial development. So economic  activities in the urban areas should be supported. In India, historically, most of the politics has been supportive of the rural areas. The logic was that most of the poor people are from the rural areas and therefore, we should invest there more. This thing neglected the needs of the cities. In about 6-8 years back, the government of India started the Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission. I read from somewhere that it was the first nationwise program for urban development initiation. So, after more than 60 years of independence, reforms were being tried to be made in the cities. If we look at the city management system in most of the cities, it is very poor. Municipal Corporations are not run well. These things reduce the ability of businesses to run. No country in this world has developed without urban development. Hence we should look after this as a challenge and do something towards it.

Q. With this topic of urbanisation in mind, what needs to be done?
A.  The problem is our entire planning cycle and execution needs to be faster. For exmaple, in Bengaluru, they are building metros. This metro was planned 15-20 years back. During the last 20 years, Bengaluru has completely changed. Today all the major economic hubs of the city are in the surrounding areas and in one paricular part of the city. When the metro was planned, all those areas were almost non existent. So the metro does not run in any of these places. Hence, here we see the effect that a delay has had on the effectiveness of the programme.

Q. You have concerns on technology getting more and more involved in our day to day lives. Robots becoming affordable and threatening at the same time.
A. (Chuckles) The problem comes when something that is exceptional starts to become general practice for us. The problem becomes more severe when it becomes economically viable and acceptable. For example, robots are getting affordable. They are also becoming easily programmable. This is a dangerous thing. This might create job insecurities in the future. The things that human beings are doing now, if they get started to be done by robots, this would create a scarcity of job opportunities.

Q. Regarding technology, do you have something in mind that you think should be present but is hampered by today's technology?
A. Technology is greatly required in the election process. Today, it is very costly. In democracy, we need to get people involved in order to get new ideas. Technology helps us to get people participate who otherwise would not have been able to participate. Therefore, to make the democratic processes more efficient, we need a more advanced version of the technologies that we have.

Q. One of the big problems of today's world is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. How can we overcome this problem?
A. A lot of it has to do with the modelling. It also has to do with taxation. The best way to understand this problem is  to follow the US presidential elections debate. The Republican Party does not believe in the concept of redistribution. The same is different in the Democratic Party. They believe that there sould be an equal division of resources among the people. So, everybody has a different view on that. People who do not believe in the concept of wealth creation, they more or less depend on the trickle down effect. This means that as people get richer, some part of them will go down to everybody. For people who don't believe in it, they purposefully make sure that the wealth gets more evenly distributed through taxation.

Q. Any words for us that would motivate us to have a future in management?
A. I think that today in India, there are a lot of challenges but at the same time, there are a lot of opportunities. And I hope that you would contribute us towards those challenges. You should pick a career where you not only can do good for yourself but also do good for the country. Sometimes it will happen that people are so much towards doing good for themselves that they only chase money. Now, here I am not saying that money is not important. What I am saying is that there are enough jobs available where you can do something good for the country,society, etc. and take care of yourself  too. We hope that this institute will produce a lot of people who choose that right combination.


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