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Leadership Talk Series is an ongoing effort at Labs India to give employees a chance to hear and interact with renowned and motivational personalities from all walks of life.

Leadership talk by Prahlad Kakkar, the legendary Indian ad film director, December 12, 2011

The room was filled with employees eagerly waiting to meet the man who has become synonymous with Indian television advertising. With his trademark beard, long hair, round glasses and Fedora hat the man, Prahlad Kakkar has himself become a brand that requires no advertising. True to the famous motto "Nothing official about it", used in the popular Pepsi commercials created by him during the 1996 cricket world cup, he delivered a jovial talk at the LTS at SAP Labs Gurgaon on December 12. Prahlad, who, besides being a great advertising film director, is a passionate chef, started his speech with a recipe for making French omelet which he used to prepare for his customers in the early days of his career.

However, a director's greatest statement is the person's body of work. Thus, the man whose aim has been to "tell a story in 30 seconds in the most interesting manner possible" treated the audience to a nostalgia inducing collection of television commercials, created by him, from 1996 onwards, including advertisements for Cadbury’s dairy milk, Pepsi, Centre Shock, Hathi cement, Times of India, Safari Dicor, Century Ply, at the concluding part of his talk.

As the invigorating and humorous session with the multi-faceted person ended with the strains of "Kuch mitha ho jay" (have something sweet - the tagline of Dairy Milk) still hanging in the air, every person in the audience sported a smile. This enlightening and de-stressing event is sure to energize the employees thus enabling them to perform better together.

Leadership talk by Jug Suraiya, the Associate Editor of Times of India, November 22, 2011


The room was filled with eager faces. They knew all about him, his wife Bunny and his recently deceased dog Brindle who had adopted him and his wife many years ago. They savored his columns in the Times of India and were waiting with anticipation to meet the iconic associate editor of Times of India, the "Art Buchwald of India" and raconteur par excellence Jug Suraiya at the Leadership Talk Series at SAP Labs India, Gurgaon, on November 22.

Rohit Gupta, Location Head, SLI, Gurgaon, introduced Jug to an audience who were habituated to seeing his name in print. Following this, Jug assumed the podium and started his speech in his own inimitable style by recounting personal anecdotes which have shaped him as a thought leader in his field.

After this illuminating and intellectually freewheeling session, the floor was open to enthusiastic audience questions which ranged from the role of media in the modern society to different methods adopted by the leaders to fulfill their objectives.

This remarkable interaction with a luminary of Indian journalism is sure to energize and inspire the SAP Labs India employees and help them work better together by finding the latent leaders within themselves.

Leadership talk by Retired Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, AC, September 15, 2011

LTS with Rakesh Shrama

“As leaders and team members of an innovative organization you need to transform your outlook and take it beyond your current boundary,” said Retired Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, AC, at the Leadership Talk series 2011, organized at KTPO, Bangalore on the special occasion of the visit of Jim Hagemann Snabe, Co-CEO SAP, to India.

Having chosen an unusual and daring profession, Rakesh Sharma, from the inception of his career challenged the accepted boundaries in all spheres of life. “Dealing with the unknown involves the element of risk,” he emphasized. Great leaders are personalities who are neither afraid to tread the incredible roads nor frightened to overthrow the status quo. Such people are the “challengers” of the unknown who can lead a nation and inaugurate new vistas of life.

This unique leadership session concluded with Rakesh Sharma sharing an interesting anecdote behind his historic comment from space. When Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India, asked him, “How does India look from space”, the extremely media shy young astronaut could promptly make his famous comment, “Saare jahan se accha” because he could only hear the audio from space. Little did Rakesh Sharma realize at that time that his words and his deeds will make him famous for ages to come.

Leadership talk by Chetan Bhagat, the most popular English language novelist in Indian history, September 14, 2011

LTS with Chetan Bhagat

"To become a professional writer you have to sell at least 1000 copies of your first book." Hence, a "techie" was advised not to venture into fiction writing, as Indians do not read books. It will not be worth any publisher's money if a book does not achieve the minimum sales needed to recoup costs. However the "techie" ignored all such foreboding for the love of writing and ventured into his first literary endeavor, Five Point Someone, and the rest was history. Reminiscing about many such anecdotes and incidents from his own life, Chetan Bhagat, conducted a memorable session at the Leadership talk series on September 14 at the Taj Palace hotel, Delhi.

Focusing on the topic of the day, "Pursuing Passion", Chetan succeeded in creating an immediate rapport with the audience who thoroughly enjoyed his humorous take on regional differences and deeply reflected on his zealous advice to pursue one's dreams with passion. As the audience appreciated the passionate dialogue with Chetan with thunderous applause, he concluded the session with a request to the employees, "Make life less busy and listen to the motivational speaker that lives inside each one of us."

Leadership talk by Shekhar Kapur, the maverick Indian director, June 16, 2011

Shekhar Kapur, the maverick Indian director at the Leadership Talk Series

“What is the fountainhead of creativity? Is it the universal consciousness being expressed through an individual?” asked Shekhar Kapur during his paean to creativity and innovation at the Leadership Talk Series on June 16 at the indoor cafeteria, Bangalore. The audience, filling the auditorium, and sitting in the aisles and on the stairs, were enthralled as the words and questions floated around them unlocking unexplored vistas and recesses of their minds. They had come to meet the creator of Mr. India, The Bandit queen and Elizabeth, perhaps expecting a lecture on the intricacies of long shots, flashbacks and background score. Instead, they were transformed by a dialogic exploration of spirituality and creativity.

As the audience appreciated innovative dialogue with Shekhar with thunderous applause, he concluded the session with a panegyric to SAP – “I can go on talking only about innovation and creativity at a place like SAP Labs India”.

Leadership talk by Lokayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde, April 12, 2011

Lokayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde at the Leadership Talk Series

"Democracy is no longer ‘by the people, of the people, for the people’. It has now become ‘by some people, for some people, of some people’." Thus spoke Lokayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde, the most "feared institution in Karnataka", at the Leadership Talk Series (LTS) held on April 12, 2011 at the Labs Bangalore campus. The appreciative SAP Labs India employees, most of whom had occupied their seats, at the indoor cafeteria, 15 minutes before the start of the LTS at 10:00 a.m., applauded and then grew pensive at the implication of the remark.

Throughout his one hour session, Justice Hegde forced the audience to confront serious and deep issues regarding the structure of governance, and the value system in a humorous manner, often using personal anecdotes. When the session finally concluded, the employees of SAP Labs India were left enthralled by a simple man, whose moral power derives from practicing what he preaches and this makes him a personification of honesty.

Leadership talk by Nasser Hussain, February 28, 2011

Nasser addressing the audience

The indoor cafeteria of Labs Bangalore campus, at 11:00 p.m. on February 28, was as full with boisterous cheering people as the Chinnaswamy stadium was on the evening of February 27. A tall lean athletic figure, Naseer Hussain, the former English captain, walked up to take his guard, at the Leadership Talk Series (LTS). Hussain, one of the greatest English captains ever, the person who propelled England to the number 3 spot in test rankings, received a standing ovation for his invigorating speech at the Leadership Talk Series, 2011.

Leadership talk by N. R. Narayana Murthy, February 15, 2011

Shyamakrishna Kattepur, a senior SAP leader introduces Mr. Murthy

10:00 a.m., February 15, 2011. All the chairs at the indoor cafeteria of Labs Bangalore campus were already occupied and people were still streaming in. They sat on the stairs, on the floor while the "late-comers" stood. This was the scenario at the indoor cafeteria 45 minutes before the start of the third talk of the Leadership Talk Series (LTS) 2011. It was difficult for Narayana Murthy, who arrived punctually at 10:45 a.m., to find his way to the dais through this impenetrable crowd waiting eagerly to listen to him.

A leftist turned philanthropic capitalist, Mr. Murthy loved meeting the "good" people at SAP, and had "great" conversations with them. SAP employees in turn expressed their joy with thunderous applause after the LTS. The session was made unforgettable by the legend behind Infosys.

Leadership Talk by Ramachandra Guha, January 12, 2011

Ramachandra Guha talks on Gandhi

On Wednesday, January 12, the indoor cafeteria, at Labs India, looked like the inside of a rush hour bus. Ramachandra Guha, the pioneer of environmental history in India, delivered a speech on "Gandhi as a leadership model", as the first lecture in the Leadership Talk Series for 2011. If the audience was excited, so was the author of "India after Gandhi" – his rimless glasses glinting, his voice ringing, with excitement he talked about the opposition that Gandhi faced.

Audience mesmerized by Guha
During this session the audiences were entranced by the philosophy of a practical philosopher, and debater par excellence. Guha, the interpreter of modern India, talked about a Gandhi, relevant and modern, who can be hated, abused, loved, worshipped, but can never be ignored.