“Problems are an indispensable part of our lives, keep your thinking hats on and be a solver to them, for they cannot be erased completely” says Mr. Vinay Dua, Head(VP) Business Development, IoT and Digital Transformation, CISCO.
Even though he is from my family network, it took me a considerable number of phone calls to reach him amidst his busy schedule. But my persistent effort to reach him proved to be fruitful when I was finally able to connect with him. As soon as I explained him the process, he was kind enough to spare some of his precious time to answer the questions and equip the millennials with his valuable insights which would guide them towards a successful career.
The following is an excerpt of my interaction with Mr. Vinay Dua.
Q1. You have been working with Cisco for the past 19 years. What all motivated you to stay with the organization for this long?
The following aspects really have kept me motivated:-
1. The wonderful people- their commitment and dedication.
2. As one of the Top Great Places to Work For, Cisco is respected by all stakeholders as a trusted advisor rather than as an OEM/Vendor.
3. An open-door policy which is not constrained by hierarchy.
4. An environment to innovate and leverage new technologies for customer success.
5. Flexible and Collaborative work environment.
Q2. One incident from your time in college/b-school that helped shape your professional life.
The biggest thing that I learnt from my four-year stint in college and hostel is the ability to deal with people of diverse backgrounds, and varied thought process, and how to influence and build a consensus towards a common goal.
I learnt that it is important to understand all the divergent viewpoints, and not one answer may be the right answer. Hence to build a strong team, one cannot force upon certain thought or an idea, without adopting a democratic and collaborative approach.
No individual is wrong, but it's just that people have a different viewpoint, and if we don’t think from their point of view, we might be at the risk of losing out some of the best suggestions or ideas. Therefore, to be an impactful and great leader, it is very important to be a great listener without being judgmental.
Q3. One passion of yours that helps you become better at your mainline career.
I would say it is the ability to think creatively, and an attempt to always deliver an outcome in a uniquely different way. Whether it is making and delivering a presentation, or preparing any solution, always think and innovate in all areas of customer interaction.
Off-late my growing interest in photography is really helping me make interesting conversations where I tend to start a discussion or presentation by showing/relating to what I have captured on my camera and making it relevant for the discussion at work. This is very helpful in breaking the ice with a larger team and establishing a stronger customer relationship.
Q4. When you are looking for people in your team, apart from specific skills, what kind of attitudes and approaches do you look for in candidates?
The most important aspect is someone who not only mentions a problem or a challenge but is a problem solver. Having such a person in the team is the most desirable and critical. The second aspect is someone who is willing to engage even if he or she does not possess the complete knowledge, and is willing to learn on the fly.
Today, the traditional way of doing things is getting disrupted in almost every industry, so such an approach in employees is highly desirable as there is often times a situation where one may not have all required knowledge, but requires a leap of faith, conviction, and to learn quickly and deliver.
"The value of operating in the most ethical of ways cannot be overemphasized."
Also, as the newer ways of doing business, continue to emerge, to be successful one would require an open mind, and awareness of the trends in one’s domain.
Q5. What is your advice to young MBA graduates to build a successful career?
What may appear as lucrative and rewarding in the beginning and often becomes the root cause of not such a great career innings is the frequent job hopping that may have become the order of the day. It is important to learn the nuances of the industry and build a solid foundation in the formative years. Emphasis should be on building and developing skills, expertise and become an authority in the chosen domain, and then look at changing assignments.
Networking is the key. Start leveraging social media and build your brand. Sharing one’s views on things which matter and your belief in it will help build credibility in the long run.
Q6. What has been your mantra for success?
Well, I would say being a solution provider, rather than just coming out with a problem or a challenge. Also, learning the art of communication, which is not only the ability to speak effectively but also to be able to listen with empathy.
Work-life balance has also been very important in terms of family and being able to invest in my passion which has kept me motivated in this journey.
Post this conversation with Mr. Dua, his pool of inspiring thoughts were instrumental for me in understanding the business world better and gave me the confidence to face the real world challenges in today’s competitive scenario.
Equipping oneself with networking skills to connect with professionals and being able to sustain them in good terms helps in expanding your network base. Being an active listener and a creative thinker at all times potentially improves your chances of looking at real-time challenges from a newer perspective and feeling confident enough to come out with a modern approach to problem-solving.
All these, when instilled in us, could help us achieve greater heights in today’s extremely competitive world is what I absorbed during my interaction with him.