Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: Sumir Nagar
Title: Chief Operating Officer
Organisation: Bank-Genie Pte Limited
He has several global remits in his belt over a career spanning several decades. His areas of expertise are, Digital Transformation, Treasury, Risk, Wealth & Fund Management and Insurance. He has served as MD, CFO, Global Head and COO in several prestigious organizations.
He is highly innovative with a work ethic that is unrivaled. He has delivered breakthrough results, under daunting circumstances. Sumir is a great leader and a follower and his thirst for knowledge and enlightening experiences makes him a true Seeker.
Sumir’s career began from a family-owned metal fabrication business, trading and exports while still pursuing his education, which he later gave to enter the transnational corporate world. After the corporate years, he has been deeply immersed in startups, having kicked off and worked for several start-ups in hands-on roles and as mentor.
He works at CXO levels and operational teams and currently is the COO for a leading Singapore based FinTech.
Sumir makes time from his professional and personal life to pursue a variety of interests and passions that all have deeply spiritual underpinnings. His insights and spiritual realizations are valuable because his journey has been replete with discovery through heady highs and abysmal lows and some life altering experience. He sees that a lot of people are misguided and seek answers through various means, not necessarily conducive.
He is an adventurer and adrenaline junkie, and he pursues adventure through his passion for Motorcycles and Bicycles. He has done several long-distance rides (tours) both on Bicycles and Motorcycles over the last few years. He has toured on a motorcycle over 55,000 kms over the last two years. He likes to push himself to the limit and does not let his 60 years stand in the way of his passions.
One of Sumir’s favorites is cooking, where he enjoys the process of making something from scratch, mixing an array of flavors to create a delicacy with his own hands. But cooking is so much more and is so closely related to our daily lives. Just throwing something together from whatever ingredients are available at hand is no different from Life, when we are compelled to make the best with whatever little we have and still come up trumps. And then there is the painstaking and meticulous planning of a meal, where we source the best and the right ingredients in preparation for a grand feast. The sense of achievement when a frugal or hastily put together meal or for that matter a meticulously planned meal is a wonderful thing. The crowning glory is when you cook for someone or for a dear one and see that it has gone down well. Furthermore, food per se is so fundamental to our very existence. Yet so few of us pay any real heed to food. Eating at the right time and the right kinds of food and the process of preparation of food involves some discipline, a process and if well planned and executed usually has favorable outcomes.
His nature attracts people towards him and more often than not, people undergoing some metamorphosis in life. His ability to motivate, guide and course correct such individuals is something that gives him immense satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment and purpose. He’s been invited to colleges, where his unpretentious, disarming style allows him to provide inspiration to the younger generation. He writes and publishes Videos to share his thoughts and life experiences.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
I've always been a people person. I believe that people make all the difference when pursuing organizational goals. Leadership is an intricate balance between people and organizations. Organizations have an existence of their own and more often than not, the human factors driving the organization are not treated as I believe that they should. Then there is organizational transparency and the general tendency to work in silos. I've found that presenting the big picture to people we work with goes a very long way in moving in the right direction. I frown upon treating people as things that can be discarded, just to meet an organizations objectives. I find this to be one of the biggest challenges of a leader.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I've always been most comfortable in daunting circumstances. My ability to maintain a cool head and navigating intricate situations was noticed and that's how I was given my initial leadership assignments. People naturally gravitate towards me and this was notices as well and this contributed in a big way in landing me leadership opportunities. Initially it was missions /assignments and then that graduated to managerial positions. Another big contributing factor was my ability to learn very quickly and step into roles that demanded attention to detail and execution. Finally, my ability to delegate, hire the best of the best and work across teams, geographies, cultural differences are what got me my global remits.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I sleep very little and that's not because I'm an insomniac. I just work in a manner that enables me to derive the most out of my waking hours. I wake early and carry out my morning routine that encompasses, meditation, exercise and a quick recap of the previous day and what lies ahead. I have a plan for the day before I actually embark on my day. I get my emails and reviews done early and relegate the major part of the day to what I need to personally do. Towards the fag end of the day, I do a quick recap and check what has been achieved and what remains for the next day. As far as possible I don't leave any emails unaddressed, so there is minimal carry forward. Once I'm done with my work day, I attend to my personal interests of music, blogging and my passion of being a digital creator. I then head home to a simple meal and a quick recap of my day. Before I sleep I ensure that I read something or catch up on important news before I lay down to rest.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Of late what seems to have been reinforced by events and experiences, is that people need to be monitored and held accountable. Covid taught us work life balance and how tow work from home and from remote locations. Now with preferences going back to co-located work, getting people back into the rhythm of working under the same roof is something that I'm occupied with.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The Naked Leader by Dave Taylor is that book. The basic tenets of that book are putting people before process, choice before change and meaning before money. The age old methods of leadership were and sometimes even now are about delivering results and throwing a lot of people related priorities out the window. The content of this book, prescribes a new way of doing business, fostering of a realization that there has to be a different way of success, one that encourages awareness, success and achievement. This talks about how we can move away from a purely process driven approach, foster trust between the company and employee and grow together. It shows how relationships can be built and maintained, quick changes to life, change the way we feel, how to present effectively and finally self discovery. I was always geared how the book says, but my indoctrination and grooming detracted me from being who I really am. Reading the book served to opening the floodgates and I was able to reach deep down and resurrect my nature.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
The single most important principle of leadership, in my view, is to mentor people, provide them the framework to do what they are best at and be available as a safety net when you're needed.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
The single most impactful and meaningful experience I've had as a leader was hiring and nurturing this one individual to achieve her true potential. I hired a Certified Wealth Planner to work on a new Wealth and Funds Management Product I was charged to create. I hired her out of a leading Australian Bank. She had now clue about tech or code. I asked her to give me two years of her life and I would ensure that she would be the best of the best, despite of not having an engineering background.
I groomed her over the period, appointed her as my deputy and in time handed over all my Product related responsibilities to her. The teams grudgingly grew to respect her and the customers' loved her. I made myself redundant from that particular role as I'd planned. We remain the best of friends, she is wildly successful and that to me is what a leader needs to do. I have been able to develop this into a cookie cutter model and make it work for me in many different roles that I have played.