The Inspirational Executive Series features Vishal Awal, Vice President and Senior Partner Telecom for IBM India.
The series consists of interviews that profile executive IBMers to demonstrate how one may successfully build an executive career in this increasingly demanding market. Juggling work, life, and family commitments is a daunting challenge, but in this series Vishal reveals how IBM can support successful executives to succeed in every aspect of their careers. Also touching upon the opportunities that will be open to IBM with the consolidation of Telcos, Vishal shares how he is making an impact enabling his teams to rise-to-the challenge.
Vishal has over 20 years of experience in Telecom and IT/Business Services domain and has held multiple roles in Strategy, General Management and Business Development across North America, Europe and India. Vishal is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and is deeply passionate about continuous learning. He has pursued many Leadership & Executive Development Programs from leading universities in North America, Europe and India.
Having joined IBM in July 2015, Vishal leads the Telecom Business for IBM India and South Asia. His focus is on infusing new capabilities so as to manage the newer set of business challenges that are surfacing with the massive disruption of the telecom landscape in India.
The ongoing consolidation among telcos in India will open up new opportunities for IBM. How are you enabling your teams to rise to the new challenges in the industry?
I joined IBM at the time when the Telecom industry landscape was fundamentally transforming. Fortunately, IBM global leadership was proactive in foreseeing the emerging trends and formulating and executing the transformation well in time.
In the region, it was clear that the classical IT skills made way for the new-age competencies viz. digital re-invention, cognitive sales and service, Next Gen OSS, Network and Enterprise Transformation, NFV/SDN et al. My primary task was to inspire the team to do what it takes to make IBM successful in the emerging realities. It required a rapid competence shift, culture shift and mind-set shift. IBM machinery quickly re-aligned to tap into the massive emerging opportunity, with infusion of right talent from within IBM and outside. Over the past couple of years, IBM has been at the forefront of re-establishing our “Thought Leadership”; and in securing meaningful business with leading telecom service providers in new-age domains like Digital Re-invention, Cloud-based services, and in Cognitive Network and Service Assurance.
Further, the ongoing market consolidation presents IBM with an even greater play in domains like M&A consulting, M&A integration and post-merger operations. The massive pool of competent resources within India is very helpful in executing complex transformational programs.
I truly believe that our team is blessed in the sense that we get to operate in the right place (India) at the right time (now), in the right industry (Telecom), and with the right organizational assets and capabilities that will continue to make IBM successful in the changed paradigm.
How do you make an impact in your role?
I enjoy playing the role of an orchestrator and mentor for my team. I like to challenge the “status quo” and inculcate “Customer Centricity” in all aspects of business. The team is encouraged to adopt an “Outside-in” approach so we craft propositions that directly impacting the success of our clients, and hence drive profitable growth for IBM. When the situation so warrants, I do not mind rolling up my sleeves and working alongside the team to drive the right outcomes for IBM and our clients.
I strongly believe that a shared vision keeps the team aligned to the goals enabling them to stay agile and take the right calls in executing the strategic imperatives. Empowerment with accountability is my mantra.
I am proud to have a well-balanced team with the right mix of experienced professionals and promising young professionals.
What personal attributes do you believe have contributed towards your success?
Few key attributes that served me well in my career so far are; strong business acumen, an outside-in perspective, customer centricity, capability to deal with complexity, change management, team orientation, steadfastness and critical thinking.
What is it about IBM that you love? #WhyILoveIBM
I joined IBM two years back and I have been enjoying every bit of the learning experience I have had so far. The size and scale of IBM , coupled with the ongoing global transformation places enhanced demands on someone coming from outside to get one’s feet firmly on the ground quickly. That said, there is great support from all corners of the organization to ensure that one is assimilated quickly in the main stream.
IBM constantly throws newer challenges and keeps one intellectually and creatively occupied, thereby offering stimulating learning opportunities on a sustained basis.
IBM’s well-articulated business strategy and the vision of “The shape of Things to Come” truly sets us apart. Our transformation is aligned to emerging realities and that inspires IBMers to keep reinventing ourselves and make a lasting contribution in shaping the world of tomorrow. Competent professionals have ‘self-actualization’ need that very few organizations can fulfill and IBM is definitely on top of the game in that regard. That’s #WhyILoveIBM
Do you have any recommendations for employees & candidates aspiring to have an executive career?
Tenacity, Perseverance and a Perspective.
- Tenacity – You need to have the tenacity to deliver the outcomes an executive role demands
- Perseverance – Persevere…no matter what the challenges are
- Have a Perspective – A point-of-view. Your substance!
IBM is a great place to test your mettle should you aspire for an executive career. The uniqueness about IBM is that while you get thoroughly assessed with a constant array of meaningful challenges, the organizational support systems enables you to deal with it effectively. The culture is highly entrepreneurial and one has the flexibility and headroom to execute the right ideas.
The organizational assets, capabilities and innovation prowess of IBM are unparalleled.
One has to have a knack for dealing with complexity and “thriving on chaos”.
How do you manage your work/life balance?
There are periods of intense and hectic activities, followed by short lean phases that help me recover and unwind. IBM’s Social & Collaboration platforms coupled with flexi-working allows me to strike the right balance. I believe one needs to be good at managing time and effectiveness so as to be able to maintain a good work/life balance.
What is your message to women who may want to pursue a career with IBM?
At IBM we truly believe in promoting gender diversity. And for women of substance, IBM is one of the best organizations on this planet to work for! I have worked with leading MNCs earlier and I can say with conviction that…
IBM walks the talk on diversity.
Follow Vishal on LinkedIn
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