Employee Speak: Louie Fernandes. RaLpH, Chief Operating Officer, Optimystix: V2 Issue2


1. How is the entertainment industry getting influenced by the increase in percentage of the Gen Y viewers?

There has been an increase in the Gen Y viewership primarily in the English entertainment and music genres but not necessarily at the same rate in the GEC (General Entertainment Channels).  In the GEC, there has been an increase in viewership within the shoulder time bands (7-8PM and 10PM onwards) of the Gen Y viewers. With the penetration of internet and mobile, these are more attractive time spending options for Gen Y audiences and one can expect these media platforms to see a higher rate of growth in Gen Y audiences.

Broadcasters are now extending their content to mobile and web. With the introduction and subsequent proliferation of 3G and broadband, we see more cannibalization of content created for TV with mobile and internet.


2. When program formats are developed by Optimystix, are any particular elements included to attract and engage Gen Y viewers?

Yes in two ways.  The GEC channels have introduced an interactive element in the programmes like call-ins, SMS, India voting and download sections on their websites to attract younger audiences who believe in influencing the end result. Dancing and comedy genres have introduced content that is focused on competitions where the younger generation wants to play a role in deciding who the winner is.  Forays into mobile content typically attract Gen Y and humor/movie related new content is being created for mobile. You can have a look at some sample content on www.mainduck.com. Expect to see more mobile content created by Optimystix on your mobile screen soon via your mobile operator.


3. According to you what kind of television programs are a hit among Gen Y viewers?


Genres of singing, dancing, comedy and spoofy shows like SET's Comedy Circus are a hit. On niche channels, MTV’s ‘Roadies’ is a show particularly focused towards attracting the young Gen Y audience.


4. How is the entertainment industry getting impacted by the influx of Gen Y workforce?

One would be on generating fresh creative output to meet the objective of different genres of programming. Their biggest impact would be on programs particularly targeted towards the youth, as against creative input they would bring to GEC, focussed on big shiny floor entertainment programs targeted for the entire family.

The impact of Gen Y workforce is significant when creating content targeting the youth itself – youth programming on music channels, gaming industry, mobile, internet and the likes.


5. What according to you is and will be the impact of Gen Y employees on the corporate culture?

The Gen Y workforce tends to focus more on the ‘end’ rather than the ‘means’ to reach an objective.  They also bring in a lot of movement, energy and diversity within the organisation.  At Optimystix we have a healthy mix of people.  Young talent is managed and supervised by experienced talent.  Today our middle management rung consists of young people who have grown in the organisation over the years and have integrated well to create a cohesive culture of the organisation which transcends youthful zeal and enthusiasm with the thoroughness and wisdom of experience.


6. What are the challenges in managing them at the workplace?

A major challenge in managing this hyperactive workforce is discipline and adherence to process.  Control is a challenge.  What works with selling the principles of discipline and process is persistence and presenting the benefits and values of adhering to processes and discipline via real life examples. This generation thinks more off the hip rather than the head.  They are more emotional than calculative and introspective. As managers we need to spend time with them to demonstrate the bigger/macro picture.  They tend to have a myopic view and believe more in shortcuts rather than hard work. With guidance and persistence, we can achieve the desired results.


7. They have global reach and trends across the world reach them in real time - Is their leaning towards India – the country lower therefore?

I wouldn’t say so.  They are globally aware but their connection to India is strong.


8. Any message you would like to share with our readers belonging to the Gen Y?

My message to them is that there is a lot of merit in hard work especially when it’s coupled with an intelligent approach to hard work.  Shortcuts don’t work all the time.  One should take the time to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s. Focusing on details is important.

Employee Speak: M C Muthanna, Chief Operating Officer, Firepro; V2 Issue 1


1. Firepro has experienced exponential growth in the last couple of years. Can you share some of the factors for this growth?

I attribute Firepro’s phenomenal growth to strategic initiatives we invested in.  Our geographical expansion within India and overseas has powered us immensely. As has our decision to evolve our service offerings by acquiring more capabilities, and offering wider, more technological solutions to our customers. Our focus on building capabilities grew from our intent to meet customer needs by paying attention to detailed design and engineering methodologies, procurement efficiencies and implementation mechanisms. Today, we are able to offer quality solutions to our targeted customers, across locations, in spite of fierce competition.

Our offerings today, include not just safety and security solutions but also include network infrastructure - the backbone of any Building Management System (BMS). We have made immense progress in developing home automation solutions as well. Diversification for us was the most natural route to consider being a solutions provider! Most importantly, the contributions of our highly committed and motivated team have powered us to be one of the most sought after companies in the industry.


2. What were the key growth drivers for business – both internal and external?

Vast development and growth in the infrastructure market has invariably accelerated the business. The knowledge and awareness of potential safety and security solutions in the market have also broadened Firepro’s horizons. Our focus on quality, our scale of operations and our ability to envision and implement newer initiatives in the infrastructure space are among the internal growth drivers. The formation ?? and the research done by our internal focus groups have helped us to further enhance our expertise. I would consider our ability to attract talent across various levels as one of our biggest internal growth drivers.


3. What were the kind of responses that you got from different stakeholders in this journey ?

Our reliability and commitment towards customer needs has helped us retain customers. They know we have the ability to understand their business environment – this has enabled us to offer better and effective solutions to them. Our clients have a great deal of confidence and faith in the way we operate!

Our biggest asset has been our employee strength – strength is the word to be used to describe the mighty workforce that we have! They are a committed team, always willing to take up challenges and ensure successful completion of projects before moving on to the next one. They are happy and excited to be part of this high-growth environment though have to constantly deal with change. We instill an understanding in the new joinees that it’s a tough place to work, and they have to deal with high pressure situations frequently! I remember sometime back meeting two promising boys from Hubli who came looking for a job with us. They were among the first entrants in the instrumentation department, and I’ve seen them toil and burn the midnight oil time and again to ensure that everything went right at the client location. They have worked diligently and today have a fulfilling career, with a potential to move up the ladder!

We have been able to attract industry’s best and highly experienced senior and middle management talent who want to be a part of our ambitious and high-growth environment! Apart from this, our association with business partners dates back from the time of inception. Firepro’s stability and the platform that we provide for their growth has resulted in long-term and viable relationships!


4. Firepro recently won the Best Company of the Year 2007 - Fire Systems Integration at the Frost and Sullivan Building Technology Excellence Awards? What were the main criteria that led to Firepro winning?

This award recognized the company’s effort and commitment to continuously evolve and remain a leading participant in our industry segment. The award acknowledges the leadership position Firepro retains and its ability to:

  • Proactively cater to changing customer needs
  • Adopt latest technology
  • Continuously deliver exceptional customer service and
  • To take advantage of market opportunities through the execution of innovative strategies


5. You are operating across international locations. Can you share your experience of setting up the infrastructure business in these locations?

It’s been an eventful journey expanding our operations. In Australia, we were fortunate to hire the right leadership team and they provided a great deal of support from the day we began operations. The Victorian TC government was very helpful and we were able to set up operations in Melbourne within 3 days. The Information and Broadcasting Minister of the state launched the company which further enhanced our credibility in the market. We were able to meet our all our targets, owing to the team’s efficiency. We plan to expand further to Sydney and Brisbane soon. Middle East was all about speed and scale of operations! Although it took us longer to establish operations there, we have successfully entered the market and are providing solutions to many large-scale projects. Within a year of establishing operations, we have today 135 committed team members. In Singapore we started operations in a day’s time - the Government was very supportive again.

We intend to leverage the learning from our overseas experiences into the Indian business, further strengthen our process efficiencies, enhance our ability to tackle contingencies, and also increase our speed and scale of operations!


6. Firepro is highly customer focused. What would “Customer focus” mean in the context of Firepro’s business?

We believe that one of our biggest strengths against any other competition is our ability to be committed to our clients from day one of our association with them. The solutions offered are customized to meet their needs and are of world-class quality. We are in a position today to complete the entire project as per the specified deadline. This ensures that the customer’s plans are completed well within their project timelines as well. We center our service offerings and operations on customers’ evolving needs which further enrich the “customer experience”.


7. How have you instilled customer orientation among all employees?

We believe that communication is the backbone of any project association. We ensure that the team understands the customer requirements and that from the start it is focused on delivering what was promised to the customer. There is constant reinforcement from management on the customer orientation. We, as a senior management team ensure that our commitment levels are visible to the team. This further guarantees a positive response from the project teams as they are aware that their management team is just as much accountable and focused on delivering customer value. .


8. Firepro has been growing at a scorching pace. What may slow the pace of growth in the short term?

The infrastructure market may undergo rapid variations. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this change would slow down Firepro’s pace of growth. Our focus on consistent evolution into different service offerings would enable us to sustain the growth. Economic conditions may not adversely affect business growth, but a certain element of precaution would be taken to face the inevitable.


9. Can you share some of the interesting experiences that you’ve had during this successful journey at Firepro?

Yes, there are many such experiences that have changed our business outlook and had an impact on the Firepro’s management team. One such exulting experience was when we received the 2004 ICICI-CNBC Crisil Award in Delhi. We were among 25 companies short-listed. In the management team, we did not pay too much attention to the award among pressing client demands and operations. We were not even remotely aware of the impact the award would have on the entire team. When we (Naren and I) returned from Delhi, the sight was exhilarating! We were completely overwhelmed by the warmth, excitement and celebration at the Bangalore office. We then understood that this award would trigger a greater sense of commitment and passion within the Firepro team. They were proud of the achievement and were proud to be part of this venture!!
Another one is how the Firepro team came together to deal with a very tight schedule for a client. The base for us to set up operations was Uttaranchal. Tough terrain conditions required us to focus on details and take into consideration many other complexities. We only had a weekend to work on the requirements-too short a timeframe for us to complete it! Within no time, the word spread. Many volunteers came forth to help, although they did not have the required skills or the background. They rapidly put together the necessary documentation to kick start the assignment. 13 other team members flew to Delhi and worked the whole weekend, hour on hour, to complete the project. To this day, I admire the courage, passion and pride that drove my team to finish an unfeasible assignment on time!


10. Is there anything you would have done differently looking back?

I personally feel focusing on building efficient people processes and holding a number of employee engagement activities, which we began only in 2005, would have added value and accelerated Firepro’s growth.

Employee Speak: Pradeep Kar, Chairman and Managing Director, Microland : July'08

Pradeep Kar is the Founder, Chairman and Managing Director of Microland, a company recognized as a key player in the Remote Infrastructure Management Services space by the top three outsourcing industry tracking entities in 2008. A visionary and industry pioneer, Pradeep leveraged the power of networking and e-business technologies long before they were recognized as critical business enablers when he founded Microland in 1989. Under Pradeep’s leadership, Microland has emerged as a leading Indian pure play IT Infrastructure Management Services Provider. Pradeep’s philosophy of driving business transformation by leveraging Remote Infrastructure Management, with a strong customer driven service perspective has enabled Microland to grow to 12 locations, 8 Operation Management Centres and 2300+ people.
A serial entrepreneur, Pradeep founded and successfully sold technology companies Planetasia.com, India’s first Internet Professional Services Company, Net Brahma Technologies and Indya.com, India’s leading portal, which he sold to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Pradeep sits on several boards and is the President of ‘The IndUS Entrepreneurs’ (TiE), Bangalore Chapter and the Founding Member of the Bangalore Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization. Pradeep’s leadership acumen has been recognized with the Indian Express’ ‘India Young Business Achiever Award’ and he has been selected by the World Economic Forum as a ‘Global Leader for Tomorrow’. He holds a postgraduate degree in Management and a Bachelor of Engineering degree.


  1. How did the entrepreneurial journey evolve for you? What got you started?
    The entrepreneurial bug hit me very early in college. I got fairly clear then that I wanted to be on my own. Post my engineering and MBA degrees; I joined Wipro, which in my mind was a start-up journey. It was in the early years of Wipro where everything that needed to be done had to be entrepreneurial. Then I went and joined a start-up company as the 3rd employee and we built India's first computer retail chain – namely Computer Point. The owners of Computer Point then sent me to the US to set up a software company which is now known as Sonata Software. I was fortunate that my entire set of experiences was entrepreneurial in nature and I learnt a lot in the process.
  2. How is the entrepreneurial spirit sustained now that you are running a large organization?
    I still think that the entrepreneurial instincts in me continue. While we are a larger company today with 2300+ people, we are very much entrepreneurial in nature. There needs to be systems and processes to run larger organizations. But our approach to each has an entrepreneurial flavour built in. Individuals and teams have full flexibility to drive change, innovation and deliver on results and in many cases paint their own canvas within the corporate objectives and guidelines.
  3. How can the entrepreneurial spirit and culture be owned and practiced by individuals performing corporate roles?
    Entrepreneurship is usually associated with new company formation. But the entrepreneurial spirit that drives individuals to start a new organization, bring in new products/ services in the market can do wonders for the growth of an existing organization. Individuals can imbibe the following aspects in their corporate roles to practice the spirit of entrepreneurship within an organization:
        • Drive Innovation: Individuals should thrive for constant innovation at their work place. New business can be created by undertaking product/ services, process, technological and administrative innovations. Individuals should also consider renewal of key ideas on which the organizations are built.
        • Embrace Challenge: Every organization and every work place has pain areas. The challenges that arise in resolving these pain areas would be daunting and tedious to many. Individuals should identify these pain areas, volunteer to take ownership of these challenges, chalk out a plan to address them and demonstrate competence by successful execution.
        • Be passionate about every aspect of your work: Not all the tasks associated with the work would be extraordinary or out of the world. There could be mundane and repetitive tasks. An individual should always strive to perform each of the tasks flawlessly no matter however trivial they may appear.
        • Place high priority on your work when needed: There would be occasions when there are crisis scenarios at your work place which may require an individual to make some personal sacrifices. One should always be willing to act in the best interest of the company in those times regardless of the inconvenience to oneself.
        • Work towards accomplishments: Individuals should measure themselves based on their accomplishments and contributions made to the organization. One should be outcome oriented and should clearly outline the difference that one is making to the growth of an organization.
        • Embrace change: In the workplace, one may find scenarios where there are changes in processes, systems and organization structure. Individuals should be ready to adapt to any change that comes and lead the way for others.
        • Be a leader: Individuals should not wait for their supervisors or their colleagues to give them directions. They should strive to be the first one who tries something new and encourages others to follow suit. One should motivate others to work harder and make every effort to bring the best out of everyone around.
        • Be autonomous: An individual may have a brilliant idea. The success of the idea lies in
          its implementation and execution. An individual should act in bringing forth an idea or a vision and carrying it through to completion.
        • Organization support to individuals with entrepreneurial spirit: All the above mentioned aspects can be practiced and become effective only when the leaders of the organization provide a favourable environment for the same. Organizational leaders should encourage innovation in the organization and provide freedom to individuals to operate strategically in unstructured situations and to challenge the status quo.

Employee Speak: Mr. Amit Kumar Das, Director - Human Resources, Allergan India

Tell us something about Allergan?

Allergan is a global health care company focused on specialty Pharmaceuticals products. Founded in 1950 in US, it is currently headquartered in Irvine, California. Allergan was launched in India in 1995 as a joint venture with Nicholas Piramal. The inspiration for setting up Allergan came from the need to deliver value to the end consumer and to provide an improved and promising future for the life of a patient. The primary business focus of the company is in the Eye care, Aesthetics and Neurosciences areas of specialty pharmaceuticals.

What is Allergan popular for in the Pharma market? What are it's specialty areas?

Allergan is popular in the Pharma for Eye care products and treatment of eye diseases like Glaucoma and Dry Eyes. We are currently the market leader in eye care products and have taken the initiative to create awareness for the various treatments. Over a period of time, Allergan has also become extremely popular for Botox, a patented product, which enjoys 95% of the market share in India. Botox is used for both therapeutic as well as for cosmetology purposes. Botox is also approved for indications like Cerebral palsy, migraine and urinary tract infection to name a few. It is injected only by a trained medical practitioner.

What is your role in the company?

As the Director - Human Resources, I am responsible for developing and executing all the Human Resource policies for the company. Our entire Human Resources team is committed to ensuring an employee-friendly environment where each individual would be provided various opportunities to realize his/her dreams and goals. We partner with the business managers to ensure that the company’s goals and objectives are met.

What are the key challenges that you face in your industry and specifically in your role? 

The Indian Pharma market is characterized by companies with generic products who are quick in copying (or bringing out copies of the) patented products at lower prices and who have a large sales force reaching all corners of the market. Capability building, attraction of right talent, availability of talent pool and retention of employees are some of the high priority challenges for Allergan India. We have institutionalized right processes and taken active measures to address them.

What are some of the best practices in HR that have been implemented in Allergan?

Allergan has established a robust Performance Management System, Capability building and Career development processes. Our global recognition program ‘Hidden Gems’ recognizes excellent performers in the organization and the selected employees are flown to California to be a part of the recognition ceremony which is part of Allergan Quarterly meeting. Individuals who contribute significantly in any specific assignment or project are rewarded with Excellence Award and cash incentive. Employees who have been in the system for more than 5 years, also receive awards for their hard-work and commitment to the company. We also have excellent employee development initiatives.

What are some of the employee development initiatives?

Learning has been given a great deal of importance in Allergan. We have institutionalized the Allergan India Learning Resources Centre and Allergan Institute of Management to increase the competence level of the employees. We have also put in place a process to ascertain the knowledge level of the field sales team. Regular tests are administered to check if the sales executives keep abreast of the recent pharma industry developments. A knowledge allowance is also provided to them if they perform extremely well. The training programs are categorized as:


Integrate - focuses on bringing the new team together

Improve- focuses on capability building of the team

We believe that learning has to start from the time one joins the company. Hence the training provided at that stage covers all the basic aspects of selling and product knowledge with specific programs like Torque and Momentum. Torque is a fast-track 3-day program and Momentum is a 16-day product training program for new joinees. The intensity of the training programs increases as the employee moves up the ladder, focusing more on acquisition of essential competencies for the next role.

Tell us something about the real-time data capture software at Allergan.

‘Envision electronic reporting’ (PDA) was introduced to track and capture real-time data from the Sales executives who make regular sales calls with medical practitioners. The field sales executive carries a PDA which has a list of doctors that he/she has to meet. Once the meeting is complete, he/she updates the PDA. These details get captured onto the main database.

How significant are Research and Development activities for Allergan?

In this growing age of incurable diseases, it is vital for any Pharma company to pursue and continuously do research on new cures for diseases. We invest a great deal in research and development because that’s what we believe will give us our edge over other pharma competitors. Every year, the investment spent on R & D has been significantly increasing and will continue to increase in the years to come. The kind of Product pipeline we have is a matter of envy for all our competitors. We also have a Clinical research set up in Bangalore, India.

What do you think are some of the key success factors of Allergan India?

Allergan India is the acknowledged leader in the eye care segment with roughly 21% market share. Low input costs and customized formulation for Indian markets have also helped us to sustain large volume production. Our competitive advantage over other Pharma companies in India is the trained, knowledgeable and motivated field personnel. Precisely this is the reason for us investing heavily in development and empowerment of our employees. World-class infrastructure and use of innovative technology cannot be discounted from our success factors.

What are some of the future plans for the company?

The company plans to rapidly move into the health care segment with emphasis on Botox. We intend to introduce state-of-the art products for reducing morbid obesity in individuals. We will continue to leverage our expertise in R&D activities to create new and better products for consumers and ensure an improved life for them.

Employee Speak: Mr. Ashutosh Atray, VP Training and Fleet Management, V-Link Taxis Pvt. Ltd; Jan'08


1. Tell us something about your company and what it is trying to do in the Market.

V-Link Taxis is a service oriented company. Its main aim is to provide hassle free, quality, premium service to its commuters which is not yet available in so many cities.

2. What is your role in the company?

I am responsible for Training and Resources.  Besides developing and ensuring that quality training is imparted to drivers, I am also responsible for effective utilization of resources like infrastructure, vehicles and the mobile servicing team.

3. What are the key challenges you face in your industry and specifically in your role?  How do you deal with them?

Tapping, attracting and retaining the talent pool among taxi drivers is a great challenge. The second key challenge is to maintain quality in service delivery to the customer.  Quality is required at several levels and departments, ranging from the call center, vehicle fitment, driver selection and training, IT systems and Recovery/Accounts.  In order to ensure quality, the entire machinery needs to be well oiled and work as a single unit. Each department needs to perform as a team based on set processes in a timely manner with a firm focus on business goals. The third key challenge is driver training and attitude.  Each driver reacts uniquely to different situations and to the same situations at different times.  Ensuring their adherence to processes to deliver the same quality each time is challenging.

4. What kind of training do you provide to the drivers who are deployed in Meru cabs?

In a way the driver is the face of our company. A lot depends on how the driver performs on that day.  Every thing becomes null and void if the driver makes the customer unhappy. We have a 5 day comprehensive training program that covers several topics like good driving, road safety, basic maintenance, technical specifications, city topography, personal hygiene, etiquette etc.

5. Is the training provided by V-Link to it’s cab drivers unique to the taxi industry in India?

It is unique.  Besides being very comprehensive and covering various aspects as mentioned before, strict adherence on the part of the driver to the set processes is largely dependent on the driver since he is not just an employee but a mini entrepreneur.  Our training also touches upon this aspect and raises the self esteem of the driver by making him understand the finer nuances of his new role. He not only needs to perform well but also needs to exhibit a finer behaviour and process adherence as this impacts the company as well as his business.

6. Recently V-Link was in the news regarding the training facility provided at the Regional Transport Office. How is this unique and what are the advantages for the driver undergoing such a program? Do you feel this can be replicated anywhere else in the country?

The transport department would like to groom and educate the drivers of Mumbai city.   Being in the industry we would like to actively contribute towards this social cause.  Whenever a driver comes to the RTO for a new license or renewing an old one etc, the RTO encourages them to meet our team specifically designated permanently for training at the RTO. The training is conducted by professional trainers in a room set up for such training.  The purpose is to raise driver awareness to higher levels thereby ensuring safer roads.  This training is on ongoing basis.  When the driver completes this successfully he is presented a certificate as well. This initiative is 3 months old now and we are proud to say that every day about 60 to 70 drivers are trained and a total of over 6000 drivers have been trained so far. We have two more requests from the RTO and we are in the process of developing a multilingual training in Hindi and Marathi as well.

7. What are the unique challenges of training drivers?

Ensuring satisfactory levels of service is very challenging indeed.  For example, our training chalks out that the driver be well dressed, clean shaven, wearing good shoes in other words very neatly turned out. To ensure the above he is also given a uniform and shoes.  In addition to this he needs to display positive attitude and caring guest handling. However the driver does not consider appearance as a key factor for his success and many drivers do not realize that they can really make a day for a guest by giving perfect service. The driver is an integral part of customer experience of Meru.  Our driver relations team meets this challenge by closely interacting with the drivers and putting them through periodic repeat trainings.  In addition we also have a news letter as a point of contact with the drivers.

8. Can you tell us a little about the work done by the fleet management team?

The work of the Fleet management team is very specialized since there are a large number of vehicles involved.  The key performance indicator is efficiency.  Greater efficiency and lesser vehicle downtime results in better output and thereby translates into greater revenue.  For this purpose a large database of vehicle information is maintained and data analysis is done on key parameters like servicing and preventive maintenance.

9. What are the future plans that you have for training and fleet management that you have for V-Link?

For training we would like to establish a world class futuristic training facility where anyone can send their drivers for quality training.  This facility would adopt the best training methods and practices with handouts, top class professional trainers and multilingual training.  The MCT (Mobile Communication Terminal) will have all routes mapped and a driver will have the discretion to use best possible route to his destination.

For Fleet management we are developing software systems and processes for data analysis. We are also planning to open multi-model service centers that will service and repair all kinds of vehicles.

10. What is different about working with V-Link?

The company is growing very fast. The operations are going to be pan-India. The company has already established a good name for itself in the market place. It is a challenge to come up to expectations. A management which provides the right mix of support and liberty makes working here extremely satisfying.  I am happy to be a part of this dynamic new business initiative.

Employee Speak: Chandru Kini, CEO, LifeKen, Bangalore


About the company: LifeKen was born as a dream of two promoters – Chandru Kini and A. Suryanarayanan. LifeKen is a Retail Pharmaceutical Chain that operates in total 82 Stores in Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai. It is actively pursuing the opening of its Retail Pharmaceutical Chain in the cities of Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Kochi. Plans are on the anvil to expand to other cities in the South and West and thereafter to the North and East.

1. How was LifeKen conceptualized? What prompted (Surya and) you to start this venture?

Surya and I ventured into this since we were both entrepreneurs at heart, and were passionate about starting something of our own. A great deal of hands on research was required for establishing a retail pharmaceutical chain like LifeKen. A model pharmacy was set up in Jan 2004. With the success of the model pharmacy, we were granted funding by the Modi’s family, based out of Mumbai. They have put in their personal investments into our venture. Mr Pranab Modi is on the board of directors for LifeKen.

It has been an eventful ride since then. We were also inspired by the success stories of various other retail pharmaceutical chains that were born in India in the last few years.

2. What is the unique experience LifeKen offers to its customers or its unique selling proposition as compared to other retail pharmacies?

Apart from the pharmacies that are successfully operating in the various cities, we have planned to initiate health care awareness programs for our consumers, educating and enlightening them about the preventive measures that could be taken to avoid certain ailments. Health check up mechanisms will also be available at the pharmacies for the consumers to get an insight into their current health status especially for ailments like osteoporosis etc.

The fundamental reason for commencing these programs is to promote a long-lasting relationship with LifeKen consumers.

3. What are the key challenges you face in your industry? How do you deal with them?

The key challenges for a retail pharmacy like LifeKen are at the sourcing as well as at the marketing phases of operations.

At the sourcing stage, there could be a great deal of supply chain issues especially when it comes to availability of commonly purchased drugs. There is always an urgent need to replenish the stores with drugs that are in constant demand with customers. That’s when our relationship with drug suppliers comes to our rescue. The suppliers that we work with are reliable and have the professionalism to ensure timely delivery of urgently required drugs to the pharmacies.

Another complexity that we face is on the marketing front- it becomes a challenge to advertise and to do any promotional activities. It would undermine the ethical standards that we maintain as a retail pharma company.

4. What are the values that you would like your employees to imbibe?

I strongly believe that customer engagement as well as customer delight should be at the forefront of the value system in LifeKen. It would be a reflection of how effective the pharmacy set up is. Employees are required to follow ethical standards of employment which will be critical for the overall success of the organization.

Something that I really hold key to my success is the support and guidance that was provided to me during my stint as a professional. And to a great extent, I would like to continue this tradition with the employees of LifeKen as well. In fact, we would like our employees to be with us and grow along with the success of the organization. 

5. What are your suggestions for future entrepreneurs in retail pharmaceutical?

A great deal of hands on approach would be required for establishing a retail pharmaceutical company. Considerable amount of time and energy have to be invested in research activities to set up an establishment like LifeKen.

Employee Speak: Sambit Bal, Editor - Cricinfo

About the company: Cricinfo, the world's leading cricket website, ranked number one in all of its major markets has live coverage of all Test and one-day international matches, news and features written by world's best cricket writers and in-depth statistics of all the first class cricketers. The Cricinfo Magazine features insights, information and comments from the world's best cricket minds. Regular contributors include Harsha Bhogle, Sanjay Manjrekar, Peter Roebuck, Gideon Haigh and Patrick Eagar.

1. What does your organization do?

Cricinfo is an organization which acts as a complete one roof outlet for Cricket.

2. What is your role?

I am the editor for Cricinfo’s both online and offline website and magazine. I manage our global editorial operations spread across Bangalore, London, Australia, and Pakistan. Cricinfo is easily the world's biggest cricket website and we see ourselves as being the global voice of cricket. It’s not only our job to give scorecards and data, but also to make sense of everything that happens in the world of cricket. It’s our job to deliver all the news in real time without compromising quality.

3. What are the key challenges you face in your industry and specifically in your role? How do you deal with them?

 The biggest challenge is in the technology arena. It is important for us to constantly reassess our delivery mechanism because in our space technology is updating constantly.  The internet is the most democratic of mediums and users are always being presented with new choices. So the challenge for us to stay relevant and contemporary! And we must offer the users a wide range of choices.

4. What are the future plans for Cricinfo?

Cricinfo is the best in the global market and we want to increase our breadth by becoming best in all local markets. Cricinfo should be first and last stop if you want to look at cricket online or offline.

5. What motivates you at work?

Keeping people motivated, finding talented people and watching them grow. Also creating and maintaining a work environment that is informal, creative and challenging and empowering people to do their job to the best of their ability. I have received trust and freedom from my company to deliver the best that I have to offer and I believe in doing the same with my colleagues. What matters to me is what you deliver, not what you wear to work or what time you land up in the office. And in my experience, if you trust people to do their job they don’t let you down.

6. What have been some turning points in your career?

I started my career at the age of 19 and have been working for last 20 years. I have worked with newspapers, magazines and websites. I have had eight jobs, but spent more than 15 years in three of them, and those have been the places I have enjoyed working the most. This is my sixth year with the Wisden Group.

My most significant job before this was editing Gentleman, a features magazine for people who wanted to read. It covered literature, art, culture, movie, food and people.

My first job in cricket was with www.totalcricket.com  started by Mark Masceranhas who brought big time cricket television into India. He was Sachin’s first agent and was his agent when Sachin brought 96 world cup to India. When Wisden was setting up their business in Asia they asked me to join them as the Asian editor both for the magazine and website. I have been here ever since.

I always taken life as it comes and haven’t at any point planned my career. I never applied for a job.  I never ever made a CV. I have stayed in organizations for long only if I enjoyed the work there and was valued. I have been part of many start up companies especially dotcoms. I have enjoyed every bit of work though short term.

7. What has helped you succeed?

The most important thing about working is enjoying what you do. In a sense my jobs have chosen me and very often they haven’t felt like jobs because I have had such a good time doing them. The most important decision of my life was to become a journalist. I was studying commerce and couldn’t bear to imagine a life spent in numbers. Journalism provided me an escape route, and luckily this is a profession that brings freedom and fulfillment in good measure. If you enjoy what you do, and do it to the best of your ability, the rest follows automatically.

8. What are the challenges you face as a manager? How do you deal with them?

The biggest challenge is to keep people motivated and challenged. And keeping a balance between a relaxed and happy atmosphere and yet keeping everyone on their toes. Comfort zones are the enemy in a creative workplace, so you have to constantly create challenges for team members to ensure that they don’t slip into monotony.

9. How do you help your team members deal with stress?

By giving them work that they enjoy and making sure they are looked after. We have an informal and non-hierarchical set up. I tell them that we are equals, but the only difference is that the buck stops with me. They get credit for the work, but they know that if they have a problem, I am there to deal with it.

Employee Speak: Mukund Rao, Studio Manager, Dhruva Interactive, Bangalore; Aug'07


1. What does your organization do?

Dhruva is a pioneer in game development in India. Some of the AAA game titles that we have worked on are Mission: Impossible, Mission: Impossible 2, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, TOCA PRO Race driver and Forza.

Dhruva is also into mobile game development and we have won the FICCI BAF Awards 2 years in a row for Slyder and Cricinfo Genie.


2. What is your role in Dhruva?

As Manager of the PC/ Console Art Studio, I manage the team and projects at the art studio at Dhruva. I facilitate art direction and internal production of games. I also interact with and manage clients like Microsoft and EA to name a few.


3. What are the key challenges that you face in the industry and specifically in your role? How do you deal with them?

The gaming industry has evolved such that the quality of art is very close to that of films. The challenge today is to strike a balance between quality of deliverables, timelines and the creativity among artists. Artists, by nature, have a creative mind and hence require the space and time to orient their thought processes into positive ingenuity and creativity. It becomes difficult for them to deliver within timelines specified by the client.


4. How do you foster creativity in your team members?

We spend a lot of time playing games and discussing game art. As a team we all try and derive inspiration from the pop-art scene at large. There is emphasis on people working on their pet projects during slack times. We also have started internal contests that are fun and help artists think out of the box.


5. What motivates you at work?

‘Game Art’ is interplay of art and science with endless opportunities. The challenge to be creative within the technological constraints imposed by the hardware platform motivates me the most.


6. How do you support and motivate your team members?

The ideal way to motivate my team members is by creating excitement around the work that we do. By highlighting some of the new project deals that have been signed up and the appreciation and positive feedback given by some of our customers.


7. Lastly, what is unique about working in Dhruva?

The constant demand for perfection and the open and non-hierarchical set up is what sets Dhruva aside from the others. The demand for perfection keeps us on our toes all the time, we innovate progressively and the sense of achievement that comes out of it is tremendous.  The non-hierarchical culture is a big boon, supporting employee communication at all levels.