Pankaj Vasani

Mr. Vasani is a business leader and finance expert with over two decades of experience. He has held many senior executive roles, served as a board and audit committee member. “Over the years, he has held leadership roles with Cube Highways, Vodafone, Publicis, Subros and Coca-Cola. An avid academician who has contributed to enhancing the sensitization level of the community, he officiates as a jury chair/member at various awards and is a speaker at various India and international seminars & conferences. He’s also a guest faculty at various professional bodies and esteemed B-schools in India.

Our Exclusive Interview:


1. What does Leadership mean to you?

More action, lesser words. Taking ownership.

Leadership primarily entails 3 things: a) Setting direction; b) Aligning and communicating; & c) Motivating and inspiring. I believe that leadership nous can be exercised from any level or position in an organisation and does not necessarily involve a position of power within the organisation.

Today leadership is more about influence and conversation than power. Smart leaders engage with employees in a way that resembles an ordinary conversation than a series of commands. But it is important to keep in mind, niceness should not be confused as a weakness.

2. How do you keep your team motivated?

Treat people well, reward and recognise good performance, and the business culture will be positive. You’re influencing people in everything that you do, so think about being consistent and reliable. Early on in your career, when you’re not making big decisions, people come to you because they want something done.

You can establish your brand by being reliable in your output. You need to recognise your values as a leader and be consistently honest to those values. Personal integrity, and people knowing they can rely on you, is critical. Integrity and professional ethics go a long way; so does a sense of humility.

3. What is your mantra for making your team accountable?

To lead people you need to take time to understand, engage and support them. It is important to have personal integrity, humility and professional ethics as they allow people to rely on you. Be approachable so that people can report more than what they think you want to hear, work hard to lead by example and, let your team know that you appreciate and respect their feelings.

This will give you a highly motivated group that is having fun at work because they are striving for excellence, together. As Gautam Buddha said, “All that we are, is a result of what we have thought”.

4. How can leaders influence their team and other employees in the organisation to achieve the objectives of the organisation?

I follow the following mantras:

· Be approachable. You don’t want to become like the emperor with no clothes – people shouldn’t tell you the good news or what they think you want to hear.

· Have a learning mindset, and discipline to back it.

· Grasp the big picture, while still focussing on the details.

· Don’t be surrounded by Yes wo/men. Differing views help to corroborate or reconceive the position you intend to take.

· Be a role model for change – driving and leading it, stepping out into an unknown space – as a team with confidence, challenging the status quo, stretching self & the team to go above and beyond to explore new ideas that create shareholder’s value. It provides clear direction, helps build organisational alignment and guides your team to focus on the sustainable achievement of goals.

· Strategic and engaging leadership is imperative – to think outside the box and get things done – that supports the business as it scales up for growth. Also, making complex simple is equally important.

· You have got to love the chair you are in. Life is not to do what you like, but to like what you do. Don’t only draw the short straw.

· While it may seem paradoxical, it’s not hard to be a nice person to work with, or a good colleague.

5. How would you describe your leadership style?

Part of the challenge in working out what kind of leader you want to be is formulating your own authentic style. I like to integrate vision into the strategic process by rejecting both the extremes of daydreaming and of blind leadership. I prefer to focus on results and have an agenda – which is realistic and credible. The office/s I hold, typically requires me to set the (proper and precise) direction, act as a change agent, communicate as a spokesperson, and coach others along the way.

I sincerely believe that people are the bloodline of an organisation. It is fundamental to have emotional and cultural intelligence to keep the people at the centre of all decisions being taken by the enterprise. This goes beyond keeping the employer branding intact. Stringent measures to ensure employee’s physical and mental wellbeing is the priority for each enterprise.

It is important for me to continually engage with the workforce and be transparent (with the big picture) and forthcoming of the realities of the situation. It is imperative to build a culture of agility and involvement throughout the organisation while answering and preparing for ‘where to from here’ – as the best ideas and potential strategic directions will come from the colleagues on the ground.

6. How do you define your mission and vision for your organisation?

I like to keep it simple.


  • To make complex simple.
  • To create value, make a difference, and deliver superior lifestyle for everyone.
  • To bring the right experience and know-how to get it done.


  • Bring to the world a portfolio of quality services/products to fulfil people’s needs and wants – all under one roof.
  • Foster a winning matrix of customers, service providers, employees, and planet; whilst maximizing return to shareholders.

7. What matters to you the most – loyalty of your employees or loyalty to your customers/ clients?

Both are equally important. And it’s impossible to choose one over the other. However, it starts in-house with employees and doesn’t end with customers/ clients.

Employees are the biggest asset (the ‘secret sauce’) and play a pivotal role in building up and maintaining any organisation’s growth momentum – to facilitate and brace for an even more profound changes for your clients/customers. Similarly, customers/clients are the whys and wherefores for your existence.

8. How does competition affect your strategies towards your organisation?

The more dynamic the external and internal environment, the more necessary it is to strategize and, as a consequence, fine-tune or innovate the business model as a normal part of the strategy process. Businesses have to devise innovative action approaches and develop strategic capabilities to manage through volatility and focus on what is in control (deep cuts and gain ground) and pivot on it (act with urgency & play to win and not just survive) through organic innovation and inorganic growth.

Know the person

1. Money to you 

Quite important. it’s okay to get philosophical in life after you’ve ‘sufficient’ money in the pocket.

2. Your favourite film 


3. Your favourite food 

Simple home cooked meal. I do not count my calories, rarely eat packaged food, and stay away from white sugar.

4. Your favourite film star (male) 

George Clooney, Gerard Butler, Richard Gere, Tom Cruise, SRK…

5. Your favourite film star (female) 

Too long a list. Unfair to pick one.

6. Your favourite holiday destination  

Budapest, London & many parts of USA.

7. Friendship to you 

That 4 am person (who you can call at that hour) who can be reached without any hesitation.

8. Your best kept secret 

Not to be told!