When a Techie turned Special Ops Commando – Leadership Lessons

A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd

I did not realize this until I joined the Indian Military Academy and things started making sense at a bigger level. After a 6-month technical stint at Accenture, I knew deep within that a stereotypical technologist career path does not align with my aspiration to acquire people leadership skills early on. Consequently, I left my cozy job to join Indian Army, to be a transformational leader.

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Army proved as a double-sided mirror, reflected my strengths and weaknesses not only in front of me but also the 782 men and 42 Junior Commissioned Officers under me in my unit.

A leader never sleeps, if he is a military leader because he knows the amount of respect that is attached with those five minutes of not getting late. He is aware that there is a thin line of relationship, a constant battle between his heart and mind, which he maintains between him and his soldiers. A leader is the engine behind those men, who are double the age but look up to you to lead them into battle and return victorious.

I learned team management skills when I led two successful operations leading 47 men not only from Army but also from Indo-Tibetian Border Police and bringing them back, all alive and safe. I learned how to compete with the best of minds in the country, who give SSB and get selected as an officer, the SSB selection ratio being  7: 850. During Army’s Tactical course, encompassing six months, where all the officers compete for the “Instructor” grading, I meticulously performed and attained that grading in all the three legs, being in top 0.05% of the batch of 600 officers. The first day of “Indian Military Academy” I saw a quote “Army – A place that turns a boy into a man”. Yes, here I was, a fully mature person.

Though I learned great skills and had the opportunity to have hands-on Operational experience, it was time to bring these skills back to home. I have always wanted to foray into the outer world to acquire exposure and skills and then bring it back to the family business. Entering business and civil life was a challenge and turned out to be a bliss. Sitting at a top rank position and above so many men, I realized the first thing to get rid of was Arrogance, which is bound to creep in. I learned that there were different motivation factors here such as money, incentives, job security , factors completely different from Army. Tapping into the strategic front, we gathered the data, analyzed it and chose two particular lines of specialization which were yet missing as the business was very generalized and thus had lack of focus. We redesigned the workshop to modern demands and also started focussing on marketing. Through a strategic tie up with a service provider, we were able to increase our profits in another line of business.

Sitting at a top rank position and above so many men, I realized the first thing to get rid of was Arrogance, which is bound to creep in. I learned that there were different motivation factors here such as money, incentives, job security , factors completely different from Army. Tapping into the strategic front, we gathered the data, analyzed it and chose two particular lines of specialization which were yet missing as the business was very generalized and thus had lack of focus. We redesigned the workshop to modern demands and also started focussing on marketing. Through a strategic tie up with a service provider, we were able to increase our profits in another line of business.

These are all the factors that have been identified inhibiting growth and I am sure there are many yet to be learned. Having no formal education, the analysis of these has been slow and now I look forward to equip myself with a structured learning base and model-based learnings to shorten the time of decision-making in my business. An MBA provides me all that. Moreover, through a Master in Business Administration I will get humongous exposure, living with industry people who can give me valuable feedback and insights into the day to day problems in growth.
So, in the end I would like to say, it takes great courage to escape the rat race and go ahead with what you like. I was bogged down when I was told it is difficult to get in, and next to impossible to get out of Army at level I was working at. I did both. Now here I am all charged up to join an MBA course, which provides me with all the weapons to progress ahead at a fast pace.

 

The views in this article belong to someone who made successful career transition at will, from a technology job, to highly coveted roles in the Indian Army, and is now leading a business. GraduFund has been enabling many such aspirational career transitions through alumni who provide personalized mentoring, using Management Consulting frameworks.

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