Did you always strive for the COO role?
When I was younger I wanted to be a CEO, but as I grew in my understanding of my strengths and my personality, I gravitated towards becoming a COO. The COO role is focused on inward-facing execution and getting people to work together towards a common goal – all those things were very attractive to me.
What impact have mentors had on your career?
Choosing the right mentor is crucial – I have been fortunate to maintain many of my relationships with mentors, some nearly 30 years later.
Mentoring is also important for leaders; if you want your team to be first in class, you have to realize that that bringing in good people and nurturing them is one of the most important things that you can do.
What was the biggest change at Vedanta during Covid-19 and how did you adapt?
We’ve had to adapt to a hybrid way of working, so going forwards there will always be a virtual element to our business. We’re a smaller biotech company which means we have the same processes as larger pharma businesses but with less resources – so we rely on having the best people in house that can react and problem solve.
Those interactions happen best when you’re together. You can build a relationship more easily, and bounce ideas off each other.
How do leaders go about helping younger people in their company to develop their own strengths, and discover the best role for themselves?
It’s important to really educate young people within the company as to the different options they have. They often understand the CEO role, but there are so many other roles that are very different and are vital for the organization. It’s important to have the time and patience to let young people understand the business because it will pay dividends when ensuring people end up in the best possible roles.
What has been the biggest challenge in the shift from start-up to “adolescent phase” of a business?
The biggest challenge has been bringing in the right people at the right time and being able to integrate them into the existing company structure. Bringing people along with changes is one of the elements that leaders need to really focus on.
What does outstanding leadership look like to you?
I think leaders need to practice listening in order to communicate properly, because then the discussion can become even more meaningful. I also think it is important to keep communication simple – most people think that if you’re using complex words then it makes you look smarter. Instead, you need to focus on getting the message across to people in a way that they can understand.
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