At a young age, Gopal learnt the importance of bringing out excellence in employees and ensure they get the training they need to improve their productivity leading to increased employee satisfaction & company bottom-lines.
What’s your story?
There is no such thing as a perfect employee. It is the responsibility of management to identify talent development opportunities, establish a learning culture, ensure that development and operational excellence are given due attention to keep organisations productive and focused on their goals.
This is the central theme of my story. My father is a businessman and my mother an educator. At an early age, I was fortunate to observe my father’s business dealings and learnt the importance of building people up. From my mother, I learnt the importance of care and to believe in the goodness of people.
As an entrepreneur, I have realised that the most important thing an organisation can do is to bring out excellence in people. This is the company’s vision.
What excites you most about your industry?
After years of struggling to drive the engagement and retention of high-level professionals, improve leadership and build a meaningful culture, corporations have perceived the need to redesign their organizational models. The focus has significantly shifted from leaders as the nexus of powers to the collective strength of teams.
The emphasis on talent development has significantly increased over the years resulting in it some fantastic innovations such as people analytics, profiling tools & digital technology to allow people to keep learning, wherever & whenever they want.
What I love most about talent development is the direct impact it has on people giving people a certain level of confidence in achieving results in their work or personal lives. Globally, people development is being recognised for the ability to shape a culture and drive the bottom line. It has taken a long time to get here and it will continue to evolve over the years because people are the crux of every business’s success especially in the digital age!
What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia is home to some of the world’s largest middle-class communities and growing populations. As more young people have access to education, competition for jobs continues to increase. Youth unemployment is seen as one of the world’s biggest global challenges in the years to come.
At the same time, Asians are living longer and healthier lives, and they end up working for many more years. Both groups of people need to stay relevant to the demands of the 21st century and adapt to the challenges that they are confronted with. Unlocking the potential of young people in multiple ways, to adapt, embrace and create in an everchanging environment. Philippines, Indonesia, India…. These are just some examples. And then there’s the older generation of people who need to also adapt, embrace and create in a world that is different from that which they know.
Asia is such a confluence of people from all walks of life, looking for new opportunities to create impact, and with a canvas that’s constantly changing, it is an opportune place for people to develop new skills, nurture new talents, and create new ideas.
We have consulted for Governments, businesses – MNCs, SMEs, Start-ups, & Non-Profit Organisations – from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, & Vietnam, among many other Asian Nations – over the past 15 years, in a wide variety of industries.
We are fortunate to have a deep understanding of the business landscape & culture of the people in the countries we work in – this allows to uniquely tailor our training & development activities to align to our client’s business objectives.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It is very difficult to select my favourite city for business – every city I have been to, I am inspired by the strength of its people overcoming adversity & finding innovative ways to thrive as best as they can within the limitations they have.
For business, I have always recommended people to come & observe the way Singapore businesses function, especially the government’s emphasis on talent development & productivity.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”
First, we must be clear of our purpose, then we must constantly & consistently work towards that purpose.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by people who do good. You don’t have to be rich or famous to do good. Neither do you have to do good for many people. One single act of kindness can change the course of a person’s life – for both the doer & the receiver. This inspires me.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
As a business person, I have learnt the importance of pacing yourself. In the pursuit of growth, I have realised that it is a marathon, not a race. We must pace ourselves and balance the various levers cashflow, products & services, quality, leveraging on technology, among others to ensure we keep evolving & staying relevant to our customers.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I believe that success comes from the ability to pivot quickly to the ever-changing needs of the consumer. If I had my time again, I would remind myself to accept the changes quickly, innovate & adapt to the environment, and keep moving forward.
How do you unwind?
I recharge by spending time in nature & sitting in meditation. The silence helps me centre myself & remind me of my purpose. Another source of relaxation is spending time with family. I am grateful for their never-ending belief in me.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I like anywhere that has nature mountains, oceans, forests… please don’t make me choose just one!
Everyone in business should read this book:
Peter Senge’s “Fifth Discipline” – As a business leader, it is imperative to be able to establish a learning environment. This book provides insights into fostering a culture of learning into your teams.
Shameless plug for your business:
Over the past 15 years, we have helped hundreds of businesses, and thousands of employees improve their productivity through training & development interventions, leading to increased employee satisfaction & company bottom-lines. Trust us to bring out the excellence in your people!
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.