'One needs to have courage, grit and determination to face adversity without fear'

Harshawardhan Shahani

CEO and Founder

V-Chitra Advertising

Harshawardhan Shahani, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of V-Chitra Advertising, believes that every source of knowledge is experience, and with more than three decades of experience working with different creative agencies, he truly understands the heart and soul of advertising and branding.

In a career that moves easily between boardrooms and shooting-recording studios, Shahani keeps both sides of his brain humming. As a business consultant, he wears the hat of a CEO and as a developer of interactive media communications, he dons the hat of a creative director with equal ease. In this edition of Business 360, we spoke to Shahani about what leadership means to him.

How would you define a leader?

Anyone who inspires and influences the team towards achieving excellence is a leader. You don’t necessarily have to be a CEO; leadership is not limited to top hierarchy.

Is leadership ‘in-born’ or ‘acquired’?

I feel it is in-born, but sometimes circumstances can act as a catalyst where you have no option but to lead.

Could you share with us any incident that tested your leadership ability?

We were organising an event for Honda where Mika Häkkinen, the F1 driver, was to demonstrate his driving skills. His team had laid down ground rules which included filling water barriers. We were running behind schedule and I had to manage my team at different levels to make sure we met the deadlines. All hands were busy with multiple tasks. The only person available to fill the water barriers were me and my partner. In the middle of peak winter, we rolled up our sleeves, instructed the water tanker to follow the circuit path as we filled freezing water and got soaking wet. We met the schedule and the event was successful. As a team leader, you need to be ready for any eventuality.

How important is it to have a good team to work with?

Every team member is a cog in the wheel. If one fails, the entire team will collapse. As a leader you need to make sure you have the right person for the job.

When should a leader hand over the leadership position?

The day you feel you have lost your drive and think someone else can do a better job than you, hand over the reins and walk away.

What do you consider your most significant accomplishment as a leader?

As a leader, creating a corporate culture that is firm on ethics, high morals and works with a conscience and respect for human values.

How can a leader prepare for the unknown?

No one can prepare for the unknown. But one needs to have courage, grit and determination to face adversity without fear and use the resources available to overcome whatever crisis comes along.

What major challenges has Covid 19 brought to your line of business?

Covid 19 has disrupted business across the board. No industry or business was spared. The challenge is for all of us to work collectively, whether it is with the internal team or external partners.

We all need to be patient and understanding and lend a helping hand to people recover and recoup lost ground. United we stand, divided we all fall.

You have been involved in business for a pretty long time. Where do you get the motivation to carry on?

My motivation comes from my need to excel at my work. What helps is the need to stay updated, be curious and never say no to new learnings.

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Business 360 is a magazine that delivers on quality business news content, profiles of entrepreneurs and leaders, features on issues that matter, articles that assess and analyze policy and delivery mechanisms in the world of trade and commerce

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