Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Moving beyond education #2: Luck and Success

A wise man has said, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Successful people are those who make the most of opportunities. But what is preparation? How do you know what kind of preparation is suitable for the opportunity that might come your way?

The head of Harley Davidson India, Anoop Prakash gives us a good example of holistic preparation. In the last post on moving beyond education, I talked about experimenting with experiences. Anoop did the same. Annop's parents emigrated to the US in 1968. He completed his under-graduate studies from Stanford University. Then he joined the US marines and became an officer. In the marines he was one deployed to Kosovo (South eastern Europe) at a day's notice. Later on he went on to do an MBA from Harvard and later  joined McKinsey & Co. as a consultant. He then worked with George Bush administration at a time when the government was trying to recover from the housing crash. In 2009 a classmate from Harvard told him that Harley Davidson was looking for a person to lead the operation in India. Given a diverse and rich experience coupled with degrees most people can only dream about, Anoop proved to be a good fit. Estimates are that in India Harley Davidson has sold over 1200 bikes (the cheapest costing Rs 5.5 Lakh).
If  we look at Anoop, his experience with the Marines or the government gives him that edge to lead a global brand and take it to new developing economies such as India. At a time when the growth rate of India is pretty high, India still can be a tough place to do business considering the tight government regulations on foreign investments. 
If we consider Anoop's job at Harley Davidson a success, it is because he was prepared for it. This preparation included working for the U.S. government, US Marine Corps, McKinsey and star degrees from Harvard and Stanford. Its not the degree alone that got him his success. 

This is the second post in the series Moving Beyond Education. If you liked this try reading the first post "Moving Beyond Education"