PM Leadership Connect
Mr. Basu Dutta, President – PMI Bangalore India Chapter
Interview by Himadri Sekhar Chowdhury
Q1. Tell us something interesting about yourself. Maybe something that is not commonly known to most people.
I am an avid sportsperson and developed a fascination for sports in my growing years in Mumbai. Though it’s considered natural for any Mumbaikar to gravitate to cricket, my natural inclination was towards football, hockey, table tennis and carom. The colony where I grew up was meant for Tata employees and my father had served one of the group companies for nearly 35 years.
I had represented my college in inter-collegiate football tournaments in Mumbai and was runners-up in TT and carom champion in the inter-departmental championship for Post Graduate students at the University of Mumbai. Even after moving to Bangalore in the early 90’s, I used to actively participate in the inter-corporate 5-a-side football tournament representing ANZIT.
Q2. Tell us about your work currently and how you reached where you are?
I moved out of full-time engagement as VP and Global Head of Banking and Financial Service at Birlasoft in Dec 2012, after serving the IT industry for 31 years. I currently consult as a Leadership Development Coach with SHL India, a UK based Talent Assessment and Development Consulting firm.
My journey to head the BFS practice was purely accidental. In my first job at HCL in the mid-1980s, banks were exploring computerization of branches as a pilot experiment under guidance from RBI. The exercise was termed ALPM – Advanced Ledger Posting Machine. Every big hardware vendor had got into this game and most of the pilot projects involved trials at designated branches of the public-sector banks. HCL was looking for someone who could be the onsite coordinator to ensure the success of their pilot projects. That was the beginning of my foray into BFS. Since then I led many such pilot initiatives with several banks.
My first exposure to international banking was in late 1980’s when I joined Citicorp Software. I moved to Bangalore in the early 90’s with a job with ANZIT, the India based ODC of ANZ Banking Group, and continued my association with Fintech when I shifted to iFLEX (aka Oracle Financial Services SW Ltd).
In 2016, SHL India was looking out for someone in India who has managed an SBU, but not HR or Psychology majors who usually dominate the people practice. I fit the bill and was thus initiated in my current consultant role in Leadership Assessment and Talent Development at SHL India. I find this shift very interesting and different from what I did in my IT career.
Q3. What are your vision and goals for the chapter in 2019?
My vision is simple: To be the most revered chapter in the Asia Pacific Region.
To realize the vision, we need the following goals:
(a) Re-establish stronger connects with the academic institutions.
(b) Expand our reach among NGOs by enabling them to manage their initiatives in a more structured way, through meaningful interventions in the area of Project Management.
(c) Make our internal processes more robust and agile.
(d) Improve membership and volunteer engagement by 10%
(e) Win PMI’s “Best Global Chapter Award”.
(f) Introduce one more PMI certification to enhance professional development opportunities for the project management communities.
Q4. What are three things that a PM who is part of this chapter gets, that s/he doesn’t get anywhere else?
(a) To be part of one of the most active chapter volunteer community. No other chapter offers the option of being part of the organizing committee of one of the most sought-after Project Management Conference, our 3-day Flagship Project Management Practitioners Conference (PMPC).
(b) To participate in the widest range of professional development programs — with segmented approach catering to the diverse needs of industry verticals and individual career progression. Many of these are free or discounted for members.
© Access to our PM Footprints, PMPC Videos and Technical papers, monthly magazine PM Essence, and the opportunity to interact with the largest and most widely experienced senior professionals who are active members of the chapter network.
(d) In addition, one can exhibit one’s professional skills by sharing insights in PM Footprint as a speaker and publish articles in our monthly magazine PM Essence.
Q5. What are your plans to increase PMI awareness and chapter membership?
We have done some basic analysis of the professional demography in Bangalore and recognize the vast majority of the project managers are concentrated in IT and Engineering and Construction industries alongside some of the big PSUs. Hence, we have had a renewed focus on bringing them together on a common platform, some of which are specifically designed to address requirements typical to these industries.
We have also formed Special Interest Groups such as E&C (Engineering and Construction) and DAPSU (Defense, Aerospace and Public Sector Unit) to strengthen connect with these target interest groups. In addition, we are expanding our corporate reach with large catchment of project professionals through our PM OpenSpace so that (a) we evangelize the profession and (b) bring the practicing professionals in our network.
Q6. How is the chapter addressing corporate social responsibility?
The chapter connects with several NGO and provides them with both expertise in Project Management to support their initiatives and funding. We have had a long association with the Rotary Club Bangalore West and supported them to roll out Vidya Deepa and EPathsala programs to help educate 5000+ school-going children in villages. In addition, we invite other like-minded NGOs and provide them visibility by recognizing their good work and felicitating them during our annual PMPC program.
We have recently launched workshop-based training on Fundamentals of Project Management for the office bearers and volunteers of NGOs to help them manage their programs better.
Q7. How can the chapter help PMs solve everyday Project Management challenges at work?
The Chapter conducts periodic networking programs, a vibrant interactive forum where industry leaders, SMEs, and practicing professionals interact to share contemporary issues in the profession. Besides, our house magazine PM Essence, distributed free to all members, carry discussion points on various aspects of the profession from the practicing managers.
Q8. How is chapter helping the fresh graduates and encouraging them to consider Project Management as their career option?
Our chapter has been running the PM Primer program for many years. PM Primer is designed to give students an insight into Project Management fundamentals and how it can help organizations run their initiatives better. This helped us to build connect with educational institutions. Taking this association forward, we have now launched a new program PM Empower that combines Project Management fundamentals with domain expertise (civil engineering being the initial target). Also, we are promoting focused contact classes for colleges based on CAPM curriculum, which uses PMBoK as a reference point for content.
Q9. How are PMs getting an edge in their respective organization being member or volunteer of PMI Bangalore India Chapter?
As indicated earlier, we run one of the most diverse portfolios of programs both in public forum and also in collaboration with many corporates with whom we have developed long term strategic relationships. In addition, we also offer a plethora of volunteering options. This gives opportunities to our members to have a well-rounded development in term of honing up their functional and managerial skills. This augurs well for the enterprise with which they are associated.
Q10. Where do you place the PMI Bangalore India chapter among the other chapters?
PMI Bangalore India Chapter has been the premier chapter in India for more than a decade and it’s the 2nd largest in Asia Pacific Region. In addition, it has received Global Chapter Excellence Award from PMI in 2013 and 2015 and has been the finalist in 2017 and 2018.
Q11. In a technologically disruptive world, how can a PMI Certified Practitioner create his/her own identity?
To fulfill that expectation, a project manager must reorient oneself to be more adaptive in their approach to project delivery, anticipate changes and take a more holistic view of the overall customer value delivery. Being agile, understanding business dynamics and its impact on the target customer segment and taking an entrepreneurial approach will render the PM of the future more relevant to the enterprise.
The Role Delineation Study (RDS) that carries out systematic research to understand the role expectation of a Project Manager in contemporary scenario has registered the above shift and triggered appropriate revision in PMBoK through the release of version 6. This principle reference point for PMP certification would make PMI certified professionals better equipped to the impending changes.
Q12. How does the Chapter play a role in Diversity in Project Management?
We have started a dedicated forum WiPM (Women in Project Management) that focuses on our women members to network. One of their mandates is to propose plans to increase the involvement of more women professionals and evolve future leaders, while staying within the framework of our fundamental charter.
A dedicated team of volunteers led by women industry leaders gather on a regular basis to discuss the way forward. These efforts resulted in a half-day program in Oct 2018 for the launch of the special interest group.
Q13, Like PMP, what are we doing for other PMI certifications? What are your plans?
With the ever-increasing focus on project outcome; one way to ensure that would perhaps be a thorough analysis of business requirement that has the potential to deliver maximum benefit from a project. Keeping that as a reference, we felt PBA has the maximum relevance in current context and have already delivered the 1st program with more being lined in 2019.
Q14. Anything you’ve been proud of as an achievement so far in your tenure as the PMI Bangalore India Chapter President?
All marked improvement is the culmination of teamwork where the entire board contributed to these positive shifts.
(a) Our financial discipline has improved thanks to the work put in by our Finance Sub Committee (FSC) and our financial consultant under the able guidance of our secretary and treasurer.
(b) Our connect with educational institutions has picked up, apart from regular talks on Project management related subjects, we have just delivered CAPM certification program for the 1st batch of 30 students and more are in the pipeline. In addition, we launched a new program PM Empower, which combines PM fundamentals with the domain knowledge, and delivered the 1st batch.
© Our reach to NGOs has now increased, and we have conducted PM fundamentals with contents designed to their specific requirements. We believe this will enable the NGOs to manage their engagements in a more structured manner using the fundamental principles of the PM discipline.
Q15. What are some of the challenges that the chapter faces and how are we currently addressing them?
We found a slight downward trend this year in the patronage of our flagship public training program PMP Quest and exploring options to use a digital platform to deliver some of these trainings to extend our reach, especially to those who find it difficult to devote four consequent weekends amongst their busy schedules.
On the PMI ACP Agile program, the patronage is far from encouraging and we are working on a new format with the objective of extending the appeal of this program to a wider section of professionals.
We have had similar challenges with our PM Footprints program, which has been running on alternate Thursdays for the past 12 years. On feedback from members, this was launched on a trial basis on the fourth Saturday morning in a two-speaker format. The responses so far have been very encouraging. We will finalize on this format from February 2019.
Our membership numbers has also stagnated in the 2800+ range and we are working on various initiatives to enhance the professional appeal of the chapter to the larger project management professionals.
Q16. What should chapter members be looking forward this year at PMPC 2019?
(a) Continued focus in delivering industry relevant programs that appeal to a wider section of our members.
(b) Enhanced communications with our member group with effective utilization of available digital platform.
(c) Increased opportunities to participate and contribute to our chapter activities as a volunteer, speaker, contributors of articles in our chapter magazine.
(d) Above all, a more vibrant community of project management professionals.