Name: Nidhish (Nishu) Mittal
Nidhish is a high-energy, alignment-focused, and results-driven leader with significant experience in formulating strategies from the ground up to deliver results via flawless execution. He has a unique blend of strategy and operations expertise to drive transformational changes. His core strength is his ability to keep his eyes on the goal while managing the complexities of people, process, and technology.
Nidhish’s experience includes high-visibility global roles focused on business transformation, strategy, operations, consulting, and project/program management in VMware, HP, EDS, Ajilon Consulting, Sybase, and other firms.
Nidhish current responsibilities include driving global services transformation with a focus on continuous improvement leveraging industry best practices, advanced analytics, and automation technologies such as Robotic Process Automation, AI, and ML.
I have gotten to know Nidhish, who I have always called Nishu, over the last few years. He is a very strong leader. Not the kind of person who has to be out front, but his depth and breadth of knowledge and experience allow him to be very successful as a quiet leader and manager.
Nishu was one of the first people that I thought of when I decided to interview great managers. I hope you enjoy his answers to my questions.
Here are the questions that I asked that are specific to Nishu.
You and I have worked together for a year or so. During that time, I have learned about your excellent background. Let me start off with school. You received an engineering undergraduate degree, then worked a bit and decided to go back to school and get your MBA. What made you decide to do that? Looking back, was it the right decision?
Nishu started off by talking about how much he loved his degree and first job. But it quickly became clear that his future was in software.
I graduated as an electronics and communication engineer and loved it. That was my passion. I got a good job after college, but soon realized that there were waves of electronics and communication engineers coming out of school – and my days were numbered.
So I change my career from a hardware engineer to a software engineer and focused on data analysis and modeling. I was seeing a change coming.
From there, Nishu and some of his friends started a company. He enjoyed what he was doing, but again decided that the best path for him was to pivot. This led to his going for his MBA.
The friends that formed the company were good technically, but not anything else other than building stuff. We were not able to market and not able to sell. We were really struggling to explain the business value for our customers.
That got me thinking. First, there’s another new generation coming with more technical skills. Second, if I want to continue to progress I need more business knowledge. This prompted me to get an MBA.
I still to this day I feel like my technical end gave me a little bit more edge or were just purely business because I was able to connect not just the technical side but also understand how the impact is going to be on the business side.
If I had to do it all over again, I would – definitely.
Another interesting aspect of your career is that you spend a good deal of time as a consultant, but over the last 10 years you have been in “industry.” What made you decide to make this transition? Any guidance for our listeners about consulting vs industry?
Nishu moved from consulting not because he was bored or didn’t like the job. He actually loved it.
First, let me tell consulting – I love consulting. It was fun. It was fun because I really liked problem-solving and most of the time when consultants are called, there is a problem that needs to be solved.
It really came down to his desire to see the proposed solution all the way through that drove the move from consulting to industry.
You give them a recommendation or solution and then you are out of there. You don’t get to live the experience, see how it actually plays out. The experience that you miss out on is – whether the solution was really impactful or not.
You don’t get to see the final results. So your learning is somewhat limited in that aspect.
I wanted to have a really big impact, take the experience of problem-solving understanding analyzing framing it. I needed to live the experience – how it plays in terms of longer-term business impact.
Any guidance for our listeners about consulting vs industry?
Nishu did not have a black-and-white answer to this question. He sees the two as providing very different things.
There isn’t a right or wrong way to go. Both consulting and business give you different flavors.
I thought consulting was good because as a generalist in consulting you get to see a lot of problems in a very short time. While in business whichever company and department you work in, you will typically stay there a year, two years, three years. You will get to see the same problems over [and over and see how your solutions are working].
You have had a number of jobs with titles that included “Strategy,” “Planning,” “Operations,” and “Transformation.” I am sure our listeners would love to understand just a bit about what you actually do in roles like this. In the world that we live in today, what does “Transformation” mean vs “Continuous Evolution”?
I really loved the down-to-earth and somewhat understated response that Nishu gave to this question. Having roles where you are responsible for strategy, planning, operations, and transformation is substantial and critical to the organization.
To me, strategy and planning mean that you have a problem that you’re trying to solve. There are different ways you can solve it. Different options you can generate. In a nutshell, you have an objective. What is the best way to achieve that objective? [strategy] And how will you do that? [planning]
Transformation is just not incremental change. It is, ‘You used to do A, now you’re doing B. You’re not doing A plus B. You completely change the way you used to do things.’
As kind of an aside, Nishu sees the pace of change increasing, and as a result, the frequency that a business needs to transform is also increasing.
That frequently happens in business, especially now these days with the change – the pace of change.
Here are the 6 questions that I ask every interviewee.
What’s the most important factor you consider when hiring someone?
Aptitude, willingness to learn, and the passion to learn.
Who was your most effective boss, and what made him or her stand out?
I had the most effective bosses when they took the time to understand me and not just answered everything for me. Let me answer things that I could figure out on my own, but were there when I needed help.
What was the most difficult transition that you made in your career?
I would say from technology to business, because of the perceptions that [as a technologist] you are only good for technology. Can you do anything really meaningful in business? So you have to fight those perceptions. You have to prove yourself even though you may have been successful in the past.
How do you approach helping someone with their career development or path?
I usually refrain from giving general career advice because that is useless. Depending on how serious the person is, dictates how much time I will put in. If I am putting two hours, they should be putting four hours. [If they ask a question] where there is not a good answer, I will give my perspective. I will make sure that they understand it is my perspective.
What tools and tricks do you use to find work-life balance?
Work-life balance is tricky. It is more like work-life integration because we work all the time with the devices / all the things that we have connected. This gives us a lot of flexibility. I can work from home. I can work on my vacation. So it’s up to you to have the discipline and draw the boundaries and make sure the boundaries you draw are clearly understood by the people who work around you or with you.
How do you go about building relationships with your peers and other leaders in the company?
A relationship is a two-way street. When you are working with someone, they need to get something out of it themselves, something that is meaningful to them. If you can connect personally, those are the relationships that last. If you only want professional relationships, then you have to have an even exchange of value.