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Wisdom Stories Ep.39: Ravi Gilani

Wisdom Stories cover of Mr Ravi Gilani

Cultural expectations surrounding the elderly are being challenged today, and with good reason!

While it was the norm to slow down and retreat into a quieter life post-retirement, more men and women are finding purpose and joy in doing the opposite.

WisdomCircle honours such men and women by shining light on their journey through an inspiring series called “Wisdom Stories”. These people have successfully smashed stereotypes, and their stories remind us that life should be lived to the fullest, no matter what age or stage.

I started my career with Tata Motors (erstwhile TELCO) in 1972. For the next 21 years, I worked primarily with Tata Motors and Eicher in hardcore operations. For the first 9 years, I worked on running the machines with my own hands, which gave me a lot of grounding and depth not only in equipment but also in the ability to go into extreme detail in any subject. Then I joined Eicher, where I realised that there is more to my journey than functional expertise. I transitioned from a technically proficient professional to a well-rounded consultant. I like to summarise it as “Telco ne mujhe engineer bana diya, aur Eicher ne mujhe aadmi bana diya”

In December 1992, our TQM consultant Mr. Dinesh Chandra nudged me to join the consulting arm of Eicher (Eicher Consulting Services), and I soon started building my consulting toolkit around Total Quality Management. A few years down the road, I was intrigued by the inconsistency of the results from our projects. There were many big wins, some small wins and a few losses as well. I was perplexed because the effort that I put into each project were the same, but the results were not. I came across a book, The Goal and I got my answers. The book was on the theory of constraints, written by Dr Goldratt, which spoke about surfacing erroneous assumptions in any situation and invalidating them. I wrote to him, and he responded that he was happy to support me passively, and our journey began in 1998.

Today, I am Founder & Managing Consultant, of Goldratt Bharat, a position I have held for the last 25 years.

We interviewed Ravi Gilani, one of the honourees of 58 Over 58, a collaborative endeavour spearheaded by WisdomCircle and INK. The mission is to spotlight the narratives of 58 remarkable individuals annually, individuals who are meaningfully engaged in their post-retirement phase.

Image of Ravi Gilani

What was a key moment that defined your current path?

In December 1992, Mr Dinesh Chandra who was our TQM consultant at Eicher, enquired if I was interested in challenging myself by moving on from my functional role to a creative consulting role, which entailed exploring opportunities at Eicher Consulting Services. I recently read a book “The Eternal Venture Spirit” by Kazuma Tateisi, that underlined the importance of knowledge economy in the future. With this in mind, I joined the consulting arm and that changed the trajectory of my career.

 How would you define your purpose? And why did you choose it?

When I turned 60, I went on a holiday with my ex-colleagues. Someone asked me when I wanted to retire and I flippantly replied “When I turn 120 years old”. This led to a lot of laughter and no one took it seriously. Later, I asked myself – why not? I did my research and realised that nothing is impossible. I started working towards my goal by pursuing a healthy lifestyle very seriously. My metabolic age reflects the progress I have made. Now that I was set to work for a long time, the question posed to me was – what did I want to do? To me, the word ‘Bharat’ is made of 2 parts – Bha (light) and Rath (rigour), which adds up beautifully to what I am trying to do. Today my purpose is to make Bharat the most preferred place for education, living and work.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I was quite negligent about my health in my youth. I would change that and not leave it for much later. Another aspect would be to have more clarity around my purpose. Lastly, I discovered Vedic philosophy by accident in December 2017, which helped me find the answers I was looking for. I would have liked to have this knowledge earlier.

Is there anyone you look up to, to help chart your post-retirement journey?

I take inspiration from Warren Buffet, Dr Abdul Kalam, Mr Dinesh Chandra and Dr Goldratt who have each shaped my worldview in their own ways.

What are the current gaps in the post-retirement eco-system? Where is the pressing need for attention?

I have fundamental questions on the age of retirement, which is at 60. If the person was performing and in good health, why was s/he retired? Also, if the person wasn’t performing, why did the organisation wait till s/he turned 60 years old to let them go? In my mind, there has to be a better way to manage the transition. Also, I don’t understand the concept of retirement. You can stop earning money, but that doesn’t equate to retirement. You don’t retire till your last breath

What are the current gaps in the post-retirement eco-system? Where is the pressing need for attention?

There are a set of people, who have left their “standard” careers and are now explorers. They are not necessarily motivated by lucrative monetary benefits alone but by other aspects like purpose and engagement. WisdomCircle can channel their energy towards opportunities that “value” them (as no one values free work!).

What would your advice be to WisdomCircle, to help plug these gaps?

There are a set of people, who have left their “standard” careers and are now explorers. They are not necessarily motivated by lucrative monetary benefits alone but by other aspects like purpose and engagement. WisdomCircle can channel their energy towards opportunities that “value” them (as no one values free work!).

How would you describe yourself right now?

I have always been driven by my passion to strive for achieving what is considered impossible. I thrive on being unreasonable and I continue to have the ability to zoom in and zoom out.

Read more Wisdom Stories on WisdomCircle

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