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LEADING THE LEADERS Anu Parthasarathy
LEADING THE LEADERS Anu Parthasarathy

INTERVIEW During a crunch, there’s greater need for executives who can take the business forward, says Anu Parthasarathy, CEO, Global Executive Talent

I was 27, and a woman. I would wear a sari, hoping to look older and be taken seriously, particularly because I was meeting very senior people and pitching for higher levels,” Anu Parthasarathy recalls her initial days at Nexus Search Consultants, a recruitment firm she co-founded with her friend.

The CEO of four-year-old Global Executive Talent, an executive search firm, has come a long way since, and it’s an interesting story. Fresh from BITS, Pilani, with a management degree, she joined Wipro.

It’s all about packaging

“When sales is your career, you understand business needs, how to satisfy people and get them to spend money on what they want. I learnt that everything comes down to packaging and promotion — it can even be you!”

Soon, she headed the marketing of International Operations Division in Bangalore. After a seven-year stint, she decided she wanted to do something different. The IT sector was growing, but there was none to give her directions. She saw the need to help those in a similar quandary. She quit Wipro, and Nexus was born.

“We hardly had the money, and had no idea how business would come.” But come it did, and the clientele included Wipro, Infosys, and those from Korea, Japan and the U.S. In a few years, e4e, a global business service company, absorbed Nexus, and Anu was VP. Her clients wanted to set up shop in other countries, and Anu realised the necessity to look for efficient leaders. “Off-shoring is not easy. Many factors come into play, the chief being leadership.” And, Global Executive Talent was founded.

The firm does a lot of research before finding a candidate for the client. “We look for a leader who understands all facets of the business, including the cultural. It is a long-term relationship, as we also see how well a candidate fits in his role,” she says. Have there been misjudgements? “Of course. It is not fool-proof. But you learn from your mistakes.”

Interestingly, she says, in hard times, it is the lower-level employees who bear the brunt of the crisis. “During a crunch, there’s greater need for executives who’ll take the business forward smartly.”

Anu says she has “never been treated differently” because she was a woman, and, adds that in fact, many clients these days specifically ask for women to be added to their executive pool. Sadly though, she says she hardly finds women leaders in India. “There are few women at the top. And, the few that make it to the top leave mid-career either because they are not drawn to the corporate ladder or because they do not have a support system.”

Comfortingly, she says there will be a lot many leaders from India in the years to come. “They think differently and have a different evaluation of the world. Take Ratan Tata, for instance. We have so much to bring to the table.”

W. SREELALITHA

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