A Celebration of Diversity with Food, Fun and Quiz!

Good food and a fun regional quiz made last evening cool at Genesys in Singapore. It was to celebrate diversity and inclusion (D & I) at the workplace, a big buzz in today’s corporate world, with the birthdays of some staff providing the spark.

At Genesys workplace diversity is a priority as the company believes “it opens new doors for innovation, collaboration and engagement.”

Cisco was ranked seventh in a Fortune report for 2018 on companies with the most inclusive culture based on a range of parameters, including openness to employing women, people of colour, sexual orientation (LGBTQ), Boomers or those with disabilities.

Tussle over Hiring of Chief Diversity Officer

Such is the growing power of D & I that IBM even sued Microsoft last year over the hiring of its Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), Lindsay-Rae McIntyre. However, the two companies reached a settlement, and IBM lost its CDO. Two tech giants fighting over an executive ended up making her a celebrity of sorts. With the settlement, Lindsay got to jump ship to Microsoft as CDO. What fun!

Microsoft (as with Cisco) is also among the companies considered to have a healthy diversity practice, despite the gender discrimination issues it had faced.

Diversity and inclusion2

New CEO at Genesys

Incidentally, earlier this week, Genesys, the company I work for, announced the induction of Tony Bates as its CEO. He had held leadership positions at both Cisco, a former employer for me (during 2005-2010), and Microsoft.

When I joined Genesys in 2015, after a transit at BT, it was like home-coming for me. I could smell Cisco all around me – that is, the work culture at Genesys was no different from what I experienced at the networking giant then headed by John Chambers.

It was not just about diversity and inclusiveness, but also accent on employee-centricity with an openness to ideas and making staff valued with a sense of belonging, transcending barriers of every hue – gender, ethnicity, race, ageism, sexuality, etc

Inclusive Culture Being Embraced by APAC

The D & I culture was generally confined to the West until recently. It is now being rapidly embraced by companies in APAC as well, with some even having documented policies that stop them from doing business with those that are seen weak in terms of diversity, social responsibility and sustainability.

Amid a climate where globalisation is losing ground, it is also becoming increasingly evident that companies stuck in a myopic world, with insularity transparent in every aspect of business, will struggle to forge ahead.

A McKinsey report even points to a link between diversity and the financial performance of organisations, with inclusion strategies arming them with a competitive edge. Greater diversity in the workforce, per the report, “results in greater profitability and value creation.”

Not a Numbers Game

But diversity is not a numbers game and blind adherence to it will not give companies any game-changing exposure. The spirit of inclusiveness has to be reflected in leadership diversity as well. This is where a lot of companies, not excluding Amazon, struggle with.

Diversity simply means bringing aboard the best available talent, without being restricted by discriminatory practices, and making them feel at home with merit-based promotion avenues that can help trim attrition. An environment that rewards the deserving across prejudices augurs well for businesses.

Diversity, when implemented right, will boost innovation across the full business spectrum and enable inclusive growth both for individuals and companies.

G Joslin Vethakumar

Leave a comment

Filed under General

India Needs Singapore-Style Laws to Deal with Modi’s Lies

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/narendra-modi-ins-viraat-remark-admiral-ramdas-rajiv-gandhi-5719390/

Shared by Indian Express iOS app
Click here to download
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/india-news-indian-express/id506351833?mt=8

No ships specially diverted for personal use of Gandhis: Retd Admiral on PM’s INS Viraat remark

India needs Singapore-style defamation laws. In Singapore, anyone who makes wild allegations with no proof is finished.

Freedom of expression does not mean you can fling abuses at will and hope to come out of it unscathed. It may work in India because religious prejudices run high amid tall claims from all parties about secular democracy.

Sadly, people like late Jeyaretnam were bankrupted in Singapore though their statements were nowhere near the kind of vulgar lies Indian Prime Minister Modi is spreading against some of his martyred predecessors.

India and Singapore represent two extremes. I am not for either. Yet, Singapore is miles ahead as its leaders do not spout nonsense, neither are they pathological liars.

Indians must be ashamed of standing behind such a cheapskate PM.

G Joslin Vethakumar

Leave a comment

Filed under General

May Day Musings: Leadership, Labour of Love and What Ails Business!

No Thought Leadership

Success in any sphere of business activity assumes many hues, often the result of a combination of factors, including inspirational leadership and a labour of love, not drudgery.

Passion for work goes beyond an eight-hour work week the adoption of which is behind the May Day celebration. It is a day that acknowledges the imperative for work-life balance even if the spirit behind it may be a pipedream in today’s competition-intense world amid a fragile, cyclical economy.

Leaders carry home an enviable compensation package with those helping them succeed having to be content with what may translate to chickenfeed. But lucre does not drive success, a passion for a chosen area of work does.

There can be no grudge against the hefty package leaders draw as long as they deliver by setting a strategic direction, without merely dovetailing their teams. It is only when they are seen to be undeserving of the rewards heaped on them, unable to live up to any build-up of hype, the corporate environment is stripped of the positivity essential for a win-win climate.

Leadership and Inspiration

Leaders must be ready to embrace rich ideas that emanate from resources around them – but if they end up as only followers, they lose traction and make a mockery of their roles.

Visionary Leadership and Innovative Thinking

Inspirational, visionary leadership has consistently found resonance in me and this has often gone beyond the corporate corridors I had been embedded in during the last more than two decades.

While corridors may have changed, the areas of focus for collaborative execution have remained intact – they include pursuit management, thought leadership (within and beyond professional realms) and conceptualisation of win strategies.

Innovative thinking (as opposed to conventional business-as-usual monotony), futuristic solutions, team empowerment and operational excellence are integral components of a success strategy which will fall apart without transformational leadership.

They are values that have defined the phenomenal successes of companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google and Cisco – all steered by visionary leaders. No copyright theft and no stroke of luck, with much credit for the impact they made on the market going to their first-of-its-kind product innovations and strong leadership.

A failure to demonstrate thought leadership is anomalous to the roles they hold. In my experience, I have found instances aplenty with heads of business units falling short of playing even an individual contributor role.

Put simply, such leaders are only a cost to the company who stack up little in terms of contributing to the corporate bottomline.

Sales leaders and their teams are generally content living in their own cocoon comprising an interlock with subpar partners and seeking to win deals on price, thereby paying little attention to win themes, thought leadership and customer intimacy.

A lack of drive to even carry out a root-cause analysis on bid losses only demonstrates an unwillingness to learn lessons from missteps so they can stay clear of them on future pursuits.

Even when they are done, keeping the debrief within a narrow sales circle and not taking sales-enablement teams into confidence serves no purpose. The result: history repeats itself, again and again!

Labour Day Reflections

EMBA Project – Aligning Strategies with Action Plan

Leadership plays a crucial role in making business scale new heights even amid challenging market constraints. To put that in context, I borrow here a few sentences from the project report, The Complex World of Government Procurement – How Effective Leadership Can Help Bidders Meet Challenges!”, which was a part of my EMBA course (which was on Leadership and Entrepreneurship with the UBI).

“The role of the leadership does not stop at envisioning the future and visualising the big picture, they have a responsibility to align strategies with an action plan to take the challenges head on and chart the path for crystallization of the goals. This way the path to the future is not just mapped but is followed up with creative planning, bold decisions and strong, open communications.”

STEM Inspiration and Business Stalwarts

Inspirational leadership spans multiple levels, from Science and Technology to Business.

Amid the waning interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, particularly in advanced economies (that is an irony as the First World, with countries such as the U.S. being the hub of innovation and entrepreneurship), Albert Einstein (or Stephen Hawking) will continue to inspire and motivate potential scientists.

Chess: The Brilliance of Fischer

From a personal standpoint, late world chess champion Bobby Fischer is the only one I drew inspiration from. He inspired the world with his brilliance, even eccentricities and the polemics he generated. Fischer made me dream as well – of becoming a world champion. Well, that remained only a dream as the best I could muster was being the Madras Division Champion as a student.

For me, and for millions of chess fans worldwide, Bobby Fischer stands tall, dwarfing all else to rank as the best-ever chess player.

Chess, incidentally, embodies the spirit of strategic planning and thinking ahead, attributes very relevant to the world of business.

Think of inspirational leadership, we get a different set of stalwarts with mass appeal. For instance, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, both from opposite sides of the business spectrum and with divergent personalities, come to mind as leaders with the strength to influence personnel outside of the companies they helped found and steer.

Poor Win Rates and Mediocre Leadership Demotivating for Staff

This cannot be expected from short-sighted leaders who may have the hunger to win but without foresight and the ability to lead by example. Moreover, complacence and a lack of frontline aggression are among factors that inhibit sales amid the rapid growth in addressable markets particularly in the developing world.

A significant takeaway for senior regional leaders is that a poor win rate, lack of a visible pipeline and a failure to be transparent in their communications with broader teams can be demotivating for staff. That can lead to staff turnovers and put the brakes on growth.

The stakes are high in a competitive and challenging landscape, with addressable markets growing fast, as seen in the increasing adoption of the cloud and Artificial Intelligence by both private and public-sector entities.

Businesses that do not want to live in a delusional cuckoo-cuckoo land will embrace strategic processes designed to enable a structured, scientific approach to winning. The onus is on leaders to set the agenda and take it forward.

G Joslin Vethakumar

Leave a comment

Filed under General

Cloud Keeps Platforms Evergreen, EOL Trap for Human Beings

Disconcerting as they may sound, End of Life (EOL) and End of Support ( EOS) mean little for inanimate objects, software and hardware included.

If anything, they are anticipated events that trigger an upgrade cycle though that is rapidly losing relevance in an increasingly cloud-driven world of business marked by continuous innovation that keeps platforms evergreen.

With this technological evolution comes a revolution that is replacing or blending with human power – the surge of Artificial Intelligence (AI), seen synonymously with machine learning and robotic process automation.

Cloud and AI

EOL for machines may not stir any sentiment of a personal loss. That is a corporate issue and alarm bells may ring around risks to the business if that is not met with a timely resolution.

It is when human lives reach end of life it touches an emotional chord, evoking a sense of helplessness and anguish.

“Never Give up. Never, Never, Never!”

Technologies may remain evergreen, people cannot escape the end-of-life (EOL) phase. They fight and soldier on till the very end, supported by humanitarianism and palliative care in a world that this moving CNN piece takes us to.

They live by the dictum articulated by Winston Churchill – “Never Give up. Never, Never, Never!”

This is a perspective where AI vaults over the power of HI (Human Intelligence) – less contentious issues to tide over as with more power to automation there will not be much room for human-to-human corporate friction.

How about robotic misbehaviour? Will there be an AI replication of men and women jostling with one another for upward mobility?

That will be too much of an imaginative stretch even if multiple chatbots after are pitted against one another.

Cruel, Immobile Journey to Death

I shudder to  visualise the EOL bedridden phase of the terminally ill that we all dread. The indignities that become a part of such a cruel, immobile journey to death do invoke the need for euthanasia.

Caregivers who give up everything, including their jobs, to take care of their near and dear also go through a debilitating period, confronting depression and death. Caregiving does go beyond families, with professional caregivers being available in many countries. But as demand for caregivers surges, a serious shortage of resources has prompted institutions and businesses to develop robots to address the situation.

Can robots be trained to provide care to those on the throes of death? Will costs be prohibitive, and will insurance cover them?

Importantly, will the dying – who may throw tantrums at their sons, daughters and others caring for them – be ready to embrace machines for their care?

AI Innovations Span Every Aspect of Caregiving

Suffice it to say that AI innovations encompassing every aspect of caregiving are already in the market. They include robots with the ability to carry the immobile elderly from beds to chairs and bathrooms for washing. Devices and sensors help track / monitor patient state and alert relatives when any abnormality is noticed.

Robots such as automated pet cats and those with tailored entertainment options are also available to cater to the emotional needs of those receiving EOL care.

The future of eldercare will continue to evolve with AI centricity as demand continues to grow. There can be no denying, though, that how we die does matter, as the CNN writeup points out.

G Joslin Vethakumar

Leave a comment

Filed under General

Faith and Science: Sermon Beyond Religious Insularity

It is no secret that the Christian world is gradually embracing a no-religion concept, placing humanity above faith and liberal, all-encompassing values over insularity. Churches, as a result, appear to be coming under pressure amid the challenge of dealing with this emerging enlightenment that will be welcome if other religions are on board.

This was the thought that struck me when the topic for today’s sermon at the St Andrew’s Cathedral was “Faith and Science.” It was an interesting, balanced sermon when the conclusion was: “The scriptures contain timeless truths. But they do not convey those truths in scientific language.”

Science, Faith and Arguments

G Joslin Vethakumar

Leave a comment

Filed under General

Showman Modi will Never Have This Courage to Face Media Live

Sri Lankan PM’s Press Meet Shown Live by BBC, Singapore TV, NOT by Indian Channels

Just finished watching the coverage by the BBC and Singapore’s Channel News Asia of Sri Lankan PM’s press conference on the Easter Sunday terror attacks. No Indian TV channel thought it fit to show it live. Neither NDTV nor Times Now nor News 18.

That said, has Indian Prime Minister Modi ever addressed any live press conference with local and international media? Where will a man only fit to be in Bollywood have that courage?

Only fanatics in India can be proud of having a leader afraid of facing an independent media!

Leave a comment

Filed under General

Will Modi Ever Have This Courage to Address Media Live?

Sri Lankan PM’s Live Press Meet Beamed Live by BBC, Not Indian Channels

Just finished watching the coverage by BBC and Singapore’s Channel News Asia of Sri Lankan PM’s press conference on the Easter Sunday attacks. No Indian TV channel thought it fit to show it live. Neither NDTV nor Times Now nor News 18.

That said, has Indian Prime Minister Modi ever addressed any live press conference with local and international media? Where will a man only fit to be in Bollywood have that courage? Only fanatics in India can be proud of having a leader afraid of facing an independent media!

Leave a comment

Filed under General