Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Know Your Alumni Series : Samyeer Metrani

Samyeer Metrani
VP - Design Services, Mistral Solutions Inc.

Total Years of Experience: 22 Years.
Role Before Joining PGSEM: Group manager - Embedded Systems, Encore software Limited
Role After Completing PGSEM: General manager @ Encore Software Limited.

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself. [Family, Education, hobbies]                         

I’m married; I have two children, Saket (11) and Saatchi (6), and a lovely wife. My father was in the Airforce, so my education was all over India. For some time I was in boarding school too, at the Lawrence School, Lovedale near Ooty. I have an unconventional education, I am a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, but have been a technical geek playing with computers since I was 12. Computers for me were a hobby, and have become my life.

Q. Please describe your current job/role that you perform?

Mistral is an Embedded Design Services company. We help our customers design embedded products, and help them take those designs all the way through prototyping, firmware development, testing, product validation, certification, all the way to shipping product.
I head the design services group for Mistral in the United States. It is primarily a front-end role. I interface with customers and partners to manage the business that we do in the United States.
On one hand, I focus on building strategic relationships with silicon partners. For example, Mistral is one of the key suppliers of development platforms for the Texas Instruments OMAP processor. We leverage the expertise developed, towards building solutions for customers who would like to use the OMAP processor in their designs.
On the other hand, I work closely with the end customer, keeping a finger on their pulse, and making sure projects are going well. Keeping communication channels open, and making sure that issues, both sides of the planet are open and discussed.

Q. What would be the most challenging aspect of your role?

That’s easy…its keeping communication going...we operate in a global relay race, with teams working all over the world. We have to make sure that all information on everything that is going on is available to everybody who needs to know.
I spend a lot of time listening; to our teams, to customers, and am always looking for that “small thing” that got missed. Big problems get the visibility and because of that are pretty easy to solve, it’s the small ones that get ignored and become the real problems that we sometimes face. Problems/mistakes happen; keeping communication going through a crisis is the primary requirement to come out looking good on the other side.

Q. How did PGSEM help transform your career?

I remember my first day at PGSEM. You know how it is, you go through life, doing well in school, college, at work, did well at the entrance exam, and here I am…and generally think… “Damn! I’m good!” …and then you walk into a classroom full of people who feel exactly the same way about themselves. A humbling, and a very learning experience.
PGSEM really took me from trying to do everything myself to working out how I can work together with others to achieve a common objective. It changed my approach towards colleagues, suppliers, partners and most importantly customers. It also helped me focus on structure and technique towards doing things. Studying, while working, had the powerful advantage that I could test my understanding of what happened in the classroom, in the real world of the workplace.

Q. What are the trends that you see in the business space today in terms of the skill requirements and the supply of the same?

There is a convergence and consolidation that is going on across all sectors our industry services. The big are getting bigger, and the small are getting swallowed up. This introduces new challenges as we look for ways to differentiate at what we do. The customer is not always ready with a problem they are looking to solve, it is up to us to come up with new concepts, new designs, new products and services…
In the words of Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for faster horses!”
The industry needs people who can change, who can innovate, who are willing and able to tear up the status quo to create a new reality, come on…10 years ago Google was a search engine!

Q. Describe THE incident which has influenced you the most to be what you are today.

It was in 1982, I had just come back from boarding school for the summer and we had gone to Bombay (now Mumbai) to meet my grandparents. Sitting there in front of the TV was a Home Computer, the ZX Spectrum. That was when I was introduced to the virtual world of computing. I spent a lot of time that summer learning basic, and showing off to my brother and cousins how I could make it do what I asked of it. I was hooked, that wonder has not worn off, and I hope it never will. I no longer have that ZX Spectrum computer, but I have the manual, over the years the pages have rotted, and have stuck together, I can no longer open it, and I don’t want to lest it comes apart, but it holds the pride of place on my bookshelf as a reminder of my introduction to computers.

Q. What do you think are the key attributes of a good leader?

1.       Decision Making – The ability and the willingness to take a call.
2.       Consistency or actually Clarity – a leader needs to be clear about what he stands for, and consistent (even predictable) in standing by it.
3.       Willingness to be wrong – and taking corrective action quickly.
Q. Whom do you consider as your Role Model and Why?

That would be Mr. Subroto Bagchi. I first met Mr. Bagchi over 14 years ago. At that time I was running a small startup from a house in Bangalore, he was a senior figure in Wipro, much before he started MindTree. He treated me with the same respect that he would give to somebody from a much larger company. Every time I have met him since he not only remembers those times, but takes the effort to know a little more about me.
I am not surprised to see how far Mr. Bagchi has gone, and I hope that I live up to the picture of myself that he set up for me.

Q. What is your take on the importance of a value system in business?

While I believe that business should have a value system I believe more, that a value system is what the individual lives by. No business can impose a value system onto an individual or a team, but people who believe in similar values can come together and become a very powerful force. I sincerely believe that if we treat the other person (customer, partner, colleague…no matter) exactly the way that we would like to be treated, we will do well. A slightly tongue-in-cheek example that I give often to people starting a new career, “May the person who builds your house do his work with exactly the same commitment that you give to your work!”

Q. What is your Mantra for work life balance?

This is a tough one, especially because I am a bit of a Workaholic. I have a fantastic wife who will tell me when I’m going too far…and I guess to my credit, I listen. I do the work, she provides the balance.

Q. Your message to students at IIMB-PGSEM today?

There is a significant need for leadership in our industry. After the PGSEM you are ready to take it up…but nobody is going to come to you and say, “You are ready, now lead!” You need to step up and ask for it, and make sure you get it. Knowledge and ability is of no value unless it is put to use, go ahead and show the world what you can do.

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