Learning Never Grows Old

Learning Never Grows Old

By: Simi Thapar, Chief Country Officer, India of CSI Leasing US

Simi is a financial services professional from Mumbai. She has actively participated in initiatives for women-empowerment and inner- transformation. She has been a Speaker and Panelist at various industry forums in India, the US, Hongkong, Singapore, Dubai and London for talks on Asset Financing & Leasing, Women Leadership & Women in BFSI.

Throw Some Light On Your Ms Specialization `Executive Master In Change' From Insead Singapore

On a lighter note - In 2019 I stepped into the Campus as a student after 25 years and felt like a 25-year-old! I was super excited! The mere idea of learning something new gave me a high!

On a serious note - Well the INSEAD Masters Degree decision was an outcome of mid-life reflections. After spending more than two decades in financial services, I felt the urge to study more about the hidden dynamics of organizations. EMC is a unique two-year degree program based on the study of systems psychodynamic analysis, drivers of human behavior, and patterns that define leadership styles and impact the organization. The Course modules are designed to integrate human and system complexity to bring a transformation in self and organization by using self as an instrument. I feel the timing and the choice of this degree program couldn't have been more apt for me. The world has gone through unprecedented change in the last two years. We had to switch to a hybrid learning structure ­ On Campus in Singapore and Virtual. During this period, we students lived through the experience of inner transformation while coping with uncontrollable external change. All in all, an adventure of Incredible Learning about CHANGE!

1. Tell Us About Your Prior Industry Experience And What Led You To Foray Into Bfsi Industry.

Math, Accounting and Economics were some of my favorite subjects; I just liked the idea of doing financial analysis and number crunching work. This led to gradually learning more about corporate finance and developing a special interest in the Asset Finance business, particularly Leasing. After being in a regional sales role earlier, I got an opportunity to start and spearhead the Leasing business at Tata Capital for their virtual joint venture with Japan-based Tokyo Century Corporation. Leasing is the only alternative to debt or equity investment and a very mature product in developed markets. But, due to various factors, it is still at a very unexplored stage in India. It was pretty challenging to make people sell an unfamiliar and complex product. In the initial phase, I focused on product training and developing the skill-set of people rather than chasing reckless and unsustainable growth. If we develop the right talent, growth chases! We integrated business segments and brought it to a level that continues to yield the highest RoE amongst all product segments in the organization. As a Business Head, it was a very satisfying experience to build it from the ground up.

You Currently Work With An MNC. What Responsibilities Does A Chief Country Officer Have?

As Chief Country Officer of a multinational organization, the role assumes the responsibility of managing the Indian subsidiary's P&L, Assets & Liabilities, strategic growth that is aligned with the parent company's vision and mission, people development, and relationship management with all stakeholders. CSI Leasing Inc. established in 1972 in St. Louis, Missouri, US is celebrating its 50th year in 2022. It has a solid and rooted culture; I genuinely believe great cultures build great organizations. Their entry in Indian market is good for the leasing industry here. With a presence in forty countries, our organization is known for customer loyalty and giving its customers the experience of 'Global ReachLocal Feel'. With this kind of organizational pedigree, the Country Chief's other important responsibility is to hire right and empower people to be collectively motivated to develop a sustainable business that enhances the value of the parent organization in the global space.

“It was pretty challenging to make people sell an unfamiliar and complex product. In the initial phase, i focused on product training and developing the skill-set of people rather than chasing reckless and unsustainable growth”

2.What Does `Technology Equipment Lifecycle Services' Entail. How Does Leasing Aid In The Lifecycle Services?

In simple terms, it means enabling our customers to acquire, manage and refresh their equipment needs through the instrument of leasing. Leasing provides the flexibility to use the latest equipment without bearing the risk of ownership and enables them to conserve capital. It is about converting CAPEX into OPEX. Technology today is changing faster than it has ever been in history. No company can today afford to shy away from investing in Technology, be it the manufacturing or services sector. CSI's global experience in full-fledged Technology equipment lifecycle services gives us the privilege to bring a value proposition to the technology-conscious organizations, be it inbound or outbound multinationals or domestic companies.

3.What Are Your Thoughts On Technology Being The Backbone Of The Financial Services Industry?

Well, Technology is the backbone of most industries. Companies that fail to give an 'ease in transacting' experience aided with 'cost-effectiveness' to their customers will find it difficult to sustain. The investment cost needs to be offset by going lean. However, equally important is relationship management as no amount of Technology can substitute the human-connect experience. Likewise, knowledge creation and setting the right culture are essential pillars. So I would say that Technology, customer relationship management, a knowledgeable team and a deeply congenial, fair and ethical culture constitute the backbone of any successful organization.

4.How Would You Successfully Establish CSI Leasing's Global Footprint In India.

Depends how you define success. When I stepped into my current role, a very dear friend of mine from a large financial services company in India told me 'Simi remember that Big does not always mean Great. 'However big you become, there will be someone bigger than you or will outplace you. These words ring in my mind all the time and are very relevant to my role because CSI Leasing Inc is in a niche space. 'Knowledge' is the true wealth of our organization. I endeavor to create a collaborative, participative and ambitious team in India who leverage the organization's knowledge built globally over five decades in the 'Equipment Lifecycle & Leasing Solutions' space and bring a unique and enriching experience to the customers in the Indian market.

5.You Are A Successful Leader And You Continue To Take A Lot Of Interest In Self-Development And Volunteering Activities. Can You Let Us Know A Little More About It?

I have been part of an NGO dedicated to the cause of economic empowerment of less-privileged women, a subject close to my heart. Besides, I have been interested in learning about 'eternal wisdom' for my spiritual growth from a very young age. I read and study the lives of enlightened souls who do not get smitten by success but rather evolve as human beings. They are the True World Leaders. This study is rejuvenating and helps in both professional and personal spaces. Infact, I chose this as my Thesis subject at the INSEAD and attempted writing on `Simple and Lucid Path to Organizational Spirituality: Will Leaders embrace it?'