Udai Pinalli is the EA to the Chairman, Aditya Birla Group - working with him in overseeing the group's mining, cement & solar power businesses. He has diversified experience across the various functions & companies of the group for more than 11 years. He graduated from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore in 2008.
Rajat Yadav from the Placement Committee had a chance to interact with him, discussing his journey at Aditya Birla Group. In his interview, he shares his experience of working at the highest level and how it has helped him evolve at a personal & professional level. He also shares some insights on the values of ABG and what it takes for the students to get into the program.
Here are some of the excerpts from his interview:
Rajat: It’s a common notion that the leadership programs deliver an insurmountable growth in both personal and professional lives of the graduates. Is it true for the Aditya Birla Group Leadership Program? Kindly throw some insights into this.
Udai: Being a member of ABGLP is about being an integral part of a community of high calibre individuals who are a seamless part of the ABG fabric. The experience is a heady mix of working and partying hard. The program gave me access to opportunities - to take up challenges and learn & grow on the job. Roles where I could garner both sectoral knowledge and leadership wisdom. I have made friends across levels, got mentored, have mentored others, and learned what it means to be part of a very well engaged group who readily support each other at work and personally when required.
Rajat: It is great to hear that the experience fabric at Aditya Birla group is woven across both personal and professional lives. But it would help us if you could shed some light on the corporate challenges in your stint with ABG?
Udai: The program exposed me to a variety of challenging roles - over 5 roles in the last 11 years. I have worked across product marketing & revenue, customer lifecycle management, business analysis, digital transformation and business strategy. I have worked in zonal offices and head offices. There has been so much action, that it doesn't really feel like 11 years long! Each role has been a great opportunity to learn, stumble, rise and deliver - an exercise in building teams who were a joy to work with - all under the watchful aegis of hands-on leaders and wise mentors.
Rajat: The fun-packed action you have mentioned above would attract an ample number of graduates to ABGLP. Can we compare ABGLP with the other leadership programs in the industry? What is its unique selling point?
Udai: I can talk about what ABGLP stands for in itself - I wouldn't go as far as commenting upon how it stands out among others. What's unique about ABGLP is similar to what's unique about the Aditya Birla Group. It's a community that focuses on performance-driven identity. You are what you deliver. It's a place that emphasizes the importance of value-driven business practices. You are valued for your conduct. Neither of these is above the other, yet, one without the other makes you incomplete.
What makes ABGLP unique for me is the unlimited potential of growth that is limited only by how far one is ready to stretch and challenge oneself. One's potential to move vertically through to the top hops across functional lines or movements across Group companies is solely dependent upon how open one is to lend herself to the challenges these movements ask of her. All this is of course facilitated by the unique 2x2x2 philosophy (move over 2 roles/functions, in 2 sectors, across 2 geographies over a defined period of time) and some world-class training interventions.
Rajat: What would be the one piece of advice you would like to give to a young B-School graduate like me who wants to enter the program?
Udai: I believe that the program is for those who believe in action - with the thought being necessary, yet clearly just as a prelude to the impending action. The program is only for those who can comfortably wade through the murky waters of ambiguity while crafting a definite direction for both themselves and those around them - indeed, the Group itself. Individuals who excel here are those who are self-driven and have high levels of initiative.
In summary, self-driven individuals with high initiative, a bias for action and the ability to take ambiguity in their stride, will do well as star ABGLPs.
Those aspiring to be part of the Aditya Birla Group and the ABGLP program should introspect on the kind of career and journey they are looking forward to. The program is clearly for potential leaders who will shape the future of the Group. But the opportunity to do so does not come to them on a platter. There are no privileges to being an ABGLP - except the recognition that you are seen as capable of more than most - and hence also expected to demonstrate the ability to be more than most! They are expected to earn their stripes and work towards it. In preparation for the selection process, and/or during your internship, you will have a definite edge if you demonstrate these traits mentioned above that make for a star ABGLP.
Rajat: That is really inspiring and helps put in perspective the nature of responsibility on offer. What has been the most impressive thing about working at the highest level at such a huge conglomerate?
Udai: The most impressive aspect for me while working with the Chairman, Mr. Birla, himself and the cohort of Senior Leaders around him is how rooted and down to earth these individuals are. Despite their stature and capabilities, the humility with which they conduct themselves, the respect they give to your point of view around a table is stunningly humble. However senior the leader, including the Chairman himself, I have not seen anyone ask of me something that the person himself doesn't do - be it putting in long hours when required, rolling up sleeves and doing deep dives or listening with an open mind when someone is speaking. This conduct of leading by example supersedes all the other aspects that have impressed me at my time here.
Rajat: Thank you Udai. Your experience coupled with your motivating words, your example of closely knitting personal and professional lives together to gain better work-life balance, your way of seeing challenges as opportunities of growth would reverberate young minds and thoughts. Thank you once again for your valuable time.
Udai: Thank you