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Business And EntrepreneurshipLife ExperiencePersonal Development

Connected World, No Boundaries

In the early eighties, I secured one of the first marketing management positions in the New Zealand electricity industry. Macro-economic reforms unleashed by the newly elected Labour government of David Lange saw divestment of state-owned telecommunication and electricity distribution utilities, including my new employer. I reported to the CEO along with other divisional heads of finance, human resources, engineering construction and electricity generation. The express objective of the marketing management position was to assist the CEO in transforming the organization from an engineering-driven public utility to a customer-focused business enterprise.

Although I was excited about my position as the face of transformation, I faced stiff challenges from the established hierarchy of the organization in developing marketing functions. In one of the presentations outlining proposals to transfer several engineering divisions staff to the marketing division, I was ridiculed by the divisional engineering head commenting on my Indian-accented English. He asked me to “speak English, I can’t follow a thing you are talking about.” The division head was a veteran in the UK and New Zealand electricity industries and widely known as an opponent of privatization. Although the CEO intervened to iron out the inter-departmental tensions, my ego was hurt, and I wound up the presentation soon after. Later I reflected on the perceived weakness of the Indian accent of my English. Then I realized that as the only multilingual in the management team, I could bring new ideas and solutions for the greater benefit of the organization. This episode early in my career also taught me that speaking, thinking, and dreaming in more languages than one’s mother tongue is in fact a core strength. I set out to reimagine the idea of marketing electricity. Creating value for customers through energy management products and services became the focus of electricity marketing in New Zealand. Later, when the management team attended a workshop on lateral thinking for engineers conducted by Edward de Bono, we learnt about multilingual people’s natural strengths to defamiliarize with the conventional norms and practices and reimagine new business strategies.

Although I worked outside India for most of my 30-year career, I developed a compulsive love affair with the idea of a diverse and rich India. So, I travelled every year until I reverse migrated to India in 2008. No other country where I have worked in the world offers the breadth and depth of opportunities that India can offer in various industrial sectors. The common question heard in the board rooms of every company I worked for outside India is the same; What are we doing in India or any progress with our expansion plans in India? They also know the political and social risks of doing business in China. It is a closed market for some of the world’s largest companies like Google and Facebook.

Photo by Guillaume Bourdages on Unsplash

We live in a digitally connected world without boundaries. In 2021, more than half of the world’s population will be connected to the internet through a wireless smart device. India has more than 500 million wireless smart devices accessing the internet. The interconnectivity of the world through platforms like LinkedIn presents unlimited opportunities in entrepreneurship and career development. Knowledge workers of the world are the biggest beneficiaries of a connected world without boundaries. Career development is the art of minimizing entry barriers into new markets, the global markets searching for unique value propositions. New generation businesses are constantly searching for uniquely different high-quality skills from across the digitally connected world. State boundaries are abstract notions for smart money as high-speed internet connections make quick access to knowledge workers’ skills possible. From digital storyboarding and animation for Hollywood films to medical consultations, India has become the largest source of high-value skills globally.

In the Covid pandemic mayhem, the free world desperately seeks a new socio-economic order to replace its critical dependency on China. There is no answer to the free world’s business problems without India. More than ever, the world is searching for talents, skills and business opportunities from India, the most diverse and fastest-growing consumer market on the planet.

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