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7 Questions with Vinay Solanki
7 Questions with Vinay Solanki
Name: Vinay Solanki
Current title: GM & Head - Digital Solutions
Current organisation: Napino Auto & Electronics Ltd
Vinay has 16+ years of experience in business development, strategy, partner management, sales and technology management within domains such as IoT, digital transformation, Wi-Fi, Fin-tech and Web. He is currently GM and Head Digital Solution at Napino. He has exposure to a variety of industries such as technology (Lenovo), telecom (Airtel), machine-to-machine (Aeris Communications) and investment banking (Goldman Sachs).
He holds an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and MS in CS from SUNY Binghamton USA. He is the founder of the world’s 3rd largest community IoT-NCR with 8000+ members. He is recognized as global top 20 thought leader in IoT and analytics by Thinkers 360. He is a TEDx speaker and member of NASSCOM, DoT TEC as well author on Your-Story, EFY, IoT Central and international media.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
SME focuses on running and executing business opportunities while managing cash flow and profitability. More than a challenge it is the focus that at times generates scenarios where areas such as strategy, knowledge management and IP are ignored or probably given less time for. Most challenging so far in my personal experience is knowledge management processes.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Given I have 16+ years experience now, I realized around 7 years back that in order to grow and position myself to be a leader I need to do more than just building and managing technologies. I went for an MBA program but more importantly I decided to build my career in one area i.e. digital transformation. Post MBA program I planned my career to garner knowledge and experience to cover all areas of running a business such as strategy, sales, marketing, technology, product, finance and others and gradually moving from one role to another and from one organization to another I gained and covered most of these areas. I focused on building a "T" shape career profile for me where I have depth in two areas (IoT & Digital) and breadth in many areas as covered above. This really helped me to position myself as a leader but of course along with strong networking in the industry helped get good job referrals.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
That is an interesting question, I don't really structure it that well but I have a schedule where I am up by 7 am where I focus a little time to exercise (I need to do more :)) and little time to read. From there on I normally plan meetings a day or two in advance where I try to split discussions 50% customer driven, 10% with my R&D team, 10% with my production and operations head, 10% with my supply chain and rest open for ad hoc issues or discussions. However before going to sleep I again ensure to read something related to my work or posts/share if anything relevant with my network online.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Managing people, their emotions, their expectations and focusing on their career is much more important to build a successful and cohesive team than anything else for SME leaders. It is equally tough to manage people whose experience can range from 20+ years to freshers from college, because every individual needs to manage differently hence I recommend leaders should do courses in areas of people management, psychological management to improve self IQ, EQ and DQ.
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 Life Lessons & Rules for Success covering Steve Jobs and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari (Robin Sharma). Combined these two books led me to think and apply rules for stress and expectation management while focusing on innovation and culture. First one also shares ten tips for future leaders and second one talks about how to visualize things to do self stress management, which is key for any leader in today's world.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
I think I already covered a few questions earlier but frankly I am still building this capacity and I am not an expert to comment on how is the best way to build leadership capacity or capabilities. But again I will recommend 3L - Learn, Leverage and Lead while building T shape skill profile and network ferociously.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
One story that stays with me is how to understand the cultural setup of an SME as compared to an Enterprise especially in the Indian context. Western or developed worlds are more of performance driven society but in India in addition to being a highly performing resource it is very very important to understand EQ and DQ aspects and manage emotions and relationships. If you can be a friend to someone, have a good relationship then at times you get your work done and not simply by authority or hierarchy.