Apurvi Sheth, Diageo Managing Director for Southeast Asia, speaks about her exciting career, how she thrives in the face of new challenges and learns from mistakes


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Apurvi Sheth is Diageos MD for Southeast Asia

Apurvi Sheth is Diageo's MD for Southeast Asia

Apurvi Sheth is Diageo’s Managing Director for Southeast Asia. She leads the company’s business across the region as well as in Sri Lanka and other emerging markets. She started her career as Innovation Director for Southeast Asia and India, having been in various leadership positions at Nestle, Coca-Cola and Pepsico. Apurvi was interviewed by Portfolio magazine about her exciting career at Diageo.

Thriving in the face of challenges

Apurvi says she was involved in Diageo's marketing of Chinese white spirit Shui Jing Fang and, even though it was a new territory for her, she thrived through the challenge.

“It was white space both for me and for Diageo,” she says. “It was daunting but it was also very exciting because of the tremendous possibilities.”

Although Apurvi admits she had “no prior experience in alcohol", she says she has the "ability to flourish in ambiguity, to thrive in the face of challenges".

Apurvi adds: “Innovation and new frontiers have always been part of my expertise."

Creating possibilities for growth

Apurvi explains that she gets her ideas and her motivation from the desire to create possibilities.

“My life purpose is to create possibilities for growth,” she says, “not only for myself and the company but also for those around me.”

‘Creating possibilities’ is an idea that Apurvi discovered when she attended Diageo's Leadership Performance Program.

“No one had asked me what my life purpose was before then. When you go to a job interview, you often get asked what your career goals are—but they are not the same. A life purpose is much bigger,” she adds. “Your life purpose is your core. Very often, you lose sight of your life purpose; you learn to compare yourself with others, and you aspire to become somebody you are not. But your life purpose is not what you do or where you are – it is who you are.”

Meeting the needs of a changing industry

Apurvi describes how the industry has changed and how Diageo must evolve to meet this change while also preserving its core culture and values.

“I think there’s more restlessness now,” she explains. “Consumers are moving faster, so the restlessness right now is about moving with agility.”

Apurvi believes that moving too fast, however, can be detrimental to Diageo. “That’s why we insist on learning as we go. When we move fast there are times we may unwittingly make compromises on key components.”  

“Sometimes we get it wrong, but increasingly we’re putting in more process to balance that," she adds.

Making and learning from mistakes

Of course, every company makes mistakes, but Apurvi just sees this as an opportunity to learn. “It has happened; some of our global innovations have failed, and we acknowledge that. We got this wrong, so what are the learnings from this? We can’t do this every time; we can’t make the same mistakes," comments Apurvi.

“We are always learning from our consumers who prove to be our deepest source of insight on the occasion we make mistakes. We learn as a team and we enjoy the journey. We don’t have a ‘blaming culture’ here. That one can be even more harmful because it pulls back people from taking risks, from engaging in experimentation and moving ahead with creativity. For us, it’s ‘Go out and do it’," she adds.

“You will make mistakes and that is fine. Learn from them so you don’t make them again. Meanwhile, respect the learning, respect the process because that is the foundation that you build up from.”

Join ambitious women like Apurvi at Diageo

Diageo offers a wide range of opportunities for talented women. If hearing Apurvi's career story inspires you, learn more about current vacancies and apply today.

 

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