Image: Jayanth J
Ganaraja V Bhat is unapologetic about being a sensitive individual. It’s a trait that has stopped him from being judgmental. He believes no person is good or bad… they just have different ways of articulating things. And this understanding has helped the chief technology officer at Metro Cash & Carry India to seamlessly lead a bunch of people with diverse strengths and weaknesses.
“There is something called professional respect, then there is empathy. Once we build a relationship on the bedrock of empathy and invest in each other in terms of trust, getting any job done becomes operational or business as usual,” says Bhat, 47, who has worked in turnkey projects, manufacturing, retail, logistics and information technology sectors across continents in a career spanning over two decades.
He says a person who merely manages work cannot be described as a manager or even an effective leader. “What makes a great manager is instilling purpose. You need a clear vision about where you are collectively going, and what your role as an individual is… helping each individual in the journey; ensuring they notice and get over a blind spot so that they don’t get into an accident,” adds Bhat, a mechanical engineer who also holds a diploma in business administration.
Since starting his career with the Kirloskar Group in 1995, Bhat has worked with Fortune 500 companies such as Target Corporation, Best Buy, Wipro and Blue Yonder (formerly JDA), among others. At Metro Cash & Carry India—a wholesale company with B2B business and a presence in 24 countries—he deals with the technology-related aspects from India’s point of view.
An avid learner, he says he has imbibed good qualities from his previous managers, supervisors and colleagues. And these have proved to be useful now that he leads a team. “Giving people room for learning and failing helps them come out of their comfort zone,” explains Bhat, who has been with the company since May 2019. “If you are enthusiastic and want to do something bigger and better, you have to venture into the unknown.”
Covid-19 and the change in the way we work because of the pandemic have made him more empathetic, calm, composed and flexible, he says.
His peers are impressed with his work ethics and humane approach. “Gana is soft-spoken but target-oriented. He mingles very well and he’s a good boss,” says J Jayanth Hemanoth, general manager-systems at Metro Cash & Carry India.
His zest for life has also helped Bhat—a Bengaluru resident and father of two—overcome professional crises and evolve as a human being. “Hurdles are a learning opportunity,” he says.
(This story appears in the 23 October, 2020 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)