Effective Leadership Requires Vision, Strategic Thinking & Communication Skills

Effective Leadership Requires Vision, Strategic Thinking & Communication Skills

By: Bhavna Shah, Deputy CEO, N K Proteins | Saturday, 25 May 2024

Leading a business in today’s hyper-competitive is not an easy task. From addressing industry-specific challenges to building a cohesive and motivated workforce, a leader is required to handle it all. Business leaders often channel their inherent characteristics and traits to ace their roles. every individual is unique and so is their approach to leadership.

For Bhavna Shah, Deputy CEO, of N K Proteins, ‘adaptability, resilience and strong relationships’ form the bedrock of being a good leader. Bhavna brings with her nearly 28 years of strong business acumen with expertise in conceptualizing robust plans for market development in different segments of the Oil industry for better market penetration as well as driving innovation and scaling up the value chain to create more opportunities and business streams for different verticals.

In a conversation with Women Entrepreneurs Review, Bhavna talks about the leadership lessons she has learned over the past 28 years in the Indian vegetable oil industry. She also sheds light on the key requisites of being an effective business leader. Bhavna also outlines her focus areas as the newly appointed Deputy CEO of the premier Indian castor oil manufacturer.

You have been a part of the Indian vegetable oil industry for close to two decades. Can you share the key business lessons that you learned during the early days of your career that still hold value to you?

In the early days of my career in the Indian veg oil industry, I learned the importance of adaptability, resilience, and building strong relationships. These foundational lessons continue to guide my approach to business strategy, decision-making, and team management, especially whilst navigating the challenges of geopolitical issues and maintaining a delicate balance between the interests of importers and exporters.

Numerous reports suggest that women continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles across various industries and geographies. Looking back at your time in the Indian veg oil industry, what insights can you share from a gender lens about women leaders in the said sector?
Reflecting on my experience as a woman leader in the Indian veg oil industry, it's evident that gender disparities exist in leadership roles. However, I have observed that female leaders bring unique perspectives, communication styles, and problem-solving approaches that enrich organizational dynamics. Encouraging diversity and inclusivity not only fosters innovation but also enhances overall performance and competitiveness in the veg oil industry. As a woman leader, I am committed to championing gender equality and empowering aspiring female professionals to break barriers and thrive in leadership positions.

In your opinion what are some of the key requisites for being an effective and successful business leader?
Effective and successful business leadership requires a combination of vision, strategic thinking, and strong communication skills to articulate clear direction and foster alignment among teams and stakeholders. Emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in building relationships, resolving conflicts, and motivating others towards shared goals. Decisiveness, coupled with adaptability, enables leaders to navigate uncertainties and seize opportunities, while continuous learning and development ensure relevance and innovation in dynamic business landscapes. Upholding integrity, ethics, and a commitment to empowerment and mentorship fosters a culture of trust, accountability, and continuous improvement. By embodying these qualities, leaders can inspire teams, drive organizational growth, and achieve sustainable success in today's competitive business environment.

Decision-making is a key component of being a successful business leader. What is your approach to making difficult business decisions?

My approach to making difficult business decisions is rooted in a comprehensive analysis of available information, consultation with key stakeholders, and alignment with organizational goals and values. I prioritize clarity and transparency in the decision-making process, ensuring that all relevant perspectives are considered before concluding. In this industry, the key levers are the risk management framework for the business, the ability to grow and sustain brands, and to creation of a team that is highly productive with a great sense of ownership and a complete focus on cost control and risk mitigation. Creating such a framework and the best practices will ensure consistent decision-making in the business. Otherwise, it leads to ad-hoc decision-making.

As you embark ahead on your journey as the Deputy CEO of N K Proteins, what are some of the key challenges you foresee, particularly in the context of navigating the Indian oil market? How do you intend to tackle these hurdles?

As I assume the role of Deputy CEO at N.K.Proteins Pvt. Ltd., I anticipate several key challenges in navigating the Indian veg oil market landscape. Fierce competition among established players and emerging disruptors poses challenges in maintaining market share and profitability. Moreover, volatility in global oil prices and geopolitical tensions can create uncertainties in supply chain management and pricing strategies. To tackle these hurdles, I plan to adopt a multi-faceted approach, including fostering a culture of innovation and agility within the organization to respond effectively to market changes, and forging strategic partnerships to enhance operational efficiency and mitigate risks. Furthermore, leveraging data analytics and technology to optimize decision-making processes and investing in talent development initiatives will be instrumental in driving sustainable growth and maintaining a competitive edge in the Indian oil market.

What is your vision for N K Proteins going forward? How will DEI initiatives feature in the company’s action plan shortly?
As the newly appointed Deputy CEO of N.K.Proteins, my vision is to position the company as a leader in innovation, sustainability, and customer-centricity in the Indian vegetable oil market. Central to this vision is a strong commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives that foster a culture of belonging, respect, and equal opportunity for all employees. Shortly, DEI initiatives will feature prominently in our company's action plan through several strategic initiatives. This includes implementing comprehensive diversity training programs to promote awareness and understanding of unconscious biases, establishing mentorship and leadership development programs to support the career growth of underrepresented groups, and implementing inclusive hiring practices to attract and retain diverse talent. Additionally, we will prioritize creating an inclusive work environment where every employee feels valued, empowered, and supported, ultimately driving innovation, collaboration, and organizational success.

Having come a long way, what advice would you like to give to budding women professionals who wish to become business leaders in the future?
To budding women professionals aspiring to become business leaders, I offer this advice: Firstly, believe in your capabilities and cultivate confidence in your abilities to navigate challenges and seize opportunities. Secondly, prioritize continuous learning and growth, leveraging every experience as a chance to develop your skills and expertise. Thirdly, build a strong support network of mentors, sponsors, and peers who can offer guidance, encouragement, and support along your journey. Additionally, embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and resilience, and advocate for yourself by asserting your aspirations and needs. Lastly, remember to uplift and support other women in their careers, fostering a culture of empowerment and inclusion. By embodying these principles, you can chart a path toward leadership success and inspire future generations of women in business.