10 years post HEC MBA at Schneider Electric
In my 10 years at Schneider Electric, I’ve seen the company evolve culturally and grow from a leader in electrical automation products to a truly global leader in products, solutions, and most importantly in software and digital with its open, IoT enabled EcoStruxure platform. Schneider Electric products provide energy, automation, and digital solutions for efficiency and sustainability: one of the core challenges facing our world today!
My professional journey began in 2003 in the mobile telecom industry. As a technology solution architect, I had an opportunity to deliver massive 2G/3G network rollouts across South East Asia (based in Jakarta), Middle East (based in Dubai), and Latin America (based in Bogota and Mexico City). In the first phase of my career, my objectives were to expose myself to new cultures and to be a top technology specialist in the industry. After more than seven years in the telecom industry, I joined the HEC Paris MBA program to strengthen my management skills and to widen my perspectives on business, which then began my leadership journey.
Discovering Schneider Electric
During the MBA program, the energy sustainability crises were already a major focus of discussions on campus. On a ski trip near Grenoble, we decided to visit Schneider Electric’s R&D facilities to learn more about the company and how it was addressing the energy crisis. I was so impressed by the innovations being developed that I applied for an internship with the Corporate Strategy Team.
My six months as an intern exposed me to the company culture and its people and strengthened my ability to deliver clear recommendations on fast-paced strategy initiatives to senior leaders. Some personal highlights from that experience included working on the Smart Cities Strategy, Creation of Cloud and Telecom segment organization. Moreover, it was a key opportunity to ensure alignment on delivery expectations and cultural fit.
Unlike my previous companies where we had a fairly straightforward business model, what attracted me to Schneider Electric (in addition to the engaging culture and high caliber people) was the sheer breadth of offers and diverse business models in which we engaged: be it direct to end customers, through a partner network, eCommerce, alliances and all this to be further augmented by digital transformation…the list goes on and so do the opportunities to learn and grow!
Seeing Our Operations in Action
In January 2012, I joined the Global Internal Audit team that reports to the Executive Leadership. I traveled constantly for the next 2.5 years across 15+ countries to see up close the major challenges/opportunities in our country operations, supply chain, new acquisitions, or specific projects such as new business models or R&D efficiency and deliver actionable turnaround recommendations. I grew exponentially with a “dare to disrupt” attitude that has stayed with me ever since. A real highlight for me professionally in this role was to lead a team of 7 auditors to deliver operational recommendations in an extremely complex, where we identified several business and people challenges. Furthermore, I got an opportunity to deep dive into some of our acquisitions: Areva D (one of the most complex acquisitions ever), Telvent in Spain and Brazil, and more from India to Italy to the UK. These further sharpened my core skills as I learned to apply these to our future direction.
Challenging Myself with New Roles
With this clear perspective of the challenges facing the business, I chose my next role to get closer to our Strategic customers in the Cloud & Service Providers segment—yes, the very segment I had contributed to creating as an intern! As a program manager for major pursuits, I was fully empowered to challenge the status quo and create an organization to deliver to the expectations of our global customers, focusing my clarity on true competitive advantage within our industry. Wherever our customers decided to build, we were there beside them ready to partner and execute!
After 3 years with our top customers, I challenged myself to learn more about our transactional business as the Pricing and Commercial Policy Lead for the Digital Energy Division. Here I could contribute directly to the Profit & Loss improvement alongside the top divisional leadership team in the group. I’ve stayed in the Digital Energy Division and in 2019 I was promoted to be Global VP of Digital Buildings Services to help lead our customers’ Digital transformation with our modernization and digital services offers. These offers have provided a fantastic impetus to our customers in remote and digital operations during ongoing crises!
Leadership is not a destination but an unending journey. As I reflect on a decade within Schneider Electric, I list some of the key lessons and values for talents looking to launch their career.
- Choose a company that values diversity, inclusion, and ready to invest in you: if you are following Schneider Electric on LinkedIn, then you may have come across many awards received for its diversity and inclusion policies. This is in the DNA of the company that has been in continuous execution. Our teams are diverse and inclusive to fully leverage the power that it brings to deliver superior performance! My career is one of the many testimonials of this policy in action.
- Follow your passion when you choose a role rather than a title or hierarchy: I always focused on choosing my passion be it customers or pricing or Digital Transformation over titles because this would drive me to deliver my best even when the results are not coming or there are organization changes. My focus is always to learn every day as much as I can to bring more value to the business.
- Focus on your current job rather than planning for future roles: This may sound counterintuitive but one of the best advice I ever received was from our former CEO and Chairman Henri Lachmann and he said “I have seen too many leaders focusing on finding their future jobs rather than focusing on what they need to deliver in their current roles. Focus on learning and performing in your current roles first in order to build your future!” Those words still guide me every day!
- Drive your actions as if you are the owner of the company: In big companies, there are many businesses, offers, etc. In such scenarios, it is important that people not only drive growth of their own businesses but also support others to succeed, which may be beyond your role. One of my favorite core values at Schneider is, “Act like owners – All in. Together.” I still remember my conversation with Olivier Blum, our Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer who explained what it meant to be a role model when it comes to “Act like owners”. It is not just about your perimeter or responsibility but the bigger success of the company.
- Performance matters: Talent to me means you coach and inspire yourself and your teams to perform day after day, going above and beyond the targets and expectations to deliver new benchmarks. It means less talk and more focus on defining the path and executing tirelessly! Sometimes this is less glamorous, but one where you will find gold at the end of the rainbow! During my several roles, I always set out with ambition and objective much higher than expectations in order to bring about a sense of urgency and disruption and to challenge a mindset of the status quo. And then I define action plans and execute to achieve the ambition! You will not be trusted until you deliver on performance!
- Create an environment for your team to deliver: I am fortunate to have worked with some of the truly exceptional, intelligent, and humble leaders in Schneider Electric. These leaders never imposed their ideas by the virtue of their positions but encouraged healthy debate based on logic, facts, and reasoning to define the best path forward. This has become the cornerstone of my leadership journey and a way to challenge my own decision making.
About the Author
Ravichandra is Global VP of Digital Buildings Services, leading Building Management Systems Modernization projects, Field and Digital Services for Commercial Buildings with a strong focus on digital Services transformation. Previously, He has held several high impact positions with global/regional scope, starting in Nov 2010 with Group Corporate Strategy, Global Internal Auditor, Cloud & Service providers segment Program Director, Pricing and Commercial policy Director. Before joining Schneider Electric, he developed his career as a mobile network solution architect with Ericsson and Nokia Networks in South East Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. Ravi holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Pune University and an MBA from HEC Paris.