How best can I impact people's behaviour for the benefit of the organization?
In Conversation with Neeti Tandon - Shell - Advisor Policy and Government Affairs
'When my learning curve stagnates, I move'. That was Neeti's answer when I asked if she enjoyed change. She loves it and has a desire to learn and grow continuously. She started as a journalist with NDTV, then CNN-IBN, post which she worked as a consultant across companies and is currently advisor for Shell. 'I have to feel the fire in my belly', she says. When that is gone, she feels the need to do something new. That passion keeps her going and enables her to overcome challenges. The more difficult the task, the better. As a journalist she would research, report, and move on to a new story. This left her dissatisfied as she felt the need to contribute to society in a more meaningful way. She felt the need to understand people and bring them together. At Shell that is what she tries to do. Connecting the organization with the government and communities. Her task is to align the parties towards a common goal, and the biggest challenge, in a country like India is bringing about a 'mental shift' in all parties concerned. A behavioral change that she must help bring out.
A change in government
Working closely with the Government, Neeti has witnessed a transition within their culture. Lobbying was earlier taboo and disreputable in India. Now with young officers joining the Government there is a different mindset, approach, and way of working. They are far more open to Shell's way of working and open to sharing of research and new ideas. There is a gap of two generations within the Government. Senior older officials who still work with the traditional 'state-driven' economy mindset, and the new younger breed willing to collaborate more openly with private and international investors. The challenge is in bridging the gap. Especially keeping in mind the fact that Shell has a strong value system and maintains it firmly, even if there are major disconnects between say the Government and what Shell wants, Shell will never budge from the values it holds dear. Does that mean they lose the game? are rigid? or that Shell must move away from its values? No. It simply means that it will take longer. As mindsets need to be worked upon. To Shell's advantage it is a global giant with a strong brand and reputation and that helps. Governments across countries tend to become aware of Shell's presence, its way of working and consider Shell a serious business partner.
Interestingly, because Shell maintains non-negotiable ethics and strong values it lands up contributing hugely to a positive shift in the mindsets of many governments, including India. And this is what excites Neeti and keeps her going. She is constantly surrounded by people of varying mindsets and her task is inform them of the correct possibilities, opportunities and outcome. She herself must be flexible in how she communicates, and in her approach towards senior people both within and outside Shell. She must figure how best can she impact people's behavior such that it benefits the organization. As a woman in a male-dominated company, she enjoys her work a lot and has always had ample opportunities for growth.