The Next Phase of Leadership by Ankur Warikoo, Nearbuy.com
At the Corporate Shiksha Insights Forum held on 5th July 2019 in association with JIMS and UIncept as Academic and Startup Accelerator partners respectively, the witty and enigmatic CEO and co-founder of Nearbuy.com, Ankur Warikoo spoke about leadership in the millennial workplace.
“Nearbuy is one of the largest hyper-local eCommerce platforms you have not heard about” - Ankur Warikoo
Ankur opened the session by speaking about his career plans from early childhood and how he wanted to be the first person on Mars. However, his plans and where his life took him were vastly different.
The realisation that his ambition and passion weren’t the same was a complete mind shift, but he embraced it with open arms. In his own words, “It's not your ability to make a plan, but your ability to be absolutely adaptive and reactive to how life changes around you”.
Then, he spoke about the perceptions that people have regarding startups. A lot of it is heavily influenced by the West, which may not work in the Indian context. While people relate startups to things like cool offices, foosball tables, corporate lunches, funding, etc., the fact remains that entrepreneurship is extremely hard.
Even in his own experience, he tried to apply the Western startup culture to his company but realized that it would not work because our culture and people are completely different from that of the West. He said, “The West is different. There is a lot more homogeneity in the people because of the way their economy and education system are. We are different.”
He reiterated this cultural difference by giving an example: If we introduce benefits like flexible leaves and work hours, or a pet-friendly environment- it may not work out. Since India is a diverse country with people from contrasting backgrounds, someone who is, for instance, from a small town might not leverage these benefits as much as someone from a metropolitan.
He went on to speak about how different the millennials and Gen Z are from the previous generations. The reasons behind this, is first, the context in which they are raised. Everything is available to them at the drop of a hat. Thus, they don’t understand the concept of waiting. They are used to instant gratification.
Secondly, information is now disseminated at the instant it’s created. Unlike in the past, where there was a gap between creation and dissemination.
He also talked about the earlier generations that are now quickly adapting to technological advancements. He said, “It's remarkable how technology is changing. It's adoption for us, but millennials and Gen Z were born into it.”
However, this gap has led to people of older generations being dismissive of the ideas and beliefs of the young. He reasoned, “They themselves are struggling to find a balance.”
As for the millennials, he explained that there is a growing sense of entitlement amongst them. They expect to create impact and find professional fulfilment way too soon in their journeys. If that does not work out, they don’t understand that things take time and give up.
About leadership, he said, “The best leaders we think of, are the people we never want to be ourselves. They will do everything possible to get things done”.
Further elaborating, he said that all the great leaders were, in a sense, mercenaries and that they did whatever it took to succeed.
Once again in the context of the West, he explained that people there actually value authenticity. They are more accepting of the faults and mistakes of their leaders. He said, “I do not want to see Superman. I want to see a human”. But sadly, that sort of authenticity in leadership is missing when it comes to India. Here, leadership is all about strength and power.
When asked about his hiring process by a member of the audience, Ankur said
“As a CEO, I'm always hiring. I genuinely spend time meeting people. I don't meet them with an agenda, but if you are good at what you do, I want to know you- but I want to know you beyond your work”.
He further explained that he wants to build a high-performance company and know what drives people.
Ending the session on a very inspiring note, he recommended two books that every aspiring entrepreneur should read. Want to know what those are? Keep an eye out for our next post.
This session was hosted by UIncept, India's premier business incubator and accelerator. In our pursuit to share the best industry knowledge, we host founders to share their learnings and journey through conversations and interactive sessions. Learn more about UIncept and our programs here.