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Unlocking Leadership and Social Value: Journey of Aalok Kumar, NEC Corporate Senior Vice President

What are the keys to creating social value while growing a business?

Creating social value while growing a business requires effective leadership, a strong commitment, and determination to make a positive impact. Aalok Kumar, President and CEO of NEC Corporation India and Corporate Senior Vice President leading NEC's Global Smart City Business, embodies this philosophy. With a passionate dedication to social value, he fosters collaboration and empowers his global team to achieve success, ensuring that every endeavor bears his personal commitment to excellence. Aalok's leadership exemplifies the belief that true success lies in creating a better world for both the organization and the teams who contribute to its growth.

Aalok's arrival at NEC Corporation India in March 2020 marked the beginning of a transformative journey. With 30 years of experience in leadership roles at renowned companies such as GE Healthcare, GE Capital, and McKinsey & Company, he brings a wealth of expertise to the table. In a short span of time, Aalok has earned the trust and confidence of the entire NEC Group, leading to the initiation of numerous strategic initiatives across the organization. Holding multiple leadership positions within NEC, he possesses a remarkable ability to influence the global NEC Group. Aalok's exceptional management perspective, fortified by his extensive background, plays a pivotal role in driving NEC's transformation into a truly global organization.

Aalok strongly upholds his principle of personal ownership and accountability, expressing, "I firmly believe in taking complete responsibility for everything I am involved in. If your name is on it, make it count!" He wholeheartedly embraces this profound dedication and envisions the immense possibilities that can be achieved when others share the same level of passion, affirming, "When a few more individuals align with your passion, the realm of possibilities becomes boundless."

Passion is fundamental to creating social value within NEC, as emphasized in the guiding principle, "The NEC Way." This core value is deeply aligned with NEC's overarching Code of Values, which encourages principles such as "Move Fast" and "Stimulate the Growth of All." Together, these principles drive NEC's commitment to making a positive impact and fostering growth at every level.

Leadership is Everywhere

Aalok emphasizes that leadership is not limited to specific roles or individuals; it is a continuous process that unfolds throughout the day. He firmly believes that everyone has the capacity to be a leader, regardless of their position, and their contributions are vital to the success of the organization. Aalok recognizes the existence of different levels of leadership within the organization, each with its own unique focus.
"At different levels within the organization, specific types of leadership are crucial. Senior leaders are expected to provide visionary and strategic guidance to the rest of the organization. Mid-level positions are expected to deliver situational leadership, adapting to specific circumstances. Frontline employees need to deliver operational leadership everyday to accomplish daily tasks, maintain alignment, and foster teamwork among colleagues."

Regarding the global smart city business Aalok leads, NEC has aggressively expanded in the Indian market, driven by the successful implementation of several smart city projects. These projects serve as compelling evidence of NEC's strong capabilities in the region and commitment to transforming urban landscapes through innovative technology solutions.

How has NEC been able to achieve such a position?

"NEC takes pride in its accountability, actively engaging in the ongoing operation and maintenance of its products and solutions. We go beyond just product suppliers and put our skin in the game through post-go-live operations and maintenance. This deep investment demonstrates NEC's commitment to solving dynamic and complex societal problems," says Aalok.

"Transforming urban landscapes through smart city solutions"

His leadership in the smart city market extends beyond India, as the stage is set for global expansion. "Leveraging our experience, we aim to build successful sub-domains of smart city projects in different global markets. The capabilities developed in India will strengthen our global role and enable us to address societal challenges faced by people across multiple regions worldwide," he adds.

However, the concept of a smart city varies across different markets, such as Japan, India, Vietnam, Latin America, and Africa, each with its own specific requirements and expectations. Depending on the specific Government's priorities for its citizens, a smart city can mean different things to different people. This diversity poses challenges and opportunities for NEC.

Aalok sees these markets as "start-up opportunities" where NEC can leverage its valuable use cases, relationships, and global workforce expertise to scale its smart city business. NEC's approach involves evaluating multiple markets, identifying strengths and opportunities, and embracing innovation as essential elements for success.

Taking the Initiative

We asked Aalok about what distinguishes NEC, and he expressed, "NEC is a company that embraces an entrepreneurial spirit, fearlessly pursuing new ideas. Even in the face of potential obstacles, by presenting compelling arguments and taking a strategic approach, we almost always receive support." Aalok actively encourages his team to tackle challenges and encourages both current and prospective NEC members to think outside the box and embrace new opportunities.

The core values of the NEC Way, including clear strategy and openness, are deeply ingrained in the fabric of the company. They serve as guiding principles that drive NEC's culture and operations.

The Leader Within

As our discussion concluded, it became apparent that leadership takes on various forms, defying a one-size-fits-all approach, and success cannot be confined to a predefined template. Aalok highlighted the significance of personal commitment in effecting change and shaping our destinies. He expressed, "While the NEC Group can provide a strategic direction, "a compass" for establishing NEC as a global player, the execution blueprint, "the GPS" of becoming a truly global company requires a collective effort from each one of us. We must contribute as inspiring leaders, working together and in an individual capacity, to embody the essence of 'One NEC' across every corner of the globe."