Interview with Ms Gauri Deshpande, Director of Kiwi Consulting
Interviewer: What are the main activities performed by your business?
Ms Gauri: Kiwi Consulting is an organization providing management consulting and technology services focused on bringing about the business transformation. Central theme of Kiwi's service portfolio is to work on three critical aspects of your organization, (3Ps) People, Products and Processes and transform the organisation’s image.
At Kiwi, we strongly believe that technology plays a significant role in improving operational efficiencies of the organization thus empowering it to better serve its customers, employees, shareholders as well as the society and hence projecting a professional image.Kiwi Consulting offers a spectrum of technology consulting services to suit the needs of varying sizes of the organization, with a single-minded focus on bringing the transformational changes.
We undertake a wide range of initiatives such as brand building of products, development of the corporate brand, grooming of employees, employee wellness, leadership development, upgradation or transformation of the technology, and delivering comprehensive ‘corporate image’ makeover projects.
Our services portfolio is-
HR consulting and services
Marketing and Branding
Business strategy and technology consulting
Interviewer: How did you come up with the idea of your business?
Ms Gauri: In my previous stint as a VP HR and Marketing, I influenced the growth of a technology company by setting up a phenomenal work culture and establishing a credible brand for the company in India, US and the Europe.
I spearheaded the complete image transformation of the company by molding the entire workforce into a highly professional, compassionate and a well-groomed team through a careful selection process and highly integrated relationships with the reputed management and technology education institutes.
I decided to venture out into my own and set up my consulting business as I believe,being an entrepreneur, you can make a positive difference in the society by creating more jobs, helping the economy grow and helping your customers to enhance their business. Everyone in your business ecosystem benefits by your success, may it be your suppliers, partners, customers or employees! It also opens avenues andopportunities for you to make a social impact.
‘Corporate image transformation’as a business idea evolved when I decided to combine my educational background in business management, entrepreneurial experience in IT and management consulting; and the international exposure in HR and Marketing and Branding. Applying the principles of image management to organizations and transforming the organization’s image would benefit it immensely!
Crafting a new image for the company requires it to undergo a complete image overhaul. It involves updating the corporate brand image, including its logo and web site design, digital media presence and corporate communication.
Your employee image must be consistent with your company image!Along with the corporate brand, the employee image must also undergo transformation. It involves transformation of the company’s work culture, leadership development and grooming of employees, change management, corporate wellness….
The corporate image transformation is not complete without the upgradation and transformation of the underlying technology. Setting up a technology platform that is in line with the business vision gives the organizations a ‘winning edge’!
Interviewer: What three things are most important to become a successful entrepreneur?
To become a successful entrepreneur, you must select a business idea that totally resonates with you and who you are. It is important that the business idea must support your life goals economically and holistically. Once you have found this idea you must focus on developing a business around this concept.
Once you decide what business idea you are going to pursue,paint a clear vision for your business, and define the business strategy that will enable you to achieve your vision. I cannot stress more on the importance of developing a sound strategy for your business. It is important to have a compass to re-calibrate the direction in which your business is going. It helps to channelize your efforts and hard work towards fulfilling and even exceeding your business goals.It gives a purpose and clarity to your teams’ day-to-day actions and helps in decision-making.
‘Think Big’ is the ‘success mantra’ that every entrepreneur must adapt. You must have a Grand vision for your business. You must believe in your vision and in yourself! I have seen many entrepreneurs short-sell themselves. Once you believe in your business vision you will be able to articulate it well to your stakeholders.
Interviewer: How do you deal with failures and challenges in your business?
Ms Gauri: The success of any business can be gauged by the failures and challenges it has seen over time!I believe your failures lead you towards success. I look at success as a motivator and failure as an even bigger motivator!
It is not possible to avoid failures in business. Sometimes a crucial business decision may go wrong or you may have to face challenges due to market conditions which you have absolutely no control over! We take efforts to discuss and quickly learn from the mistakes, analyse the situation to be better prepared in future; and take ‘fresh guard’. Besides, success means more, if you have really struggled in your business and faced difficulties.
Interviewer: What are some of your habits which have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
Rising early in the morning helps me to get the much needed ‘me’ time to think, read something motivational and plan the day well in advance. It helps me to come up with new ideas, strategize for the growth of my business and be prepared for the day ahead of time. I exercise and meditate first thing in the morning. It helps me to clear my mind and look at life positively and helps me to perform better in my business.
I always work towards keeping myself fit. I participate in running marathons and play sports such as table tennis to keep myself fit and healthy. It is important for an entrepreneur to keep themselves in top health so that they can give their 100% to their business as well as live a fulfilling life. There is no alternative to a proper exercise regime and a healthy and moderate diet as this keeps you energized throughout the day.
Reading good content keeps me focused on my goals.I always keep myself updated with the topics that are relevant to the business. Reading good management books and articles enhances my knowledge and helps me to conduct my business in an efficient and productive manner. Getting to know the smarter and newer ways of managing the business is important.
The advances in the field of technology and business management are changing the way we conduct our business. Newer and futuristic business models are emerging; completely wiping out the older established businesses. Your company must adapt fast to these technological and business innovations to stay ahead in the game.State-of-the-art management and IT consulting is the need of the hour.
Interviewer: What is your inspiration to generate new ideas?
New and innovative ideas come easily if your mind is fresh. I go for walks regularly. I have been practicing yoga and meditation for many years. It has helped me in keeping my mind calm and focused. It is easier to generate new ideas when your mind is calm.
It is very important for me to be in a good mindset. Listening to good music inspires me and helps me to be in a great mindset whenever I need to generate new ideas!
Talking with my children also helps me to generate new ideas as children are most creative and are not afraid to follow their dreams.Spending quality time with children completely rejuvenates me!
These are some of the things that inspire me. Other than this, reading motivational and spiritual literature makes me look at things in a broader perspective. It helps me to focus on the holistic picture while dealing with any situation in life.
Sometimes, most brilliant ideas come from your team. It is important to build a good team which reflects the same values as your company. You must keep the two-way communication channel open with your employees.
In life, I get inspiration from success stories of real-life heroes who have conquered the odds in their lives and achieved success! The life story of Deepa Malik (her journey from paralysis to Paralympics) is an inspirational one. I take inspiration from people like Deepa to conquer challenges in my life and look at life positively.
Interviewer: What would you advise budding entrepreneurs or the students who want to become an entrepreneur?
Budding entrepreneurs and students must follow their passion. It is important to discover early in life what you are passionate about. You must choose those business ideas that resonate with you the most.The business idea must by economically and holistically viable to you.
You must focus on getting as much practical exposure as you can while you are pursuing your education. You must also gain as much knowledge as possible in your business. You must study the environment, market, competitors and the potential of the business before you venture into one.
It is crucial to build your own professional network. It does not mean just building your contacts but having a focused strategy to build a professional network which will help you in a specific way to achieve your goals. It is important to have a sound digital media strategy if you want to reach a wider geography or a specific target audience.
Pay importance to building and maintaining your professional image. Invest in good quality professional attire. Speak confidently, clearly and be assertive in your communication. Pay attention to how you speak, and what your body language portrays about you. Have a confident body language and a pay attention to your behavior towards others.
Along with this, your manners and etiquette that help you to create a good impression about you in the minds of others who are going to help you in building your business. Let this be a habit rather than a one-off effort.Be true to yourself, your employees and your customers. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
It is important for budding entrepreneurs to create a good impression in business meetings as crucial business decisions are taken in such meetings. Treat every meeting with lot of importance. It could be an interview, or an internal team meeting or a presentation. It is very important to be prepared for the meeting so that you can work towards accomplishing the goals you have set for yourself. Also, be attentive in all meetings, ask the right questions and most importantly, summarize the discussion with important decisions, action points and learnings.
Building a team is crucial to the success of any business. Your business is only as good as the team you have. Invest in the right people who are passionate about what they do, talented and dedicated to the cause of the business. It is also important to groom them and build leaders in your company.
Also, do not be afraid to swim in the ‘Blue Ocean’ as the real business growth and opportunity lies there.
Take calculated business risks. Taking risks may not pay off all the time but it will make you stronger and wiser and you can learn from the mistakes and re-build your business.
Interviewer: How has adopting the entrepreneurial culture changed your life?
Ms Gauri: Being an entrepreneur is like being in a roller coaster ride. There are constant ups and down. There is the exhilaration when the things are going your way followed by the lows. It is the law of nature that success will be followed by failure and so the cycle continues. This awareness helps me to stay centered and not get carried away by either success or failure.
Today I am much calmer and in control of myself. I have adapted myself to ‘go with the flow’ and not get perturbed by the dynamic business conditions. I put in my best efforts in any area of my life without focusing on the outcome.I truly believe that by managing your mindset, you can manage your life!
Being an entrepreneur also means that you assume 100% responsibility towards everyone around you, your team, your customers and the people in your life. You are the person where the buck stops. You must take complete responsibility of the failure.
You must take care of your employees and create a work environment conducive to for their productivity and growth. Similarly looking after your customers’ needs and well-being is also the responsibility of an entrepreneur. I would say being an entrepreneur and being a wife and a mother have both impacted each other in a positive way.It has been a fulfilling entrepreneurial journey so far.