Skip to main content

Please go back to portrait mode for best experience

Abanti Sankaranarayanan - Rise To Lead

Abanti Sankaranarayanan - Rise To Lead

Published : 6/14/2024 | Category : Leaders

In today’s dynamic business landscape, leadership demands constant adaptation and upskilling.

  • Email

  • Get link

  • Share

Articles you might be
interested in:

Mahindra has been water-positive at the Group level since 2014

Executive Summary The United Nations has ... Read more

Carbon Neutral by 2040: Science-based targets in place

Executive Summary The United Nations set ... Read more

In our #RiseToLead series, next in line is a woman forerunner in the industry who talks about leadership transitions in her career journey. Deep dive into how Ms Abanti Sankaranarayanan, Chief Public Affairs Officer and Member of the Group Exeuctive Board charted her leadership journey.

“Nearly two years have passed since I first met Dr. Anish Shah, yet the memory remains vivid. After our discussion, he walked me out—an act of courtesy I had never experienced from a senior leader in my 28-year career. Initially, I thought it was just his personal demeanor, but my subsequent interaction with Mr. Anand Mahindra revealed a deeper truth. He too walked me out after our conversation. It dawned on me then: this is the essence of the Mahindra Group.

My conversation with Anand was not centered on my role or professional accomplishments. Instead, he inquired about my family and my interests—it felt like a homecoming, reminiscent of my first company.

As a graduate of IIM-Ahmedabad, India’s premier business school, I didn't meticulously plan where I’d be at 40 or 50. I followed the current, prioritizing institutions distinguished by performance, purpose, and societal impact. This led me to join one of India’s largest conglomerates for my inaugural role.

At Mahindra, my vision encompasses creating value and building business resilience through shaping policies with the government, anticipating risks, global leadership in Sustainability and thought leadership with internal and external stakeholders. I am also committed to attracting exceptional talent to our public affairs and sustainability team.

In today’s dynamic business landscape, leadership demands constant adaptation and upskilling. There is no definitive playbook. Asking questions and learning from those around you is vital. Sustainability, a domain I lead at Mahindra, exemplifies this—it is a nascent, evolving field that requires us to shape our own path – determine for ourselves where we want to go, what actions will take us there and how we will lead. The same applies to policy regulation and public affairs.

Transforming companies is inherently challenging. A leader’s role re-imagines the what and how - sets an audacious but achievable vision, keeps the team excited and motivated through change, ensures scalability, and creates value. It’s about managing polarities —demonstrating growth while increasing margins and profitability.

As one advances, leadership transitions from exercising positional authority to wielding influence. In my role, I engage with numerous internal and external stakeholders, who are not bound by hierarchy or a reporting relationship to do what I want them to do, where influencing skills are paramount. The tools for this type of leadership are distinct and the muscle for this needs to be built through one’s leadership growth. IIMA doesn’t teach you this!

Here are my guiding principles:

  • Always strive for excellence.
  • Lead through people - as you advance, build a capable team.
  • Inspire followership and set the right culture so that people who work for and with you, are at their best.
  • Maintain grit and resilience for the ups and downs. Become the horse for the long journey ("Lambe safar ka ghoda bano").

  • What keeps me motivated? The knowledge that I can make a significant impact and drive meaningful change. This is my driving force.”

    • Tags :
    Mahindra Group - Arrow Direction Top Icon