Mr. Rakesh Kumar is a seasoned Technocrat, Consultant & Strategy manager, a Teacher and Quality expert. As a technology he has 37 years of distinguished service with the Govt. of India. He significantly contributed in the field of Telecom Development, Management and Network Planning, Adoption of Emerging Technologies and Manpower development. He also served two of Telocom Public Sector Enterprises, namely MTNL and TCIL during their initial period of incorporation. He established labs and prepared course-ware for Advance Level Telecom Training Canter, Ghaziabad, a UNDP Project.
Mr. Rakesh Kumar is on the Board of Quality Circle Forum of India as well as on the Board of Quality Council of India.
Q. While you were addressing the audience in the morning, you had mentioned an incidence in which you snatched a balloon from an English boy when you were just 6 months old, somewhat right after Indian independence. How do you feel when you cherish those memories?
Ans. For me that incident reflects transformation of our nation from colonial mindset to independent where any unconditioned mind is fearless and our young students stands equal opportunities if not better in this Global market place. Like this incident, everything in life should teach you something. Observe every minute thing and be a keen learner. Big researches begin from small thoughts and observations. Always be prepared to learn from everyone no matter what his status is. Learn from their body language, character etc.
Q. What do you feel about today’s educational facilities?
Ans. First of all, today’s students are really fortunate to have all these facilities and environment that we did not have in our time. I have been in the best of institutes of those times. At Muir Allahabad where I did B.Sc. and at IIT BHU, where I did B.Sc.(Engg) Honors Mechanical, hostel room one had to pay extra Rs. 5/- to have fan. Toilets were far away and common bath room were in lobby, without Geyser. We had to spent lot of time in library for our project works. Today you have Google one touch and all information is available at finger tip. The mode of education and pedagogy has changed so also the set of skills required. There are more opportunities waiting to be grabbed. You have to decide what type of job you need on long term basis. Money is important. The opportunity to learn, career graph and work culture are as important.
Q. So do you think that being devoid of facilities made you work more to achieve your goals?
Ans. I had never seen better facilities, so I was satisfied that was available. At Tata Steels, there was lot of practical learning; In Telecom Department again it was emerging technologies, their adoption, operations, and management of the equipment, the work force and the customers that kept us on our toes. Customer expectations were always more demanding. Being a Mechanical Engineer and MBA by qualification, I had inclination towards the installation, testing & commissioning and customer related issues. Technology per-se was of little interest. Every time I sought for change the ways things are being done or challenged the specifications itself, there would be resistance. However my seniors would simply advise me that ‘Rakesh, you are right, but…’. So eventually, I had to work differently, always keeping in mind how to mitigate the customer problem without compromising with large number of out dated rules and keeping bosses in good humour.
Q. You have proven yourself in different fields of work and have been in different designations. Has this all happened because of your hard work?
Ans. Basically, I do not believe in sitting long hours in office unless it is absolutely necessary. I believe in training my juniors, winning their trust, available for suggestions and team working and delegation of power after being satisfied of the person. However I am little intolerant for indiscipline and excuses. This message gets conveyed within 3 to 4 days of my taking over the new charge.
Being a technocrat, consultant and strategic manager, a teacher and a quality expert are not different, these fields are integral and quality is required in every field. No one can teach these things, one has to learn through observations and experimentation. At new assignments, I would learn from my staff for as much time as needed, without feeling ashamed. Then strategise how to improve upon and take risk, the typical PDCA cycle. Even while sharing Rabbit and Tortoise story with my grandson, where the moral of story is slow and study wins the race, you have to keep on modifying it to make it interesting and give new meaning. We together have already worked 8 different stories each giving different message developed by employing different strategies. New strategies and messages are being worked out.
Q. Do you feel that the greenery of ABV-IIITM is in any way a support to the quality council, that you have been a part of?
Ans. Of course, balancing between technology and natural ecology is an important aspect of every institution and this institute is exemplary in the task. I must congratulate every member of this institute and specially Prof. Deshmukh; Director through whose untiring efforts this wonderful eco-system has been developed.
Q. MTNL had a large number of users but its usage had drastically dropped in the recent years. What do you think has caused this?
Ans. Unlike other services, Telecom and Aviation are the two services which can be profitable when they have no geographical barrier. MTNL land-line is limited to two metros namely Delhi and Mumbai. However its Mobile service covers entire NCR region in Delhi and only Mumbai Metropolitan area. It has no growth potential but has to compete with Private Service providers that have not only national but also International connectivity. Any turnaround is possible with merger with National player.
Q. So why not merge MTNL and BSNL?
Ans. Policy decision is needed. There are stake holders; some of them have different views or vested interests. Policy announcement followed by committing resources and clear direction for adhering to timeline is equally important. We can’t have the luxury to wait and allow these institutes to be a burden.
Q. What kind of message do you want to pass on to the future generations?
Ans. Be a solution provider and not a product delivers. Never doubt ‘can it be done?’, instead do it and show. Try to come up with cost efficient and practical technology. Show empathy to those who are less fortunate and help them. Develop a few leaders and not the mere workers.
Team of This Interview
- Raktim Patar
- Sakshi chahal
- Barre Rishvanth
- Mathangi Akash Kumar
- Haritha S
- Soumya Veldandi