Partha S. Ghosh, Chairman & Chief Mentor, Boston Analytics, is a renowned strategist and an innovator of Business and Economic models. He is currently in an advisory role with multiple organizations world wide. In the last thirty years he has been involved in a broad spectrum of engagements, primarily focusing on strategic and policy issues in technology based industries specifically in the energy & chemicals industry. His strategic problem solving work has included global strategy development, innovation and change management, and re-structuring / re-engineering of major companies. More recently he has been helping major companies renew their business models based on information technology/e-commerce and the evolving network/knowledge economies including distributed power generation. He has also served heads of state in more than half a dozen countries on strategic and policy issues related to deregulation of industries, privatization, globalization, energy (Hydrocarbon and Renewable) and socio-economic advancement. He Chief Academic Mentor for an exclusive program called ‘Strategic Leadership Program’ organized by Unitedworld School of Business.
Speaking with Jasmine Kohli, of India Infoline, Partha Ghosh, says, "Indian business school should develop a curriculum, which would suit the Indian mind".
What was your inspiration in getting into advisory service?
I think it happened naturally. I also believe that every individual should look for their own natural passion; my natural passion right from my childhood has been on analysis of event and analysis of two sides; one is number analysis to look at new patterns. The other is creative thinking; which is. How do you break away from a way of pursuing a thought? I think these two elements came together to draw me into the world of consultants.
There has to be a natural inclination towards problem solving, a natural desire to start from zero. One must start form zero, only then can one emerge as a hero. One should also adopt the approach of going back to the accomplished task searching for loopholes if any.
Brief us about your early years.
My life started at IIT Kharagpur. I was then with Union Carbide and then moved to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in Cambridge, where I did chemical engineering as well as Masters in Business Administration with Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School. I was with Mckinsey for a long time where I became the senior partner of the firm and then I launched my own firm Parker Gosh Associates in Tokyo. During that time, I had the privilege to work with lots of heads of the states as well as CEOs of companies around the world.
My large focus is moving towards education because I realize the world needs a new approach to thinking and as I believe the best way to do is by getting in more youngsters.
In terms of succession plans, do you think we have a second generation leadership ready in place for most corporate?
Most of the companies are struggling though the Tata’s, Reliance, Aditya Birla groups have done well. I think leaders emerge as crises occur. So it’s a very difficult question to answer. I think as companies become global and turn bigger, they start thinking in terms of succession plans. However, I don’t see that thinking setting in as yet because when you are in power, you feel you will be in power forever. No one is planning their death, no one is planning ‘I have to retire.’ Everyone believes that they are young and they will continue to be young. There is no way people could mark when they will end their innings or when the next person will come in to bat.
Do you see dynastic succession as a problem?
Dynasty, need not necessarily be a problem. If you look at US or European companies, the founders never felt the are starting companies for their family. Bill Gates just built up Microsoft; in fact he has already withdrawn while he was still young. Moroever, he is not expecting his daughter to run his company; it is totally professionalized.
Most of the companies are the products of the passion of the founder and they don’t think it is designed for their family members or the future generation. Similar is the case with the DuPont family. Every company starts as one person, so every person has a family, but that doesn’t mean it becomes a family company.
In India and few other developing countries, I find the thought process that if I start a business it has to remain in the family. By that definition, what you are doing is limiting the future of the business by depending upon the next generation family members’ passion, skill level and preparedness. I think, if I am building a business, my desire should be to have the best people in the world, not just from my part of the world.
When family businesses think whoever is the family member deserves to be a part of the leadership of the company, I think it shows business is secondary and family is primary. Moreover, if the company is listed on the stock exchange, where there are other shareholders, I think it is my responsibility to my shareholders and to my customers to ensure that the best people run my company and not just family members. Though I may have 40% stake in my company, 60% belongs to other shareholders.
Is that the reason why usually the first generation is successful and by the time the third generation comes in, the companies vanish?
Obviously, because the first generation started the business because with passion and understood exactly what they wanted to do. That doesn’t mean my son would be able to repeat the same thing, his passion may be music and my passion is information technology. Let him pursue music. In fact, I should feel lucky in my mind and think if I made a lot of money, my children are lucky to pursue their passion. Perhaps I can even support them with some money. As a management consultant I love management consulting but if I force my daughter to be a management consultant, I think I am being unfair to my profession. Without the inner passion, she will not run my business with efficiency and most of the businesses meet with an untimely death. I believe people should pursue their choice and not be forced to do something.
What is the knowledge spectrum that Indian B school need to have?
Indian business schools, need a lot of change; they should start with a lot of professionals into the system. They need two things, which I think is missing; one is develop a curriculum, which would suit the Indian mind. Second, many Indian business schools got modeled on western concepts. If you look at IIM Calcutta, it was set up on the lines of Sloan school while IIM Ahemdabad is modeled on the lines of Harvard Business School.
Management and leadership, in my opinion is a way of being, it’s a culture that we shape and I think Indian business schools would have been very well served if they if they took a zero-based approach in designing the curriculum suiting the Indian mind for Indian challenges for Indian inadequacies.
What are your expectations from B-school students?
B-School students are towering personalities, who can become great problem solvers. They can inspire the world, reach the grass root levels and bring a change there. They are the go-getters and wherever they are, they can engage themselves, efficiently and make their point effectively. The business schools have to get B-School students to be brain activators.
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