Arun Saligrama: Driven By Team Work For Value Creation

Arun Saligrama: Driven By Team Work For Value Creation

Arun Saligrama,  General Manager - Asia

Arun Saligrama

General Manager - Asia

Every human has a passion, a purpose, and many dreams, but only a few dare to live that dreams. True to the adage ofan academician, William S Carlson “Only through dedicated work does a man fulfil himself.” We cannot achieve our dreams without hard work and dedication. In our quest to find such achievers who led such a step-by-step journey of hard work, dedication, and perseverance to climb the corporate ladder and grab a leadership throne in the Asian business world, we embarked on Arun Saligrama, General Manager & Site Director, NASMYTH ASIA. He is a passionate leader and can formalize strategies that translate into goals & reality for Nasmyth  a global leader in Aerospace and Defence manufacturing.

In an exclusive interview with CEO Insights Asia, he shares his journey, life learnings, and more.

Give a brief note about your professional journey.
My start was just like a fresh fish out of a pond and into an ocean; I completed my graduation in engineering and started looking for jobs especially sales because it needs a lot of patience, perseverance and most importantly understanding of customer needs. Back in the early 90s, it was quite a challenge to strike one with a lack of technology in communication and perhaps had to literally go door to door for seeking jobs. Some thing struck me when I joined a global company in a technical sales role, there was a lack of mix of‘ technical & commercial’ skillset which was a gap in making a successful sale, that gave me a realisation that having technical and management/business mix makes it a deadly combination not only improve in converting sales but also building relationship, you see, sales is all about how well you know your clients, it’s all about relationship and confidence and rest is just numbers.

I moved to the US to pursue my management degree in Finance & Operations which gave me a holistic perspective for a sales role, this was the time when sales became my passion and was ready to take up this challenge, and never looked back since then. My journey for the next 20 years was into several geographies, industries, and roles, with some amazing companies, startups, leaders, mentors etc., and truly was great learning and it continues to be especially, in the last few years in the Aerospace industry. Over the past decade being in a few leadership roles I believe my perspective has changed been more polished with a great amount of clarity, I have worked with best-in-class teams, customers, clients, with whom I’ve been part of their growth story, it’s always a sense of achievement to see them in leading roles & successful. That was the excellence I was behind!! A lot of learning has gone behind this, have hit rock bottom few times, poor decisions and went through turbulent times personally & professionally to get here. Looking back, I feel it was worth a shot! For example, when I was a director of a global consulting firm, since I was passionate about sales, I started something called a ‘cold call’ I loved doing it because you start a meaningful conversation and convert them into sale, but a lot of preparation goes behind this!! Its not easy to pick up a conversation with a Sr. executive of a company.

What keeps you going today as a leader? What is your motivation?
Well, what keeps me going are the things we achieve in small ways every day, one at a time closer to your goals despite the challenges you face, every time it’s a new learning and you apply this along the way and realise that it works!!

Today, working with a wonderful global team, in one of the best industries and amazing growth in front of us despite the tough times we’ve had over the last 3 years, losing some good people, a significant reduction in our order books to really manage customers working from home and building a brand-new facility in India, that keeps me going today. I believe it’s a reboot that we normally go through in life and in business and gives us a chance to look back and course correct. Being an optimistic person, I look forward to a brighter future.

Describe your leadership style and what has been your success mantra.
I believe in attitude more than anyone’s aptitude as the saying goes “it's the attitude, not aptitude which defines altitude”, my leadership style is team work & adapting to change, good or bad. It’s like a pit stop in Formula 1, defined task, perform, on time, I firmly believe in this, and it has worked may it be our green field projects or our day-to-day project execution. This allows the individual team member to perform better when there is responsibility, accountability, focus, a sense of ownership and space provided to them to perform their tasks. Also, it is vital to provide constructive feedback when there is a mistake, back them when there is a crisis and make them lead when we succeed,this will not only motivate them but also enhance their capability to do more, better, it’s a great joy to see them prosper and ready to lead.

What are the fundamental factors you look into when developing effective strategic planning and execution?
A strategy has to be established fundamentally to ensure that it can be executed and must be realistic, it some times can be based on the situation and future, like for example in late 2019 we had a robust plan to execute a big green field project but by March 2020 we had to completely change course and strategy as there was a significant reduction in our order book. The most important factor is also discipline in ensuring the strategy is implemented and monitored until you get  results, there might be a few changes you will have to make along the way but when the vision and strategy are set and you know how to get there, I believe its only execution which is important.

Some very important factors we consider while developing an effective strategy which revolve around ‘why’ ‘what’ ‘when’ & ‘how’ if these are answered meaningfully, we have an effective strategy at least realistic!!

How do you ensure that the company’s products and offerings stay afloat among its competitors?
Value addition is very important and as a strategy, we should constantly be in touch with the market and new ways of making your product/services to be competitive, for example, higher efficiencies, better prices, full solutions, and value-added services etc., this is quite dynamic and needs constant attention, especially from the those who are at the forefront of the business. If we don’t follow certain facts and assess the future well, then we go from being competitive to survivor mode rather than from a good company to a great one!!

Arun Saligrama, General Manager - Asia, Nasmyth Asia
A dynamic leader & ardent learner, Arun believes in execution and enjoys implementing strategies for turnarounds. He has over 25 years of Industry and consultancy experience, having held leadership roles in several organizations of repute, and has worked across industry segments such as Aerospace, Automotive, Telecom, EPC, Manufacturing, & Engineering companies, with a specific focus on Greenfield projects, strategy, M&As and JV in India and overseas. He has been part of several startups and has a track record of turning around companies.

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