GS Rattan, author of ’10 Steps to the Boardroom’

Q: With years of service for Tata Bearings and then as a teacher, you are now starting a new career as an author. Tell us about your background and what inspired you to write a non-fiction book.

I certainly had an interesting career chart spanning multiple industries in the corporate world and then as a teacher. Starting my career as a fresh college graduate in the industry itself was a big shift in my way of life and thinking. After a few years in the corporate world where my only goal was to get my paycheck and hang out with my friends, watch the premiere show of the latest movie, and try the latest restaurant in town… I quickly realized that I needed to plan my career if I wanted to get anywhere. I set my goal and I stay focused to achieve it. Timely guidance from my elders at PEC (Punjab Engineering College) and supporters gave me the confidence to chart my own course.

During my time with Tata Bearings, the young gun in me had a point to prove. I channeled my competitive spirit into the challenging missions ahead of me and it took me to the next level. I voluntarily took some of them and others were given to me. Each challenge was met with zeal and honed my leadership skills. Each was a step in disguise that moved me up the corporate chain. It also gave me the opportunity to show my managerial and technical skills, which was a great combination to be included in the management team and a go-to person for critical assignments.

While technical skills were a natural fit for me, I worked on my communication skills and mental resilience to come out stronger. Recognizing what and where you need help is crucial as you progress through your career. Once you understand this, you can then direct your attention to them. My learning attitude was key on my journey to reach the top spot.

My second run was as a teacher. I think it was another big decision in my life when I decided to take up this noble profession of teaching. I was responsible for teaching technical expertise to students. However, most of my classes ended with me sharing my real-life experiences with students…whether in the use of technology, career growth, or the human interaction associated with it.

And that was the only time the students’ interest was piqued. Slowly they started asking lots of questions and debating the possibilities. Gradually the empty benches were filling up, my class attendance was increasing and the students’ enthusiasm was increasing. The gap between the academic program and industry expectations was huge.

And the feedback I received from them for the actual application of knowledge was moving. I understood that the real application of knowledge was sorely lacking. I saw my students wanting to learn more about the industry experience, how the theory learned in school applied to the real world, and did it even matter. I happened to discuss it with my daughter Tarunjeet and she encouraged me to put it in the form of a book that could inspire young managers to reach the top. A sort of binder they can use throughout their career. It evolved from there into a book that I am very proud to have published today at 74 years old.

Q: Please enlighten us on the meaning of your new book and the reactions you expect.

The key message I want to convey to all ambitious executives is that you need to plan your career progression very seriously in your life and from the start. Opportunities to move up the ladder don’t come around very frequently, so prepare well in advance to pitch yourself as a potential candidate to fill the position. Be a dreamer, planner, strategist and go-getter to achieve success from day one.

With my real life experience, I also want them to understand that failure is a stepping stone to success and the path ahead of you may not always be linear. But if you build your confidence and mental resilience and keep an open mind to learning, you can cha-cha with whatever fate throws at you against your best-laid plans.

Each chapter is important at a stage in the life of a young executive. Each chapter should be used as a guide to excel in this role and move forward.

I expect enterprising executives to continue to ask themselves the hard questions posed in the book and to continue to refer to it for the next stages of their growth.

Q: Tell us about your greatest experience while exploring this book.

While writing 10 Steps to the Boardroom, I was at times overwhelmed with the trip down memory lane as I captured events, the sequence of their events, and the impact each incident left on me as it pushed me to change. and improve myself. .

Reliving the moments of meeting corporate legends like Sh. JRD Tata and Sh. Ratan Tata during my time working at Tata Bearings and the impact they left on me was tremendous. Along the way, mentors like Harsh Jha, SL Deoras, Suren Rao, B Muthuraman, Dr. JJ Irani and Dr. T. Mukherjee along with several peers who have helped shape who I am and encouraged me to achieve my full potential. When I sat down to capture their impact on my life in words, it was often overwhelming. It filled my heart with gratitude.

In doing so, the strongest pillar of my life – the support of my life partner Verjeet became more evident and crucial to my success. I always knew that, but over the chapters I realized that I couldn’t have done it without his unconditional support. It made me realize that to be successful in life, you have to balance work and personal life. This cannot be achieved if both partners are not invested in success. Verjeet took charge of the home side and handled both with a steady hand.

This is another valuable lesson that I want to pass on to the next generation of managers. Your success does not depend solely on you. Your life partner, mentors, and bosses (in that order) are the primary drivers of your growth.

Q: In your opinion, how important is it for a person to choose their career according to their choice? Do you believe that career choices based on preferences are more likely to be successful or that a person should take a chance? The battle between choice and chance is a game-changer for anyone, what would be your comment on that.

The battle between Choice and Chance is always a game-changer. Every career path begins with a choice you make. You choose to enter a specific course and accept a specific job in a specific city. It was your choice. Chance happens along the way. In my experience, I have always relied on picks and hard work keeping an eye out for the odds. All of your hard/smart work will put you in a place of plenty of opportunity. Then it’s up to you to choose which ones best suit your career path. It’s your choice.

I made a huge change and leap of faith when I accepted a job in the far eastern part of our country from a bustling city in Gujarat because I saw a chance to prove my merit and rise a challenge that was unique. This random choice made all the difference.

Q: You have a background in teaching, what difference do you see in students of the current generation in terms of their career choices compared to what the scenario was like in your day.

There is a marked difference between the students of the present generation and of my time. Students today are much more aware of their career choices and the many options to achieve their goals. There are also multiple career choices unlike ours where there were a few favorite fields and fewer companies to work with. There are so many more things one can do today and carve out a completely unique and adventurous career path. It’s so exciting to be a graduate of today’s generation.

Today, however, with the excess of psychics sharing information about career options, upskilling, learning, etc., what is lacking is the knowledge and wisdom to make sense of it. The information consumed is not necessarily knowledge. This is where I encourage many of my students to do two key things. First, seek mentorship and guidance that will help them make sense of this information. Something that will help them align information and harness it as energizers for their dream. Second, spend time alone with yourself and your thoughts. The more you think without the distraction of technology or entertainment; you will discover what you want to do… your true calling. This is achieved only through inner reflection. In a world full of distractions, be calm. This will be your winning ace.

Lola R. McClure