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Who Would Know with Kaushal Kriplani

0815_BUSINESS_Who Would Know

A Day in the Life

“I was born in a town called lucknow, India. I was born there, did all my education there,” said Kaushal Kriplani. He’s the China Operations Manager for Grand Step, Ltd. and he grew his leadership style based on the Indian family unit.

The joint family gives the term extended family a run for its money. Kriplani doesn’t see his first and second cousins as separate branches of his family tree. “It’s like my father’s, brother’s children are also my brothers and my sisters because houses are getting smaller and families are getting bigger. So until later we were all together.”

When, in his school days, he got his first taste of leadership, there was a natural leaning toward a team management rather than an expectation of blindly following his decisions. “You always say ‘we,’” he said of being captain for the school intramural teams that grouped students together for sports and academic competitions. At the end of the year points were gathered and champions were named. “When you are not something everything is I. But when you are head of a particular group of colleagues or a particular section then you are we. There is no more ‘I.’”

Though his sister is still in India, much of his family is a hop across the border into Hong Kong, a great relief for a man who arrived alone 13 years ago tasked with opening China operations for the international shoe and apparel company. There were holidays and weddings and weekend trips then. Now he’s happily married with his first child, a daughter.

Pointing fingers doesn’t solve the problem …

He says the separation and new found self-rule when he first set up camp was not a problem because his culture and experience with developing countries primed him for easy adjustment in a new town. “I was never happy about being alone—‘now I have my own space’—I was only happy that I am in a place where it is challenging and I’m learning a lot of things day by day. Maybe in India, I would have learned it slowly or I would have never learned it.”

Benefit of Experience

Growing up the way he did, Kriplani couldn’t be anything but social and fond of being in groups, but running for a leadership position, like when he took over his school’s “yellow” squad, can unsettle some nerves. He didn’t realize it was an issue until he was up for the position. But the payoff in the end was learning what it felt like to help your colleagues grow and improve.

“That thing is very small—talking someone into joining the basketball team or just going out for swimming,” he said. “It’s truly the same thing you do when you’re in a company. You pursue people to do different jobs or give them more confidence or motivation. And when somebody really agrees with you and really goes for it, the happiness you get is good.”

And as he spoke about working with and leading people, and the culture that made him, he discovered the elements of karma in proper business dealings. “There is competition and healthy competition, and one is you go behind somebody because of ego or go after this business just to shut somebody down or something,” he said. “I felt, learning from much more spiritual things, you do realize it very quickly and you don’t have to go after those kinds of things.”

The sentiment of karmic kindness doesn’t stop there with Kriplani. His advice when dealing with problems is to be calm and not try to place blame. Pointing fingers doesn’t solve the problem, but working to make a correction first, and then going back to fix the root if necessary, leads to an open door policy that keeps staff comfortable to bring up issues to their supervisors. “When you are thinking of karma, you think it could happen to you. So you think more wisely.”

If you ask him, he’ll tell you not to discard old employees so quickly if their health or personal problems have kept them from performing at their original level. Move them around and make adjustments. If you can keep your employees and the experience they’ve gained in your company, the office will be stronger for it.

Kaushal Kriplani

China Operations Manager – Grand Step, Ltd.

Q: What does a women’s shoe say about her? 
A: Nobody can judge a woman.

Q: Favorite Chinese cuisine? 
A: Hot pot. It’s spicy.

Q: Difference between Indian hot and Chinese spicy? 
A: Indian has a lot of other mixtures of spices in it, Chinese food is pure spice.

Q: Favorite card game? 
A: Flash, a three-card game played with money. It’s supposed to be lucky when you play it in Diwali. It’s a friendly game.