Like two excited schoolboys, Subroto and KK scampered around looking for the best brains they knew from their past, to join this new company they had set out to create. They had a list of names with check boxes by the side. One name on that list was yet to be ticked and it didn't take long for that to happen. In fact, all that Subroto perhaps said was, "Kalyan, we need you. Come over." And Voila! Kalyan was there.
"If Subroto calls me, that itself is a privilege. Therefore, it wasn't a difficult decision to make," says Kalyan Banerjee, one of the co-founders and who currently heads the C2 initiative at MindTree. The painful part was to leave Wipro after 13 years with that company. "Wipro was a great place and I learnt a lot. Till that point of time, everything I knew and did was because of Wipro. And whatever I learnt was because of the people," adds Kalyan.
He grew up in the coal town of Dhanbad (now in the state of Jharkhand) and after completing his B.Tech in Engineering from IIT, Delhi and Masters from IIT, Kanpur, he joined Wipro in Global R&D, Two years prior to leaving Wipro he was heading Human Resources. He's a strong believer in the 'people' theory and so; here we have one more all-people's-man at MindTree.
The C2 initiative is all about Competency Development within the organization. The key differentiator in this concept is 'Learning' and not just 'Teaching'. "In any organization and particularly in our industry, it is important to have continuous learning. It's a very important ethic, an important value because learning becomes very necessary for survival. One needs a learning culture in the organization. That's the first thing. Then comes the need to create channels for learning so that people are on top of whatever area they need to learn. That's the basic idea. So Competency Development is about learning those competencies that are necessary to be a professional in this area," says Kalyan.
The competencies could be technical or leadership competencies. There's a strong belief here that the nature of the process of most learning possibly happens outside the classrooms. No doubt, classroom is a necessary part of the process of learning but its effectiveness, especially when it comes to adult learners, hasn't been clearly defined. The important factor therefore, is to measure the value of classroom learning and outside classroom learning.
"This is not to demean classroom learning. The point is that most human beings learn something and could easily forget unless applied," continues Kalyan. "The idea is to follow this up with a project or have communities of practice so that the learning can be cemented. Then again, the more one shares the more one learns. Take the simple example of reading a book. Learning would be more effective if 3 or 4 read the same book and shared the learning." These initiatives are being imparted across MindTree worldwide based on various identified needs and the learning required is focused on.
Kalyan opines that the process of learning needs could depend on various factors. "Some areas could be time-tested and so we can have a strategy to bring in a learning experience. For latest technologies the material may not be available and therefore has to be created through the learning process. Sometimes nobody knows. So then, we have to bring the subject from the bottom up and then create study groups where everybody learns together."
One day, they decided they needed to discover people with leadership skills within the organization. Thinking caps on, they made in-depth studies of some great leaders of our time (not necessarily from the industry), did some reading on what are the traits of a good leader. Apparently, the traits they found apply to everybody and all it needs is initiative, commitment to get things done and the ability to build good relationships. Kalyan says, "No leader, no matter how good, can deliver results on his or her own. If you can lead yourself, if you have control over yourself, then you can lead anybody. If you can't lead yourself you cant lead teams."
In this continuous process everyone learns to keep pace with changing times and technologies. Initiatives such as these never end. They proliferate.