An American industrialist and a business magnate Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
These words couldn’t be more truer for the world today. In this modern and ever-evolving world, continuous learning has developed into a necessity as equal to breathing and eating. Individuals who are continuously harnessing new skills, have a much bigger possibility of taking on life’s challenges at the front foot.
With that in mind, The Knowledge Review presents to you an exclusive interview with Mr. Srinivasa Addepalli, the Founder of Global Gyan Academy of Management, wherein he emphasizes the need for continuous learning for professionals.
Kindly brief us in short about you and your journey since the beginning of your career.
I began my career as a management consultant with the Tata Strategic Management Group in Mumbai. I was part of the team that worked on the acquisition of VSNL as part of the PSU disinvestment process in 2002.
I moved to the office of the Tata group Chairman (Mr. Ratan Tata) to coordinate the various investments and initiatives of the group in the telecom sector. This was a period of great learning, working closely with and understanding the perspectives of the leaders of India’s largest business group.
I was closely involved in the ongoing transformation at VSNL from a public sector monopoly to a competitive player. I led two major global acquisitions by VSNL, of Tyco Global Network (TGN) and Teleglobe which built the foundation for the company’s global expansion. I moved from the Chairman’s office to the leadership team of VSNL (later renamed as Tata Communications) to manage the strategy and corporate affairs function. At Tata Communications, as its Chief Strategy Officer, I was responsible for strategic planning, M&A, alliances and investments, as well as a corporate brand, communications, and regulatory affairs.
After nearly 15 years with the Tata group, I quit in 2013 to pursue my interest in the area of management education. My former colleague and I founded GlobalGyan Academy of Management Education, an ed-tech firm that works with corporates and individuals in professional capability development.
Tell us about your academic and professional milestones. Let us know about the major achievements, accolades, and recognitions that you have earned in your entire career so far.
I graduated in Electronics Engineering from NIT (then REC), Surat. Later, I completed my post-graduate program in management from IIM, Ahmedabad.
I was recognized by the Global Telecoms Business in their 40 under 40 list (for three consecutive years) of global telecom leaders who would make a difference to the industry in the future.
A case study written by me was the Overall Winner at the Ivey-ISB Global Case Competition in 2014
What are the most significant contributions you have made for the promotion of Leadership in the corporate world and in the development of the educational structure in the country?
GlobalGyan is a platform that addresses the need for continuous learning for professionals. We have created a wide range of programs for various levels that are extremely practical and designed for the Indian business context. We also encourage business leaders to become learning facilitators by helping them with program designs, preparation of case studies and creation of digital content.
Not only does professional learning have to be practical, but it also has to be interactive and energizing. Our learning methods include case discussions, simulations, and games to encourage active participation and concept application. We have received tremendous feedback from our learners about the interactive nature of our programs.
GlobalGyan supplements the academic programs that most of us go through at the beginning of our careers. In fact, we work with several institutions to enable their students to build the professional skills that are necessary for job readiness. Our simulations and digital content are well appreciated by leading business schools and engineering colleges.
Being an industry leader, how are you preparing others to lead as well?
There is a saying: those who can do; those who can’t, teach. Not only is it insulting to all teachers, it is also a problem area in professional learning. Development of business acumen and leadership is equally about attitude and behavior as it is about knowledge, it is imperative that those who can do (or have done) are the teachers of management. GlobalGyan brings the practical perspective of management learning to the industry.
It is also true that someone with great experience or expertise may not know how to teach others; such capability transfer requires the creation of appropriate content, learning tools and engagement. GlobalGyan is a platform for experienced leaders to come together and build appropriate learning programs.
In brief, tell us about GlobalGyan, its distinct solutions, achievements, and mission, and vision.
GlobalGyan is an Edtech startup building a digital platform to help professionals progress their careers with learning and mentoring from industry leaders. Through its mobile and web apps, interactive content and personal coaching, GlobalGyan’s network of experienced leaders provide practical knowledge that professionals can use immediately. 8000 managers from India’s largest corporates have built their business acumen and leadership capabilities at GlobalGyan. The company’s angel investors include Ratan Tata, Dr. Jagdish Sheth and several other business leaders in India and overseas.
One of our flagship products is ValYou Starter, a digital learning journey to build professional skills for job readiness. The program incorporates the top 10 business acumen and people management skills that most employers seek in their entry-level employees. ValYou Starter has been designed and developed by highly experienced CXOs and business school faculty, including Dr. Ashok Korwar, a leading corporate consultant and former Chairman, PGP at IIM, Ahmedabad, Gagandeep Singh, a visiting faculty at ISB, INSEAD and IIMA, and Usha Rangarajan, a former CXO with experiences in Wipro, Tata Teleservices and IHCL.
What were the major challenges that you have faced in your career? What are the difficulties you faced while promoting the importance of Business acumen skills?
Looking ahead, many professionals are likely to face career challenges if they remain complacent with their past degrees and accolades. Many of us have learned, in hindsight, about the need for continuous up-gradation of our capabilities. Particularly, in a complex and uncertain environment, familiarity with a wider range of skills is as important as in-depth expertise in one or two.
What message would you address to the students, professionals and the rest of the world?
All of us complain about the education system and how it is rooted in the past. But the answer to this problem is right in our hands. There are hundreds of avenues available for learning and we do not have to depend only on the formal university system for professional skill-building. If we stop using degrees and college branding as a measure of a person’s capability but truly measure their aptitude and attitude, the education system will get reformed.
We firmly believe that digital (enabled) learning has the potential to disrupt the education space. Digital brings convenience, scale, personalization, and measurability. We should stop treating digital learning as an inferior extension of the classroom. We have to invert education from instructor-led to participant-led, and that can only happen with digital.