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The Right Thing and the Wrong Reason

As part of my professional duties, I recently attended a conference on the IT industry at which the Indian IT Czar himself shared his thoughts with a room full of suited and booted managers who lapped it all up. That’s but natural, given that when Narayana Murthy speaks, even the Gods listen!

Of course, it is quite another matter that the bureaucracy and the politicians do not think highly of the man who piloted what is arguably India’s biggest IT brand success story till date. For, why else would Karnataka’s sleeping beauty take him on over the BIAL and ensure that the technocrat eventually quit in abject disgust?

On this occasion, Murthy waxed eloquent about the current trend of completing engineering and MBAs with an eye on that H1-B visa and that elusive Green Card. He was of the view that students should prepare for a career and not chase one and that too with all the wrong intentions. He felt that senior managers at companies should play the catalyst role in inculcating a belief that the youth of the day have a role in their corporations.

While asking Indian IT companies to hire local talent in other countries, Murthy said, senior managers were using foreign postings as a carrot to lure employees to stay put and reduce high attrition rates. “We need to take bold decisions and hire local talent, else we may end up killing the industry itself,” he told the senior managers, who looked far from being convinced that India’s IT czar had got it right once again.

During a coffee break, I actually heard discontented managers suggesting that NRN could now afford to talk of hiring local talent., having managed to keep things afloat for some time now.  “But, I’ve promised my family that my next posting will be in Dublin,” one of them said, making me wonder whether we will ever buckle down to doing the right thing for the right reason?

Of course, the bigger question that Murthy left unanswered in this milieu is how can a manager who himself is looking for lucre in the job actually help his directs scale up to do the right thing? When my own heart is set on a posting abroad, can I have the moral courage to tell my subordinate that I actually see a career path for him within the company if he stayed put in India?

In fact, to some like me in the audience it appeared that Murthy could be suggesting that high attrition levels could prove a boon in the future as it will leave a company with only those who really have set personal growth targets in terms of knowledge and skills and not just bank balance. Of course, such a move could virtually mean Poseidon for the Human Resources department!

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