A soldier in the boardroom. Revisiting the DefenceIndia Excellence Awards

There are numerous unsung heroes, professionals who are doing a fantastic job, adding value not only in their chosen vocations but also giving back to the society. Startups and tech professionals have impacted the economy and generated numerous opportunities for the society at large.

Within the bouquet of success stories are also about those who are playing a second innings. Where the first stint has been with the armed forces.

The think-tank DefenceIndia was, until 2008, India’s popular portal on security news and views, with exceptional unique eye-balls (to use todays parlance).

The following are a revisit to the unique event done for the first time – Celebrating the success story of a former man in uniform in the corporate world !

The event was held at India International Center in 2007 and was based on the previous research project that was conducted to study the impact of a former soldier in the corporate world.

Veni, Vedi, Vici

First released in late 2006

The results of the survey undertaken between 2002-06, on ‘Do Ex-Defence Officers Make Better Managers’, which highlighted the perceptions about the erstwhile soldiers being positive, constructive, highly adaptive and successful in the new age businesses and in new avatars of financial whizzes, marketing stalwarts, advertising and communication experts, even radio jockeys and electronic channel reporters et al, was a real eye opener.

When I think about the success of our ex-defence officers in the corporate world today, I’m instantly reminded about Julius Caesar’s remark.

Successes like RJ Yuri, Brig K A Hai of the Mahindra Defence Company, Lt. Col. H S Bedi of Tulip Software, Gen Khaduri of the Opposition party in Politic, Maj Gen Bhatia of Network Security Services, Col. Ajai Shukla of NDTV, Maj Gen Ashok Krishna of Amity, K P Singh of DLF are among the luminaries who have become masters in their post-defence pursuits.

It is not uncommon today to find ex-defence officers at the helm in new age businesses and prove their mettle in diverse sectors and in the midst of professionals from the civil life.

At times, a change of guard, a change of cultural paradigms do come in the way. For a person brought up on a strict regime of structure and form in the definitions of hierarchy, organization, appraisal and a leader-led association, it may prove difficult to adjust in a flat, devoid of form at times, and frequently an egalitarian, open structure.

A soldier has proved his success on the battlefield, while playing with fire and bullets, risking life for the benefit of his countrymen. Now, soldiers have proven their value as an asset in the corporate world as well. The battleground has changed, but the trials have not. A highly competitive world and pressures for quick successes have brought out the strengths of a soldier.

A soldier can have a very distinctive style if he so wishes. He can be a stickler for detail, methodical at times, attach due importance to time management, execution details and delegation of responsibility. He can be aloof at times, but be approachable the next minute.

A soldier can prove to be an able administrator, and his ability to lead is a definite asset that determines the success of his team and the company. He has the ability to risk initiative and take a definite stand when required.

All this translates into a great motivating force and proves the binding factor for the team members, who look at him as their captain.

‘Soldiers are men...most apt for all manner of services and best able to support and endure the infinite toils and continual hazards ...’ These words by Henry Knyvett, sum up the true persona of a soldier.


Snippets – Excellence Awards Jan 2007, India International Center, New Delhi. (Click on the image to view the gallery)

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