Rajiv BhallaVice President & Managing Director of Barco Electronic Systems Pvt Ltd

Rajiv Bhalla is the Managing Director of Barco Electronic Systems Pvt. Ltd, a 100% owned subsidiary of BARCO NV Belgium.

An industry veteran with more than 27 years of senior leadership experience, he has successfully driven the growth of Barco’s local footprint in the India market. In his role at the organisation, Rajiv spearheads the formulation and execution of business strategies, driving the business for growth. He is also the legal representative of Barco India. During his tenure, Barco India has seen consistent, year on year double-digit growth and has established itself as a prominent centre of excellence for manufacturing and software development for Barco worldwide.  Barco India has also been acknowledged, for two years in a row, as a “Great Place to Work” for having a high-trust, high-performing workplace culture.

Rajiv graduated as a Bachelor of Engineering (Electronics) from Mumbai University and holds an MBA in marketing from International Management Institute (IMI), New Delhi.

An established Thought leader & Change Agent with the ability to drive “clarity from chaos”, leading to Business Transformation, Rajiv has held key leadership positions with global technology leaders like Intel, NEC, Microsoft, and Thomson Consumer Electronics. Prior to joining Barco India, Rajiv was the Director – Sales (South Asia) for Intel, and was responsible for driving sales across India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, as well as developing a robust partner ecosystem, and executing customer/partner activation strategies.

During his leisure time, Rajiv prefers to speak at various forums on leadership challenges, innovation, change management etc. He is also a passionate adventure sports enthusiast and frequently participates in activities like skydiving and paragliding.

1. What was the mandate given to you by the Board when you took over in your role?

To help formulate and execute business strategy with the goal of tapping into India’s enormous potential and expand Barco’s local business presence whilst helping scale India site contribution as a growing center of excellence for software development, hardware R&D and manufacturing.  To act as the legal representative of Barco India, fulfilling all legal, regulatory and statutory obligations ensuring compliance with local legal, safety, environmental regulations as well as company directives and guidelines.

2. How much of that has been achieved?

Over the last 4 years Barco has been able to register a 250% growth in its business locally. The India site has established itself as a strong center of excellence for software development & continues to scale and recruit software talent over the last few years. Despite Covid challenges the team stays focused on driving the next wave of growth through focusing on an “In Country for country” approach that entails developing country specific product offerings & value definitions at India price points supported by localized Go to Market approaches

3. What are the key challenges your organization is facing? Both immediate and long term. And what steps you are taking to overcome?

Over 15% of the global workforce for Barco is deployed in India, we have established India as a key global Center of Excellence for software development, hardware R&D, manufacturing besides being a key local player in Entertainment, Enterprise, Healthcare segments.

Our strategy in the initial stage was to survive the storm, which involved ensuring safety and well-being of our employees whilst driving business continuity to the extent possible, through adoption of virtual conferencing & other telework tools. Our teams adjusted quickly to the work from home model, and we continue to undertake transparent and authentic communication with them as well as customers to alleviate fears regarding continuity and support.

The lockdown led to some disruptions in the supply chain, which impacted manufacturing output & resulted in shipment delays. Our foremost priority is protecting employee & business health whilst adjusting our business activities to be in sync with the existing and emerging market opportunities. This involves meeting new paradigms with focus on reskilling, retooling supply chains and go to market strategies to enable a more sustainable, future-proof growth model that is able to withstand such “Black swam events” in the future.

4. How have the Pandemic/technology/globalization/economy affected your sector?

The pandemic has significantly changed the business landscape as well as consumer behaviour resulting in an accelerated move towards digital transformation. We are seeing a strong adoption of Hybrid work modules leading to an increased demand for solutions delivered over the virtual platform.

More than ever before, organizations are adopting innovative solutions providing the vital link between business leaders, employees, customers, and supply chains to deliver the desired results no matter where they are or how they are connected. Going forward cloud technologies, collaboration solutions, IoT, Machine Learning, and artificial Intelligence will drive the need to transform, adapt and up/re-skill.

Organizations are pivoting towards developing more agility, resilience, risk tolerance so that they are better prepared with strong business continuity plans to address future recurrence of black swan events of this magnitude.

Barco works across Enterprise, Healthcare, and Entertainment sectors. With Cinemas being shut and no large Venue events taking place, the Entertainment sector has been deeply impacted. With discretionary spending being put on hold, enterprise projects have also been delayed. However, with the lifting of the lockdown we are beginning to now see positive momentum in Enterprise and Healthcare segments primarily driven by increased government spends.

5. What is your talent strategy? How do you draw the balance between home grown vs lateral hiring at the leadership level?

According to the latest LinkedIn “Workforce Confidence Index” survey, 64 per cent professionals will increase their focus on learning initiatives. Keeping the post-covid situation in mind we are composing inhouse talent pools & teams in order to enable them to unlock their potential through “up and reskilling” in an effort to future-proof our workforce

To support the Barco strategy, the Human Resources team works with an inclusive talent management approach and delivers concrete talent development solutions, focusing on the needs of both the company and the employees to become a learning and talent sharing organization. This includes …

  • We invest in offering trusted services, to all employees throughout their career at Barco with initiatives like ‘New employee Welcome Day’, scheduled training programs, and continuous effort towards simpler, transparent & compliant HR processes that are benchmarked with best in class companies.
  • Team connect with all Barconians : In an ever-changing environment, we feel it’s important that employees can stay in the driver’s seat with regards to their future. The leadership team always supports and motivates employees to develop their talents.
  • Partner with the business : Training and coaching are in place to support transitions to help each associate stay engaged towards contributing his/her best. To stay relevant, we have to keep re-inventing our products, but also how we do business.

As we focus to align and enable in successful execution of Barco Strategy, on a continuous basis we tend to identify, develop and encourage talent. While there are formal and informal processes in the organisation, we are also prudent to understand that a strong mix of “outside in” view is as important for us to keep growing and hence we identify and on-board key performers from outside as well. Ensuring that in house talent grows and also gets to learn from newly hired recruits is a thin balance that we maintain across all levels at Barco.

6. How does your organization identify and develop future leaders?

At Barco, we cherish talent and actively help it to grow and flourish. Through Barco University, dedicated training programs and coaching, we seek to empower our people, ensuring that they are flexible, agile employees while encouraging them to think about how they want to contribute to our company, today and tomorrow. Our Leadership Development track includes multiple custom-made programs (Emerging Leader’s program, Business Leader’s Program, Leader’s speak etc) helps Barco’s future leaders expand their skillsets and foster their leadership potential.

To make sure our people feel happy in their professional roles, we provide them with a series of tools to help them self-manage their careers: In addition to this, we promote internal mobility. Innovation is one of the key strategic levers of Barco as a company. As we want to foster innovation in everything we do, we try to involve every Barco employee in our innovation processes.

In addition to this the detailed succession planning process helps in identifying and developing successors for key roles and in ensuring that our rising talent does get the opportunity to grow in the direction they want to develop.

7. Every crisis is a learning opportunity, what lessons have you picked up from Covid?

COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that profitability and sustainability are not conflicting goals, they can very effectively go “hand-in-hand” to achieve an equitable economic growth. One of the most important lessons that the experience taught us was that, every business is a digital business; leaders need to drive a sense of urgency towards driving digital transformation which is now a necessity.

The ability to learn, unlearn, & relearn is a superpower. For business leaders, there has never been a more important time than now to build trust. It has also taught us that physical proximity isn’t the only way to connect. A key reinforcement has been that “work is not a place but rather, results and outcomes”.  We have grown closer to our employees, customers, and partners through frequent virtual interactions.

Another major learning has been that we can do more with less – less space consumption, less travel – and still drive efficient results. It has become abundantly clear that “Whatever we are doing right today might not be right tomorrow. Whatever is working today might not work tomorrow.” Therefore, innovation, agility and flexibility are a must for Business Continuity and Resilience.

The pandemic has in some ways altered our priorities and as we navigate through the storm, good old value systems help us stay buoyant in order to survive and succeed.  I believe, ultimately people will remember organizations that took care of their stakeholders and not only shareholders.

8. In a world full of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity & Ambiguity (VUCA), innovation has become one of the most important factors to transform a crisis into an opportunity. How do you promote Innovation?

Always a technology leader, Barco has never eased up on investing in R&D. More than innovation ‘for innovation’s sake’, our company focuses on innovation that impacts, i.e. innovation that truly meets our customers’ needs and is delivered through business models that result in business success and leadership.

In today’s fast-paced, digital world, innovation and agility are more important than ever. Building on decades of experience and expertise in imaging and visualization, we continue to drive a well-funded and risk-balanced innovation portfolio that allows us to anticipate future disruptors and focus on breakthrough products enabled by cutting edge technology in addition to our world-class legacy offerings.

A disciplined and well-governed approach to innovation ensures a fast and efficient process that turns ideas into commercial reality with stronger revenue growth potential and brighter outcomes for our customers. We continue to complement our market-leading hardware solutions with software and service offerings and as a result have recently re-organized the technology map around four key domains that form the foundation for Barco’s innovation for impact in the future.

Our technology tool chest includes a broad range of building blocks – from display and projection technologies through to younger disciplines such as computational optics and machine intelligence. Every technology is, however, merely an enabler to provide our customers with end-to-end solutions that deliver outcomes.

9. How do you define and practice leadership?

I take inspiration from the lines by John Baldoni ,

“Leadership is an active living process, it is rooted in character, forged by experience and communicated by example”

I firmly believe that leadership begins with a belief in yourself and continues only if other people believe in you. To believe in you, people have to know “who you are and what you stand for. They need to know if they can trust you.

In other word’s leaders need to walk the talk whilst inspiring people with an authentic vision to boost engagement resulting in higher team performance. Authenticity is the best trait of being a leader—best to be yourself.

For me personally, I try to work on the following traits

  • Being relatable, empathetic and inclusive in all my dealings.
  • Associating: Connecting dots and recognizing patterns across seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas.
  • Embracing change and the opportunity for growth it offers. Trying out new experiences and exploring new worlds.
  • Staying curious and adopting lifelong learning often questioning /asking ‘what if’ or ‘why’ and ‘why not’ questions that challenge the status quo and open up the bigger picture.
  • Thinking and acting with clarity whilst sharing knowledge to build a wise organization
  • Networking, constantly meeting new people who have little in common with them, but from whom they can learn.
  • Acting with humility and thoughtfulness

I firmly believe that the best leaders are those who confront their insecurities and take a whole-hearted approach to building and empowering others. Great leaders become great leaders because they follow their beliefs—-they are the best followers of their belief.

10. We see many Indian leaders on the global stage. How can more Indian leaders become Global Leaders?

Some of the biggest companies run in the world are being managed by Indian-origin leaders. There is a huge network of hard-working change-leaders in the world from India that are changing the corporate world today & creating waves with their vision, focus and drive.

I believe a continued strong focus on education, hard work, entrepreneurial mindset ably supported by ability to take risks and think big, would enable more Indian leaders to play a transformative role on the global platform.

11. What are the 3 most pivotal moments in your career that you learned from and/or that got you where you are today?

Straight after B-school, I landed my first job at Audioplus which was a startup and allowed me to multi-task & pick up my first valuable lesson on the job, that no work is small. An entrepreneurial & beginner’s mindset is the key to success.

My stint at Microsoft taught me the relevance of staying relevant. Companies grow faster than individuals, as professionals we need to continue to embrace change and challenge the status quo. One might be an entrepreneur or an employee, managing stakeholder/s at all levels is crucial.

At Intel, I realized the power of storytelling and how it is crucial to building connect and engagement with the most discerning of audiences. It is important to paint the canvas, think big, and create impact.

The common thread has been that one needs to stay humble, stay hungry for growth whilst continuing to challenge status quo. At the end a leader needs to be remembered for our competence, character and infectious enthusiasm.

12. What message would you like to share with young professionals?

I always believe that only the bold, and those who have the drive to reinvent themselves, will thrive.

The world that we live in today was incredibly different a few months ago and continues to throw up new challenges each day. We must navigate these bends with resilience, tenacity and belief in ourselves. We have to keep going.

The young give me a lot of hope and I am amazed at their perseverance and resilience towards situations.

My message to young professionals is to not get too attached to the vision of the world that you have today. Remain curious, have the openness to know that sometimes life will deliver surprises that  might be the happier surprises than you have anticipated, be curious, be focused on doing the best that you can do today—the likelihood that you will have a  better tomorrow will increase, rather than you worrying about what tomorrow will look like.