Change in Leadership Style: I believe leaders will understand the value of leading from the center vis-a-vis the forefront. Being clued into the pulse of the organization, standing in alignment with the team, taking our place in the battle, and being empathetic are valued future leadership qualities.
As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Yamini Bhat, Co-Founder & CEO, Vymo (Ex. Mckinsey).
Yamini Bhat is recognized for driving enterprise sales transformation. She co-founded Vymo in 2013 and has since led the company’s growth as CEO. Previously, she was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey, specializing in Marketing Strategy and Sales & Distribution across Banking, Credit, and Insurance.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.
I completed my education at BITS Pilani and IIM-B in India. My six-year stint in McKinsey is definitely an experience that shaped me and initiated me into my journey as an entrepreneur. Working with Fortune 500 companies across North America and Asia, I saw an acute need for a platform that provides intelligent data to sales teams in real-time, on the go. Thus, Vymo was born. And I was very sure that my start-up would be born in India.
This was around the same time I gave birth to my son. This has been another defining experience for me: discovering and navigating entrepreneurship and motherhood at the same time! It is amazing playing both roles simultaneously; teaching me to focus better and prioritize really well.
Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?
The passion to make a difference will remain the same, and the drive to solve your customer’s challenges and provide them with a superlative experience will remain the same. The need to collaborate and work closely will also remain unchanged.
Ten years from now, we would have figured out best practices for seamless collaboration and remote working. All our processes in addition to being agile, people-focused, and efficient will also be sustainable. That is something we should proactively build out: a completely carbon-neutral and sustainable workplace.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
We’ve all been through the pandemic and even the biggest organizations with robust business continuity planning strategies fell short. As we grow, future-proofing the organization is not a nice-to-have, but a necessity. I think that organizations must consider these three aspects while future-proofing their business:
- Restructure the organization to make it less hierarchical and more interconnected to enable easy exchange of ideas and information.
- Build a strong culture and value ecosystem that forms the backbone of the organization, so that the rules of engagement are defined without ambiguity. This will lead to increased collaboration and build credibility within teams to take decisions and lead.
- Plan for agility. Teams should be able to make faster decisions and stay resilient in the event of a wrong move and build the ability to rebound and course-correct if the situation demands it.
What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?
We’re moving into a future where the pace of emerging technology adoption will be rapid. Employers must build a strong learning culture within the organization and provide comprehensive development programs for employees to continuously upskill themselves.
And beyond providing learning opportunities, I believe that leaders of tomorrow must build a culture that gives every employee a share of voice and a sense of purpose that ties into the larger business goal.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
Beyond just working from home, the pandemic has opened up opportunities to access a global talent pool. This is a huge shift from being able to hire talent locally. As the industry evolves and there is a huge need for niche skill sets, it is in time that we have access to this wider high-potential population.
With this, there is greater diversity and therefore opportunities for more innovation and growth. So organizations must leverage this opportunity and build a digital culture that enables a seamless virtual work environment.
We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?
- Supporting education and skilling across the societal demographic: The new workforce will comprise many more women, more people from different races and ethnicity making the market much more diverse, rooted and strategically competitive. We must start providing opportunities for people to skill up and look at learning platforms beyond schools or universities.
- With the workforce not wanting to work 9 to 5 anymore and with a huge dearth of jobs, the gig economy will grow exponentially. We’re looking at a human cloud of freelancers with niche skill sets available for short-term assignments and projects. There will be an increased need for rules and regulations around work policies for this segment and organizations must think of innovative benefits programs to support them.
- The AI industrial revolution is underway and we will see its full impact in the years ahead. AI can complement human abilities and create a workforce that is more efficient and productive.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
I am hugely positive about the future workforce who are now studying in schools and universities. They are smart, digitally adept, and very focused. They are also actively involved in grassroots social causes and prioritizing climate action and sustainability.
Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?
Organizations must continue to prioritize holistic health among their people: physical health, mental wellness, and focus on family. Mental health is high on the agenda for many firms as we speak, and it is important to sustain this focus through leadership support, a wider range of benefits and programs, and a constant awareness about the way the workforce is evolving and adapting policies to better support their needs.
It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?
The cornerstones remain the same: organizational culture, focus on nurturing talent, transparency, and people focus. Enterprises should revisit these areas and explore what more can be done to support their people better.
With leaps in technology, a plethora of opportunities, and a very unpredictable environment (as the pandemic taught us) organizations must be as agile about feeling the people’s pulse and providing them the support they may require.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
- Transformation of the Workplace with AI and ML: AI can help in increased personalization and knowledge mining at future workplaces, minimizing the time spent on looking for information or creating information that may already exist in internal systems. For example, if employees can quickly access best practices or lessons learned from previous wins or losses, with a suggested action plan that increases the chances of winning a new client, that saves time, effort and increases employee engagement levels.
- The New Corporate Structure: As we build the Vymo workplace, we’re seeing the benefits that shared culture and values brings to the business. We’re also emphasizing the importance of sharing feedback and free flow of information across teams and individuals. Thirdly, I believe that a keen focus on transparency in our goals and in the work we do will set us apart in the market. These are some of the pillars that will support organizations of the future.
- Change in Leadership Style: I believe leaders will understand the value of leading from the center vis-a-vis the forefront. Being clued into the pulse of the organization, standing in alignment with the team, taking our place in the battle, and being empathetic are valued future leadership qualities.
- Engaging Eclectic, Diverse Teams: Building a strong culture, cultural intelligence, emotional intelligence and empathy with a strong mechanism for feedback sharing will be pivotal to engaging diverse teams of the future.
- Tying Sustainability with Business Goals: I believe every business strategy should be interwoven with sustainability goals. Not just to meet altruistic goals, but also since it is better for business. According to McKinsey, companies with high ESG ratings consistently outperform the market in both the medium and long term. While sustainability strategies might be an investment in the short term, they can lead to long-term benefits.
I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?
“If you are tired, don’t quit. Just take a break.”
Burnout in the early days of a startup is often downplayed. It’s not just for the founders, but for employees too. Adrenalin, ability to iterate fast, innovation ‘high’, great folks to work with.. all of these keep you going but it is hard work and it does take a toll. This quote changed how I saw ‘downtime’. Well planned downtime between intense bursts of work, not just helps cope with the intensity but really help you assimilate and become more mindful and intentional.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.
President of the US, Joe Biden. I believe public policy is the biggest lever a nation can have. Small tweaks can put into motion massive behavioral changes. Would love to spend more time with policy makers to add my voice.
Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?
You can tweet me at @yaminibhat or connect on LinkedIn.
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.