Pradipt Kapoor is a senior executive in the IT organization at SITA, based out of London. For those who do not know, SITA is the world’s leading provider of communications and information technology solutions. In the airline industry, the computer terminals are often called SITA terminals. Pradipt is a great professional who came into IT from a non-IT background. He has been an entrepreneur is his previous life and he has this story that exemplifies professionalism.
“One of my sales managers in a past company came to me with great concern. He knew he was on the verge of signing a deal but he wasn’t convinced that the solution we were selling to the customer was needed by him. The customer seemed to want a “Rolls Royce” where a bi-cycle would do. It seemed that this was because the CEO of that organization wanted an IT solution without having any knowledge of IT. Even though the commission associated for the deal was big for the salesman, he felt uncomfortable. We went back to the customer seeking a meeting with the CEO. We explained our views to the astounded man. In doing what was the right and not the convenient thing the Sales manager not only won favor of the customer but also built the reputation of the company. He put his personal short term benefit to a side.”
Uplifting stories of professional conduct go beyond the white-collar mould. Here is one from Venkatesh Komarla who heads delivery at MindTree’s Knowledge Services business.
Venkatesh started life at MICO Bosch’s India operations as a graduate engineer right out of college where he picked up his first lesson in commitment and ownership, not from a CEO or from a management classroom but from two workers on the shop floor.
“While I have seen many examples of professional behavior quite a few times, the instance that I remember quite often is my experience at MICO, Bosch. I joined MICO straight from engineering school and immediately after training was placed on the workshop floor as its superintendent. This was the first shop floor started at MICO, in operation for almost 4 decades, and consequently had very experienced employees – most of them with a service record of over 20 plus years.
This workshop was marked for modernization in a different facility. Once the modernization was to be complete, the employees were supposed to move over to other jobs within other workshops. I continue to recollect the dealings of my two foremen – Prakash and Gundanna. Both were in their late forties, had a tremendous understanding of the manufacturing process, had good understanding of the operations, commanded the respect of their teams, and had given their best every single day.
Under any other circumstance, either of them could have easily taken over the stewardship of the entire workshop but here they were – asked to work with and report to a 22 year old workshop superintendent. They did aspire to become superintendents one day but this new reporting structure did not bother them one bit. They went about their work as they had done for decades. They ensured that I was brought up to speed on how things worked and helped me come up to speed on operation. No job was too mundane or no activity trivial. They took the same interest in every single activity. They did have personal concerns but never once let that affect the quality of work. Over a period of 6 months, we built a great relationship and smoothly transitioned off all the employees to other divisions as we closed down the shop. They were consummate professionals.”
Like Pradipt and Venkatesh, another great professional I have come to know is Warren Luedecker. Warren is a lawyer by profession. He is one of the most inclusive, most empathetic legal professionals I have ever met. Warren was corporate counsel at AIG when MindTree was engaged in protracted negotiations to win their business. Here is a touching account of ownership and commitment Warren has to share:
“A colleague was under a tight deadline for submission of a business plan. There was a tragic death in his family. The “professional” who had been a mentor to the colleague attended the services, consoled the colleague over the loss, cancelled a 3 day ski vacation to work with the colleague on the business plan and it was submitted on time without any attribution to the “professional”. However, the colleague had the courage to explain the genesis of the document and the result was a stronger bond in the unit of the organization.”