Business guru: Words from the wise
Rushika Bhatia
Case Studies

Business guru: Words from the wise

Starting his professional career as an accountant in India, Krishna Murthy now sits as the Chief Executive Officer of Al Rostamani Exchange. With over 20 years experience in investment banking and the finance sector, he believes in the importance of transparent leadership. He talks to Mike Byrne about his desire to keep learning and why the business community must learn from previous poor management policies.

Business guru: Words from the wise

Building the foundation

“I started my education in India and graduated from the University of Delhi with economics, commerce and accountancy. Some years later I received my Certificate Public Accountant (CPA) from Colorado, USA and from here I returned to India and began work in the private sector with investment banking. I spent some time working in Bangalore and a few years in Chennai in the same sectors.

“A little over a decade ago I came to the Middle East and began my work here for the National Bank of Fujairah, heading their subsidiary capital markets. And then I moved to Al Rostamani Exchange, where I have been ever since.”

Education never stops

“As one progresses in their career, I believe that one has to keep updating knowledge and skills – it’s not just about getting the certificates. This is especially true for specialised areas like cost management or management accountancy or public accountancy.

“So I strongly believe that one has to have a continuous education going on. Although academic qualifications may not be 100% practical, theoretical knowledge does help you to reflect on whatever you are going through practically, especially during challenging times. So, those management concepts do help you to dissect and analyse your problems!

“If you can apply even 20% of your learning in your practical life, you can make a difference to the organisation you are with and see results. That sincerity is required in bringing theoretical knowledge to the right area. And I am still open to acquiring further knowledge through any programmes available.

“Continuous learning and education inspires your entrepreneurial skills. I started off my career as an accountant and went on to become the internal auditor and then the management auditor and, from there, a financial controller. After this I stepped into investment management and operations management and, lastly, the role I am in today – the CEO of Al Rostamani Exchange.

“The entrepreneurial fire in the belly keeps one motivated and avoids complacency. There must be a future goal to aspire to; it’s a frame of mind one always has to carry to keep the spirit of entrepreneurship alive.”

Losing focus

“Leaders have to engage people. If you take people along and look after them, they are all the more flexible and will go the extra mile for you. This flexibility drives productivity.

“During the last 12-15 years, I think people management has not been appreciated as much as it should have been. It has not been a major priority in many organisations. Business was booming and people thought they could get by without having to nurture talents.

“The success of any business can be attributed to the management’s engagement across the board – in different areas, at different levels. For example, at the grassroots level there are those who are working hard solely on commission. You cannot ignore these people – they are the backbone of any organisation’s success. You simply cannot afford to remain complacent and not concentrate on these people if you want that strategic edge for the future.

“It was a case where we neglected the contribution and talent of these people, with the top earners concentrating more on bonuses and commissions – business was easy to procure  and there was so much liquidity but the relevant upgrades in terms of standards and ethics was absent, as was the amount of aggression in taking care of talent.”

The way forward

“There should be a short- and long-term strategy. For the long term, focus on investing in people, setting them some examples, sending them on excellence programmes, thus creating an asset for the organisation. In the short term, most of the focus should be on ROI. You cannot swim against the current alone. But at the same time marry it with aggressive selling strategies.

“Are your people being taken care of? Are they being kept motivated and committed to the business? It is understandable that salary rises may not always be feasible, however, there must still be recognition programmes and rewards for the staff who are meeting and exceeding goals for the business. The wisdom of building an organisation is taking the people along. It works both ways – employees can motivate a leader as well as the leader can inspire employees.

“Maslow’s theory of hierarchy is ingrained in my mind from my days at university. Human behavioural science is so important for building and maintaining an organisation. There is a pyramid system that exists within society but as a business leader you must be careful to firstly build and then maintain each level of this pyramid. And within this system a business cannot simply be evaluated in quantitative terms. There must, again, be a balance between the quantitative and qualitative aspects of evaluation.

“There is so much talk of the new generation of computerisation and technology integration to help business efficiency and innovation. But these things are not possible to integrate into corporate life unless the changes are carried out by an efficient chain management system. It’s not a top down approach – there has to be two-way communication. I firmly believe that the style of management should be one with no barriers, where there is transparency.

“With this said, a leader has to be able to appreciate the long-term policy, even where employees don’t. It’s human psychology that if people, if employees, are used to having things a certain way to a certain standard, its difficult then to adjust to having less than what was previously expected. In the business sense, a leader must be able to carry out painful policies for the good of the company in the long term and to try and persuade workers that these tough measures are necessary for survival and eventual growth.

“I think for further business growth in the future, regulations will have to become tighter and more forward thinking, more fail-safe checks and balances. This recession is different from previous recessions in that people are really sitting up and paying attention this time. With such a connected global economy we must strive to make this recession the last of its kind.”

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