Helm­ing a big firm ‘is not about ruling with an iron fist’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS HK - By CHAI HUA in Hong Kong [email protected]­nadai­lyhk.com

Born in a small town in In­dia, Pu­nit Ren­jen has made it all the way to the top of a multi­na­tional en­ter­prise that runs a net­work of 286,000 pro­fes­sion­als across 150 coun­tries.

He’s the first Asian chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Deloitte — the world’s largest pro­fes­sional ser­vices provider in terms of the num­ber of pro­fes­sion­als and rev­enue.

Ren­jen calls the tune in hir­ing around 70,000 peo­ple af­ter scru­ti­niz­ing some 5 mil­lion re­sumes the com­pany re­ceives each year. The ac­cep­tance rate is about 2 to 3 per­cent — even lower than that of Har­vard Univer­sity.

But, his lead­er­ship style in man­ag­ing such an enor­mous and com­pli­cated or­ga­ni­za­tion is not about ruling with an iron fist. In­stead, he be­lieves that emo­tions do have a place in busi­ness, con­trary to what some peo­ple may think.

“If you’re gen­uinely pas­sion­ate about and in­vested in the ideas you present, peo­ple can feel that and that feel­ing is con­ta­gious,” sug­gests Ren­jen. “So, don’t hold back!”

An­other tip is to show one’s hu­man­ness. He ex­plains that this means to “talk about what drives you, your ex­pe­ri­ences, and what you stand for”.

“If peo­ple can un­der­stand and re­late to where you’re com­ing from, they’re more likely to be thought­ful about the de­ci­sions you make,” he stresses.

Ren­jen was raised in a small town in In­dia. His fa­ther en­coun­tered fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties when he was young, so Ren­jen was forced to work part time in a fac­tory. He moved to the United States in 1984 af­ter re­ceiv­ing a full schol­ar­ship to Wil­lamette Univer­sity.

In his 32nd year with Deloitte, he took over as chief ex­ec­u­tive in 2015.

When Ren­jen was a young boy, he had no idea what his life would be like, but one prin­ci­ple his par­ents and teach­ers had in­stilled in him back then was to guide him all along.

“Work must have a sense of pur­pose be­yond mere fi­nan­cial gain, and the pur­pose should be mean­ing­ful by mak­ing a pos­i­tive and last­ing dif­fer­ence in the lives of oth­ers,” he says.

Grow­ing up with very lim­ited re­sources, he feels very lucky to have what he has, so it’s im­por­tant for him to give back. He also in­spires peo­ple at Deloitte, as well as young mil­len­ni­als who would like to join the or­ga­ni­za­tion, to pos­i­tively im­pact their com­mu­ni­ties.

The World Class Ini­tia­tive was cre­ated on the ba­sis of val­ues like this.

Ren­jen says, over the next 12 years, Deloitte is com­mit­ted to im­pact­ing the fu­tures of 50 mil­lion peo­ple — 10 mil­lion of them in China — by help­ing them ac­cess the ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing they need to meet job de­mands in the dig­i­tal era.

The prac­tice in Hong Kong in­cludes a men­tor­ing pro­gram for sec­ondary school stu­dents, of­fer­ing them guid­ance on in­ter­per­sonal skills, team­work, lead­er­ship and so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“On the Chi­nese main­land, we fo­cus on get­ting ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren left be­hind by their par­ents who go out to work in other cities while, in In­done­sia, we im­pact 40,000 farm­ers who now keep most of the profit from the crops they grow, in­stead of los­ing it to mid­dle­men,” says Ren­jen.

ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY

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