Bias for action and perseverance to get the ideas executed in collaborative style to take the team along differentiates a successful leader- Mr Rajesh Kumar Singh-IIM Calcutta- PGPEX- Class of 2010

Please share just what comes to you when you reflect back on the journey.

It has been an immense learning and rewarding experience filled with great risks and challenges as well. Very few people have courage to leave civil services .  I took the decision against all odds at the time of great recession in March 2009. The placement in all institutes was very poor and more so for executives with experience.  I had to manage with one offer from Infosys  which was far below expectations. I didn’t let it affect my spirit and  made it a point to understand the current processes in entire talent life cycle deeply and identify gaps to build interventions accordingly to add significant value in a very short time .

Very few companies are able to reverse the downside once it starts. I realised that the key is to identify the companies which are in growing phase with robust business model and value system .  I resigned from Infosys without any offer in hand as was feeling highly frustrated in the prevailing environment .  The offer from  Alcon, Eye care division of Novartis came in third month of my notice period.  Alcon tenure  provided me  a deeper understanding of nuances of Talent management and leadership development. I was lucky to play the role of Head HR for 6 months after one year  as my superior proceeded  on Maternity leave. In March 2015  I got an offer from Alkem – one of the largest Indian Pharma companies for AVP HR and became Head HR within  3 months of joining . A few weeks back , I have resigned from Alkem  to start a venture in Healthcare with a few closest friends from IIM and civil services.

There is a huge element of chance in success however we don’t have any control over that. We  must have critical thinking to analyse issues deeply through multiple angles . Bias for action and perseverance to get  the ideas executed in collaborative style to take the team along differentiates a successful leader. I have learnt to enjoy the process as much as the outcome. Getting emotionally connected with our self  , team & work is vital in giving our best. That is possible only when we work for the organisations/  individuals  which are truly respected and one should never compromise on that.
A brief intro on what triggered the MBA decision at that point of time?

There was high sense of security and prestige in the civil services in the view of external world  . Time bound seniority based  promotion , a cushy  but   less meaningful  work environment makes one prone to inertia in government . The role of government in communication was shrinking where I was working  with major role only being in regulation and licensing . The goal of the bloated bureaucracy in Ministry was to create work with little value addition for empire building . As  I was not enjoying the work and  was restless hence  took the plunge to lead the life I wanted to value.
How was the MBA experience, both as a student and now as a professional ?

It was a very demanding schedule in IIM Calcutta with  a few brilliant batchmates making it highly competitive environment  . Most in the batch were from IT services sector as everyone was looking for Nirvana through MBA which didn’t materialise in the placement for a vast majority including me. I  see many batchmates still struggling which bring the chance / randomness factor into mind for achieving success.

I have reached Head HR position for one of the largest Pharma companies which may seem a great accomplishment however this is just a beginning for greater goal of becoming entrepreneur and creating value for society . There were many frustrating moments along the way however I never diminished my effort to learn and continuous develop to  add value to the organisations where I was working.
How does the B-school life transform one as an individual? Can you please share your key learning’s applied in your work front?

Multidisciplinary approach helps in analysing issues in totality from various angles.  The demanding schedule prepares one for any stressful work later. The bonds we form with peers also help a lot throughout the life. B school life  also fosters a spirit of learning.

Experience is a bigger teacher however  education helps in providing foundation. The ability to identify the current and emerging issues and build interventions aligned with key stakeholders’ expectations to deliver value has been a good learning .
In your view, what are factors one must consider before embarking on the MBA journey? Aptitude, career aspirations, work experience etc?
Experienced executives must factor the risk for full time MBA as opportunity cost is significantly high and the returns uncertain as market  looks  for relevant experience hence changing functions and domain is really a challenge. People should not expect dramatic results and have realistic expectation of switching sectors and functions .

What would be your advice to future MBA aspirants?

Start early in pursuit of MBA. At later stage go for part time or executive education without leaving job is better option as the risk is too high. Always be ready to tackle the key challenges. Never give up pursuit of realising potential and work hard to the fullest capacity you have.

Please share your LinkedIn profile?


2 thoughts on “Bias for action and perseverance to get the ideas executed in collaborative style to take the team along differentiates a successful leader- Mr Rajesh Kumar Singh-IIM Calcutta- PGPEX- Class of 2010”

  1. I know Rajesh for past 16 months. We met at Alcon, where he had allowed me to to meet him, when I was pitching for getting empaneled with Alcon as a recruiting vendor.

    When I met him, he did spend good time telling me a bit about Alcon and current open positions. I could see the glean and the pride and prestige of being someone who is leading hiring for some key positions (some of them confidential search). I realized that he was very glad to be in the position where his bias for action would work. Enjoyed working with him as he was quite responsive and his demands were very clear, only top ties B schools and only great company folks he wanted to hire. At the same side on the personal side, he did mention about his role and boss, who he found was more of a peer than a boss. This is a good thing for someone who has bias for action. He did mention that formula for success. That is, Competency+Opportunity+a BIG randomness. I liked that as it was rhyming with my experience. I could sense that he was enjoying his role where he thought he can make those BIG shifts by hiring top talent into Alcon. But as usually happens, the HR guy realizes that hiring is a high pitch recruiting (read marketing) campaign and a low compromised Selection chore. After much a do, internal guys are selected or the position is abandoned. Till the time we less experienced and naive into HR, we do not learn that the hiring for tactical positions are more political than ‘game changing’, moment of truth, paradigm shifting move. Or else every company would have become Jack Welch’s GE, Steve Jobs Apple and Lou Gerstner’s IBM. Rajesh is passionate about what he does but I found him, less aware of the sesmic zones around him. He is so non political. People who will work under him will get phenomenal learning. Unfortunately his bias for premier/top tier B school is a bit counter-intuitive. His current team in HR is all non-ranked B school folks. Even in his previous company his boss was non-MBA, non-premier. Though he hired a few in previous company into the team with a Premier B school tag! I am not judging but, he could have hired much better candidates. I may be wrong but there was too much focus on symbols and perceptions than tangibles in identifying a candidate or else why would an MNC hire their Talent Acquisition Manager with just 2.5 years of experience, that too a non-lateral MBA candidate, (Fresh grad doing an MBA)? That too from a highly niche tech product company, which hardly hires and if they do, they hire from select engineering colleges. Just an example so that we learn and I open to feedback. We need to learn that, you should not change hiring plan so often for such critical positions. Market knows, you are hiring and then you are not hiring after much ado. But an HR guys has no no control over it, I know. Rajesh believes in meritocracy but has probably not found time to establish it that way. If you have a PCHRM (a certificate) from XLRI as your Talent Management head for India and suddenly he becomes Talent Management Head for 11 countries of that MNC, you will find yourself cheated or in wrong place for sure.
    I wish Rajesh all the best for his entrepreneurial journey that will embark soon.

  2. I knew Rajesh from last couple of years. I worked with him in Alkem HR when he joined and taken position of AVP HR. He is very positive; Straight forward and result oriented personality. He gives all the freedom to perform the tasks also guide well whenever needed. As he said education is a foundation so he helps people to upgrade their foundation time to time. It was pleasure while working with him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *