Pursuit of Happiness

The Joy of Adjusting a Little

Partha DeSarkar, executive director and CEO of Hinduja Global Solutions, not only advocates making small adjustments but also taking oneself less seriously to remain happy

Partha DeSarkar’s fondest childhood memory is of the time he spent in the tea gardens of Kalimpong in West Bengal, watching Mount Kanchenjunga when he looked into the distance and the river Teesta flowing when he looked below. The executive director and chief executive officer of Hinduja Global Solutions, a digital customer experience leader and part of the multi-conglomerate Hinduja Group, grew up there, so one is in for a surprise when he effortlessly mouths the Kannada-English phrase “Swalpa adjust maadi”. Literally translated, it means, “Please adjust a little,” he explains, pointing out that this popular Bengaluru usage describes him the best—he is always willing to adjust a little.

DeSarkar has over 25 years of experience in customer services. But, his first love was aviation. Even though his parents did not approve of it, he studied the subject and got into Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL). “That was a swalpa-adjust-maadi thing. If you cannot fly planes, you might as well make them,” he quips. “At that time, HAL was the only employer in aviation and it did not pay [well]. So, I did an MBA and got into banking. That then got me into customer service,” he says.

He admits that he had a hard time adapting from blue to white collar. “I think logically. For me, problem-solving is what gives me the great escape. I started applying problem-solving to customer service. That is how I was able to reconcile between my urge for technology and problem-solving skills,” he says.

DeSarkar holds a master’s degree in technology from IIT Madras and another in business administration from IIM Bangalore. He also has a PhD in strategic management from IIT Delhi, which he credits for his understanding of technology and its ability to change business models. He now wants to do another PhD, this time on generative artificial intelligence (GenAI). “There is a lot to learn. If I do not learn, I will become obsolete,” he avers.

DeSarkar is quite optimistic about the impact of GenAI on customer service. He recalls an instance when he overheard a conversation on AI tools and how a call by an AI bot could eliminate a natural person’s speech. “That Indian companies would like to explore with such cutting-edge tech, I thought, was amazing. India has a lot to give. I am amazed at how much we think outside the box and how we deploy tech so quickly,” he beams. It was a eureka moment for him, he adds.

Otherwise flexible and accommodating, DeSarkar is a self-confessed perfectionist when it comes to food. He took to cooking when he relocated to New York a year-and-a-half back. “I am getting better at everything,” he announces proudly, referring to his culinary skills.

While his family time is spent on grocery shopping, cooking, watching television, among other activities, DeSarkar loves playing golf with his son. It is the greatest stressbuster, he says. “No other sport will consume four to five hours in a day. When you play golf, you have to switch off your mind from whatever is your stress for the day, whether it is from your work or your home. Golf takes you away from stress,” he says. However, he clarifies, he never gets stressed as he has learned to take himself less seriously.

“You get stressed if you take yourself very seriously. The moment you are able to cross that divide of saying that whatever you do is not important to the larger scheme of things, I think you are good. You will not take that much of stress.” His mantra for happiness is equally simple. Success is equal to love which is equal to happiness.