16 Sep 2016, 11:12 — 7 min read
It is often said that employees are a company’s greatest asset. The success of an organisation largely depends on the attitude, calibre and output of its team. Executive search firms should therefore have the finesse and understanding to help executives transition to new jobs and the ability to help companies hire market makers who can grow their business. Punit Vanvaria founded Corner Office Advisors a decade back to address this need in the global executive recruitment ecosystem. Corner Office Advisors helps seniors executives globally, transition careers, look at opportunities and facilitate the entire transition process. Punit worked at Microsoft India for nine years before turning entrepreneur. During his stint at Microsoft, he was a part of the India Leadership Team for three years.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), Punit Vanvaria (PV) shares the purpose of his enterprise, the challenges he has faced and his learnings as an entrepreneur. Watch this video to know more about Punit's entrepreneurial journey.
GL: Tell us about your business and how it came into being.
PV: We are a retained executive search organisation. Corner Office Advisors was established in 2006. I had an interesting and long corporate career of over 18 years. The last nine years were with Microsoft India. Very interestingly, I would be head hunted, as does everybody, in the corporate world. Sadly, I found the experience with executive recruiters shallow. They were not conversations that instilled any confidence, where I could talk about my career aspirations or confide in them.
Keen to turn entrepreneur, by late 2005, I was giving serious though to what kind of an enterprise I would like to incubate. My career has always been in professional services that I understood very well. It made sense to address the white space in the executive search segment. When we speak with senior executives, we leave behind a great experience.
We started with a team of four people in a small 500 sq ft office. It was a very exciting chapter in my life. It was extremely different from the typical structured corporate environment. I was spearheading an absolutely new enterprise with new focus, customers and business model.
GL: What are some of the challenges you have faced in your business journey?
PV: Any enterprise has challenges at different stages of its evolution. Services businesses reach inflection points much quicker than large corporations reach. Like all professional services organisations we are also extremely vulnerable to market forces.
We started in 2006. Initially, we had setup challenges. However, it was not very difficult to create the first few engagements. Interestingly when the recession hit in 2008, we were ready to expand. In fact, we opened an office in Bangalore. But, very quickly, we realised that this was not the time to expand because the industry, especially technology, was seeing a slowdown. From a growth story, the new kid on the block that everyone was watching, we went into survival mode.
During a recession, most companies reduce costs on marketing, travel or even quality of talent. Even though we were impacted, we decided to look forward to the end of the recession. We needed a plan to capture the market when it recovered.
During the recession, we realised the path of high quality and in-between costs was not an ideal model. In recessionary markets, people are paring costs or looking for very high value. We used the recession to remodel the business to become a global retained search firm. The new approach was to change our game and become a global player. We started looking at how global markets could engage with the Indian markets and how is it that we could become more globally relevant. So in a way this seemingly challenging time became a blessing in disguise because it made us re-think our core business strategy and helped us broaden our vision.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
PV: We are a brand that embodies perseverance, agility, quality and experience. Nothing describes this better than the fact, that we used the recession to re-structure, re-brand, and re-skill the organisation.
Historically, executive search organisations are challenged with turning around mandates in a short span of time. Corner Office Advisors really emphasises on the agility of turnaround and closing our searches.
We continue to meet and exceed global quality metrics. We pride ourselves on our advisory approach to both clients and candidates. Our service is clearly distinguished through exceptional long-term experience and high quality, knowledge-based engagements.
GL: What is your big business dream?
PV: Like most SMEs, our endeavour is to become bigger in terms of revenue, relevance and a more attractive brand. Today, we are a global brand with a presence across 37 countries worldwide, with an exciting and vibrant team. Our next dream is to become more relevant to communities and people globally. This will allow us to truly enable senior executives fulfill their career goals. Our dream is that we should be the partners of choice for any senior executive looking to make a transition in their career.
GL: How do you believe GlobalLinker is enabling SMEs to grow their business?
PV: GlobalLinker is a great platform for SMEs to engage with other similar businesses. It allows business owners to learn and collaborate. Also, these interactions help us expand our understanding of challenges in different organisations and sectors. I also see this platform being extremely useful for SMEs to go out and engage and network with other organisations globally and, adopt those best practices and became more successful.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
PV: Being an entrepreneur is not easy. It takes perseverance. You really have to look at what is it that you want to accomplish in your life. You need focus. You need a sound business model and you need to think long-term.
I come across a lot of people who are from the corporate world. They say, “I really want to give my corporate life a break, become an entrepreneur. But will the corporate world still have a job for me in a few years?”
My one line message to them is that if you are going to walk in with this kind of mind-set, you are not going to make a successful entrepreneur. If you want to be entrepreneur, you have got to walk-in for the long term. You have to understand that this is another job that you have to do, except you have to be more accountable for it than ever before.
Disclaimer: This article is based solely on the inputs shared by the featured member. GlobalLinker does not necessarily endorse the views, opinions & facts stated by the member.
Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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