When Anuj Kalra’s grandparents emigrated from Pakistan to the North of India in 1947, they had to leave almost everything behind. However, the most precious things they did carry with them: their visions, their will, and their values. It was these values that helped their grandson more than 70 years later to master the biggest challenge of his career: Together with the Managing Director of ZEISS India, as a CFO and COO he started the transformation process of ZEISS India.
Anuj grew up with a clear set of values: Be honest, be disciplined, be responsible for yourself and others. As a little boy, he saw his father working hard to take care not only for his brother and his mother, but also for the extended family. He looked up to his 2-year older brother, an intelligent person with strong principles, a role model for Anuj. Mathematics was his favorite in school, accountancy caught his interest, and right from the start of his career, he did not choose the easy way.
He studied at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India while doing an internship as an articled clerk. Having literally two jobs at the same time, his days had 20 hours. The hourly workload has been reduced after finishing his program, but the discipline and efficiency was kept.
After 10 years in his former company, where he successfully managed different transformation processes, Anuj was ready to take on the big challenge that awaited him at ZEISS.
“I always wanted to make a difference with the companies I work for. ZEISS trusted my skills and gave me the opportunity to play a vital role in helping the company to make a bigger impact in India by reinventing itself”.
That was in 2014. At that time, ZEISS India started its transformation process which is still going on today.
“ZEISS India wanted to become more divers and global when I joined. ZEISS had always been great at innovations. My task was to equally strengthen the commercial side in India.”
He knew, he had to bring in new people with different backgrounds and skills. He had to change existing routines and mindsets. This was one of the most difficult tasks he had to master in order to make change happen. He also installed a new financial control system to increase the efficiency on different levels of the supply chain.
Starting a transformation process always comes with obstacles. Even an experienced manager like Anuj needed a helper for his mission. Actually, he had the best one he could think of.
The CEO of ZEISS India was part of the steering committee and gave him strong support during the complete transformation process. He also encouraged him to make difficult decisions.
“Discipline and a good organization give you the freedom to make the right decision, and to take calculated risks in order to be successful”.
This belief was deeply rooted in the family values and it determined the way he managed his life, his career and the direction of ZEISS India.
If you do not share the vision, you will not get the support of the people.
Unlike in Germany or in other parts of the world, ZEISS was not that well known in India when Anuj started to reach out for the talents he wanted to hire for his transformation project. He soon realized that he had to change his approach.
“First I underestimated the power of taking people along. I think it is the most important way to win people.
As a learning, I started to tell my personal story and shared my vision to inspire the people I wanted to win for ZEISS.” The challenge of transforming a company also transformed him: “I think, I became more of a peoples’ person, while working with a lot of people on all levels. The project helped me to connect with people in a much better way than I did before”.
The transformation project was a great success, it gained global recognition. The organization learned from Anuj Kalra and they also learned from the values his grandparents carried from Pakistan to the North of India in 1947.