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7 Questions with RAJAL
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with RAJAL
Name: RAJAL C.
Current title: CEO & Founder (Ex-VP & Global Head of ATOS)
Current organisation: GRAVITAS
I would describe myself as a Hands-on Leader, a Visionary Business Technologist & a Coaching Evangelist !
I am an active member of the Forbes Council and Harvard Business Review Advisory Council.
My hallmark is the ability to merge pragmatism with the VISION ! And then turning the vision into RESULTS through a well-coached TEAM. I impart a needed aura of GRAVITAS to the leadership !!
I am known to be a Level Headed, Fun-loving and Result oriented Global Sr. executive and a Coach who manages from the LEFT and LEADs from the RIGHT !
I was the first woman and the first Indian to be a part of the Global Leadership Team (GSL) in 2009 of ATOS, a French MNC, one of the world’s six biggest IT Service Companies with @120,000+ employees in 73 countries & known for successfully managing IT for all Olympics so far !
I have extensively travelled across the world for 25+ years for my local & global roles and worked remotely from Munich & Paris HQ-office and my India-home-office since 2009.
I am a very balanced and vocal professional with lots of enthusiasm & sensitive on issues involving women & mental health.
Interestingly, I am bringing with me 15 years of a very rare combination of proven LEADERSHIP & COACHING experience !!
In a nutshell, I have a natural flair for interacting with people and enjoy nurturing my mind & that of others through coaching !! That's why I formed my own firm for coaching & consulting (GRAVTIAS) recently to amplify Leadership Impact & Agility.
Check my profile recommendations from my French/German/Indian boss & my team.!
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
At ATOS, the most challenging , albeit enriching, was my journey as a Vice President and Global Head for pioneering, shaping and nurturing two new global functions (Global Portfolio and Global Knowledge Management) for a company with 120,000+ people in 73 countries.
I opted to WFA and shifted to my hometown, enjoyed steering & influencing remotely in a VUCA global environment to accomplish joint goals by COACHING & LEADING multinational, multi-generational & multicultural teams in a matrix global organization. I reported to a French CEO & German CTO, and exceeded Global targets consistently for @ 10 years.
We made the WFA option mainstream for our globally distributed team, bosses and peers, but smoothing everything out required for a very complex, mandated collaborations. That was real challenging and fun loving for 10 years.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was leading ATOS-India business units as a profit centre head for @10 years - recording 30 % yr-by-yr- business growth with 20+% net profit & a happy global client base. Hence I was invited (first woman & Indian) to be a part of the ATOS global leadership team (GSL) back in 2009 & became also a part of ATOS TOP-300.
For next @10 years, I acquired a global perspective as a Global Business Leader, while ensuring Global Innovation Budget is used wisely by leading an Integrated Marketing Portfolio of innovative offerings & subsequently ensuring Sales, Marketing, Pre-Sales & Delivery readiness of these offerings to boost profitable business growth Globally.
Also I had been committed to leveraging knowledge as an asset in order to create a competitive advantage and to deliver tangible business benefits to customers globally for 10 years.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Whenever I was working remotely from my India home-office, I would start my day interacting with my local team, then depending on agenda, I would connect with my French /German bosses &/or with my globally distributed team depending on my focus on specific roles to connect in different countries. I would close my laptop when my German boss would leave his office. I worked in different time zones for 20 years.
Thanks to our smart PA in Paris, Germany, India, I could easily sneak in my daily walk /exercise, fun time and family time.
Whenever I was at corporate HQ (Paris/Munich), I used to work in same time zone, at times f-2-f way of working just like others.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Leaders who radiate true gravitas pay heed to the old English Proverb, “Be not deceived with the first appearance of things, for show is not substance.” By going beyond superficialities to cultivate the authentic person inside, they achieve gravitas based on substance, not merely shadow play.
Leaders make effective coaches when they apply the ‘five Cs’, clarity, consistency, connection, communication and collaboration.
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?
To be honest, it is not one book but multiple books & interaction with my amazing bosses & leaders from different countries (who were like open books) has had a profound impact on my leadership.
But I started with 7 Habits of highly effective people. That was my foundation. Then I kept on building on it as I wish to be a lifelong learner & curious observer.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
In my view, Leadership is about being an Enabler in addition to being an Achiever. It is the ability to influence and invoke the innate talents of others to inspire, emulate & compel them to be better versions of themselves.
I applied that for leadership capacity building :-
I used to spend 20% of my time strengthening the managerial and leadership muscles of my local & global team , while making them dance between learning & contributing while being with them through a bit of coaching & mentoring BUT enjoying our time together !
Being a hands-on leader, In my view, Laughter is one of the best ways to develop team keeping emotionally connected, especially in a VUCA environment. So anticipating any uncertainty/challenge was treated like inviting fun for us. Laughing at ourselves and laughing at the ongoing/upcoming challenge together was my way of building leadership capacity.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
Meaningfully weaven ONE story derived from following :-
• Leaders become great NOT because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others
• True leadership is only meaningful when it strives for the good of others
Daily basis , Observing my awesome bosses (Global CEO- Atos Global C&SI, Atos Global CEO, Atos Global C&SI CTO and Atos India-CEO) & great leaders/peers from different countries strengthened my following belief ::
• When asked how you are doing as a leader, find out how the people that you lead are doing. you will have your answer (Jon Katzenbach)
• If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. (John Quincy Adams)