In Conversation With Aloknath De | Quark 2019

DoJMA: Hello sir, we are from the Department of Journalism and Media Affairs and we would love to ask you a few questions. What is Samsung India doing for Make in India initiative?

Aloknath De: Thanks again for inviting me. Samsung, as you know, is a household name. Every household has some Samsung product or the other. So, that way, we are a global player. We have one philosophy, it doesn’t matter which country is initiating a requirement. But, if you have a market and a genuine need in the market, we consider it global. 

Sometime back, we started making Tyson based phones in India. The motivation was that, India has a lot of feature phones. But we can move anyone who cannot afford a huge amount from feature phones to smartphones. Tyson is a good platform as it is an IOT platform. So, what is our strategy? One is that we bring global products like Samsung Pay to India, with the modifications required. We tie up with different banks and according to RBI norms, factor in authentication: biometric, Adhaar, whatever is required. We also make things bottom up. In India and other developing nations, when the shirt collar gets dirty, everyone washes them somewhere else and then dips it into the washing machine. So we asked, why don’t we put a tray there itself and have water faucets and then you won’t need to go anywhere else. We do smaller things like these: a separate, bigger chamber in freezers for Halal meat, naan makers. We also made this bike mode for the people using bikes, which is a big population in India. It’s a NFC based solution. Once your phone is in the bike mode, if someone calls and you don’t answer, the person will know that you are driving. The calls reach you but you cannot pick it up and talk. You have to slow down to answer and this is ensured using sensors in the phone. We also work with several start-up companies. These companies work with us in an integrated fashion on the advertisement platform, payment platform, and so on, to come up with faster solutions.

DoJMA: How would you comparatively analyze the talent in India and talent abroad?

AD: We see a subtle difference in the depth and the experience. Here, people want to “build the breadth”; we hop from one topic to the other. The breadth matters because you don’t know what kind of jobs you may get and where, and you need to have a basic knowledge. Outside, people prefer things their own way. Maybe it is because they have confidence or abundance of jobs. They like to “build”. That is the basic difference I see in terms of breadth and depth. There are also some subtle psychological differences. The students outside have better soft skills, ethics and punctuality. Here, we are neither trained in these by society nor is it included in the curriculum. 

DoJMA: What is Samsung’s strategy to maintain supremacy in the phone market?

AD: We like competition and embrace them because you can learn from them and they always set a new benchmark. For us, it is important to believe in what we are building and who our customers are. Are we listening to them? Do we understand what their requirements are? Do we have a strategy to build their solutions? If something is not very comfortable, then will we be changing? What is our plan for the evolution of our solutions? You mentioned “supremacy”: we don’t really see it that way but continue to retain our position.

DoJMA: What is the quality that you look for in new recruits?

AD: I have touched upon this point previously: the soft skills matter. Not to the extent that it takes precedence over your domain of knowledge but they do matter. Colleges have a casual atmosphere and it is rightfully so; it is the time to enjoy. But when you suddenly go out there, everything changes as it is a professional world. You need to be adaptive and be ready for the world and for the transition required. Apart from this, we need domain, implying a certain skill set that we expect from all. For example, when we hire anyone from the CS or EEE backgrounds nowadays, they need to know Machine Learning. The previous generation did not require this. We also look for software programming skills, because that’s the language through which you express. People can pick it up later as well. But you need to be ready to build solutions, which are growing and scaling up, either in the embedded, hybrid or cloud form. We don’t need that on day one, but we look for someone who is ready to make that transition.

DoJMA: As college students, we would like to know your leadership mantra. Kindly share it with us.

AD: There are a couple of them. The one that I strictly follow and preach is: be hard on goal, soft on soul. You will realize this when you work with a team of people and have a pressure of endeavors and projects. People are important and we need to respect each other because everyone knows something or the other, which others probably do not, whether it’s a senior or a junior.