Bhubaneswar: This is the state that nourished me. Now it is time to give back. This was his reaction when Subroto Bagchi appointed as the chairman of Odisha Skill Development Authority (OSDA) in 2016.
Bagchi, the man who skilled over 10 lakh youth in Odisha, was taking a salary of only 1 rupee per year. Three years back on May 1, 2016 he joined as the Chairman of OSDA. And yesterday he resigned from the post to save Mindtree, an IT company co-founded by Bagchi in 1999. Within these short span he made significant change in the field of skill development and youth employment in Odisha.
He was also chiefly instrumental in establishing the country’s first World Skill Centre (WSC) in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
Bagchi was born to Makhan Gopal Bagchi and Labonya Prova Bagchi in Patnagarh, Odisha, where his father was a junior government servant. He grew up mostly in the tribal districts of Odisha, moving from place to place because of the nature of his father’s job. He has narrated the story of his life in his book Go Kiss the World published by Penguin Portfolio.
He studied Political Science at the Utkal University. In 1974, he underwent training with the Parachute Regiment of the Indian Army and successfully completed the 5 mandatory jumps to earn the “Para Wings”. In 1975, he was adjudged the Best NCC Cadet of India at the Republic Day Parade in Delhi where he was awarded the Prime Minister’s Cane Honor.
He started his work life as a clerk in the Industries Department of the Government of Odisha in 1976 after giving up his post graduate studies. After a year of working there, he qualified to be a management trainee in DCM in 1977 where he worked for the ensuing 5 years. In 1981, he entered the computer industry and worked for a number of computer companies between 1981 and 1999 in various functions like sales, marketing and operations. His longest stint was at Wipro where he became the Chief Executive of Wipro’s Global R&D before working for chairman Azim Premji as corporate Vice-President, Mission Quality. He left Wipro in 1998 to join Lucent Technologies. He left Lucent a year after to co-found Mindtree in 1999 along with 9 other co-founders. Mindtree is a $780 million (Fiscal 17), Global IT services company with approximately 16500+ people. It is listed at the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange in India.
When Mindtree started, Subroto Bagchi began as chief operating officer. Soon after, the company was hit by a global economic slowdown and then the events of 9/11 took place. Many early-stage companies collapsed during this time and Bagchi moved to the US in response and helped the leadership team stay together through the difficult years.
Between 1999 and 2007, he was instrumental in articulating Mindtree’s mission, vision and values. He led leadership development, marketing and knowledge management initiatives that differentiated the company from the beginning. Mindtree’s distinctive physical locations reflect his thought leadership. He is also the face of the company’s outreach beyond business. In 2007, he was part of the apex team that led Mindtree from an idea to IPO. Post-IPO, Bagchi took on the role of Gardener at Mindtree. In this new role, he focused full-time on the Top-100 leaders at Mindtree to expand their leadership capacity beyond the founding team. In 2010, he was appointed vice-chairman to the Board. On 1 April 2012, he assumed the office of chairman.He stepped down as the chairman in January 2016. On May 1, 2016, at the invitation of the Chief Minister of Odisha, he took on the full-time role of Chairman, Odisha Skill Development Authority in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister at an annual salary of Rupees 1.
Subroto is also on the Board of White Swan Foundation. White Swan Foundation for Mental Health is a not-for-profit organization that offers knowledge services in the area of mental health. The Foundation provide patients, caregivers and others with well-researched content that will help them make informed decisions on how to deal with mental health issues.
He is the author of numerous books on business leadership and life lessons such as High-Performance Entrepreneur (2006), Go Kiss the World: Life Lessons For The Young Professional (2008), The High Performance Entrepreneur (2008), The Professional (2009), MBA at 16 (2012), The Captainship: First-gen Entrepreneurs (2013), The Elephant Catchers (2013), The Professional Companion (2013), On Leadership and Innovation (2014) and SELL (2017).
He resigned as the chairman of OSDA on March 17, 2019 to save his IT company Mindtree from hostile takeover.