“It’s not about being profitable; it’s not about the salary in the bank but it’s about what you are doing and the opportunities you have to create impact. That’s what drives me.”
In an insightful and enlightening conversation with Niraj Singh, Vice President, UltraTech Cement Limited, we got a look in into the fascinating world at Aditya Birla Group and Mr. Singh’s wonderful journey in various organizations, spanning across 21 years in diverse industries, including Tata Steel, Avaya GlobalConnect Limited, Cisco Systems and mSupply.com. He has performed a multitude of roles connected to business development including Operational Performance, Retail Initiatives, Logistics, Portfolio Management and Supply Chain Management. He is currently leading a brand new project at UltraTech on creating a digital B2C platform for individual home builders.
In an interview with the Corporate Relations and Placement Committee of IIM Ranchi, Mr Singh spoke about how he is always on the lookout for new challenges and his fascination to walk on roads less travelled on. When asked what prompted him to venture into unchartered territory at UltraTech, Mr Singh said he thrives on uncertainties and perceives them as stepping stones to success. He further added that despite the venture being a new one, unlike other profitable units in UltraTech, he saw an opportunity to create an impact and that’s what led him to the project. “It’s not about being profitable; it’s not about the salary in the bank but it’s about what you are doing and the opportunities you have to create impact. That’s what drives me.” This resonates perfectly with IIM Ranchi, as it is the fastest-growing IIMs despite all the challenges.
Sharing his views on emerging start-ups and large economy companies, Mr Singh believes that if the big brands are willing to curb their homeostatic instincts and take some calculated risks, they will be able to create massive business opportunities going ahead. He is firmly of the opinion that these companies need people from outside (rather than the predominant trait of promoting internal candidates and relying heavily on Leadership pipelines) to take charge, lead the change and steer the organization forward.
On the slow but steady increase of people in core sectors working on digital interventions, Mr Singh felt that the quicker the number of people in this sphere increases, the quicker the core organizations are likely to progress. The Aditya Birla Group Leadership Program (ABGLP) provides a wonderful platform for young management professionals to groom themselves with this holistic knowledge and students from IIM Ranchi, studying under the latest curricula and competent faculties, are a great fit for the purpose.
When asked if he believes that students from the new IIMs would be able to take up this challenge, Mr Singh firmly said that he does not go by the top 1% concept. He said that the person must be befitting of the system first, before being uber-talented, from a company perspective. An advocate of the increasing emphasis on diversity, Mr Singh said that people from different backgrounds, value systems and thought processes are essential for the success of a company, which reverberates with the mantra for the success of IIM Ranchi as well. He rounded off with the simple yet compelling words “It should be about who you are, not where you are from”.
Being a hugely successful business professional himself, Mr Singh was very clear on the one thing that defines success in an individual. “Attitude”. He was kind enough to break down a desirable attitude into a learning mindset, ownership and hard work. Therefore, it is not difficult to predict where Mr Singh’s affiliation lies in the ‘Person orientation v/s Result Orientation’ debate. “People-oriented by not losing focus on results”.
He then went on to say how UltraTech is now working towards providing a memorable house-building experience to its employees and trying to pull away from its image as a cement company to becoming a Building Solutions company.
Mr Singh’s positive approach towards challenges, his vigour and enthusiasm to take charge and ownership and his constant drive to update his profile, even at this stage of his career, serves as an outstanding example to all aspiring managers. His insights and invaluable thoughts hereafter will definitely act as guiding principles for most of our careers in management.