Stop giving importance to Success or Failure and you will be happy, says Abhijit Adhya winner of 9 International Film Festival Awards
Abhijit Adhya is a renowned Senior Business Leader specializing in Business Transformation, Corporate Leadership, PMO and Change Management. He is currently the Regional Head, Business Transformation & PMO at GroupM and is based in UAE. Abhijit has travelled extensively across the globe working with global organizations like Genpact, JP Morgan, GI Outsourcing, WPP etc. He has worked on a broad range of domains such as Business Transformations, Program Management, Transitions, Business Development, Marketing, Operations& Client Services. He is also a Film Maker, Photographer, Trekker, Adventure Sports enthusiast, Motivational Speaker and World Explorer.
- You have been working in senior leadership roles for over a decade now, what are some of the most pressing challenges you believe professionals are struggling to overcome today and in the future.
Before answering this question it’s important to understand the current landscape we all are in. This pandemic has completely changed the way we think, work, travel and in fact entire business model for many companies. What worked yesterday is not working today and will change in future. It is the pace at which things are changing at workplace that professionals are struggling to overcome today. Every company/employer is looking at cutting costs and the majority of the cost is staff/salary cost. This is the reason why inspite of loyalty for an innumerable number of years, the axe is falling on people irrespective. The ones surviving are the ones who has adapted and upskilled themselves for any new type of work or situation.
Today more companies are recognizing the importance of Business Transformation/ Program management / PMO professionals and their contribution in minimizing cost, handling projects well within their timeframe and avoiding wastage of products and resources. Majority of these professionals are abreast with the latest trends and helps a company stay afloat in crises. You got to be a new version of yourself “fast” and be equipped with tools and knowledge to overcome these challenges. As per words of Jack Welch, “Change before you need to change”!
- What is the best and the worst part of being a Business Transformation Leader?
The best part which I love about being a Transformation leader is the intense discussions with the senior leadership of the organization and aligning with the vision of the organization, to study, understand and get an insight of the businesses that we might be looking to transform. Since managing projects is an integral part of the role and no two projects are same, I enjoy the diversity that each project brings on the table. Every day is a new day filled with new challenges and finding creative ways to resolve issues.
The worst part is the reluctance of people to accept change. Since change management is also a vital part of any transformation, and it mostly requires acceptance from various staffs in any organization, it is a big challenge. By nature, people are reluctant to change and unless they are aligned to the vision they will stay in a negative mode and will not cooperate, no matter how much you or your team tries. Most of the times acknowledging the fact that certain things can be done in a more efficient and time saving way is a problem in itself. This is due to the fact that the particular task has been done the same way for years and they believe that is the only & best way to do it. These things need more nurturing and making people understand the perspective and rational. After all, the worse things you handle, the better you become at your job.
- Tell us something about your early days.
I was born and bred in Kolkata until I graduated. I have always been an average student but good in sports and other curricular activities in which I had won innumerable awards in school & college. Right after college I took time and went for a solo trip exploring the country. I extensively travelled for 4 months and saw most parts of this incredible country. Coming from a police family, my father wanted me to try for the civil services. Did I want to do it? I didn’t! This was because I wanted to do MBA just like others did from my college batch. This changed completely when I reached Delhi to start my preparations. Those 2 years of preparation changed my life and shaped me for what I am today. Now here comes the story of my failures. No, I didn’t get through the services but my exposure to the struggle and the immense amount of studies that an aspirant was expected to do was just mind-blowing. One truly makes some great friends and memories. During my preparation days, my father was diagnosed with cancer and I decided to take up a job to support myself and family. Sometimes you just need to decide and believe that it is the right one to take and stick to it. Now comes the interesting part, ITES was still at its nascent stage and I got interviewed in one of the largest companiesand got through completely unexpected. One thing led to the other and its almost been 21+ years that I have moved around various sectors across the globe transforming businesses. I truly believe in Steve Jobs words of wisdom, “you can only connect the dots looking backward in your life.”.
- In one of your interviews, you emphasized the importance of sports in one’s life and how it can transform the way we look at life. How important is Success or Failure to you?
Sports teaches you everything. It teaches Persistence, Commitment, Decision making skills, Integrity, Attitude, Teamwork, Trust, Accountability, Patience, Passion and Fun. Aren’t these attributes what life is all about? It teaches you that if you win, you will need to work hard to stay on the top and if you lose, you get up and work doubly hard, rework on your strategies and surge ahead to win. Winning or losing is a part of life and the magic happens when you do not give importance to either. Happiness is a relative term which arises from fulfilment of expectations. I follow a simple logic of not giving any importance to either success or failure. This helps me feel happy with the process rather than the result without any feeling of performance anxiety. This also helps me deliver better results.
- 43 International Film Festival Official Selections and winning 9 awards is a recordachievement, and that’s just for 2 films! Why are you not pursuing full time filmmaking?
Well, I didn’t expect the immense love for the films “The Rise & Bruno” that we made. Both the films had a dog as the lead and working with an animal in your debut film is definitely a task. I must admit that the response has been phenomenal with positive response from Florence Film Awards, Marina Del Rey, Nadym International (Russia), Kino London, Anaheim, LA Shorts, Athens Marathon, Votkinsk International, Mindfield International (LA), Golden Statuette (CA), Oniros (Italy) etc. It has opened many doors and helped me connect with some good people from the creative industry.However, I don’t think I would want to pursue this as a fulltime profession as I really enjoy my corporate career and the brilliant left-brained people that I learn so much from.
- Most of your projects are very international in look and feel. You also have worked with international talents. How has been your experience.
That’s a compliment. Thank you. Well, I think its more about the narrative and how we are visualizing it. I have directed shorts and music videos which has an extremely Indian look & feel as well. I have worked with International talents like Margo Shenka (Actress, Siberia), Syam Rose (Singer, France) and Robin Humbert (ProducerUSA) as well as Indian talents like Rajeev Pillai, Alok Masih, Parismita, Sukanya, Asokan PK (Producer) etc. and trust me they are all amazing. International talents are very easy to work with and wastes no time in vanity or getting ready for shots etc. however are very time conscious whereas our Indian talents are immensely hard working, asks a lot of questions and never looks at the watch. They however take too much time to reach the sets. (smiles)
- We heard you are working on a couple of international projects. Tell us more.
Yes, we just completed shoot in Barquisimeto a city in Venezuela for a Spanish film “Gvantsa La Pelicula” directed by the talented Director, Edsel Sierraltaand stars Laura Contreras and Carlos Madera in the lead. This is the first-ever Indo-Venezuelan venture that I am proud to be associated with as a Co-Producer. We are also working on an English-Spanish script based on women’s football with the backdrop of economic & civil unrest in an oil-rich country, which I intend to direct. I am also keen on doing a Bengali film based on a novel by Sayak Aman, the rights of which I have already acquired.
- Challenging corporate life, Filmmaking, Photography, MentoringStartups, Trekking &World Explorer! How do you do all this?
Yes, things do get challenging, but isn’t that the beauty of doing what you love to do? I love doing all of them and that’s why I never feel that I am hard pressed for time. I do not make “to do” lists anymore, that’s wasting time. Instead, I calendarize whatever I need to do and simply follow it. Honestly, workdays are only for work, exercise and sports majorly. Rest of the things can easily be followed as a passion during your week offs or annual leaves, that’s what I do! Just give 100% to what you are doing at any given point in time. Also, I must say, my colleagues and bosses are very encouraging and supportive of my creative efforts.
- On a separate note, with the advent of the current wave of COVID-19 and the numbers spiking up in, this pandemic has exposed many loopholes & inadequacies in our Indian political and healthcare system, what are your views on this?
The past 2 years have been extremely challenging with the COVID-19 outbreak almost paralyzing the entire world. Millions have lost their lives, jobs and/or their near or dear ones. Lets be mindful this is a pandemic and no country in the history of mankind has ever been prepared enough to handle these trying times. Forget India, Healthcare system has failed in almost all countries and it is humanly not possible to cater to so many people during a pandemic. We also need to be cognizant of the fact that the healthcare workers are also humans who are also trying to give their best and in turn getting affected themselves. Now coming to the political loopholes in India, again we need to be mindful that the sheer population of India is not easy to manage. Many countries have learnt quickly from last year that unless you take care of yourself, use masks and maintain social distancing you are susceptible to get affected. The government in these countries have taken the right measure and people have followed it diligently, thereby helping the numbers reduce drastically.
Now the question is, has this happened in India? We all know the answer, hence finding loopholes in any government machinery be it central or regional will never ever solve these issues. I will not go into the topic of election campaigns or Kumbh Mela etc. as we all understand that’s a blunder. However, if we just do a small analysis, we will understand that if we, the people did not participate in the campaigns, who would the political party leaders address to? If we, the people did not go for Kumbh Mela to take a holy dip, would Kumbh be there? Knowing very well that there will be serious consequences, we played with fire and the moment we get burnt we rush to the hospitals and say we are not provided adequate care! This is complete insanity, and I feel we, the people should be more responsible and careful instead of pointing fingers at anyone. Whether the government (irrespective of Central or State) has done right or wrong is for people to decide and elect them in the future.