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In Conversation with Nishant Nishant
Episode 1030th June 2021 • Go Glocal • Ellen Wang
00:00:00 00:28:14

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This week on the Go Glocal podcast, we had the pleasure to welcome Nishant Nishant, who graduated from the Executive MBA in 2014. Since graduating from LUBS, Nishant has worked in various roles across Leeds and London, and has since relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, to take up the role of Senior Director, Programme Executive of Innovation and Transformation at Salesforce. Listen now to hear how Nishant resonates with glocalisation, and to find out how you can develop a global mindset. Read the blog here.


aduated from Executive MBA in:

00:57: Nishant: Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you, Ellen. My pleasure.

Ellen: Great, so just let me ask you, where are you tuning in from today, please.

Nishant: Yeah, so I am currently based in Phoenix, Arizona, in the West Coast of the US or towards the west coast of the US. Yeah, so it's 6am on my end.

Ellen: What a nice place to tune in from. I understand Phoenix is known for is a year-round sun and warm temperature, I think you actually brought us some sunshine, through some virtual wave today as well because said, absolutely lovely today outside in Leeds as well.

Nishant: Yeah, it's certainly very contrasting for me, when I moved here from Leeds. I said it's literally the opposite of Leeds in the way that it's a, it's a desert so it's not green. It's Always Sunny. It never rains and it's hot. So, yeah, quite the opposite of Leeds.

Ellen: Well, at least you brought us to some sunshine today, so it feels like a we're almost in the same place. And I think a really good place to start today, Nishant, is if you can tell us a little bit about yourself, please.

Nishant: Yeah, certainly. So, as I mentioned, I am based out of Phoenix, Arizona, I'm not obviously native to here, I moved to the US, approximately four years ago. And my current role, is that in the transformation and innovation practice of Salesforce, where I'm a Senior Director kind of leading some of the large-scale transformations, and very many of them, global in nature. So, and I'm sure we will talk about that. Previously, as you mentioned, I'm a I'm a proud graduate from LUBS, had a great time there. And I spent most of my adult life in the UK, but I was born, and I spent my early years in India, in the north of India, in Bihar.

Ellen: Great. So just let me dig in a little bit more, I'm really interested to learn about your journey, how you started India, then came to the UK spend most of your adult in the UK and then now work in the US, please.

Nishant: Yeah, certainly. So, as I mentioned I was born in India, in the northeast of India state of Bihar. Shout out to any of your podcast listeners who might be from India or that that area. And I, so I spent most of my younger years there, I moved to New Delhi for my college studies, and I did my diploma in New Delhi. So, I have fond memories there. And, from New Delhi I transitioned, I moved to the UK, and to complete my engineering degree at the University of Derby, following which I had my first graduate job which was in Leeds. So, then I moved to Leeds, and I never left by the sounds of it. It's such a beautiful city. And I had many of my other roles, after my graduation were there. I then had the opportunity of doing my executive MBA from Leeds. And again, as I said, as you mentioned, I spend most of my adult life there. And then I moved to the US, approximately four years ago. At the time I was working at Accenture in London I was commuting back and forth between Leeds, and London to I did Monday to Thursday in London, and Friday to Sunday in Leeds. I did that for, for some time and then this new opportunity came up to move to the US and then, and here I am, based out of the US, as things stand now, and enjoying the virtual way of working, it almost doesn't matter now right Ellen, it doesn't matter where you are, as long as you have a zoom connection and some decent lighting. You can kind of get away with anything, it seems.

Ellen: Absolutely, and some vitamin D. Well, sunshine, too. So, thank you for sharing your journey that was really interesting to follow your, your steps from, you know India then to UK, and now you work in the US. So, I wanted to know, as a someone who's been in the international business for so many years, what are your thoughts on the term of glocalisation please, how does that, how does the term resonate with you?

Nishant: Yeah, certainly. And, and let me just double check on what you just said, spending time in international business. I haven't worked in a non-international business, ever, like ever since graduation, every company I work for, has had international presence, some more than others, so international, multinational global obviously different variations of that, but an exposure to pretty much all the three main continents: Asia, Europe, and North America. To your question about glocalisation, I think that's something that we studied when I was at an executive MBA. We talked about that and debated hotly about glocalisation, what is glocalisation vs globalisation really? It's a variation of that or is it of true value add to the organisation. And I'll be honest with you, Ellen, my views have changed on glocalisation, over the past few years, and I have a newfound appreciation of that. Companies of a certain size, and it's not even a functional size, but most organisations, they do have an, a, an opportunity or a, an angle to glocalisation whether they are selling, they’re operating, or they’re sourcing materials from other geographies and so on and so forth. And I think that's, that's extremely important. And the localization part, in that, in that term. I think it's super great and more critical than ever before. We all want, as consumers, as customers whether you're b2b or b2c. You want to have a local experience. My customers in Hong Kong want a local experience, my customers in Munich, to my customers in New York, do on a local experience there, but at the same time, organisations of all sorts, they need to scale, and they need to drive synergies, and productivity, and standards standardisation which in many cases the function of globalising the operation. And I think that's super important for competitive differentiation. But at the same time not going too far and making everything look the same, which is almost impossible to do that, yet companies pursue that. But going after it. In the way that you optimise and globalise whatever you can, but you marry it with your local presence, because at the end of the day, you're operating in the context of your local business, so that's kind of how I look at it and welcome any other follow up you might have.

Ellen: Great, yeah, that's really interesting, and, you know I love the idea of you said your, your views actually changed. I think my follow up question is, you talked about the balance really is about, you know, it's important to have the standardisation, to have the global strategy but at the same time you have to serve your local customers, therefore, you know, people would love that local experience. So, my question really is, being the strategist that you are, and working for a global firms or companies, and throughout all your professional life, how do businesses balance that between the global and local strategy from, from a business perspective?

Nishant: Yeah, and that's a great question, it's often very tricky to do that, like, it's extremely difficult to do that. Driving alignment and consensus in one geography is different, try and do it across multiple geographies and nightmare. And I'm speaking really from my own practical experience here, but I think that's definitely the route that I see most organisations that I have interactions with, especially now in consulting with a wide range of organisations. Everyone's pursuing that and digitally adjust, and digital transformation is just accelerated, that movement towards, towards, globalisation wherever it makes sense. Like I said, it almost doesn't matter where I'm located, I could be selling stuff in Leeds, on a, on a Google shop or a Facebook shop, and that's totally acceptable I don't have to be in Leeds, or the UK to do that. So, I certainly think that's, that's extremely important for organisations to pursue that. And oftentimes, the miss I've seen, here, Ellen, If organisations don't really quote corporate offices and organisations, don't really engage with their local business units, as much as perhaps should be doing to solicit input and insight. So that while the strategy is global, the execution of that strategy needs to be localised, and you need to have a way I look at it like an 80/20. So, 80%, or 70/30, you know, you standardise that. You say okay, that's my strategy, that's my pricing strategy, that's my brand strategy, and these are the customers I'm going to go after and that's okay. But when you, when you are executing that in different geographies, I think giving the, the bandwidth for that 20/30% to tailor that to local needs, is super crucial in order for companies to be truly successful, not just from a corporate office perspective as strategy. It's very pretty when it's global, and it's standard, it looks, it just looks nicer on slides that actually in fact when you try and execute on that. It's messy because such as life, such as the business environment.

Ellen: Yeah absolutely, that's a really good point that you've raised there. So just given the global pandemic has changed the way we work, change the way we think, pretty much changed the way that everything runs over the past year. How did you see your work has changed, or developed from the perspective of digital transformation? Are there any significant trends that you can share with us please?

Nishant: Yeah. So, I mentioned that I'm at, I work at Salesforce now, I joined Salesforce back in October of last year. I have never met my colleagues. I have never met any of my colleagues. I have yet to, by the looks of it, I don't think I'm going to meet them this year it might be some time next year, which isn't diversity. I never thought that would happen by the way, I never thought I'd join a company, virtually interview virtually, and work virtually for most half a year. I never imagined that because I have never worked remotely before. So, speaking from my own experience I think that's very, that's been a learning curve, and actually it hasn't been too bad to be honest, saying that the expectation from my employer is also equally not that they need me to relocate, okay so I'm based in Phoenix, Arizona. For those of you know, Salesforce is a tech company that based out of the Bay Area, like many other tech companies in San Francisco. There is no expectation, like, nobody really cares where I'm located, as long as I can operate at certain time zones, that's what matters and now is creating a level of flexibility and opening a certain opening a bigger market for companies and recruiters that you can go after you don't just need to look at folks who are based in San Francisco, you can look at the entire US to see where people are located, right? I certainly think that that's a change in the, in the right direction, and kind of opening things up. At the same time, it's not all, it's not all rosy, it does, and we do have, there are things that I would prefer not to have to deal with, so constantly working virtually it's extremely difficult when you're working across continents across cultures, across countries. My client today it's a global client headquartered in the Netherlands. And I think our my, my life would be a lot easier if I could have just met my client, shook hands, maybe had a beer, gone out for dinner or something and engage with them at a personal level and build a rapport, worth of just trying to do this what you and I are doing here, which you can't, you can't replicate the real life one to one interaction and I certainly miss that in my centres, and it seems, so it's my company seems to be tight with that it's the future state is going to be a bit of a hybrid I don't think we're going to go back to what we used to do for sure. I really hope we don't do that because that'd be a shame. But at the same time, We're not going to be operating like we are now, we will have remote working aspects with the opportunities to have face to face interactions with clients, with colleagues, and our offices are certainly now being redesigned for that purpose, so instead of having offices for me to go into their office and work there, it's now more of an environment for me to collaborate with my colleagues on a time to time basis without creating the necessity for me to be in the office every day.

Ellen: Yeah, I think you've opened up a really interesting topic there which is the future of work right and this is something that we're not really touched up until this episode, but it is definitely interesting. It's about how teamwork has changed, how stakeholder relationships changed, how you manage your clients, and you know it's really interesting times that, you know, things have changed, I absolutely agree with you, I think I'm a people person as well, I'd much prefer the in-person experience one to one, you know, having dinner and talk things through the face-to-face interaction, but having said that, you know the hybrid way, perhaps, is the way to go forward in the future, right.

Nishant: Yeah, absolutely, that's, that's certainly my, my read of the situation just now, and many other folks as well. And you can see right, Ellen, how that might be dovetail with the global conversation we're having here, because now my colleagues don't have to be based in Phoenix, Arizona, they could be anywhere. I have colleagues based out, like France and based on Netherlands I have colleagues in, I don't just mean colleagues who I randomly meet, maybe once or twice a month, no, these folks that I work closely with on a day-to-day basis, and that's been enabled because it's kind of a level playing field now. As long as you have a zoom connection, you're in the right time zone. It doesn't kind of matter where you are for now.

Ellen: Yeah, no I think that's really interesting perspective I see what you mean because now, it is very much fluid isn’t it, it is about how we used to think was the set format of way of working way of thinking. But, in fact, you know, with a pandemic actually poses a new opportunity, a new way of working. No one thought it was possible before, so you know I completely see where you're coming from in terms of having no base, but everywhere can be your base. Great. Okay, so you've shared a lot of insight from, you know practitioner perspective, your own perspective, I'm just going to sort of take you back to Leeds again for our students. So, most of our audience will be listening who are current students here, so I just wanted to ask a question in terms of, you know, given the current challenges faced by our students, and also there's a lack of international mobility due to the pandemic. What advice can you give to our students to be a glocal person, or you know, to be the person that you, you are right now and have gone through the journey. What do you think they can do?

Nishant: Yeah, that's a great question, Ellen, and I think one of the, one is my advice and which I, I often get from people is, network, network and network. And I think that still stands true, probably more so now because nobody's going to conferences and shaking hands to people, everybody's virtual. So, networking, which really opens up, similar to what I was saying earlier, markets that are way bigger, like where you'll have to be the same conference in the same city, you could be wherever, and network with people and I think that's definitely one of the advices I would give. I would also encourage people to, to, to travel like I, and I have, I love travelling so this is me, kind of reflecting my own personal biases here, but I love to travel, and I think things will get better things will open up and affording ourselves the luxury to travel is, is a good thing that's helped me be a better leader, I certainly think you have a newfound appreciation for different cultures. And I would say that that's something that I would, as an advice I'd give people to, to travel go and go to places, just get a sense of cultures, understand the nuances. But, why, why a German person might say something that seems offensive but it's not actually offensive, that is culturally aligned to be a bit more direct and that's okay. And why somebody in India is going to head that nod their head and say yes but they might actually do what you just asked them to do, but that's okay because they're culturally aligned, not to say no to you. Right. And I think that comes from, from working in business but also through own personal experiences as well. So really, those, those two things I would say, Ellen, networking, and continuing to expand your network, whether you use LinkedIn whether you use virtual events and now so many virtual events open to everybody, just doing that, and through the whole Nine Network leads as well of course, and the other one is when, when you're afforded the opportunity to go and travel is going to see different content and experience different things. Yeah, absolutely.

Ellen: I, I really loved that idea that you shared in terms of networking and travel, but the point that you were making really there is to network with the purpose, to travel with a purpose. It isn't just about networking, in trouble, but with a purpose on top of then you, you get something out of the, the activity at the end, right?

Nishant: Absolutely. And people are more than happy, I have found that they will if you have a very clear purpose and you're like, hey I would like to connect with you to learn, X or to know more about Y. People, I don't know about you, but I was apprehensive about doing that, personally, but I did, and it's actually been pretty good. Generally, people want to help and, and form personal connections we all crave, personal connections, I certainly do. In this pandemic world that we live in. So yes, I couldn't agree more with you on that.

Ellen: Great, so now I've asked the ‘what’ question I'm going to just speak a little bit more in terms of asking the ‘how’ question. So, I just wanted to know, you know, have you got any tips to share with our students or our audience, in terms of how you could do that, you know, we talked about networking, or networking with a purpose. How would you send that first message before, you know, for that person to respond to you because I think, you know, we'll come across some challenges in life where we send messages with the purpose, but you don't necessarily get the feedback or response right? Have you got any advice on that?

Nishant: Yeah, certainly. I'm smiling because I do get people trying to network with me as well and if they do it in a way that doesn't resonate with me. I have so many responses. I still need to respond to people on LinkedIn, because it’s too long, I don't have time for that. I don't mean in a bad way because we are all busy as well, right, like we are all busy. In spite of the pandemic, we are busy and thankfully we have jobs, and we are working and in decent health and that's good. And I think in terms of the how, Ellen, I would say, craft your message in advance, and have a strategy behind that. So, yes, be clear on your purpose, be brief, try and create a personal connection in your message, if you can, call out something that you may have seen and I'm speaking very specific to LinkedIn now or, or just online because we're going to be talking about our idea if you've seen that person write an article or post something about it, or you know that person because Ellen or Nishant mentioned this person in a conversation with you. Bring that personal connection, say oh such and such person mentioned you I'd love to learn more about something. I think doing these things, helps you cut through the noise and puts the interest of the audience you're trying to network with. It's like marketing right it's, it's, it's, to me it's no different to marketing because you can spend millions of dollars, pounds, doing stuff, and it may result in no, no decent outcome. Alternatively, you can take a very targeted strategic segmented view of stuff, and really craft your message and think through it, and you'd have great results, same thing applies here, instead of marketing products or services you are marketing yourself.

Ellen: I think this is, this is the opportunity where I invite our audience to try, maybe with Nishant by networking with him and add him on LinkedIn. And see, you know, if those messages really resonate with you and if you feel like these messages are worth responding to, because it is a good exercise, right?

Nishant: Yeah and it's all from like, it's like applying for jobs right, it's you, you, you want to have a standard resume, but you're going to tailor that resume to that job right, you're going to tailor it you can't just have a standard resume for all kinds of jobs, it's just not going to work, you need to tailor the key words in sentences and making bold and use italics, you know whatever format you do. And I think the same thing again applies here is tailoring your message to the audience. And similar to again, applying for a job, you don't just apply for one job, and you might not get it and you're like, oh, well, okay, but I just base it X number of years trying to do, studying something and get a job. It doesn't work like that you need to try and keep trying, and it's almost a numbers game as well, so same thing applies in networking. If your first few attempts, does not yield the outcome you want. Do something about it change the attack and, but keep trying.

Ellen: Absolutely. I think today you've actually opened up more discussion topics that lay the really nice foundation for my next series of the podcast, to be honest, you know, again this is the this is the bit where we've not really touched upon in terms of the CVs, and you know how you are tailoring your message. I've received so many applications where you can tell that was a templated application from a previous one right, and it doesn't even change any words to the job that they're applying for and that is one of my pet hates. I'm sure that's everybody's pet hate. People don't really realise that that personalised message is really important. And to make that resonation with the person that you're writing to. So, I think that's really key message so thank you for sharing that with us. I think now we're coming to the end of the short, but, you know, very insightful episode, I just wanted to say thank you so much for your time and the opportunity to share your journey and your insights with us. It would be so great to have you back sometime soon.

Nishant: I would love to, and as I mentioned to you, Ellen, like a few weeks ago I love to partner with, with the university I have taken so much from my experience, and still continue to do so today. And anything I can do in terms of contributing towards that. I'm always happy to do that.

Nishant: Thank you, Nishant, that’s great to hear. To the audience who are listening today and wish to connect and perhaps continue the conversation with Nishant, then do feel free to contact him via LinkedIn. As I mentioned earlier this is actually the last episode of the go Glocal podcast series, and I couldn't be happier to have a Nishant to be my last guest. This is because both Nishant myself graduated from Executive MBA a few years apart, and this episode is not only just between the host and Leeds alumnus, but also to peers as well, and I feel alumnus from MBA programme is a great way to conclude the podcast series. Over the past several weeks I have had the pleasure to interview students, alumni, across both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. I was so pleased to hear that all my guests spoke really highly about their Leeds experience and how business school helped them to achieve their potentials, and inspire them to be business leaders in their own way, and I really hope this go Glocal podcast series helped you, the listener, in some way. The past year has been challenging towards all, but I believe tough times do not last, but tough people do, and by developing a glocalised mindset, you're able to see an opportunity in every corner. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for listening, and remember, stay focused, stay curious, and think Glocal.