Name: Ankit Agarwal
Title: Principal Data Engineer
Organisation: Fidelity International
Ankit is a fun-loving person who loves challenges, is a Problem-solver by nature and is a Software Engineer by profession. Ankit has spent over two decades in the IT industry, has worked across geographies and is involved in managing and developing multiple enterprise-grade applications. Ankit has worked on many programming languages, tools, and methodologies. He loves to continuously learn to upgrade himself with the latest trends, tools, and concepts to keep him updated with the ever-changing landscape.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Ankit's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
I am responding to this in the context of different phases of my career.
Early Leadership Phase -
It is the phase when you have just stepped into a leadership role. In this phase, my most challenging aspect has been the effective delegation. It’s the urge to do everything myself as you are habitual to a style, and it becomes difficult to expect a similar from others. Over time, I understood that everyone has a different work style, and they like the freedom to work efficiently.
Mid to Experienced Leadership phase -
It would most certainly be keeping the team motivated. I firmly believe that people are generally great, but the situation makes them different. It is always essential to understand what they are going through and the challenges that they are facing. It not only helps them to learn and perform better but also helps the broader goal that we are trying to achieve as a team.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Looking back, I think it was never ceremonial but came as a natural progression in my career. It starts with helping your peers, then slowly moving to mentor a few juniors, and then stepping in as a manager & leading a team. During the various phases, I displayed (& learned) different qualities of leadership that came in very handy when I stepped into that role. I had been considered for the leadership role in the early phase of my career (around four years of experience). It started when my colleagues were looking up to me for suggestions, reviews, advice, etc. The leadership team noticed this and entrusted me with the responsibility sooner the opportunity knocked on the door.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Every day is different. But planning for a day for me always starts a day prior. I like to be organised and keep track of the meetings a day in advance. That does boost my confidence, and I feel better prepared for the discussions. Usually, a typical workday starts with some light exercise (maybe running if schedule permits). Then, I browse my emails and check my schedule for ad hoc meetings. I also ensure to take a shower early in the day as it helps in mind relaxation. I sometimes create notes/pointers for any upcoming discussions between two meetings. Due to the Global nature of my Org, the entire day spans across meetings with different Geo locations, and hence, the day usually ends late. Evenings are with Family with some games, TV watching, etc.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Be calm and listen. Over time, I have learnt that listening is one of the most essential aspects a leader should possess. One of the recent additions to this I learnt is about tracking your emotions during the conversation. You feel different kinds of emotions, and often, it leads to quick reactions. If you can keep that emotion in control and respond in control, then the majority of the time, you will be able to control the conversation.
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?
I am not an avid inspirational book reader. But, at the same time, I strongly believe in Leading by Example and hence amidst this ever-changing Technology era, you need to keep on learning every day. I still do a lot of certifications and understand new tech space regularly so that I can keep pace with the changing landscape. It also keeps me motivated though it is difficult to maintain. I am also aiming to move to a few books now, so watch out for the space.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Be Curious and ask questions. Like rightly said, there is no Stupid question. If you have a doubt, raise it an clear it.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
There are multiple such stories that I am proud of. But the gist of all of them revolves around team bonding, gratitude for each other, fun quotient and zeal to learn. With these, you can resolve the hardest of the task. It is also important to give freedom to the team members rather than micro-managing their tasks or binding them within a framework that limits their creativity.