Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
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helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Abhijith HK
7 Questions with Abhijith HK
Name: Abhijith HK
Current title: Founder at Codewave.com
Current organisation: Codewave Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
I am a technology director & digital transformation consultant. I help businesses thrive in an age of design, tech, and agile hyperness.
I've helped 100+ enterprises architect & run 'speed at scale’ technological solutions. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now. And it has been no less than a transformative experience to have worked with 100s of visionary leaders across 10+ industries, and of course 140+ highly talented engineers, designers, and consultants at Codewave.
Visit Codewave.com for more details.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
Everyone is a "leader", or let's say "change-maker" at Codewave.
We're less like an SME and more like a buzzing social network that is expanding sustainably fast. And as we expand, we are posed with several challenges.
Keeping the cultural fabric of the organization intact as we grow is a major priority (challenge).
In the early stages, we get to interview everyone personally. But it becomes tougher to do that as the organization expands.
Though it's challenging, we've been quite successful at nurturing the right culture, the right team.
I guess operating as a social network, selective hiring in the initial days, proper communication, and transparency at the workplace are the key reasons behind this win.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
This is not something that I predicted I’d do with my life.
I was a science nerd, and loved playing guitar and PS3. After I met my partner, I took my love for coding and founded a startup.
In 2013, Vidhya & I launched 'Codewave' — a design-led digital transformation company that also designed its own culture.
Ever since we built 300+ digital solutions and helped 100s of businesses with varying levels of digital integration— aspiring, advancing, plateaued.
I enjoy helping leaders cut through the noise & get to the signal.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
For the past few years, I and Vidhya have been very disciplined.
We wake up early in the morning, by 6, 7 max.
I love starting my day with light exercise, isolated meditation, and then it's all about following my calendar.
The calendar is usually populated with client meetings, internal team meetings, resolving project escalations, working on projects, and so on.
On weekends it's a mix of family time, business, books, socialization, etcetera.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
It's not the most recent one but in 2020 & 2021 'EMPATHY' isn't any more a behavioral trait, it's a leadership must.
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 Maverick by Ricardo Semler.
Few years into Codewave, I came across Semler's TED video and then this book. It was inspiring and reassuring to read the story about Ricardo Semler and Semco, a Brazil-based conglomerate.
It's a story about how he took the company from 4 million US dollars to 212 million dollars between 1982 and 2003.
He achieved this feat by re-engineering how workplaces operate.
Ricardo Semler eliminated unnecessary layers of management and allowed employees unprecedented democracy.
He challenged old ways of doing business by channelizing profit sharing right down to factory floor level.
The striking similarities with how Codewave operates gave us a lot of hope - a 'hope' that common-sense driven, self-managed workplaces can also thrive :)
Highly recommend this book to all executives.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
To me, one of the main aspects of leadership is about bringing change for a better world.
We believe everyone is a change-maker but only a few of us are truly conscious/aware about how they are influencing people around them, or how they are impacting change.
And one way to gain self-awareness is when you talk about yourself and also when you get feedback from your peers.
For this, we organize "daily-happy-hours" within our organization where everyone socializes and speaks up. We also do weekly leadership cafes, and support individuals to be part of toastmasters.
Apart from this, to nurture future leaders, we regularly go for experiential outdoor learning campaigns.
Additionally, we have a pool of resources in the form of books on tech, design & culture. We have subscribed to several digital learning resources, and encourage our peers at Codewave to keep themselves abreast of the latest.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
In 2017, our business hit an all-time low – an economic crisis.
Demand for some of our services dropped dramatically, and we had supply capacity in surplus.
Cost-cutting and lay-offs seemed inevitable, but we decided not to lay-off, instead invest in reskilling our workforce to meet changing market demand. Debts were increasing, month on month and this resulted in “no pay hikes” for a year, for all employees.
This led to lower motivation levels internally, which further delayed our projects, and this further amplified our losses.
Few older members exited during this period.
But, In scarcity comes clarity. It’s very hard to think of spending when you see debts all around.
We decided to shift our focus from trying to minimize debts to giving away more money.
We announced pay hikes for people who stayed back along with an additional monthly bonus for timely delivery.
That worked, in about 8 months' time we recouped and we’re are already 80% debt-free.
That one mindset shift changed the destiny of the business.