Parimal was on an academic path toward a Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin when he realized that prospects in his field of studies were getting limited, especially for international students.
So, Parimal changed his path and pursued an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.
After progressing through the usual rungs of Associate to Senior Associate, and then Vice President to Sr. Vice President to Director, he realized that further progression was dependent on how much business he could generate for the bank. Parimal assessed his selling abilities and decided to pivot to the corporate side.
He had heard a lot of excuses for why investment bankers did not make good corporate executives, but ultimately he was successful with his client, Terex Corporation. He had a very productive 14 years defying all those naysayers who claimed he could not be successful in the corporate world.
When Terex changed its acquisition strategy, Parimal pivoted again and found himself in an operating role in Italy. He was managing a multi-product business with three manufacturing facilities, multiple international sales branches, and approximately a 400-person organization reporting to him. For a business that had processes stuck in the 1990’s, he made significant improvement in a short time. This was ultimately made possible by winning his team’s trust and respect.
Today, Parimal enjoys mentoring young companies. He is currently a mentor to three startups. He assists them with ideas on financing, strategic planning, financial modeling, and negotiations. He likes that this gives him the opportunity to learn about different industries and newer technologies.
We had the chance to interview Parimal and hear how he has overcome difficulties and the trends that keep him excited about the future.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am witnessing a shift in the supply chain which is bringing it closer to home. It seems to be driven by two factors. One is President Trump’s trade conflict with China that has been co-opted by the Biden administration; and the other is disruptions caused by COVID-19 that made companies realize that the far flung just-in-time supply chain is vulnerable under pandemic conditions.
Even though I may not always agree with the cause of these shifts, I am quite excited because this will allow us to build up many crucial skills that we lost over the last 30 years of offshoring. It is an admirable goal to become a knowledge-based economy; however, when we embrace the concept of diversity, we should be open to the value of diversity of skills. Everyone in the U.S. can’t be in tech or become a healthcare worker. Diverse skill sets will make our economy more resilient.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I am fortunate that I have had very interesting jobs. My attitude is that if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. It sounds like a cliché but how you react in a difficult situation shapes your future.
I had my share of long, tedious hours and even experienced backstabbing while in investment banking, but I learned to be patient and forgiving. If you get frustrated in those difficult situations, your judgment suffers and you make poor decisions. As a result, your productivity declines.
I reminded myself that everyone is not the same. Just because someone treated me badly does not mean others will do the same. Playing victim may give the satisfaction of righteousness, but it also holds you back from moving forward.
What is one failure you had, and how did you overcome it?
Impatience. It makes your focus very narrow and you are not considerate of others’ situations. This leads to confrontations, loss of team coherence, and a decline in productivity. The long hours I had in investment banking helped me understand my shortcomings.
But I have to say that the biggest impact was having children, as they helped me become patient. As I developed more and more empathy, patience was a natural outcome.
How do you handle difficult clients, customers or coworkers?
Empathy. Usually, it is something else that is bothering them and they want to vent. If you listen to them patiently and show an understanding, it generally blows over and you can finally find a rational solution. Sometimes you have to allow them to save face and show some symbolic concession so they feel they got something for their trouble.
Tell us about a skill you taught yourself. How did you go about learning?
I read somewhere that if you teach yourself a new skill, it keeps your brain engaged. When I saw my dad showing early signs of dementia, I decided to learn how to play golf.
I am not a morning person, but I would get up really early on the weekends to get tee times in a nearby public course. I took lessons a couple of times, but mostly I got obsessed and watched videos on YouTube, practiced on the driving range, bought a practice rug and hit balls in the backyard. I even broke a few flower pots.
Can you share your personal approach to managing an effective balance between life and work?
When I was in investment banking, it was really difficult to have a balanced life. The primary reason I moved to the corporate world was to make this a priority. In the corporate world, there were times when I had to put in a lot of hours, but it was not continuous. I did a lot of international business development and would travel to Europe and Asia for a week at a time. However, I made sure that I was not traveling for more than a week a month.
I also took the opportunity to do a few things for myself in my personal life. I joined a badminton club and would play once or twice in the evenings. On the weekends, I would play soccer and golf.
Part of finding this balance included increasing the time I spend with my family. I played golf in the morning, so I was home before the kids were up for their activities. Other sports I played in the evening when the kids were either in bed or busy with their homework. I enjoyed taking my children to their weekend sporting activities and would never miss doing that. I would travel with my son to Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania for soccer tournaments and the long drives were a great opportunity to bond.