The MBA program at the SFU Segal Graduate Business School is designed for academic excellence and presents opportunities for students to connect with and seek guidance from eminent business professionals. The leadership course taken in the Spring Semester had a unique assignment, wherein each student had to interview a business leader. I was fortunate to interview two CEOs from very different backgrounds and experience levels. I will share my experience of interviewing the business leaders in two blogs. In this blog, I will discuss my interview with Ankit Kush, Practice Head, Searce Inc, Mumbai, India; ex-Founder & CEO Cobodh.com, India. This blog post will be fascinating and motivating for people aspiring to be future entrepreneurs.
After completing his MBA from the Indian School of Business in 2014, Ankit ventured into entrepreneurship and founded two start-ups, one was a failure and the other was highly successful. A critical event that changed his life was the period when his first venture failed. He had no resources left to run his company, the debts were piling up in order to pay business expenses, employee salaries and office rent. Eventually, the company was shut down. A year later, he founded a revised start-up with the same staff who worked with him previously. He believes that having a common goal, mission, and passion for a cause unites people. His employees admired his empathetic leadership style and stuck with him through thick and thin.
Ankit believes he has a different style of working and leading based on the requirement. The work culture of a start-up is very different from a regular organization. People are working by the employer’s rules and the working hours are close to 14-15 hours in a day. As a leader, he wants to hire candidates who are passionate, hungry to learn new things, take initiative and think critically. He created a company culture that emphasizes challenging the boss’ decisions to enhance creativity and innovation. He also encourages his team to acquire new skill sets, as adapting to the fast-changing world is the key to success. As the CEO, he believes it is equally important to measure one’s own performance. He believes in a flat organizational structure wherein he solicits and values his employees’ feedback. He values candour in his employees and believes their candour has helped to make the business successful.
The leader who inspires Ankit the most is Mahatma Gandhi. He considers him a great leadership icon. In a world where there were no proper communication channels, Gandhi successfully communicated his vision and goals to the masses, which led to the formulation of great movements and freedom of a populous nation like India. He believes that you will automatically develop a strong and empowered team as a leader if you connect with people with similar goals. Ankit believes that there is one common mistake that most leaders make, in which they allow their egos to go haywire and become unreceptive to candid feedback. The result is that they deviate from the common organizational goal. This often leads to failure on the leadership front and high employee turnover. Leaders need to understand that “the purpose is above everyone, leaders exist for the purpose, the purpose does not exist for the leaders.”
My takeaway from this interaction and advice to all budding entrepreneurs out there is to believe in yourself by having a clear vision and goal at all times. Equally important is to learn from failures as many entrepreneurs like Ankit believe that mistakes are the best teachers. Furthermore, most importantly, connect with the right people as mentorship and guidance are most important for professional success. As noted by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn – “the fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.”
About the Author
Aparajita is a full-time MBA candidate at Simon Fraser University’s Segal Graduate School of Business. Born and raised in India, she has ~7 years of professional experience in Investment Banking, Equity Research and Trading Floor. As a student ambassador at SFU, she is looking forward to writing blogs highlighting her unique experiences and learning throughout the MBA Program. She is a team player, collaborative, friendly, and approachable person. She is enjoying her stay at SFU’s Downtown student accommodation and loves to bike around and explore Vancouver.