Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned(maximum 400 words).
The achievement I am most proud of is creating on-ground impact for the real India—”small rural retailers and business owners”. When pandemic hit Company ABC’s business in 2020, due to uncertainty of demand and operations setback, Finance department issued directives to stop procurement including pre-ordered stock from suppliers. Supplier brands and small retailers from Tier 2 – Tier 3 towns in my business territory suffered tremendous losses due to pre-order inventory buildup for Company ABC as well as shut down of offline stores. Feeling for my suppliers who had supported Company ABC’s growth with competitive pricing and desired selection, I felt personally responsible for their dire situation. I vowed to ensure that business ethics were not overlooked by Company ABC in an effort to tread pandemic shock waves.
I proposed to Business Heads and Finance to resume business through modules of Marketplace & Omni Channel. I suggested that brands integrate their warehouses and retail stores, where inventory was stationed, with Company ABC’s website. With efficient planning and execution across technology, operations and suppliers, we launched Omnichannel Business Model. This scaled selection to 2X and brought in 50%+ additional revenue without blocking capital in inventory. Most importantly, this project empowered small retailers to sell online, liquidate inventory, and make ends meet during pandemic. My integrity in upholding appropriate business ethics improved ABC’s credibility with retailers and made us the most preferred business partner in E-commerce space in rural India. In addition to the highest appraisal rating and promotion, I received “XYZ” awards.
My biggest failure emerged from my inadequate business acumen when I committed to scale ABC’s footwear private label business by 200% during CY 2019-20, but failed to convince major international brands on investment for scaling the same. Partner brands backed out as they lost trust when ABC’s mainstream business was impacted during pandemic. If I had a stronger understanding of business and finance, I would have turned situation around with greater impact. I felt stranded in this challenge that came on my way, and ignited my intent to equip myself with better business skills through an MBA. I reinitiated discussions with brands and through continuous persistence onboarded FCUK Brand to make exclusive Footwear line. This helped scale business by only 1% in next 6 months and I realized that impediments are opportunities to be creative and empathetic, but I need to bridge my skill gaps to attain results faster.
Q2. Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary (maximum 500 words).
Hailing from the rugged terrain of a tribal Naxal-Maoist insurgent area in India, my journey has been shaped by the unwavering support and progressive thinking of two remarkable women – my mother and my grandmother. Despite the challenges of our troubled region, my mother made the courageous decision to send me away at a tender age for better education. And my indomitable grandmother, with her limited resources but abundant morals, raised me single-handedly in the city.
As I grew up alongside five other siblings under my grandmother’s care, I faced my own struggles. As a school-going teenager, I battled with self-esteem issues, unable to afford the aspirational self-image of the elite city-dwelling kids. But instead of succumbing to diffidence, I turned to my studies and worked tirelessly to excel academically. Gradually, I realized that my academic success could be a steppingstone to building social capital.
Fashion became my beacon of freedom in a household where aspirations often fell short of finances. With unwavering determination, I pursued fashion studies and secured an impressive rank of 81 (top 0.5%) at the prestigious National Institute of Fashion Technology in India. It opened up new opportunities both in India and abroad, at the intersection of design aesthetics and technology.
One of the defining moments of my career was when I handled my first brand launch project in Dubai. It was an eye-opening experience that tested my leadership skills and ability to create an inclusive environment. Working with marketing teams, influencers, and brand teams from different countries, I encountered unprecedented communication gaps and delays due to diverse work styles and cultural norms. But I was determined to make it work.
I adapted my approach based on the unique needs of each team. With the European marketing team, I embraced their direct approach to executing tasks and ensured clear communication during office hours. On the other hand, with the Filipino influencer team and Turkish brand team, I respected their preference for after-office hours collaboration and discussions, showing a higher level of involvement. I also conducted brainstorming workshops and set clear goals and timelines to align all stakeholders. Despite the challenges, I managed to launch the brand on schedule and achieved a staggering $1 million in revenue in just two months.
However, I’ve also learned that I am not invincible. In 2020, while leading the complex task of setting up an Omnichannel business model at Company ABC, I made the mistake of overcommitting myself by taking on additional responsibilities to scale up the Private Label charter. Soon, I realized my limitations and found myself stretched thin and fatigued. It was a humbling moment when my manager counseled me on the importance of setting priorities and time allocation. I learned the value of delegation and started trusting my team members, while keeping a regular check through stand-ups.
Through the ups and downs of my career, I have come to realize the importance of finding the middle path between mindfulness and ambition. I have also pursued my passion for yoga and mindfulness, becoming a certified instructor and coach. It has brought balance and harmony to my life, allowing me to approach challenges with a calm and focused mindset.
My journey from a village boy to a category manager for a global apparel group in Dubai has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. It has been shaped by the strong women in my life, my relentless pursuit of excellence, and the valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way. I am grateful for the opportunities that have come my way, and I am committed to continuing my path of persistence, perseverance, and mindful leadership as I strive to achieve even greater heights in my career.