It’s easy to spot him. Be it the way he walks, or the way he greets you or the sprightly decisiveness with which he orders jasmine tea, or the warmth and friendliness with which he chats with the waiter.
Passion is a credo that is much more than a word for Gerard Rego. It’s a word he lives by, lives with and lives up to. “There are no jobs, only passions. Look at Google, I don’t think they chased money when they started, they just chased their passion and money came as a by-product.”
Interestingly, passion is also something he uses to sift the right talent. “I never interview people. There’s a smarter way to pick the plums amongst the lemons. Conversations are better than interviews. I talk and look for the signs of passion,” shares Gerard, “It’s easy to pretend skills. It’s impossible to feign passion.”
But does the sixth-sense work? “It has worked for me for sure. The more qualified a person becomes, the more gullible he turns. Try lying to a person laden with degrees, you will dupe him in no time. Try lying to a child, he will confront you with a gaze even before you finish speaking. If you want to learn intuition, learn it from kids or animals. Millions of humans died in tsunami tragedy, but not as many animals did, they survived with intuition.”
He shares some tips. “It’s simple. Look for the small things, and you can spot the gems out - the way they conduct themselves, people who mean what they say, people who value time, people who show a distinct attitude.”
For a person who wields a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, a Master’s in Sociology, after which he started pursuing a Master’s in Philosophy, the lessons in life must have been interesting. “There is a big difference between education and qualification. My failures are my biggest lessons,” he says. “A person who has never failed has never stretched himself. A person who has failed won’t burden the organization again,” Rego believes.
May be that’s why Rego always give his employees a chance to make mistakes. “Making mistakes is never costly, it’s the other way around. I make sure that even if my people fall down they don’t fall off.”
With a wide assortment of industry exposure that spans across manufacturing, aerospace and defense, automotive, BFSI, healthcare, FMCG, publishing CAD/CAM/CAE and logistics, he surely believes, “Keep your mind open. We only look, we don’t see. There’s so much to embrace if we use our minds as our eyes.”
Rego’s value for failures emanates from mistakes that he had made and learnt from. “At the beginning of my career, I realized the cost of a failure and that gave me a head start,” he says as he looks back and recounts the moment he still relishes. “I always wanted to make a difference to the world. I had a love for development and design of ballistic weapons, etc. I decided to start a company when I was in school. I didn’t know then if the decision was good or bad but the joy of making it was great.”
Rego’s inflexion point was when he realized the power of information. Enterprise, it seems, was always a dominant trait in Gerard. He started his career with a start-up company. With Baron Hexa he plunged into software for defence, content management, aircraft engineering, etc. As he rewinds his memory he admits that he made some big mistakes and what he learnt has stayed with him. “Always look at the big picture. Great businesses require strategic thinking and tactical execution with eyes hooked to the big canvas.”
Another trait that he is proud of is his ability to adapt. After a glorious period as an entrepreneur he took on the role of advising corporates. Gerard moved forward as the founder and CEO of eSymmetryx technologies. After this stint, he served as the CTO of Liqwid Krystal. He became a Wharton Fellow in 2005, a Reuters Digital Vision Fellow in 2006 and is a visiting scholar at Stanford University.
And while he was getting a lot of offers in the intervening period that he calls a creative respite, he chose to join MSC Software. He explains, “With MSC Software I was excited about a chance to not just earn money but to create wealth.” Currently he is leading India operations including product development and support here.
Rego loves writing too. Since 1993, he has over 50 articles published in leading newspapers, magazines and journals. Throughout his journey he has led and managed innovation with domain and technology cross-functional teams. He surely has some nuggets on innovation to share. “Successful organizations are not made of the inventors, but innovators. MP3, Telephone or search engines were not invented by the companies that are capitalizing on them today.” His business secret – Ride the right wave at the right time and … don’t forget your surfboard. “Michael Dell or Bill Gates are successful, not because they are super-intelligent but because they have common sense.”
Thought provoking words indeed from a man who sees himself as a “Mentor Capitalist” 10 to 15 years from now. He is already mentoring some companies, institutions like IIMB, Wharton, Stanford Fellows and wants to be a catalyst to innovation and entrepreneurship with a focus on emerging economies.
Rego tells that 20 per cent of his work time is invested in mentoring people. “It is like a relationship, it’s not transactional, it’s transformational.”
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