Name: Swethnag Padakandla
Title: Head of Customer Order Engineering
Organisation: Siemens Energy - Maritime and Offshore Center
Swethnag holds an Executive MBA from BI Norwegian Business School. He has broad experience of 17 plus years in Engineering fileds and in addition has over 5 years experience in General Management. In his current role at Siemens Energy he works on Maritime and Offshore products that are positioned to electrify Ferries and offshore production facilities. Swethnag is also a documentary film maker and spends his free time brininging various interesting topics to people.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Swethnag's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Not every leader has the luxury to create teams from scratch. You inherit some talent from previous leader and now you are all set to gear up to make changes to resposition the team. This is where one stumbles on a speed breaker. The rate at which one can make changes becomes snail-paced. The intricacies involved in "people" and "culture" to bring confidence and alignment to other key stakeholders is time consuming and may take longer than anticipated.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I have played leader roles in many organizations in the past: Leading suppliers, developing engineering offshore centers, following up very large manufacturing packages with external organizations in project execution.
However the role to manage a group of engineering team happened in April 2018 to manage and develop competencies for R and D projects .
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I take time management very seriously. I wake up everyday at 6 am and start with Hatha Yoga and be available at work and my team starting 8:30am.
I attend meetings that focus on solving the issues both in the present and what we foresee happening in the next 2 quarters.
I also stop by at each and every team member and ask "is there anything that needs my immediate attention?"
Later I return home by 17:00 hrs and help my partner in household work. By 20:00 I pick a non-fiction to read and by 22:00 I go to bed.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Changes involving people takes time.
Some changes might happen very quick but majority of them take longer to see impact of from our changes (the more the people on your team, the longer it takes to create impact)
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?
The list is long. Picking one is challenging. Let me pick one.
Good to Great by Jim Collins.
The reasons for this becoming my favourite book:
This book informs us about what goes behind longevity of businesses. The Hedgehog concept for me gave an entire new perspective by asking the following questions:
1. What can companies be the best in the world at?
2. Which things can we be passionate about?
3. What is the key economic indicator we should concentrate on?
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Start with people. That is where one can create magic. No company in the world operates with Zero people.
You can have goal such as Zero defects, Zero incidents but despite advancement in technologies we will end up creating products by people, of people and for the people
1. Read books on Behavioural Economics, this hybrid subject informs about human behaviour and economics aspects in play.
2. Watch TED talks
3. Last but not the least be a good listener and reflect.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
One of my team member was assigned to a critical project and he was the only resource available with that competence (no redundancy). Halfway into the project his kid falls sick and couldn't be fully effective or productive.
This is where empathy comes to play. This happened prior to pandemic when work from home was not a common agreement.
However I enabled 'work from home' and flexibility in working hours and ensured project was delivered with acceptable delays. This is an important story to reflect.
In the end, we are all people and we will encounter unexpected challenges on our way. The question is are we ready to adapt?