EXCLUSIVE: Behind the scenes with Schneider Electric VP
Pankaj Sharma is the Schneider Electric vice president for IT business in the Asia Pacific and Japan - and a perfect example of what hard work can do for you.
Pankaj has been responsible for many different types of roles within the company and has truly risen from the bottom to the top. His career actually began on the shop floor, manufacturing CNC machines.
“I did that for a little while before moving on to work for General Electric in the services area,” Sharma says. “And then I moved into Schneider, of which I have filled many different types of profiles, including country leader roles for India, Japan and South Korea.
After some time, Pankaj focused his efforts into successfully handling mergers and acquisitions for the company.
“Typically, when we acquire a company we run it independently for a couple of years to make sure we slowly start to integrate them into the Schneider processes and also continue to make sure we deliver on the business plan which was presented to our shareholders when we bought the company,” Sharma says. “Then I moved back into running the business, I was running the business of Schneider in East Asia and then after that (about two years ago) I started to run the APAC and Japan business for the IT business.”
Pankaj’s learnings included engineering, focusing more into the mechanical side of the industry with machines and tools and such. But he affirms his greatest learning has come from doing.
“Throughout my time at Schneider, I have had many opportunities to do many varied types of roles,” he says. “Running a BML in multiple countries - which includes multiple cultures and languages - and having the opportunity to take Schneider's money and buy a few companies have all been invaluable experiences.”
Pankaj learnt the most from his time working with mergers and acquisitions.
“The opportunity to work with a recently-acquired company to me is the most valuable experience anyone can get because the differences between the company you come from and the one you acquire are always tremendous,” Sharma says. “Both from a people and culture perspective, but also from a processor standpoint.”
In regards to the industry at the moment and in the future, Pankaj acknowledges that it is rapidly changing, with the main reason being digitisation.
“What I mean by digitisation is the increased devices that we use everyday, which means more data is transferred from one to another, which means there is a need for more data centres - both from an IT equipment point of view and a physical infrastructure point of view,” he says. “That's where this industry going and I still see a lot of demand in this area of the industry over the next couple of decades.”
However, with increased growth, comes a need for increased efficiency.
“If we need more data centres, it means we will need more power, more pooling, more distribution et cetera, which is a challenge for our planet,” Sharma says. “If we can efficiently do all of this while still adding gains to the business, we will be successful - and that is the goal of the current efficiency program we are running.”
Away from work, Pankaj is a very passionate scuba diver who makes the most of the plethora of dive spots across Asia. He also enjoys a bit of cycling to keep fit, but there is one area in particular where his spare time is allocated.
“Weekends are generally dedicated to the children and a lot of the activities that they go through,” Pankaj says. “My children are growing up and are constantly faced with life dramas, so it's good helping them through these hurdles.”
All the best with juggling your commitments Pankaj - if only you could squeeze some more time out of the clock.