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Letter to the Editor: Spreading Gracious Professionalism

Dear Editor, After reading your article on Gracious Professionalism, I was terribly divided about to whom I should thank first, Mr. Woodie Flowers for pioneering the concept, or you, for bringing this message to me. I chose you.

The issue is very close to my heart. I would like to describe an incident of about eight to nine years ago. My son was about leave high school and was preparing to join an engineering institute. In India, there were six top-grade engineering institutes (called IIT- Indian Institute of Technology). The selection was done through a grueling entrance examination.

There were large number of “Coaching Institutes” who used to specialize in training students to clear the IIT admission test. Sometimes, there would be an entrance test to get selected for some of such “successful” (on past record) coaching centers. Anyway, my son got admitted to one such coaching institute.

After the first day, when he came home, I asked him how the day went. He told me that they were briefed by some senior faculty that the 30 students sitting in the class are not to be treated as friends, but competitors, and like an enemy on a battlefield. I was shocked, to say the least. I promptly advised my son that being an engineer from a good institute is in no case the primary target in life—being a good human being is the first one. I also suggested that his engagement there should be purely restricted to the academic front only. Such Nazi-type indoctrination is not a thing to cherish.

I have spent around 27 years in my career in the automation industry. Here also, I have seen such mentality in quite a few individuals. Therefore, the approach and concept of Gracious Professionalism can be taught even beyond school days, in the professional front when fresh engineers start their career.

I work for a very large power generating company with around 25,000 employees. We recruit between 300 and 400 fresh engineering graduates every year. They are imparted technical and managerial training for one year. Our organisation has a ready mentoring structure for that and beyond also. Though both the above roles are generally managed by our HR Division, professionals from other areas also are deeply involved.

Actually, I would like to suggest that our training centre put in some courses around this concept. In a disturbed world today, with violence slowly becoming norm, rather than exception, I feel that this kind of concept/movement can be very effective in bringing back harmony in society. I shall be grateful if I am able to do my bit in it.

To conclude, my son could neither complete the course for IIT entrance from that institute, nor get a chance to study in IIT. He chose a different course, passed out last year, and started his career as an architect—as a very happy, content, multi-interest lovable human being, about whom his parents can be proud.  

Partha Sengupta
Addl General Manager (PE-C&I)

Related Article - Gracious Professionalism: Take the Challenge
To read the article referred to in this letter, go to

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