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7 Questions with PAWAN KAPOOR
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7 Questions with PAWAN KAPOOR
Name: PAWAN KAPOOR
Current title: Senior Consultant
Current organisation: Genpact LLC - US
I work as a Senior Consultant in Finance and Accounting domain with Genpact US, with an overall experience of 17 yrs in Customer Service, Accounting and Consulting industry.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
In brief i can safely register top 5 challenges as an executive of MNC
1. Operating on daily tasks at hand
It's the people of any organization that makes it an entity and a place to work together, discuss matters together, share together and make decisions together. Needless to say all these must have a common objective in the interest of the organization. One of the challenges encountered on a daily basis considering the above is the scheme of operating tasks that demands tough decision making, which may or may not impress the enterprise at length. These decisions demand different attitudes and experience with previous roles and responsibilities.
2. Making tough calls that often disappoint
Some rapid decisions often serve as displeasure to peers and people who helped. So as executives, we need support and trust of each board member, team member and the overall management as a team during any transition or while going through a change. The difficult part usually is to explain the vision an executive has looking at the big picture and not just targeting small outcomes.
3. Being less accessible
Being approachable is the best thing an executive can offer to his team and management however it's a catch 22 situation where even if the executives are willing to become accessible to their team, it usually isn't the case due to paucity of time on their calendars and the occupancy the role of an executive demands. At times, being not available to address some issues are taken as ignorance and giving less weightage to the subject at hand, and that usually disappoints the staff and management.
4. Establish the right pace of change
Executives and seniors have usually a long list of things to do with crunched and aggressive timelines. Not to forget it's important to think about priorities and timing before acting on it. This demands change and comes with a possibility that the business or the enterprise is not yet ready for this change. During such a stage, it becomes imperative and absolutely critical for the team to extend their full support and display the level of acceptance at length to the executives. Often, the organization succeeds when the team/management offers and delivers acceptance to their seniors when it's most needed.
5. Focus on growth and execution
Most common and most difficult target for any senior executive is to ensure growth - for his immediate team, for his peers, for the organization - exponentially. There are no set rules or parameters to pick and choose to be able to execute this path, as a famous saying goes - There is a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path. Usually the goals, objectives and path becomes relatively clear during the "stepping-in" phase but executing the plans is very different and requires years of knowledge, experience and learnings from the past.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I started working with a very small business outsourcing organization for a global telephone service provider. The organization was not big in terms of scale or the number of employees, but the learning was immense during those days. I am talking about almost 17 yrs ago when I began my career, straight out of university with nothing to lose and fresh as a canvas. With time, I was able to learn the work at root level which was very captivating, people management, dealing with people belonging to different cultures, different age, different race, understanding their perspective, stepping into their shoes and seeing things how they would see it. With knowledge, comes learning and with learnings, comes experience. These small bits and pieces together took me to scale new heights professionally and personally.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Over the last 20 years even before I started my professional career, I learned to manage time effectively. And with time, it became more of an obsession than just a habit to keep things on even keel when it comes to managing day to day work. The most fundamental concept to manage everything in a given 24 hour cycle everyday is to "begin and start" early. Starting early not necessarily means to start the day in early hours but to ensure you are buying enough time for yourself to prepare for the tasks at hand. My usual routine on weekdays is to get up early in the morning, start my day with some yoga (to stay healthy both physically and mentally) as mental health is of prime importance, sometimes even more important than physical health.
List down the things to do, business meetings, action items and prioritize them as needed.
Take short breaks between meetings, step away to empty my mind so that I can think fresh and there is no shortage of space in my head for new ideas and thoughts.
Exercise and workout each day, plan my evenings in a way to take out time for some physical activity to relax and rejuvenate energies for the next day.
Last but not the least, finish the day with a book, fiction, management, or anything, and usually i listen to some music to relax, all this after a healthy dinner and pardon me if i forgot to mention, all this goes with a healthy nutrition diet to keep the energy levels up on daily basis.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
1. Talk less, listen more, people will pay attention to what you say if you pay respect to their thoughts and ideas but patiently listen.
2. Don't jump to conclusions and take decisions too quickly, give every aspect the right amount of time and thought before the final decision is made
3. Sometimes being right isn't enough, so it's important to inculcate ideas and perspectives from everyone in the room to get their buy in.
4. Don't be the smartest person in the room, it creates friction amongst peers and often leads to disagreements. Be focused and patient to do the right things at the right time.
5. Be authentic, it's easy to steal ideas or replicate what's already been shared but being authentic requires dignity and confidence.
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?
Few months ago I was reading a book by the name - "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand. I was truly impressed with the thought provoking nature of the fiction. A simple teaching and lesson learned from the book is - accept your failures and be determined to achieve the task even if it requires countless attempts. The will and determination to do the right thing will often demand extensive efforts and will test one's character time and again, and that's how the real character is formed. As an executive, be prepared to make mistakes but a new one each time, don't repeat your mistakes. In brief, the strong will and determination to stay focused and accomplish tasks in the interest of the organization and not disappointing your immediate peers, colleagues is the real learning from this book and impacted my ways of working.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
1. Clarity on how to make best use of your time
2. Recognize the talents around you, learning is a process that needs no seniority in position, value each person
3. Make requests, not demands
4. Establish measurable objectives
5. Be a leader not a boss, empower employees to take their own decisions, create their own solutions
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 was at the cafeteria having a cup of coffee a few years ago when one of my colleagues approached me with a business problem. As we started discussing the issue, I realized that the solution to the actual problem resides within our own ways of working. So the way we were able to find a solution to that specific business issue was to narrow the scope of the issue, and secondly embracing conflict, as usually one cannot shy away from conflicts all the time. In the end, the coffee talk evolved into a proposition for the larger enterprise while addressing the actual root cause issue that triggered that conversation.