It’s only fitting that the second person I interviewed for the Mentor Series is Mohit Kumar. Mohit and I met while he was Director of Engineering Projects at Dr Reddy’s Labs when we were working on DRL’s Oncology project at Vizag. Over the years, my professional relationship with him has evolved from client to dear friend. Mohit is a shining beacon of professionalism, someone who can be always be counted on to steer his teams – internal or external – in the right direction. If you get stuck during the execution of a project he is driving, he appreciates it when you share your challenges with him up front; and rather than make it your problem, he partners with you to sort the issue out. For him the project deadline is sacrosanct and he will do whatever he can to make sure you have what you need to get the job done.
Working with Mohit has taught me a great deal, especially about the man’s capacity to deal positively with whatever situation comes his way. You cannot faze him. Over the years we’ve been in some really interesting scrapes together – the most fun being our introduction to the Area Boys of Lagos.
In reading his responses, I hope you are as awed not only by the person and the professional Mohit is, but who he aspires to be every single day.
Who are your influences? Mentors? Why?
MK: I believe everyone has something to teach if only you are willing to learn. My life has many influencers. If you listen keenly, you can’t help but be influenced by every positive action that crosses your path.
I have been lucky enough to have quite a few mentors who have made (and continue to make) lasting impressions in my personal and professional life. The first is my Dad, a go-getter with a never say die attitude and a sound engineering mind.
Second, my first job’s unit head at DCM Shriram, Mr G Kumar who encouraged and trusted the budding engineers in his charge to unravel our potential in the workplace without any fear of failure that he may have to answer for later.
Third, my mentor from the pharma industry, Mr Ashwani Malhotra, whose appetite for (calculated) risk whetted my own. He also taught me the importance of ‘unlearning’ – which believe me is a concept that is easier said than done!
What was the best advice someone gave you and did you follow it?
MK: The best advice I’ve been given has been on the best and most effective ways to navigate life in a professional set up. The first among these is that back-biting, criticising, finding fault with your peers and competitors while glorifying your own work, irrespective of merits is the surest way to fall; second, let your work do the talking – work hard, focus on your own work and desire to excel; and last, and in my opinion, the MOST EFFECTIVE, build strong teams and proactively appreciate work others do where it matters.
What are the lessons from your childhood that have stayed with you?
MK: Inherent family values like sharing, caring and cherishing family relationships more than the materialistic things in life.
Did you face any struggles in your journey to where you are today?
MK: To start with, I would not call them struggles! Anything that does not go your way or the way you intended for it to go, ought to be taken as a challenge or an opportunity. When you overcome these challenges, you feel an incredible sense of accomplishment that is truly deserved. Not overcoming a challenge (happens more than we like) also yields great lessons, and more importantly, makes you aware of who your well-wishers and supporters truly are. I call this a high-risk-high-reward policy, with the only caveat being that you must always have a positive attitude. I truly believe my level of self-motivation is way higher than anyone else’s.
How did these experiences mould you as a person and as a professional?
MK: Experiences with ones mentors/influencers lead to great long lasting fond memories and learning. Overcoming challenges give you an aura of confidence and attitude that tremendously impacts even body language. One such interesting experience worth sharing comes from when I was handling a technologically advanced assignment. My technically sound teammate would continually use his superior subject knowledge to block design and execution and rightly so. This challenge motivated me to get down to some extensive reading, engage with globally available talent to garner as much knowledge as I possibly could to ensure that future designs and executions are above the expectations and critique of any challenger.
Which companies in your opinion are changing the world? Why?
MK: Each organisation and individual contributes to changing the world, be it by their operating style or by how they go about their work. The difference is most are doing it slowly while others are, as we often say today, disrupting the world.
What are the most significant changes you have witnessed in your lifetime?
MK: Well, I was at the heart of one of the biggest upheavals the pharma industry in India has witnessed – the dematerialisation of the very organisation that stood at the helm of the India pharma world for over half a century and responsible for massive change globally – Ranbaxy! This was a change that had indelible lessons for me, especially as I was an insider experiencing the transition first hand.
What does success mean to you?
MK: A happy, contented and balanced work and personal life with a sense of positive contribution and accomplishment at the end of each day!
At what point might you feel you have met true success?
MK: To me, true success is that incredible peace of mind and a good night’s sleep that you get from giving your 100%, irrespective of the final outcome.
What book(s) are you reading right now?
MK: I’m looking forward to reading Disrupt Yourself, by Whitney Johnson once I finish The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse