Shwetabh Sushil - While a Formal Education Is Definitely Not a Mandatory Requirement to Excel in a Field, It Does Give a Significant Advantage (Associate Director, Analytics & Business Insights - Myntra)

It is my personal belief that as long as a candidate has a good attitude and aptitude, he/she can definitely excel in any field/industry he/she is interested in. In the era of the internet, there are a plethora of resources available on almost any subject you can think of.

Tell us about your background, journey, and upbringing.

I am a mechanical engineer by graduation and have done my PGDM from IIM Shillong with a mix of subjects from Finance, Operations, and Analytics domains. I have worked with Companies like NTPC and Kotak in Operations roles. It was Kotak where I realized my true calling in Analytics.

I moved to Flipkart to become one of the founding team members of People Analytics. Since then I have had the opportunity of experiencing different domains of analytics: Operations, marketing, product, growth, HR.

Currently, I am working with Myntra and leading the analytics charters for Product (storefront), Categories, Revenue, and Returns. Since my dad was a banker, we had to move around the country a lot. I had to change schools often. 

It gave me exposure to different cultures and I was glad to soak it all in. This also taught me the value of adapting to changes. At the same time, the importance of hard work and perseverance was inculcated in me by my parents right from my childhood and I am a devout believer in these values.

How did you rise to the highest echelons and what are your future plans?

I have always believed that there is no alternative to hard work. However, at the same time, it’s very important to have a goal in mind and set the direction and pace accordingly.

During the years I was undergoing formal education, there was very little support available in the form of career counseling. I had to spend a couple of years on the job figuring out what exactly was it that excited me. 

Once I had my mind set on analytics, I left no stone unturned in upskilling myself. I started undertaking courses relevant to the field, both tech, and non-tech. Once I got into Analytics, I made sure that every problem I was solving got my undivided attention and I always ensured that my solution went beyond the defined scope of the problem. 

Instead of acting as a marketing analyst or a product analyst, an analyst needs to ensure he keeps the organizational goals above functional goals, and that is what I did.

Apart from this, I have a zeal for learning new things. The Edtech boom has made it all the easier. At any given point in time, I would definitely have 2-3 courses I am enrolled in. 

And more often than not, these courses wouldn’t be related to analytics but something completely different like sketching, music, ethical hacking, etc. I strongly believe that the habit of keeping myself engaged in new things, stimulates my mind and keeps me at the top of my game.

I aim to keep challenging myself and keep solving more and more complex problems through data. The day I get comfortable in a role, is the day I would start looking for more challenging opportunities.

Studies today show that an organization can lose INR 10 lakh (~ $17,000) on average on a wrong hire or for hiring someone with a false degree. The only tried and tested way to prevent frauds is via a thorough background verification process. Download SpringVerify's e-book for a comprehensive guide to Employee Background Verification in India.

What does your typical workday look like?

I believe being organized is one of my key strengths. My day starts with going through my emails, jotting down important tasks to finish during the day, and ensuring nothing critical is overlooked.

The next step is to take a look at all the KPIs across the org. Being a part of the analytics team makes it important as well as easy for me to do this. Post that I connect with my team to understand how they are doing on their assignments and if there are any blockers/challenges that I can help them with.

The next few hours are divided among multiple assignments. I meet the leaders of my partner functions to give them a glimpse of how the KPIs are performing and to understand if they have any business questions we can help them get answers to. 

I connect with my team to brainstorm on ways to formulate models/frameworks for ongoing projects. I connect with stakeholders to understand how our solutions are being implemented and what kind of goodness are we observing from those.

Eventually, before I end my day, I try and ensure I have covered all the critical tasks listed down in the morning.

Several global companies have come out and thrown their support behind not needing a formal education. What is your opinion about this?

It is my personal belief that as long as a candidate has a good attitude and aptitude, he/she can definitely excel in any field/industry he/she is interested in. In the era of the internet, there are a plethora of resources available on almost any subject you can think of. 

This is where upskilling comes into the picture. I have had a lot of candidates who have picked up analytics while working in other roles, and have done a phenomenal job of understanding the concepts and exhibiting the same through very good projects.

That being said, formal education does speed up the process significantly. It provides you with a very structured curriculum and a platform where you can interact with subject-matter experts and learn from their experiences.

Bottom line, while a formal education is definitely not a mandatory requirement to excel in a field, it does give a significant advantage.

How do you handle someone who has lied on their resume?

Lying on the resume is something that’s a big red flag for me. We are not in an era where a year gap on the resume was a disqualifier. As you mentioned earlier, the lack of formal education is also not a deal-breaker anymore, let alone not having multiple good projects on the resume.

In such a situation, if someone still cannot be honest about what they have done in the past, I would not be comfortable working with that person.

I would suggest folks be true to themselves and if there are any anomalies on the resume, explain that honestly to the interview panel. A career is not something you would want to build on lies.

How has covid changed things at your workplace & which of these changes do you intend to make permanently?

Covid has had a significant impact on everyone across the globe and my workplace wasn’t an exception. Managing teams in a virtual setup and collaborating across multiple functions became a whole lot more challenging with the WFH kicking in. 

However, I will have to give the credit where it is due. My colleagues showed great resilience in the face of this adversity. I was surprised to see how everyone went beyond their means to ensure that their work doesn’t get impacted. 

At the same time, folks were very accommodating to situations that couldn’t be avoided. We all understood that it was their home first and workplace later and kids walking in during the meeting were met with a cheery ‘Hi’ from everyone on the meeting.

One thing we explicitly did was to set up formal connections within the team/functions. While a lot of work used to get done over a corridor conversation in a pre-covid world, this was something that needed to be formally set up in the WFH scenario. 

I believe that the formal setup is much more efficient and would want to continue even when we are back in the office.


What advice do you have for those starting their career and those who are eyeing the top job?

I can sum it up in one line – “Success doesn’t come overnight”. If you aim to succeed in any field, hard work is the key. Keep upskilling yourself, and always be open to learning new things. Pick up more responsibilities as and when the opportunity arises. 

Don’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty and doing the scripting/dashboarding yourself: that’s where you learn the basics.

As and when you grow, you will also understand the importance of looking at the big picture and looking at the organization's goals as the North Star. At the same time, when you get an opportunity to lead a team, be a leader and not a boss. Lead by example: it builds trust for you among the team and inspires them to go that extra mile when needed.

Which is your favorite book/show and why?

One of my favorites is “Sapiens” from Yuval Noah Harari. It has a very unique take on evolution and explains how most of our modern-day concepts (like agriculture, capitalism, etc.) came into existence. It makes you think about how important it is to look at the bigger picture when making your decisions.

Post a Comment