"It's better to seek forgiveness than to ask for permission," says Gunjan Srivastava, MD and CEO at Bosch and Siemens Home Appliances Manufacturing Private Limited.
Taking out time on a Sunday morning, Mr. Srivastava agreed to answer a few of the questions buzzing in my mind as a B-school student, eagerly awaiting to step into the corporate world.
"I think my passion for sports, not just playing but knowing all about it, the analytics and insights taught me the importance of performance, team dynamics and leadership," he said when I asked him if he had any passion that helped him in his mainline career. Bringing sportsmanship to his professional life, he is calm, composed and analytical in his approach.
Coming from a science background, he pursued Mechanical Engineering from IIT Varanasi and MBA from IIM Ahmadabad. Apart from academic learning, he credits his peers in both these institutes for cultivating an atmosphere of determination. Recollecting his thoughts he said that everyone was committed towards making the best out of the chance that they had got. He accepted that different people had different goals however their drive to succeed remained the same.
"Off the top of my head, if I have to give example of an instance then it would be of one of my friends who broke his arm a couple weeks before the end term exams at IIT. While most of us went home to celebrate Diwali and Durga Puja, he stayed on campus and taught himself to write with his left hand in a couple of weeks! That's the type of peer group I had," he said, his voice filled with admiration and adoration.
Naturally, the characteristic apart from competency of skill, that he looks for in a candidate when B/S/H/ hires, is determination with a "Can do" and "Never give up" attitude. He understands that it is a gamble to spot the right person as "people often fake their way through an interview. Hence, group discussions, personality tests and engaging in a conversation helps to access the true character. Even then, if some one pretends their way through the hiring process, their true nature comes to light on the job. Even that works out in the favour of the organisation. Some people don't take any chances and some people are always ready to take calculated risks. That is how an organisation works. Not everyone can be a leader and if everyone is a leader then there is nobody to follow."
"The industry seeks risk takers but does it forgive if the result does not come as expected?" I asked as my closing question.
He chuckled and responded, "It's best to seek forgiveness than to ask for permission. The corporate politics often restricts leaders from taking risks. But once you analytically examine a situation and based on insight make a risky decision, everyone happily congratulates you if you succeed and forgives you even if the plan doesn't succeed. The important thing is to learn from ones mistakes and not to repeat it."
Mr. Srivastava leads by example with his out-of-the-box solutions to problems, calm demeanour and humility that is admired and respected by his co- workers and subordinates.