Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
Satish P. Kamat
helps you in your leadership.
Satish P. Kamat
Name: Satish P. Kamat
Organisation: Sri City
Satish Kamat – Short Bio
Satish Kamat works as President of 'Sri City' near Chennai since 2015 which has brought in over US$ 4.5 Billion investment in the region , over 55,000 new jobs and hosts over 200 local and foreign companies . International clients are fr0m 28 countries . Sri City is a 10000 Acre integrated green field Smart Business City.
Sri City is considered to be one of the best Industrial Parks / Special Economic Zone in India. Sri City has been planned as a Smart and Sustainable city and has been awarded Indian GBC - Gold rating for sustainability in 2017. Satish , through Confederation of Indian Industries , serves on many central and state government committees as Expert in smart City, Greenfield City development etc. Mr. Satish Kamat brings to the table, a unique mix of experience in IT Product as well as Infrastructure development program management. Has valuable insight of Smart City Technologies and vast experience in Smart and Sustainable City development and operations in India.
Has represented Sri City on various industry bodies and committees on Smart Cities, Sustainability committees. Has over 38 years of diverse professional experience in diverse industries like Manufacturing, IT product development companies, Infrastructure management and development mega projects and operations of Smart City. Satish has a Degree in Engineering form BITS and an MBA from Symbiosis, Pune. He has also attended executive management program in IIM-B and from Erasmus University, Rotterdam. Satish is married with wife working in a Swedish MNC and 2 Kids both married and settled in Europe. He is a avid Biker and traveller and , enjoys Painting and Singing in free time.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Change Management . I find most people (including myself) ,very comfortable in a well defined and predictable environment. When you are faced with a big daunting 'Change' it is almost always a big risk but a great opportunity too. Almost always, it takes a lot of effort, communication, metal preparation and management of time and resources to get started and execute a big change. It is a big challenge to win over sceptics, motivation and convincing yourself and the team that tomorrow will be great if we take the risk and execute the big change.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My dissatisfaction with preset - opportunities, work outcomes etc., and wanting to do something differently forced me to take challenge and accountability to new and unique projects. I was 25 . As a project tracking engineer of of a large Cement Project in late 80s ( before MS Windows, MS Project became popular) , I was frustrated with the speed and accuracy of updates which was resulting in guesswork and project resource and time loss. I went to my management at the end of the project and offered to work on developing a software for Project planning, tracking and Inventory management which can be used in our next project. This was not accepted but, gave me a business Idea and I started my first business the next year.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am a spiritual person and wake up early . The day starts with listening to Vedic Chants and some meditation before a 45 min exercise or walk. I have only two meals in a day so a good breakfast is important. I am learning to first start with focusing only on important and strategic projects in the first half of the day. The long and details oriented meetings around Noon onwards. I and the day with physical visits to projects teams/ sites. Before sleeping I will check calendar for next day and read any background reports/ data sent by teams so that I have thought through and am ready with the critical questions that I want to ask.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
The most big lesson was COVID 19 crisis and how everything turned upside down. Lock down and WFH made us learn to be more trusting, focusing on smaller number of controls, leveraging ICT / IoT and process innovation. I realised that every person should be a self-managed unit and that all should learn to communicate , collaborate and contribute regardless of place of work. The leader focuses on creating and enabling environment with flexibility ( v/s rigid process and controls) , empowering every individual to to lead ( in whichever area s/he is specialising) , Defining the outcomes and success factors better , spend maximum time in confidence building, skill bandwidth , communicating and energising the team rather than top down decision making style.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
As I told that I am a spiritual person . I admire ' Bhagwat Gita' as the book that has most profound impact on me as a leader. Every time I am faced with a problem or I am or team is lacking confidence and conviction I will go back to read it . Most of the time I will find an answer. The Bhagwat Gita is not a religious text but a Guide to a way of life. When I am losing confidence or have some basic doubts on whether to take one option or the other, the verses ( originally revealed in an ancient language - Sanskrit) and the interpretation written by great Gurus, will open up some solutions, give you conviction and motivate the teams.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
I have over the last 4 decades saw many management / leadership theories come and go like a popular movie.
After some time they will sound cliche and blunt. Past success is no guarantee to future success.
I have realised that people look for –
1. A genuine Human being with warmth and empathy to ask good questions and praise good work/ people. Sometimes offering solutions too.
2. They appreciate in the leader, Courage to accept genuine mistake and encourage his/her teams also to do the same and not judge people and their value to the organisation based on one failure or success.
3.Leader is the one who knows what s/he does well but also, identify what each of the team members does well . Develop a collaborative work environment with mutual respect and interdependence.
4. Manager is not always a leader . Each person is a leader / owner of some outcomes and they are encouraged to take responsibility/ accountability but have the manager to facilitate and help when the team member needs it.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
1. Knowing when to cut losses and switch to plan B.
I ran a business very early in my career. After running it for many years a profitable IT service product , I realised that I was in the wrong market ( domestic IT services ) and in a very narrow growth market. Those days VC funding was not the norm and ability to raise funding to turn it around was limited. I decided to cut the losses and join a IT product company as a Manager . I survived to fight another day, but was valued for the risk-taking and business acumen by the management and other stakeholders like sales, customer management etc.
2. Not drawing a box around yourself . I worked in IT product companies in program management at Director level . but always missed being and businessman or at least Top management person and P&L owner. In 2009 , opportunity came when a new Greenfield City was looking for a City Manager and using my experience in building large IT campuses /buildings as a part of my experience and managing operational transformational projects , I repositioned myself and took up the challenge , applied my project management, Technology skills , people skills and large teams management skills to the new industry of developing greenfield Integrated Cities and am President of a new greenfield City now. This is giving me an opportunity to manage a business , take end to end responsibility and opportunity to get work satisfaction and social and economic contribution to society a much higher level.