Profit Shouldn’t Be the Only Vision: Harpreet Singh

Dr Harpreet A De Singh, Executive Director at Air India Headquarters and former CEO of Air Alliance, said: “The open skies, the feeling of connection with the Almighty and the freedom to be close to nature are the three things that attracted me when I wanted to be a pilot. At Dr KCG Verghese Endowment’s eighth lecture on “Aerospace and Aviation Industry” at the Madras Management Association, Dr Singh discussed the challenges and opportunities she has faced in her career and the management lessons she has faced. she learned from each of them.

From pilot to trainer

“I started as Air India’s first female pilot in 1988. Then I had a medical problem, so I couldn’t continue to fly actively. I had taken out a lot of loans to be a pilot. But I was sure there had to be a higher goal in the setback, ”said Dr Harpreet Singh.

Not the type to feel defeatist, she goes to the United States, has her license revalidated, and starts again in aviation, but in a slightly different direction. She became a trainer, the first woman to train pilots. “I came back to Air India as a coach and in this role I had a long stint. I was also in navigation, meteorology, performance management, crew resource management, quality, audit and safety and thus gained 360 degree experience. I loved my trip because I got to learn a lot, ”said Dr Singh.

She has a golden rule for anyone who aspires to learn. “If you want to learn something, teach it. Grab your friends or other people, teach them and you will realize how much you don’t know. You will re-read and evolve gradually, ”suggested Dr Singh.

QI, QE and QSP

Explaining that management is all about making important decisions and using people’s skills correctly, she regretted that most people only focus on IQ. “They’re looking to see if someone is from IIM, IIT, or big brand institutions. I agree that the students of these institutes are brilliant and got their places thanks to stiff competition. But for leadership what is essential is how you use that IQ and put it into action, ”she said, and added that leaders need to mix IQ with the Emotional Quotient (EQ) and the pure soul quotient (PSQ) – a term she coined.

PSQ is about doing things with purity of heart and good intentions, looking at everyone around you – not as a man or a woman, someone high or low but just as your equal and, within you. connecting with them as pure souls. Leaders who combine IQ, EQ and PSQ will be able to achieve maximum results, she said.

Mix CSR with business goals

Emphasizing the importance of merging CSR into business goals, she explained how, during her tenure as CEO of Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Air India, their flights could connect even remote villages and deliver Covid vaccines. when people needed it most. “It’s like a mind-body-soul connection. Profit should not be our only vision. We have to see the big picture. Alliance Air is Alliance of Hearts, ”she said with pride.

During the first wave of Covid, Dr Singh was chief flight safety, Air India, writing SOPs and trying to put safe procedures in place. “We performed Operation Wuhan – the first flight that entered China in 2020. We had to be well prepared for any type of requirement and risk management. We did this successfully and evacuated many Indians from China. Then we did hundreds of Vande Bharat flights and were able to seize the opportunity, ”Dr Singh recalled.

Spiritual strength

In such complex and demanding operations, you will find people willing and happy to be part of the team and others will find every reason not to be part of the team. How to integrate the second category?

“I was the CEO of Alliance Air at the time. With a pandemic raging, there was a psychosis of fear all around and people had lost their inner strength and ability to cope. I created a group called Universal Prayers Channel. We have organized, on a purely voluntary basis, a multiconfessional meditation without any religious connotation but simply as a spiritual exercise. We did these sessions every morning from 4:30 am to 5 pm. The results have been incredible, ”she said and acknowledged that this gave her first-hand experience of how to combine spirituality with leadership functions; how to use one’s inner spiritual strength to achieve higher productive goals.

Opt for the forbidden zone

Another lesson from Dr Singh: In organizations, when everyone says no to a task, see if you can get started. “In aviation, we had never had a quality department before. There were new international standards and requirements and we had to have a quality system in place. Nobody cared about it. I felt an opportunity and I dived. It took me a lot of work to set up the quality management system. I am certified as a lead auditor. I audit airports and airlines on behalf of agencies Auditing, like teaching, has taught me a lot. If you are a true researcher, you will seek knowledge. This is what ultimately made me a CEO, “explained Dr Singh.

Tests and more tests

As we see the glamor side of the pilots heading into and out of the cockpit, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. “Aviation is the only industry where, every six months until retirement, pilots are required to repeat their refresher ground exams and re-qualify. They have to repeat medical checks and simulator tests due to safety requirements. Even a surgeon, once graduated, will not be tested again. Pilots get used to the pressure of updating themselves, showing up for exams and always living with tender hooks, ”said Dr Singh.

She also regretted that some people are so insecure that they are unwilling to share their knowledge. “If you don’t share knowledge and allow the team to come and replace you, you can’t move up to the higher levels,” she warned. She stressed the need for leaders to strategically engage with middle managers and also to be in touch with frontline workers to take the pulse of what is happening on the ground.

Four days awake, and still fresh

Dr Singh was director of emergency response for almost 15 years. Recounting the unfortunate experience of handling an accident, she said: “Within 30 minutes of being informed of the accident, I reached the emergency command center. I was awake for four days and four nights in a row and was still very fresh when the operations were over. It is the resilience that we are all blessed with. We had to help so many people who were in the hospitals. This intention to help others is what kept me and my team from tiring ourselves. If, as a leader, you can generate positive vibrations, you can automatically spread those vibrations around you and build a dynamic team, ”advised Dr Singh.

Earlier, CV Subba Rao, President, MMA and MD, Sanmar Shipping delivered the welcome speech. Dr SN Sridhara, Vice-Chancellor of the Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science, recalled the immense contribution made by the late Dr KCG Verghese in the field of education and technical education in particular .

“Dr KCG Verghese has undertaken and successfully privatized vocational education in Tamil Nadu. His motto was to make everyone a success and no one a failure, ”said Dr Sridhara in his opening remarks. Dr RW Alexandar Jesudasan, Pro Vice Chancellor delivered the closing speech. Captain General Vijayakumar, ED, MMA moved the vote of thanks.

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