Brad Kewalramani of Office Coffee Solutions on why you shouldn’t look for just a job, how perception affects reception and the 4 primary C’s of building professional relationships
Brad Kewalramani is the Director of Partnerships at Office Coffee Solutions, a leading service provider that delivers full breakroom solutions to companies across the Greater Toronto Area. They specialize in designing tailored breakroom programs to support companies in creating engaging work environments for their staff. Brad is a seasoned partnership development and talent acquisition professional who started his career in recruitment for experiential marketing staff. He takes great pride in helping his clients build engaging workspaces for their staff through employee-centric breakroom programs.
Looking back ten years, where did you think you’d be by this point in your career? How did you get here?
10 years ago, in 2007 I was well into my career in talent acquisition, by then I knew that I wanted to move to Canada. But if you asked me the same question changing the number to 14, which is when I graduated from University, I had no idea where I would be ten years down the line. All I knew coming out of University was that I loved working with people and I wanted to make a meaningful contribution to society through my work. With that in mind I was seeking to connect the two. While I was in University I was looking for part time work and stumbled into the world of experiential marketing. I started working as a Brand Ambassador and coordinating experiential marketing campaigns for large multinational companies. I found working with large brands to bring their experiential marketing programs to life very exciting and rewarding. Here I learnt how important it was to have the right engaged people and good training in place to bring a vision to life and make it a success. Over that time I developed a sense for identifying good talent.
Following school, I started recruiting and training staff for experiential marketing campaigns, exhibitions, and conferences for fortune 500 companies in Dubai and eventually was leading a team of recruiters. I then chose to move to Toronto, and was ready for a new challenge and recruiting for a new skill set. I then specialized in recruiting for talent across multiple skill sets for the construction, property management and real estate industry for a year, and then 2 years for accounting and finance talent. I then got headhunted for a business development role in the property management industry where I spent some time before joining the Office Coffee Solutions team. When I was first approached for this role, I had never considered working in this space, but on studying the industry, I found it very interesting to learn how important good breakroom programs are today for companies that are dedicated to creating engaging work environments for their staff.
To sum up, I got here by staying curious and true to the sentiments I had when I graduated.
What were some of the most important business lessons you have had to learn the hard way? How have they enabled your success?
Peter Drucker once said that culture eats strategy for breakfast and he’s totally right. I’ve seen this time and again throughout my career. Through my various roles I have learnt that culture impacts everything: from the simple to the complex. It’s been very interesting to learn how there can also be different cultures throughout different departments within a company. Within the topic of culture, although there is no doubt that the leaders are the enablers and responsible for developing good culture, I learnt that good culture can grow and expand from anywhere within the team. Everyone on the team is responsible for contributing to good culture.
The second would be that our perception affects our reception. When two people are working together disagreements will arise. The reason for that is, it is just one person’s reality or belief coming up in conflict against another person’s, and that can impact one’s ability to receive what’s coming in from the other side. This gets more complex when you have groups working together. It’s very important to be conscious of our own perceptions and how they impact the way we think and make decisions. I found that when seeking ideas and solutions without assumptions or judgments, we tend to see more clearly and are able to make better decisions to do what is needed.
How do you go about building strong B2B relationships and partnerships?
I keep it simple. From my perspective, every strong professional relationship is built on four primary elements: character, competency, capability, and consciousness. One must have the character that allows people to trust and want to do business with you, the competency to solve a problem or fulfill a need, the capability to adapt and develop as the needs change and the consciousness which is all about understanding the why and what.
I believe you need to be very clear and true about your intention to provide undeniable and authentic value. When those who you are working with see that you have their best interests at heart, I believe that’s where good relationships start.
I see my role as the person responsible for creating win-win partnerships with our clients where we are solving important problems or fulfilling a need they have, in a way that is sustainable for us as a group as well.
What does leadership look like to you and how does the next generation need to start thinking differently about leadership?
There are many aspects to leadership, I believe a large part of leadership is about seeing things that other people don’t see yet. While one is leading a team, one must be able to see the bigger picture and with that, there is a great responsibility to share that bigger picture with the team and include them in the journey. I believe it’s important to make it fun where you can and celebrate the achievements that are made with the team along the way. Leadership to me is also about constantly striving to improve oneself. With leadership, there is a responsibility to help others reach their highest potential and to do that it is important to work on oneself first.
There is a fantastic movie called “The Man Who Knew Infinity” that tells the true-life story about the encounter between a math genius from India with a modest background and a renowned math professor at The Trinity College in the UK. The professor, upon learning about this genius, invited him to the UK to collaborate with the goal of publishing this man’s work. To do this however, the professor needed this individual to provide proofs for his formulas which he could not do as a result of his unconventional background. The story shares the struggle between the two and the remarkable achievements they make together as a result.
I believe this movie speaks to something important for everyone who is seeking to lead or currently leading. Sometimes, people arrive at solutions to problems unconventionally or through ways that haven’t been previously thought of. While we absolutely need to be making data-driven business decisions, I believe it’s important for leaders to have the courage and capability to harness the intuitional intelligence of the people they work with as well.
Many times you will have people on your team that may have ideas that are good for your business or solutions to problems, but may not have a step by step slideshow to show you how they got to them. Part of leadership is identifying the people with their ideas or solutions and working with them to push the needle forward. I don’t think this is new information however, this has been a trait of many great leaders. I have been privileged to work with and learn from such leaders and as we move more heavily into making data-driven decisions, it’s important not to lose sight of the value that intuition brings.
What would be your one piece of advice for those in the workforce today to get ahead and find work that is fulfilling?
The first thing I would say is stay curious and keep striving to fulfill the fullest expression of yourself. Make sure you keep yourself open to the possibilities out there. The second would be, don’t just look for a job. Seek out and work for great leaders who you believe you can learn from and grow with. Finding the right environment that will nurture your growth is very important. The character, competence, capability, and consciousness of the organizations that one works for are very important in enabling someone to be successful and be fulfilled, but make no mistake about this, it’s a two way street, with equal responsibility on your side.
With all that in mind, I think it is important to understand that no role is going to be perfect. There will always be some things that you will need to compromise on but you need to set those parameters for yourself. Be clear about where your drive comes from because that will ultimately dictate the quality of your work and what kind of work you will want to be doing.