Manish Sharma, CBO, Saarathi, recently joined NewsX for an enriching chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, he spoke to us about his work life experiences, his company Saarathi and much more. Read excerpts:
Talking about his educational background, Manish said, “ Little over two decades I started from BITS Pilani and started my career with Honda in Delhi. Then I started working for this large bio tech company Genentech, the number 1 company in the Fortune hundred best companies to work for at that time. After that I had the pleasure of working for Apple right before the iPhone was launched. But I always wanted to come back to India, do something meaningful here. So, I came back to head operations for Blackberry, move back to Apple and be in the team who built the very first iPhone. Then it was Microsoft, very humble under the leadership of Satya Nadella and so much to learn from them.”
“I then decided to do something big in India. Right now we are working on a platform which is a digital lending market place. I feel like it is going to make a big difference to how India lending is and I am super excited”, he added.
Sharing his experience with working with such prominent organizations, Manish revealed, “I think my experience with Honda was all about quality and that quality comes first. With Genentech, I learned that if you put the customer in the center, every business strategy is around it. To me the two things that are always taken to heart are, first one from Apple was simplify. Simplification is the state of understanding. Then with Microsoft I learned that you can’t win it all alone and having a partnership DNA is what would actually make you succeed in this world.
Giving us an insight about his company Saarathi, the CBO said, “At Saarathi our vision is to bridge the credit gap in India. We want to focus on the offline channel and transform it digitally. For all lending products, people need assistance or expertise before choosing one. And typically a direct sales agent makes that decision for you. Now, if that agent is not digitally sound, then they are not going to be able to do it effectively and for a lot of people. What we do is, we pull that intelligence that lies with the bank back into the channel so that the channel is intelligent and can reach out to people. And that is how we will bring credit access to a much higher level than now.”
Talking about how he builds trust among people when his business involves credit, Manish exclaimed, “To me insights and bringing actual data closer to the person instead of verbal advice makes the trust much higher. What we are enabling through the digital means is that we provide complete transparency of information. And when that happens, the trust automatically comes in.
Sharing his mantra for a better future, Manish said, “Everything revolves around creating a great team. Respecting talent and loving people is also important here.”
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Everything X everywhere: The new BMW X3 launched in India
The new BMW X3 has been launched in India today. The successful Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV), BMW X3 is now sportier and more modern with its comprehensive refreshed look, premium interior with new equipment features and updated infotainment.
Available in locally produced two petrol variants, the new BMW X3 is now available at BMW dealerships from today onwards. The diesel variant will be launched later. Vikram Pawah, President, BMW Group India said, “The new evolved third generation BMW X3 is here to continue the model’s trailblazing success in the premium mid-size SAV segment. Refreshed design and driving performance make BMW X3 a luxurious and practical car that is agile on and off-road. You will experience the unbeatable thrill and joy of a distinctive combination of powerful drive, sporty dynamics and comfort. With its independence and individuality, the new X3 packs in unlimited action and is meant for everything x everywhere.”
The new BMW X3 is available in two petrol variants at an attractive introductory price (ex-showroom) as follows-
BMW X3 xDrive30i SportX Plus : INR 59,90,000
BMW X3 xDrive30i M Sport : INR 65,90,000
*Price prevailing at the time of invoicing will be applicable. Ex-showroom prices inclusive of GST (incl. compensation cess) as applicable but excludes Road Tax, Tax Collected at Source (TCS), RTO statutory taxes/fees, other local tax cess levies and insurance. Price and options are subject to change without prior notice.
For further information, please contact the local authorised BMW Dealer. The new BMW X3 is available in the following metallic paintworks: Mineral White, Phytonic Blue, Brooklyn Grey, Sophisto Grey, Black Sapphire and Carbon Black. The new BMW X3 features Sensatec Perforated Upholstery as standard with the following combinations – Canberra Beige and Cognac.
The new BMW X3 emphasis on classic X-elements as standard. It has a more modern look with a more powerful presence, plenty of space and driving dynamics. SportX Plus variant ensures a greater focus on sportiness and “X-ness”. The M Sport variant is enriched with high quality X elements.
BMW Service Inclusive and BMW Service Inclusive Plus are optionally available with the BMW X3. These service packages cover Condition Based Service (CBS) and maintenance work with a choice of plans from 3 yrs. / 40,000 kms to 10 yrs. / 2,00,000 kms and start at an attractive pricing of INR 1.53 per km.
The BMW X3 also comes with optional BMW Repair Inclusive that extends warranty benefits from third year of operation to maximum sixth year, after the completion of the standard two-year warranty period. Together, these packages provide complete peace of mind and freedom to enjoy unlimited driving pleasure.
BMW India Financial Services offers an attractive BMW 360@ financial plan with ‘drive away monthly price’ of INR 79,999/-, assured buyback of up to 60% and flexible end of term options. Customized financial solutions can be further designed as per individual requirements.
The new BMW X3.
The design of the new BMW X3 makes a sportier orientation. With the redesigned BMW kidney grille, flatter headlights and the new front apron, the new BMW X3 flaunts a refreshed design appearance. More strikingly shaped and larger BMW kidney grille now comprising of a single-piece frame.
The front feature adaptive LED headlights with Matrix function. A black border gives the full LED rear lights a more precise appearance, while the narrower light graphic now includes a three-dimensionally modelled pincer contour and horizontal turn signals integrated in filigree style.
The new, flush-fitting free-form tailpipe trims are larger and sportier, conveying a more powerful presence. In the M Sport package, front apron features larger air inlets finished in high-gloss black and air curtains. The sportier rear bumper includes a diffuser finished in Dark Shadow. The M Sport trim includes the new 19-inch Y-Spoke 887M alloy wheels. However, 20-inch M alloy wheels are also available as an early bird offer.
The interior boasts an exceptional level of comfort and functionality in an extremely modern ambience. Exclusive functions such as Multi-function Sport Steering Wheel, electrical seat adjustment with memory function, exterior mirror package add to the comfort. Driver and front passenger enjoy the superior sporty flair of a premium SAV. M Sport has an exclusive set interior package like Sport seats, Sensatec perforated upholstery, M leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons, M interior trim adding the performance-oriented ambience. Panoramic glass roof and Welcome Light Carpet are few among the long list of features that create the perfect ambience.
New electroplated trim elements on the air vents add a touch of elegance while emphasising the horizontal lines in the interior. Ambient Lighting with six dimmable designs creates an atmosphere for every mood. Features such as electroplated controls and 3-zone automatic climate control with extended options add to the overall luxurious feel. The boot has a capacity of 550 litres and can be expanded further to 1600 litres by folding down the 40/20/40 split rear seat backrest.
Thanks to the unrivalled BMW Twin Power Turbo technology, the petrol engine melds maximum power with exemplary efficiency and offers spontaneous responsiveness even at low engine speeds. The two-litre four-cylinder petrol engine of the BMW X3 xDrive30i produces an output of 185 kW / 252 hp and a maximum torque of 350 Nm at 1,450 – 4,800 rpm. The car accelerates from 0 -100 km/hr in just 6.6 seconds with a top speed of 235 km/h.
The eight-speed automatic Steptronic sport transmission performs smooth, almost imperceptible gearshifts. At any time, in any gear, the transmission collaborates perfectly with the engine, enabling it to develop its full power and efficiency.
Adaptive Suspension with its individual electronically controlled dampers adapts to both road conditions & individual driving style thereby offering exceptional precision and improves the drive and handling dynamics. For even greater driving pleasure, it is available with steering wheel paddle shifters, cruise control with braking function and Automatic differential brakes (ADB) with electronic differential locks as standard. The BMW Performance Control system increases the stability of the car by targeted braking of the wheels.
BMW xDrive, an intelligent all-wheel-drive system, monitors the driving situation constantly and is quick to respond. Electronically controlled ‘Automatic Differential Brakes/Locks’ (ADB-X), extended ‘Dynamic Traction Control’ (DTC), Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control help to conquer every terrain.
A host of BMW Connected Drive technologies continues to break the innovation barrier in automotive industry – BMW Gesture Control and Wireless Apple CarPlay® / Android Auto. The modern cockpit concept BMW Live Cockpit Professional running on latest BMW Operating System 7.0 includes 3D Navigation, with a high-resolution 12.3” screen instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and a control display.
The spread of driver assistance systems is more extensive than ever. Parking Assistant Plus with 360 camera makes parking in tight spots easier by taking over acceleration, braking as well as steering. The car features a 464W Harman Kardon Surround Sound system 16 speaker with individually adjustable equalizing.
BMW Efficient Dynamics include features such as 8-speed Steptronic Automatic Transmission, Auto Start-Stop, Brake-Energy Regeneration, Electronic Power Steering, 50:50 Weight Distribution, Driving Experience Control switch with different driving modes such as COMFORT/ECO PRO/SPORT/SPORT+ and many other innovative technologies.
BMW Safety technologies includes six airbags, Attentiveness Assistance, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) including Cornering Brake Control (CBC), electric parking brake with auto hold, side-impact protection, electronic vehicle immobilizer and crash sensor, ISOFIX child seat mounting and integrated emergency spare wheel under the load floor.
NO BOOK EVER SAID THAT THE SECRET TO A HAPPY LIFE IS SUCCESS: SAMIR SONI
Actor Samir Soni recently joined NewsX for an insightful chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation with NewsX, the actor shared insights about his book “The diary of an introvert”. Read excerpts:
We started the interview by asking him about the idea behind his book. Samir replied, “This book contains my actual diary entries. This book was more of a process of discovering myself starting from 10 years back. During this time, I learned why I was the way I was. Writing it down was just my way to get my stuff out of my system. Recently when we were hit by the pandemic and people were depressed and anxious, I was approached for a book. I told them that I have something written which is very relevant today and they absolutely loved it.”
“There are various passages in the book where I am going back to childhood telling stories and in between is the actual process of going through self-discovery. I experienced something first hand, wrote it down and allowed others to judge”, he added.
When asked about how he dealt with being an introvert in this line of work, Samir revealed, “The first step was to discover the issue and then I discovered that I was a classic introvert and that there is nothing wrong with being that way. In front of the media, you have to be a certain way. Nobody shows their pain and struggles because the audience does not want that. I didn’t let people beat me up for who I was and my friends have now accepted me for who I am.”
Further sharing about the reactions he received from the audience on this book, the actor said that the most common reaction he got was people saying that is so much like them. “Over the years, my fans have a pretty decent idea of who I am and the most common thing is that they love it. The aspect of relativity is very much there. Everyone is projecting what they aspire to be, and you might not be that person. Therefore, in my book, I am not trying to be aspirational. No book ever said that the secret to a happy life is fame, money, and success. Everyone’s definition of success is different and everyone has a different journey. ”
Lastly, Samir shared whom he was addressing in his diaries that he wrote 10 years back. “ I was going through personal and professional phases in my life where I wasn’t feeling good about myself and unlike other times when you distract yourself, I decided to stay silent. I did not read books or watch TV as much as I possibly could and my only outlet was writing. As I started to write it took me to all kinds of places in life.”
THE DEBATE: CAN CHROS BECOME CEOS?
For years, the position of the CEO, which is arguably the most important and coveted position in an organisation, has gone to professionals from business roles such as Sales & Marketing, or operations. Depending on the Industry, Manufacturing and heavy Engineering Industries have looked at professionals from operations, Financial sectors have looked at Finance professionals, FMCG and FMCD industries have looked at Sales and Marketing incumbents, and so on.
There was no precedence of a CHRO taking the helm till December 2021, when not one but two examples came our way. Leena Nair, CHRO Unilever, was appointed as CEO of Chanel and Alka Mittal, HR director ONGC was appointed as Chairman & MD, ONGC.
And when they did, there was quite a furore and debate on the social media. From, are HR professionals really ready to take on the role of a CEO, do they understand customer, consumer, market, business imperatives and what not?
This entire debate begs the question- when will we stop looking at ‘labels’ and start looking at the ‘individual’ and what the individual brings to the table, in terms of skills, competencies, knowledge, experience, wisdom, and the ability to do the job at hand? Is stereotyping by profession yet another stereotype we have to live with? Yet another glass ceiling? Will those in so called ‘support functions’ have to reconcile with the fact that their growth will stop at ‘head of function’ of director of function’?
Let us take a broad overview of why this stereotype came into being and how it is fast changing in the present day.
WHY THE STEREOTYPE?
Human resources is an ‘arterial’ function for any organization. Human resources function manages one of the most critical assets an organisation has- It’s people.
An organisation can have the best product or service, state of the art machinery or technology, but the people who sell those products and services, use those machines and technology need to be attracted, recruited, retained, engaged, rewarded, motivated and made productive through the right culture, structures, policies and processes, which is the essential job of the HR function. This is how HR is operating today. Hand in hand with business, helping businesses evolve with the times, being a Strategic HR business Partner.
However, traditionally, the evolution of the HR function has seen several stages. From being a ‘personnel department’ which was essentially responsible for employee documentation, timekeeping and payroll, to being an HR operations function- essentially taking care of day to day HR operations, to being Business partner, to now being a strategic HR business partner.
Despite this evolution, the traditional understanding of HR seems to have stuck and as essential as the role of an HR function is, it is often treated as a relatively lesser significant role in many organizations. It is visible in the fact that you would find the HR head in many companies at a junior grade than other functions. Many emerging and growing organisations often do not even appoint a full time HR resource until they start seeing glaring problems in culture, discipline, processes.
Some businesses are of the opinion that since HR is not directly engaged in the business expansion, or is not a ‘revenue generation function’ or involved in other relevant operations such as finance or supply chain, a CHRO might not be able to do justice to these functions as a CEO. However, the truth could not be farther than this.
Some reasons why people working in the field of HR can make remarkable leaders are listed as follows-
Strong grip on workforce landscape- The primary role of a figure of authority is to ensure a seamless working environment. This includes ensuring that the employees are happy and satisfied with their work and treatment. It goes without saying that few people can perform this function as well as an experienced HR professional. HRs, having dealt exclusively with people and their behaviour for years, have a knack for understanding and forecasting employees’ reactions to potential decisions. They can deploy their expertise in human behaviour to maximise positive outcomes of business decisions as well as ensure a harmonious work environment which is key to success in any organization.
Presence of mind and quick decision-making- As part of their role, CHROs deal with ambiguity, unpredictability and volatility. Human behaviour is one of the most unpredictable matter that one can deal with. Since a CHRO is mainly responsible for dealing with Human Resources, he/she has ample experience in dealing with unpredictability and ambiguity in the most optimum way possible, being prepared with contingency plans and managing multiple stakeholders. They understand the value of a presence of mind and quick decision-making with respect to the changing environment.
A skill like this is of extreme importance in a person in the position of a CEO. This is because managing business environment also requires quick decision making, contingency planning, being comfortable with ambiguity, stakeholder management and most importantly being able to read and deal with human behaviour.
Holistic view of the organisation- Being a Strategic HR Business Partner, a CHRO partners with every function in the organisation, helps them structure for optimal productivity, helps them build capability within or acquire the right capability, streamline processes and policies, reward, recognise, incentivise people, help with talent assessment, appraisals and promotions. This requires them to understand the nitty grittiest of business, business processes, success imperatives. Unlike other functions, who only have view of their own functions, HR, by virtue of their role need to a have full view of the whole organisation, making CHROs uniquely poised to take on the CEO’s mantle.
The debate of whether or not a CHRO is a good choice for a CEO has now come to the fore and hopefully will be quelled as more and more organisations begin to see merit in the choice. The reason behind the debate primarily comes from the fact that a CHRO is responsible for overseeing the Human Resource function which is labelled as a ‘support function’ and does not directly contribute to the business and its growth. However, this notion stands nullified, and could not be further from the truth.
The Author is Founder and Managing Partner, Marching Sheep
HAL TO EXPORT ADVANCED LIGHT HELICOPTER TO MAURITIUS
BK Tripathy General Manager Helicopter Division HAL and OK Dabidin Secretary of Home Affairs Prime Ministers Office Government of Mauritius signing the contract
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has signed a contract with the Government of Mauritius for export of one Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH Mk III) which will be used by Mauritius Police Force.
The Government of Mauritius already operates HAL built ALH and Do-228 aircraft. “With this contract, HAL and Government of Mauritius have further strengthened the long standing business relations spanning over three decades,” HAL said in a statement. The agreement is in line with the Government of India’s vision to boost defence exports to friendly foreign countries.
The contract was signed by BK Tripathy, General Manager, Helicopter Division-HAL and OK Dabidin, Secretary of Home Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office, Government of Mauritius recently at HAL’s Transport Aircraft Division, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
The ALH Mk III is a multi-role, multi-mission versatile helicopter in 5.5 tonne category. It has proven its mettle in various utility role including numerous lifesaving missions during natural calamities in India and abroad.
More than 335 ALHs have been produced till date logging around 340,000 cumulative flying hours. HAL also ensures technical assistance and product support to the customer to ensure healthy serviceability of the helicopter, the statement said.
Dream come true: Akashdeep Sengupta on composing Sooryavanshi’s Mere Yaara
In this exclusive interview as part of NewsX India A-List, Akashdeep Sengupta opened up about composing a song for Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif starrer Sooryavanshi.
Music composer Akashdeep Sengupta joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Akashdeep opened up about composing a song for Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif starrer Sooryavanshi, his journey till now and much more.
Talking about composing the song, ‘Mere Yaara’ in Sooryavanshi, Akashdeep expressed, “It is a dream come true to be a part of such a big production, such a big casting, working with the likes of Karan Johar, Dharma Productions, Akshay Kumar, Rohit Shetty and such a big franchise. It is a dream come true. It is a lovely song. We always had that trust. Me, Kaushik and Guddu, they are my fellow composers in the song. It is a dream come true for me to compose such a track for them. It took some time for this song to come out but eventually it has.”
When asked how did he bag the project, Akashdeep shared, “It was something that completely happened because of Azeem Dayani. Azeem is the music supervisor for Dharma films. He supervises all the films for Dharma music. He had immense faith in the song and in us. He took this song a long time back. It was with him since 2017-18. He tried to put the best film with the best cast and the best people. He got it in Sooryavanshi.”
Talking about the response to song, Akashdeep said, “I am simply overwhelmed. It is a dream come true. Before this, it never happened but now that the song is out, people have messaged and congratulated me and my team. We have all been benefitted a lot from this song and people have really loved it. They have really welcomed us in the industry as music directors.”
On composing music for Amazon Prime’s Sherni and Modern Love, Akashdeep shared, “These projects came to me out of the blue. Aniket, who is the head of Amazon’s music studio originals, called me one day and he told me that he was interested in my profile and he wanted me to supervise music. I have been associated with Pritam Da for a long period of time as a assistant to him. I have been vocally supervising his songs, like dubbing singers and all. From there, he got to know about me and he called me up. I gave them some ideas of mine. Sherni happened. I supervised the title track of Sherni, got all the artists together like Raftaar, Utkarsh, Akasa. For Modern Love, it happened the same way. There was already a song called Setting Sail. He made the Hindi official cover for it. I got Zaedan and Lisa Mishra onboard for that song. It is pretty much like you recruit the right artist, you choose the correct melody and you try to give a superb soundtrack to the audience. That’s how supervision works.”
ON REPUBLIC DAY, DALER MEHNDI WILL STAGE INDIA’S FIRST VIRTUAL LIVE CONCERT IN THE METAVERSE
Daler Mehndi, the star of the original Green Screen technology revolution in Indian music back in 1998, is all set to present the nation with its first Metaverse concert on Republic Day. His fans can expect to have an unforgettable experience at PartyNite.io, where they will be able to view his avatar in a larger than life virtual concert.
While it might not seem like a big deal at first glance, it is fairly important anyone who takes part in this online concert will have the chance to be more immersed than watching a live-streamed video. Instead you will be able to attend the concert as yourself in an exotic metaverse landscape as your customized avatar so you can groove with Daler Mehndi. From your mobile or PC, you can take part in this experience at home or wherever you are, on your own terms and invite friends along too. Daler Mehndi will be performing his evergreen hit albums, like Namoh Namoh, India India & Jago India! Dedicating an exclusive and first special performance to Shri Narendra Modi on this special occasion, Mr. Mehndi is all ready for what promises to be an unforgettable experience geared up to entertain thousands of fans all eager to let loose at ‘PartyNite!’
Selected NFTs will also be dropped during this event. Daler Mehndi’s deep ties to Indian soil made it the perfect choice for PartyNite to showcase its Indian Metaverse. Gamitronics, a Hyderabad-based game studio, has created this blockchain powered Metaverse which offers playable NFTs. The Pre-Alpha version of Party Night is a 2GB game install available for download on the internet.
The core of the Metaverse is based on parties and celebrations where brands and celebrities will reach the direct audience. Life is a party, get a life here! PartyNite offers various settings like island, campfire, amphitheater, lounge, cruise ship, Dragonpur from Chhota Bheem etc where each individual can have their own avatar as per their preference. People can buy & sell exotic locations, claim and mint NFTs, play to earn while having all the fun. One of the best features of this is that it is based on a blockchain and NFT game, which means you can earn NFT while playing it, which will be credited to your ApnaDao wallet. NFTs are digital goods that can be purchased, sold or exchanged for the same value on a blockchain. In this game, the blockchain is ApnaDAo Wallet, where your NFTs are stored. “Daler Mehndi is the voice of the nation. His voice reaches the god and common man with the same intensity. We wanted to launch our Metaverse with the very same sentiment, voice of India and global icon so when the world sees him in India ka Apna Metaverse, they feel the big huge roar of Digital India that YES, WE HAVE ARRIVED,” said Rajat Ojha, CEO, Gamitronics.
Gamitronics has used state of the art AI technology to use various behaviors and patterns of Daler Mehndi using various video sources and created his virtual avatar with lifelike animations.
Daler Mehndi becomes the first Indian performer to join the list of artists who have already performed in Metaverse virtual concerts, which have only occurred 4-5 times in terms of size and scale at this point in time. Other performers include Travis Scott, Justin Bieber, Marshmallow and Ariana Grande. India certainly needs more production like this. Much like augmented reality and virtual reality mediate between digital and physical realities, they are opening up new possibilities for pop music online by bridging connections between foreign artists who want to collaborate across borders or even trade show recordings of concerts with their fans all around the world. Metaverse concerts are also great because artists can perform live from anywhere in the world while audiences watch them from the comfort of their own homes. The Metaverse gives musicians a sense of creative freedom. As the creators and owners of the worlds they build, Metaverse offers users an immersive 3D experience that is shaped and transformed by their own content. The Metaverse is not owned by any one company but rather established as a peer-to-peer network where anyone can connect with one another.
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