Perception vs. Reality

Perception vs. Reality

 It is amazing what a good brand name can do to your business. But there is nothing cosmetic about a brand’s perception. Infact, in reality it is all the cause and effect of how the brand has delivered to its customers and other stakeholders. A good brand has the additional responsibility of living up to its name and sometimes the operational and strategic aspects of the business fail to keep pace with the perception outside. I sure was in awe of one such brand – Infosys. When I first visited their campus in Bengaluru in the year 1999, I had just started studying engineering. And working at Infosys, for any engineer in the country, was a dream come true. Its iconic leaders, a carefully designed training programme and not to mention its best-in-class campuses were enticing for a college student.

12 years later, I was ready for my second visit to the same campus. This time, though, I was visiting as a journalist to interview Mohandas Pai, board member and director and head, Finacle, administration, human resources, Infosys Leadership Institute and education and research. The interview was my primary motive, no doubt, but I also wanted to determine, through this revisit, if a new college graduate still aspires, to the same degree, to work at Infosys. Without any data or factual evidence, my perception was that managing talent was Pai’s primary challenge at the company. And I wanted to understand what strategies Pai had up his sleeve to tackle this problem. Some insight into managing a very large workforce – 130,000 people spread across myriad locations – was something I looked forward to. Our discussion spanned everything from attracting new college graduates to creating multiple layers of leadership at the company. Overall, the conversation with Pai was an experience like no other.

In our cover story this edition, I have attempted to share with our readers several key learnings from Pai. An understanding of Infosys’ strategies, systems and procedures and operational processes can certainly help your business grow to the next level. But, here is a quick takeaway for you – while several of these operational procedures helped the company make better decisions, keeping things simple and uncomplicated was always top priority.

After the interview, Vinod, an administration executive in Pai’s team, convinced me to go on a campus tour. “The average age here on campus is twenty-six. We have to keep them engaged continuously,” mentioned Vinod. It was a Thursday and 20-something engineers and professionals were cycling around the 85-acre campus, downing burgers and planning out for an annual cultural programme. It was as if they were reliving their college lives. Vinod mentioned that it was not just about the perks – he was convinced youngsters came to Infosys for career growth and to lay the foundation for their career ahead. At that point of time, I thought, maybe, just maybe, Infosys was still that revered employer at engineering colleges in the country.

Also in this edition, we introduce to you a new section – a day in my life. Our writer, S. Meera had a casual chat with Anupam Mittal, founder and CEO of People Group – the parent company behind Shaadi.com, about a typical day in his life – if there was one. It is a quick, fun read and Meera and I are convinced this section will be a hit with our readers.

As always, we hope you enjoy reading this edition of The Smart CEO.

Prem Sivakumaran is co-founder & CEO of Growth Mechanics, a leadership and entrepreneurship-focused business content company in India. Growth Mechanics publishes The Smart CEO, a publication focused on enabling peer-to-peer knowledge exchange among C-level executives and board members. The platform reaches over 1.2 lakh CXOs across its website, app, print publication & CEO Round Tables, and has featured on the cover India’s leading business leaders/founders from Infosys, Mindtree, Tata Sons, ICICI Bank, Biocon, Yes Bank and several others. In addition of Smart CEO, Growth Mechanics also organises the Startup50 Conference & Awards, an annual event to recognize India’s top 50 startups every year. Startup50 Alumni include Freshdesk, Oyo Rooms, Urban Ladder, Capital Float, Paperboat Beverages, among others. Growth Mechanics’ primary business model revolves around linking CXOs and Brands around engaging content and has worked with India’s leading companies including Mahindra Group, Godrej & Boyce, BASF, Airtel, Tata Docomo, Fiat, IDA Ireland, Yes Bank, Prestige Estates, Frederique Constant, Indian Terrain