Embarking Leadership. Innovative and Humble
Born and brought up into a family of farmers from Madurai, Chella Pandian gained his schooling in Ooty and later moved to Coimbatore for graduation in Biochemistry. Coming from a lower-middle-class family, his education was very basic but his parents instilled him with values and knowledge and life lessons. His father dedicated his life to family, children and work which made his childhood joyous. It started at the age of 20 when due to financial constraints Chella couldn’t afford further education and started to work with a retail shopkeeper who used to sell school bags. He came with an idea of increasing revenue through selling bags at school premises through exhibitions, contacts and networks and through his friends who would help him out free of salary, made him into the innovative entrepreneur that he is leveraging even today in his enterprising leadership thinking. Later he stepped into the corporate world when he joined Biocon in early 90’s in the Manufacturing Department. Science was fascinating to him which continues to inspire him to date, to an extent his entire career journey including his international assignments were in the science based organisations only. He finds his purpose in science and people behind science.
The strategy he used was to observe and learn from various leaders with whom he had worked. Biocon helped Chella find his untapped potential and the working environment has been elemental to his growth as well. He states that “along my career journey including living in few other countries on work, I have only added values that support uniqueness, value differences and hone individuals. It was early in the days, I realised that quality & compliance, Ethics & Integrity are non-negotiable.” His 3 big strengths are Value based authentic leadership, Curiosity driven creativity & Genuine empathy!
Being busy has been a positive for Chella Pandian and staying occupied with work, family and community service is something he loves. He has been involved in community services for last 2 decades. Prioritising has been key for him to achieve a work-life balance and helps him overcome stress. His mentors and coaches have all taught him to constantly find his NBV – Next Best Version! “The NBV is the only and biggest driver for who I was, who I am and who I will be.” Professionally, he believes that one needs to continuously upskill & reskill themselves. Learning new skills driven by curiosity was fascinating to him and towards this endeavor, he has obtained his coaching certificate in Unconscious Bias, Discovery Insights programme, Strength Finder, Design thinking and so on. He has also gained EGMP from IIM Bangalore and a Leadership programme from DUKE University, Singapore.
Currently, he is pursuing a Doctoral programme at the Swiss school of business management, Geneva in HR digital transformation in addition to undergoing PCC in ICF coaching. Sharing knowledge helps development, he truly believes.
Chella Pandian feels passionate about making society a better place where every individual is valued for who they are and what they do. He plans to leave behind his learning for the younger generations and has chosen a career in the healthcare industry because he feels connected to the larger purpose of transforming patients’ lives. “Having spent years of work in DEI and in specific – women leaders development, I want to leave a legacy for women leadership development by being a men ally, in all quadrants of life – Personal, Professional, Society and family.” Chella has been part of women leadership development initiatives in US, China, Switzerland, Poland, Russia, Malaysia , ANZ, Philippines, India to name a few…
People are valuable assets for any nation and 75% of Chella’s career journey has been in the space of impacting people’s lives through empowering activities like hiring, developing, coaching and mentoring. Through his global HR journey, he was able to be a part of many of today’s & tomorrow’s leader’s journey. These leaders are decision-makers in many different organisations, and entrepreneurs in many different countries, who he believes are contributing to the economy in their own field of work. Besides coming from a humble background, starting his career at the lowest rung has helped him stay grounded and his family are his biggest anchor and the most effective critic. Trusting people, their potential and their dreams to flourish given the right training and opportunity is in itself his biggest strength. This acts as his weakness in instances where individuals have been empowered beyond their capacity and capability, but he continues to learn through these observations.
He has worked in Bangalore , Noida, Mumbai before he moved to global role managing Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia including China & ANZ. In this role he was in a work from anywhere model for 2 years . Subsequently he moved to Bangkok and several years in Kuala Lumpur , before he returned to Bangalore. During this global journey, he has been a recipient of the employer of choice award 4 times in a span of 3 years in Malaysia (2016-2019), HR leader of the year Malaysia & Asia thrice, Employee experience award in Indonesia, Diversity and Inclusion and Employer Brand Award in Malaysia, 501 most admired HR leaders of the world by World HRD congress, Asia’s 100 power leaders in HR by White Page International 2022 and many more! Being humble and staying grounded whilst believing in self and others and being open to innovation are key mantras to his own personal growth. One must not look for validation, must speak up when needed and as a leader should be authentic and genuine. Life provides joy and opportunities and people must be ready to receive them. Breaking the comfort zone and challenging self with persistence will accelerate an individual’s growth. He shares lastly, Go and find your NBV to “Make it happen, Make it matter & Make a difference!”