I speak with Bentley Systems’ Vice-president (VP) Southeast Asia and India, Mr Kaushik Chakraborty to get his views on management, leadership, and find out more about Bentley Systems.
Bentley Systems is reputed for being a leading global provider of software solutions not only for engineers, but also for architects, geospatial professionals, constructors, as well as owner-operations for design, construction, and operations of infrastructure according to the VP of Southeast Asia and India, Mr Kaushik Chakraborty.
He adds: “Bentley Systems employs more than 3,500 colleagues, generates annual revenues of US$700 million in 170 countries, and has invested more than US$1 billion in research, development, and acquisitions since 2014. To help our users accelerate going digital, we established Digital Advancement Academies at some of our offices around the globe. And, this year we launched a Digital Advancement Academy at the Bentley Systems Singapore office. The academies are run by the Bentley Institute to share knowledge and bring together experts, government agencies, and industry players from around the region to discuss global best practices in sustainable infrastructure development. We want to help the user community—not just our users, but also their clients—be more successful in using our applications to advance their innovative projects.”
He shares more about Bentley Systems as well as his opinions on leadership, motivation, and his views on his time at Bentley Systems. Mr Chakraborty also shares about how he thinks local companies can try to be sustainable and how upstart companies can plan for longevity.
Sadie-Jane Nunis (SJN): There is a constant debate that management and leadership are different. What are your thoughts?
Mr Kaushik Chakraborty (KC): Leadership and management are similar in their end goals, but different in the functions that they serve. They are intertwined; you cannot have one without the other. Leadership is about setting an example for others while management is about making sure things are done correctly. While these two aspects might not always be aligned, it is important to balance the two. A good leader can inspire and motivate people to go beyond their capabilities and think beyond the definition of their roles.
SJN: What is your management or leadership style like?
I like to set strategic goals, define the mission and vision of the organisation, align resources, and proactively reach milestones. These approaches are important to empower people and motivate them to maximise their potential and then contribute to the organisation’s success. This style is very much in line with Bentley Systems’ leadership principle that emphasises motivating
everybody in the organisation and not just your immediate colleagues. In a complex business environment, leaders and managers need to be versatile as they deal with different people and situations.
SJN: What strengths should an effective leader have?
KC: An effective leader should be adaptable, possess effective communication skills, and have an edge in measuring objectives and driving performance. This person must meet all these capabilities while keeping the end goal in mind and inspiring his or her team to do the same. At Bentley Systems, our leaders help their teams understand the importance of individual roles and efforts in accomplishing our larger mission.
SJN: How do you stay motivated?
I constantly remind myself of the bigger purpose: to create a sustainable planet with better infrastructure to improve the quality of living for people. Knowing what the bigger purpose is has helped me overcome my day-to-day challenges and stay on the right course.
I am also fortunate to work with great colleagues at Bentley Systems who are passionate about what they do and are able to stay positive in difficult situations. It inspires and motivates me to work harder.
SJN: How big is your team and how do you manage and motivate your team?
KC: I work with a team of about 50 people in several countries, and I am in constant communication with them to maintain a strong dynamic. I am approachable and accessible, and I support the decisions that my team make.
SJN: When and why did you join Bentley Systems?
KC: I had established long-term relationships with many Bentley Systems executives that led to my decision to join Bentley Systems in 2015. The company was founded by five Bentley brothers, four of whom still work for the company in executive positions and are extremely passionate about what they do. I am proud to be part of a company that builds on the simple but compelling belief of making a difference in the lives of people through innovations in technology.
SJN: Any favourite personal projects that have come out from your time with Bentley Systems?
KC: I have worked on so many projects at Bentley Systems, so choosing a favourite is like asking me to pick my favourite child. I cannot do that. I can, however, tell you about a couple of local finalists from Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure 2019 Awards event that was held in Singapore.
The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant designed by AECOM Singapore Pte. Ltd. is a large-scale dual mode plant that can treat either salty sea water or freshwater from the Marina Reservoir. Spanning three hectares, mostly underground, the facility features 20,000 metres of parkland on the roof for community recreation and an unconventional architectural design to blend within the surrounding coastal environment. AECOM Singapore implemented Building Information Modelling (BIM) strategies throughout design and construction and further extended its application through the creation of a digital twin for operation and maintenance management.The project team used OpenPlant to create a 3D model of the complex facility and minimise errors during construction to save time and costs.
Another project that I would like to highlight is the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant designed by Jacobs Engineering Group and Public Utilities Board (PUB), Singapore’s National Water Agency. The reclamation plant helps to serve Singapore’s long-term water needs. Jacobs created a connected data environment based on ProjectWise to create a single source of truth for all project data among the globally dispersed team. Using OpenPlant, OpenRoads, and OpenBuildings Designer facilitated intelligent, integrated BIM workflows, ensuring design consistency and improving multidiscipline coordination to save 30 per cent in design time. Using Bentley Systems software enabled the team to gain immediate access to the plant’s data from construction to handover.
These are only two of the many projects that have overcome tremendous infrastructure challenges, and Bentley Systems will continue to help our users deliver projects more efficiently through the use of cutting-edge applications.
Kaushik (middle left) with CEO of Bentley Systems,
Mr Greg Bentley (middle right) at the Year in
Infrastructure 2019 Conference.
SJN: What role do you see Bentley Systems playing as a disruptor?
KC: We are using digital twins to advance beyond building information modelling, enabling asset-centric organisations to converge their engineering technologies, operational technologies, and information technologies into a portal or augmented/immersive experiences. A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical asset, process, or system, as well as the engineering information that allows us to understand and model its performance.
More people are realising that it takes about a decade to build something that survives for a century. Bentley Systems is pushing the boundaries of engineering to go beyond 3D, beyond the traditional BIM approach, and toward the whole lifecycle of not just building but also maintaining infrastructure.
By working with strategic partners such as Microsoft, and integrating our software with their cloud technology, we are making our software easy to deploy and manage. We are also working with other partners like Siemens and Topcon to create a digital ecosystem and increase industry adoption as we take a holistic approach to our mission statement.
SJN: What are some of the challenges faced by Bentley Systems in order to be sustainable?
KC: One of the challenges Bentley Systems faces is staying innovative as a mature organisation. Bentley Systems strives to constantly reinvent itself and look at things from different perspectives to remain agile.
Our focus for the organisation is on digital twins. It is important for us to drive innovation for the future. Fundamentally, it is about changing from traditional desktop software delivery to providing cloud services and appbased innovations. This shift shows our commitment to creating a whole new organisational construct to focus and prioritise from an innovative perspective.
SJN: What are some of the positive outcomes that have surfaced because of Bentley Systems’ attempts to remain sustainable?
KC: One example is that we have migrated from a standard purchase-based model to a subscription-based model, making it easier for our users to consume our products.
SJN: How has Bentley Systems remained sustainable all these years?
KC: We are unique, in that we have grown through acquisitions and mergers. But we always make sure that intellectual property remains and is sustained. What I mean is that, as a company, Bentley Systems has been successful in retaining people and their knowledge, as well as welcoming and integrating other companies’ ideas and finding a home for them within our own. Several of the senior leaders at Bentley Systems are the founders of companies that we have acquired, and their innovative spirit is further nurtured by the culture within Bentley Systems.
SJN: What is your opinion on Singaporean companies’ ability to be sustainable?
KC: In Singapore, the government has played a critical role in helping businesses recognise the importance of going digital in the built environment to remain sustainable. For example, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has put into place an implementation plan for integrated digital delivery to fully integrate building processes and transform the way that things are built in Singapore. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Housing & Development Board (HDB), and PUB have also made significant accomplishments in digital adoption in their respective fields. This progress has caused the rest of the construction ecosystem to learn and innovate and spur the region to look to Singapore to accelerate going digital.
SJN: Any advice for local companies struggling to be sustainable?
KC: Start going digital. Instead of investing in IT solutions that seem exciting, companies should look to fix their pain points. Construction companies should also reskill and upskill their people to adapt to new technological advancements and implement digitalisation that promotes collaboration.
SJN: Any advice for upstart companies striving for longevity?
KC: Do not just react to trends. I would advise that these companies stay true to their purpose and mission.
Successful start-ups are those that try to fundamentally make a difference in the lives of people.
PHOTOS: BENTLEY SYSTEMS
Copyright © 2019 Singapore Institute of Management