Looking Back on Last Week’s Trip to Hyderabad

Hyderabad India, cross-cultural, diversity, team

I just returned from a trip to Hyderabad (visiting my Indian colleagues and teams that work on the corporate transformation program I’m leading for a European retail company) when I came across an interview with Google CEO Sundar Pichai. He explained what he misses about not living in India. That made me reflect and share some experiences of my own.

What Google CEO Sundar Pichai misses about India

Question: What do you miss about not living in India?

Sundar Pichai: “I miss the people, the vibrancy, the noise. It is so quiet around here! Every time I go to India and I come back, that’s what I miss. Everything is silent, so I miss the people, the vibrancy, the life, the colours and the sounds of India.”

Question: What is wonderful about India is the democracy and the diversity. Are you worried that the diversity may be changing a bit, that support for diversity is declining?

Pichai: “If I look at all the difficult times India has gone through, something about India, the scale of the people and how distributed it is, the different states and the different cultures, the only way they can work is by somehow keeping it all together. And there is this magic that has figured out a way to do it over time. So I think a fate in that system, something deeper than all of us, will keep it together for a long time. I think the forces which will bring it together and preserve diversity are far bigger than anything which can pull it apart.” (Watch the interview here)

My own reflections

What strikes me most when I visit India:

The inclusiveness despite different backgrounds

The hospitality and generosity that you find everywhere. The willingness to help. The many invitations to join, having dinner together, being invited to play a game of cricket with the team (‘don’t worry, we will teach you’).

The eagerness to learn and grow

The amount of bright (and young) people. Mainly software engineers, data scientists, data integration specialists, all relentlessly asking all kinds of questions to understand not only what they have to do, but also to understand the larger picture (‘how do we contribute to the strategy of our company?’, ‘how is our work making a difference?’).

Overall, what fascinates me most is what I can probably best describe as experiencing ‘flow’ (as opposed to ‘control’)

  • The way people navigate in traffic (still incomprehensible to me)
  • The way the teams behave when they encounter complexity, or setbacks, or difficult situations
  • The way differences of opinion are turned around gracefully
  • The way humor and a smile are used to eliminate stressful situations
  • The continuous sentiment of ‘let’s move forward’

My visit to India was again very refreshing, experiencing ‘flow’ and how it practically works, it further enriched and broadened my perspective on the essence of (business) transformation.

Lots of new insights and inspirations … grateful!

Sundar Pichai (born in Chennai in 1972) is, like my Indian friends and colleagues, a big fan of cricket. He fell in love with the sport when he was young and served as captain of his high school cricket team before earning his bachelor of engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology and moving on to the US.

Cricket is big in India, and a hell of a game I discovered:

Teamwork, cross-cultural teams, cricket, game
Playing a game of cricket with my colleagues in Hyderabad

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Photo: HRS Business Transformation Services

Aad Boot leaning against a door post

Aad Boot is a global business transformation advisor, change leader/program manager, executive team facilitator, cross-cultural leadership coach, and frequently asked keynote speaker. He is founder and managing partner at HRS Business Transformation Services.

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