Straight Talk with T. R. Parasuraman

With a blend of passion, excellence and able leadership, the President of the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) has managed to steer his ship well through troubled times. Laden with over 850 top corporates from diverse sectors, the captain of industry is all set to position Karnataka as the preferred investment destination.

In a short span he has managed to get the Industries and Commerce sector up and running addressing not only the pain points but the growing needs of diverse sectors along with industry stalwarts who are ready to get the economy back on track.

TR Parasuraman also heads Toyota Industries Engine India (an affiliate of Toyota Industries Corporation and a joint venture between Toyota Industries Corporation and Kirloskar Systems) and focusses on the human capital and developing people to become future leaders.

Tell us something about your professional associations?

I am the former chairman of the Quality Circle Forum of India (QCFI), Bangalore, and also a close associate of the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA), the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Indian Machine Tools Manufacturer’s Association (IMTMA) apart from many other industrial associations.

What personality traits make a good leader?

A strong sense of perseverance and an internal sense of achievement in whatever we do is important if we genuinely want to spread happiness. This is my life’s purpose. No matter the challenges that come our way, we need to stand the test of time and rise to the occasion. For me, this is what makes a good leader.

What is your secret to success?

I am a hard core optimist. Positivity has its own set of challenges which can take a toll on oneself. However, what remains is a very strong driving force that moves us all forward. Being an open, transparent and straight communicator, frankly exchanging views and sharing thoughts and ideas while being able to compromise is an innate quality to have.  By compromising, we don’t lose anything.

What is your advice to the young generation of future leaders?

Passion comes first. I strongly believe that the onus is on each and every one of us to solve issues that our community faces. All of us have a much bigger to play towards lifes’ purpose.  Whatever I have learnt through the years is what I would like to pay forward. The immense knowledge, wisdom and experiences of the years is what I want to impart to others and enhance capabilities and accelerate achievements. This will help fast track growth and development both personally and professionally.

How do you achieve authentic impact?

CEO Activism is important because with the mindset and experience developed over the years, closely interacting with many bosses can go a long way forward. Bringing a positive change in society is the way ahead. It’s time for us to focus on our youth. We need to derive the ideal demographic dividend by utilising our youth power. Sharing these experiences with the young leaders of tomorrow is the greatest contribution a CEO can make. I look forward to spending time talking to the students, the young generation and help bring in the right values and encourage them to create a thinking process of their own.

Active is better than passive. What are your thoughts?

I firmly believe in doing something and trying out and learning from it. The Deming Circle – an iterative 4 step Management Process – PDCA (Plan – Do- Check – Act) can make all the difference.  I believe in undertaking an initiative or a project and learning from the failure of success.

How has past experiences shaped you to where you are today?

At school I excelled at extra-curricular activities – badminton, volley ball and actively participated in debates, quiz competitions and other extra-curricular activities. I did not focus much on academics. However, in the 10th standard, I stood first in academics and that was a surprise for me. I secured a state rank and it was a moment of pride for me and my parents. I still recollect the moment of joy and achievement, elated inner confidence and ready to take on the world. This helped me in taking a quantum leap in everything I ventured out into from then on. This helped me achieve greater heights and propelled me to go forward.

You always mention that the Human Connection is most important to you? Why do you think so?

Creating empowered leaders of tomorrow, fostering a spirit of creativity, speaking from the heart – all these and more help liberate people to excel further. Creativity can truly blossom when people have an open mind. It does not matter if one succeeds or fails in a specific area, but the journey of attaining this is an area that we need to reflect on. Also, through my Japanese learning of Management systems ‘Nemawashi’ – the art of building consensus; a process of communicating to key stakeholders in advance through participative management is the best way to reach out to people and create that human touch.

The views and opinions published here belong to the interviewer and the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sameera Fernandes
Sameera Fernandes is the Director of Ecosol Global and Chairperson of External Affairs - Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC). She is also the former Director – Strategy, St. Francis College, Bengaluru.

She was conferred with the Nirbhaya Award and also the ‘Woman of Influence’ Award by Archbishop Dr. Peter Machado.

Her past stints include Sun Microsystems, Nokia (UAE), Jet Airways, Al Ghurair Investments (UAE) and has been a regular contributor to the Friday Magazine of Gulf News.

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