I feel less relevant now than ever before, says Subroto Bagchi

As Subroto Bagchi’s tenure as executive chairman of Mindtree ends in April, he’s optimistic that the next line of leaders will take the company to a higher level

I feel less relevant now than ever before, says Subroto Bagchi

Subroto Bagchi
Age: 58
Designation: Executive chairman, Mindtree
Career: Worked at Wipro, Lucent Technologies, co-founded Mindtree in 1999; also held leadership roles, including being COO, at Mindtree. Author of four business books
Education: BA in political science
Interests: Reading, writing, travelling and teaching

In January, Mindtree announced Executive Chairman Subroto Bagchi’s exit from the company, effective April 1, 2016. Bagchi, who co-founded the $584 million IT services firm in 1999, will continue to be on its board as non-executive director. He tells Forbes India that this is the right time for him to step down from an executive role and take up social issues that are close to his heart. Edited excerpts from an interview:

Q. When you became chairman in 2012, you said you had something unfinished for Mindtree. Could you finish that job?

An organisation is a living thing; to be done would mean the end, almost. In our earlier conversation, I had stressed that the core theme was a company for 2020 with four focus areas: Attaining critical mass; building sharp verticalisation and not leaving everything to everybody; making the company feel local to the area where it operates; and building a leadership pipeline that is well entrenched by 2020, so as to be able to think of 2025. Today, I can safely say we are well entrenched and well positioned. We will soon be a billion-dollar company, mostly through organic growth.

I’m also tremendously satisfied with our leadership pipeline, not just with Rostow (Ravanan) coming in as the new CEO and managing director, but also with the second and third levels. In recent times, we’ve got outstanding talent from outside. The biggest satisfaction for a leader is to realise that you are less relevant. I feel less relevant now than ever before.

Q. Are you content with the Mindtree you are leaving behind?

I would say yes. There couldn’t have been a better time. KK [Krishnakumar Natarajan, the incumbent CEO who has been named as the new executive chairman effective April 1] and I had a glorious relationship. Both of us were extremely lucky. We had the support of an outstanding board that shepherded and guided us. It is not an easy task if you have an executive chairman and a CEO to run the business. There has to be that understanding between them to not step on each others’ toes. We sometimes take this understanding for granted, but it is not a trivial thing. It’s one thing to be friends and another to be co-founders. It is one thing to be fellow professionals and something else to share power. Not just in any corporate sense, I see even not-for-profit organisations as well as governments struggle with it. It’s not easy.

Q. In just six years since it was set up, Mindtree became a $100 million (in terms of revenues) company. But the goal of building it as a billion-dollar company (in revenues) by 2014 couldn’t be achieved during your tenure. Do you regret that?

I thought about it. But looking back, if I were to do it all over again, I will mostly do it the same way. A year prior to 1999 (when we started Mindtree), we [the co-founders] sat down together and the three drivers that came to our mind were: To build a company that will do aspirational work, a company that will create shared wealth and a company with a social conscience. To me, the totality of these three are far more important than whether we became/become a billion-dollar company yesterday, today or tomorrow. Mindtree has remained faithful to the three critical parameters with which we started the company. We consistently did aspirational work and created wealth for many. It is one of the most valued companies in the stock market with consistent returns generated in the last so many years. It has beaten indices so many times. Mindtree is known for its good governance.

Q. In 2013, Mindtree initiated an internal transformation drive. It got global consulting firm Bain & Company to chalk out a roadmap. Did that help?

Hugely. Some organisations work very well with partners and consultants and some don’t. It is very difficult to point out what is it in the DNA of an organisation that enables it to make the most of either a consultant’s recommendation or a partner relationship. Looking back, I think Bain was a defining experience for us. It helped us to step back and do a lot of introspection.

Q. Co-founder Rostow Ravanan has been named Mindtree CEO. As a colleague, do you feel there is any immediate task for him?

Ravanan has been in critical positions within the company. He was the CFO and is well aware of the issues and priorities at Mindtree. There have been a lot of conversations over time; he is an individual who has a larger economic view, not just about IT and our enterprise, but also on what businesses should do to be more relevant.

Q. What next for you?

I will continue to be on the Mindtree board. In addition, I have accepted a position on the board of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). The IOC is an unusual board; it meets every month because of the sensitive nature of its business and its implication to the national economy. I’m also heading the nomination committee of the board, along with a couple of other committees. Besides, there are areas that my wife and I have chosen to deeply involve ourselves with, such as mental health. My father had a mental health issue; it’s one of the reasons we incubated the White Swan Foundation inside the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru. The second area is blindness. My mother was blind. In this field, we have started engaging with several organisations. We are getting involved in areas of rural vision and research for building predictive biomarkers and saving pre-term babies from blindness. The third area is geriatrics. We have set up The Nightingales Trust—Bagchi Centre for Active Ageing in Bengaluru. We are currently in the second year and are looking to expand. I will also be connected with the academia and hope to be able to write as well.

Q. Is there any specific role you would like to look into in the startup space?

There are two things that I will not do. I don’t see myself as a serial entrepreneur and a for-profit angel investor or a venture capitalist. Second, I don’t see myself becoming a talking head. Not for any other reason, but I think there are enough good people in the system already. There is enough churn and activity happening. I should focus on the underserved areas and bridge the gap between for-profit and not-for-profit.

Source – http://forbesindia.com/article/exit-interview/i-feel-less-relevant-now-than-ever-before-says-subroto-bagchi/42815/1

Comments
TANNYA Says
Saturday April 23rd 2016

I seriously appreciate the way you evolved from the base.

    Sasmita Rout Says
    Sunday December 4th 2016

    APPEAL FOR DONATION

    We are working for the Slum. Street and orphan children in biggest slum area Godhibasa, Aradbazar, Galapola of Balasore, Odisha, India.PIN-756001 since 2011, Our motto to mainstreaming the Socially, Educationally and Financially deprived poor and needy children. Bring out them to limelight trough better education. We have deprived underprivileged Orphan School namely “CHRDS INTEGRATED MODEL SCHOOL” at BALASORE, Odisha.Approximately Rs 21, 00,000/-(INR) is yearly expenditure for their education, food, Clothing and shelter. Presently 107 children in our school. Orphan students life, future and education are depending only on your donation / contribution. Your small amount will build their carrier and future.
    You are requested to donate some thing for the neglected children and join
    with us for the noble work .For more contact our Email.Id- chrds70@gmail.com or Founder of the school Sri Ganeswar Rout, Joint Secretary, District Red Cross Branch, Indian Red Cross Society, Collectorate,Balasore,Odisha,India,Mob-09437295810.
    Please convey the message to your best friends for donate one month cost of at
    least one neglected child. This is nothing only humanitarian & philanthropic work. Solicited your positive reply and cooperation.
    For Donation Bank A/c -083201000005357, IFSC-IOBA0000832, Bank Code-0832
    A/C-Name-CHRDS,IndianOverseas Bank,Balasore .Bank Tel.No-06782-262247,

    With Regards,

    (Sasmita Rout)
    Chairperson
    Chrds Integrated model School
    At-Debendra Coloney (Galapola), P.O- Nayabazar
    Dist-Balasore, State- Odisha,India, PIN-756001
    List of Monthly Donors
    Sri Amulya kumar Mohanty (Rtd. R I), Bharat lakra (Rtd.Rev.Supervisor), Sitaram Pradhan (Rtd.R.I) Er.Himanshu Sahu (Director-Juniper.Networks),
    Sanghamitra Mohanty(President-Lions –UMANG),Ajit Kumar Mohanty (Rtd. OAS) Dr.Santanu Das ,Partha Sarthi Rout (Softwear Engg) and Our Family Members.

Friday April 29th 2016

Well Said , Subrato thought Process is balanced and every Word is weighed , He is one of the Primemovers at mind Tree simply a Great Company in Making , Best wishes to his upcoming thoughtful New Projects,

Sibu Kumar Das Says
Saturday April 30th 2016

Subroto, this is your classmate at Vani Vihar. Nothing to say about the present blog-post. But congratulations on becoming the Chairman of the Odisha Skill Development Authority. You have already kissed the world; hope you will dutifully kiss the feet of Utkala Mata now. Wish u all the best.

Partha Sarathi Das Says
Saturday April 30th 2016

I just read it in the newspaper today about you Sir. I’m an ex-serviceman from Indian Air Force having MBA & Six-sigma Black-Belt Professional qualification. I have been inspired by you; I wish to work with you on a salary of Re. 1/- per month. Money does not matter, but it is the heart that goes out to help others does. I’m having a very strong wish to work for the youth in Odisha. My contact number is 0-9937085546 (Odisha-Airtel). Looking forward to hear from you Sir.

    Trixie Says
    Thursday August 11th 2016

    on Excellent blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused .. Any reoocmendatimns? Thanks a lot!

    Friday September 16th 2016

    Hi,I have been trying to configure the gentoo 2.6.23 kernel for my travelmate 800 but i can’t find any good guides for what to select and what not.Could you post your kernel config of your acer?thank you

    Wednesday October 12th 2016

    pisze:Jest takie stare amerykańskie powiedzenie: Nie radź się fryzjera, czy powinieneś się ostrzyc.ja bym w srebro już nie inwestował, bo to metal szlachetny dla ubogich.Jeśli już, to złoto i platyna, ale gdy będzie wysoka inflacja, to i one nie pomogą.Ziemia rolna; dwa w jednym. Schron przeciwko inflacji oraz żywność. Jeść trzeba.powodzenia

    Saturday November 5th 2016

    Shimfee- The video tutorial I linked to by Cotton & Curls doesn't require a pattern extra pair of pants. Just the jeans you want to alter and your legs :).

    Tuesday February 7th 2017

    You’re the greatest! JMHO

Ajaya Satpathy Says
Monday May 2nd 2016

I read about you becoming chairman of Odisha Skill Development Authority. I am so proud of you and I have tremendous respect for you, the way you setup Mindtree development center in Bhubaneswar, and now you are in charge of skill development of rural young talents of Odisha. I am from rural Odisha, working for GE in USA for last 16 years as a Oracl ERP solution architect and program manager. I think Odisha government is doing very good to bring Odisha out of poverty and creating Bhubaneswar a knowledge hub. Many good educational institutions are now present in Bhubaneswar. Still lot of works to be done. Creating this Skill Development Authority is another step forward. I am very interested in going back to Odisha and doing something good for Odisha there. I would like to meet you personally during my Odisha visit in July this year to discuss if I can be helpful in anyways. Please let me know how I can meet you.

I also wanted to let you know that, GE is going thru big transformation to become world’s first industrial digital company. GE is looking for partners to develop industrial applications using GE’s cloud platform called Predix. I feel Mindtree should reach GE India team to become a partner and open GE Predix training and development center in Odisha. This also can be used as an opportunity for Skill Development Authority to link rural skills to digital world. Bhubaneswar is termed as a SMART city, and our marketing folks should be able to leverage that to bring more IT brands like GE digital to Bhubaneswar. I am interested to go back and work from Odisha, either for profit or non-profit organization, even interested to discuss with you abut any scope within this Skill Developemnt Authority. Hoping to see you or talk you soon.

    Janay Says
    Thursday August 11th 2016

    And who the hell is saying that SOS outgrossed JTHJ in Gurgaon? What a pile of lies!From BOI :-The first two day figures of Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Son Of Sardaar in Gurgaon are as follows.Jab Tak Hai Jaan9 properties (69 shows)Day One – 18,96,106Day Two – 27,30,537TOTAL – 46,26,643Son Of Sardar9 properties (73 shows)Day One – 13,21,139Day Two – 28,17,697TOTAL – 41,38,836And this despite having 4 more sha_u.Noradwmsni, its high time you give up your useless ranting. And sputnik, I expected far better from you.

    Friday August 12th 2016

    Great ! My daughter passed this website on. Have enjoyed your books so much – in fact have read them each 2 or 3 times ! Have travelled and lived in 14 countries and stories about the stones are doubly interesting to me.

    Tuesday February 7th 2017

    Ki ki ki sont les snorkiiiiii ki ki ki mais kiiiiiiiii ?hahahaha merci pour cette note ! J'ai bien ri. J'aime beaucoup le Kraken planqué derrière un mont sous-marin.Sinon, quand j'étais petite à l'école on lisait une histoire d'anguilles qui migrent des cours d'eau européens jusqu'à la fosse des Mariannes. Mais je n'ai jamais su si c'était vrai !

    Thursday February 16th 2017

    I personally donÂ’t believe in global warmingÂ… its not doing anything it just Earths cycle. IÂ’m tired of hearing this global warming crap. It was a lot worse than what people are telling you what is going to happen before.

    Wednesday May 10th 2017

    Gracias por estos 2 años que además de entretenerme un montón me has enriquecido con conocimientos de toda índole!Y como motero y de motero a motero un consejo: NO bajes la guardia en los últimos kilómetros! la conducción de una moto requiere siempre concentración!Bienvenido y gracias otra vez!!!Tu voto: 1  0

Abani Kumar Behera, Kendujhargarh Says
Friday May 6th 2016

Proud expressions from a School class fellow from Keonjhargarh

Dear Sh Subroto Bagchi

We came across the news that you have been entrusted with the responsibility of Skill development of Odisha. I am so proud of the news that, i could not resist the deep felt feeling ,as a class fellow from D N High School, to express my gratitude to you and to our Cheif Minister. He has taken a wonderful decision. You can really take our youth in the right path. You may not remember me but I am a great fan of yours & closely follow your achievements.You will definitely be able to formulate right strategies for this wonderful mission.

As a contemporary I have also spent now 36 years out side Odisha doing professional things Public & private sector which are quite satisfying to the Organisations & me. All the materialistic requirements are fulfilled now & all the family responsibilities are over. This skill development mission is a scheme where I feel , we can gainfully contribute. I am coming back to Bhubaneswar in June 2016 & will be spending rest of my life there. If you feel you can utilize my energy & commitment for the mission, then I am readily offering my services. I have never contacted you earlier & do not know your actual contacts. Hence we are writing in the blog hoping that you will notice.

Proud of your achievements & best wishes for new responsibilities’

Regards
Abani Kumar Behera, Kendujhargarh &
Bhubaneswar
email- abanikumarbehera@gmail.com
Mob No 9329730411, 9329009780, 9981641909

Siva Says
Monday August 29th 2016

Hi Sir,

I have a suggestion, Skill is something which can be developed but interest for a student comes through observation from others who attained the skill and is showcasing the skill i.e when a person drives himself to as an artist in a particular field.Since I am an IT guy I can write my imagination in this field,we know that internet is available in all the areas hence if the IT tasks are localized to mid tier towns there are high chances that many youth will be moving to mid tier towns /cities for further studies there are high chances that students can tend towards IT. The take away for large companies here is that by sending campus recruits after training can be sent to mid tier towns can help them in bringing down the costs as the cost of living is pretty low at mid tier towns ,it will also help the country to grow as well. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Thanks,
Siva.

Manas Kumar Dash Says
Saturday September 24th 2016

sir,
I am a technical trainer associated with vocational training & adminstration during last 15 years in different private I T I Organisations.I beg for a job opportunity in your organisation as recently I left my present organisation.I remain with obligation.

Sasmita Rout Says
Sunday December 4th 2016

Sir,
We are proud for your involvement in Odisha skill Development, I am not asking you for any job in your organization but I am interested for a small industry with help of Government and Skill Development Authority.Many women in our locality where we are working for the Street underprivileged children are beggar and involve in EXCISE (Liquor, Brown sugar, Charas,Ganja and Heroin ) business but I am interested to do any other sources for them. Solicited your Kind cooperation and necessary help for starting a entrepreneurship project.

Yours Faithfully
Sasmita Rout
APPEAL FOR DONATION

We are working for the Slum. Street and orphan children in biggest slum area Godhibasa, Aradbazar, Galapola of Balasore, Odisha, India.PIN-756001 since 2011, Our motto to mainstreaming the Socially, Educationally and Financially deprived poor and needy children. Bring out them to limelight trough better education. We have deprived underprivileged Orphan School namely “CHRDS INTEGRATED MODEL SCHOOL” at BALASORE, Odisha.Approximately Rs 21, 00,000/-(INR) is yearly expenditure for their education, food, Clothing and shelter. Presently 107 children in our school. Orphan students life, future and education are depending only on your donation / contribution. Your small amount will build their carrier and future.
You are requested to donate some thing for the neglected children and join
with us for the noble work .For more contact our Email.Id- chrds70@gmail.com or Founder of the school Sri Ganeswar Rout, Joint Secretary, District Red Cross Branch, Indian Red Cross Society, Collectorate,Balasore,Odisha,India,Mob-09437295810.
Please convey the message to your best friends for donate one month cost of at
least one neglected child. This is nothing only humanitarian & philanthropic work. Solicited your positive reply and cooperation.
For Donation Bank A/c -083201000005357, IFSC-IOBA0000832, Bank Code-0832
A/C-Name-CHRDS,IndianOverseas Bank,Balasore .Bank Tel.No-06782-262247,

With Regards,

(Sasmita Rout)
Chairperson
Chrds Integrated model School
At-Debendra Coloney (Galapola), P.O- Nayabazar
Dist-Balasore, State- Odisha,India, PIN-756001
List of Monthly Donors
Sri Amulya kumar Mohanty (Rtd. R I), Bharat lakra (Rtd.Rev.Supervisor), Sitaram Pradhan (Rtd.R.I) Er.Himanshu Sahu (Director-Juniper.Networks),
Sanghamitra Mohanty(President-Lions –UMANG),Ajit Kumar Mohanty (Rtd. OAS) Dr.Santanu Das ,Partha Sarthi Rout (Softwear Engg) and Our Family Members.

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