Gopal has natural leadership traits and he will certainly be able to embark on senior management positions in the very near future. Below are some of the key indicators based on which I am confident that Gopal will succeed in senior leadership positions:
1. Ability to look at the bigger picture and not get bogged down by only what is happening in the present:
We have network teams from SAP and its partners who work network, firewall etc. In general, network service request fulfillment time is more because of the complexities involved in network related changes. When the systems were planned to be migrated to cloud, there were discussions that the network related activities be handled in a similar manner as was already being done in SAP Data Centers. Gopal, although not from network team, identified that the longer fulfillment times could be drastically reduced in the cloud world. He drove this idea and worked with network counterparts and cloud providers to finally come up with a self-service which is an easy-to-use web-browser based service using which any network related change can be seamlessly handled in a quick manner from a web-browser itself. This shows he was not just aware of his team’s work but also understood the bigger picture and therefore was able to reduce complexities in other teams’ work.
2. Back innovative ideas with a well thought through execution plan considering the merits and demerits of different strategies that can be taken.
Based on his habit of innovative thinking, Gopal has shared many innovative ideas related to process improvement, automation, team management, and handling peer-to-peer feedback. He took ownership to execute his ideas as well. In the SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) integration to C4C project, there was a special case to securely maintain database credentials. Being the first of its kind, this integration was complex and required combined efforts from several teams at SAP. As such, an important topic of this project was credential management. SAC needed to access C4C system’s credentials each time an end user wants to create a new Analytics story. The situation was a stalemate because the suggested approach by product teams was to use file system-based credential management but the security experts were not fully convinced with this approach because they felt it was prone to malicious attacks (though the attack was not easy because the hacker needs to first breakthrough SAP firewalls, then through Product specific firewalls, and finally through the servers which itself had restricted access). Gopal, though not from security background, came up with two credential management solutions. One was usage of a third-party vault which SAC could access using APIs. The other was to use token-based authentication to retrieve credentials from ABAP secure store, which is an in-house credential management service present in C4C systems. Gopal explained the merits and demerits of both approaches and finally all the stakeholders and security experts were happy with the detailed analysis and then the credential management stalemate was solved.
3. Ability to unleash maximum potential of each team member: Gopal can identify the strengths and weaknesses of his team members and accordingly assign them tasks, while ensuring that all of them are aligned with the overall vision of the task and motivated to contribute effectively for a common cause. He is able to do this by setting up proactive communication channels with his teammates both in India as well as Germany, backing them in case of any mistakes committed by them and able to prevent errors by constantly following feedback loops and learning from errors, and accordingly coaching them to improve. He has thus been able to earn their respect and trust.
A global MBA program from INSEAD will catapult Gopal to become an effective leader, contributing to organizations as well as societies in a sustainable manner.