Sumi Vivek, Vice President – IT, Diageo India, is passionate about delivering value to business and impacting people positively. She joined Diageo because she felt it was the only organisation in the country that was going through such a massive transformation of people and processes.
India’s alcobev industry, she concedes, has been slow to move with the times and hence offers immense potential to make steep changes rather than incremental advancements. “I saw a tremendous opportunity of technology being an enabler to drive this change and wanted to be part of this journey,” Sumi asserts. Sumi grew up in the steel township of Bhilai, Chattisgarh. Her parents worked for SAIL. She studied hard and tried to make her parents proud. She did engineering from the Regional Engineering College, Calicut, and MBA from IIM, Lucknow. Her first job with Price Waterhouse Coopers involved solving clients’ enterprise level business problems. “The one thing that I learnt during this stint is that you can learn everything, if you put your mind to it,” she observes. When she announced her joining the liquor industry, there was a moment of inhibition before parents congratulated her. It took a while for them to understand the job profile. “But very soon they started sharing my enthusiasm for being a part of such a large-scale transformation,” Sumi recollects.
Breadth of Exposure
She leads the IT function at Diageo India. Her job is to ensure Diageo India is a future ready company as technology can act as the disruptive force for any organisation towards achieving its purpose. Sumi says Diageo has provided her with a breadth of exposure in all areas of technology. “It has given me broad-based view of everything a manufacturing company needs from technology and that has been quite a learning experience,” she feels. Describing her empowering moments, she recalls the time she proposed capability building initiatives for her team. She realised that her decision had the full support of everyone. “Creating and empowering a team that can deliver the organisation’s vision has been hugely motivating,” she says. Sumi rightly feels that India’s wine and spirits industry is no more men’s domain. “Diageo is women’s world. From discussions on value and purpose to multi-tasking and continual evolution, it feels like the company’s work culture has been built around a woman’s sensibilities. My first experience of coming to Diageo office for an interview was entering a lift full of women who were laughing while coming back from their lunch break and every experience has been the same since then,’’she elaborates. She says her biggest achievement with Diageo India has been “changing the culture in the team that I lead and enabling my people to make a difference”.