Leaders that understand Gen Z- Pooja Aggarwal
In the “Leaders that Understand Gen Z” series, we will be profiling some of the leaders and managers our talent has loved working with over the years!
A staunch believer in workplace inclusivity and innovation, Pooja Aggarwal is the Head of business operations- Mumbai metropolitan region at Schindler Group. She has handled diverse roles including Category head- Saree business at Grasim Industries, lead- Young Talent, and Strategic Talent Manager at Aditya Birla Group. She graduated from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade with an MBA in Marketing and Finance and kicked off her career as a Management Trainee at Aditya Birla Management Corporation Private Limited.
Can you share the biggest high of your career?
From a 25-year-old young enthusiastic girl who wanted to create magic every day to a 39-year-old intrapreneur, my journey has been fascinating. I have had unique and amplifying opportunities during my journey of 15 years of my career spanning various sectors as well as functions. Each role enabled me to discover my skills and build my strengths. My biggest high has been the business turnaround in my latest assignment with Schindler India. I have been able to create a revolution in the elevator industry within the last 15 months of working in this new sector and a new organization. To be able to understand the industry, a large team, and the business model in a short span of time along with driving customer excellence has been a roller coaster ride and highly thrilling. It has enabled me experimenting with many new ideas and also navigating through uncertain times. I wear a lot of hats in this assignment and truly think like an entrepreneur every day to be able to take my region, colleagues, and Schindler Brand to newer heights.
What defines you as a leader? As a manager?
I will share a small story here which actually helped me reflect on the aspect of leadership and also helped me connect with larger teams. Almost 10 years back, when I was interviewed for a senior role in Aditya Birla Group- I was asked what do you expect from your manager. I instantly replied- being heard, respect for my contribution, and regular opportunities to make a larger impact will keep me inspired. I have been implementing these for the last many years myself. Creating a culture of inclusion & innovation, betting on people early in their careers and ensuring that my colleagues feel awesome at work every day are my source of motivation.
I don’t believe in the concept of Manager as it gives me a feeling of hierarchy and command by the chair. Everyone wants to go beyond when we bring them to smile and make them owners for the common cause!
Any tips on how best to motivate a Gen Z to hire?
Members of Gen Z are true digital natives: from earliest youth, they have been exposed to the internet, to social networks, and to mobile systems. Gen Zers value individual expression and avoid labels. Defining the problem statement and providing them opportunities to come up with unorthodox ideas and letting them experiment is the best way to keep them enthused. I use these modes and build platforms for expression and doing things differently.
I love Talerang- the concept, the quality of students, the curriculum, and most importantly long-term thinking of developing work-ready graduates. The kind of skills it provides through its varied courses are highly practical and enables students to explore career opportunities as well as their strengths. I have worked with students myself and they are able to understand the corporate world very quickly and even come up with effective solutions in a short span of time. One of my interns delivered a digital engagement calendar for campuses and for internal leaders in 45 days. I loved the agility factor and enthusiasm amongst the participants. Indeed I want more!!!
Does a degree matter in these changing times?
I indeed believe that Degree gives a kick start to one’s career. Formal education gives the tools and basic principles. At the same time, a degree can’t be a lifelong stamp to professional competency. Every individual, entrepreneur, or employer needs to assess the future of work regularly and invest in building new skills through formal courses, experiences including short internships in start-ups/matured organizations, and even make investments for reaching out to mentors/coaches from different backgrounds.
If you were starting out your career now, what would you do and why?
Technology has been disruptive and is going to continue the same for many more eras. The e-commerce Blue ocean strategy is impacting various business models. Would have loved to leverage technology and run a purpose-driven start-up including the cause of education. Social media today can create a positive impact on millions of people in a short span of time. My journey on this ambition is continuing and my association with Talerang is enabling me to achieve this in many ways.