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7 Questions with Lovjeet Sawhney
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7 Questions with Lovjeet Sawhney
Name: Lovjeet Sawhney
Current title: Chief Executive Officer
Current organisation: Opulence Education Group
Ms. Lovjeet Sawhney is the Chief Executive Officer of our Canadian operations at Opulence Education Group (OEG). It is formed with the purpose of providing world class accessible education to our students. Currently we have seven campuses across Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia as part of our Canadian Operations with a focus to scale our domestic and international business.
Lovjeet is young, sharp, and highly skilled in managing business operations. Having trained by veterans of the business world, she brings with her a strong work ethic and is highly driven in achieving business goals. It was under her leadership; we were able to grow our Canadian operations and staff employment despite the challenges faced due to the global pandemic. At OEG, we call her the Turnaround Specialist!
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Balancing our ambitious growth mindset with the current state of the organization and the readiness of the team by far seems to be the most challenging part. As a leader, I am highly focused on meeting business objectives and at the same time compassionate to our employees. Especially during the times of global pandemic, there was a fear of uncertainty which led to panic and disorientation. It was during these challenging times; I realized my true self and capability as there was a lot more at stake than a job. I was no longer an employee of the company, but it became my responsibility to make sure we sustain together as an organization. With this mindset, we not only did sustain but also had an extraordinary business growth.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My professional journey has been all about observing how people take key decisions and studying the impact of their decisions. I have shadowed CEOs and business leaders for the last 10 years in various capacity. This gave me the opportunity to witness; how powerful can be an execution of a simple concept and how a brilliant idea can fail miserably if not implemented well. In my mind, I was always preparing myself for an opportunity that will lead me to a path of growth. Amid chaos and uncertainty, I established myself as a leader ready to take on the responsibility, implement all that I had learnt so far and sail through this economic crisis. There on it was a normal progression to the position of a CEO, and with it came the ambition to grow further and explore my capabilities.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am a Mom CEO, which means I need to be extremely good at Multitasking and Time management. I plan my day just before going to bed the previous night, look at my calendar and planned meetings. The next morning, I have a clear picture of how the day is going to look like. First thing in the morning, I finish my house chores to ensure my family will have everything they need for the day and I will be at peace :)
From 8 am, I dig up my notes for the previous day prioritize the tasks and there on have a 15 min quick call with my key team members. From 9 to 6, business and department meetings to track our progress, key issues/concerns, emails, people management and planning. I have a hard stop at 6 and there on its family and me time. I dedicate an hour to reading, networking, or learning something new and another 45 mins focused on health and exercise. Lastly, I go back to my emails (I am not a fan of piling up Unread Emails in my inbox) reply them or take action as required put down my notes for the day and tasks for the following day.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Every employee is a combination of their learning's, experiences and what drives them to work every day. Understanding what motivates your team, creating a sense of purpose and making them understand how their actions contribute to achieving the overall objective. To me this is the most significant learning I had so far as a leader. I believe if you have the right talent for the job and a good overall fitment in the team, gradually they start complementing each other. As a leader we just need to make sure this combination works like a well-oiled machine!
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?
Grit, The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth had a significant impact in my life. I got hold of this book when I was at a stage reflecting on my professional career and planning for the next stint. This book reminded me of my biggest strength that is “Perseverance”, it was because of staying persistent even in demanding situations I have been able to come so far. The book also made me realize that I do not need to be extraordinary or a genius to achieve my goals. All I need to do is be consistent in my efforts, get up and keep trying every time I fail or fall back.
Today when I look back there have been events in my life where people told me, “you cannot do it”, “this is not for you”, or “it is out of your reach” and every time someone gave me a reason why I cannot achieve something. These were the times, I challenged myself and overachieved. Knowingly or unknowingly, these events became the turning points of my life and it is this Grit that made me what I am today.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Leaders Think and they Act, ability to take decisions and being able to handle the outcome is what I define as the key trait to leadership. People often have ideas but are afraid to execute or they overindulge in their risk-taking ability. As an organization, we need to create systems and processes that allow employees to feel empowered to take decisions. At the same time, they have a support system of talented individuals, who will guide them to take calculated risks.
I ask tough questions, challenge our comfort zone, and demonstrate the power of decision making. I want my team to know that it is ok to take informed decisions, think of the consequences and if it does not go your way then try to find another way. Also, no matter how good you are as an individual contributor, you need a good team to accomplish more. You need to build your second line and empower them to take decisions.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I believe there will be a lot of meaningful stories that are yet to come. However, one of my experience while working on a Public Private Partnership deal is something I would like to share. Being in a private career college industry, some provinces have restrictions when it comes to post graduate work permit for international students in Canada.
There is a large part of student population who will be benefited with such deals. While working on this project, it gave me a sense of strong purpose for our student community. The things we could achieve, doors we could open and the impact it can have an on their lives.
This deal also defined our strategy for growth and the importance of a robust technology infrastructure. We are now a highly driven team with a strong purpose to improve the lives of our students and provide them a high-quality learning experience to succeed in the real world.