A Marketer Across Lands

Interviewer: Vinita Thanks so much for joining me today. You know what’s fascinating about you is, is the sheer scale what you have done the number of continents you have worked in and what interesting aspects you have discovered along the way. So I’m gonna start by asking, you have worked in pretty much most of the exciting markets beat letam, beat Africa, beat India, of course where have you started off and finally ended with Britannia and Atlanta. What is the experience been like?

The experience has been remarkable. I think it’s it’s like being perennials student because you know why there are some basic concepts that don’t change but fundamental experiences that I want to talk about one is your professional work experience and the second is the experience of just being in different cultures, seem different people travelling across different continents, you know how people live so you know there’s a parallel education that happens so I learnt more about history and culture and art. Primarily because I lived and worked in, you know six countries across five continents and I was also fortunate enough to travel to, you know at least 70 other countries. I have a little book where every time I go to a new country I actually make a note because you know I just consider myself very fortunate and you know when you go to a new place with a curiosity because you know primarily, you know so little no matter how much you read up and so on. It’s a great discovering so there is a professional learning and there is a personal learning. I think professionally it’s always challenging because you’re taken out of your comfort zone, if I had to work in India, you know I feel or I believe it’s a place I know and I understand the consumer whether I do or I don’t is another factor but you know there is a certain comfort zone, you know when I first went as an India and worked in UK in the mid 80’s as a marketing person and I was the first person from Cadbury’s to go to work in marketing in the UK and it was very different, you know they go to market was very different, there wasn’t anything which is the equivalent of a Kiranawala, though ever there you know thanks to the Indian who came there from East Africa. They has set up these CTN confectionary, tobacco and news agents so you learn about how things happen in different markets, you learn about consumers, you learn about customers, you learn about your competitors, you know how the same competitors that you’re used to seeing in one country is operating, you know in very significant ways, in other countries so I think there is a professional challenge which takes you out of your comfort zone, there is another professional challenge which is you know you’re the new kid on the block and in a sense you are the minority, I remember when you know Cadbury first asked me to go to South Africa, You know in my first question was I need a black no white, so you know how do I fit and you know they were really smart business that’s why you exactly why you fit and I see the point.

Interviewer: Yeah, will you take a pause over there? When you actually went your doubt and for the record, I mean your first job was at Voltas, you launched Rasna as a brand in the Indian market, it’s a brand, we all grew up with that, and then you moved out at that point, you know apart from banking, I don’t know whether there were many Indian were well carried the bag and move out and try out new experience especially women. I mean now it’s far more common, at that time were you one of the outliers that since.

Yeah. I was definitely a big outlier at that time, you know especially in marketing, you know there were people moved out in manufacturing and so on but certainly in FMCG marketing the world also that many women in FMCG marketing and so it was, it was new it was different so my first experience outside of India was in the UK, when I went there as a senior brand manager and launched the first aerated chocolate that Cadbury’s did called Wispa and it’s wonderful, you know I go back and when I see and when I still see Wispa on the show, it’s a great feeling.

Interviewer: And after which, you went to Africa then you went to latin America. And you know in different jobs with Cadbury and then with Coca cola, then you went to Atlanta which is the Coca Cola headquarter.

That’s right.

Interviewer: What was the learning, I mean it’s a very sweeping kind of question but one of the two, three things that you remember about that.

Well as I said, there were several learning I think and this is no order of priority. I think the first learning is when you go to a new place, you have to listen more than you speak because you have to understand, you know everything else around you is new so I think I became a better listener, I don’t consider myself a good listener now and I became a better listener now, I think the second thing which is very clear is that, it is your work that speaks for itself and therefore enables you to establish your credibility because again as a I said at that time you know today it’s very common place for large multinationals to move people from one continent to another at that time it was fairly rare so the other thing is you know you’ve got to listen you’ve got to observe, you’ve got to really contribute that is the way at least I built up, you know whatever credibility I built up, I think the third thing is that you know you don’t have to, you have to just feel authentic and be yourself, you know my experience always was that if I felt strongly about something which even if it went against the grain of what most other people were thinking about I never held myself back because to me I think that’s being genuine that’s being authentic that’s been, that’s operating with integrity but you have to be smart enough to pick and choose how you say what you say and so on but the third learning is that you know was many things are same and, many things are also different so you can not take anything for granted and it also show actually challenges a lot of your mental models, you know mental models are great because they help us to simplify life but mental models are great when you know you don’t have to go looking for answers but you’re looking, you look, you know it’s about influence, it’s about learning and the other thing about learning is you have to first learn how to unlearn and before you can learn so those things, you know those things make a very big difference and then you know the biggest thing is how can you actually work in multiple cultures and still be part of the team, I think there are two other things too valuable lessons I learned and those were the power of collaboration and teamwork and you know I think in India and this has been born out not just my experience but also by also you know by some academic work that has recently been done you know we ‘re great individual thinkers but we are terrible at teamwork so I learnt the power of collaboration, the power of teamwork and you know how you can play different roles whilst making the team effective.

You know one of the other things stands out is that you always or keep getting out of comfort zone, a lot of people are extremely bright but they have a tendency to fall back on comforts zone in areas that they are comfortable even today I think most people would say that I now the tragedy you, I know which way I am gonna go, I am gonna stay here and that’s not something that you ever done, I hate comfort zones, I hate a box and I hate comfort zones so you know when people say, let’s think out of the box, you know my question is but I’m not even seeing a box so no I. I personally you know it’s worked in my case, I have always learnt when I’ve dug myself out of my comfort zone because in your comfort zone you feel that you know everything and I’m a very experimental learner and therefore for me to learn I need to be you know it has to be a new challenge, the challenge could be a new geography, it could be a new assignment, it could be a different sector, it could be you know many things but I think it’s the, It’s the challenge in being out of the comfort zone that at least gets me all excited and I leant experientially.

Interviewer: There are two related questions that we got first is that a lot has changed over the years and now many people have international career, what do you tell and advise people that it’s a great idea to go out add experience new cultures new market because it really adds up in the long run, what could you advise?

My advice certainly would be that you know you have to go out and experience the world, I think increasingly we keep talking about, you know a global world you know what is global world, I think a global world is one we’re apart from many other things, you know as individuals we feel confident enough, comfortable enough to walk in and out of different cultures, knowing and understanding and respecting diversity where we ought to respect diversity but also bringing about collaboration, consensus, teamwork all of the things, I talked about so I do believe I think it’s a going to be a almost like a critical competency if we are talking about leaders of the future and it doesn’t matter whether you are operating a business out of India or out of Argentina, if your business is global then it stands to reason that you have to have a global perspective otherwise you can’t be in the global marketplace.

Interviewer: Do you see Indians have tendency to be invert looking and is that a problem?

I’m not sure if the tendency is any more or any less than a lot of others cultures, you know for example I have seen the US’s biggest melting pot that I’ve been in but, you know even there you know it’s not as though Indian stick together you know The tamilian stick together, The Andhra stick together, The Bengalis have their association and so on but you know so do The Italians you know The East Europeans and so on, I don’t think it’s a question of sticking together with your community or your ethnic group, I think there’s also a certain joy that comes out of that I think it is the acceptance of you know I am Punjabi but I’m also an Indian but I’m also citizen of the world and I think it is that acceptance which you know which if you open yourself up and you say I’m going to really experience everything that is different about the world because you know the one wonderful thing about you know travelling is that you just get to see so much and you know I think in one life there’s a lot that we can experience and you know even if we absorb a little bit of it, it’s it’s a fabulous life.

Interviewer: Absolutely, You know I’m gonna ask you two three questions on the industry that FMCG before I move on two other things, and what other also interesting that you’ve worked in some of the most legendary marketing companies like Cadbury and Coca Cola are legendary companies, they have been around for a long time, they have been market leaders innovated and stayed ahead. What made them stay ahead? What is, what is the DNA that you as a marketer noticed and what you brought into Britannia? I think what are the learnings from them?

Yeah, I think you said it very well, many I’ve been very fortunate to work on several iconic brands whether these be global iconic brands are a brand like Britannia which is a very iconic brand in India. You know there is one thread, I think that runs through all each of these brands I’m sure there are many as I’m thinking about it and that one thread is you know authenticity, I think these are brands who know what they stand for these are brands who have in very simple ways in a sense defined their DNA, they have defined their purpose and in a lot of these instances that focus goes beyond simply the product experience of course the products are fabulous that’s another thing that distinguishes each of these brands, you know product superiority or the delivery of consistently superior experience is what is differentiated a lot of these brands I think with these brands have also done is that it’s not about the brand, the brand is the business and the business is the brand so you know it is not that you know this is my brand and this is my business. The brand and the business are intertwined and I think all successful brands operate on the assumption that there is no business without a brand and there is no brand without a consumer. The third thing that each of these companies have done so first I said they understand their DNA very well they look at the band as a business, the third thing that they have in three shoe boot curiosity to find out who the consumer is, why are people buying my brand and not somebody else’s brand. It’s not about, you know how people’s lives shortened to your brand but your brand fits into people’s lives and it’s about, you now asking the question with says how do I make myself more relevant, more differentiated and forever contemporary and you know Coke, Cadbury’s, Britannia in India and these are brands that have been around for eighty to hundred and fifty years and I think that makes them tick is being true to the DNA and also I think very very important creating a go-to market system that is very consistent with building the business of the brands.

Interviewer: so it’s really the left and right brains to the state, the art of creating a brand and the science of creating the structure and keep the brand together, but you know what, I have covered many sectors Vinita, but what I always found fascinating about FMCG, is that because your consumer facing, you take a lot of effort to understand the consumer and to go out there, so the whole goal to the market has a different meaning and I read somewhere the fact, you know after you left Britannia, one of the biggest changes were, you don’t go to places and check out what the shelf was looking like, because you intrinsically used to do with that, Right.

I still love to go and look at the shelves, but I was also begun to look at, you know, a lot, you know, many more things than just shelves, but I think that is where Europeans have a word there sprayed the moment of truth, the moment of truth is when your brand comes into contact with your consumer and I’m standing there and saying okay I choose Brand A or Brand B and you know what determines my preferences and there are a whole host of things, you don’t think if more and more companies or businesses you know whether you’re selling an idea, a product, a concept or as the others, I think we all just simply accepted one fact that is we would be nobody without a consumer, a reader, a viewer you know then I think we would have more discussions about consumers and customers in the boardroom, you know what has fascinated me is that I grew up, you now as a brand marketing person, it was Rasna,it was Cadbury’s and it was Coke, you know I don’t think I have grown out of being brand manager because I think intrinsically that’s what I connect with, but what I find quite strange is that the paucity of use of the word consumer and customer in boardroom, you know we talked about competitor and we talked about regulation, we talked about you know environment and accounting standards and governance and I think all of that is critical but where is the customer and the boardroom.

Interviewer: In the boardroom since, you are on so many boards, what’s the perspective you get, because you’ve got such great a great set of influences and knowledge of different market and different aspects, what is the perspective, you think you bring?

I think the perspective I bring really is so we you know, I mean there was there’s one particular board where there is a great excitement about you know developing a new product which is based on the science and so on and so forth and then the question is you know, what is the customer, going to you know, how easy is it for the customer to use how easy it is for the customer to understand, you know because it’s not just the product but it’s also a whole ecosystem that surrounds it and so on so I think what, I what, I attempt to bring to the board room is really the voice of the consumer, the voice of customer, I think I also tend to bring in boardroom pragmatism, you know it’s because at the end of the day, it’s great to talk about strategy and so on, but somebody’s going to figure out how do we go from the idea or the concept of how it actually going to work and I think the other thing is just a very practical understanding of you know employees as people.

Interviewer: You know, this comes in my next question, this is what I was moving towards

And strategy

Interviewer: Ok

I would like to…

Interviewer: That is…don’t forget…

That’s very critical and you know, in that strategy, one thing I have learnt is, you know it’s really forcing management and the board to make choices, we don’t have enough choices, you know e feel that I can do this by the way, I can do a little bit of that as well and there are two things I’ve learnt about strategy, I think if you can really get into a thing of saying how do we make the tough choices and the second thing is those tough choice are about deciding what to do and equally about deciding what not to do then figuring out, you know what is the best business model to deliver that to the customer.

Interviewer: You know, I most of the education system and the corporate world, sadly, limit ourselves to boxes , you know there’s always a tendency to structure your thought to bring it together very well, and very often talked about corporate success or working towards partners success, killing yourself, you actually just taking of boxes in your mind and getting closer closer to the box, you faced multiple influences, How is that helps you in your profession and what could you say as an advise to youngsters who are reaching out now? Is it important to have 360 degree view for wider perspective of power, you know richer, you know set of influences to you really succeed, what do you want to do?

I am gonna answer this question in two parts, if I may, I think the first thing you that strategy is very dynamic process, it is not that one fine day a few people get together have a conversation and come up with a strategy, so to me strategy has always been very organic and what I mean by that is that again the simple way in which I think about businesses that your business is about to commercialize opportunities because you know those opportunities exist for everybody. It had to be, you know uber or you know an apple or whatever to say okay with in all of these opportunities that exist what is differentiated product that I can bring so it is the ability to identify and commercialize those opportunities which has to be a very dynamic process. You know and you don’t know where those inputs or inspiration comes from, you
Know the whole the whole sort of strategies that we created in Britannia about fortifying or embedding micronutrients into products that we sell commercially came out of your know walking around random conversations in the factories seeing what Britannia was doing for the world food programme and asking very simple question, if you’re doing it for the world, why can’t we do it for ourselves than that of course led to a whole host of thing and when we decided to embedded, you know, we said what can we do commercially, what we need to do otherwise which created the Britannia Nutrition Foundation. It wasn’t something where you know, we set together and we drew charts and so on, he said let’s make it happen to my mind, good strategy is very dynamic, it’s very organic, it comes out of really walking around, something seen talking to customers, you know one of the things we did give you another example one of the know when I walked in the coca-cola company Sergion who was the chief marketing officer, you know he used to say, when you going to the market, I don’t want you to see in the soft drink shelves because we know what’s on the soft drink shelves go and see the detergents, you know going to see what other people are doing and honestly, you know we saw detergents packs getting from this to this and we said you know with the hypo capita consumption countries, why don’t we launch two litre bottles or three litres bottle or whatever you know what I’m saying is

Interviewer: Influences can come from different different places

Inspiration can come from anywhere; I mean I get inspired by sports. I inspire by theatre, I inspire by theatre. You know if you’re talking about business as you know, how can you pursue excellence then frankly I would look at outside of business, you know I look at the Olympic athletes, look at what people look at artists and I think they are really pursuing excellence. You know what is that inspire then and what can we learn from them because you know art is not some random thing that happens to some people who are gifted, there is a process and there is the discipline and that is why you know the great Southern is great.

Interviewer: You know, just for the viewers to explain what you said about fortification Britannia was a client biscuits to the World Health Organisation and one of the places that you worked with the global alliance nutrition is, really to fortifying why these biscuits with nutrients and the first thing that you did that was Tiger biscuit, one of the biggest brand and eventually this became a huge campaign for you personally Vinita because now you’re heading here, yet globally and you’re the part of the team the UN has put together to get the nutrition. I mean that’s a phenomenal leap you know, from being a CEO of a company to really having the passion and ability to lead campaign like that, you know what is at that journey being like and what are your learnings from them?

You know again that’s been a very fascinating journey and again is very organic as I said I was just walking around the factory, I saw big cartons with said World food Programme and you know when I inquired I was told that these biscuits Britannia makes for the WSP and these are the first packet that are, you know distributed to people when these is natural calamity or anything else where food can’t reach them so it was that germination of an idea then and as it happened gain which is the Global Alliance for improved nutrition was created in 2002 and it actually was coming to India in 2006-2007 and one of the things that gain works on is amongst the many other areas to address to eliminate or eradicate malnutrition one of the easiest to do for large-scale food Fortification which for example we have seen with salt and Iodine in India and that’s when we started working with gain and again that was a very organic so you know they worked with us because the thing is when you add iodine to a food product. Iron has a metallic taste so you know we did about six months of R&D, tested those products, just those products for bioavailability of Iron then went did studies with children, baseline studies randomized controlled trials really to see the efficacy of what we were doing and of course it worked. You know likes, you know Iodine and salt worked in like vitamin A&D fortification around the world has worked in your know things like milk and flour and so on and so forth so that was the big hard, we said you know what biscuit everybody loves I mean there is 94% household penetration of biscuits not Britannia biscuits, any biscuit and if we could use biscuit as the career of micronutrients in a country which is so deprived of micronutrient of micronutrients in addition to micro’s. it would be great, you know now we’re talking about CSR and so on, my mind you know frankly it’s as simple as corporate responsibility because if I can take a social issue and embedded into my business model then I am creating longevity for the solution and for the bread and you know there are so many wonderful positive cases studies from around the world where we seen it work so you know that’s what got us excited and then we embedded micro nutrients into bread and we put into whole.

Interviewer: I mean you were able to get a competitive edge to perhaps; you know price it right I mean did you manage to load onto that?

You know other funny thing is it doesn’t cost a lot your know and we said it has to be part of our formulation because if am saying that, this is relative to a lot of other snacks, you know healthier way to snack then I’m putting a whole host of other healthy ingredients to it. Micronutrients, which is vitamins and minerals that we need are an essential part of our food pyramid so you know put them into the product that we sell and you know I wish more and more people would do that frankly.

Interviewer: You know with gain you mandate is much larger, looking at the world and you know the numbers are very scary, half of the world’s population is malnourished in some way or the other. What’s the mandate? Where do you see, this journey is taking you really?

You know, I am just taking over as the chairperson for gain globally it’s a very big mandate and if you see what differentiates gain from other organizations that work in the spaces, you know game was created as a global alliance and there are some two three very unique features that I like, you know GAVI, Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunisation, A global alliance actually recognizes that there are multiple stakeholders that have to come together to find solutions to problems that may seem very intractable at one level and that Alliance is an alliance of civil society, governments, NGO’s, development agencies, corporates you know so by definition an alliance has to get all the stakeholders on the table and we need to get away from this mental model is very narrow mind set with says, if your corporate and all you’re interested in is making money and you know, you don’t really care about development of social issues I do believe that you know in the world that we are living it. I don’t think operates can ignore social issues and I don’t think social issues getting door corporate I think if we were to say that we if we are all to a smaller or a lesser degree part of the problem we all have to be part of the solution so you know development agencies, NGO’s, Donors, Corporates, Civil society each of these stakeholders has a role to play and you know in dynamic sort of democracies which fortunately most of the world is. It’s very important to have that dialogue I’m not talking about argument, I’m not talking about debate and I am talking about dialogue, what we tend to have his arguments and arguments start with I am here and you weren’t here and now we’re gonna really usually debate and determine who’s going to win. Dialogue says okay, we may have different positions but if he were to try and understand and inquire and try and figure out a solution we will come up with a new solution that is going to be the solution that is going to solve a lot of these problems that we are celebrating villages how we use resources whether it is you know how much water is used for agriculture and the work that some of the agricultural companies are doing on seeds that require less water or soil conservation whether it is about large-scale food fortification so I think again coming back to it is really about creating these alliances and not making apologies. I’m not being apologetic about the fact that we want to work with government, we want to work with business. We want to work with civil society and I think we van get all of that going then we’re talking about you know finding his systemic solutions to things like you know malnutrition as you rightly said you know out of seven billion people, three and a half billion are malnourished so what kind of world are we creating or living in.

Interviewer: What are the learning, when you deal with different stakeholders from different job from different places, where as you see it is very demarcated, there are different stances and strong stances, what is you learning, and being in the last year and so?

You know again it’s a very different I think there are some countries which are, you know very welcoming of holistic solutions to you know what their problem are and there you know NGO’s etc. do really well and these is some very good work that gets done there I think it’s a mixed bag I do believe that you know a lot of development aid is helping countries look at problems more comprehensively and is helping countries come up with solutions that have been tried and tested.

Interviewer: My question was as an individual level what have you learnt?

Oh! Sorry, sorry. As an individual level….

Interviewer: Dealing with multiples. it’s really getting out of your comfort zone again, Right?

A lot of patience, a lot of patience, you know, you can’t be impatient about these things, you have to cure all the stakeholders and I think the second thing is the ability to listen to different points of view and then see is there a place of convergence and is there a way to build consensus and then is there a way to take that consensus forward so it’s very challenging I mean you know I am not a very patient person. I want to get on with things very fast so at times I have to you know slow myself down. So I think you know patience is the big thing I think the other thing that I’m learning is that I talked about mental models. I had a lot of mental models that I have had to shift and change there are some people really smart people in every sector and they have got some really good points and unless you’re willing to engage in that dialogue which is about giving take that dialogue which is about understanding and saying okay, how can we find solutions so you know, It’s a different way of working, It’s you know collaborative working, we do in the corporate world, but this is really taking totally divergent set of views and then trying to build some conversions and consensus and you know the other big learning is how do you go from an idea to acting upon that idea, you know corporate a very good one thing is okay, these are the five things we’re gonna do, here is the strategy the budget you know here is the activities were responsible, when will it finish etc. these are these are very different also let’s not forget the people who are we trying who we are trying to impact we have to make, what we are doing relevant to them and their way of living and oftentimes, we have to go these and say you know you’ve been doing this, in this particular way we wanted to do it differently and you know the whole thing of information, communication, education, how do you make it relevant to them in their environment.

Interviewer: Absolutely.

Interviewer: Two last questions Vinita. One is, when you passed at valasar and took that you know flight to Michigan …University? To you know was, did you think you’ll end up here, was there any planning? Who was your role model at that time and what if you look back in hindsight, you always have far better perspective what got you here, you think?

Here you know actually from Ellis R. I first took a train to Bombay and which is why the Bajaj and I did my MBA and I worked for few years the took the flight to Michigan. You know I actually had no plans to join the corporate world. I was going to be in Foreign Service and because I don’t roll myself in, I think I’m probably one of the very few people who’s spent a week in JNU. I spent a week in D school, you know my master’s in economics and then I had written those sort of whatever the entrance exam for management.

Interviewer: IFS

No. I had to do my masters because you know only then I could have written…

Interviewer: Were you confused? What you wanted to do?

I was, I just wanted to a master’s to be able to finish the masters and then searched for the foreign service exam. so I loved economics and I said ok, I could do management too. So economics was ok let me try JNU let me try D school and then I got into IIM Calcutta and got into Bajaj and you know at that time, it was like why do you want to go to Calcutta, This is the late 70’s that’s how ended up in Bajaj. So I was never going to be part of the corporate world. I was going to be a foreign services person and you know the you sort of do it in before, you’ve got your degree, you have a job and then you say ok, let me you know try and work and then you know that’s how I joined boulders launched Rasna but then I took study leave. I enrolled for a PhD in Michigan and you know, I finished my credits and I also did you know, theatre appreciation and art appreciation as part of it and then I thought it was very boring to be in an academician in business, if I had to be in business, I had to be in business, not to be academically connected with business so that’s how just got out of the PhD program. I never finished my PhD. I finished all the coursework and you know that’s when I went to work with Cadbury’s in the UK.

Interviewer: That’s fascinating. Really, you took it as it as can.

I never planned, you know for me and I’ve said this before so it may be a repetition, you know I asked myself three questions at every stage and those are you know is this something that I really want to do and am I going to be able to learn something new, the second is, am I gonna be able to contribute to whatever I’m choosing to do. The third is will I have fun doing it and you know the answer to all three is yes. I do it so you know, my going to Nigeria, South Africa, these were all things that happened. I mean I could have said yes. I could said no and you now who knows where I would have been affected said no but you know I said yes and I’m very happy to be where I am.

Interviewer: We are asking to everyone, what is the one thing, if you look back on one thing from which you learnt, which is like perhaps somewhat life –changing for you as an individual that got you here. any experience or mistake where you learnt from?

You know, I mean, in my professional life there has been nothing which has been life changing, you know I don’t think, It’s that profound, but I feel that there is one thing you know there are different things pickup in different cultures so just to give one example you know I that something that I called work ethic in the you know, what we bring to our work everyday. I just find there is a different work ethic in different corporate cultures and different country cultures and so on and what really impressed me a lot about the US. From time I was a student of the time, I worked there with the Coca-Cola company. I think they have a tremendous work ethic it is you know what do you bring your work everyday. Now of course, I am generalizing, not every American do it and does every non- American. I’m not saying that, what I am saying that, is that there is a certain way in which work gets approached, which which I think I learned a lot from. There are other cultures. You know I mean process orientation is another great learning that I had when I went and worked outside of India because you know in India somehow, we don’t have the patience, the interrelation, diligence for process, you know we simply say, Okay, because I’ve said this has to be done. It’ll happen but I think the significance of thinking through the significance of planning the significance of having processed which enables you to see how you’re gonna get there from here, you know that’s something that that I learned and the there are other subtle things to learn about cultures, you know about people, you know their challenges, about their feelings but that is more at all you know that’s more into market around me speaking which is understanding people as people.

Interviewer: If there was a piece of advice you give young professionals wanting to reach where you have reached, your young students who want to be where you are what would it be?

I think it’s a great time to be young. Right now you know I was I was 19s given right now because I think the opportunities are tremendous. Given those opportunities I think you know the, the facets in which you can explore also tremendous so I would say in that you know, you’ve gotta just go with your or you know gotta go with your heart and your mind, in that order, I think you know when, the heart is in the right place, so mind always alliance and what I mean by heart is, are you really doing something you want to do. I mean are you interested in what you’re doing, you know would you, does it sound like work or does it sound like fun or does sound like joyful experience, everything about work is not joyful but overall it has to be so I would say A you even got to believe in yourself, B you’ve got to be prepared to work hard, C you have got to choose something that you really care about, you know whether it is your own business whether it is a professional, whether it is in working in a NGO, whatever you want to do it has to be something that you deeply care about and fourth thing is that, you know really do it with authenticity and integrity.

Interviewer: I am gonna use one of your quotes and ask you about it, you said that passion is great but it also leads we match with competence, so saying this is my dream is starting point. You have to and I think that also you know iterate the importance of being realistic, corporally working hard, and not just taking the easy way out.

Absolutely, you know I can be very passionate about something that I am not all good, then I have to be very smart to go and get someone, you know who can convert my idea into a business or into work or you know whatever, their idea but I think you know when you’re young you also have to experience the doing you know you can’t just experienced the ideation, I think people who end up being great in what they do you know you can’t be a great athlete, if you haven’t run in practice yourselves and so on and so forth similarly you can’t be a good manager, if you haven’t gone out there and either sold or made or procured or you know done some part of the value chain so if you stay what is going to make me great, what is going to make me great, is that doing of it and the learning by the doing and that reflection time, you know which says ok, you know, how would I do it the next time around and what would I change and I think that reflection is also very important so it’s about a passion, competence and it is about going and getting your hands dirty.

Interviewer: How important is this training? First rescaling yourself and how can the digital platform really work, I mean, would you recommend that for for managers who want to scale up to get new experiences, how important is that?

I think it’s critically important, it is critically important. I think you know we tend to stay in management once I have an MBA and I have a job and that’s it. You know you look at other professions, if you’re a Doctor in the US, you have to get yourselves certified, what is called CME, continuing medical education have to get all have to keep getting yourselves certified to ensure that your current and so on. I think with the fast pace of change enabled by technology, you know you’ve got to stay current and the only way to stay current is actually to keep learning now, you know some of the learning happens in the job that you’re doing but think the whole idea of distance learning moved to another, you know it’s another big thing and it’s very interesting, you know these days with technology, I can if I wanted to hear history gets written go onto YouTube and put in ramalla thapar top and you know be exposed to a wonderful interview that she’s giving about how historians will get history so I use digital you know a lot area I do stuff on YouTube whether it is business related, art related or music related or whatever and I think when you’re talking about digital learning platform moves whatever you might want to call it. I think it’s very critical and it’s very important and I think it makes learning also more interesting and engaging.

Interviewer: Wonderful to have you with us.

Great! Thanks.

Vinita Bali - MD , Britannia Industries
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Vinita Bali - MD , Britannia Industries - Vinita Bali joined Britannia Industries as Chief Executive Officer in January 2005 and the company has since almost doubled its turnover. She has led Britannia’s charge beyond its core biscuits business into categories such as dairy and bakery, and moved into international markets with Britannia’s range of products. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Economics from LSR at the University of Delhi and her MBA at the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies at Bombay University. She pursued postgraduate studies in Business and Economics at Michigan State University on a scholarship from The Rotary Foundation.
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