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Krishnan Kasturirangan is a former McKinsey and Company consultant and former COO of Knowlarity Communications – the largest cloud communications provider in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. He is on a new mission: Eliminate Food Waste. His latest pursuit, Wastelink, is a food surplus management company that helps food manufacturers manage their surplus and waste by transforming it into nutritional feed for animals.

Krishnan made very interesting transitions during his career. Our conversation focused on understanding the thoughts, mental models, influences and habits that helped Krishnan make such transitions. Krishnan’s journey and decision making is relevant for those building a career as well as those driven by the desire to create impact on their own terms.

Krishnan Kasturirangan on choosing impact for making career decisions

Krishnan Kasturirangan is a former McKinsey and Company consultant and former COO of Knowlarity Communications – the largest cloud communications provider in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. He is on a new mission: Eliminate Food Waste. His latest pursuit, Wastelink, is a food surplus management company that helps food manufacturers manage their surplus and waste by transforming it into nutritional feed for animals.

Krishnan made very interesting transitions during his career. Joining McKinsey, leaving McKinsey to join Knowlarity as its COO during the venture’s early days, then leaving Knowlarity to start independent management consulting and now leaving that to co-lead Wastelink

Our conversation focused on understanding the thoughts, mental models, influences and habits that helped Krishnan make such transitions. Krishnan’s journey and decision making is relevant for those building a career as well as those driven by the desire to create impact on their own terms.

Some highlights from this conversation:

  • Massive problems and challenges have been a big motivator for Krishnan to take major career transition decisions. Besides, clarity of what really matters and aligning decisions to that (Values-based decision making) helped in making critical decisions. For instance, the decision to leave McKinsey was driven by the need to be in more control, while leaving Knowlarity was driven by the need to have more flexibility. In both instances, impact on people and organisation was an additional factor. The most recent decision was driven by these factors, along with the need to create impact on the environment.

  • Krishnan took calculated risks and that worked very well to transition gradually into an entrepreneur. From a well cushioned job at McKinsey, he first joined an early stage technology startup as an employee. Then he started consulting. Alongside, he started investing. In his most recent venture, he first entered as an investor, witnessed the progress being made and then joined full time in an operating role.

  • We spoke about how externalising the situation helped him take the recent plunge and join the latest venture – an impact startup. This is a well researched and proven method to arrive at a better decision when stuck. Ask ‘What would you advise your best friend?’

  • Speaking about the factors that helped in creating success for him in his career, Krishnan emphasised 2: assembling awesome teams and being outcome oriented in mindset. Whether it was at Knowlarity or Independent consulting, Krishanan acknowledged his ability to make genuine connections with the team, ensuring that the team is close knit and his focus on the outcomes/impact for the customer/clients as key factors behind his success.

  • There is no magic bullet for attracting talented people. Over years, Krishnan built his system to create authentic and long term relationships, friendships and social connections. Thereafter, it was about making the team feel connected with each other and aligning them on common goal posts. His favorite tool for alignment while ensuring outcome/impact is achieved is a detailed work-plan in massive spreadsheets that are co-created with the team.

  • One habit that Krishnan would build early in life is around health and wellness. From choosing the right food, sleeping habit, physical activity and de-stressing techniques, to being in the company of people who influence being healthy. Krishnan found this to be the only aspect he would do differently if given a chance to go back in time – prioritise health and wellness early in career to play a long innings.

  • We also covered Krishnan’s favorite book in the show. It is about how to bring effective change among people through the environment and system.

Krishnan’s journey as a problem solver who played various management, leadership and entrepreneurial roles is one to take many lessons from. Like many other achievers, he clearly built systems and models to make better decisions at every stage of his professional life to balance success with fulfillment. To know more about him or connect with him, please refer to the links below.

Links for reference

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