Almost 200 Indian American entrepreneurs, business professionals, aspiring youth, including a ‘who’s who’ of local corporate executives participated at the leadership and networking event hosted by Indo American Community Services (IACS) here at the Marriott March 14. The panel on leadership shared their knowledge, background and experience, followed by Q&A.
Panelists included Soma Somasundaram, CEO and President of Dover Energy; Mark Hacker, Executive Vice President, general counsel and chief administrative officer at Motorola Solutions; Socka Suppiah, co-founder and chief operating officer of Saggezza; and Rajan Nagarajan, Vice President Strategic Business Process Transformation at Kraft Foods. U.S. Rep. Bill Foster also shared his business background and experience. Sundaram Nagarajan, Executive Vice President – ITW, served as moderator.
Selected from prior participant input, topics discussed included key attributes of leaders, influence of role models in career growth, impact of globalization on leaders, leadership and organizations, risks and rewards (potential) leaders embrace and finally positive or negative impact leaders have on their families and family values ecosystem.
IACS organizer Sunder Dittakavi welcomed the audience and introduced the speakers. Foster commended IACS for providing a forum for aspiring as well as established leaders to connect and network with industry and business peers, exchange ideas and possibly meet potential customers. He recounted his own experience and hardship as a youngster trying to generate business along with his brother for his startup firm, when no such venues existed. The only way to connect then with potential customers was by participating in expensive tradeshows. He encouraged IACS to hold more such events to help community members.
The panel began by discussing pressing issues of globalization, outsourcing, economy and jobs on the understanding that globalization is here to stay and the need of the hour is work around it. Deep understanding of customer problems, whether national or international, and creating value propositions, not just a product or service, is crucial to survival and success. Other key aspects discussed were the leader’s ability to visit customers in the field to understand their challenges and ability to handle unavoidable and constant change. Leaders are those who embrace adversity as opportunity even at the cost of some risk taking, everything depending ultimately on how well the options are evaluated and the plan executed. As regards hiring fresh talent, Suppiah quipped: “hire for attitude and train for skills.”
IACS President Sreenivas Katragadda enumerated related IACS activities, including its student internship program at U.S. Congress, Women’s Leadership conference this April, job fairs held in various U.S. cities and the new mentoring program launched at the event. Nag Vaidyanathan from All State insurance urged participation in the latter as mentor or mentee.
The event was sponsored by Grainger, ITW, L&T Infotech and Dynamic Enterprise Solutions.