7 Questions with Ashutosh Labroo
Name: Ashutosh Labroo
Current title: Group CHRO
Current organisation: BMA International
“Leaders don’t hope; leaders are the HOPE” has always been my life’s core philosophy and my natural leadership “go to” behavior. I try to live that statement with every breath of mine for everyone around me as much as I can.
I also happen to be a Computer Science Engineer, alumnus of the prestigious Symbiosis Institute of Business Management and have worked with large global MNCs like Ernst & Young, SKF, COMAU, RSB and ISS A/S before joining BMA.
As a veteran senior Global HR Leader, professionally I have always been passionately driven to establish “Great Places to Work Culture” for my employers alongside significant Financial & Business Success.
Even though I have lived a “digitally inspired life”, I believe lately we are losing touch with humanity & my sincere pursuit now is to bring the human magic back to organizations through Emotional & Spiritual Intelligence.
As an Individual, I am on a spiritual mission to discover my ”self”.
I try to decode ASHUTOSH everyday by trying to breathe in & out and with every breath I am trying to better myself every time.
I would like to believe that I am on a pursuit to become a Corporate Sufi.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
I think the most pertinent challenges of today's times are three things:
1. To be able to show a direction and give hope to others when they see no reason to have it
2. Address the Issues of Ignorance & Lack Of Adaptability during tough times mainly due to lack of willingness or lack of capability.
3. Drive Change even at a personal cost and amidst tough resistance & opposition because you are addressing issues related to the biases & prejudices.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
As a Senior International Business Leader who by now has worked around the globe in both the developing & the developed nations and markets, I was fortunate to be born and raised in a Country like India which taught and inculcated the values of diversity, inclusion and compassion in me whilst the country around me was and still is a beautiful complex and complicated melting pot of existing and new and emerging biases and prejudices and yet it was the land of birth of almost every alternate therapy & healing science including Yoga & Ayurveda etc..
Growing up in an environment where learning was essentially the only need as my whole family was into Teaching as a profession, I became a purpose driven personality.
Today I am a purpose driven global leader as I know PURPOSE DRIVES PERFORMANCE and I would hold near to my heart the belief that my presence on earth should help me in making the world better because of me and as long as I stay on this planet I should impact, influence & better as many lives as I can.
I don't think you get chances better than an opportunity like the ones I received which has allowed me to shape cultures and build globally solid and large scale businesses with a huge diversity & inclusion agenda to offer my services to.
I was very fortunate that I worked in globally diverse environments helping me build a very strong global exposure, experience alongside strong strategic, advisory, leadership, operations and compliance skills, credentials & knowledge.
Also during the early stages of my leadership career till today, I also manage very different, multi-geography and vastly spread out diverse origin team members and colleagues operating from several countries & continents in the capacity of my current & past roles as Director HR/ Chief People & Culture Officer/ Group CHRO in companies like Comau, ISS A/S & now at BMA.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am an early riser. I wake up at around 4.30 AM and then I try to find some peaceful time to meditate & sit in silence.
Then I am off to a gym to workout and exercise as much as I can. Work starts at around 8.30 or 9.00 AM and continues till evening around 6.00 PM or so.
During this period I divide some part of the day for focusing on time to coach & develop colleagues who are seeking some advice and I spend a lot of time in the day doing this due to my sheer passion of helping people unleash their potential to the maximum.
Late Evenings or nights are about family time so mainly it is about my wife & 2 daughters who are also the center of my world today literally.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The most significant leadership lesson was that most people don't change not because they don't want to change. They don't change, because they don't know how to.
Our BIAS & PREJUDICE is our biggest internal interference in our journey towards excellence. We blame the world for what state we are in, without realizing I live in the body that has problems with it.
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?
Many books impacted my life and my work too but the most significant impact came from the Book "Only Paranoid Survive" - Andrew S Grove (Founder Of Intel Corporation). The book is literally about the birth & advent of Intel Corporation's birth, almost near death and then revival & resurrection of the brand to its zenith....
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
I am a culture scientist with a deep understanding of human emotions and I believe my real role is to build more leaders and make them visible.
That is the style I operate with all the time and I think leadership is too conventional in the world anyways and I generally don't subscribe and/ or believe in any of these conventions.
My approach helps me to connect & humanize the aspect of development in a more personalized safe zone where the other person knows that I have the deepest regards for his/ her personal & professional growth.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE or AMBITION & RISK
Henry Ford gave this world the V8 engine. He did not have much formal education or experience for designing or building the V8. In fact, he did not go to school beyond the age of 14. He was intelligent enough to know that a V8 engine would be great value to his company but he didn’t know how to build it.
He asked all his highly educated, qualified & supremely experienced people to build one. According to them, a V8 was impossible to build. But Henry Ford insisted on having his V8. He un-consciously believed that the talent & past experiences of his teams have conditioned them to decide what is possible or not possible based on their past successes & failures.
However, FORD was determined as he knew that incremental growth will happen only with taking determined risks towards doing the unthinkable.
A few months later he asked his people if they had the V8 and they replied, “We have been in the industry for many years & we know what can be done and we also know what cannot be done. The V8 is impossible to be made.” This went on for many months and still Henry Ford said only one line “I want my V8.” And shortly thereafter the same set of people who said it was impossible produced his V8 engine.
Moral of the story - Education & Experience, while it teaches us also conditions us. It tells us our Dos’ & Don’ts & at times stops us from taking risks. Look at these statements - “I failed two years back in this & that is why I shouldn’t try it again.” “We have tried this in the past, it didn’t work then so it will not work even now.” I have been working for 20 years; I couldn’t do it, so how can you do it.” These are nothing but conditions & we either lead them or get led by them.
Trust me; if we look around us even now, the gadgets you are right now surrounded by were made out of AMBITION & RISK & not due to experience. From workstations to PALMTOPS, from TV to LCD TV, from CARS to NANO, From Hard Disk to Pen Drives; somewhere, few people didn’t allow experience & knowledge to be full stop & kept taking RISKS.
They let their imagination run beyond academic limitation. Education sometimes sets limitations but it is AMBITION which crosses any false limitations.