“I think it is very important to continuously upskill and reskill oneself to keep up with the changing times”

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Amit Madan, country manager, TransTechnology India Pvt Ltd

His zeal and enthusiasm to learn new things, in sync with the fast-changing market, does not allow him to get complacent about his achievements. Amit Madan, country manager, TransTechnology India Pvt Ltd, in a candid conversation with Potshangbam July shares how self-discipline and continuous learning have helped him to come a long way.

I am the youngest among my siblings and hence was given a lot of love and affection by all and sundry. It so happened that my elder sister, who is two years older to me, and I were admitted to the same grade – therefore shortening my childhood by a good two years. By virtue of an early admission into school, I was also accelerated out of school life, which was followed by graduation and post-graduation in quick succession. My father is an engineer and he ran his own business. In his heyday, he manufactured tape recorders, radios, audio cassettes, PA equipment, black and white televisions, et al.

As a child, I often wandered into the factory and dabbled with circuit boards, solder wire, flux and DC motors. I believe God had a plan back then, which is why I was introduced to electronics manufacturing at a very young age.

What’s close to my heart
Favourite music: I like to listen to both Hindi and English music. Some of my favourite singers are Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Arijit Singh and Bryan Adams.
Favourite book: My favourite book for a long time has been “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson, for it continues to stay relevant through a lifetime.
Favourite films: These are often from genres like science fiction, romance, adventure and thrillers.
Favourite sports: Like most other people, I have played different kinds of sports at different stages of my life. However, I find tennis drawing me back onto the court every now and then.
Favourite holiday destination: I am completely a family person. If I am surrounded by my family (particularly my children), I can have a good time. A lot of places worldwide have a lot of beauty. However, I generally prefer places that involve some degree of physical activity when exploring the place. I think an activity interspersed with natural beauty makes for a perfect holiday destination.


The turning point in my life

Soon after my MBA, I began working for one of the Tandon Group companies based out of Singapore. That however was a short stint, but it helped me discover TransTec, which serviced Yamaha SMT machines for the Tandon Group plants in Sri Lanka and Mumbai. I reckon that my major break was when TransTec’s founder chose me to kickstart the company’s India operations. While this allowed me to return home after being away for nearly four years, it also gave me a unique opportunity. I could take up the challenge of not only starting a new business for TransTec, but also build up a lot of self-discipline at an age when most of my peers back then (for the record, I was 24 years old) would probably be part of a hierarchy, learning the ropes under the watchful eyes of superiors. My role required me to have a disciplined routine on a day-to-day basis, even though I was lucky to have had a free hand in making decisions, all for the growth of our enterprise.

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My morning rituals that empower my day
My day starts the previous evening. Before I go to sleep, I make some short notes on what I need to do the following day, with what I wrote staying in my mind. I often find myself connecting with all my sales team members to gauge how and where I can be of assistance to help them do their jobs better.

In the morning, I prefer to step out for a stroll early and often jog for 10-15 minutes to ensure that I have enough oxygen in my lungs to last through the day. One could call it a morning sprint, borrowing the term from the Agile methodology that’s very popular in the software industry.

My source of inspiration
I find myself drawing inspiration from many successful people both in my personal as well as in my professional life. Perhaps it is not fair to give this pedestal to a single person but, in general, I feel humbled when I see successful people being very low key and kind to those whom they could very well have exercised a certain degree of authority and control over. I also feel that while we are at work, we tend to develop a notion that we know it all and that we are worldly wise. However, when I rub shoulders with my batchmates during alumni meets, I quickly realise that there are many things that one can learn from one’s peers. I find this very humbling.

Management styles that strike a chord
I strongly believe in the power of delegation. I feel it is important for me to have enough time for strategic thinking and to work on aspects that do not necessarily get touched upon, in the day to day life of a line manager. I also believe in management by exception. It allows space for my team members to thrive on their strengths, irrespective of whether they find success or not. Last but not the least, I believe in ensuring that decisions are taken based on collective wisdom. I prefer to draw feedback from all stakeholders for decisions that are likely to affect the personal or professional lives of my team members. I feel it is better to inspire people and draw extraordinary performances from ordinary people rather than thrusting a task upon them.

How to stay relevant in order to adapt to change
For a mid-career professional, it is always a challenge to continue to stay relevant. It is at this stage that I feel the need for continuous learning and being a lifelong student. I feel we no longer live in times when the formal skills we acquired in our 20s can last a lifetime. In this time and age, I think it is very important to continuously upskill and reskill oneself to keep up with the changing times. To be more specific about my plans, I am already exposing myself to the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning—both by way of acquiring formal training as well as by mentoring third and fourth year engineering students to solve business and societal problems using AI and ML.

Contributions to the industry
Perhaps my only claim to fame is the pro-bono mentorship that I provide young people, helping them choose a path that will allow them to leverage their skills and find meaningful engagements in the industry.

My secret success mantra
I believe in learning from failure and failing often. There is a lot to be learned from failures too. I feel each one of us can do everything, provided we continue to believe that when the student is ready, the teacher emerges.

Message to budding entrepreneurs
Perhaps I am not qualified to advise entrepreneurs for I am not one. However, if there was one thing that I could advise someone wanting to make it on their own, it is not to forget the dollar impact. Pick up a real business or societal problem and try to gauge its dollar impact on the lives of people and businesses alike.

How social media is redefining today’s business world
Social media is a big boon. It has democratised the information that was once the preserve of a few, and that information asymmetry meant that only those few would reap the gains. I feel social media and an omni-channel presence is helping a great deal to improve discoverability, for a whole host of businesses in every domain and industry.

My future plans
I plan to continue to work towards the common objectives of our organisation in my professional setup. However, at a personal level, I plan to apply my formal training in AI and ML (interspersed with domain knowledge) to solve some business use cases that matter to the industry. For example, I am currently doing a PoC on a PCBA image data set, training a CNN (neural network) to develop a good classification algorithm. Once I complete this, I plan to take this to the industry, to apply this technology to automate mundane tasks.

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