In adding yet another inspiring story for the WorkPlace Legends series, we are presenting the story of the man who believes in possibilities and loves challenges. Here are the excerpts of the interview we had with Mr. Suresh Kumar, the Founder & CEO at Graceful Growth Consulting (India) Private Limited. We sincerely hope his story inspires the youngsters of today to dream big and achieve their goals.
Here is the journey of Mr Suresh Kumar…
My story of journey has a very strong thread of learning and teaching with an intent to create excellence around us. My father’s deep desire to get me educated actually drove me to study. As he didn’t have a chance to educate himself to his expectation, he did everything to get us educated. I translated that by striving to become a scientist. I did achieve that goal by becoming a DRDO scientist at the age of 22. In terms of academics, I did B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from NIT, Calicut and M.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT, Bombay. Later I did the General Manager Program from Harvard Business School. I worked with organisations like HAL, DRDO as a Scientist and Hewlett Packard as a Director before starting my current venture.
How do you structure your days?
I structure it based on priority and always plan for the unplanned. I always have 60 to 70 per cent of the time for planned things and 40 per cent for the unplanned activity. There are many things that come unexpected and you need to be prepared for that.
What is your asset?
33 years of making mistakes (laughingly). I have learnt from my mistakes. They have made me what I am today.
Where and how do you work best?
I am a morning person and prefer to start the day early.
What are the kind of tools that you work with?
I am quite dependent on Calendars, and Alarms to manage my actions. I am a heavy user of Productivity apps like Microsoft Office and Google Apps, Collaborative platforms and associated tools are a must, considering the kind of geographic diversity of our teams these days have.
How do you solve day to day problems/issues may be related to productivity, scheduling, marketing or networking?
anything that takes you closer to achieving your goals is productive. Rest of the activities are all adding to your non-productive efforts. Learning is a lifelong activity, and learning something every day, will aid you to solve your problems faster. We need to build on others contributions, That is why networking is so crucial for today’s productive life.
What would you have done differently if you knew what you know now?
I would have developed my network well. When I left HP, I had about 50 connections. Today it is 800 or so. I think today things happen because you have connections and the knowledge about things thanks to technology.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The advice, I received from multiple places, that stuck with me, is, “A system’s purpose is to eternally improve”. I remember receiving this from my boss at HP, and later from many learning sessions too.
Who are your biggest influencers and who do you admire the most?
My father was an inspiration for me to become a lifelong learner. The second is my teacher Prof. Phatak at IIT Bombay who is one of the best teachers I have experienced. Third is my boss in HP, Mr. V.S. Subramaniam. I learnt about the possibilities from him.
Who and what inspired you to do what you are doing now?
My experiences at my workplaces have helped me a lot. The main reason why I started Graceful Growth Consulting was to help companies achieve growth. I wanted to share the knowledge that I gained over a period of years.
What is your biggest challenge still?
My biggest challenge is scaling up of what I am currently doing. Consulting is, by definition, is not an easily scalable business, as it is based on the consultant’s experience in enabling the results. Our offerings are based on the customer’s success, and we don’t just do advisory helps alone. That makes it quite challenging. I am looking at different kinds of solutions.
What are your favourite books or movies that interest you?
One of my all time favourite is “Goal” written by Eliyhau M. Goldratt which talks about the theory of constraints that I use often in solving problems. I watch movies that have an emotional connect or are based on music. I also play flute which I learnt by myself. I would find a guru shortly and start learning formally from him. Music is one of the best means for relaxing and calming you down.
What surprising lessons have you learnt along the way?
There is a surprising similarity in how we solve problems irrespective of the challenges or complexity. When you start observing keenly, how people (including you) are solving problems, you start seeing patterns, and these patterns are what makes you a master of what you do. You need to make this visible to your clients, and mentees. Enabling the other person to solve his problem is what I do. Your job is to obsolete yourself in everything you do.
In your life what do you feel was the obstacle that prevented you from doing certain things and how did you come out of it?
If obstacles are the problems, then how do you overcome it? It is the energy to live life. Problems will come your way; you have to overcome them.
What’s next for you?
There are more entrepreneurs who need to grow. I am on a mission to help them. There is a clear difference between, doing the thing right and doing the right things. I want to share what I know. I want to impart everything that I know so that I am not required.
What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?
Actually, I don’t want to be remembered. When you really want someone to succeed, you don’t want to be remembered, isn’t it? What I want is when I am not there, things should happen. That’s the kick for me.
If you were not an IT person, scientist, business mentor what would you have been?
Maybe I would have been a musician. But I didn’t do anything that I didn’t enjoy.
How do you balance your family and work life?
Full credit goes to my wife and my children. I am a workaholic. I was consumed by work most of the times. I am not a good example of work-life balance.
What is the one advise that you would like to give to the youngsters?
I would say listen to yourself more intently. Whenever you have a complaint, assume, there is something wrong with your approach as well as your goal (it may be an easy one!). Take accountability for your stretched goal and chase it. You will be successful.