Sunil Seth

A Strategic Luminary in India's Telecom & Tech Landscape

Sunil Seth

Head of Strategy,

HFCL

Seven critical factors and challenges shape the future of the telecommunications and technology industry. “Right from diversification of revenue streams, investing in groundbreaking technology and R&D endeavours to navigating the complexity of intricate regulations and compliance, cybersecurity and data privacy, skill shortages, geopolitical factors, and sustainability, these elements are at the forefront of industry leaders’ agendas”
In the midst of these challenges, Sunil Seth, Head of Strategy at HFCL Limited, shines as a strategic luminary. With 18+ years of international experience in India, South Africa, the UAE, the UK, and Belgium, Sunil is renowned for his visionary thinking, strategic prowess, and ability to unlock sustainable revenue streams. He has successfully launched groundbreaking ventures, from payment banks and smart malls to cuttingedge SaaS platforms. Sunil’s influence extends beyond boardrooms, guiding large technology MNCs in India’s strategic growth across platform models, market entry, and product development. His leadership extends to industry associations, actively contributing to AIMA, PHD Chambers of Commerce and Industry and to institutions like IITs, DU and GGSIPU. Sunil’s impact and expertise are transformative, steering organisations towards resilience and growth in the ever-evolving telecommunications and technology spheres.
TradeFlock interviewed Sunil to delve into his journey, strengths, and expertise. 

How do you apply your expertise in corporate development, go-tomarket strategy, sales, and business transformation to drive success in the organisations you work with?

Today’s rapidly evolving business landscape offers unprecedented opportunities and innovative models across M&A, GTM strategies, sales, partnerships, and business transformation. Effective leadership in this dynamic environment demands a broad skill set, complemented by deep expertise in specific areas. My career journey exposed me to diverse businesses and practices from their inception, providing firsthand knowledge across these critical domains. As a strategy leader, I approach client challenges with a multifaceted perspective, crafting solutions that account for complex interdependencies. These solutions, while elegant in their simplicity, prove highly effective. For instance, at a leading shipping company, we recognised that our existing operating model didn’t align with revenue and customer experience goals. This led us to collaborate with authorities and operators to create a mutually beneficial service delivery platform beyond mere technology implementation. Another example involves boosting SaaS platform sales by targeting startup, unicorn, and soonicorn clients. This required overhauling our GTM strategy and qualification criteria to accommodate unique revenue models and redefine sales team compensation based on new success criteria.

How do you approach advising large technology MNCs on their India growth strategies, multi-sided platform models, and contextual use cases for market entry?

Developing an effective India growth strategy demands a holistic perspective that considers local market dynamics, diverse customer needs, intense competition, and a dynamic regulatory landscape. Success hinges on adaptability, flexibility, and continuous learning from the market. Building strong relationships with local stakeholders and embracing feedback from Indian users are essential. It’s vital to approach discussions with intellectual respect, recognising that information and exposure levels in Indian organisations are on par with the best in the world. If a strategy isn’t yielding results, it often stems from unique business contexts. Identifying key local influencers, engaging with communities, and maintaining transparent pricing are initial steps. Additionally, leveraging governmentsupported platforms like UPI, ONDC,, and GeM is critical. Besides partnership, localisation and creating multi-sided revenue models, test and learn, scalability and expansion, and constant innovation are the three most important concepts for successful growth. Further, there is a lot of support available from the government, which encourages ‘Make in India’ and enables the development of local capabilities. No India growth story can be complete without creating these win-win propositions.

What steps do you take to drive transformation and growth within the organisation? Can you highlight any key achievements in this area that you are proud of?

Transforming an organisation and driving growth start with changing behaviours and mindsets. It’s crucial to have strong executive sponsorship and a shared vision that aligns teams. I have been part of four major transformation programmes, of which the first one, mistakenly treated just as an ERP IT project, taught valuable lessons. Subsequent initiatives consistently delivered substantial business impact, with some organisations witnessing 10x to 15x increases in shareholder value. I view transformation budgets as seed capital, expecting initiatives to fund themselves through accrued benefits. My transformation CXO dashboard has proven effective across a diverse clientele, from startups to global industry leaders.

As a mentor at various startup accelerators and an angel investor, how do you support and nurture the growth of aspiring entrepreneurs and emerging leaders in the industry?

Every founder is unique. Hence, I tailor the approach based on their individual needs, strengths, and areas for growth. The goal is to empower them to become selfsufficient, confident entrepreneurs capable of navigating the challenges of building a successful startup. It is also a win-win proposition, as I either invest in them or have them as part of my solution portfolio pitch to my own clients. The startup universe is where most of the breakthrough innovations are happening. Most of the time, they need me as a technically competent sounding board to provide strong business network access and coach them to avoid common pitfalls since they may lack exposure. Patience and portfolio management are keys to making a meaningful impact in the startup ecosystem.

How do you balance your professional responsibilities with personal interests like badminton associations and organising committees?

Balancing mental and physical health for professional success starts with prioritisation, using tools like the urgentimportant matrix and mindfulness. Work-life integration, rather than strict balance, is key. Integrating personal interests into work, like ornithology during travel or badminton with the team, is rewarding with minimal distractions. Delegation and open communication are vital as an Executive Strategy Leader. Collaborating with the right team reduces stress. Prioritisation, work-life integration, and effective teamwork have allowed me to surpass expectations.







     







       







         







           







             







               







                 







                   







                     







                       







                         







                           







                             







                               







                                 

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