Friday, July 06, 2007

Subroto Bagchi's talk at MMA

Subroto Bagchi was at Madras Management Association Forum yesterday and gave a captivating talk on High Performance Entrepreneurship. I would have expected a usual stuff on Entrepreneurship laced with lofty terms such as passion, idea etc only if I hadn't been following his a-spade-is-a-spade columns in magazines. Perhaps others too had, since it was a housefull. And Subroto did not disappoint them at all. With true elan, he began by asking the audience what is the foremost quality needed in an entrepreneur. Lots of hands went up, and audience provided predictable answers such as passion, idea, marketable IP such as an invention. Subrato dismissed these at once and stated that that one quality was the love for money!

He ran a thirty minute film that featured three modern day entrepreneurs of very diverse type - V G Siddartha of Cafe Coffee Day, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon and Capt G R Gopinath of Deccan Aviation. The background and the triggers for these three to take to the journey of entrepreneurship are very different. Siddhartha is from a family of coffee estate owners and wanted to go beyond the family vocation rather than continue to trade in a commodity. Kiran went to Australia in the 70s to train as a brew master and when she came back, no company would offer her a position as a brew master - it was considered a man's job in those days.She started Biocon from a garage (Yes, it is not just HP that started this way!) and found an Irish customer, did lot of things right, and today Biocon and Kiran are what they are. Capt Gopinath, contrary to my previously held impression, is not a pilot himself. Infact, he is from the Army's Aviation Corps but he is not a pilot. His turning point was when one of his (newly retired services) pilot friends informed him that he got a job with a courier company. Recalled Capt Gopinath in the film, "I was at Phoenix airport waiting for a helicopter to pick me up and while waiting there, I calculated that this airport handles about 1000 flights a day. This is the number more than all the airports in India put together". He had to do something.Simplify he decided, and created Deccan Aviation.Interestingly, it turned out while watching the film, prior to plunging into Aviation business, Capt Gopinath had taken to bio-farming as a career and was quite successful in that too.

Subroto Bagchi traced the steps of entrepreneurship with the help of more than a few slides, and it would be a great ready reckoner to anyone who reads them. He cautioned potential entrepreneurs against common problems and emphasized the need to define the values of the organization at the very outset.He also impressed the importance of a written business plan and pointed out that most entrepreneurs, shy away from having a documented business plan. He interspersed his talk with several anecdotes and we got an example of the personality that he is."When Mr. Premji would come to my office, he would ask me if I was available to meet him at a specific time. Not that I could say no, but I would make the pretense of checking my calendar and then tell him yes we could meet. It was such a convenient arrangement". (Azim Premji was Subrato's boss at Wipro).

A very memorable evening. Next time you hear Mr Bagchi is in your city, find out where he is speaking, drop everything and run. Promise, you won't regret. For the records, Subroto has authored a book on this subject called High-performance Entrepreneur. Thank you Mr. Bagchi for the truly wonderful session.

(PS: And if you are from MMA / Mindtree and have the copy Mr Bagchi's slides, please mail them to me!)


1 comment:

daksh said...

Nice description of the entire thing :)

btw good blog !!