Business Today

Leaderspeak

Under his leadership, the IT services company saw a 46 per cent revenue increase last year and its team strength grew over 30 per cent.
Team BT   New Delhi     Print Edition: May 19, 2019
Leaderspeak
John Owen, Group CEO, Mastek ltd

Q. The biggest challenge in your career

A. I like challenges. I do not like maintaining status quo or going into an organisation which is already on track and stable. It is boring. I believe that upholding your values is the biggest challenge. When the business was in difficulty, I was asked to sign a project that I knew was not right. I was told we would get funding for the organisation if I would do it. But I did not do it because, in my world, it was wrong. We were risking investors' money.

Q. Your best teacher in business

A. Our parents shape a lot of our thinking. I started work when I was 14 and joined my family business. Every night, our dinner felt like a board meeting, but there was a lot to learn and absorb. My father shaped my value system a lot more than I probably appreciate. And my mother always said, treat people fairly on the way up because you do not know when you will pass them on the way down. There is a lot of truth in that.

Q. Three key management lessons for young people

A. First, do something you love and be world class at it. Second, do not become a generalist. Become a specialist and then learn general knowledge and general management. Third, business is easy; it is not complicated, but it is about people. Management is about executing your vision and strategy for people, through people.

Q. Two essential qualities a leader must have

A. God gave us two ears and one mouth. So, listen twice as hard before you speak. Also, as a leader, you are seen as a decision maker. A lot of people have input and ideas, but they do not want to be accountable for any decision. Ultimately, you will have to give them that confidence.

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