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7 Questions with Virun Rampersad
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Virun Rampersad
Name: Virun Rampersad
Current title: Managing Director and Head of OMNI Digital Services Business Development
Current organisation: BNY Mellon
Senior executive with proven track record in generating new business, managing complex client relationships and running operations. 20+ years at BNY Mellon. Now, Head of Business Development for new Digital business. Prior Chief Operating Officer for Global Client Management group 2018-2020). Previously, Head of Client Engagement Strategies, Global Head of Innovation and Senior Client Executive. Built client books to over $500 million over 10 years. Chairman Circle Honoree for top sales performance. Cover of American Banker and feature story November 2016. Graduate of Columbia University (New York) and The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Working with bad leaders who denigrate their colleagues and seek to undermine as means to advance.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was recruited for a new role as Client Executive managing complex clients globally across all of BNY Mellon. I succeeded because of the relationships I developed internally and externally. My book exceeded $500 million in annual revenues. The relationships and track record created opportunities and I took risks by taking on challenging roles for leaders I admired. I became known as being a man of my word who you could trust, and I looked to make work fun and rewarding.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I check email for important overnight developments first, read the newspaper before breakfast. Days are generally spent in meetings or working individually. I try to have lunch or informal chats with at least one colleague every day. I exercise most days, after 6 pm. After family time. I make sure to build into my schedule free time to reflect and think, or do personal chores. I encourage brainstorming ideas and working through challenges with people, often while tossing around a small football and writing ideas on a white board. I start everything with the questions ``What our mission?” And “What does a win look like?”.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Take your foot off the gas. Don’t be too intense. Give people time and space to understand. That generates real buy-in, improves execution and speeds progress.
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?
The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins. It enabled me to take on diverse challenges by framing a process for transition and learning.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Through apprenticeships. Get people partnered with other people so they can learn hands on while doing important work. Have leaders talk to people about their lessons learned. Encourage learning and risk taking, and don’t penalize failure. Nurture relationships.
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 a young Assistant Vice President and just got promoted to a new role. For a month I travel 6 days a week for at least 12 hours a day. At the end of the month my boss took me to lunch and asked how I thought I was doing. I said I thought I was getting the hang of it and asked what he thought. He said I had pissed off many senior and peer colleagues and was on the verge of being dismissed as a lightweight. Some of my new team were also complaining. I had one month to turn it around or he would take action. I was shattered. My world literally went dark. I asked for details, but they were thin. I set about seeking to understand what I did wrong, where I was making mistakes and reassessing how I could turn it around. I learned it wasn’t totally my fault, some of it was political. But I took a hard look, ate humble pie, got really focused on my mission and deliberately slowed down to ensure I understood what I was being told and make sure to demonstrate respect. And I continued to work hard and be a man of my word. I was made a VP 12 months later. My bosses honesty and transparency was critical. The support of my team, who gave me a second chance, essential and the taking a moment to assess situations and options led me to be a better leader, employee and colleague.