Manu Bansal : A Journey Of Leadership, Cross-Cultural Excellence & Empowerment


Leadership is a multifaceted art that goes beyond mere direction; it involves empowerment, innovation, and adaptability. Successful leaders are not just managers of people and resources; they are visionaries who navigate through the unpredictable changes while fostering growth, learning, and collaborating. Such a leader is Manu Bansal, a seasoned professional whose journey epitomizes the principles of effective leadership. As a true visionary leader, he recognizes that leadership is not about dictating directives, but about enabling individuals to discover their own potential and contribute meaningfully to the collective goals.

The narrative of Manu's career trajectory is one that mirrors the ever-changing landscape of business, culture, and innovation. With a foundation laid in aerospace engineering, his journey meandered through IT consultancy, finance, and leadership roles. What sets his story apart is not just the diverse industries he has touched, but also the principles he's embraced along the way. From empowering teams to navigating market dynamics, Manu's professional journey is a testament to the power of vision, adaptability, and commitment to growth.

In an interview with CEO Insights magazine, Manu talks about his professional journey, leadership philosophy, and insights about the current market. Take a look at it.

Give a brief account of your professional background and experiences? What is the motivation that fuels your daily routines?

I graduated in 2000 from IIT Kanpur with a degree in aerospace engineering. Afterward, I entered the IT consultancy field. Despite the predominant interest in Western markets, I was assigned to the Asia Pacific Division, offering unique experiences by collaborating with clients in Japan. This allowed me to witness similarities in business values between India and Japan.

In 2003, I pursued an MBA in Japan to gain a deeper understanding of Japanese culture and business practices. Following that, I ventured into the finance industry, initially focusing on trading structured products due to the demand stemming from the low Japanese yen yield. The 2008 financial crisis prompted me to co-found an India-Japan consultancy, aiding Japanese businesses in India.

Though the consultancy prospered, the financial crisis brought challenges due to dwindling consulting budgets. Subsequently, I returned to the industry, focusing on project management, specifically enhancing risk and PL reporting systems for banks. I transitioned to my current firm, initially overseeing a team in product control before moving to global markets. My focus areas currently include business management, strategic initiatives and structuring/trading illiquid products for funding purposes.

My journey in Japan spans around 20 years, during which I've observed an increase in the prominence of Indians in the business landscape compared to other Asian nationalities.

My daily motivation is fueled by the continuous learning opportunities my career offers, the ability to bridge cultures and business practices, and the satisfaction derived from contributing to strategic decisions that shape the organization's success. This dynamic and multifaceted environment keeps me engaged and driven to excel in my professional journey. Facing new challenges and working on novel projects each day further fuels my motivation.

Tell us about your leadership approach. What guidelines or methodologies do you follow as a leader?

My leadership philosophy centers around empowering people. Instead of providing strict guidance, I prefer to set a clear direction and then empower my team members to take charge and accomplish tasks on their own. By aligning people with your ideas, projects can be executed more efficiently and effectively. Even if you're an individual within the team, I emphasize collaborating across different departments and areas.

Failure is not a setback but an opportunity for growth and learning. Instead of merely speculating on whether something will succeed or not, I encourage taking action and trying.

"Failure is not a setback but an opportunity for growth & learning. Instead of merely speculating on whether something will succeed or not, I encourage taking action & trying"

What do you think about changing market dynamics and technological advancements? How do you stay updated on these shifts and use your knowledge to drive innovation?

The changing market dynamics and technological advancements are a mixed bag here. Some areas excel, while others lag behind. For instance, trains run with impeccable precision, but certain aspects like banking systems appear primitive. There have been instances of banks charging for ATM withdrawals, which is uncommon globally.

Considering Japan's history as a pioneer in electronics and automobiles, there's a perception of innovation, though much of it has shifted to countries like India now. The US remains at the forefront, and other nations are catching up.

To stay updated, I actively read and converse with people, particularly those involved in startups and technology. This keeps me informed about the evolving landscape. While perfection is elusive, I make an effort to stay abreast of these changes and their implications.

Please share your success mantra and how it has played a pivotal role in shaping your overall journey?

My success mantra has been to take things one step at a time. Life is filled with challenges and uncertainties, but by believing in ourselves and steadily moving forward, progress can be achieved. Additionally, effective communication has played a pivotal role. In the modern world, boundaries between hierarchies are diminishing. If you can communicate well and convey good ideas, that's what truly matters. Communication has become a key factor in achieving success.

What is the future destination you are heading towards? What advice would you give to the upcoming industry leaders?

My perspective is that life is a journey meant to be explored. Instead of fixating on a specific destination, I focus on embracing the journey itself. By remaining open and adaptable to opportunities that come my way, I strive to make the most of each experience. The destination will unfold naturally as I continue to navigate this journey.

With my substantial industry experience, my advice to emerging industry leaders would be to have unwavering self-trust. While remaining adaptable to change, hold on to your vision and confidently execute it. Challenges are inevitable, but flexibility and a willingness to adjust to evolving circumstances will guide you through.

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