Sandhya Vasudevan

Managing Director (ex-Deutsche Bank; Thomson Reuters); Independent Director / Board Advisor, Management Consultant Driven to innovation & social impact initiatives

Sandhya been an MD for the last 20 years with Deutsche Bank Group as well as with Thomson Reuters. She has been on Boards through her entire career with Axa and TVS Group.

Sandhya has been an independent Board member with Swiss Re Global Business Solutions India Private Limited for ~20 years. She was a Trustee on NASSCOM Foundation for 6 years and is currently on the Board of Governors of IIIT Delhi. She has been an active industry leader as a member of NASSCOM ExCo, Regional Council, Diversity & Inclusion, innovation and with CII on their national forums on integrity, transparency & governance and Knowledge Management apart from being involved with women start-ups through Sonders connect.

Sandhya was the Managing Director of Thomson Reuters’s off-shored business from 2001 to 2010, where she grew the team from 200 to 9000. Later she became part of Thomson Reuters’ Global Strategy team to build knowledge economies in partnership with governments.

Prior to this, Sandhya set up the off-shored operations for Guardian Royal Exchange which became part of Axa, the French insurance group. In her early career she worked for the TVS Group. She was on the advisory Board of IMA in 2007 and is on the advisory board of Anita Borg Institute in India for women in technology. She was a counsel member of Tata Centre for Development at University of Chicago for Smart cities.

She is also a member of Young President’s Organisation Gold and a partner in Social Venture Partners – a group of senior executives involved in social entrepreneurship.

Sandhya has an MBA in Marketing and an MA in History.

Our Exclusive Interview:

1. What does Leadership mean to you?

Leadership is the ability to inspire people to align to a common vision/ goal, deliver to their highest potential and bring about change.

2. How do you keep your team motivated?

Self-motivation is best so as a leader one needs to inspire everyone to tap their inner desires. Secondly one needs to role model.

3. What is the incident/ case study that comes to your mind when it was crucial to you to take the lead in solving it? How did you solve it? How did you ensure that it was implemented?

Early in my career I was building & managing an enterprise software, for an NBFC, for depositors and any loans they may have against the deposits. I started putting in access controls. As a result, one of the employees who would pull out custom reports was no longer able to do so in the production set up. The person got upset and in that moment, decided to mess up the production data. I was asked to clean this up so that no customer was impacted; also get ready for the RBI inspection and to put in place longterm controls.

As there was no irrefutable proof I was told to drop any action against the individual who was already in a very difficult position in life; I that is to act with temperance and compassion. This incident has given me strong focus on cyber security and a long-lasting interest in human behaviour.

4. How do you delegate responsibility? What is your mantra for making your team accountable?

I delegate responsibility by Establishing clear goals, outcomes / timelines and what good [standards] looks like.
Agree on who does what, when, how.
Agree on a reporting & monitoring mechanism
Be clear about when / under what conditions you would need to step in and take escalation action since the primary accountability is yours.

5. Have you struggled with work-life balance? How did you handle it? How do you handle it even

Work is part of life and one needs to be clear about what is important at point your life – self, family / relationships, work / professional and social/ community.
Life is always about juggling the priorities and one needs to take a each day, with each situation and decide on what is most important. One needs to be ruthlessly honest about what one wants and what you are willing to give up for that priority. The conflict comes when you want multiple things all at once. One has to prioritise and own the decision and learn to manage the emotions that this may throw up. This is not easy but it is part of how we grow.

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

Both employees and customers are two sides of a coin and one cannot operate without the other. As a leader one has to hold both to succeed.

6. How does competition affect your strategies towards your organisation – for productivity, for turnover, for employees?

Competition keeps leaders on their toes to innovate and transform. Organisation have to keep evolving and innovating with changing time. Competition helps in evolution so as to live life intensely and compete with self. I feel it also helps to motivate employees for better results.

6. How important is intellectual exchange for you? How do you seek it, and where?

The world in which we function is constantly changing and as leaders it is vital to keep learning. Some people go deep while others go wide. As a senior business leader one needs to connect the dots hence intellectual exchange is vital.

This can happen by networking and interacting with others across a wide set of groups in addition to reading, listening to audio / video programs, attending conferences/ training and joining discussions in Universities, business and other forums.

Know the Person

1. Money to you is a power that is essential for living.
2. Your favourite film is Fantastic Voyage, 1966 movie where a brilliant scientist develops a blood
clot and a technology developed by him is used to save him. [science/ technology for good!]
3. Your favourite food is Pani puri.
4. Your favourite film star (male) is Jean-Luc Picard ( Star Trek captain)
5. Your favourite film star (female) is Shabana Azmi
6. Your favourite holiday destination – jungle safari !
7. Friendship to you is essential
8. The person you admire the most – Various people for different aspects.
9. Your dream is to continue to grow as a human being
10. Your best kept secret is that I like Martial arts