On Suresh Ogale

I was in a queue for securing admission for my son in the engineering college. The VJTI authorities were managing the event very efficiently. There was a feeling of comfort because it was a transparent process, and yet a feeling of anxiety to secure admission in a good college. Standing behind me was a man with receding hairline and vanishing ‘crown’, a twinkle in his eyes, a very pleasant smile and relaxed demeanour. He too had come there for securing admission for his son. I started talking to him [or was it vice versa?]. It became clear in a minute that he had studied the complex process of admissions to engineering college in great details, collected a lot of information on the colleges and had formed a definite opinion.
                                                                         That’s Suresh Ogale for you!

Positive approach, smile, inquisitiveness [you can see it in his eyes] and an ability to sail through tense situations without ‘wearing it on sleeve.’ I did not meet him again till in 2008. It was a pleasant surprise that he was residing at Thane, not too far away from my home. We did some work together; two Development Centres [DC] among them. Suresh trained in England to conduct DCs. What marks his DCs is meticulous planning, and outstanding execution. But sometimes things do not work as planned. Usually these are attributable to external factors. You will then see Suresh take a pause, nodding his head up and down without a speaking a word. You will see him thinking and planning his actions to overcome the problem. Then he will rub his hands and will discuss the solution. No raised voice. No accusations. No expletives. Later in the evening you will see him retire to his room, then laugh heartily and say ‘Ayala, problemach hota ki, pan jamla!’ [Oh, that was quite a problem, but I managed the situation.]

A lot of this ‘management’ is attributable to his very strong ‘process orientation.’ His collection of books also centres on theories and models. Suresh is not the one who puts theories and practice in two separate water tight compartments; he has a great talent for practical application of theories. His presentations would include one model, but never to ‘impress’ the audience or intellectualise the issue. It is always to anchor their thoughts to the model. In case you discuss Jeffrey Pfeffer’s work with him, keep aside an hour for a very rich conversation. After spending over thirty years in the HR profession you still hear him say, ‘Hey shiknya sarakhe aahe’ [We must learn this from him/ her.] whenever somebody makes a good point. Learning has never stopped for him.

Suresh completes 60 years today. He will launch his ‘second career’ sooner or later. For a person who plays badminton every morning, who has child like curiosity about anything new, who has great interest and knowledge of share market, who has a voracious appetite for reading and who intends to devote time for contributing to social cause, it will be rewarding career.

We wish you a happy and long life, Suresh! We are proud to be your friends!!

[The photographs show Suresh at work with his colleagues, speaking at Thane HR Conference, and with HR professionals]