Tag Archive for 'MCEME'

From Military Service to Corporate Jobs – The Indian Experience


Today , I read about a commitment by Starbucks to hire military veterans  and their family members publicly stated as a branding exercise !. What a noble way of recognizing the contributions made by the Armed Forces of USA ! . I am also aware that the US Government and the Industry gives utmost priority to employ Military Veterans in Civilian jobs after their engagement with the Forces. In the UK , there is a Govt sponsored Career Transition Partnership [CTP ] to connect military veterans with the Civil Industry.

Hiring veterans from the military is a good business , according to a research through in – depth interviews with individuals representing 69 companies across the US , by Margaret C Harrell and Nancy Berglass from the Center for a New American Security . Advantages as per this report for hiring military veterans are –

Leadership and Teamwork skills , Character , Structure and Discipline , Expertise , Decision skills in a dynamic high risk environment , Proven success and Loyalty .

Back home in India , in spite of  a full fledged Resettlement Directorate functioning with the Ministry of Defense , and various appeals made from time to time , only a very small percentage of the Armed Forces  veterans who retire at a comparatively younger age get a second career in the civil .  Of late , there are many isolated initiatives by many agencies to conduct training programs and orientation programs but these are yet to create an impact because of the lack of willingness of the Corporate World to come out with a process to enable this. There is also no stated policy or commitment from the Government to facilitate this transition.

The general public and the Corporate World know only about the primary role of the Armed Forces – defending the nation against any external aggression. Therefore , the only skills that they generally attribute to the military officers and soldiers is in the domain of security jobs and at times general administration.  In today’s  hi -tech and most complex military environment , the men [ and now women ] in arms , possess  very high degree of expertise in many fields of technology and engineering which can be gainfully utilized by the corporate organizations. In addition, the excellent managerial and people skills of the officers  who have been tested in high pressure situations with an ability to taking responsibility for their actions and getting things done first time , can be exploited by the society at large . They are quick to learn , picking up new skills and can adapt to new circumstances with ease.

I had read a paper on this titled ‘ Share our Brain Ware ‘ in the first Army – Industry partnership seminar organized by the CII [ Confederation of Indian Industry ] at New Delhi in 1995 while I was serving as a Dean of the Management Training Wing at the Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering at Secunderabad . It was well received by the participants and some follow up action was initiated to get the details of skills and expertise from the Army sources for dissemination to CII member organizations. We also had successful Army / Navy / Air Force Officers who made a mark at Chairman / MD of public sector undertakings and other large organizations addressing the gathering.

I claim to have succeeded in my transition to the civil on my retirement from the Army after 30 years of service. What helped me was the following credentials –

A degree in engineering , my exposure to the discipline of management through various courses in premier Army institutions , a MBA from the Indore University obtained while in Army Service , my 3 year tenure as an Assistant Military Secretary at  the Personnel Branch at the Army HQ dealing with career planning and placement of senior officers in command appointments and my tenures as Managing Director  of an Army Base Repair facility manned mainly civilians who are governed by the factories act , followed by my tenure as Dean at the MCEME .

I had a successful civil career spanning 10 years with the IT Industry , working with a global IT Company  as Head of Operations and later as Corporate Head for Knowledge and Learning for their Indian Arm. I also worked for another 10 years as the Executive Director of HYSEA – Hyderabad Software Enterprises Association [www.hysea.in] , the only state level association in India for IT Companies .

I am not an exception – there are many more such profiles in the Armed Forces – with Army , Navy and the Air Force looking for a suitable break with the Industry . A few years back , the Indian Institutes of Management came out with a 6 months training program especially packaged for the officers of the Armed Forces . This was a welcome step but I remember many of those who qualified in those program , reaching out to me at Hyderabad for referring them to someone known to me. Therefore , there is a dire need to institutionalize this transition and I am sure the corporate world will benefit immensely from the well honed skills of the Military Veterans and at the same time fulfill a societal obligation they have to the nation. I sincerely hope the noble example I quoted in the beginning from the US will motivate the Indian Industry to take note and come forward to address this issue .

Medicine For the Soul !

We are  now in the US at Montgomery, New Jersey with our daughter and family. Last week , I visited  the Town’s public library with my son in law and picked up a couple of books for reading. I was quite impressed by the overall ambiance , professionalism and the collections in the library.

How do we rate the performance of a Library ? What are the metrics? Number of books ?  Number of members utilizing the facility ?  Range and coverage of subjects? Number of Videos available for rent? Educational Value to the community served?

I remember a conversation I had once on this subject with Lt Gen Y S Tomar at Mhow Cantonment , India. I had just reported to the College of Combat [now Army War College] there , having been nominated to attend the prestigious Higher Command Course for 10 months . This course generally deals with Military Strategy at Field Army level for those officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force handpicked based on merits and proven records in Command and staff appointments in the rank of Colonel and equivalent. The College had one of the best library in the country with more than 75000 books at that time in 1988 and subscribed to a wide range of publications across the world. I mentioned about this to General Tomar who was till very recently at that time the Commandant of the College and had moved out as a Corps Commander. I had served under him in the Army HQ ,Military Secretary’s Branch during 1984-85 as an Asst Military Secretary when he was the Additional Military Secretary there. His response surprised me. He said while he could provide the best collection of books and periodicals in the College library , he was not very happy with the performance of the library . According to him ,the true measure of success of a library is its utilization factor. How many times,each book or magazine or video has been drawn by the faculty /students for study or research connected with their work . An impressive  collection is of no use if the library is not utilized to its full extent! I found out the General was right when I observed later that many costly books procured by the library were not even touched by anyone for long !

Is such libraries relevant in this digital age ? . I will say , YES !. May be I am not born after the advent of Internet , but many youngsters  will also agree with me that the charm of holding a book in its print format in your hand is something which you sadly miss while using a kindle or browsing the net.  No wonder, there is a caption at the entrance of the main library of MCEME [ Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering ] at Secunderabad , where I served as the DEAN for Management Training during 1995-96 before retiring from the Army. The caption said “Medicine for the Soul “

The Three Levels in Relationships

On the last day of my service in Army uniform , I had to introduce a guest speaker from the Army Ordnance Corps [ AOC] to a batch of senior executives undergoing a training program in management at our Alma Mater MCEME at Secunderabad where I was performing the duties of Dean of the Industrial Engineering department .

Our Technical Corps [ EME ] and AOC worked complimentary to each other , the AOC in charge of procurement and we in charge of maintenance and repairs to military equipment . We were bound to clash at many points of crisis and at times blame each other for equipment outages in the field army .

I touched upon this trend and told my students that from my thirty years of Army experience , one take away I can offer before I retire is that they should all be aware that it is possible to maintain three different levels in relationship – in the instant case with AOC . It can be adversarial [ we can blame each other till the cows come home !] , it can be symbiotic [ I scratch your back and you do it for me when the need arises] or it can be a synergistic  effort to fully achieve the mission of the Army . It was entirely upto us – both AOC and the EME .

When I reflect on this after 15 years now , I see a very deep meaning to my extempore advice then . It is a lesson for life and goes much beyond the realms of management or work .