The stunning Corporate Editor of CNBC, Ms Shereen Bhan, also the Chairperson for the session, welcomed the participants with her dazzling smile. The turn of events in the last few quarters has taught us to strike a balance between looking inward and outward, she said. We have to also get back to the basics and our core values – all the more difficult to do so at the time of downturn, where mere survival becomes a challenge at times. With this, comes the need for being adaptive combined with agility. Protectionism imposed by US has taught us that the rules of the game may change overnight, upsetting all strategies and long-term plans. There are companies which look inward at such times and seek out a solution, whereas others who set a mandate by drawing parallels from outside. There is a lot to be learnt from customer feedback and comparing with those of other industries. She also talked about innovation and how it can make a difference. Ms Bhan then invited Mr Rajiv Bajaj to take the dais.
Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto Ltd: He has been a regular speaker at NILF and on a lighter vein remarked as to why he wasn’t invited last year. Wellness, he went on to say, was not only absence of disease but also a state of calm and poise, which is more a state of the mind. When we see the problem outside-in, it is more of addressing the symptoms than the internal malaise. He cited the example of the great Homeopath Dr Hahnemann and drew parallels from the noble profession. Like Shereen Bhan, he also talked about maintaining a balance between the two approaches. We must adjust our sail to the direction of the wind, he said, otherwise we run the danger of being swept away by greed and commodisation. The biggest challenge today is to be able to respond to stimuli on a daily basis and balance internal and external pressures. Parallels can be drawn from other industries as well. The job of a CEO is to oversee the perfect alignment of front-end interfaces to backend processes. Mr Bajaj also stressed on the importance of specialisation in this new environment, as opposed to generalists. He concluded by saying that before we embark on a possibility, we must be sure to define the principles.
N Chandrasekaran, CEO & MD Tata Consultancy Services: Pricing pressure is another area of concern and the size of your share of the pie will depend a lot on how you address this. He gave the TCS example on making the right bets and choosing the appropriate delivery models. Positive cash flows in future, that will sustain the business, is as important as realising your core strength and building on it. Mr Chandrasekaran also talked about diversification, but keeping a strict watch on ROI. Services are different from products and a pull strategy, rather than push, would work more effectively, he said. Mr Chandrasekaran talked about Innovation, knowledge sharing and responsive to change as some of the differentiators between winners and the also-rans.
Paul Hermelin, Group CEO, Capgemini: Acquisition of E&Y’s Consultancy and IT services in 2001 was an example in integration and how organisations overcome the initial challenge. By 2003, the environment was quite different, coming out of the dot com bust and riding on the power of Internet. 2006 was the year when the workforce quadrupled in India and it was about managing scale, yet retaining the core values of the organisation. Mr Hermalin spoke highly of the opportunities in India and he feels that by 2013, the country will be right up there in terms of growth. If a change in pricing policy needs to be introduced then end customers must see a distinct value proposition, he said. The tragedy in Haiti was an example of how globalisation was connecting people. The key also lay in a collaborative approach to problem solving. He concluded with quoting a Beatles song, “ we can work it out” and from another “with a little help from my friends”.