First came the behemoths – brands that went on to decide the two-wheeler market, the steel market, the shop-in-shop market, and the like, in India.
Then came the new kids on the block – those that defined the e-commerce market, the e-wallet market, the e-hyperlocal market and their ilk.
And all along, came those who worked hand-in-hand at and with these market leaders, as these brands trailblazed to the tops of corporate charts.
What then, is so radically different between what the shop-in-shop did, and what e-commerce does?
The answer lies in the ephemeral constant – change.
While the behemoths hired those who had been honed by experience across verticals as disparate as operations, marketing & sales and finance, unicorns today hire by looking at who is ready to employ and harness change.
An example here – e-payments first hit Indian shores at a time when when no one would have thought that India would be targeting billions of digital transactions per year, by the end of the decade. Larger players do billions worth transactions every month now. This was done on the back of vision that led to leadership, both within the organisation, and in the marketplace (pardon the pun).
Another – the largest among those the music player industry, a Japanese household name, refused to digitise, an inevitable change, and lost the race in music rights to an American smartphone (today) giant.
Thus, whether it is among the old giants or new, change management has been crucial to success in the marketplace, in the workplace or in one’s career.
Does it not become imperative then, to study change as well as variables old and new, as does one leadership strategy? How though does one ‘study’ change?
Sir Isaac Newton, in 1675, famously quipped, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”. The gentleman who also quipped what goes up must come down, making both gravity and market volatility simpler to understand, was in this instance talking of learning through the observation/s of others.
To be counted among such elite company though, whether the former sectoral leaders or the knight that followed, one must today be, not educated enough, but erudite enough to discuss among others, competitive strategy, corporate change and restructuring, job design, diversity and even emotional intelligence at an organisational level, all while continuing one’s career trajectory uninterrupted.
It is here that what can only be truly called not academic options, but career-making decisions, such as enrolling oneself in courses from academia such as Wharton & Stanford professors, that have an almost make-or-break impact on the decision between corner suite and the one next to it. However rare these may be, to have the learning from these stalwarts perched on one’s shoulders truly mentors one’s growth.
Some great examples of these courses are the Strategic Management course or the Managing of a Global Firm course offered by Wharton in India, in conjunction with The Second Wind, a Times Group’s initiative in the executive career development space. Enabling a student to employ change, even as (s)he is mentored on her / his growth, while leading organisations from the tipping point becomes the new crucible to define tomorrow’s leaders, when learning as acute as this has been absorbed.
Bob Dylan wrote ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’ scarce realising that what he had just written would go on to truly define life, the way forward and growth. The best way forward in such cases is now, because each and every one of the examples above, from the steel maker who went on to become one of India’s largest industrial houses to the scientist who defined gravity to the e-commerce player battling global majors on AI, each and every one of them reached the top basis their actions at the time, not basis prolonged thought, or ‘later’.