“As kids, in the puzzle books, how did we get the mouse to the cheese?” he asks. “By drawing a line through the maze. But what if you drew the line from the cheese to the mouse? Would it not be easier?”
As he shares his mantra to success, Pankaj talks about what he believes to be the core of his life – people! People he has worked with, people he has mentored, and people who have made him what he is today. For Pankaj it is this connection with those around him that has made his journey unforgettable.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch
With great power comes great responsibility and being a leader means being responsible for everyone who looks up to you for inspiration and guidance. Though this rings true to Pankaj, he firmly believes that a leader must build a strong team and not mere followers. He quotes Steve Jobs in saying “If I hire talented people who need to be told what to do, the purpose of hiring that talent is defeated!” He has built many teams, nurtured them and he strives to make each one of them the best at what they do. Your job becomes easy when you hire quality talent, create an environment where they believe in the business as much as you and become your partners in it – the 3 easy steps – groom, train and retain.
“When you see them taking initiative, suggesting alternate methods to you, you know you have developed a team you can depend upon. After all, they are the ones who are carrying your business forward for you.”
This is his key motivation and what keeps his enthusiasm in his work alive.
These are the people who understand the ground level working of your business inside out, they know what your clients really want! It is not the manager sitting in the board room making all the presentations. As a leader and mentor to many, Pankaj has given his teams the confidence to sit with him at the table and strategize. He says, “Your best learnings will come from the junior most in the team to the field guy dealing with your clients.”
Speaking from his own experience of when he was a young trainee, “I was working with Pepsi and was told by my Manager, there’s nothing that either of us is going to gain from you sitting in the office and making reports.” Being on the ground in the market was where he got his first taste of sales and also gained experience from working at the grass-root level. A big learning and something which he now looks for in the young talent he is looking to hire is effective communication. “Listen, absorb and pick up on the non-verbal clues.”
Communication is a very important skill to develop. You can learn things about your client that they wouldn’t dream of telling you!
Being a mentor for so many, it was insightful to learn that Pankaj himself has not one, but multiple sources of inspiration “I look up to different people, for different qualities.” He believes that one should learn to look at the positives in every person and try and imbibe them.
In his career, Pankaj looks up to Anuj Puri (current Chairman of Anarock and former Country Head of JLL) – a colleague, mentor and friend, from whom he learned diligence, focus, ethics and most of all commitment – to work and to people! Words he abides by even today. From his mother, Pankaj imbibed positivity, empathy, and perseverance. Contentment from his father and practicality from his younger brother who is his “sounding board” and reminds him to be realistic and honest.
Pankaj is a man of simple words and very practical philosophies. His idea of leadership is to create a second line of leaders by facilitating an environment of trust and growth. Like he said, “You may build a fancy product but if you don’t have the right people – it will fail!”
Pankaj comes with over 22 years of real estate experience and has advised leading corporates, occupiers, investors and developers across India on their real estate strategy with broad-based, practical, hands-on, professional expertise in development advisory, concept planning, site acquisitions, disposals, transaction structuring, investment advisory, leasing, marketing, operations, business development, valuations, financial analysis and research in the Indian real estate sector.
Currently, Pankaj is the COO & Jt. MD at Anarock Retail. He shares the responsibility of overseeing the Firm’s Indian retail operations.
He has also been a part of various industry forums such as the CII National Committee, FICCI Retail Committee, Assocham Luxury Committee and as co-organizer chair at MAPIC for emerging economies.