A die-hard entrepreneur, Yeshasvini helps people define what true entrepreneurship is and what it takes to be the leader and unveils some of the recipes in a conversation with SME.
A former management consultant at Infosys BPO, Yeshasvini Ramaswamy, Managing Director, e2e People Practices, and Chief Anchor of the JGI iDEA programme has built her expertise in people management areas, such as policy formulations, people structuring and audits, leadership training and interventions, talent acquisition and creating people engagement models to help organisations track their ROI in the areas of retention and business performance. Over the years, she has managed migrations “Build Operate Transfer” models from countries such as the US, Australia and England in the areas of people engagement in the financial, BPO, and IT industry segments. A die-hard entrepreneur, Yeshasvini helps people define what true entrepreneurship is and what it takes to be the leader and unveils some of the recipes in a conversation with SME.
How and why did you become an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur was not a choice, but a natural progression of how my career has taken shape. Knowing that I could be more than just a regular employee, who has the capacity to be a change agent and create a differentiated value for my customers and society in general was the biggest motivator then and even now.
Take us through the milestones in your life and how have they contributed to your success?
Well, I was born in Coimbatore and raised in Delhi. So the diversity in experience and talking to new people and new cultures has taught me a lot.
Working with the Velankani Group in various capacities from heading the L&D function to handling mainstream revenue accounts as a part of operations was another huge learning for me. It gave me exposure to different international working styles mainly Australia, England and the US cultures.
I could correlate both sides of a business – HR practices and the way HR professionals look at development and how business managers expect to get enabled and nurtured in a good cohesive learning environment where high performance gets recognised and career progressions transparent. I understood that a robust appraisal or a performance management system is the heart of any organisation and care should be taken to periodically evolve the tools and make them more transparent.
Then came the period where I started e2e People Practices and I became an entrepreneur from an employee. From negotiating salary increases to now listening to my own HR manager on practices we should be implementing in my company. My journey as an entrepreneur has been most fulfilling. I love creating solutions for my clientele be it an audit, recommending best practices, training HR professionals or walking the transformation journey together.
My nomination to the Fortune programme was a great learning opportunity for me.
How did you get funding for entrepreneurial venture?
It was a boot strap model with savings. My mother had also lent me money which I still consider as my good luck charm.
What challenges are you are facing currently?
My biggest challenge is the lack of good talent. I don’t think the current MBA system in the country allows for application of minds. Moreover, rising expectations and the fast food culture as we call it seem to be impacting employee life cycles.
Today what do you strive to achieve in India? Please take us through your plan in achieving the targets.
I feel I can contribute to the entrepreneurship community by encouraging more people to become entrepreneurs. I also envisage an active life of social responsibility and I am very happy with the progress we have made at Jnana Sanjeevini.
For any real transformation to happen, we need more progressive methods of application based learning in mainstream educational programmes in science, technology, medicine and business. I have taken a small step in this direction by creating the iDEA programme with the Jain Group of Institutions.
As far as my company goes, we would like to diversify our clientele and work more with companies that really believe in investing in growing employee capabilities such that the organisation becomes more agile to scale and serve its clientele in return.
What are the major contributors to your success?
First and foremost I would like to appreciate the immense support and help provide by my family and friends, during the ups and downs of my journey. Also, most importantly it is being there at ‘the right time, at the right place’ that has played a crucial role in my success, while taking the opportunities and challenges head-on and forging ahead in the pursuit of excellence.
My attitude to constantly adapt, reinvent is important. I never give up, be it tacking an issue alongside a client or being there for people who look up to me for mentoring and this is the key.
What can Indian entrepreneurs do differently when it comes to HR? Where do you think they are lacking?
Understand and appreciate the ”fundamentals of business”. The more experience I gather, the more I am convinced that HR professionals and entrepreneurs need work together and understand finance, its impact on business and how financial models can make businesses more agile.
They have to constantly engage with client facing employees within their organisation and create good support platforms that enhance performance – be it customising a skill development programme or making their appraisal system more business friendly or even adapting to new methods of recruiting and creating that stickiness in their employee’s average life cycle at the company.
Please comment on the entrepreneurial environment in India
The start-up and entrepreneurial ecosystem in India though in a nascent stage, is fast developing as more and more enterprising entrepreneurs are taking the plunge and are not afraid of entering uncharted waters. The young generation is looking at various options of entrepreneurship and exploring new areas of interest. This augurs well for India; as this will create more and more jobs and add to the economy.
Do entrepreneurs need an MBA or training in the entrepreneurship?
It would be naïve on my part to say that entrepreneurs do not need training. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs that have come out of India have been blessed with a good support system. The way business is being conducted is changing. Education has become more relevant then ever with the world becoming flat. I doubt if we can have another Dhirubhai Ambani. Even Bill Gates for that matter was a Harvard drop out! There is a keen need of specialised MBA programmes where focused training in entrepreneurship can sharpen a person in his journey to become a more adept and well-rounded entrepreneur.
What is your advice for women who want to start their own venture?
Women need to start believing in themselves. There was a time not too long ago when women were hired at managerial positions to handle the silent quota factor. This was a way to appease forces demanding the presence of women in such positions. While it may have started this way, today there is openness to hiring better-qualified women in what was once a male bastion.
Conversations with those who work on par with strong women on the managerial side of affairs at the work place say that such women bring almost all the same skill sets to the table as their male counterparts, but what is different is the impact they make. Women tend to be good listeners and are able to apply theoretical knowledge practically. This allows them to come up with suggestions that are vastly different in perspective compared to others who may have been doing this for generations and are known to stick with tried and tested formulae.
Possibly stemming from a women’s role in the household, women are never scared to ask tough questions when it comes to the workplace, thus opening up situations for debate. There is also research to show that their ethical standards can be much higher than that of men.
On a lighter note, it is felt that most men CEOs tend to share office debates with their wives or even mothers and often seek and follow counsel from them. This makes it easier for them to accept well thought out viewpoints from women in management positions.