H Swaminathan

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The Adaptive Leader

H Swaminathan

Associate Director- Business operation & Partnerships,

Shardeum

Transitioning between professional domains presents both a crucial opportunity and a significant challenge. For H Swaminathan, Associate Director of Business Operations and Partnerships at Shardeum, the shift from business consulting to the dynamic world of blockchain technology epitomised this complex transition. Adapting to the rapidly evolving landscape of blockchain demanded a fundamental re-evaluation of Swaminathan’s problemsolving methodologies and strategic outlook. This transition required a delicate balance, integrating over seven years of expertise as a blockchain and Web3 enthusiast with the demands of a new industry.
Navigating this shift wasn’t a passive process for Swaminathan. Instead, it involved an active pursuit of knowledge, continuous learning, and immersion in the blockchain sphere. Proactive engagement with industry leaders and a commitment to staying abreast of the latest technological advancements became integral to bridging the gap between prior consulting experiences and the innovative world of blockchain. Swaminathan’s ability to communicate effectively across diverse spectrums— be it technology, executive, or business audiences—has been a significant asset. This proficiency facilitated the alignment of intricate technological nuances with Shardeum’s strategic objectives.
His adaptability, rooted in extensive experience across business operations, partnerships, strategy, marketing, and business development, played a pivotal role in integrating ideas and processes harmoniously within the organisation. Swaminathan’s journey serves as a testament to the power of resilience and proactive learning in successfully transitioning between domains while contributing meaningfully to the goals of Shardeum.
In an exclusive interview with TradeFlock, Swaminathan shared more details about his professional journey, strategy, and plans. 

Tell us about your entrepreneurial challenges and how you overcame them.

In my entrepreneurial journey, adaptability has been paramount. Each quarter brought new opportunities and connections, aligning with our broader roadmap. One of the important examples of this is when serendipitously, we began representing three innovative software companies, garnering a tremendous market response. Openmindedness enabled our business model to evolve naturally, fostering collaborations with industry experts. We showcased adaptability when our solution portfolio transitioned to include agency / sales representation during a digital marketing discussion, highlighting our flexibility. Challenges arose during seeking a collaboration with global Design Thinking experts in leading universities like Stanford and MIT, but a networking connection led to a partnership with another highly respected innovation thought leader, highlighting the value of reaching out persistently and confidently. Steve Jobs’ philosophy reinforced the value of seeking support, exemplified by a LinkedIn connection providing timely guidance. In a phase of limited work and circular discussions, patience and self-belief paved the way for a successful outcome. This journey underscored the significance of continuous alignment with market signals, emphasising the power of agile evolution in fostering sustained success.

Can you summarise your consulting industry background and highlight key projects you've worked on?

I bring over 25 years of extensive consulting expertise gained from roles at PwC, IBM, and Ernst & Young. My focus has primarily been on strategic and operational performance improvement within the manufacturing sector (FMCG & Industrial goods), supplemented by experience in telecom/mobility and BFSI. Digital transformation has been a pivotal aspect of my projects, facilitating welcome and enduring change. Key projects include sales IT transformation for a leading FMCG company diversifying into multiple categories, e-commerce model implementation for traditional medicines, and crafting industry roadmaps for sectors like jute, natural rubber, and sponge iron. I’ve conducted strategy and diversification assessments for prominent pharmaceutical, metals, and mining companies and led operational enhancements in logistics, customer service, and supply chain for various industries. My academic background includes a PGDM from IIM, Ahmedabad, and a B.Tech. (Hons.) in Manufacturing Sc. & Engg. from IIT-Delhi, laying the foundation for my successful consulting career.

How do you solve complex business problems for clients? Can you share a successful solution you've implemented as an example?

I approach complex business problems innovatively, prioritising on-site research and interactions. I blend industry-leading practices with simplification, ensuring solutions are straightforward and easily adopted. Piloting and refining solutions based on real-world insights is crucial to promoting user adoption. Flexibility is key; if a different problem arises, I adapt collaboratively with clients. Clients appreciate the sincerity and effort invested in addressing challenges, even when some approaches require reorientation. In Destacto, our approach also has been to bring the best of consulting and industry expertise. For this, we have partnered with several industry leaders who bring the handson operational experience which blends very well with the consulting rigour and process orientation. Our clients have loved this combination, giving us a lot of encouragement.

How do you invest in your growth as a leader and professional? What specific areas are you currently prioritising for personal development?

I prioritise continuous technical learning, having completed a formal Design Thinking course at MIT. This not only provided exposure to the methodology but also a philosophy I deeply believe in. Additionally, I’m investing time in understanding startups from an investor’s perspective, enhancing my knowledge in this area through a dedicated course on investing in startups. Moreover, my focus extends to organisational change, building high-performance teams, and developing individuals. Addressing the shortage of the right skillsets in client organisations is crucial. I am committed to nurturing existing teams, complemented by strategic augmentation, to ensure sustained performance delivery. Continuous learning and strategic investments remain my core principles for personal and professional growth.

Describe your leadership approach and the principles that guide it.

I lead with an enabling, collaborative, and participative style. I invest additional hours to engage and align individuals, prioritising collaboration over coercion. I empower selfstarters by avoiding micromanagement and providing full support when they take risks. Mutual trust forms the foundation of my approach, eliminating the need for personal risk management activities. I fully support my team, covering them if challenges arise. My leadership principles were reinforced by positive experiences working with bosses who shared the same ethos of mutual trust and support.







     







       







         







           







             







               







                 







                   







                     







                       







                         







                           







                             







                               







                                 

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