Our people have been reflecting on what diversity means to them and how it helps us to deliver market-leading products and services to our global clients. The latest instalment of our diversity blog series is from Bharath Vellore, Managing Director for APAC.
I’m based in Singapore, which is a real melting pot of cultures and my role regularly takes me around the world to meet clients, speak at conferences, and expand our presence in different geographies and vertical markets.
A Rich Tapestry
My career at Accuity began nine years ago, when I moved to our burgeoning Singapore office from India, to take up a role as a Key Account Manager. My remit was to sell our payments and compliance solutions to Indian financial institutions and businesses.
When I first started, there were only eight people in our Singapore office to service our entire APAC client base. Even back then, this small group comprised a great deal of diversity; I had a multi-lingual Chinese Korean colleague selling into Japan and South Korea, a Singaporean Chinese colleague selling into China, and a Vietnamese colleague selling into South-East Asia. It felt like a miniature United Nations!
Being immersed in such a multicultural office was extremely beneficial for my professional development. For someone who had previously only worked in India for an Indian company, interacting with such a range of people from different backgrounds and nationalities was great fun, as well as educational.
Though we each had ownership of our respective markets, we shared a common sense of ambition and a camaraderie that enabled us to learn from each other. Hearing colleagues talk to their clients exposed me to the nuances and cultural considerations of each country. For example, communicating with customers in Japan requires a very different approach to communicating with those in India, and I absorbed important cultural lessons that would serve me well as my role evolved.
The environment in our office fosters great collaboration, so when a challenging situation comes up, we have the luxury of an entire team ready to chip in to help. One of the best parts of working at Accuity is this opportunity to work together with diverse individuals, taking advantage of their different perspectives to achieve our common goals.
The Value of Trust
I felt empowered from my first day at Accuity. This respected multinational company was telling me “this is your market, go ahead and build it.” Having complete ownership of my territory gave me a great deal of confidence and helped accelerate my development.
In my opinion, when people are empowered in business, they use their position to solve problems and generally make sound decisions. For instance, I knew the Indian market was very knowledge-hungry, but lagged behind other regions in implementing certain industry regulations and best practices. Our sales approach therefore needed to be educational.
With the autonomy to effect change, I initiated a series of breakfast briefings and best practice sessions in India, leveraging my existing relationships with the country’s big banks to get some interesting speakers on board. This approach was a great success. As a result, I was offered the opportunity to set up a new office in Mumbai so we could be closer to our clients in this strategically important region.
I strongly believe that trusting and empowering each person here is the secret sauce to our success.
A Sense of Belonging
My early years at Accuity gave me a good grounding in each market that I now oversee in my role as Managing Director for APAC. We’ve since expanded to approximately 80 people in the region and opened new offices in India, Japan, Hong Kong and China.
I am particularly proud that my team feels comfortable enough to embody and share their own culture at work. We celebrate all the local holidays, such as Christmas, Chinese New Year, Diwali and Eid. We decorate the offices, share food, and gather for social activities, which has contributed to the strong relationships that characterise our working environment. This June, we are celebrating Family Day across all our six offices in APAC, and have invited our colleagues’ partners and children in for an afternoon of fun activities and quality social interaction. It is occasions like this that really deepen our relationships and connect us to each other.
Being well-informed and appreciating the cultures and religions of others enables us to serve our customers better. It means we can relate to them and be mindful of their needs; for example, we are conscious of those who may be fasting during Eid, and accommodate this when arranging meetings.
People moving to Accuity often tell me how easy it is to belong and be themselves here. Many of my colleagues have moved out of their native countries for the first time and come into Singapore, just like I did all those years ago. We welcome them warmly into the team and try to make their move to a multinational company in a fast-paced global city a little less overwhelming.
At Accuity, diversity is not an obligation we’re fulfilling to tick a corporate social responsibility box. It’s a real advantage that quite literally comes with the territory in APAC. We couldn’t be successful without harnessing the knowledge, experiences, languages and backgrounds of our well-rounded team.