1. Tell us about you, your experience and time in the Middle East.
I am a Mathematics graduate, with Post graduate diploma in business management. From selling consumer durables, telecom services & investment products to managing a diverse team of customer service professionals for high net worth clients, I have been able to utilize my business experience to the needs of the current role of being a talent professional. I am still learning.
With an offer to work with Investment sales unit of ABN AMRO Bank, I landed in Dubai in 2005. I, my wife and my 11 year old son have truly enjoyed the last 10 years here. UAE is our second home now, and still closer to our parents back in India.
With close to 18 years of corporate experience in industries like consumer goods, telecom, banking and FMCG, I started my career with SAMSUNG Electronics and eventually moved to AIRTEL, ABN AMRO, RBS. In my current role, at AUJAN COCA COLA BEVERAGES COMPANY, I lead the Talent and Organization development agenda since Dec 2010. In addition to my responsibilities of performance management, learning & development, talent management, leadership development & engagement, I also manage the internal marketing, Communications and have the pleasure of working on different business projects. Having worked in sales, customer services and HR, I can connect the dots of the business needs to what we are required to customize and deliver for them.
Middle East market is land of opportunities. It is somewhere between the west and some of the advanced eastern markets. As a result there we have the best of the minds and technological tools which have converged here to change the Middle Eastern business landscape. I remember when I started to work here in 2005; I realized that some of the basics still need to be in place. And now after 10 years, though we have made a lot of progress, but we still need to catch up with the some of the advanced nations. So it’s a continuous journey and we are lucky enough to be a part of the changing business landscape here.
2. How would you describe the culture of your business?
Well, can I really write a few solid lines about the culture in my company at this stage? Our organization has been evolving over the past few years. We are witnessing a transformation from a successful family run business into a real multinational, which now manages some of the world top brands.
Our heritage of being friendly with employees, deep knowledge of local markets, taking calculated risks, and working in difficult countries gives us the edge of executional excellence. Going forward we need to managing even bigger range of SKUs in more complex situations, with multiple stakeholders. This needs us to be even more customer focused, keeping a close eye on consumer needs which drives innovation in our products. The behaviors we expect all our colleagues is to take quick, fact based decisions, and driving continuous improvement.
At this stage I can say that we are going through massive changes in our strategy, in our leadership styles and in the market environment. The sum total of all these is the climate and the culture we create. We welcome anyone to our office and one can witness the respect, the warmth, sense of being a team and at the same time tend to be fast and efficient. I am truly enjoying this cultural transformation journey at ACCBC
3. How easy is it for you to get direct access to the decision makers in your company?
As I have mentioned, that all employees are driven to help transform this company, our leadership team is more than inclined to make this happen. We have open door policies and anyone could meet the management team. I and my senior colleagues get all the platforms possible to share our opinions and be a part of the decision making. The only reason is the openness of the CEO and the leadership team to listen to new ideas and have the appetite to experiment new ways of doing things based on facts shared by all of us.
4.What are your biggest challenges in the next 5 years?
CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE. Change is a constant and we experience this every day. I did explain the journey of transformation we are going through right now. To make any change successful we need to have their emotional as well as the intellectual buy in of the team members. Our organization has a blend of teams: we have a high number of employees who proudly have been taking long service awards. At the same time we hire fresh talent from the industry who come and share the best practices and expedite the implementation of new projects.
To help us manage the capacity and capability challenges, we need to help our employees with the tools and techniques so that they can weather the storms and are equipped to make the strategy come live. We have already started on this journey through communications, learning and development as well as by involving them in various business projects.
All the other business and operational challenges are secondary. Once we see the progress on change (which is going in the right direction), our people will not only manage but lead the rest of the challenges: Whether it is managing more complexities in product range, operating in difficult conditions, managing unrest in the region, currency fluctuations, keeping up with the regulatory guidelines or anything else. The primary challenge remains: Influencing the mindset: CHANGE
5. What is your philosophy?
Being achievement oriented coupled with affiliation is the main driver for me. I believe in two main things: One is “how do I learn and grow” and second is “How do I value add to others?” It is my endeavor to take new projects as learning opportunities and my search for new challenges keep me on the toes. You and I know that we always have a set of responsibilities in our jobs, and over the past few years I have always ensured that I refresh a new approach within these so called performance objectives. At times we pass, at times we learn and then it is time to experiment something new. Infusing new ways of doing things and helping team members and colleagues grow gives me a lot of satisfaction.
Talent and Development
Aujan Industries Company
(A Member of the Aujan Coca-Cola Beverages Companies)
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