Hello, everyone. Welcome back to How to Who the Secret of Success. Today Giri and I are joined today by Homi Karkaria. Homi has been the VP of Software and Service Solutions at Diebold Nixdorf for seven years. He’s been a tech leader on several continents and hired and managed thousands of people. He’s led several entrepreneurial and transformation initiatives in his career and is currently the chief of staff to the CEO at Diebold Nixdorf and is building an EV charging services business in America.
So Homi, you have a lot of experience. Why don’t you tell us some of the challenges that you face throughout your career?
Homi Karkaria (00:47- 01:03)
Thank you so much, Holland and hi Giri. I think one of the biggest challenge that I have seen is to have the right talent working with you. In a team setting and talent that’s better than you in order for you to be successful.
Giri Devanur (01:04 – 01:27)
To me, you know, that’s a very interesting topic that you brought up. I’ve known you for a while and the way you mentioned about talent and how talent gets developed over that period of time. Who was your mentor and you like who did you look up in when you were in the early stages of your career as you were growing up?
Homi Karkaria (01:28 – 02:15)
Sure. I think it’s a very good question. So for me, I spent 11 years at TCS and one of my mentors and somebody I really look upon is N Chandrashekharan who is fondly referred to as N Chandra who is now the chairman of the Tata group. The way he worked, the way he performed, the way he delivered, the way he was sympathetic towards his fellow colleagues, I would really think of him as a mentor.
I’ve had several others in my career. A gentleman called Rob Rasmussen, who is currently with NTT, has been a mentor. Gentleman called Charlie Feldt, who spent several years in EDS and HP, and I’ve been fortunate enough to look up on a few such leaders as my mentors.
Holland Walker (02:16 – 02:39)
That’s great. Having several people throughout is very useful, I’m sure. So we’re talking a little bit about Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit today. For our movie, which was really great. Not one I’d seen before. So, Homi why don’t you tell us what makes Jack Ryan a good leader and what kind of skills does he possess that kind of carry him through his mission in this movie?
Homi Karkaria (02:40 – 03:39)
Sure. It’s one of my favorite movies for multiple reasons, and I would relate to some of the leadership attributes. So to start with. There’s a lot of analysis that happens in this movie, right? How do you find, you know, who are the terrorists and which location and how do they operate? There is a lot of planning which goes into executing a task which any good leader needs to do.
There is a lot of data extraction and data analysis, which is where the future is going. Now everyone needs to have data insights in order to successfully manage their businesses. The other important thing is you need to lead by example, but it’s different from just sitting in an office and telling somebody to do it versus is actually, you know, doing it yourself or leading as an example.
And finally, it’s about people, you know, like Chris Pine was good in what he was doing with Kevin Costner in the movie, and everyone performed roles, which is where one plus one plus one becomes ten and not three.
Giri Devanur (03:40 – 04:02)
Very interesting analogy, right? You know, one plus one I mean, you know, like, is it becoming a leader? Is it really becoming a leader or, you know, like you’re already internally, you know, kind of DNA-driven leadership? What’s your take on it? Do you know you can somebody aspire to become a leader and then go on that journey?
Homi Karkaria (04:03 – 05:02)
It’s a yeah. It’s something which I’ve been asked in the past so I always say the following. There are two dimensions that everyone needs to look at. One is your interest. And the second is the competency I might be really interested in becoming a leader, but I would be extremely competent in performing as an individual professional. And there’s nothing wrong with it, which is I give an example of your book, Fellows in big corporations who are technology geeks or really have the type of business, they are as important as probably a vice president or a senior vice president.
So there are multiple forms of that. I think the person needs to have some interest, needs to have an opportunity. And you need to have a step-by-step approach. I’ve seen fantastic professionals who have failed when they have gone from managing teams of, say, ten or 20 to managing teams of 500. So I think you need to have some basic competencies.
You need to have an interest and you need to continue to evolve and develop a basic level.
Holland Walker (05:02 – 05:28)
So in the Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit movie, he has several motivations to complete and complete this goal. One of them being, you know, protecting his wife, keeping her safe, another keeping the country safe. So we all have our own personal motivations to do carry us to our goals. What is something that motivates you or something that you think about that keeps you going?
Homi Karkaria (05:29 – 05:52)
It’s very simple for me. Each day I want to do my best It’s a very simple thing I learned from one of my fellow colleagues. Do your best every single day, personally and professionally. If you’re playing a sport, do your best in the sport. If you are on your job, your best at the job. If you are with your family, spend quality time rather than being distracted and trying to do work at the same time.
The other thing which motivates me a lot is it’s not just about doing something for yourself, but doing something for your family, friends and society. That I try to contribute because I’ve been blessed and I’ve learned and I’ve got a lot in my life when I contribute, I feel very motivated.
Giri Devanur (06:10- 06:50)
Very important aspects. How do you keep your work life, professional life, etc etc. Since we are discussing that The key thing was everyone had to be in the right place, being the right thing, etc., etc. To achieve the mission I mean, you have hired hundreds and thousands of people in your career and built large-scale teams.
How do you hold that team accountable? And organized and, you know, like on track to meet the large scale goal. what is your specialty?
Homi Karkaria (06:50 – 07:44)
Yeah. No, I think that’s very important. So the first thing I do is I have very clear goals for myself and my team, because if you don’t know what you’re going to do, how can you track if you’re going to be successful or not? The second thing is, how do we measure those goals regularly? It’s not about some year-end evaluation.
You measure it every day, every week, every month. How do you on track? What does your team need? What are the key performance indicators? How do you use a balanced approach? I also use things like ocean country in the past, you know, in order to track and measure the strategy to the goals for the objectives to the deliverables and the responsibilities.
So how do you have a responsibility matrix and maybe contribute, which is very responsible and a combination of all this is what I use in order to keep myself organized?
Holland Walker (07:45 – 07:53)
Well, that’s a good, good answer. So switching gears here a little. Do you have any passions in life? What do you like to do in your free time?
Homi Karkaria (07:53 – 08:26)
I do two things in my free time. I happen to be a priest. So what I like to do is to perform ceremonies and to serve in prayers, depending on what folks want me to. And this is, again, just to benefit the extended community I also am very passionate about golf, so I really love golf and I try to play the sport.
I think it’s great, very relaxing. You know, you are outside in an environment with the trees and you know that just being outside motivates me a lot.
Giri Devanur (08:26 – 09:07)
While are you talking about large scale teams and keeping the team accountable and keeping the passion high? How do you keep the culture? What do you mean by, you know, the culture? And its impact on a large scale team especially, you are working in multiple continents and forget countries, right? To know your work in US in North America, Europe, India, Asia and South America.
I don’t think I’ve met many people who worked in all four continents or maybe five continents I don’t know if your worked on any other continent. How do you know correlate all these cultural differences that are there in the workplace?
Homi Karkaria (09:07 – 09:58)
Yeah, I think culture is probably one of the most important things for a global leader to be successful. Maybe one or two quick examples of the culture in Brazil is very different from culture in India. And unless you understand this, cultural differences it’s very, very difficult for you to be successful and then interface and interact with your clients, with your employees, with your friends, etc. It’s the same thing which I learned, you know, between, for example, the U.S. and the German culture.
You know, the Germans, the Dutch are very clear, very direct, and sometimes that is perceived to be rude, but it’s not, you know, not American context. So these are just some examples. If you do not understand the cultures across the different geographies, it’s very difficult for you to lead virtual teams globally.
Holland Walker (09:59 – 10:36)
Yeah. And it is really great that you’re able to kind of translate them as you as you’ve gone, you know, like one thing in one place may not mean the same thing somewhere else. I’ve also studied a lot about a culture through communication. So that’s very important and very good to be aware of that. As you like traveling and working with different kinds of people So speaking of working with people you’ve hired and managed lots of people, how do you find the right candidate? What do you look for in a person? And how do you know that you’re finding the right person for the task?
Giri Devanur (11:12 – 11:38)
Very important aspect, right. I want to switch gears a little bit and start talking a little bit about the future. Right. You are in an industry where electric vehicles and charging, etc. That’s the latest role that you are playing. Can you tell us a little bit about it and how the future looking there.
Homi Karkaria (11:39 – 12:50)
Absolutely. So Diebold nixdorf, you know, has always been known to have its scale of technicians globally. We have got multiple players that we have been working with since 2021. We have announced, you know, our relationships and partnerships with big players in the market, like Coupleo and el Paatronics. What we are trying to do is to enable some of this hardware manufacturers and chargepoint operators to install and maintain their chargers so that that can help drive greater EV adoption as we go forward.
There have been many incentives which have been rolled out by different governments. As an example, the Biden administration, you know, has got several billion dollars of incentives to drive that growth. Several initiatives and goals have been targeted by the year 2030. So we as a company want to ensure that we can support this EV charger ecosystem and help our hardware manufacturers and chargepoint operators install, maintain and finally drive the uptank which I think is the most important metric when it comes to the end consumer driving.
Giri Devanur (12:51 – 13:21)
And one more question you know to that are you guys seeing you know like all these you know charging that is happening. Is there any kind of hand that electricity coming in? You know if we are using coal to generate electricity like most of the world’s electricity is being produced, if coal is the driver and then, you know, if everybody’s thinking, oh, and I’m being great, and, you know, using water, electricity, but actually doing more harm to the climate change situation.
What’s your take?
Homi Karkaria (13:22 – 14:08)
Right. So I think that there have been a lot of important players in this market who are looking at this ecosystem. We have seen several players who are trying to convert, you know, solar or wind energy into the charging side of the business. We are also looking at the grid capacity because it’s not about just having enough chargers.
As you rightly said, if there’s not enough supply of electricity, you know, you’re not going to be successful. We have also seen several innovations happening where you could probably put your car over a certain electromagnetic field forces that you are able to charge your car. So I think this market is going to evolve with some of this natural resources taking a much greater role where we obviously the end objective will be sustainability globally
Holland Walker (14:09 – 14:17)
Say when Apple creates their new their new car, what do you think these elaborate charging systems are going to look like?
Homi Karkaria (14:18 – 15:29)
Yeah, I think we can see a lot more in the next several years where it’s not just about charging your car, but it’s about how do I transfer the power from one vehicle to the other? I would work on some of my vehicle to the grid or transfer power from vehicle to home. And I have a car, which is if you charge and I plug it in and use my laptop and cell phone to get the charged, you know, from the car versus using the electricity that I have at home.
How do the different payment ecosystems evolve? One of the biggest challenges is, you know, when you look at the tariffs, for example, in Europe or you look at the payment, you don’t want to have ten different apps and then different ecosystem. So I think one of the biggest challenge which we face today is how do we have a seamless consumer interface?
And of course, that is going to evolve as you go forward. You have got folks who use hybrid cars and then you need to have a gas station you need to have an electric charger, and you need to have a store where somebody is buying, let’s say, a coffee and stopping. And how do you enable a seamless experience You know, for those consumers?
So that’s what I think the world is definitely going to evolve a lot more in the next few years.
Giri Devanur (15:29 – 16:03)
So, you know, like all those innovations that are happening I want to bring back to our podcast. Right. How to Who. You say to how the payments will happen, how the charging will happen, and how the next generation electric vehicles are coming? What should people do to, you know, transform into that? Who that will be, you know, behind the scenes of, you know, making sure all these things happen. Right. Everybody is talking about how. But what about the people and what are the roles, jobs that are going to come up? Who will be able to get into them?
Homi Karkaria (16:04- 17:02)
Yeah. So I think what I would say is, you know, professionals who aspire to be in this industry need to think first from a consumer on the shoes of the consumer. If you start looking at just your individual isolated ecosystem, you might be good in aspects A, B or C of the value chain. But when you start putting as you know yourself in the shoes of the consumer and then forming the consumer journey and then what value does your company bring onto the table?
For whatever you don’t do, nobody can be expected to do everything Which are the other partners and the ecosystem that you can quickly bring together in this technology world today with the advent of APIs, etc. It’s pretty simple to plug and play, you know, rather than try to build everything yourself in-house. I think those are the aspects, you know, that professionals need to keep in mind to be successful in the future, That’s great.
Holland Walker (17:02 – 17:09)
All right. So a fun question here. If you could have any job in the world, any dream job, what would it be?
Homi Karkaria (17:09 – 17:28)
I would probably want a job that would use technology to drive business in an organization or a group of organization which does charity for the less fortunate or the other folks who are challenged across the globe. I mean, that would be my dream job.
Giri Devanur (17:29-17:32)
Well, that is actually a very loaded answer.
Holland Walker (17:33 – 17:34)
Giri Devanur (17:35 – 17:42)
Yeah. So more like a Gates Foundation kind of thing? World health organization.
Homi Karkaria (17:42 – 17:51)
So I think we can do a lot with the technology, but at the end of the day, use technology to revive business, to benefit society in short. That would be my dream job.
Giri Devanur (17:51 – 18:01)
That’s simply superb. Any words of advice for the next generation of professionals and leaders and interns? Because we are hiring a bunch of interns now.
Homi Karkaria (18:02 – 18:45)
Sure. So a couple of things. One is the only constant in life is change. So you need to adapt to that change every single day. As you proceed in your career. Second is you always have challenges and need to learn and accept challenges and take it in your stride as you go forward. You need to continuously learn if you stop learning.
You might be great today, but you will become outdated tomorrow. Always need to contribute. It’s not just about you but when you’re working in teams, how do you build and how to contribute and share those by sharing you actually doing more. And finally, you know, I would say you only live once. So have fun. Have fun in what you do and life’s going to be great.
Holland Walker (18:48- 19:18)
YOLO! We can do all that. I love that. Yeah. Always be adaptable. Always be willing to learn. That’s that’s definitely what I’m what I’m thinking as I’m going into the into the real world here in a couple of months. But this is a great conversation, Homi Thank you so much for being here today with us. I had a great time listening to all your insights about the future of charging and seamless charging connectivity.
It was very interesting.
Homi Karkaria (19:18 – 19:22)
Oh, thank you. Thank you for having me here as well, Holland and Giri.