On May 25, 2012, the fifteenth batch of Post Graduate Programme in Software Enterprise Management (PGSEM) was inaugurated. Mr. Anjan Lahiri, President of IT Services at MindTree was the Chief Guest this year and delivered the keynote address. PGSEM, started in the year 1998 is a general management program offered exclusively to IT professionals. The incoming batch represents participants from 30+ companies and professional experience ranging from 2-15 years. The inauguration was followed by a guest lecture by Mr. Mansoor Khan on his topic Peak Oil and End of Growth – The Third Curve. Watch out for another post on what we heard from him. Orientation for the incoming batch was for three days which included ice breakers, industry talks, faculty sessions, sports and more fun.
Mr. Anjan discussed the topic - ‘Challenges of managing LOW growth for the Indian software industry’. He shared his views on why Indian software industry may not grow in the pace it had grown and what can mid-level professionals in the industry can do to manage their career in this ‘low’ growth industry. He started off with data which cannot be disputed to show how much Indian Software Industry has achieved. From a modest beginning of $2 bn dollars in the late 90’s; it has now grown into a $70 bn industry. Anjan put some comparisons in place to make us think what each of this ‘billion’ figures mean. He opined that India’s success in IT industry was the major factor in helping out an Indian professional to stand out in the global stage. McKinsey and NASSCOM are expecting the industry to grow to $250 bn by 2020. He didn’t contest these figures and in fact agreed that we can expect such growths going forward. But will this growth rate reflect the same for a mid-career professional in the industry? – His view was NO. He backed his view with solid quantitative analysis comparing the growth of the industry from $2B in 1999 to the present figure of $70B. This had CAGR of 30%. This means we had the opportunity to grow professionals also at a rate of 30% or more of personal growth. But if we consider the growth to $250B in 2020 – it indicates a YoY growth of 15%. Considering that there will be new domains to look for growth, the actual growth rate relevant to the current leadership will be even lesser which could be dismal.
Now, if that is the case – what can a mid-career IT professional like a PGSEMer do?
Mr. Anjan had his guidance. In his view, the concept of senior managers and what is expected out of them will change. Due to the accelerated growth the services industry witnessed, the responsibilities of senior managers got limited to serving the needs of employees and team members – forgetting customer. Utilization, attrition and billing captured prominence losing customer from the picture. In the nascent stages of the industry, experience means more capability to solve customer problems. Even the senior most professional was billed and customers were ready to pay for his experience. But this is not the case today. Anjan discussed the contemporary paradigm of ‘The New Normal’.
“The new normal for managing one’s career is that we should consciously remember that we are in the services industry in which we have to directly deliver value to the customer. Not support someone who delivers value, not manage someone who delivers value, not facilitate, encourage, enable -- but directly deliver value.”
So how can we keep us relevant?
A low growth means reduced number of requirements for General Managers. Anjan opined that however good ‘general management’ capabilities are even scarcer. Hence the requirement can come down even more. Mr. Anjan shared four guiding principles to tackle this challenge.
1. Think externally – Think about the customer and provide direct value to them.
2. Don't get into the delusion of management – Management, except at the highest level, is a support function in a services company.
3. New responsibilities will no longer just come to you – With growth opportunities just came to you in the past. Now it will not
4. Customer must want to pay for your time – If not, you are not relevant to either the customer or to your own people
Mr. Anjan urged the incoming batch to come out of the ‘senior’ delusion and reflect on "what do we not know?” to stay relevant and proper in this industry. He wished every success to the incoming batch for enrolling in this program to embark on the journey of exploring ‘what you don't know’!!
It was indeed a privilege and a wonderful opportunity for us to hear and interact with Anjan and on behalf of the PGSEM community; we thank him for taking time from his hectic schedule and addressing PGSEMers.