Piyush Chowhan:


065 – Fashioning Possibilities from Dance, Digital and Denim with Piyush Chowhan

Piyush Chowhan:


065 – Fashioning Possibilities from Dance, Digital and Denim with Piyush Chowhan

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In this episode we are joined by Piyush Chowhan who is the Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer for Arvind Lifestyle Brands, which operates more than a thousand apparel retail stores across India. Piyush has extensive experience in retail strategy, business analytics, customer loyalty and CRM, retail business consulting and supply chain management.

  • How technology is rapidly changing the apparel retail industry and how Arvind implements innovation to help to keep up the pace with changing consumer behavior
  • The digital transformation happening in retail as brands look to move from simply selling a fashion product to offering the customer a fashion experience
  • How the next generation of employees in India is leading the change towards a more open, communicative, and grassroots innovation process

Key Takeaways and Learnings

  • The concept of ‘jugaad’, an Indian term that is used in a number of situations, including the application of frugal innovation and carving a path for yourself
  •  How a focus on design-led innovation and a marketing shift towards online influencers is helping to Indian brands to reach a global audience in the rapidly and massively changing apparel retail industry
  • Piyush’s observations of the key differences within Indian based organizations compared to the US and Europe, including structural and management differences, and innovative processes

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Summary

In this episode we are joined by Piyush Chowhan who is the Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer for Arvind Lifestyle Brands, which operates more than a thousand apparel retail stores across India. Piyush has extensive experience in retail strategy, business analytics, customer loyalty and CRM, retail business consulting and supply chain management.

Piyush Chowhan

Piyush Kumar Chowhan is an experienced professional working in areas of Digital strategy, Business Transformation, Analytics, retail business consulting and Innovation Management. As CIO for Arvind Brands, he is responsible for Digital strategy and execution of technology for all its brands business. He has experience of 20+ years in transforming IT across various organizations to achieve strong business benefits. Piyush possesses a strong domain knowledge in retail, e-commerce and supply chain management while working for global retailers like Walmart, Target, Circuit City, Tesco, Best Buy etc.

What Was Covered

  • How technology is rapidly changing the apparel retail industry and how Arvind implements innovation to help to keep up the pace with changing consumer behavior
  • The digital transformation happening in retail as brands look to move from simply selling a fashion product to offering the customer a fashion experience
  • How the next generation of employees in India is leading the change towards a more open, communicative, and grassroots innovation process

Key Takeaways and Learnings

  • The concept of ‘jugaad’, an Indian term that is used in a number of situations, including the application of frugal innovation and carving a path for yourself
  •  How a focus on design-led innovation and a marketing shift towards online influencers is helping to Indian brands to reach a global audience in the rapidly and massively changing apparel retail industry
  • Piyush’s observations of the key differences within Indian based organizations compared to the US and Europe, including structural and management differences, and innovative processes

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Welcome to the Innovation Ecosystem. With me today is Piyush Chowhan who is an experienced professional working in areas of digital strategy, business transformation, analytics, retail consulting and innovation management, and Piyush is currently CIO for Arvind Brands, where you’re responsible for digital strategy and execution of technology for all your brand businesses. So, very warm welcome to the show, Piyush.

Thanks for having me, Mark.

Now tell us about Arvind Brands. What do they do?

Yeah, so Arvind is a hundred-year-old group in India and the journey started predominantly in the manufacturing of textiles and from there, there was a separate company by the name of Arvind Lifestyle Brands that was carved out to kind of tap into the brands and retail businesses in the country. This was about twenty years back in which we basically at our end were the licensing for a lot of the international brands, like US Polo, with the likes of Aero, with the likes of Gap, and Sephora is the latest addition, so these are all the international brands that we retail in in about fifteen-hundred odd stores across the country, so we cater almost to the entire value chain, as you call it, of the customer, so from the value customer to the premium and then to the super luxury customer. So, we have offerings for men, women, and children all put together as a fashion brand in the country today.

And just to put this in context, I think you are the largest producer of denim in India and the fourth largest producer on the planet, right?

That is correct.

OK, super. And revenue, I think, twenty-five thousand people, revenues of around about a billion dollars, something like that?

Yeah as a group, about two billion dollars. It’s a group listed company and if you want to talk about the brand business we are close to about four thousand crores, three thousand eight hundred crores.

And crores, so what’s that in dollars?

Yeah, so that would be about seven hundred to eight hundred million dollars.

Wonderful, wonderful. OK, and you’re CIO, and I think when we spoke before, because you’d listened to some of our podcasts and we got into conversation, I think you’ve got a very aggressive digital transformation program that you’re leading, is that correct?

That is absolutely correct. So, I joined about two years back in this organization and the charter is very clear. The promoters, as well as the executive committee led by the CEO, is of the view that to move into the next level – so we have grown from very small business to this seven hundred or eight hundred million dollar business – that if we were to take the next leap to a billion dollar plus and beyond, I think digital transformation is going to be one of the key imperatives to build that, and so I am working with the CEO here and the executive team to run a large transformation program which will help us catapult to the next level and then make sure that our leadership in terms of the brand offerings – so we are in one of the best positions in terms of the number of brands – we want to make sure that we go into the next level by which we are able to provide the best customer experience around the brand offerings that we have, and that is a massive task. It’s a multi-year program that we are embarking on, and obviously, we are midway with that, and there are a lot of learnings which I think we will talk about in subsequent discussions.

Well absolutely, we haven’t talked about your background and we’ll come back to that, but clearly you worked for some of the world’s greatest and best known and most innovative retailers on the planet, so we’ll come back to that in a minute, but the point I just want to pause on, which I think is one of the reasons why we got into conversation a couple of months ago, is one of the five values of the company is around innovation, out of the box thinking, new ways of working, and those are reasonably easy words to write, but I’m curious, what does that look like in an Indian company of almost eighty years old? What is out of the box thinking in new ways. Can you give us some examples, please?

Sure. So, the branded retail businesses have been carved around a lot of out of the box thinking as we talked about and we call it ‘fashioning possibilities’ as our tagline, so anything within fashion is something that we should be leading our way in this part of the world, and the way our organization is structured is there is a lot of emphasis on the design and the creative aspects of the fabric, the design of the apparel as you call it, and so we have always embarked and made sure that the design and the creative aspect of it is given more importance rather than the supply chain operation and things like that, which obviously are important, but the differentiator for this company and any other fashion retailer in this country at the moment is our design and the creation around it. There is a focused attention and there are goals which the team members are made to follow like, how do you make sure that you are working on new ways of designing things, how do you make sure that you are working on new fabrics, how do you make sure that you’re working on new technologies and adapting them and then presenting them to the customer?

And it sounds like – because clearly the supply chain and the labor arbitrage is a huge component of your business or the ability to source low-cost labor, if I’m a buyer, I guess in a US-based retailer then obviously I want to get a low-cost product  but by the same token, as you’re saying, the design is fundamental for differentiation. Are you saying that innovation is purely defined as a design activity or to what extent do the far broader population actually get involved in this sort of out of the box thinking, this new way of working? Is it limited to a smaller subset of the organization?

I think there is a dual transformation. I will talk to you about the book which Scott Anthony has written about dual transformation-

Yes, and he was on the show a few months ago, you might remember?

Yes, I heard that. And that is exactly the example I would include if were to relay it and I think these principles have been very successful in the company we are carving for quite some time in which, what we are seeing is that innovation is something that cannot be done by everybody in the company and there needs to be a specialist set of people who would have to take that back to Milan and drive that as a journey to make sure we are A. ahead of the competition, and B. trying to create an ecosystem and an environment within the company so that people can feel motivated about working on new things.

Absolutely, so therefore I think what you’re saying is that, the new ways of working, the focus is on the designers and the people who can really add value and differentiate but by the same token the supply chain people and the more traditional other functions are involved in ‘small i’ innovation perhaps, versus the ‘big i’ breakthroughs from a design point of view?

That is correct, and I think there are two aspects of innovation that we have always looked at. One is how do you make sure that out of the box thinking is something that becomes a part and parcel of everyday life whereas, on the other hand, incremental innovation is a journey and I think everybody across the organization has to deliver on projects which are delivering incremental innovation on a day to day basis, and I’ll give you an example, a very simple example. For example, we did a large program in which we were trying to look at where there is a group who is doing a lot of work on sustainability and I think we are one of the top manufacturers in the world in terms of sustainability, and we wanted to make sure that the amount of packaging material that we use is A. minimal, and then B. sustainable, so that we are able to give back to society and nature as we speak, and these are the kinds of innovations I’m struggling to find. A lot of companies in this part of the word are so much focused on trying to work on – if you ask a CEO, ‘Will it add a significant amount to my top line or bottom line?’, maybe not, but still there is a lot of focus around these initiatives which are leading to making sure that people here are thinking on all aspects of innovation and not just something which needs the bottom line and top line of the company.

And you’re a publicly quoted company, you’ve got a long heritage and I suppose one of the challenges that we see this often is that CEOs are focused on delivering their five-year strategy, they’re focused on quarterly earnings, and it’s really the board, I guess, that’s responsible for the longer-term sustainability of the business and after the strategy has expired and after the CEO is gone, what’s left of the business? What’s the innovation fitness of the organization to remain sustainable? So, I think that’s one of the reasons why what you’re doing is so valuable but it’s also one of the reasons why it’s so rare as well.

Absolutely.

Yeah, fascinating. And so what I’d love to do, Piyush, you’ve touched on it earlier on but you have also worked in the US and in the UK as I said earlier on for some of the world’s top retailing brands including Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and Tesco. So, it’s unique in the sense that you’ve worked in three different geographies, being based in India now, in the US and in the UK, and I’d love to get a sense of, how do you see some of the challenges of leading transformation in your organization today and how versus what you experienced working in the US or working in the UK? Maybe just to frame it a little bit better, a bit more clearly, we hear often of leadership styles being different in, for example, India, where it could be argued it’s far more hierarchical versus a more egalitarian type of leadership style for instance in the US and the UK. So maybe we start there with leadership, as a leader, how have you adapted your style coming from the US and from Europe versus into India?

Sure, I think that’s a very interesting topic and I think I would like to spend a little bit of time in terms of explaining. So, when I moved over to the US, obviously it is very straightforward, the leadership style there is right in terms of understanding and communicating very clearly, whereas, if you moved to the parts of Europe where I’ve worked, in the UK and maybe some parts of Eastern Europe and the Czech Republic and other places, I think there is a little bit of that subtleness in communication which is there, so there are different leadership styles which I have dealt with, and when I came back and then worked for an Indian company things were very, very different and I’ll try to bring that perspective as to what different means. So, the way Indians look at things to be done is very, very clear and result oriented, and I will relate that to things which I saw in the US rather than in the UK,  where you have to follow a lot of procedures, processes, structures, principles to basically make your way through, whereas, in a set-up like this, things were to be done the way that you want and that is a huge difference, and I have worked with very large organizations, Wal-Mart, Tesco, as I call them the large ships, and to steer a ship or change the direction of a ship is very, very difficult for a small unit to make a large impact on such a large ship, whereas, in this case even though you are managing a large business, the ability for you to steer that and make and impact and deliver results is something which is very different and I’m able to see that what I could have done, let’s say, in more than three to five years, things have been moving very, very fast here and we do that within maybe one and a half to two years.

And how much of that do you think, as you step back and reflect was – I mean, you talked about some of the language around a low context versus a high context environment whereas, for instance in the US you don’t need that much intuition to be able to communicate, it’s pretty clear, versus in cultures in India in the workplace it’s more high context, you need to be able to read between the lines perhaps a little bit more. Is that how you experienced it or do you see it slightly differently?

I think communication and leadership wise it was far easier for people from India to communicate in the US rather than in the UK and the reason being is that your ability to understand and use a lot of body language with your verbal communication is something that different people have different interpretations about.

So, I think that’s a point around the sort of context in the UK, there is the need to read between the lines far more. Now, any experience of a US leader coming in and working, do you have any US peers for instance in Arvind? I’m curious about what the alternative experience would be for someone coming from the US to work in an Indian organization?

I think we have had people from abroad and coming here. So, one of the brand heads of a particular brand was someone who had relocated from a European region, and we are a very adaptive culture as such and their ability to adapt to the ways of working is where the key lies. If the person is not able to get into our frame – and I would like to bring in the concept of a more polished, I call it a ‘can-do attitude’ but in India is formally called a ‘jugaad’, you need to make sure that you carve a way for yourself. As a leader, you would not have a large support system unlike when I was working with companies, let’s say in Tesco and Walmart, there was a large support system that would work with you to make sure that your innovation agenda or, let’s say, your transformation agenda or be it your data analytics agenda would be supported by a lot of formal structures which are in place and so you don’t have to worry too much about the nuts and bolts whereas, in companies in India, you need to make sure that you have to find your own way because these are organizations which in the last ten to fifteen years is where globalization has headed, to this country, and so a lot of companies particularly in the Arvind group that I work for, we call ourselves a global brand but we basically cut the so-called large process centric structures which actually slow your ability to make an impact or to do any innovation, and then do that really fast, and that’s where the difference lies.

And you mentioned that word a couple of minutes ago, ‘jugaad’, right? Is that the word you mentioned?

That is correct, yes.

Which is, I think for the listeners that’s almost like ‘do it yourself’ in the UK, or it’s frugal innovation, I guess, it’s just figuring stuff out with what you’ve got in front of you essentially, right?

That is correct. So, if a single innovation was to be done in the same way, so if were to start and find A, and then you have to find B, if the same innovation journey has to be done, let’s say in India, be it in the UK, or Eastern Europe, and the US, the journey as such would be very, very different in all these countries.

Yes, we’re going to touch on jugaad later on in the conversation but what you’re saying, I guess, which is really interesting, Piyush, is that this concept of grassroots innovation that occasionally we read about in the press, on the streets of Indian cities, for example, also plays out in large Indian corporations as well. It’s a similar behavior but just a different organizational context.

That’s correct. Sometimes it is given a little bit of a negative connotation but I think a lot of companies have used it with ethical principles to make sure that that becomes a very strong behavior within the company, and we call it here the can-do attitude. Basically, any obstacles that you get, how do you make sure that you welcome that within ethical boundaries which are defined by your organization.

Lovely. This is very different, I guess, from what we read about in the media around the more hierarchical structures that are in place in India, and the research points to that as well. To what extent is Arvind on a journey here and moving away from that traditional model from the hierarchal more to this can-do attitude, is that a journey the company is on?

Yeah and I think it’s a phenomenon which is going through almost all the large corporate houses in the country today, and what is happening is the companies are becoming more and more global. So, if you talk about the CEO, he has also worked in a large multinational company, I have also come from a large multinational global organization so there’s a lot of influx of people from these global organizations which actually has in the last ten to fifteen years removed that traditional part in terms of having a very hierarchical model of leadership style, and there’s a lot more independence which is available to all senior level executives who manage their business unit or a function within an organization to lead and drive change within an organization, and that is the only way by which, as we call it, a lot of these organizations don’t have a lot of legacy to clear. Although, it is a one-hundred- year-old organization but we don’t have a lot of legacy to clear, let’s say, in terms of a very strong cultural road blocks, in terms of making sure that non-ability to change and take care of that, because you are working with a very fluid workforce, you’re working with a very young generation and workforce which is actually leading a lot of change to make sure that those hierarchical set-ups which were there maybe fifteen years back are being broken and being moved towards a more open based and very open communicative and grassroot innovation models.

That’s fascinating because I guess, the other reality is that the markets your serving are hugely competitive and consumer tastes are changing on an ongoing basis, there’s more and more stuff going online in retail so externally there’s a huge amount of pressure going on and, I guess, to some extent you’re responding to that proactively not just as a result of your workforce but also as a result of how you go about doing business to make sure you don’t get left out as an irrelevancy because of changes in the marketplace?

Yeah and that is exactly the dynamo or the force that we’re struggling with, and I think retail is being hit the hardest with that, is that the changes in consumer behavior is so fast that organizations like us and almost all the retailers worldwide who basically have a large presence in physical retail are trying to keep up pace with that change in behavior and so we’ve moved from selling a product, and we are trying to do a lot of work on that in terms of we don’t consider ourselves a company which sells fashion apparel but we’ve moved to a position in which we are selling a fashion experience, that is the shift which we are trying to do with the digital transformation models, trying to make sure that the workforce is working towards that, making sure that the pillars, be it the design pillar, the supply chain pillar, the technology pillar, all are working towards making that experience to the consumer much more meaningful and rich.

Now, as you say, it’s the speed of change, speed of technology, speed of changing behaviors in the marketplace, that keeping up and keeping on top of that is quite, well, on top is probably the wrong language but keeping connected to that and being able to respond is a huge challenge, so there’s another way of looking at different cultures and again, this work comes from the culture map by Aaron Meyer but, Piyush, we talked about leadership, decision making is another behavior or characteristic which in India arguably is far more top down versus more consensual in the US or in the UK. I’m curious, is that old thinking now or are things moving quite quickly, because clearly, if you’ve got to make rapid decisions across these three pillars of technology and design and supply chain, how is that possible without a more consensual decision-making process?

Yeah, I think traditionally what you eluded to was the right thing, and the reason is that the amount of talent which was there in the organizations was very, very top heavy and the top talent was always on the first or the second layer and the layer below was never given too much importance because business was small and the pace of change was not that fast but in the last few years, if you see some of the companies, you will see that there is a lot of focus on unveiling that new management which is making the approach towards consensus decision-making more appropriate. If your middle management is not that talented then obviously you will rely on a lot of decision-making to be made at the top and that is the reason why those kind of structures are more relevant, but when organizations become large, they become more globally integrated, they have a lot of global talent and they are trying to make sure that design thinking, that thinking on innovation, thinking on leading change, is coming not only from the board or CEO but a couple of layers below that which is where the consensus lead decision-making is becoming more and more relevant in organizations, and it’s an evolution I think which will happen, and as we build a much stronger and more capable middle management these organizations will be able to transform themselves into the consensus led decision-making process.

And I’m curious, as you look at that population and the kinds of people coming into that population, how diverse is that population? I’m not talking about an identity background or perspective, I’m more thinking from a cognitive perspective, how would you characterize the diversity of that population?

And if I can ask you the diversity in terms of what?

I’m talking about people with very different perspectives, maybe they’ve come from different industries or they just think very, very differently, so it’s this idea that the more diverse viewpoints you have to address a problem, the higher quality solution you’re going to be able to access, and I’m just wondering how does that look in your organization in the next tier of leaders coming through?

Yeah, and I think in terms of legacy that we have India traditionally has produced a lot of engineers who are predominantly the STEM education people in which you basically try to bring in people with analytical and numerical ability, and what is coming out is that those skills are important but I think the softer aspects is where the workforce has not invested a lot of time on, which is the aspects around design thinking, the aspects around how to make sure that your creativity is something that you need to nurture as an organization, and I’ll give you an example. I am looking for product managers to come and run large change programs so be it on the customer, somebody as a product manager comes in and wants everything around the customer experience, somebody who comes in and runs that, and what was interestingly found is that there are a lot of these dance schools which are there which also produce a good amount of talent, whose skills. So, for example, in India, there are a lot of these dance contests which you have a large group of maybe fifteen or twenty people and you orchestrate that dance sequence together, and there is a leader who is basically trying to make sure that at that moment, is able to do all the things together, everybody moves together, everybody does some sequence-

Choreographing them essentially.

Choreographing as you would call it, and that is a skill which is actually needed for a product manager, to bring everybody together to work towards a common goal to basically create a moment for the customer and then do that. So, these are the kinds of skills which I think are becoming more and more relevant but obviously these are very scarce skills which would be used in a more traditional setup rather than being an MD or engineer which has been the traditional supply for these kinds of roles.

So, tell me, how do you persuade one of your peers that it’s better to hire someone from a dance school versus one of the leading engineering schools in India? How does that conversation play out?

This is a difficult mindset and you would say, ‘How would that work?’, and you basically try to bring in that person on an experiment to see how different perspective comes in, rather than bringing in a very structured Gantt chart in terms of defining rules and responsibly, defining ways in charge, defining watered down structure, and things like that. How do we make sure that that happens naturally? And that is what agile working is all about. You don’t invest too much in structure, processes, and methodologies, whereas, you make sure that the fluidity of the team and the set-up which is there is so nice and cool, there is coordinance amongst the team members that you all work towards a common goal and you’re able to do that without too much friction, and this is a startling difference between too rigid a process centric and a very formal organization which some of the UK firms are, to a very fluid in which you can do the way you would want in terms of agility and things that but delivered through a common goal.

This is fascinating. I’m sure there are listeners here whose traditional hypotheses about doing business in India is being challenged here, but what about, the textile industry is a reasonably traditional industry obviously undergoing enormous change but to what extent are you collaborating with the ecosystem with the value chain in a different way than you’ve done in the past? Are you able to access different perspectives by the way you collaborate with the value chain?

So, I think we have the advantage of working from, as we call it, the cotton to the shelf. So, we basically are the largest distributor of a lot of cotton right through to the fabric to the garment and to the retail chain. So, we have a very fully integrated textile house as such, and we work with a lot of global brands but we feel and what we’re seeing is that there’s a big shift from what we call a product-centric organization to service-centric organization. What I mean is that fashion no longer is a product offering, it is an experience offering, and that is a change we want to move towards, in which we want to work with a lot of so-called fashion bloggers, we want to work with a lot of these curators of ideas and designs, we are doing a lot of work in terms of innovating and we’ve also filed a few patents in terms of innovation on the fabric side, and how we make sure that the digital fabric and the functional fabric all merge together to give an experience which would be far more reaching to our customers.

Amazing, and I guess a lot of your experience in the US, you saw how some of these bricks and mortar companies began to embrace technology in a different way? You’re able to, well, I don’t want to take anything for granted, have you been able to bring some of these things back from Europe and bring them into your company or is this far more around creating from scratch because you’re ahead of what’s going on in Europe and the US?

So, there are a lot of learnings which have been brought in and I think if you were to try to do the same thing as is, I think most of the things would fail, that is one of the biggest learnings and realizations in the last couple of years that I’ve got in this, but having said that, one of the biggest transformations which is happening at the moment is around the workplace as such and what I’m doing is, I’ve done a lot of reading around and seeing, is how the workplace as such will be very different in the future with the advent of artificial intelligence and so on and so forth, so there are a lot of jobs which will shortly be impacted and how to make sure that you make your organization ready for that? So rather than just doing a tech transformation using technology, how do you make sure that your workforce is also getting themselves with the tools and technologies and transforming their jobs and the content of their job to make sure that there are future-proof?

I mean this is the concept of leapfrogging in some of these markets, where you’re not, as you say, you’re not constrained by legacy thinking and legacy structures and you are able to jump ahead in some respects, right?

That is correct, that is correct. That is the biggest advantage and if you ask me about the differentiation in the way I worked in global organizations, here, there is not much of a legacy that we need to clean and that is I think you are able to take that leap forward, but having said that there are other challenges in terms of how we make sure that in a market which is so cost competitive, how do we make sure that we’re able to deliver value? Let’s say – and I have done a lot of work in retail operations and I’ll give you a perspective – in the UK, if you were to save one minute out of the scanning of a cashier it would easily save millions of dollars for companies like Tesco, but the same one minute saving here, would not have too much of an impact, right? So, the way you approach innovation in a more mature market is very different from the way you approach innovation in countries like India, you mentioned about frugal innovation, it’s something that you need to look for.

Yes, fantastic. Well, time is marching on so what I’d love to do, Piyush, is just go to the final three questions that I sent across to you earlier on. The first one – what have you changed your mind about recently?

That’s a brilliantly thought through question, and it took me some time to think about. One of the things which I feel I have changed my stance about is the way machines are getting more and more prevalent and will become more prevalent in the days years to come. Maybe if I was asked this question ten years back, I would have given an answer saying that the supremacy of the human mind is there and it’s always going to be there, but in the next five to ten years, the way artificial intelligence and the machine learning algorithms are moving on, there will be a huge impact in terms of the ways of working for a lot of workforces, and there has been research, and I was in a CIO debate recently, there is evidence that by 2025, between 2025 and 2030, 60% of the jobs which are there today may not be existing in the same format as it is. Obviously, there will be new jobs incoming but the jobs which are defined in their existing form may not exist which is a very scary position to be in. I hope I will be wrong but I think this is a position which I have changed in the last couple of years.

It’s fascinating because I was talking to someone who is head of HR for a very large company that employees about two hundred and fifty thousand people and he was saying that they have a call center in Eastern Europe with two and a half thousand people just answering calls on HR activities for internal clients and employees, and he was saying he’ll be able to shut that down by the end of this year 2018, and I guess it’s hugely scary unless, of course, you’re able to prepare for the future or you’ve got an organization that’s actually thinking about helping employees future-proof their careers which you said a few minutes ago is at the heart of some of things you’re doing?

Yeah, that’s correct.

Scary stuff. Second question – where do you go personally to get fresh perspectives that help you solve problems and make decisions? What are your sources of inspiration, Piyush?

So, of late, in terms of the leadership style that I’ve looked at, and one of the principles which has impacted me quite strongly is the work which has been happening around mindfulness, and I’ve been following Martin Seligman and his work on positive psychology, and how those aspects are going to influence the human mind and that is where I draw a lot of his position about, how do you make sure that you are able to be positive, be in the moment, and then try to create a positive impact and a positive energy, and that is where the whole thing lies, and how do you make sure that in a situation where you are either disturbed or distressed, how do you make sure that you are more mindful and how do you make sure that you have your ability to make a decision and influence a decision is very clear.

Excellent. Now the third question, and we didn’t get into the subject of failure in terms of how that looks in India versus other parts of the world but let me ask you the question, what’s been your most significant let me use the word ‘the low’ in your career, and what have you learned from it and how have you applied that learning?

If I had to say – and I was scared of the word significant ‘low’ there-

Well, change it!

Yeah, so there are low moments and culturally, I think it was a huge shift when I moved from a large Fortune 100 company and then you move into a company based in India, and there are a lot of instances in which when you move up the hierarchical set up in a large organization, be it Walmart or Tesco, a lot of support structures are there to help you do a lot of things on their own so you don’t have to worry about too many things. So, for example, how to make sure that you group people, so there is a competency based framework already available so that you are doing the talent by applying, you’re doing a lot of stuff to group people and so on and so forth, so there was a little bit of a gap when I moved into Arvind, and I think that was a significant low, but believe me it took me about three to four years to realize that those are things which are good to have but they’re not a must have, and you have to run your own ship without some of those things being in place, and how do you make sure that you as a leader or you as a captain of the ship? How do you make sure that you are able to take people along and then drive a vision and then pass on that vision to achieve a common goal?

So, it sounds like that galvanized your embracing of the can-do attitude which is, as you say, endemic in the country but perhaps is not, coming from the outside, it isn’t immediately apparent that you’re going to find it in large organizations?

That is absolutely correct. Some of the things you would assume that a large organization set-up should have, but I think even if you don’t have, how do you make sure that you navigate your way in the right terms have the jugaad to make sure that you are achieving your goals.

Wonderful, wonderful. So, where can people get in touch with you?

I am active on LinkedIn so people can reach out to me, I post in a lot of my talks and my videos on LinkedIn, so LinkedIn is the best thing. I also have a Twitter too, @pchowhan is my Twitter handle, so these are the two places where they can contact me.

Wonderful. Well, Piyush, it’s been a great pleasure having you on the show. I’m very glad we managed to get into contact a few months ago and very much looking forward to meeting you in the not too distant future, and I’m sure our audience will have learned a lot from this because there are a number of misperceptions that are in the press around what innovation looks like in different parts of the world and you certainly helped us unpack that from an Indian perspective, so very, very grateful for that and thanks for your time today.

Thank you, Mark. Thanks for having me.

Have a good day. Bye.

Bye-bye.

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