“Tuning- in to one’s business environment is the single most important management tenet,” says Mr. K. Padmakumar
As a part of the industry interface programme of IMT Nagpur, on the 17th of March 2012 PGDM students of IMT Nagpur had the opportunity of interacting with a pioneer who had, by choosing an unconventional route, created an entire industry -Mr. K Padmakumar, Secretary of Public Sector Restructuring and Internal Audit Board, Kerala government.
“Our organization was started by Dr Rajagopal, the Industrial Secretary, who passed away at the age of 46. It was his mission that we translated and implemented. In 2004, the Indian government acknowledged the concept, by constituting the board for reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises. Now such bodies exist in 20 countries. So now, for specialization, there’ll be takers for it in say Bengal, Haryana or Rajasthan as well; something impossible 15 years back, as the industry didn’t exist.”
Mr. Padmakumar urged students to focus on the challenging sectors, where competition is scarce because no one cares. Despite being an engineer, his complete focus on industrial management aspects during his post graduation days, gave him the early bird advantage, and he was asked to head a DP project for Kerala. One thing led to the other and at about 30, he landed a fellowship to the commonwealth secretariat, followed by an ADB project amongst others.
“Over a period of time there has been lot of world-wide movement in corporate governance, especially in SOE’s. It’s good of IMT Nagpur to organize this interaction for its students, but SOE’s should also reciprocate in terms of industrial training.”
Mr. Padmakumar asked the students of IMT Nagpur to anticipate the challenges in e-governance. Preparedness in e-initiatives is low, and any e-initiative has to be based on an IT-strategy at the board level, which many companies find difficult to design, develop and implement. He gave the example of the effort by the e-governance authorities to try and educate contractors in the methodology of preparing a ‘terms of reference’ document – something you can only do if you know what you want. Mr. Padmakumar asked the IMT Nagpur students to closely watch the e-procurement initiative, where some standard softwares are being operated through the web, for use by various companies. It was a short-cut for better utilization of e-principles, but some serious leapfrogging was urgently needed. He ENCOURAGED IMT Nagpur, to invite public sector leaders to debate an e-strategy.
Mr. Padmakumar asked the young guns of IMT Nagpur to practice ethical management.
“One change I’m trying to bring in many companies is a culture of management professionalism. There is lot of infighting between managers. Focus on a corporate goal, and continuously upgrade your own skills and be transparent.”
He advised the IMT Nagpur batches to blend their energy and sense of opportunities with the expertise, procedure and knowledge of the experienced managers, but not be polluted by a ‘learned helplessness’.
“To our generation, Info-Tech is just about sacrificing health… sandwiches and coke and banging our head at 4 o’clock in the morning over a bug in a programme. Your generation has sound fundamentals in soft-skills and understands work-life balance better.”
He concluded with an emphatic reminder to the students of IMT, Nagpur about the single most management tenet.
“Excellent people from IIT’s and even IIM’s were picked by the public sector in the 80’s but moved abroad after some time. Had they tuned-in to their business environment, and had the companies turned competitive, this brain-drain wouldn’t have happened.”