“HHL Teaches Humanity, Humility, and Leadership”
After almost a year at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, Prof. Shailendra Kumar Rai, Ph.D., concludes positively as holder of the ICCR Chair of Corporate Responsibility & Governance. In an interview he also talks about his work and about the Indian-German relationship.
How did you perceive HHL before and during your stay as a researcher?
At HHL, the Finance Chair very much puts focus on private equity. This field was also of interest to me, especially in an Indian context, because not much research has been done in Indian context so far. Secondly, I wanted to do something in the area of supply chain finance especially in a digitization context. The collaboration with other scientists was quite new and certainly is characterized by some challenges. I realized that initially, it is a cultural thing that German people need time to understand but once they are committed then they deliver. At the beginning, I defined HHL as a hyper-hectic life. But now, I have realized, that this hyper-hectic life teaches humanity, humility, and leadership. For me, HHL represents a wonderful mix as an entrepreneurial hub and a place where everyone likes to work with.
How did you personally, HHL, and ICCR benefit from your time in Leipzig?
Surely in a great way. When you go to some place with the intention to learn, then you constantly have to unlearn things, too. Here in Germany, I cannot have my Indian mindset, but only in the heart. That’s why I came with an open mind, giving fully internal and external attention without any intention. That’s how I tried to learn by listening to individuals. I personally believe that if I came as a professor who is just giving the lectures and is just sitting in the office, then there would have been no purpose of coming. The purpose is to understand the culture of the place. For this, you must go out and meet as many people as you can. I could share Indian ethos, culture, food, Indian politics and many more things with my colleagues from HHL like Prof. Althammer, Prof. Schwetzler, Prof. Kirchgeorg, Prof. Pinkwart, Prof. Hausladen, Prof. Velamuri, Jun.-Prof. Dauth, Ms. Vogel, Ms. Spanka, Mr. Hoffmann and many others. During the last 12 months I also met many German as well Indian individuals living in Leipzig as well as in other parts of Germany as ambassador of HHL and ICCR which has broaden my perspective on meaning of life.
By the example of SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator I also learned how to create an entrepreneurial culture within an organization. I want to replicate that at my institution in India if this is possible. Together with the SpinLab I also plan to organize a similar startup exchange program that Germany has with Israel.
How would you characterize the status quo of the Indian-German partnership?
Regarding this partnership a lot of things could be talked about. Despite all political efforts, however, businesses are not yet closely connected. In addition to many drawbacks, there is also a lack of trust. I personally see significant differences between India and Germany. Germans under promise and deliver more. However, in India, we over promise and deliver less. That is the problem. It takes time to deliver and to get things done. However, there is a lot of potential. India is just one percent of German trade, but at least it is increasing in the last few years. Additionally: There is one thing that German politicians as well as politicians in other European countries have realized: India is an old country but a young nation. India is the country with the second largest population worldwide and has more than 65 percent of population under the age of 35. Anything which happens in India will have an impact on the world. In a changing geopolitical scenario, if Germany helps India to transform by supporting Indian government initiatives such as Make in India Mittelstand (MIIM), Start-up India, Digital India, Skill India, Clean India etc then it will be a win-win for both the countries at the end.