Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Make a Difference

‘You must be the change that you wish to see in the world’
-       M.K.Gandhi

I have worked for a lot of managers but for a very few leaders in my career spanning over 16 years. As a matter of principle I have always told myself that you learn from very person that you come across, making a mental note of the things that you want to adopt and the things that you want to avoid. This is how I viewed every person that I have had the pleasure of working for and with. After years into my career, as I was transitioning into a mid level management position, I was in a conundrum - what kind of a manager should I be? 

As I was trying to look up to different folks that I have known to be in positions of power, I realized that there is a difference between being a manager versus being a leader. My dad further clarified this by pointing out that - A manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate. In a way they must go hand in hand but are not the same thing. Warren Bennis in his 1989 book ‘On becoming a leader’ has composed an exhaustive list of differences of which I have listed a few of my favorites:

-       The manager administers; the leader innovates
-       The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
-       The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
-       The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.

The biggest difference between managers and leaders is the way they motivate the people who work or follow them, and this sets the tone for most other aspects of what they do. How do you motivate people?

My personal experience  on being an employee as well as a leader has been that focusing on small things goes a long way towards making employees believe in what they do day in and day out with a sense of purpose. From stopping by the cubicle getting to know what’s going in their lives; taking them out for a lunch or a drink establishes a rapport that helps in understanding who they are and what is important to them at a rudimentary level in their work life. I am by no means suggesting that this compensates for traditional pay raises, bonuses or promotions. Given the cyclical economic conditions that we are perennially in, such things will help a great deal. I have come across some great managers, who  don’t seem to have time for activities outside core work or they are socially awkward which stops them from being a true leader. One of my favorite quotes on this topic was from Herb Kelleher, the co-founder and former CEO of Southwest who wrote, ‘A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear’. Southwest recently celebrated an accomplishment of forty one consecutive years of profit.

I was at our India offices last year and a young manager who wanted to be promoted to lead a larger team accosted me, “I’ve been reading all about leadership, have implemented several ideas, and think I’m doing a good job at leading my team. How will I know when I’ve crossed over from being a manager to a leader?”

I didn’t have a ready answer and it’s a complicated issue, so we decided to talk the next day. I thought long and hard, and came up with three things that will help you decide if you’ve made the shift from managing people to leading them. I referred to Vineet Nayar’s, the former CEO of HCL, spot on perspective on this topic:

Measuring Goals vs. Adding Value.  You’re probably measuring value, not adding it, if you’re managing people. Only managers measure value; some even reduce value by disabling those who add value. If a recruiter is asked to report every 1 hour how many folks he has hired, by distracting him, his boss is subtracting value.

By contrast, leaders focus on creating value, saying: “I’d like you to handle issue 1 while I deal with issue 2.” Leading by example and leading by enabling people are the hallmarks of action-based leadership.

Circles of influence vs. Circles of power. Just as managers have subordinates and leaders have followers, managers create turfs while leaders create circles of influence.
The quickest way to figure out which of the two you’re doing is to count the number of people outside your reporting hierarchy who come to you for advice. The more that do, the more likely it is that you are perceived to be a leader.

Leading people vs. Managing work. Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success. Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control.

I encouraged my colleague to put this theory to the test by inviting his teammates for chats. When they stop discussing the tasks at hand — and talk about vision, purpose, and aspirations instead, that’s when you will know you have become a leader.

At RTS we strive to mentor and groom leaders on a daily basis and we’d like to hear how you view leadership?

Mukundh Parthasarathy

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The number one rule in sales is not to sell….

Certainly is puzzling, but let me share my experiences and thoughts on this rule.

I remember my very first active role in working on a major new business development activity with a very large international airline. I never thought that I had the qualities of a salesperson. Growing up in a family of teachers and engineers, I picked up qualities such as paying attention to details and learning new things. Maybe that is what made me into a Boolean person. I saw things as black and white and expected data and substantiation for everything I did in my life. I also had a misconception about sales that it is all about relationships and what you sell (price, value, and quality of the product).  My first experience simply changed a lot of my perceptions and understanding about sales and made me believe in myself. It fueled my confidence and gave me the torque and momentum to excel in winning the confidence of the customer and the by-product happens to be closing a sale.  I learnt that the number one rule in sales is not to sell or not come out as trying to sell.  This certainly holds true at least in the business we at Revenue Technology Services are in.

Any text book or authority on sales will probably tell you that closing a sale or wining a deal depends on a number of factors such as price, value, product quality, service around it, and brand – in no particular order. While these are very important, all these things being equal, in my experience the key factor that pushes customers over the edge to say ‘YES’ is trust (a combination of integrity, knowledge,  and expertise).  I have walked into several Request for Proposal (RFP) response presentations and have experienced something interesting.  People warm up to you very quickly the moment they realize that you know what you are talking about, the confidence you have, and your ability to tell the truth about what you/your company/product can or cannot do. In other words, selling happens in a very subtle way in my opinion.  That is probably why many companies today don’t have titles in business cards that read as VP-Sales or Director of Sales.  They call themselves VP - Business Development or Business Counselor.

By no means am I downplaying other attributes and factors associated with winning a deal. But my experience overwhelmingly shows that integrity, knowledge, and confidence creates trust which leads to a feeling of partnership and eventually results in winning a new customer and retaining an existing customer.  I personally believe in the above philosophy and our people at Revenue Technology Services embrace this as well as they work with our current and future customers.

I am sure you have your own perceptions and opinions about this idea. And you will agree that there is no single formula of success.  I welcome your  thoughts and feedback on what you consider your number one rule when selling.

Raja Kasilingam

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Airport Experience

Summer is fast approaching and along with the warm sunshine, the cold drinks, and barbeque also come vacation plans for many of us. While road trips are fun or so I have heard, I like flying to my destination. In my opinion, there is something special about driving up to an airport that doesn’t match the excitement of a road trip.

Come summer time, airports get busier than usual. The check-in line extends out as long as the one when the first In-N-Out Burger opened up here in Dallas. The security line is loaded with a fair bit of tension…take off my shoes? Not if you’re 12 and under. Take your jacket off? Not if you’re 65 and older. “Laptops need to be taken out please!” Somehow even the “please” doesn’t hide the fact that you have just been given an order!

I find it best to travel really light and with just a personal carry on. Life is so much easier for the 20 minutes that you have to spend going through check-in and security (DFW International airport has spoilt me! I realize that it is much longer at other airports.) The excitement, nervousness, and anxiety of getting past these gates is enough for me to head to the nearest bar to relax before getting on a flight.

Once past check-in and security, I enjoy walking around the airport to look at the stores and checking out the eateries. More than the obvious though, my favorite thing is to people-watch. I like to sit down in a spot from where I can watch the pedestrian traffic and look at all the different travelers. Have you ever caught yourself observing fellow passengers and wonder what their story is? Like why is a certain passenger walking the length of an airport in such high heels when clearly they were meant for a night out?! Or why is someone dressed to the nines, hat and all? Where are they planning to go straight from a flight? My favorite though are the moms traveling with their precious cargo. I am a mom of 2 amazing kiddos myself and have been lucky that they have been great travelers. I try to analyze those ‘calm’ moms who seem to have it together with kids less than 5 years of age (that’s my cut-off after which I believe kids travel better). I watch intently as to what they are doing right (read brilliantly) to have their children stay calm and composed and sometimes even enjoy being at the airport. Some airports are definitely kid friendly (like the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam) but a lot of them aren’t yet.

Another interesting observation is the variety of books I see people reading. Next to a library or a book store, watching people with their different reading material is a great place to add to your reading list!

Traveling can be a source of stress, especially the packing and unpacking but the airport experience definitely makes it worth the effort.

What are some of your fun airport experiences/observations? Do you have a favorite airport that makes your airport experience enjoyable?

Charmi Ramchandani

Account Manager

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Are you satisfied with what most companies refer to as ‘Customer Satisfaction’?

Every company uses the catch phrase ‘Customer Satisfaction’.  After all, which company can hope to market their solution and get any traction in the marketplace without adhering to this buzz word as one of the core tenets of their offering. Though companies mean well and most of them actually strive to have client satisfaction as a goal, it is debatable as to how highly on their list they are willing to place this particular aspect of their service. Unless you live on Planet Utopia, the possibility of getting a bug free and totally business compliant solution is only a pipe dream.  However in the real world, Mr. Murphy does tend to be hyper active when and where you least expect him to and how the vendor responds to these unexpected and often unpleasant circumstances is what ultimately determines the failure or success of a project. As the saying goes, life is not about the challenges that you face but about how you face up to those challenges.

Client satisfaction taken in the literal robotic sense devoid of any human sentiment can be measured in hard cold statistics that provide a seemingly irrefutable scorecard on the number of issues that have failed or not working as they were supposed to. However a mere scorecard cannot really capture the intangibles,  as it does not reflect deadlines missed due to inaccurate or incomplete requirements, mission creep and other delays caused by acts of God.

Though customers obviously expect on-time and under budget deliverables, in the unfortunate instances when this is not possible, it is the attitude and approach of the vendor in dealing with these challenges that often times mould the reaction of the client. In the spirit of transparency, if the vendor discloses the challenges and outlines the potential pitfalls as the project progresses, that ensures that the client gains a valuable appreciation of the nuances of the project and at the same time helps calibrate their expectations. This is a much more preferred approach than working in a vacuum with minimal periodic or insightful updates creating a false feeling of comfort on the client’s side which gets disturbed rudely when details of an unexpected unsatisfactory outcome are disclosed at the last minute.

Those kinds of approaches will understandably result in strong backlash and is at the core of customer dissatisfaction.  Honest communication lines need to be open between the vendor and the client in order to achieve any semblance of customer satisfaction. Trust is an incredibly core tenet of the client vendor relationship and that is something that has to be earned from day 1 and is obviously not an attribute that can be taken for granted at the outset of any client vendor engagement.  I have personally seen cases where a relatively major adverse impact on a project was met with a reasonable response from the client as they realized that the outcome was in spite of the vendor putting in their best efforts due to a rapport developed between the vendor and the client. Conversely relatively minor issues have been blown out of proportion by clients owing to a toxic client vendor relationship.

The ultimate measure of customer satisfaction is typically gauged by how likely the vendor is willing to put his or her reputation on the line and recommending the solution to his or her peers.  That perception on the client side is shaped obviously by the merits of a solution and it’s execution but what a lot of vendors fail to realize is building trust and rapport through a human connection with the client is hugely important. Ultimately a great solution is not just one that has the most bells and whistles but also that which places a lot of importance on the intangibles involving inter-personal relationships.

We at RTS are proud to proclaim that our client services team has won multiple acclaims around the globe not just in terms of being subject matter experts in the revenue management domain but by nurturing relationships with clients through constant, courteous and consistent communication.  Rather than engaging in typical client-vendor relationships, we strongly believe that working with clients as partners goes a long way in smooth project management and enhanced customer satisfaction. We realize that you do not treat your passengers like mere statistics and we likewise view our clients as much more than just a number.

Please let us know what factors influence the satisfaction levels that you feel with your products. If you are thinking about a revenue management or pricing solution, we invite you to consider us and experience the award winning RTS customer service that a number of our existing clients can attest to.

Pradeep Bandla
VP, Passenger Solutions

Friday, April 11, 2014

RTS Press Release - Brittany Ferries selects RTS CargoProfitOpt

Revenue Technology Services (RTS) is pleased to announce that Brittany Ferries Freight division has selected RTS CargoProfitOpt as the solution to meet its freight revenue management requirements. Once implemented, this will be the ferry industry’s first such solution. With this win, RTS adds to its list of several firsts in its long history of 32 years; first passenger revenue management solution developed for Republic Airways, first cargo price optimization solution for Virgin Atlantic Cargo, and now the first revenue management solution for the freight ferry market for Brittany Ferries.

This also reiterates the thought leadership shown by both the companies to shake the status quo and make significant improvements to how freight is managed in the industry.

The freight revenue management solution will support capacity forecasting, show up rate forecasting, demand forecasting, bid pricing, and customer value components that will help Brittany Ferries to maximize their profits.

This win also strengthens the relationship and long standing partnership between the two companies over the years. Brittany Ferries already uses RTS ProfitOpt, our passenger revenue management solution.

Simon Wagstaff, Group Freight Director, commented At Brittany Ferries, we have long been convinced of the potential of a reliable system of revenue management for our freight business. RTS has always exhibited thought leadership in data analytics, revenue management, and pricing .The choice of RTS as our partner for this project was a very straightforward one, given the existing relationship between our two companies and the trust and confidence that has been built up since the introduction of their revenue management system on the passenger side of our business. We have complete confidence in their ability to deliver the system that we need and look forward to working closely with RTS in the long term.”

Raja Kasilingam, President and COO at RTS, "Revenue Technology Services is committed to making positive changes to the freight ferry automation world. We are delighted to add this product to the industry-leading suite of products we offer to the market place, all designed to help companies optimally market and sell their product, operate efficiently, and to better serve their customers.” Mukundh Parthasarathy, Vice President of Cargo solutions for Revenue Technology Services chimed in, “To have the world’s first freight revenue management solution developed for Brittany Ferries is a huge achievement for our cargo suite. Adding to this, we are the only company to have an integrated freight revenue management and passenger revenue management solution.”

The first phase of the project is scheduled to go live in the second quarter of 2014 that includes capacity management modules.

Alan Wayne, the project manager for this endeavour and also the manager of the passenger revenue management practice at Brittany Ferries commented, “The last couple of months have seen a successful start to the project. The nature of developing an integrated passenger and freight revenue management system has thrown up some interesting challenges that both Brittany Ferries and RTS are rising to. If we continue to progress in the same fashion we will have no problems hitting our Phase 1 go-live target. “

About RTS

Revenue Technology Services is a worldwide provider of profit enhancing revenue management and pricing software solutions for passenger and cargo, consulting services, and IT services for travel, transportation and logistics industries. RTS is headquartered in Dallas, Texas with offices in UK and South Africa and a development centre in IT Park in Chandigarh, India. For additional information, visit or contact or +1-972-573-1600

About Brittany Ferries
Founded in 1972 by proud Breton Alexis Gourvennec and a group of fellow Breton farmers wanting to export their cauliflowers and artichokes to the UK, Brittany Ferries is now the leading maritime carrier on the western and central channel. Gourvennec formed the company, formerly known as Armement Bretagne-Angleterre-Irelande, or B.A.I. for short, which was officially born on a bleak New Year's Day in 1973 with French, British and Breton flags flying and a choir singing carols. With Britain's entry into the Common Market in 1973, Gourvennec saw his chance to end the geographical isolation of Brittany. Realising the quickest route to this new market would be across the western channel to Plymouth, he contacted several large shipping companies to no avail and began setting up his own company by purchasing a freighter, the Kerisnel, named after a small Breton village famous for its cauliflowers - with the Breton farmers who are still the company's main shareholders today.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I mentioned a few times previously where blog ideas seem to appear at random, depending on what is happening. Today was no different! Having covered the “People” and “Processes” part of our catchphrase, the only item remaining (before I start the loop again), is technology. I am, at heart, a geek. Granted, a weird geek, in that I like things like off road driving, fixing cars and mechanics, playing hard rock guitar, household repairs and various other “non-geek” pursuits.

But I have to tell you, I like technology. Not the type where I need an IT degree to be able to fix a car engine, but that type which makes our lives easier. The type which allows us to work around the world, cater for staff and clients in multiple time zones, and still maintain a reasonable work/life balance.

I live in the most beautiful city in the world, Cape Town. From a convenience perspective, it is NOT in the U.S.A., so we have to deal with businesses, shops and shopping centers who all tend to keep the same working hours. None of this 10 PM visit to the PC shops for parts. If I need to meet with someone, it needs to be during what would be my working day. So I need to borrow some time.

Additionally, our team is based around the world. Our India team’s day starts 3 ½ hours before mine. Our US team’s day starts pretty much as our sun goes down. When I am heading off to meet Mr. Sandman, they are heading towards afternoon tea time.

And in today’s connected world, people for the most part want answers NOW.

Technology can be a great enabler. Nipping out this morning to meet my insurance guy, an email comes through from a European client with a query. I can log this remotely, request a response from someone on our technical team in India, and they can investigate. The investigation is done remotely, and I get the feedback to the client, all within about 15 minutes. And this is done whilst I am stuck in traffic (one of the few Cape Town downsides), albeit with a spectacular view of the surfers.

This afternoon, after various calls, including conference calls with our full scattered team, I will head out slightly early to help coach my 3 sons at gymnastics. But this will be secure in the knowledge that if anything urgent arises, there is a pretty good chance that it can be resolved without me needing to leave the floor.

Later, after dinner and some time with the family, I can still sit down, vegetate a little in front of the TV, but at the same time I can review and respond to other requests, complete some admin, get appointments set up and generally continue being productive.

Similar technology allows clients to access hosted systems (both ours and others) remotely, offering the possibilities of similar flexibility. The abundance of online tools for meetings, video conferencing, screen sharing allows us to interact with clients without the added cost of travel, and provides much quicker resolution.

For those of us who grew up with token ring networking, Unix, DOS networking, green screens, and dumb terminals all requiring some form of hard connections or locations, technology truly can be miraculous. The biggest challenge I personally face is knowing when to switch off!

So any unhealthy work/life balance is not the fault of technology, but purely down to my human failings J

Let us know how you use, or would like to use, technology to enrich your lives.

Jason Codd
Vice President - Services

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Recruiting the next "Super Star"

As I was reading Thomas L.Friedman’s NY Times article, ‘ How to get a job at Google’ (, a fantastic read by the way, I had a simple question to my colleagues in the travel and transportation community – when you look to expand your team, do you hire or do you recruit?

This is not a trick I started googling as I thought there was a difference between these terms and couldn’t get my mind or words around what exactly was the difference but deep inside knew that this particular difference can take a company to the next level or make it another mediocre run-of-the-mill organization.

Merriam Webster defines ‘Hire’ as


noun \ˈhī(-ə)r\
 payment for labor or personal services :  wages

while ‘Recruit’ is defined as

verb \ri-ˈkrüt\
: to persuade (someone) to join you in some activity or to help you

Though these terms are used interchangeably, most companies make the mistake of hiring a candidate versus recruiting one. While hiring might typically be driven by need like a .Net developer, the act of recruiting shifts the focus on the individual who may or may not have the exact fit or skill sets. The way I see it is if you come across great talent, identify it, welcome them with open arms into your team and tweak / modify your organization accordingly.

These recruited individuals will make a difference. At RTS, we have strived to look for and recruit individuals that fit our culture and possess a winning attitude to make the organization improve by leaps and bounds.

I agree with Google as Mr.Friedman details in his article on the five hiring attributes that Google follows:
·         General cognitive ability
·         Leadership
·         Humility
·         Innate curiosity
·         Ownership

The least important attribute that Google looks for is ‘expertise’. I am not arguing that skill sets, grades, degree don’t matter but most jobs typically are not well defined from roles and responsibilities.

How does one go about recruiting? I kind of keep my eyes and ears open to every individual I talk to from various walks of life. They all can be potential recruits. If I meet someone who is very logical, analytical and curious, a light bulb in my mind comes on as to how can I bring this person into RTS? 

We at RTS have a blue print of who would be a great candidate to work in our environment irrespective of the vertical, or skill set that we are trying to fill in. As long as that person meets those standards, they are in.

This process can be slow but trust me this can work wonders as I have seen major corporations time and again hire individuals either to manage or to meet a job description losing sight of the bigger picture.

Once recruited, the relationship between the organization and the individual should be treated like another relationship. It cannot be taken for granted. The candidate / relationship have to be nurtured with appropriate attention paid to their aspirations, talent and capabilities. As you may well know, our business is still about people. No single individual is indispensable but time and again we have seen that when key people move on, customers do take notice and keep their options open during decision points.

This approach  has made a difference in our organization. We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Mukundh Parthasarathy
VP, Cargo Product Management and Marketing