In conversation with Subramanian Kalpathi, Consultant at People Business
I am an Engineer from SIES GST Mumbai and an MBA from LIBA. I was the best outgoing student at LIBA and was awarded second place in the ‘Best MBA student’ category at the Devang Mehta Awards in 2009, which featured MBA students participating from institutes across the country. Earlier this year I also published 2 research papers and these were carried in IIMK’s Academic Reference Series Journal called ‘Let’s Learn’.
I work with People Business (PB) which is a global human resource management consulting firm focused on improving the performance capabilities and business results of organizations worldwide. Our key focus areas include – Employer Branding, Leadership Development, Employee Engagement, Culture Transformation, Talent Management and Executive Coaching.
My role involves working with my team to deliver cutting edge outcomes in the result areas mentioned above. HR is in a state of metamorphosis worldwide and it is indeed exciting to work in a strategic role with a global firm. My team adds a lot of value by working closely with Business and HR leaders to define and execute turnkey projects. In a world where talent is at a premium, our solutions help organizations not just understand but also deliver results that help them become employers of choice.
According to you, what are the 3 key skills that a consulting professional must develop in order to be successful?
The three skills according to me are:
- A consulting professional must always be ahead of the curve with respect to the goings-on in her industry and beyond. If the learning curve seems to be flattening out, it is a warning sign. Investment in self is constant. Also, to borrow from Theodore Levitt’s concept of ‘Marketing Myopia’, it is easy to limit yourself to one specific domain. For example, analytics and social media will soon be key skills to have for HR professionals. These skills are outside of the scope of traditional HR.
- From the perspective of the client, solution-focus is the key for any consulting professional. At times, it is easy to get drowned in the plethora of problems that clients face. A great consultant gives great advice by giving just the right solutions to the client’s problem. A good foundation in research goes a long way to develop this skill.
- At PB, we put in a lot of focus to stretch for our clients, and we go the extra mile. An individual consultant’s strengths are multiplied several fold if she works with a great team. The team at PB brings its collective functional and technical expertise to the table that no one person would’ve been able to do otherwise.
You’ve written for various publications including HR Matters Malaysia, TOI etc. What prompted you to go the extra step and how has been the feedback?
I firmly believe that any great piece of work, be it consulting or writing comes from deep inspiration. Several people have been instrumental in pushing me to write – my clients, my professors, etc. As a consultant who provides quality advice to clients, it is not uncommon to have ideas that are unconventional and out of the ordinary.
I felt that these ideas could also be communicated to a broader audience through my writing, and it is my own small way of giving back to the community. Because I actively research on various topics, I was able to come up with some unique ideas and solutions which were published by TOI Ascent first in December last year. Over time, other publications, including People Matters, and HR Matters Malaysia picked up my writing too.
The feedback has been great – twice my articles were the most read in HR Matters Malaysia. This helped me receive column space in the magazine. I blog regularly (http://educpreneur.wordpress.com) and tweet @subu_ks.
How has your MBA helped you in developing the skill sets needed to succeed in a corporate setup?
Looking back, I believe my MBA opened me up to a wide range of possibilities that I did not know existed back then. It got me introduced to several industry forums. I was fortunate to have a fantastic peer group @ LIBA and learn from them – group learning through case-studies for example showed me how to work with a team and perform with deadlines. I was leading industry conferences as a student in LIBA, and this gave me great exposure from a project-management perspective. Last but not the least, my professors were instrumental in teaching me foundational concepts that I use almost daily in my role as a consultant.
You started your career in Business Development, and then moved to an investment advisory role and now you’re into consulting. What’s been the thought process behind these career moves?
On the face of it, these roles may look distinct and separate but they aren’t really. Aspects of my work related to Learning and Development that I learnt in my first role at Infosys are still valid today. BD skills learnt in Religare are useful while speaking to clients and pitching for projects. At JLL, my team and I setup a business vertical from scratch (and I’m told the vertical is doing quite well). Dabbling in research allowed me to firm up my consulting/writing skills. We live in a knowledge economy where one must not be afraid to learn, unlearn and relearn constantly.
My current role allows me to play to my strengths really well. I am privileged to work with a team at PB that includes professionals that are the best in the industry. As a country, I believe we are in a place today where opportunities are just waiting to be seized, and the change-makers are making a difference, regardless of demographic constraints. I hope to continue doing meaningful work and make a positive difference to my clients, economy, country and society at large.