Leadership Lowdown: VIC GM Anil Kumar

Leadership Lowdown

12 November 2021

Leadership Lowdown is a new series where we catch up with the KJR team to explore what it means to be a leader in the new decade. Today we chat to GM of KJR Victoria, Anil Kumar

Years in the Industry: 20 years

Started at KJR: In May 2012

Based in: Melbourne

Anil Kumar has been with KJR just shy of 10 years. As a Principal Consultant he managed Victoria’s telco accounts, where he was given “an opportunity to work with some of the greatest minds in industry, supportive co-workers, and be part of an amazing and fun culture”. 

In 2020 he stepped into the role of General Manager of Victoria where he has learnt and continues to learn more about himself; his resilience, adaptability and leadership style. Especially noting the importance of being “open to change”. Urging other leaders who have met similar challenges over the past year to remember that these “come with opportunity, so take time to debrief, embrace continuous learning and adaptability. And don’t forget to celebrate success, big or small, of yourself and your teams. 

Leading a team through times of Crisis

As the COVID-19 pandemic was reaching its height in 2020, Anil too, soared to new career heights as he transitioned from his role as KJR Principal Consultant to the General Manager of Victoria. Amidst a trying time for the state- bushfires and never-seen-before lockdowns- Anil stepped into his new role. It was the same week Anil took over as General Manager that Victoria was mandated into a lockdown. A lockdown that lasted a year. His adaptability and constant reflection informed a leadership style that has since led the Victorian Collective to greater heights. 

“Change reminds us that disruption is normal and that change is constant. Disruption however doesn’t necessarily have to be viewed as a threat, it’s also an opportunity. It’s how we adapt, prioritise actions to enhance business value and build strategic resilience which makes the difference.”

Suddenly everything is remote

“Working from home was once a dream that workplaces offered to help with employee wellbeing and motivation” but for most people and even more so for Anil it was a steep learning curve of finding new ways to guide, inspire and encourage the team from behind a screen. His experience as a consultant has allowed him to live out “the great work the KJR team do for clients, the technological expertise we all have, and more importantly the care we show for clients and our culture and values” which helped him to understand the needs of his team during a tough period.

Admitting there is no secret that employee engagement is an important factor towards successful deliveries, he understands there is no silver bullet fix. Anil believes “having a compassionate approach, integrating technology, encouraging employee engagement ambassadors outside of HR, regular entertainment and setting health challenges” are few essential ways of keeping the team motivated, engaged and feeling like they are part of a unified group. Adding that while it’s important to keep reminding ourselves the benefits WFH brings such as flexibility, more time with family, and commute cost/time saved, he constantly reminds the team that maintaining a regular schedule, taking breaks, staying connected and setting clear boundaries is most important. 

On maintaining long lasting relationships & creating new ones

From Consultant to General Manager Anil has retained several key accounts for Victoria. Through great example he has inspired his team of consultants to maintain long lasting relationships with clients, and has established new relationships- recently securing another major account for the Victorian Collective. 

Anil’s not-so-lucrative secret to keeping healthy relationships is simple, communication. “With any type of relationship, personal or professional, communication is the key – be honest, eliminate surprises, show empathy, understand your clients. Make them look good, make their lives easier, go out of the way to exceed expectations.”

As for winning new clients Anil narrows it down to teamwork, noting that the Victorian Collective has accomplished so much let alone the feat of longest lockdown in the world. Celebrations are certainly due; we’ll do that as soon restrictions ease down”

What’s next for the KJR VIC Collective?

Anil has big plans for the Victorian Collective. “The pandemic has altered organisations forever. Technology is no more a source of cost efficiency, but a critical component to business. That along with trends of Big Data, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, IOT, superfast networks like 5G, will all come together to provide us tools we didn’t have before. The most impactful trend of all will be convergence.

Melbourne achieved the feat of most locked down city in the world. Apart from learning back the social skills the key would be to explore opportunities in new and emerging technologies. “ Bring on 2022!

Anil’s final word of advice…

As Steve Jobs said “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.”