A leader with an eye for design
Kartik Shethia, the President for International Contract of Herman Miller, is a man with so much heart for the design industry. But before anything else, he’s a leader, a role model who has inspired and touched a lot of lives through his story and a rich experience of 27 years. Having worked for nearly 13 years with then Herman Miller and now MillerKnoll has been an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience for Shethia. MillerKnoll ticks all the boxes because of the high commitment towards design, customers, quality of the products, environment, the community, to its stakeholders and most of all to its people.
Born and raised in Mumbai, the Mumbaikar moved to Nagpur for a few years due to his father’s business. In 1986, he further moved to Bangalore where he finished his education in Business Studies and Computer Programming. Before embarking on a corporate career in 1995, he joined the family business at a very young age. Observing his dad’s & uncle’s public relations, negotiation, and entrepreneurial skills played a big part in shaping his personality.
The last 27 years of his life have been one big adventure. He started out as a Software Programmer, but the people in this world fascinated him much more than coding all day long, and so instead of going down the traditional computer science path, he took a plunge into a sales career. His career in sales has been rewarding both in terms of financial success while also allowing him to fulfill one of his core desires: connecting with different types of people and understanding what drives them, how they got where they are and what is their background. And while there may still be some dust settling in terms of what exactly he wants to do in terms of business, he’s still far from done as there are plenty more chapters left unwritten.
He’s unsure if his business strategy is unique, nevertheless, he firmly believes that as a leader, you would be doing a disservice to yourself and your team members if you did not empower them to carry out their jobs. As a leader, allowing your team to operate autonomously and intervening only when things go awry allows them to execute at their highest level.
For many, life is a balancing act. Talking about balancing his personal and professional life, Kartik feels that rather than reacting immediately to any situation, one must take a step back and reflect. In most cases, the problem is solved on its own accord. With a calmer mind, one is able to find a solution to their problems. As for balancing them, you need to set boundaries between your personal and professional life, and while you may want to modify those boundaries sometimes, they will guarantee that you don’t compromise on either, or else the weight of one will weigh on the other.
Even after 27 years in the corporate world after coming from a business family, he still feels the same entrepreneurial spirit as he did when he was growing up in a business family. And with MillerKnoll, the brand that he represents, that entrepreneurial spirit is further strengthened resulting in doing justice to his duties and towards his organization.
The passion that drives him is a combination of two facets, which get interlinked. In his heart, it’s all about his family and work. He tries to do the best for his family and to ensure that they get the finest life possible. At the same time, he believes that it’s important to give your all to your career because if you neglect either one, the other is bound to fail.
Coming to his awards and accolades, he was recently awarded the Team of Year in APAC in 2019 by the Hong Kong Business Management Excellence Awards and the Asia One Magazine Person of the year award for 2020-21.
Kartik wraps up by giving away his valuable mantra to growth, development and success that he lives by. He quotes “Be uncomfortable – the moment you start feeling comfortable, you are getting complacent”, “Stay Curious – unless you go looking for answers you will not widen your horizon” and “Be humble and empathetic – nothing is more important than humans and human values, if you don’t care for people things will eventually catch up with you”.