On the lighter side of things, Manu Mehra, MD – ANZ, Lenovo ISG, talks to us about life inside and outside of the office.
Can you tell us about your current position?
I am responsible for managing the Australia and New Zealand operations at Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG). These are exciting times; I have joined Lenovo at a time when there is huge potential and opportunities in the market. With our end-to-end infrastructure offerings, we look forward to collaborating with our partner ecosystem and customers to collectively address challenges in the Digital Transformation journey.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
My most memorable achievement is taking a leap of faith and migrating to Australia on my own in my 20s. I moved to this country with little financial support and lots of ambition. I am thankful to the people who welcomed me and gave me an opportunity to be a part of Australian culture. I met my wife here and grew my family in a diverse country while staying close to my Indian roots. I am proud of being an Indian Australian, which is why contributing back to the country in a professional and personal capacity is very close to my heart.
What made you first think of a career in technology?
I came from an engineering background and completed my degree in India. I also have a Master’s degree in mathematics, so I did have the academic knowledge to grasp technology. The exposure and access to technology in Australia attracted me and that’s where it all started. The first job that I secured was selling computers in a retail store. With a promotion to corporate account manager in six months, my career in technology took off. I also founded a company and sold it to a listed company in Australia. I am excited to continue contributing to the tech industry in my new role at Lenovo ISG.
What style of management philosophy do you employ in your current position?
I take an inclusive approach – I ask the team for their inputs and adapt their thoughts to the larger strategy. When a team believes in what we do, it truly matters and enables us to move towards the same goal. That said, I am passionate about leading a high-performing team and have high expectations in terms of delivering strong business results.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
We have been talking about data for a while, but conversations are rightfully steering towards the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at both the consumer and business level. It is becoming real. Organizations want to utilize their internal data more efficiently through AI and it will have a bigger role to play in the ecosystem.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
I have kept an open mind to most things and ideas throughout my life. I am a strong believer that fostering positivity outside of work keeps you in the right headspace and stress will minimize accordingly. When people get too deep into the day-to-day, stress starts to creep in and affect their physical and mental health.
It’s a conscious effort, but I take care of my mental health by having a variety of interests. What works for me is spending time with my wife and two daughters and having hobbies. I was not the fittest guy a few years ago but now I exercise regularly, I enjoy good food and I like to travel. I am currently writing a Hollywood-style screenplay with a friend and learning to play the piano and tennis. These activities keep me balanced, happy, motivated and engaged.
If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
I have two daughters, so I am very committed to championing women’s rights and inclusion in the workplace. While I have hired great female leaders in the past, I feel I could have done even more to encourage diversity, so that is a big focus for me now. I am big on girls’ education as well. We are trying to do better and there is always room for improvement. The world is changing, which is great, but I think a lot more can be done in this area.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
Sustainability is a key area of investment in our industry. There is a shift in the way people think and conversations about our environment are becoming more consistent. It has become both a personal and professional dialogue. I expect sustainability to continue getting more focus and investment. Lenovo is a leader in enabling our customers in meeting their sustainability needs, so it is great to be part of a company that is directing the charge.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
I mentioned data and AI are focus areas for the business, but I also want to address diversity and inclusion. We must evaluate these foundational values for any business to perform well. At the end of the day, businesses are not just for profit but are also here to serve the community.
Today’s leaders need to listen to what the stakeholders have to say. I want to highlight the good we are doing for the community – be it advocating for women in tech or encouraging sustainable practices. I want to look beyond the P&L because it is a glass half-empty when used as a performance tool without the community angle. We need to get the community involved.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?
I shared my migrant journey earlier, a story close to my heart. I am originally from New Delhi, India, and was the first person in my family to move to Australia. I used to ride a Hero Honda motorcycle and had to sell it to purchase my flight ticket to Australia. I arrived with just US$500 and shared a roof with seven other people. That was my starting point. I did not have a path laid out; I went from there and grew my career. If I can do it, anyone can do it.
I am a big supporter of those who have the desire and ambition to achieve goals and try to support everyone. While I am satisfied with my achievements, I am even more proud of my daughters who are going to be part of a generation where women will make a name for themselves in tech. They are technology aware, future-proof and have opportunities to do what makes them happy. I truly believe diversity can be encouraged and we can do better.Click below to share this article