Sameer Bendre, Chief of Operations of Persistent Systems
By Vijay Phanshikar :
FROM his functional office in the impressive company facility in Nagpur’s IT Park, Mr. Sameer Bendre, Chief of Operations of Persistent Systems, operates -- clad in humility, simplicity and dignity. The company literature describes him as a “deeply passionate business leader” -- which proves itself subsequently. As he drives Persistent’s Environmental, Social, Governance initiatives and Risk Management, Sameer Bendre finds himself at the centrestage of hectic activity. Yet he is relaxed, and offers elaborate understanding of how he handles areas that are treated as a core of the organisation’s strategy and cultural values. In addition to handling the detail of monumental spread of work, Mr. Sameer Bendre finds his work of helping the people in the organisation improve their Curriculum Vitae (CV) through constant and consistent upgradation of skill and knowledge.
“That has been the company policy. It is our principal consideration to ensure that each member of the large Persistent family is engaged in enhancing not just the physical and professional skills but also personality”, Mr. Bendre adds. Doesn’t the company apprehend attrition of people trained and improved by its resources to other places? Mr. Sameer Bendre smiles and asks, “If we don’t do that, then we will be burdened with people with lower levels of efficiency all the life. Can we countenance that?” This response triggers an altogether different thought-process in the conversation. When quality of human resource is such an abiding concern, then the discourse assumes an entirely different verve. Years ago, Persistent’s founder Dr. Anand Deshpande also had insisted in an interview with The Hitavada upon this prime activity to develop the human resource with supreme focus. Years later, Chief of Operations Mr. Sameer Bendre, too, talks of the same principle.
“The endeavour is to make everybody successful, to make everybody relevant all along. It is a service to the people and to the company”, Mr. Bendre says as his eyes assume a fine shine. Mr. Sameer Bendre’s energies are young as is his persona, that defies the fact that he has been an industry veteran with 30-plus years of experience. He also prides in keeping himself fit through walking and cycling. Lapsing almost into a habitual whisper, Mr. Sameer Bendre indulges in engaging conversation. Of course, to the outside world, he is known as an accomplished speaker on enterprise, entrepreneurship, human resource development. As a student of electronic engineering, he participated in various activities where his oratorical skills found flourish. Later, in Rotary Club and various other social outfits such as The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE, Nagpur), Vidarbha Association of Software Exporters (VASE), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), NASSCOM, Mr. Bendre became a commutator par excellence. He also attended management programmes a couple of B-schools including the Indian Institute of Management. “My people are my focus, our company’s focus.
We do not offer them just a poetic goal of improving their CVs. We present to them a tangible goal -- in tune with the organisational goal that stands on the foundation of the company philosophy. We realise that character of the person, too, counts most in his or her growth. This is our advantage -- to weave the character component in our thought-process,” Mr. Bendre adds smilingly. Before joining the Persistent Systems in 2004, Mr. Bendre was the CEO of his own Nagpur Motors. At Persistent, he flourished to fulfill his own potential. He launched the company’s Nagpur and Hyderabad centres. He was also Persistent’s Chief People Officer (which was his choice, he says). “Dealing with people, helping them achieve their fuller potential, is a matter of passion for me”, he adds. In a four-dimensional frame of diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging, Persistent Systems operates its human resource management activity.
Headquartered in Pune, the company has as many as 23,000 people working under the banner in as many as 15 countries. For the Nagpurians, however, it is a local entity with a national and global footprint because the founder Dr. Anand Deshpande belongs to the city. In response to a question about the extent of women employees, Mr. Bendre says, “We have 32 per cent women in our work-force. We are, however, working to take this percentage to 35 in foreseeable future. Yet, I must clarify that the gender by itself is never the criterion. When we say that we want to enhance the percentage of women employees, we are thinking of a greater gender equality as part of our social thinking”. Mr. Sameer Bendre also harbours the vision of handling several challenges for the future. “I am deeply aware that we are part of an eco-system, and the eco-system’s concerns are our concerns, too. The chief concern is people that includes our customers and stake-holders. The second concern is performance-monitoring so that the organisational efficiency continues to rise. “Tomorrow -- that includes immediate and distant future -- presents altogether different challenges with a strong environment hue. That is where our ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) initiatives come in. That is where my role assumes importance.
“A critical part of this initiative is to ensure a healthy carbon audit, an environmentally, commercially, technologically and socially sustainable business. We must expand, all right. But how do we achieve that with a care for all these concerns? That is the main issue -- not just for us but also for the world. As an organisation aware of its larger goals and responsibility, we must keep working. In this part of the task, I have a major role to play”, Mr. Sameer Bendre says. What are the attributes of a leader? To this question, Mr. Sameer Bendre starts with a philosophical response. He says, “the leader’s main role is to make himself or herself redundant. And this is possible only when the leader empowers others in a true sense.” (This is almost a state of spiritual detachment, so to say!) Then he continues: “A leader needs clarity of thought, persistence, agility in the sense adoptability, tenacity, ability to go full distance, and finally humility. The leader must always say ‘we’ and never ‘me or I’. This capital ‘I’ needs to be banished from a leader’s vocabulary”, he says. During the longish conversation, Mr. Sameer Bendre refers to Indian epics of Mahabharat and Ramayan. “I was fortunate to have been told endless and intersting stories by my grandmother when I was a child. All those stories have remained peranently etched on my memory. And then, there were loads of books that made a greater difference. Now also, I keep reading books -- yes physical books. I read online, too. I am a technology-man. But the charm of the physical book, plus its user-comfort, is incomparable to anything. I enjoy the physical presence of the book with me”, Mr. Sameer Bendre concludes.