Capt. Muthu Krishnan Iyyappan: The Quintessence of Grit & Perseverance

Capt. Muthu Krishnan Iyyppan,Founder & CEOThe streets of Jammu & Kashmir were ablaze and a troop of Indian Army was engaged in a fierce combat with the first ever suicide attackers in the history of Kashmir insurgency in May 2000. Though it might sound like a scene straight out of an action movie, this was Capt. Muthu Krishnan Iyyppan’s reality. When he was looked upon to give directions to his men as a young lieutenant with almost zero field experience, in the face of enemy bullets whizzing past his ears, he led his team to a stupendous victory with 100 percent target elimination and zero casualties. “That was my first test in leadership,” recalls Capt. Muthu, Founder & CEO, Eka Academy. Had been responsible for lives and not just careers, relying on his single command, Capt. Muthu clearly understands the delicate blend of leadership and humility that is lacking in several front runners of the market.

Leaving the comfort of a remunerative job at ITC against all odds to join the army to serve the nation when the Kargil war broke out, Capt. Muthu truly has what one may call as nerves of steel. Be it serving as the first Indian Territorial Army soldier to command the regular army troops at Siachen Glacier, making his mark in the corporate world or building Eka, he takes up the mantle to persevere and successfully complete the task at hand. Though Capt. Muthu chose Physics as his undergrad specialty to pursue a career as an astrophysicist or as an Indian Air Force Pilot, fate had different plans. While his stints at companies like ITC, Reliance Communications, Centum Learning among others lasted for not more than a couple of years, his dedication to job surpassed the
quantitative value that others put in. The fact that these organizations still leverage the practices Capt. Muthu developed years ago stands as a testament to his dedication, divergent thinking, trouble shooting capabilities and ‘Quality over Quantity’ policy.

As a leader, Capt. Muthu believes that the baton of ownership & innovation should be passed to the entire workforce, and works tirelessly for the all round development of the organization, his teammates and himself

Thanks to his versatility and intrepidness, he was able to brew up a strong concoction of responsive leadership and industrial diversity during these stints. This unique blend of expertise & experience across BFSI, BPO Management, pharmaceuticals and several others helps him to understand clients’ business models, speak their language (which makes them open up), and gather a deeper insight on their needs & concerns to craft customized training solutions for an enhanced productivity. “We take the best practices and cross pollinate amongst them without crossing the lakshman rekha of confidentiality,” explains the Captain.

'Never Say Die' Attitude
As a leader, Capt. Muthu believes that the baton of ownership & innovation should be passed to the entire workforce, and works tirelessly for the all round development of the organization, his teammates and himself. Capt. Muthu informs, “We have a systemic process that encourages creative thinking. We believe that while some of the proposed ideas may lead to nothing; but if not acted upon, we will definitely miss the opportunity to create something path breaking”. Remembering the words of his flying instructor, “making no decisions is far more dangerous
than making wrong decisions”, he encourages his teammates to engage in precise and quick decision making, and earn cross-functional expertise that helps the team understand the holistic view of its operations. However, Capt. Muthu is aware that the buck always stops at the leader and knows that the success or failure of Eka will always be attributed to him. “I have to take decisions purely from my gut feeling – and stick by those decisions, even if some of them turn out to be not so encouraging,” Capt. Muthu states, clearly exemplifying the stark difference between a leader and a manager.

Backed by the founder’s iron clad attributes and rock solid beliefs, it is easy to misunderstand Eka’s journey as a smooth sail. However, this ‘overnight’ success took years of patience and resolve to stay afloat. Capt. Muthu’s collective & calm demeanour played a vital role in holding the fort in face of adversities. One such tide came in when the team executed a business worth Rs.30 lakh and the client failed to pay up. Under these wrenching circumstances, Capt. Muthu went through the painful experience of dire loss of capital and team members. But he never gave up on Eka which he regards as his third child. “I can never call something as a failure - failure is only when I stop trying,” asserts he.

An active member of the industry, Capt. Muthu is a part of the CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) and the sub-committee on Skill Development, HR & IR as well as Higher Education. A sought after mentor, he has taken several mentorship sessions in Indian and international institutions like SIES, ITM, GIBS – Bangalore, Central European University – Hungary and is a regular speaker at plethora of academic and industry forums. Besides leading the first motorcycle expedition from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in 1995, he also has the unique distinction of being one of the less than 10 Indians who have been to the four extreme cardinal points of the current Indian administered territory.