Educational Background – Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from VNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology and MBA in International Management with Honors from Thunderbird School of Global Management (Part of Arizona State University) (#1 ranked MBA program for International Management (US News & World Report,1996-2013)
- Selected part of Business School’s elite “Leadership EDGE” program for making an impact on-campus. Was amongst the 10 students selected for the program out of a student pool of over 300 students.
- Graduated with Honors from Thunderbird School of Global Management with a GPA of 3.73 out of 4. Selected to be a part of Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.
- Joined Toastmasters and progressed from a Club member to a Club President to eventually an Area Director handling multiple clubs. Led the Area I was leading to a President’s Distinguished Area (Highest Recognition at the Area Level)
- Over 12 years of experience advising Fortune 500 companies on their most pressing growth-related challenges in Asia Pacific. Traveled extensively and executed projects in India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, China, Myanmar, Australia & U.S.A. Helped translate strategic initiatives to action on the ground via leading Project Management Office (PMO) for clients thereby helping them un-lock value from these initiatives.
Our Exclusive Interview:
1. What was your journey like to get to where you are?
From my initial days as a consultant with my current firm, I was fortunate to have been exposed to several challenging situations in different projects solving critical challenges for clients. These challenging situations were a blessing in disguise as they enabled me to grow and evolve to respond to the prevailing challenges. As I moved from challenge to challenge, doing my basics right, trusting and following the process, taking complete ownership of the outcomes, building relationships both within and outside the firm, and getting things done were highly appreciated by the management. A keen desire to learn, grow, develop new capabilities, and become a better version of myself every day enabled me to reach where I am today.
2.How important is the organization culture to you? How do you ensure that you maintain a healthy culture in your organization?
The organizational culture plays a very important role in the evolution of employees. Throughout my career, working with smart individuals who were driven to make a difference in whatever they took up was inspiring. When you work in a meritocracy especially with high performing colleagues, it inspires you to deliver your best.
In order to maintain a healthy culture in my organization, I ensure that we are driven by our mission to impact and deliver great value to our clients. Majority of the daily activities are driven by that mission including hiring the best employees who share the same values, rewarding employees based on their performance on those values, and developing new capabilities to be able to better serve the mission.
This was driven by the top in ensuring that the hiring practices, value system, rewards and promotions are around the mission we are trying to accomplish.
3.What is your current and ideal work/life balance? What measures do you take to control the work/life balance of your employees?
Consulting is a very demanding profession that demands late nights and long hours. I love solving client’s pressing challenges and hence it doesn’t seem like work all the time.
Especially during tough projects, I ensure I spend quality time with family especially in a natural setting whenever possible to recharge myself for the week ahead.
For employees as well, we give them down-time when the project work-load is not very high to explore their interests and passions outside of work.
4.What’s your biggest people problem you’re trying to solve right now?
Retaining smart, driven people and ensuring that they take complete ownership of their work has been the biggest people problem that we are trying to solve right now.
5.Describe a time you had to make a tough decision (e.g. budget cuts, organizational restructuring, market withdrawal, etc.). What did you do and what was the result?
In 2018, I had to deal with budget cuts. Options were to let go a few people or take salary cuts across the board. I together with my boss decided to not let go any one and instead take salary cuts across the board to ensure minimal impact to the team that we spent years to build and retain. Though there was some resistance initially, when we explained the intention behind the decision, we did not lose even a single employee.
The very next year when things were getting better, we rewarded employees based on both their performance and commitment to the firm.
6.What was your most unexpected lesson in leading for growth of the company?
It is very easy to get immersed in the daily grind and the nitty gritty details of everyday work and responsibilities.
Every 6 months, all the leaders across offices get together to set a larger vision of what we want to achieve, where we want to go, and discuss ways to get there. Learning from other leaders who have been able to do this successfully expands your horizon. So, as a leader it is very important to have both short-term and long-term horizon. It is important to take actions both for the short-term and the long-term.
7.If you were able to go back in time 10 years from now. What would you tell yourself about leadership that you didn’t know then?
Leadership entails taking complete ownership of the outcomes. There is no one to blame as the buck stops here. A leader needs to do whatever is needed including hiring the best people, providing them the necessary training, developing new capabilities, and providing the right environment to ensure that they succeed. As a leader, you can’t blame luck or the team or the clients when things go wrong. You need to take complete ownership and think of ways to address the challenges at hand.
8.Which leader in the Corporate world do you admire and why?
Indra Nooyi is my favorite leader in the Corporate world. There are several reasons including the courage to change the direction of PepsiCo towards a more health oriented and design centric organization. It was met with a lot of resistance from both within and outside the company. Having the courage to follow-through on what she believed was right for the company and its customers and then deliver results is inspiring. She has always been a problem solver with a great work ethic. I try to imbibe some of her qualities in my approach towards work.