S. Roy- Leadership in Motion
Subhashish Roy graduated from BITS Pilani (Pilani, '77) is a distinguishable professional engaged as a leadership coach, travel blogger, and entrepreneur based out of Kolkata.
He completed his Master of Management Studies (MMS) and M.Sc. (Hons) in Biological Sciences from BITS Pilani in 1983 and now divides his time between his coaching venture Leadership Edge Coaching, traveling, blogging as traveltimes for his travel blog 'Travels with Passion' and managing his AI-powered travel booking platform, Travelwisesr Holidays.
With a lens focused on the nuances of leadership, the interview takes us through the challenges and triumphs encountered in startup environments, media ventures, and the realm of leadership coaching.
How did your time at BITS Pilani shape your career path as a Performance Facilitator and Travel Blogger?
Our integrated education system always encouraged us to think outside the box, and the freedom to decide our future with no attendance criteria certainly helped us inculcate discipline and focus in our day-to-day life. Under the visionary leadership of Dr. C. R. Mitra, the best passionate and caring teachers, a team of efficient administrators, and opportunities to pursue our passions—whether it be music, drama, debate, photography, or sports—were available.
The best facilities, including messes that served awesome food, always provided comfort, and we hardly ever ate out. An abundance of good human beings around, in the form of rediwallahs, mess employees, and shopkeepers in Connaught, Nutan, etc., helped us stay grounded and relate to the common man.
Probably, all these factors together shaped our character to be what we are today and helped us achieve success in our chosen fields. After three decades in the corporate world, I decided to follow my passion.
How did your peer group shape your life at BITS?
During our days, students from all around the country used to be here in Pilani, providing a real opportunity to experience India right on our campus. Our communication was mostly in English, which helped those not too fluent to master the language as well, moving forward. It was our friends who helped broaden our knowledge, vision, and the culture of learning from each other, shaping our attitude of togetherness and inclusivity—attributes highly applicable to the corporate world and life in general. Our awesome seniors quickly turned into friends, and many of us are still connected even after five decades. Bonding is what we learned from our peers and seniors.
What extracurricular activities did you pursue in BITS, and how did that help you later in life?
Was a part of Music Club and also sang a few times on stage in the first few years including Fresher's Night. It certainly helped in getting over stage fright which is always so useful as you grow in your career.
What was that one professor or course at BITS that defined your career or had a lasting impact on you?
Dr. T. S. Ravishankar, our professor for Math 1 in the first semester, had the biggest gallery classrooms with students packed on the stairs, and many would be standing behind throughout the class. People would even bunk their other classes to attend his lectures. I, too, loved Math and would marvel at his style and delivery. He would explain complex concepts so simply and beautifully. Without my knowing, I probably had picked up the skill that it is not only important what you say or how you say it; it is the end result, the impact of your communication, that matters the most. This skill has been so very useful in my leadership coaching journey over the years.
How have different organizations impacted your growth, and how do you adapt to their variations?
I always wanted to work in startups and have done so for most of my career, providing the opportunity to master different skills simultaneously through exposure to multiple departments and the freedom to build my own teams. Recruitment, people management, team development, and team motivation have always been the primary focus areas for me throughout my career.
In new organizations, you are involved in building a culture. In larger organizations that you join, it is crucial to be stricter in following the laid-down norms, understand the mission and vision of the organization well, and focus on playing your part in achieving them. Being assertive in your communication when dealing with people is essential. Change management is critical to success, and engaging in self-talk is one of the best ways to deal with it.
How do you maintain a work-life balance in your career, and do you have any strategies for managing stress and maintaining well-being?
Frankly I have never been too stressed out in life and possibly that's the reason why I have been more focussed on what I want in life rather than how do I earn a living. I would leave jobs, take a few months off, holiday and relax and when back on a new one my focus would be only my work and my organization. Yes holidays have been my biggest way of relaxation and still is and travel has been my passion right from the start of my career. My blog and my travel booking platform are both out of passion more than business objectives at the start.
Can you share a memorable or defining moment from your professional journey that influenced your approach to work or life?
It was in 1990 and at that time I was in a media start-up organization leading a team of 12 senior sales executives and sales executives. Except a couple of people who moved out during the 2 years the team was moreover intact and our team the top performer amongst 10 teams throughout this period. I was on cloud 9 mostly when our GM called me to his room one day and this is what he said.
"Subhashish you and your team is doing a fantastic job and I am so happy and proud of you guys. But having observed you for a while I feel if you focus on the aspect of task-people orientation a bit more you and your team would be untouchable. There is very thin line you know dividing them. Think about it". My first thought was that I was doing fine, what was there to change or improve. Then thought again why he must have said it. And next my focus shifted to how could I do the same things I was doing well a bit differently along with my team to create a greater impact which would automatically translate into better conversion and sales.
Wing Commander Shamir Chaudhury (Retd) that day drilled into me that success is just a step towards achieving more success. We just need to look inwards, focus on doing things a bit differently by practicing new skills and the results would be for us to admire and be happy.
What's the future of mindset and leadership coaching? How do you see the industry evolving, and what role do you want to play in driving this transformation?
The future is unlimited. In India alone, the digital coaching industry is set to boom and is projected to reach $2 billion by 2025. Digital platforms are providing learners with a great way to enhance new skills without solely depending on their organizations to provide opportunities for them. We are also launching our Leadership Edge Learning portal in February, offering exciting learning opportunities in leadership. After being involved in Leadership Coaching for the last 10 years with on-site learning interventions, this marks a new chapter for us.
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