Mar 2, 2006

Indian HR Thought Leader Series: Abhijit Bhaduri

Abhijit graduated from Shriram College of Commerce, Delhi University in Economics and then went on to do his MBA in Personnel Management & Industrial Relations from XLRI, Jamshedpur and also has a LLB degree from Delhi University.

Abhijit’s career spans two decades across diverse industries and multiple countries. He worked for companies like Eicher Goodearth, Shalimar Paints, Tata Steel and Mudra Communications and in 1997 he joined Colgate Palmolive in Mumbai. In 1999 he moved to a Regional role in the Asia Pacific Shared Services Organization for Colgate and was based out of Kuala Lumpur before moving on to a global role in New York at the Corporate Headquarters for Colgate-Palmolive. Abhijit Bhaduri has joined FritoLay - the Snacks division of Pepsico International as head of Human Resources for India. Abhijit brings with him varied experiences across industries, locations and geographies and has worked with diverse cultures and has led multiple global projects with cross-functional teams.

He has also recently authored “Mediocre But Arrogant” ( ), a novel about love and life in a Business School in Jamshedpur, India. The book has been on several bestseller lists in India and US and finds mention in the online encyclopedia as an example of a contemporary Indian fiction. He has been a popular radio voice in India and abroad and hosted a popular radio show in US on Indian movies and film music. He has been a popular choice as a panelist on socio-economic issues concerning Indians in US.

Abhijit is married to Nandini and has a daughter Eshna and son Abhishek

"Where do you see the future of the work and what skills should young professionals build to be ready for further challenges?"

The future of work can only be commented on based on how one defines the term "work". If we define work to be the physical or mental effort or activity directed toward the production or accomplishment of something, then it doesn't take much genius to say that as society progresses the physical aspect of every kind of work gets minimized through technology. People are inherently lazy – why do you think the TV Remote was invented? Less physical effort is a preferred state of being.

That leaves the mental effort part of work that needs unraveling. Ever wondered what makes computer games successful? There lies the key to what makes for a happy work experience. I remember playing this DOS based game in the late seventies called Rogue. It was quite a cult game and strangely it had no cool graphics, no sound effects and only one cool feature called "The Boss Key". If you pressed F10, (presumably when the boss walked in) it would temporarily create a very official looking screen which we could even type in stuff. As soon as the boss was gone, we could press F10 again to resume the game where we had left it! The first blueprint of what Heaven is all about.

Here's what a fan had to say about this game- and this is almost 15 years later I stopped playing it.

"You ever heard them talk of the rogue-style games? Did you ever wonder what they mean by this? Well, in short words: Rogue was the first open ended ever changing RPG (that is Role Playing Game for the uninitiated). Every time you play it, it comes up with a new dungeon. Your task is simply to stay alive for as long as possible, go deeper into the dungeon and collect as much gold as possible. On your way you meet monsters, find treasures, magical objects etc. This game comes along very simple but casts its spell on you immediately. You sit there trying to proceed further and further, building up your character to explore the next level and get some more gold."

What does that tell us about the future of work?

Lesson No 1: "Every time you play it comes up with a new dungeon".

Translation : The work has to provide for an interesting task that changes often enough to sustain the employee's attention span. If the employee is unable to achieve success at the current level, there is still an escape mechanism that allows you to bypass a task that is boring or one that does not value add to the employee.

Lesson No 2: "Your task is simply to stay alive for as long as possible, go deeper into the dungeon and collect as much gold as possible."

Translation - The work must provide for a sense of accomplishment. And an opportunity to collect as much gold as possible. (You didn't need me to translate that last bit, did you?)

Lesson No 3: "On your way you meet monsters, find treasures, magical objects etc."

Translation - Meeting monsters, yes that's what some people call co-workers or clients, can be fun as long as you have the chance to kill them. Well the game certainly allowed that to happen. Some monsters in Rogue were just irritants. You could kill them without much effort. With some just needed you to figure out what armor to use. And then as you moved into the most complex levels (I swear I actually made it briefly to Level Eight for full five minutes before being slayed by a Troll). That thrill of being in Level Eight of Rogue was no less than what a CEO experiences when he/she first enters the Board Room. The fact that I had made it to that level in a game did more wonders for my ego than any promotion has ever done – not that I have been promoted very often. All because I had the satisfaction of continuously learning some nuance that helped me to master that game.

Lesson No 4: "This game comes along very simple but casts its spell on you immediately. You sit there trying to proceed further and further, building up your character to explore the next level and get some more gold."

Translation : Work must allow the person not just a feeling of accomplishment, but also the opportunity to better oneself. Rogue taught me to get up after each defeat. I would dust myself clean and rub my hands in grim determination to reach a higher level in the game. Some days I did and some days when I didn't, I used to toss and turn in bed wondering why I had gotten knocked off at an embarrassingly low level. How many work environments fire up this passion in people?

If you can learn about "the future of work" from a computer game, I guess it is only logical to draw lessons from the people who play these games. What makes a successful video/ computer game player?

Lesson 1: Keep learning new games.

Watch how the people who play games have a compulsive desire to try out new games. So keep learning new skills – it keeps alive your ability to learn. As long as make the same mistakes, you cannot proceed to the next level. So work at it till you have mastered the game. Want to check if you still have the ability to learn? Try learning a new language.

Lesson 2: Try to figure out the design and logic of the game.

No gamer will respect you if they discover you used cheat codes to get to the next level. Besides, the successful gamer will always try to figure out what the design of the game is all about. A mobile phone maker hands out their latest cell phone to each job applicant and checks how many features of the phone they have discovered in fifteen minutes. That's proof about how successful the applicant will be in adapting to change.

Lesson 3: Enjoy the Game:

If you don't love your work, you will never be good at it.

Lesson 4: Get a life

All play and no life will turn you into a social jackass. Get out into the real world and balance your game and life. Being a zombie and playing the game for 18 hours every day may get you to Level 10 but you will still be a Rogue !