Interview with Mr. Bernd Meissner, CEO- Hunger Hydraulics

Question: You have been operating in this country as a Business Head of multinational companies for almost about last 3 years. What, in your view , is the most critical issue in the domain of ‘Human Resources’?

Answer: Availability of right skills. I have a feeling that somehow, the right kind of emphasis has not been given to make the right skills available. Us, Business Heads have been looking for some specific skill sets but these are not available, somehow or the other. I have, during the process of interviews, have interacted with Engineers and other management professionals having a very good educational/professional background but the right skill sets which we were looking for, were not available with many of them.

Question:. Are you emphasizing on availability of ‘Leadership Skills’?

Answer: This is a very major issue, of course. We do not expect everybody to be a leader. But, the level of managerial skills which we are looking for are also not available with many professionals.

Question:  What inputs, in your opinion, should have gone into the making of a ‘good manager’?

Answer:  According to me, Industry-orientation is not adequately focussed at, in the professional courses. Without making any comparison, I am making a point of reference. In western countries, much emphasis is laid upon ‘Industry-orientation’. It is embedded in almost all the professional courses. Students pursuing technical/ professional courses get much wider exposure about industries. Getting the opportunity of having exposure about industries and the operating styles of industries, their focus become sharper. As a result, when they take the first step into an industry, they have an edge. They have already had an exposure to a certain extent, to the decision-making process and the skills to manage resources. What I am trying to emphasize is that with the infrastructure available in this country, this is possible also over here.

Question: Do you think that with the right kind of inputs during the technical/professional courses, the managerial skills can be improved?

Answer: Yes, to a large extent. The courses are required to be more application-oriented with a flavour of industry-orientation. This combination, according to me, would go a long way in the making of a ‘good manager’.

Question: Any other observations on the input part?

Answer: I see absence of a’ structured thinking’ the reflection of which, I see in making a’ structured approach’. The thoughts go here and there without following a structure which is very much required for ‘managerial effectiveness’. In many situations, I have seen that just because of the absence of ‘structured thinking’, they have not been able to take a ‘structured approach’. The right kinds of solutions therefore have not come. Also, to me, issues like lack of sustainability and the right mindset have surfaced; I have seen the focus getting shifted quite often. In a professional sportsman, we don’t see changing his focus from cricket to football to tennis every two years. So, I get surprised when I see this happening with management professionals and I wonder as to why it happens.

Question:  Do you think that technical/professional courses are required to be restructured to a large extent?

Answer: I am not knowledgeable about the course curriculum. But, I am referring to the reflections. I feel that lot of inputs in terms of requirement from the business have to go into the process of restructuring the course curriculum. Industry and Academia require to have a very close interface. Lot of exchanges are required to take place. I feel that a lot of proactiveness is also required to be taken by industries. Business Heads are also required to come forward to provide these inputs to academia. After all, the gap arising out of the non-availability of the right kind of inputs is hitting hard the business.

Question:  Do you think that apart from this, requirement of niche’ skills have also taken a sharp turn because of the emerging dynamics of business?

Answer: Yes, of course. Every day, the business dynamics are changing. It throws up lot of new skill requirements which were not previously heard of. Human Resources matching these requirements are not readily available. Some kind of gap always exists.

Question: What steps, do you think are required to be taken to bridge this gap?

Answer: This is the area where the issue of requirement of leadership surfaces very sharply. The leaders have to be visionary. They have to think ahead of their times and curve out a roadmap for the future generation also. They have to identify the future requirements. It may not match to the full extent but it will lead to a direction, of course. Human Resources are, and will continue to be the most critical resources in the days to come. Availability of resources in terms of numbers would not mean anything. Qualitative changes, to a large extent are required to be brought about.

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