‘With the right attitude, one can achieve both success and happiness in  life and at the workplace’. This was the central message from Mr. Prakash Kulkarni, a veteran in the management field, to students of the Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies (KIAMS) on the 8th of October, 2012. In a lively two-hour interaction with spell-bound students, Mr. Kulkarni kept them riveted with stage talk, case studies, anecdotes and a motivational video. He spoke about body language, human nature and leadership to drive home the point that if a person first learns to manage himself, he can then manage others, his life and career, and prevail over adverse circumstances to achieve both happiness and success.

Mr. Kulkarni should know, because in this age of job hopping and frequent career changes, he retired as an assistant general manager in 2007 from Harihar Polyfibres—a unit of Grasim Industries engaged in manufacturing of dissolving grade pulp while heading the Central Control Lab in the quality control division; he hung up his boots after a satisfying 35-year-long stint. Mr. Kulkarni, who joined Harihar Polyfibres in 1972 after getting a BSc degree, was in charge of suggesting remedial measures to maintain quality within desired limits and was responsible for the day-to-day quality of the product with respect to process variations as a member of the quality assurance team. Mr. Kulkarni, who found a work-life balance, achieved both success and happiness while at Harihar Polyfibres.

It was precisely this desire to share his experience and motivate students of KIAMS to achieve both success and happiness in life and work, that Mr. Kulkarni addressed the students. In his inimitable style, he disarmed the students and broke the ice by inviting them onto the stage to give their views on success and happiness, after they had pondered over the meaning of the two words. He thus established a level playing field between himself and the KIAMS students by ensuring that in a discussion on happiness and success, there were no barriers of ‘teacher and students’, ‘right and no wrong’.

While talking about human nature, he punctuated this with anecdotes on how to interpret body language, gestures and gait to discern the qualities of the other person. During the interaction, Mr. Kulkarni impressed on KIAMS students the need to set high targets and widen one’s thinking. “Managing one’s body language and correct etiquette at the workplace are essential to survive and prosper in a corporate environment,” said Mr. Kulkarni. He then dwelt on the qualities of leaders and, through succinct cases and anecdotes, established the nature, behaviour, temperament and extent of flexibility that they cultivate. The session concluded with a 20-minute motivational video to drive home the point that success was not counter-productive to happiness, and vice-versa. This was the message that the young future managers from KIAMS took back that evening.