Leadership mantra today is perform and transform, says Volvo India’s MD at visionary leadership summit at IIMB


Bengaluru: Students of the Post Graduate Programme in Enterprise Management (PGPEM) at IIM Bangalore hosted new economy leaders and entrepreneurs at ‘Drishti 2018’ – a Visionary Leadership Summit and Alumni event, on February 11 (Sunday), 2018.

Drishti 2018 is also special as it marks the 20th year of the Post Graduate Programme in Enterprise Management (PGPEM) at IIM Bangalore. Former chairs of the programmes and Administrative Officers were felicitated on the occasion.

The ceremonial lamp was lit by Professor G. Raghuram, Director, IIMB, Kamal Bali, President and Managing Director, Volvo India, and Siddharth, President, Student Affairs Council, PGPEM at IIMB to inaugurate, Drishti 2018, the day-long event.

“Volvo also has just completed 20 years of incorporation in India, and the coincidence of IIMB’s PGPEM also completing 20 years resonates with me,” remarked Bali, in his opening address.

Drawing lessons from his career spanning 36 years, the head of Volvo India, in his 20-minute talk, said: “Almost 40 per cent of what our Class 12 students are studying will not be relevant 10 years from now when they begin working because they will be working at jobs that are yet to be imagined or created.” The solution, he declared, was in disruption. “From asset-led businesses of the past, we have moved to idea-led businesses that are asset light like Uber and Air BnB.”

Technology, digitization and changing demographics, he explained, have been creating a fundamental shift in the way businesses are run. “Organizational arrogance is passe; we have to take the way of collaboration and partnership. Iconic brands like Kodak and Nokia have learnt this, the hard way,” he added.

In India, Bali said, growth drivers include internet adoption, rapid urbanization, emerging markets and the rise of the start-up culture. “Youngsters, between 31-35 years of age, in metro cities in India, comprise our start-up ecosystem. Aggregators and e-Commerce have matured; education, healthcare and fin-tech are emerging, and AI is the next big thing. Almost 325 new starts-ups are working at addressing India’s challenges in education, healthcare and energy.”

Describing these drivers as a “huge opportunity”, he urged entrepreneurs as well as policy makers to address fundamental issues like providing right education and skills, delivering public services digitally, empowering rural areas and farm incomes, providing sustainable mobility and infrastructure, and building ‘Brand India’ and encouraging MSME sector in order to create jobs. “When people say India, they should think ‘value’,” he remarked, saying Indian MSMEs in India should occupy the space between Germany – the brand that brings to mind hi-tech precision and China, the brand that most associate with ‘mass-production’.

Listing start-ups from across the world, from Africa to the UK, that Indian start-ups can draw inspiration from, Bali spent a few minutes on disruption in the automotive sector and shared the recipe for entrepreneurial leadership in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world. “Identify what sets you apart, balance the culture-structure steering systems, empower, excite and galvanize teams, develop a mindset of trust, transparency and collaboration, nurture diversity and the habit of innovation and experimentation, and stay relevant to your customer and enhance value creation by co-creation.”

In his welcome address, Professor G. Raghuram, Director, IIMB, spoke of the impending review of the PGPEM programme and invited alumni feedback. “Group togetherness must be emphasized in a programme like the PGPEM which is for working professionals, but we will look at structuring the programme in such a way that we can leverage technology-led distance courses without sacrificing the value of human interaction.”

Moderating a panel on Big data and AI at Drishti 2018, the visionary leadership summit at IIMB, today (Feb 11), Professor U Dinesh Kumar, faculty and Chair, Data Analytics Lab at IIMB, offered a brief overview of the growing opportunities for application of AI in enhancing business revenues.

The first panellist, Sairam Krishnan, Director BAI and Insights, Microsoft, spoke on how Artificial Intelligence transforms business with data and AI, using case studies from Rolls-Royce, Thyssenkrupp, and Deschutes Brewery.

“AI can add value – almost $ 1.2 trillion in revenue in the next 3 years – by augmenting businesses’ reasoning, understanding and interacting abilities,” he observed, explaining that start-ups should leverage digital transformation and AI to deliver rich customer experiences by optimizing operations, anticipating customer needs, enabling employees and transforming products.

The second panellist, Prakash Palanisamy, Country MD, Thorogood Associates, and IIMB alumnus (PGPEM 2016), spoke on Technology Disruptions and IT Services and the entrepreneurial opportunity that AI provides.

“In a VUCA world, we are all in muddy waters – we do not know what will happen in our businesses in the long-term. We need direction. IT service providers can give this direction by providing agility to businesses and helping them keep an eye on the future. Tech entrepreneurs can contribute by understanding business goals, defining technical possibilities and understanding the opportunities,” he said, urging them to build niche services organizations, which, he said, would become profitable and sustainable.

Panel discussions on Entrepreneurial Leadership, sessions on augmented reality and virtual reality and artificial intelligence, and workshops on new age tools and metrics like design thinking and venture capital funding marked the day-long summit.

Speakers at the summit included Dipesh Shah, MD, Samsung Research India; Tapan Singhel, MD, Bajaj Allianz; Anuj Gulati, MD & CEO, Religare Health; Adhil Shetty, CEO, BankBazzar; Shunil Maheswari, Co-founder, Mango Technologies/ Triumb Tech; Saveen Hegde, Design Thinker and Business Storyteller, Unbox2learn.com; Amuleek Singh-CEO, Chai Point; Shanti Mohan, Founder, LetsVenture; Shubha Ramachandran from Biome Solutions; Anirudh Sharma of ‘35 Innovators Under 35’ fame; and Subramanian Swamy, MP, Rajya Sabha.