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Leaders with Ambition – An interview with Puneet Gupta

In a world where we feel so much is beyond our control, how do we take the reins and set ourselves up for success? When most things are easier said than done, do we truly know how to go further in our career?

In the latest edition of Leaders with Ambition, Puneet Gupta, Kimberly-Clark's Director of Global Business Services, Asia Pacific, shares with us the lessons he learnt that got him to where he is today.

1. What motivated you to follow your chosen profession?

I am where I am today because for three reasons - taking risks, having confidence in my abilities, and my supportive family. I came to Malaysia (which is now home for me) after working for HSBC in 5 different countries in a variety of roles - a risk that a lot of my peers didn't take. They have all reached different levels of success, but I prefer my path of an international career. I left HSBC after 19 years without a job, as I prioritised time with my family over career growth. It was a huge risk, but I had confidence in my abilities and believed I could find a new career. Finally, I landed my role at Kimberly-Clark (KC) by having coffee with my neighbour who happened to work at KC and was kind enough to share my CV for the job opening. The power of networking and being positive.

2. What important lessons have you learnt in your career?

Even now, I learn an important lesson every day, and that for me has been the biggest lesson -there is always something new to learn every day, one just needs to have an open mind and look for opportunities.

3. Who is your role model, and could you tell us a bit about them?

I have never had a role model; my aim has always been to be the best version of myself. I do that by trying different things I see in different people - some things work for me and my personality, some don't. I try to make the things that work a part of me and take those that don't as a learning experience.

4. What inspires you?

I am very competitive by nature which is why, for me, success in what I do is the best inspiration.  I have learnt this about myself over time. Therefore, I always set goals for myself that continuously fuel success. For example, as a leader, I set goals for myself to create career progression opportunities for my team members, and I am driven by that. When I see success, it inspires me to do it again and again.

5. What is your greatest achievement to date?

To be able to give my family financial stability which has been achieved through my hard work, saving money and smart investing.

6. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

I am a believer that any challenge, however difficult it might be, can be overcome with the right support system. My biggest challenge was when I left my job with HSBC in Hong Kong and moved back to Malaysia without a job. I was at home and unemployed for close to a year, and I would not have been able to get through this phase without support from my family.

7. What is the most valuable advice you have been given?

When there is a clash between perception and reality, perception always wins.

8. What advice would you give to professionals looking to follow a similar career path?

Don't be afraid to take risks and be willing to accept that not all risks will end up in success in the short-term.

9. What are 3 things in your bucket list?

a) Skydiving

b) To watch a live cricket match in the Caribbean

c) To have a villa on the beach

10. What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

a) Competitive

b) Reserved

c) Practical

11. If you could live in any country in the world, where would you live?


12. If you won a lottery ticket worth $10 million, what would you do?

Save some of it, invest some of it, and give the rest to my wife (after buying my villa on the beach).

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