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Great minds: Meet Abhijit Bhaduri, Chief Learning Officer of WIPRO (105,000 employees learning...)

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I am pleased to introduce you to Abhijit Bhaduri, who has the challenging mandate of helping WIPRO's 105,000 employees to learn... Abhijit is the Chief Learning Officer of Wipro Ltd and is based out of Bangalore,India. He is a man of multiple facets: he loves theatre and has acted in plays staged in India, Kuala Lumpur and US. He hosted a popular radio show in US, about classic Hindi movies and film music. The ever popular B School novel - MEDIOCRE BUT ARROGANT is his debut novel. The sequel MARRIED BUT AVAILABLE has also been featured in several bestseller lists ...

 

Estelle: What skills do you want your employees to have to allow the company to succeed in the next 20 years ?

AB: In 1990, we could not have seen the all pervasive influence of things like social media and the mobile phone in our lives. Who could have thought of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the financial crisis and the global recession. So for me to make a prediction for the next 20 years is to set myself up for failure !

I believe that leaders who bring in a multi function, multi business and multi geography perspective will succeed better since business opportunities are going to lie at intersection points. For instance: When you have a leader who understands not just mobile technology but also consumer needs around entertainment or education, there is a business opportunity. If that person were to be a designer, you have a brilliant combination. I believe the consumer will become more sophisticated and look beyond meeting purely functional needs. They will look for design and aesthetics in the products or services. Leaders who are equally at home in quantitative analysis as they are in understanding qualitative nuances will be more successful. Clearly people who have a more eclectic education - say Finance, Human Resources and Design will be valuable. A more international outlook will make a leader comfortable in not only understanding cultural nuances of the consumer but will also build a more inclusive work environment which will attract the best talent globally.

Estelle: How do YOU learn ?

AB: I learn by reading a wide variety of blogs, magazines and talking to a very diverse group of people from different professions. That helps me to learn about trends and developments. I am especially interested in understand points where technology impacts human behavior. Mass fiction and movies that have mass appeal give us ways to understand societal shifts. I like to follow Gautam Ghosh's blog http://www.gautamblogs.com/ for stuff related to Organizations. Harvard blogs http://blogs.hbr.org/ for ideas on business and leadership. I read Santosh Desai's blog to get insights about consumers in India http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Citycitybangbang/ and I read author Shobhaa De's blog http://shobhaade.blogspot.com/.

Here are additional sources I enjoy:

I also learn a great deal from Twitter. I try to follow approx 40 people on Twitter - never more than that. (If I add someone, I necessarily drop someone to keep the number manageable). This is by far the most useful tool for me to read a wide variety of ideas in the shortest possible time. The 140 character limit forces people to be crisp. Twitter is a terrific tool that lets you get updates in various fields across the world. The trick is to follow leaders who aggregate and filter information or else one could drown in information overload. My favorites on twitter are @DanSchawbel, @dtapscott, @Atanubasu @competia @ted_talks

 

Estelle:  How do you make sure WIPRO's  90,000 employees keep learning ? Any innovative initiative you can talk about ?

AB: Actually we have 105,000 employees ! - and they need to be updated constantly on technical skills and also their leadership perspectives. Our model works on the principle of Leaders Build Leaders. All our senior leaders including Mr Azim Premji our Chairman spend time with a cross section of leaders at different levels. When these leaders teach a class, they distil lessons they have learnt and pass it on to others. These sessions also serve to give the leaders an opportunity to get ideas from the field.

Note from Estelle: I like this video from Azim Premji about "Failure Is Essential Part of Process"


Offering challenging assignments across businesses and in different parts of the world has worked well for us. We have formed a consortium of Leaders drawn from different companies around the world. These provide an opportunity for leaders to see how the same problem is interpreted and solved differently by different businesses and in different countries. The result is that we are able to fill 80% of our vacancies with leaders grown from within. We also get in leaders at strategic levels who bring in new ideas and perspectives. That helps us to retain an entrepreneurial culture even as we are growing across 50 countries across business as diverse as IT, Solar Energy, Hydraulics, Consumer Goods and consulting !

 

Estelle: You have multiple lives: chief learning officer, writer, art critic...how do you reconcile those ?

AB: They all co-exist. Each one gives me a chance to draw on insights that I can use to fuel my other passions. I enjoy writing popular fiction because it gives me a chance to see how well I can convey a complex plotline in a manner that engages a very diverse group of readers. Writing regularly for my website, helps build discipline of following a routine. Dealing with rejection slips from publishers (and I got plenty of them!) has taught me lessons in resilience that I would never have learnt. The feedback from the readers tells me how I should sharpen my skills. It has taught me how to use the social media. It taught me how to market my ideas. So of all my interests, clearly writing has been the most enriching. That is where it all converges.

 

Estelle: Can you name a few blindspots companies have not yet noticed

AB: Teaching leaders how to manage a multi generational workforce that comes from different socio-economic-political backgrounds in a global world is a huge area of development that we have not started addressing adequately. By that I mean getting beyond cross cultural sensitivity training. Learning how to lead and communicate with these groups of people, getting them to evangelize your ideas, using a combination of technology and face to face communication to influence while at the same time seeking their ideas is a complex leadership role.

 

You can read Abhijit at at http://abhijitbhaduri.com/

 

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  • Posted by facebook status ideas said:

    15/07/2011 7:25am (6 years ago) I’m hoping the same very best perform from you in the long run also. In fact your inventive writing skills has inspired me to begin my own Blog engine blog now.

  • 22/06/2011 1:06am (6 years ago) By this I mean to go beyond cultural awareness sessions. Learning to manage and communicate with these groups of people, leading them to evangelize their ideas, using a combination of technology and face to face communication to influence, while at the same time their ideas is a complex leadership role.

  • Posted by Estelle Metayer said:

    22/06/2010 5:41am (7 years ago) You are welcome, Sweta... why don't you introduce yourself here as well ?

  • Posted by Shweta said:

    20/05/2010 2:52am (8 years ago) Hats off Abhijit,
    Nice intro on Abhijit ,thanks a lot

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