THE MANTRA to win should be passionate diligence, ‘Tractor Queen’ Mallika Srinivasan told the outgoing batch of students of International School of Business, Mohali, at their graduation ceremony on Sunday.
Srinivasan, CEO of Tractors and Farm Equipment (TAFE), shared some “winning” nuggets with over 200 students of PGP (post-graduate programme) and family business management. Her advice was straightforward as she answered the most common question the students asked after they stepped out with their degrees: what does it take to win?
“As you stand here, winners in your life’s journey, you have pole position with a strong sense of competition which is a springboard to success. Winning is all about life skills,” she said.
A gold medallist in econometrics from University of Madras and alma mater of Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvannia, the CEO has regularly featured on ‘Most influential’ and ‘Most powerful’ lists over the years. She talked about setting a liberating goal, playing to strengths and building a core team around that goal. “Play to your strengths and work upon them. You cannot expect Virat Kohli to become a perfect bowler. Some standards have to be met, but do not expect a Nadal to play the Federer game,” she added.
‘No trade-off when it comes to work’
She reminisced her days as a student at Wharton and spoke of friendships that have lasted a lifetime, the excitement of being among the best, the high quality of teaching and taking on personal challenges. “In my case, it was going to Wharton with a nine-month-old baby girl whose first school became the Wharton creche,” said Srinivasan.
Her advice to women was that there was no trade-off when it came to work. “I want to tell you all, women in particular, there’s no trade-off as so many of you asked me over dinner last night. Loving your job doesn’t mean loving yourself or your family less,” she added.
‘Challenge is the only constant’
Giving the example of Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, who lived half of his life with “failure as a shadow”, Srinivasan sketched her tough outlook towards life where she told students that life was unfair and they should learn to accept it. “Our ideas of fairness are often the outlook of wishful thinking. If we wait for the perfect set of circumstances, opportunities will fly by,” she said, adding that facing reality and seizing opportunities was the key to understanding the world and unlocking your potential.
She said challenge was the only constant and students should not let change and challenge scare them. Ending with some advice to graduates of family business management, she said, “A special word to those of you in family business: earn your right to manage. A sense of entitlement often sets in for those of you who join the family business. My father, early on, told me that he doesn’t need a Wharton graduate to run the family business.”