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Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading

7 Questions with Dr Vipul Saxena

helps you in your leadership.



Jonno White

7 Questions with Dr Vipul Saxena

Name: Dr Vipul Saxena

Current title: Executive Vice President-Group HR

Current organisation: Sutlej Textiles and Industries Ltd (KK Birla Group)

A seasoned HR professional with sharp Techno- commercial skills and fair business acumen. PhD in Organisation Behaviour, Aeronautical Engineering, ex Pilot. LLB, Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma, TPM, TQM, Dr Saxena has hands-on experience in Business Excellence and Organisation Culture, Change Management and Employee Engagement as Global CHRO & SBU Head dealing with multinational, multicultural Blue and White coloured workforce.

7 Questions with Dr Vipul Saxena


1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?

I found that as a leader to achieve Organisation goals you need to build & sustain synergy amongst the teams by ensuring that your conduct is absolutely focused on objectives & neutral to any superficial influences. Alongside keeping organisational goals as objective you also need to have a high emotional & social intelligence quotient that will keep the teams well bonded & apolitical. And to achieve this you need to keep reminding yourself to be actually like that by bearing split personality wherein when you are dealing with any team member its only their performance & contribution to goals matters and when you dealing with them empathetically it should be only human approach. No one should be treated differently on personal need matters just because he/she is not performing as expected and similarly no extra privilege on personal matters for being top performer. Keep off the Halo or Horn effect.

2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?

All through my career I had cast off my career ladder that I would like to climb. For this I did a very fair gap analysis of my competencies from the competencies to reach the desired levels and worked upon dedicatedly to fill the gaps. As I had entered in Corporate world after 15 yrs of Defence career, I knew my competencies on Business functions has to be sharpened so I did various short term courses on Corporate finance, Marketing, Business excellence etc and acquired qualifications e.g LLB, PhD etc these efforts made my pace to reach the desired step of the ladder faster.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I usually get up for about 15 minutes at 4.30 a.m which I devote to scanning through mails to readjust my day's schedule based on any urgent assignment /meeting. Finally i get up at 6.30 am and complete my morning routines and devote 60 minutes for meditation & prayers. Around 8.30-9.00 am Breakfast and WFH leave for the office by 9.30. I give only 15 minutes for a quick Lunch, around 4.30 pm I go for an evening walk for 30 minutes, 6.00 pm evening Tea and 9.00 pm dinner with family. Short brisk walk, Scan through personal & official mails etc till 11.00 pm and go to sleep.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

Most recent leadership lesson I learnt is that "Work place environment" is very critical to organisational success. Sudden drop in performance of an otherwise performer must be probed till reach root cause as this may reveal hidden workplace environment issues which may be affecting others in long run.

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?

Adam Grant's Think Again educates, and motivates you to develop learning for Think Again by convincing your mind that your perception on an issue may be wrong, obsolete and may need course correction to match with the situation at hand. This has helped enhance my listening abilities to others view and also reduced being judgmental on the issues I have dealt earlier giving due weightage to others point of view too.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?

The first & foremost principle of Leadership in my opinion is lead by example. Whatever you wish your team mates/people to do, you should be the first one to adopt. Secondly, one needs to believe in a collaborative & inclusive working environment and lastly, keep off Halo & Horn effects, No preconceived notion on any thing.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?

Once a case of termination was put up to me due to poor performance of a blue coloured employee for the past 3 months. I could have simply signed the proposal as it was put up by the Unit Head. I asked the HR deptt to put up an employee's personal file for me. When I scanned through the file, I was amazed that the employee was a Star Performer for the past 2 consecutive years. When I raised the query to the Unit head about possible reasons for his declining performance I was told after marriage he has become casual in his work and no counselling is working, so we decided to release him. I decided to have 3 planned sessions with him to make him comfortable and have an open heart talk with me. It was shocking that he was going through certain serious marital problems because of his parent's unreasonable behaviour. Finally, I had a detailed session with the father of the employee and informed him that if the environment at home is not corrected he may lose his job. Fortunately, the employee's father took my advice constructively and within 2 months performance of the employee started showing improvement. This was one of my unique experiences of life time.

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