Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. Stay away from people who insult you unnecessarily. Time goes by fast; enjoy every day.

 

When it comes to technology, it’s easy to take for granted things of almost unimaginable complexity that make our lives infinitely better, more entertaining, and all-around easier than those of people who lived just 100 years ago.

We may appreciate our iPhones but not give a second thought to the mind-boggling effort that went into manufacturing its input screen, much less the software that controls that screen. Yet, without millions of man hours and the genius of thousands of anonymous scientists, iPhone touchscreens, like just about every other advanced piece of technology, simply wouldn’t exist at all.

Krishna C. Mukherjee has worked diligently behind the scenes for many years. You have surely heard about the technologies and products that his many inventions power.

Mukherjee began working as a Lead Architect and Engineer at Microsoft in 1988 in Redmond, Washington. He developed some of the company’s most critical back-end technologies and flagship products including Office and Windows. Over time, he became a leading experts in the field of artificial intelligence, helping develop some of the key features that made both Microsoft Excel and Word the industry standards for home-office applications.

But Krishna C. Mukherjee’s real contributions came in some of the behind-the-scenes frameworks that he developed, which helped propel Microsoft to global dominance in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Mukherjee was the chief architect of the Visual Basic for Applications programming language, as well as WordBasic, Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE), Object Linking & Embedding (OLE) and Component Object Model (COM). In short, Mukherjee was part of the driving force behind the product that, more than any other, solidified Microsoft’s near imperial domination over the home-computing-software market.

After his impressive stint with Microsoft, Mukherjee went to work for Wolters Kluwer in New York as the Chief Information Officer. He helped modernize the company while inventing an adaptable, rule-driven, electronic filing system called The “Intelligent Filing Manager” or INTELLIFM. This system was created using AI to automate large-scale form filing and has since helped insurance companies and other high-volume users of paper forms dramatically reduce employee workload involved in filing documents.

After his time at Wolters Kluwer, Krishna C. Mukherjee went on to spearhead research and innovation efforts at Bloomberg LP, Citadel LLC, Icon Parking Systems, and UBS AG.

Mukherjee has been granted patents for his innovations and currently serves as a Senior Executive at KWI, a global electronic-commerce conglomerate. At KWI, he has helped build mobile and e-commerce applications for “omnichannel retailing” and helped enrich the overall customer service experience.

With numerous awards to his credit, Mukherjee’s creations remain an outstanding contribution to the global technology industry.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

In the late 1980s, I was a student at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. Computer science appeared before me as a new field with endless possibilities. I greatly enjoyed the computer science courses and earned excellent grades in them. During this time, I developed a keen interest in artificial intelligence (AI). I did advanced research in AI and published papers in conferences. In 1988, Microsoft recruited me from IIT Kanpur to architect, design, and develop software products for the organization. This opportunity provided me an excellent start to my professional career. Since then, I have played a pivotal role in the development and marketing of Microsoft’s flagship products. I have contributed energy and talent towards the overall success of Microsoft. My contributions have enabled Microsoft to become a leader in the industry. During my professional career, I have created different types of software products that are used worldwide every day. I have been able to make highly significant contributions in the areas of software architecture, AI, and cloud computing

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I wake up at around 5:00 am. I listen to a devotional song to put myself in the best mindset for the upcoming day. After a light breakfast, I go to work.Early in the morning, I meet with my international teams through video conference calls. Later, I meet with my executive assistants to go over the agenda for the day. Some days, I network and connect with peer executives and industry leaders. On other days, I have calls with my organization’s departmental heads, followed by in-person meetings with my organization’s executives. During the day, I usually make rounds in the office. I catch up with my teams and introduce myself to new employees. It is important to me as an executive to remain visible to my teams. I talk to the employees, listen to them, empathize with them, and understand their problems. I try to make every employee feel like a valued member of the organization. I am very passionate about research and development. I actively participate in the software development projects. After returning from work, I spend time with my family. So, some of the things that I do to make my work day productive are:
●I rise early.
●I eat a healthy breakfast.
●I maintain a to-do list to prioritize and focus on tasks.
●I communicate with my colleagues.
●I avoid lengthy meetings.
●I take small breaks between meetings

How do you bring ideas to life?

I studied William Shakespeare’s plays in high school. I remember the quote from Julius Caesar: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” When I have new ideas, I immediately start working on them.

To create a software product, I convince myself that the product has never been built before in the manner that I want to build it. I describe the business problem that I want to solve through the product. I list the essential features that the product needs to have. I write an architecture document that serves as a blueprint for the product I want to build.

I develop a proof-of-concept prototype for the product. I present the architecture to the stakeholders and show them the prototype. I research the cost and arrange for the funding of the project. I select the best development strategy and launch the project. I manage effectively and ensure that the project is high-quality and completed on time and on budget.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Since my student days, I have been working with AI. During my professional career, I have designed and developed AI-based features for heavily used products such as Office 365. I have introduced ground-breaking inventions such as the Intelligent Filing Manager. I have illustrated the power of AI to automate complex business workflows. I have published papers on AI in international conferences. My work has helped commercialize AI. The growth in popularity and adoption of AI fascinates me. It is like a dream come true!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I appreciate activities outside of my core business. I enjoy reading and thinking about arts, history, and nature. I enjoy listening to music. I perform in concerts. The artistic habits help me experience a greater appreciation of life and make me more productive.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. Stay away from people who insult you unnecessarily. Time goes by fast; enjoy every day.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Many people believe that nothing significant can be done without deploying many resources. I think differently. When I was a child, my parents taught me the importance of honesty, perseverance, and thrift. They used to tell me, “Waste not, want not.” I remember my parents’ advice and apply it in my day-to-day life. I use human resources very carefully. When I conceive a new idea, I do the initial work myself. Subsequently, resources join my project. They participate wholeheartedly to make my project a success.

My suggestion is to act on your ideas even if there are little or no resources available initially.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I keep on learning and recommend that everyone else do the same. To me, information technology is rapidly changing. New hardware, software, and telecommunication products emerge frequently. I must keep abreast of what is happening in the industry. Learning helps me keep my knowledge current and sharpen my mind. Moreover, learning a subject together helps me bond with colleagues and family members. When I get the chance, I form study groups to learn a new subject. Group members learn from one another and share their talents. Studying in groups makes it possible to cover more material and makes it easier to prepare presentations.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

My growth strategy has been to build internal and external partnerships to integrate diverse points of view.

I use domain-driven designs to create software applications that are easy to understand, maintain, and scale. I establish internal partnerships between the domain experts and software engineering teams. I build sophisticated tools to facilitate the collaboration process. Similarly, I establish external partnerships. I negotiate, secure, and manage agreements with development and marketing organizations.

The collaboration with partners has helped me solve real-world problems and create elegant solutions to meet the needs of the end-users.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

When I started working in the industry, my social skills were not the best. I sometimes found it difficult to build the partnerships that I have mentioned above.

I took steps to improve my interactions with my colleagues. I sent my colleagues greetings by email. I took them out for business lunches and other events. I became more empathetic towards them. The social skills that I developed over time help me lead and manage large, globally distributed teams.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I believe that humility is the most important quality for a business leader to have. Ego is like a steep hill, and ideas are like water. Water rolls off of a steep hill. Similarly, ego prevents accumulation of ideas. Humility, on the other hand, is like a lake that gathers water. Humility allows ideas to accumulate and businesses to flourish.

Knowledge leads to humility. Educated business leaders listen to others. They lead with questions rather than answers. They create work environments that are transparent and open. They encourage communication and collaboration to foster creativity. They do not claim success individually. They do not blame their teams for failures.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The money I’ve put toward my son’s university expenses.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I use Office 365 often. This software product is easy to learn and use. It provides the best security measures to protect data. Users can access the product’s services from anywhere in the world and at any time. The Office 365 applications allow users to work together in real time.

I love Office 365. I architected, designed, and developed its features. I experience satisfaction and joy when using this software product.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I enjoyed reading Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew Grove. The book discusses ideas that are highly relevant for any business. I recommend reading this book.

The book explains how strategic inflection points are inevitable. These inflection points come in all forms. They may mean an opportunity for the business to rise to new heights. They may also signal the beginning of an end. Personal computers, the internet, mobile devices, social media, and AI are all examples of strategic inflection points. The book emphasizes the importance of separating signal from noise. It highlights the importance of gaining insight from resources such as customers, managers, employees, competitors, and complementors to separate signal from noise. This separation is necessary to correctly identify the strategic inflection points.

The book vindicates my analysis of leadership skills. A leader must be humble and alert. He or she must be able to determine the new direction of the business and act with conviction. The book cautions readers not to let success breed contentment and not to let contentment bear fruit to complacency. Overall, the book is a great read.

What is your favorite quote?

I studied William Shakespeare’s plays in high school. I remember the quote from Julius Caesar: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

Key Learnings:

  • I received an excellent education in India. I learnt from my parents, teachers, and professors.
  • During my professional career, I have worked with some of the best business leaders. They have given me the opportunity to address tough, real-world problems. They have encouraged me to research and develop ground-breaking solutions. They have helped ensure that my creations are used worldwide every day. They have expressed great admiration toward my work and contributions. I have influenced their thinking, and they have influenced mine.
  • I am fortunate to have great family, friends, and colleagues who inspire me.

Connect:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kcmukherjee/
https://twitter.com/krismukh