Mr. Sri V Srinivasan (Class of 1979) – Alumni for 38 Years

Recently, the Alumni Relations Office had an opportunity to get in touch with an inspiring Alumnus Mr. Sri V Srinivasan from Class of 1979. Having held several top management positions in the Asia Pacific over a career spanning 28 years, Sri has retired from active employment in Sept 2014. Currently he advises Private Equities and senior-management in Multinational Corporations on Acquisitions, Investments and Business Strategy, largely in the Healthcare / Life Sciences field. His family includes wife Dr. Dipti Srinivasan who is a Professor in Electrical & Computer Engineering at NUS, his son Ashwin is doing his PhD at MIT and his second son Ritesh goes to School in Singapore.

Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Regional Engineering College (REC) in India. And a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management from the Harvard Business School (HBS).

What comes to your mind as soon as you hear of GIS?
The memorable times at the Jalan Kia Peng school campus, and how much I liked to be at school. I hated the long school bus rides from my dad’s home in Bangsar though ……

What is your most memorable experience in GIS?
“Life at GIS is up there among my most memorable growing-up years, I spent 1977-1979 doing what used to be known as “Form 4 and Form 5” classes that prepared us for a GCE “O” Level School leaving certificate from the London University. Mrs. Taylor (her first name slips my mind now) was my Class teacher and taught us English. She is single-handedly responsible for transforming my hate for languages into a fascination for the English language.

Mrs. Arshad was our Principal, I did not have too many interactions with her (which used to be considered a good thing those days!!) but I do recall her as a person with the stern exterior of a disciplinarian but a very warm personality that only showed up in personal meetings when accompanied by a parent. The Jalan Kia Peng campus was a charming place, a compound with old “Black n White” bungalow buildings and a soccer field upfront beside the driveway leading to the main entrance of the school. In all of my growing up years GIS stands out distinctly in my memory as the most culturally and ethnically diverse environment that prepared me for life beyond the school, for which I shall be forever grateful. On a lighter note, being the shortest in the class meant I was the favorite target of the boys especially in the soccer field….!”

Who or what inspired you to choose your selected field of study?
If you were any good in school and grew up in a “middle-class” Malaysian-Indian family back then, your choices were fairly straight-forward. It had to be either Engineering or Medicine ! And it had to be either in England, Australia or in India, the latter being the most affordable option for a technical professional education.

How did GIS prepare you for University?
I graduated with mostly “A”s in my London University O-Levels (as I recall that included an “A” in English, which was a miracle, all credit to Mrs. Taylor !). The “top-tier” of tertiary technical education in India especially Engineering is very competitive, you compete with the best of India. The quality of education at GIS was amongst the best in the world. I could not have been better equipped !!

What’s your advice to current students who will be making the same choice as yourself?
We live in very different times from 4 decades ago, a completely different set of challenges facing graduates today. We live in an interconnected world today with limitless possibilities and options. There are very rewarding careers waiting to be had in virtually an infinite number of domains. Today’s graduates are far better informed and intellectually better developed than ever before. Relentless inquisition, Passion of Pursuit and determination for hard work are the only pre-requisites for success today, albeit it’s a far more competitive world today than it was 40 years ago. I am entirely optimistic about the future of our next generation.

Current company and job title
Currently semi-retired since the last 3 years: I advise Multinational Corporations and Private Equities on their Acquisitions, Investments and Business Strategy and serve on Advisory Boards of Corporations especially in the social sector. Up to 2014, I’ve held several Senior Management positions across the Asia-Pacific region with Carl Zeiss.

Who or what inspired you to choose this career?
My management career dates back to 1992. The prospect of charting a new course in an uncharted territory or domain always captivated me. Naturally I found myself drawn to situations like venturing into new businesses; venturing into new geographies; solving difficult business problems; fixing ailing businesses etc. And I made a career out of something that I loved very much.

The best and worst bits about the job
The most gratifying bit about my job: The ability to impact and transform quality of life in societies that we have touched.

The worst bit: I missed out on having a “normal” family life, my work was my life. No regrets, but one can’t have it all.

Happiest moment(s) at work
When younger managers we train go on to greater accomplishments, things that neither one of us thought possible.

Would you have made the same choice if you were given another chance?
Without a doubt ! I wouldn’t change a thing.

What advice would you give to the current GIS students who are interested in similar career choice?
“Management & leadership” is essentially about people, it’s about optimizing collective output and outcomes, it seldom is about exceptional individual contribution. While the ways in which people interact and do their jobs has changed significantly with time, the fundamental purpose & contribution of management has not. While there are enterprise models in the new age where this principle might apply to varying degrees, I believe that “management” as a profession continues to be as relevant today as it was 200 years ago. The best managers / leaders in my opinion are those who inspire others to performance levels that they did not think they were capable of.

What’s your say on lifelong learning?
It’s a bit of a cliché, the fact of the matter is that learning never really stops, a significant part of this happens at a subconscious level. The real human challenge in my opinion is the “conscious” acquisition of transformational knowledge and the ability to apply it in impactful ways.

GIS’s Alumni Office would like to thank Mr. Srinivasan for sharing his journey after GIS and wish all the best for his future endeavors.