Books: Going Soft

Subroto Bagchi, Vice Chairman, Mind Tree Ltd, Shital Kakkar Mehra and Birjendu Gupta, Director Learning & Development for PwC

Shital Mehra talks exclusively to EXEC in Bangalore at the launch of her new book, Business Etiquette, A Guide For The Indian Professional.

As told to Ayswarya Murthy

What prompted you to write this book?

Well, Indian executives are now interacting with foreign companies more than ever before, and many of them report to a boss who is overseas. In this scenario, honing one’s soft skills has become imperative. In the 60 and 70s, men in positions of leadership generally had access to clubs, or had army backgrounds or posh private school training. In the absence of these and in light of the abysmal failure of our education system, it is necessary to impart these soft skills through other means.

What irks me is the snobbish way in which this whole subject is handled and I wanted to demystify the whole concept for a larger audience. Also, with women entering the workforce in such large numbers, it is important to instill some gender sensitivity in our young executives. Finally, the influx of new technologies has brought in its own set of complex rules — e-mail etiquette, how to conduct yourself during a videoconference and such.

Why is this book primarily aimed at the Indian professional?

Most of the books available in the market today have been authored by Americans and the British and I feel that they don’t address our needs completely. We are 1.2 billion people strong and yet there has been no such book written by an Indian for an Indian. I realised it was high time something was done to remedy this.

At which level do these soft skills need to be imparted to professionals?

It’s never too late imbibe the rules and guidelines I have outlined in the book. For an MBA graduate, making the transition from classroom to cubicle, the first ten years of his career determine the direction of his growth. Once you are part of the middle management, it is very important to not make the wrong impression. And when you are the CEO, you have to appear cool and confident in any kind of situation.

Can these skills be learnt from a book?

I believe that lessons are taken, not given. I have attempted to keep everything as simple as possible and would love to see this book on every table in corporate India.

New On The Shelves

The East India Company: The World’s Most Powerful Corporation

The story of how a trading company became an empire builder. How politics and business intertwined during the colonial era and how the East India Company changed Indian businesses just as much as trading in India changed the Company – told from the perspective of Indian business history.

Extreme Money

The book outlines the spectacular, dangerous money games that have generated increasingly massive bubbles of fake growth, Ponzi prosperity, sophistication and wealth, while endangering the jobs, possessions and futures of virtually everyone outside the financial industry.

Life is Fundamentally Management!

The book speaks about the need for adopting scientific attitude in all walks of life. Science need not mean only material sciences.

About the author

Shital Kakkar Mehra has trained over 6000 corporate professionals from many multinationals in India and has given guest lectures at several B-schools including ISB, Hyderabad and IIM, Bangalore and Lucknow. She has also written numerous articles for business dailies and magazines.

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