Amit Agarwal

You were part of PwC's flagship Genesis Park programme during your tenure with us. What excited/challenged you about Genesis Park?

I was part of Genesis Park in its original Avatar in Washington DC, US. It was singularly the most exciting experience of my life, as the programme introduced me to some of the highest performing professionals from across the world who were from professional practices which were significantly ahead of the curve. The programme was a deeply enriching experience. I gained significantly by going up the technology curve as my peers were way ahead in the embrace of technology at work. I also learnt the value of innovative thinking in a highly competitive landscape.

Your favourite moment at PwC - one that will always be etched in your memory of your time at the firm?

A lesser-known fact about me is that I was the official polling agent of the then Partner and Central Council Member Harinderjit Singh when the India firm, for the first time decided to enter the ICAI election race. The event is still well etched in my memory where the counting finished at 3am and I was the first one to receive the result (as the premises access is tightly controlled). I walked to Harinder to inform him of his success and together, we both travelled by car to pay homage at the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara at 4.30 in the morning.

What has been your biggest career challenge and how have you overcome it?

I was a one rater for a large part of my life in PwC India. My biggest challenge was when I was first nominated by my Partner, G. Purohit to be a Director and I was in a particularly strong cohort of applicants for this top position. During that time, the ability to make Partner was limited for the firm. I did not make it. It was a difficult period as I had no experience of failing in such a big way in my career. But I was fortunate to receive sage advice and good counselling from. Purohit and Rahul Garg and in the course of time, I was promoted the following year.

How are you making a difference for your customers, employees and society at large?

Aviva is a storied British firm. I started work on Aviva during my time at PwC. I bring to the company the same rigorous Independence which PwC stands for across the world and has stood for over a century-and-a-half in India. Like PwC, we are a multi-century company whose values have stood the test of time. It is wonderful to see both brands enjoy shared values of timeless integrity, service to society before self and the highest levels of honesty in dealing with everyone. 

What are the top skills today's talent needs to focus on if they want to succeed in the future world of work?

  • Remember that India is a very competitive market. If you can succeed in India, you can probably succeed in most parts of the world.
  • Functional skills are now considered a given. A lot of functional capabilities are capable of being automated. Invest in being the most broad-based leader as possible.
  • Clients are really invested in their products and company. The top leaders in professional services are those who have a deep understanding of the client product/company culture. The best consultants are those who are seen to be an embedded repository of “Cumulative Client knowledge and Experience” (CCKE).  At the age of 24, I used to serve an aviation client and everyone in the Delhi office of PwC started calling me “Helicopter” - I still wear that as a badge of honor.
  • Learn to be extremely collaborative with your peers. Every office relationship does not necessarily have to be mutually beneficial, but every office experience should be the warmest and kindest possible.
  • 95%+ of Asian leaders are not seen to be personally humble and grounded. Remember a US Senator from one of the largest states in the US would be standing in the same Starbucks queue as you in Washington DC and you would not know if you had not seen him or her on TV! 
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