Today's Paper

Soldiers gravitate to corporate world

Pankaja Srinivasan

Coimbatore: Contrary to the usual perception of him as the unbending, pipe-smoking, moustache-twirling man as portrayed by the celluloid world, the soldier has become a part and parcel of corporate companies where he has made a name for himself. Leading industrial groups in Coimbatore like the Pricol and the Elgi group of companies, and the LMW group employ ex-servicemen. The number is put at around 40 retired officers holding responsible positions in the corporate world here.

The reason could be, according to Lt Col SK Menon, (a general manager in the Pricol Group) that the army man is techno savvy, an all-weather organisational asset. "The service man brings into the work place ethics and fosters team loyalty towards the organisation. This is paramount since it is the workforce that decides the success of the organisation. A colonel commands a unit of about 1,000 men where motivation for the soldier to die for a cause can only be achieved by HRM par excellence. He handles a team where the logistics management for equipment worth millions of dollars is so tailored that it does not collapse even under the trying conditions of war", says the colonel.

Commander K. Velu is principal of Hindustan College and Air Vice Marshal Seshachari is Director, Aeronautical Studies, Park College of Engineering. The Tamil Nadu College of Engineering has a retired wing commander, Dr Sundaram handling the MBA faculty. ABT, Chandra Hyundai, Jennny Club, real-estate, prominent housing co operatives and medical profession, all have former Army, Navy and Air Force officers managing the show.

Then why do these men quit and take up another career so late in their lives despite all the uncertainties ? As a retired wing commander puts it, "Many competent officers prefer to retire before superannuating so as to seek a second career in the corporate world. Most of them choose to leave in their 40s so that they have age on their side to establish themselves in the corporate sector".

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