Piyush Patnaik, MD, Cargill's Oils Business in India
Q: What was the problem you were grappling with?
A: In the food and agri-products industry, we are seeing rapid changes in customer choices. There are also remarkable technology-led changes in the way we compete and the players we compete with. We need to build new ways of working and embrace things that do not make us comfortable. It has also meant changes in teams and people.
Q: Who did you approach and why?
A: As we navigate these transformations, I have been facing numerous people-led issues, where logic and emotions get entangled. Sometimes, your ability to see things clearly is clouded by differing perspectives or accumulated experiences. I approached a senior leader of Cargill, David Webster, for coaching on this. He has seen a lot of such transformations and has a unique and authentic way of simplifying complex problems that helps you build the answer.
Q: What was the best advice you ever received?
A: His advice was: Eventually, it's the culture of the organisation that will take it towards success and it will take multiple years of sustained effort. But what gets set quickly is how we hire, fire and reward people. That sets the basic norms for the culture.
Q: How effective was it in resolving your problem?
A: It has been useful in more ways than one. I must add that it's rather tough to be consistent on this advice. I have benefitted immensely, and in many discussions, it becomes my north star for navigating the situation.