Name: Jheeva Subramanian
Oranisation: PROTINUS GROUP
Commercially focused business executive with 23 years of experience with multi-channel and multi-site retail and wholesale organisations within the luxury products industry. Experienced in turnaround, business strategies, growth and expansion, financial and operational management for all major transactions including capital raises, debt management, partnerships, sale of a business, joint ventures and digital transformation.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Jheeva's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
It can be extremely lonely as a leader when you are tasked with juggling many aspects of the business (especially as a founder of a start-up), especially aspects that others are not faced with and these are mainly the most difficult tasks.
Having worked in various organisations, leading people (people management) is probably the most challenging task. I think that People Strategy is key for any organisation and despite having led teams in different organisations, it never gets easier when it comes to managing people, especially when dealing with trying to change the culture of an organisation.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Through the ranks. My first leadership role was after gaining a few years of experience, where headed a finance team in a retail organisation. Since then, I have led teams in multiple departments.
The current role I am in, was when I founded the company, Protinus Group together with some brilliant individuals.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I have a routine that I stick to (some find this very boring!).
For me, the routine helps as I do not have to think about certain things (such as what to wear, what to eat, etc) and free myself to have that extra time to think and be creative. I wake up at 5 am daily (weekdays), spend 15 mins in quiet and meditate, then head to the gym or do yoga for an hour. Spend the rest of the day working with a 30-minute lunch break away from the desk. Evenings are, news, dinner, reading a book, and in bed from 21:30 - 22:00.
I know what I am wearing and eating for the week before it starts.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I have new found respect for start-up founders as I now understand how hard of a role it is. One thing I have learned recently is that being always busy is not a good thing. You need to be able to carve out time in your day to have absolutely nothing to do, as this is the best way for you to "think and plan". You can't think and get ideas if you are constantly buried in work. Learn to delegate and ensure that you have free time to think.
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?
Think like a rocket scientist by Ozan Varol.
The book teaches you how to think like an engineer in your everyday life so that you can accomplish your personal and professional goals and reach your full potential.
Concepts such as experimentation, culture, embracing boredom, and how to frame your thinking as a leader had an impact on how I think today.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Ensure that you are constantly learning. Every leader needs to constantly evolve.
Also, do not be afraid to hire people who are smarter than you. It is the right thing to do and will only make your life easier! I have seen many first-time managers reluctant to do this as they feel threatened.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
Treat everyone with the same respect. I am a firm believer that every single person in an organisation is valuable. You will find that as a leader, this sets a good example to the rest of the organisation and builds a culture that cares for one another (one team!). Having a team that follows you because of respect rather than fear is what I believe in.
I am always reminded of my team in one of the retail companies that I was in who came together to see through a tough period. Every member of the team from all levels (juniors to senior staff) volunteered to help on their own accord. They turned up to work on a day off to help see through the issue.